Linux Saves the Day…

9 Jul
2008

Having just sent my Macbook off for repair this past Sunday …l was left in a quandry as I had a very important meeting with the CIO of a Academic Medical Center on the east coast.  My data was tucked safely away on my network drive however the only laptop I had was one running Ubunutu Hardy Heron 8.04.  I loaded up the latest powerpoint and spreadsheet files the night before from my network and hoped for the best.  On a connection to Cincinnatti I made several revisions to the presentation and also to a modified cost analysis spreadsheet using OpenOffice.  Rather than dealing with any conversion back to .xls or .ppt I saved the modifications in Open Document Format.  When I landed I collaborated with another colleage who put a couple of additional Excel spreadsheets on a flash drive for me to work into my presentation and I did so with only some minor quirks in copy and paste through both Open Office apps.  My associate asked me how I liked Vista as I tabbed through my open applications and I proudly stated I was running Linux…  🙂

My HP nw8240 laptop is configured with a 2Ghz single core processor and 2G RAM running Compiz effects (rotating cube, reflection, etc…).  Before my meeting I opened a full screen presentation on one side of the desktop cube and the spreadsheet  another and was easily switching between both documents during our two hour meeting.  I must admit for such a critical discussion Linux handled like a champ and in my opinion came through with flying colors.  Still…Three days into sending my Macbook off for repair I’ve been using Linux as my primary OS and it has been working great!

The only proprietary code I am running are the ATI drivers that power the 3D effects the rest of the applications are all open source.  From an end user perspective I just want an OS that functions as I want and if that means having some proprietary peices of code to accomplish this then so be it.  I believe that Open Source software should be used where it fits best and in my case I’ve used it extensively in my career to power servers and run enterprise level applications and firewalls.  Do I think this is ready to be my daily desktop….  Not quite, but it is as close as it has ever come in the past and I look forward to each new revision in the Kernel.

Some closing thoughts on the pros and cons of my experience…

Pro’s:

  • Fast response from default applications
  • Handles multiple running applications wthout a hitch
  • Wireless and Network drivers worked great
  • Power handling and more importantly sleep works great.
  • 90% of application functionalty exists in current open source apps

Con’s:

  • No worthy Outlook equivalent on Linux (Evolution doesn’t yet work with Exchange 2007)
  • Small quirks in copy and pasting between Open Office applications
  • Some very minor pixilization in the video driver
  • Some subjective opinions on the polish of many open source apps
  • 10% of application functionality doesn’t exist in current open source apps

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