New Laptop: Linux on Dell XPS M1530
Well I finally got my work environment moved over to Linux which is part of the reason I haven't been writing lately. I wanted to share my experiences so far in case anyone else wants to take the jump. I've been using Linux for years on servers and felt it was a nice time to try it out on my new laptop and I really didn't want to go the Vista route. Fortunately, Dell does support a few of its systems for Linux.
When the laptop came, it had Ubuntu already installed. My experience is more from the Redhat side of the things but I was willing to give Ubuntu a shot. I got a bit frustrated at not being able to directly install RPMs or use YUM. With RPMs you have to convert them to a DEB file which is used in the Debian/Ubuntu world. Not a hugh deal but I decided that I throw Fedora on instead. Both Ubuntu and Fedora recognized all the components on the system including the thumb scan and camera, no headaches there at all.
There were a couple minor issues I faced hardware wise with Ubuntu and Fedora.
1. The touchpad doesn't work well initially (it basically jumps the cursor all over the place) when you install Linux, but it's a simple grub command that fixes it. Entering "quiet splash i8042.nomux=1" into the line that calls up the kernel found in /boot/grub/menu.lst then running update-grub
2. The volume is very low on the main laptop speakers. You simply go into volume control -» preferences and turn on the surround sound and then in volume control unmute it. The mic is also not active by default. You again go into the volume control turn on the digital input source in the preferences and adjust the volume for it.
My XPS M1530 came with a Intel Dual Core 2 processor and 4G of memory. Since the Core 2's are 64bit compatible I installed the 64bit version of Fedora. Once this was on, I installed VMware Workstation and then created a number of VM instances. One is a XP instance to test things in the world of Windows. I tied using Wine to run Internet Explorer and iTunes, but Wine just isn't there yet. My work environment is actually a VM instance running Fedora running on the laptop. I did this so that next time I switch computers I can simply move the VM.
Since I am on the road at times, I needed to be sure about having broadband access on the road. I upgraded my Verizon Wireless card to the new USB727 modem that they offer (Sprint offers the same model). It's 3G and works great. A funny note here is that Verizon doesn't support the modem for Linux but it only takes a few minutes to write up a dialer script for it. If you remember the days of dialer scripts for old computer modems, it's pretty much the same thing. You send a couple ATZ commands, the phone number and then finally the username/password and voila your connected. It always amazes me to see a major company (Verizon is a Dow Jones Index company as a matter of fact) taking no effort in supporting the Linux world. Time to wake up and smell the coffee guys! If you need help with the dialer script just let me know.
The GUI environment is Gnome which works fine. I still tend to jump into terminal to do various things but Gnome is well designed and fast. For my applications, eclipse and firefox naturally runs on Linux. My email client is Thunderbird which I haven't used before but I like it so far. My numerous RSS feeds are now in Thunderbird and posts show up like emails in the News & Blogs section. Skype has a linux client and it loaded in fine. However, iTunes is not supported on Linux. So I loaded it on the XP VM instead.
I installed ColdFusion developer edition on multi-server running on top of JRun without a single problem. I partly expected something to go wrong there, but not a single issue. Now I need to be careful about having any Application.cfm with the proper caps. If you have application.cfm it doesn't get called like it would in Windows. I had a few apps that had this issue.
So far so good, I'll post more as I settle into this new system.