From Windows to Ubuntu: Trial and error

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I guess I finally snapped: I decided to switch my primary desktop environment from Windows to Ubuntu.  So I installed Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit at work and home alongside Windows 7 and started down the new path.  By and large I’m happy with how it’s going so far.  I really like Ubuntu; in many ways it’s a better fit with the way I work.  But there are some pain points, and Windows conveniences that I miss.

Probably the biggest problem initially was the lack of support for 64-bit Linux on our Cisco VPN.  There are supposedly workarounds that involve creating symlinks, but I haven’t tried them yet.  I could have used the 32-bit distribution, but I’m greedy to exploit the capabilities of my hardware.  On Windows I also used RDC when working outside the firewall, so I started working with Ubuntu’s remote options.  Basic VNC wasn’t very good, and my sysadmin tipped me to NX, which seems to work pretty well, so problem more or less solved.

Second issue: Microsoft Exchange.  We had just migrated from Lotus Notes, which I had been bypassing for mail because I hated the client and the web UI was pretty bad, too.  Evolution with MAPI seems to work reasonably well, although I’ve had problems getting an initial connection to Exchange established.  I’m not sure that Evolution is much better than the Exchange web UI — even the “light” version isn’t too bad.  Anyway, I would say that for a general audience who has to use Exchange this is a weak point.

Then of course there’s MS Office.  I have some experience with OpenOffice.org, at least with Writer and Calc (the Word and Excel counterparts, respectively), but have never used the database piece (Base), and I do use Access from time to time for various tasks, including visual query building for complex queries.  This is a good opportunity to expand my OOo knowledge, but you know, sometimes you just want to knock something out using a familiar technique, so it’s a minor setback.

For Subversion I got quite accustomed to Tortoise and it’s explorer integration.  RapidSVN seems pretty good, but again, a bit of an adjustment there.

Those are the main issues I’ve found so far.

Cisco VPN update: The AnyConnect Web VPN install actually worked without resorting to the manual workarounds that many sources report as required to get it work on 64-bit Linux.

Exchange/Office update: CrossOver Linux 9.0 works well for Office 2007, and you can run Outlook instead of Evolution.  You’ll want to apply the Free/Busy time registry fix at http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/?app_id=2841;tips=1.

Ubuntu 10.04 upgrade: If you’re dual-booting Windows and you can’t boot into Windows after upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04, this is probably the answer: http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/bootinfoscript/index.php?title=Boot_Problems:Boot_Sector.  Yikes!  Other annoyances: Emacs “warning spam” (see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/light-themes/+bug/538499), and default min/max/close window controls on left (see http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/13535/move-window-buttons-back-to-the-right-in-ubuntu-10.04/).

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