I upgraded to Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon today. First impressions: not much changes. That’s on the surface, of course. The system came up normally, and I could start my applications.

There’s a new Screen and Graphics Preferences for setting up dual screens. Unfortunately, after 20 minutes I couldn’t get my second screen to come up correctly. I have other things to do, so I stopped playing with that.

On the downside, my keyboard layout moved some keys. I can’t put a pipe character (|) on the command line. That’s very bad for me: no Ruby block parameters, no Smalltalk temporary variable declarations, and certainly no command chaining on the command line.

All in all, I should have waited another month or so before upgrading. I’ll know better next time around. But I still love my Ubuntu Desktop, compared to the klunky Windows XP.

Now on Ubuntu!

2007-03-20

Well, I made the plunge. I am now the proud owner of bliss, a Ubuntu 6.10 Desktop. All configuration settings are at their default values for now. Customization will come at a later stage, after I have familiarized myself better with the system.

I still have tons of data that is stored in a Ghost archive, but I’ll get there eventually. I also have a few things that don’t work or haven’t been tested yet: printer doesn’t work, scanner is untested, I haven’t tried moving data from my cameras yet, bookmarks haven’t moved yet, and I can’t switch keyboard mappings using Left Shift+Alt yet.

The best part of this move ? It wasn’t too painful. Since I was already using mostly Open Source software (Firefox, Firebug, Thunderbird, Ruby, Rails, MySQL, Mongrel and others), I didn’t have to learn entirely new interfaces for most software. The worst part ?

Just the sheer amount of work it is to move data between computers (or virtual machines, in this case), and make sure everything arrived at the destination.

For now, I use a combination of Vim and Bluefish for text editing. I generally like Bluefish, but some things are unfamiliar. Moving with Ctrl+Left/Right doesn’t behave as it did on Windows. Of course, I have to learn new keyboard bindings, and that’s always a pita. I configured Bluefish to use the excellent DejaVu Fonts, both for monospace and sans variants.

I will setup VMWare Server to access Windows when I need it, which should hopefully be not very often.

I haven’t made my final decision, but each hour that I use my Ubuntu desktop is another hour in Windows’ coffin. I did not want to head over to Vista, and I was planning on buying a Mac Mini later this year. In the meantime, I’m very satisfied with my new desktop.

One last thing: Very big kudos to the Ubuntu and other localization teams. I installed Ubuntu in French, and I had some fears that working in French would lead to a bad experience. Those fears were unfounded. The quality of the translation is excellent, and a simple LANG=en_CA.UTF-8 in my ~/.bashrc makes the command line tools speak and listen in English, which is what I want and need.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to the Open Source community at large for such a beautiful and well thought out product.

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I am François Beausoleil, a Ruby on Rails and Scala developer. During the day, I work on Seevibes, a platform to measure social interactions related to TV shows. At night, I am interested many things. Read my biography.

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