We have been running Windows XP Professional in the office, until not long ago. Things were generally working in Windows, and most of the time there were no complaints, but I have decided it was time to leave the Windows world, and what better timing than to do it with Windows Genuine Advantage is spreading like spyware, running in the background, and god knows what it could prompt the local BSA representative and his secretary to do to us poor fellas!
My own personal box had hardware problems, so I took it to the shop where the power supply was replaced, and the ATI Radeon was replaced with the nVidia 7300GS card. I came back to the office only to discover the driver of the nVidia card can NOT be installed! no matter what I tried, I got an error in the final stage of the installation, stating that the driver returned an invalid error code. I tried mailing the support staff that produced the card, a process which took 2 days to produce a result, and in the end I got no better answers than I have already found myself on Google. So that was that, I decided to drop Windows once and for all!
So it started with our server, which we installed with Debian Sarge, and that is running a “test” suite of our product, and is also serving as our file repository.
It then continued with the dev stations, which we installed with Ubuntu Dapper 6.06, and I must say I am impressed with how easy things went! It just works out of the box. I wanted to take the time and list the things that really surprised or amazed me with this process:
- We are using Gnome + Compiz + XGL, the desktop is usable and looks AMAZING. I never thought I would see a desktop that looks and works even better than my dream system; MacOS X! — It’s smooth, it’s fast, it’s beautiful, and whoever walks into my office and sees me working, is absolutely amazed and leaves my office heart broken.
- Thanks to “Automatix” we can play MP3 files, view videos, flash, etc. even quicktime embedded within web pages (great for viewing the movie trailers on apple.com). It even installed Beagle, which mimics “Sherlock” on MacOS X.
- Applications, applications! We are using Firefox, Thunderbird and Eclipse. Needless to say, they work great, at least as good as their Windows counterparts, so not much fanfare there. It just works, we love it.
- LAMP – Our product uses the LAMP platform, so it was a lot of fun installing one on our local boxes, so we can have a local debug version which we can play with, without having to go through the release cycle in order to see changes on the test suite.
- Karma – We feel great, as if cured from some rare disease. The demon that is Microsoft no longer posesses our establishment, and I must say it feels amazing! No more DLL conflicts, no more blue screens of death, no more USB or Bluetooth issues, no more complicated driver installations – everything just works out of the box!
- Office? Open! Thanks to OpenOffice we are free of the need to run Microsoft Office. Sure, I am used to Microsoft Office, after using it for YEARS. I mean, i’m using MS Office for the last 12 years, It makes sense that there would be some resistance to moving away from it but I must say the OpenOffice team have done an amazing job and it really was not an issue to move to OO. There are small differences here and there, but I am getting used to those changes every day of using the OpenOffice suite.
- Ekiga is our softphone now, and I was impressed again when it found my Logitech QuickCam 4000 Professional. Last time I tried this in Debian, I failed miserably, and only managed the lower resolution captures, which were not reliable even. No more! This time it just works out of the box, I am making calls with Ekiga using my Logitech USB Headset (also detected out of the box), and video conferences with the QuickCam 4000. What a pleasure!
- Winamp? I love Winamp, and on linux the alternative is XMMS or Beep, but they are not really as good as Winamp. Thankfully there are great alternatives. I am now using Amarok, and it’s really amazing. It brings lyrics for the songs I hear, it automatically rates them for me, brings information about the artist, brings album images, etc!