The Journey to a Linux Desktop

By Donna Moyer

As the holidays approach and we wind down to the end of the year, we all tend to look back on our accomplishments. This year, I am reminded that I am approaching the one-year anniversary of my move to a Linux desktop. For those of you who really want to learn Linux, I hope my experiences will help you take the plunge in 2010!

By Donna Moyer

As the holidays approach and we wind down to the end of the year, we all tend to look back on our accomplishments. This year, I am reminded that I am approaching the one-year anniversary of my move to a Linux desktop. For those of you who really want to learn Linux, I hope my experiences will help you take the plunge in 2010!

What prompted my move: I needed a more powerful laptop. I had my personal laptop configured as a dual-boot machine ever since Novell bought SUSE. Dual-boot is fine, but in my haste to get things done, I would inevitably drop back to Windows … and that just wasn’t working out well. Time to dig in, work through the issues, and find new, powerful applications that ran on Linux.

The hardware: Last year's holiday season yielded some great deals. While I could have bought a new system with Linux installed so that driver availability would be guaranteed, I decided to take a gamble and buy a Dell Studio 15 off the shelf at Staples and work through any driver issues I might encounter. This unit has a 64 bit processor, a 320G hard drive, and 4G of RAM.

Driver issues: While SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP 2 ships with a great many drivers (including loads of printer drivers), I had two problematic pieces off hardware: the ATI graphics card and the Broadcom wireless card. After lots of searching, I finally found the best answers for my issues at www.opensuse.org. If you go the Ubuntu route as many people do, the Ubuntu forums will be your best resources.

Software replacement: One of the main reasons people avoid moving to Linux is that many pieces of commercially-available software are written only for Windows. There has been more movement to write for the Mac, but Linux support can lag behind. Enter the open source community. I found some great replacements for software I use regularly … and some of it actually works better than the Windows versions I had been using! Here are just a few of the applications I am currently running:

  • Office Productivity Suite: If you have not looked at OpenOffice recently, you should definitely take some time to explore! The 3.0 version is greatly improved. I have been able to do most of what I need with OpenOffice, and actually like the Calc program better than Excel. SUSE also comes with Acrobat Reader and Planner (a project management program) already installed.
  • Photo Editing: Gimp is included with SLED and does everything I would have used Paint for, and more.
  • Diagrams: For the more advanced Visio functions, check out Dia. If you just need to do a flowchart or some other simple diagrams, I recommend using Draw in OpenOffice.
  • Multifunction Printer Software: HP has some great tools included with their Officejet All-in-One printer/scanner/copier/fax machines. While I found the printer drivers for my unit (a 7410) included with SLED, I really wanted some of the more advanced functions (for example, scan to PDF) that I had on Windows. Enter the HP Toolbox found at http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/index.html. When this program installs, it uses xsane for scanning documents to image files for PDF. I got all of the functions I needed … plus, I no longer get those annoying update messages from Windows!
  • Broadband Wireless: OK, I know this is actually hardware, but when I migrated I could not find a version of Verizon's VZAccess Manager to connect the card. After a bit of digging, I found that I could configure the card as a modem (which it is) and use Kinternet as my dialer. Quick and simple and no need to install more software. A quick search at www.google.com/linux should get you the answers you need for your card. If not, instead of putting in the card name, try searching on “EVDO card.”

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I have been working with this laptop since last December and absolutely love it. The only way to truly learn Linux is to work with it every day. If you are bored over your Christmas break and want to play, give Linux a try. I will never go back!

© Copyright 2009, Uptime NetManagement, Inc.

Article Source: http://www.uptimenmi.com/

You have my permission to reprint and distribute this article as long as it is distributed in its entirety, including all links and copyright information. This article is not to be sold or included with anything that is sold.

About the Author:
Donna Moyer is Principal/Senior Network Consultant of Uptime NetManagement, Inc. (http://www.uptimenmi.com/). Uptime is a Novell Gold Solutions partner providing technology solutions, customized training, and consulting services. If you are interested in finding out exactly what Novell can do for your business, or are seeking to maximize the benefits from your current Novell systems, call us today at 610-621-1244!

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