Couple weeks ago now my main system failed -- power supply burned out and appears to have taken the motherboard with it. So I went back to my notebook, which had been in a mostly inoperable state since I attempted to install Ubuntu on it a month or two back, and dug into the wireless driver problems I was having. (These are, by the way, apparently not uncommon, reading the Ubuntu support forums -- if there's a single technical problem jacking up people's installations, it's probably the failure to reasonably support wireless. Mostly this appears to be because wireless vendors don't offer open source drivers, and Linux (or Ubuntu, anyway) won't by default even enable closed source drivers ... this is a dumb decision.) In any event, after I told the Restricted Driver Manager to enable the Broadcom firmware, I got internet access fairly quickly.
From there things have gone, if not smoothly, fairly quickly considering I've completely swapped out every application I was running. In short form --
MS Office > OpenOffice (a wash, except for some formatting issues)
IE/Firefox > Opera/Firefox (slight improvement)
Photoshop > Gimp (inferior, and I'm running an old copy of PS)
iTunes > Amarok/Banshee/Rhythmbox ... all 3 are working, I think I like Amarok best, but it's the slowest of the 3 by a good bit on Gnome.
ACDsee image viewer > gThumb (inferior), hope to find something comparable to ACDsee, but not holding my breath
Command Prompt > Terminal, bash (probably superior, but the learning curve has been a pain. And at a bare minimum, DOS commands appear simpler than bash -- del *.tmp /s is a damn pain to write in bash. It is nice to have grep, though.)
XXcopy > ... nothing. This is a critical utility I use for synchronizing file systems ... if there's anything like it on linux, I don't know what it is. rsync & unison may get me there, but so far they're baffling me -- the simple task of making /media/750B/w an exact copy of /media/750A/w appears to be beyond me. I've gotten rsync to copy existing files from /media/750A/w to /media/750B/w ... but I can't get it to delete the files that are on 750B that aren't on 750A. (Digression -- I've always been completely dyslexic about the damn slashes -- for 25+ years / and \ have been indistinguishable to me. No idea why, I'm not dyslexic otherwise, but there's something genuinely neurological there -- to this day, typing an http address or navigating a dos directory tree, it's even money I pick the wrong slash on the first pass. So Ubuntu's default / for filesystem navigation, instead of \, isn't a big deal; I still have a 50/50 shot at getting it right ... there's no other character or word I have this problem with.)
Forte Agent > ... no idea yet. I'm not a big newsreader guy these days, so this one can probably wait.
VLC, Mplayer, zplayer > VLC, Mplayer ... I miss zplayer, but VLC and Mplayer are hard to argue with. No meaningful dropoff here.
Programming -- no point in discussing this. SQL Server/VB, my principle working toolset, aren't available on Linux. I have installed MySQL, and I can find my way around PHP OK, but I doubt I'm changing careers from Windows to Linux in the immediate future. (That said -- MySQL is grown up. It reminds me of SQL Server 2000, and I don't mean that dismissively; SQL Server 2000 was a fine product.)
I don't often burn disks anymore (or rip them) -- so no big hurry to figure out how to do that on Linux.
A few things I really like, and so far there's nothing I hate.
- The repository is cool.
- Opera is a really great mix of IE and Firefox when it comes to scaling up text and graphics. IE on Windows doesn't scale Wikipedia correctly; Firefox doesn't scale ESPN correctly. It's 50/50 either of them will correctly size up a given site (a big deal, for me, my vision is truly rotten these days.) But Opera scales up most sites correctly -- don't know if this is a Linux thing or Opera -- probably Opera, I imagine it uses the same rendering engine on both platforms. But it's a nice thing to find -- if I could get Opera to render flash -- currently it won't -- I wouldn't need Firefox at all.
- I like the filesystem a lot. /media/DriveName/Directory makes a ton of sense and is far more sensible than Windows A-B-C-D-E stuff. I have about 14 USB drives, ranging from 40GB to 750GB, that have various versions of programs and data on them -- pretty much all my work was on external USB drives, so losing the desktop wasn't a huge pain.
- Thank God for the ntfs read-write driver. I haven't converted any of my disks, and they were all ntfs. It's been rock solid.
- Linux itself is pretty stable -- no worse than XP so far, though also no better. Occasional apps have locked up, but the OS hasn't gone into guru meditation so far.
- USB support is much better than XP. XP has consistent problems mounting drives that think they're both Drive G, for example -- Ubuntu doesn't have a Drive G, so no problem. I did have drives with exactly the same names -- 750A and 750B were named "D750" under Windows -- so I renamed them with ntfslabel, which was baffling until I realized I needed to reboot after using it -- but with a reboot, no problems.
All in all, it's gone much better than I hoped. I haven't tried Terminal Services yet, but assuming it works and lets me terminal into Windows boxes, I'm close to golden here.
... one thing I did have to do was port all the damn e-books again. I'm about half done. Some of the margins didn't come through correctly in OpenOffice(appears to be completely random) and all of the vertically positioned pages broke. OpenOffice doesn't have an equivalent to vertical centering of a document section, but it does have the ability to frame a block of text, and position the frame centered vertically -- a pain, but functional. Otherwise the docs appear to be OK.