Friday, May 25, 2012

The Great Linux Experiment, My Adventure Away from Windows

Since October 2011 my home network has been plagued by slowness in the network.  I suspected that I had some type of malware on the network or our wireless network was compromised.  Each time I scanned the computers I would find Trojans.  After removing the Trojans, everything worked for awhile and then it started slowing down.  Something was stealing my bandwidth.  Even after performing rootkit scanning and removal, drive cleansing, and even replacing the routers and new passwords and security settings the issue would come back.

So finally I was fed up and decided to see if I could replace Windows with Linux for my home use.  I had already move most of our servers to Linux at work.  The concern that I had was that I would not have all the tools and applications that I normally used in a Linux environment.  I decided to install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Desktop to replace my Windows operating system.  If it did not work, then I can cleanse the drive and then reinstall Windows if I had too.  Installation was very easy and with the LiveCD or LiveUBS option it is even easier.

I was surprise that I was able to find all the tools and applications that I needed relatively easily with most of them being open source.  The most painful thing was locating, installing, and configuring the printer and scanner.  Some manufacturers just do not support Linux.  Other than that I was able to get everything I needed.  Unfortunately, unless you have some Linux skills, Linux is not as user friendly as Windows for a typical user even with the latest version of Ubuntu.  The new Unity interface for Ubuntu I do not like at all.  So I switch the interface back to the classic Ubuntu interface.  Interface needs to be simple and quick and Unity is not.

However, there was one application stopped me and that was Lotus Notes.  Unfortunately, Lotus Notes 8.5 and higher does not work correctly on Ubuntu versions higher that 10.04.  In Ubuntu 11.04 and 12.04, changes were made to the kernel and the screen generation does not work correctly.  I hope IBM corrects this in 8.54.  There are fixes to this issue, but the resolution is beyond what I want to spend time in correcting.  As a result, I downgraded to version Ubuntu 10.04-4 LTS which works perfectly fine and Notes is now working correctly. 

As a Domino developer, what I could not run was Domino Designer.  For that I am installing the VMware Player to access Domino Designer when I need it.  I still have not gotten this to work.  The inability to run Domino Designer is no big deal since most of my Domino Web application development is done using my UXPages Designer Tools which currently runs on the Lotus Notes client and not on Domino Designer.  Hopefully towards the end of the year, I will not even need the Lotus Notes client for development after I complete the iPhora Web Application Designer.

Though the switch to Linux has not been smooth, the results is a far more secure and faster computer.  The Lotus Notes client comes up much faster than on Windows. So if you are looking at switch, my advise is that it all depends on the applications that you are running.  For almost everything, the Ubuntu Desktop will meet all your needs.

PS. Plan to add commercial network hardware to my home network for more security and it lock down with the help of a security expert friend. 

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