Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

Moving from windows to Ubuntu, music, media centers, office and more

I feel like I jumped ship from Windoze to Ubuntu about 6 months before everything starting making sense in linux land.

I got fed up of my computer, which is reasonably powerful, taking ages and ages to startup, login and show me FireFox so thought I’d try Ubuntu. Installing as a windows app was so simple and it was so slick and fast that I was pretty much instantly converted and went the whole hog and now there’s not a trace of windows on my primary PC.

There were a few important things, some of which I couldn’t sort out instantly and some of which I had to wait for a few months for the next awesome and free Ubuntu release (a major one every 6 months) but now they’re all pretty much sorted 🙂

  • Media player that can sync playlists to my iPod – When I first got Ubuntu it came packaged with a media player called Rythmbox, at the time it didn’t sync playlists to my iPod, now it does. I had to search a bit for a script to transfer my ratings from iTunes to Rythmbox –  a bit convoluted but only took 5 mins and, more importantly, it worked!
  • A decent big screen media center app – it seems I’m both fortunate and unfortunate in having an nvidia graphics card. The most popular media centers (like XMBC and variants like Boxee) don’t work for me. I currently use Moovida which is good, but not perfect.
  • My various bits of hardware like my wireless printer, wireless mice, extra functional keyboards etc. – they all just worked 🙂 I also have a mini handheld keyboard thingy that didn’t just work but the fix for that is in the next release of Ubuntu in April 😀
  • Connecting to my work’s Outlook – Using Thunderbird this has now been achieved, it was quite involved so I’ll post about it as another post in a bit and update a link here when it’s done.
  • Messing around with screen settings – I flip between a dual screen setup and a large HD tv screen for media so need to change screen layout and resolution with a single button press, on windows I paid for UltraMon to do this on Ubuntu I achieved it using auto-disper for free!
  • Security, virus checking, firewalls etc. was all a bit different, so I’ll post about that separately too and update a link from here.
  • What about my favourite apps? I’ve managed to find through the Ubuntu Software Centre (a bit like an app store but free) a whole bunch of replacements straight away from LibreOffice for MS Office to loads of utilities and free games. I couldn’t really live without FireWorks and Dreamweaver just because I’ve been using them forever, but they work just great on Ubuntu with Wine (Pinta is a reasonable FireWorks alternative for Linux)
  • Development… that’s definately a whole other topic! But needless to say there’s loads of options and choices, finding one that suits you is the trick. I’ve had minor to major problems installing most development environments but an early favourite (due to my Delphi background) was  Lazarus – I’ve since moved to the much better MonoDevelop

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