Nov 7, 2007

When OS X Goes Bye-Bye

I had the unfortunate experience of losing my hard drive on my MacBook Pro this week. Thanks to Mozy I had at least a partial backup which included my most critical files. So, I'm out a laptop until next week -- what do I do? I have two servers at home (ok, just beefy desktop machines running as servers). I consolidated them into one server and used the other as desktop so I could do work and school stuff.

Which OS? Hmm, going to Windows sounded excruciatingly painful. That would be my last resort. Well, I chose Ubuntu. I've used SuSE in the past, but it's become to bloated for me and I wanted to try something new. Gutsy Gibbon seemed like it was worthy of a try. So here's how it went:

Step 1, install the OS. Very simple. Dowloaded the ISO, burned it to a CD and booted. Everything went great. Now that it's up, WOW, the desktop looks great. It's no Leopard, mind you, but for Linux it looked fabulous. In my opinion, it also looks better than Vista -- but what doesn't.

Step 2, install VMWare Server. Yep, I know, I didn't want Windows, but I needed it for a stats test that requires SPSS -- for Windows. I had to have it done last night so on it went. Being on the bleeding edge in Linux has its downfalls, however, and VMWare was a bear to install on this new kernel. I was a little out of my element so I didn't take very good notes, but thanks go to Google and Forums for showing the way.

Step 3, after being spoiled by iTunes, having music in the background all the time and not having the luxury or time to re-record all my CD's (yep, lost my music library), I needed some tunes. Jango to the rescue. Whew... now that that's taken care of...

Step 4, Oracle Client. Oracle client for 10g R2 installed just fine after I told it to ignore system prerequisites. Just had to setup my environment and it works just fine. This is really getting to be old hat for me now.

Step 5, ruby and oci. The project I'm working on is a ruby script for archiving our data warehouse so ruby and oci were next. I ran into some trouble because zlib isn't installed by default on Ubuntu but after installing it using aptitude and recompiling ruby everything was setup fine. I also installed Ruby on Rails at this point because, well, I was there and I like having it available if I feel like doing anything for fun.

Step 6, install a vpn client. Oh boy, now I got to mess with the kernel again to try to install Cisco's VPN Client for Linux. After a failed attempt and some googling, I just bagged it and installed vpnc through aptitude. I setup the config file and ran vpnc from the command line. After a few trial and error runs on the config file it connected beautifully. Wow, who knew about vpnc? Not I, but now I'm glad I do.

Ok, so, about 10 hours later I'm up and running ready to get back to work. So why blog about all this? Well, for one, I wanted to tout Ubuntu. It really is a great desktop alternative. I would use it any day over Windows. If you haven't tried it in a while, give it a shot. It's impressive. My biggest hassle so far is getting used to using the control key instead of command/alt for everything. If anyone knows how to switch that in GNOME, please, let me know.

Another reason for the blog post is to point out that there is life after OS X. I know I'm a real sucker for Apple products, but if you can't afford it or can't stomach Apple culture then there are viable alternatives to running Windows. There will be a little learning curve, but if you don't mind getting your feet wet on the command line and learning something new then Linux deserves a serious look.

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