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Technology

What Happened to the Month with Linux

If you want the short version here it is:

I lasted about five days before I gave in and decided that I’m just going to give up with trying to do anything like this and continue to use the best tool for the job for me, or (as my friend Aaron Spike has said), the tool most familiar to me.

The longer answer starts here:

It is the same thing that always happens. When I need to get work done, I reach for my Apple products. If I need to do something quickly, I’ll reach for my iPad and/or iPhone and/or MacBook Air/mini because, frankly, they just work. They also work well together.

I also gave in because WWDC happened.

Why is that important? BECAUSE APPLE ANNOUNCED A LOT OF REALLY COOL STUFF!

So basically, I’m just really weak.

I’m still going to keep my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE around at work for doing the odd thing here and there (and for testing), but I think that I’m even more-firmly in Apple’s camp now than I was at the end of last month.

openSUSE still would serve my needs quite ably, but I enjoy using Apple’s devices and OS (on both desktop/notebooks and mobile devices) more than I enjoy using the laptop that I currently have openSUSE installed on.

The benefits still stand, as always. I really like having a dock available so that I can bounce between work and home with the same machine and have identical setups available to me with little-to-no fuss at all. I’m hoping that Apple can come up with something similar for their notebooks (a Thunderbolt dock with a power adapter comes about as close as possible right now … but that is still two cables).

The sheer amount of available hardware is great but it is impossible to find a great laptop anymore. Most of what is available does not entice me in the slightest. Apple’s hardware still, to and for me, is the best available. I’m hoping that rumored 12″ MacBook Air will actually happen one day.

Linux is still firmly with me every day, and that is not going to change. As for this challenge, I completely failed.

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Technology

My Month With Linux

I guess it is time to finally bite the bullet.

I’ve been toying with the idea for months (I think I brought it up back in November 2013), and after the experience I had Friday night I think it is time to give it a shot.

Starting June 1, 2014 I will use my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE 13.1 as my primary computer. I will still have access to my iPad Air and iPhone (since I’m not going to spend the money replacing those), but my primary machine will be the ThinkPad. I haven’t decided if I am going to switch at work as well (where I use a Mac mini currently), but I have a docking station hooked up in my office so that I can use it as the primary machine while I am at home.

I find it ironic that I am making this move the week of WWDC as I’ll be watching what Apple has available over the coming months. I guess I’ll be following along from Firefox on my ThinkPad.

My posts during the month will revolve around figuring out how to do the same things in Linux that I have been doing in OS X for the past years and what the pain points are for me. I’ll try to post more than just once a month.

One change over the month could revolve around getting into the SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 beta program. I’d love to be able to get my hands on that update early.

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Technology

Pulled Back to Linux

This is a follow-up to my last piece so at least you understand the title better.

I was able to work a little on getting openSUSE setup well-enough that I can use it as my training machine as I work toward some certifications from SUSE. It took a little work and a lot of trial-and-error, but I have a working machine going right now that will serve my needs. Here is how I’ve handled the problems I was having.

  • Pidgin and Google, for whatever reason, do not seem to like it when I set an avatar within Pidgin. That’s an easy-enough fix … I just don’t set an avatar within Pidgin. I would prefer to be able to set one, but I am more interested in having access to Google Talk consistently right now. I might file a bug against this because it is quite annoying.
  • VPN was only a single option away after setting all of the certificates correctly and other settings. Make sure you check the Use this connection only for resources on its network setting within the IPv4 settings of the VPN and things will work a little better. I’m not sure why I missed it in the past.
  • I have Thunderbird setup with my iCloud email so that I am able to check my personal email easily. I did have work’s Google Apps account setup as well, but it was more of a pain (and IMAP + Google is still annoying) so I’ll just use the web interface for that. Not ideal, but it will work.

There really isn’t too much else to it. That will get me by for now. I still need to work out how to apply theme settings to GNOME Terminal, but that is minor.

So I’m back. While I won’t use this Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE as my primary machine, I am happy that I have something with a proper CLI to work with again.

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Technology

Pushed Away from Linux

I do prefer Apple’s hardware and software, but sometimes Linux just pushes me away.

Take tonight for example.

This isn’t a new issue for me, but it is something I had hoped to finally figure out a workaround for this evening, but I just ended up more frustrated. I want to be able to do the following:

  • Connect to a personal Google Talk account (old Gmail account)
  • Connect to my work’s Google Apps account

I try Pidgin because that is what I have had the most success with. This is what I get:

  • Looks like both initially connect but then the personal Gmail account drops with an input/output error
  • Try to reconnect, and the same thing happens … over, and over, and over again

This was happening for both accounts, but work’s account was working tonight. Alright, why not try Empathy. That is built into GNOME so I should be able to use it easily. Here is what happens there:

  • You can log into the accounts in the system panel, but when you go into Empathy it says that my work account is listed as disconnected
  • Try to make self available, and the same thing happens
  • Turn account off and then back on again … same thing

Frustrated, I log into my account on my wife’s MacBook Pro and I have access to everything that I need. This is on top of the issues with our OpenVPN settings I have had for months (with no end in sight). Here are some symptoms:

  • I can connect when I manually pull apart of the certificates and add them separately
  • I can access the internal servers via IP addresses, but I cannot access any outside site
  • Try to set DNS settings so that it works … but no luck

Frustrated, I usually log into my account on my wife’s MacBook Pro and then connect using Tunnelblick and everything is fine with the world.

Neither of these are a deal-breaker, but it is a “death by a thousand cuts” sort of thing. If what I need to do is easier when I use OS X, then I have no incentive to try to learn how to really use the power of Linux on the desktop.

For now, for me, Linux continues to be my server OS of choice.

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Technology

Packaging for Systems

Over at Standalone Sysadmin we have an article titled Just what we need…another package manager. The article was inspired by the news that Rust is going to be receiving a package manager of its own called Cargo, and then goes off on how many different package mangers there are out there for a single system to use.

By single system, I’m talking about Linux.

I don’t have answers, but it does seem like there is a new package manager attached to each and every operating system, programming language, and even individual systems themselves (like Chef and Puppet). It is all terribly dizzying if you want to try to get anything done.

Like I said, no answers on my end.

Of course anyone can work out an ideal in their head that focuses around a single, system-wide package manager which any programming language or disparate system could hook into (like a super-charged apt or zypper), but I’m not even sure we would want that.

The hard part is that we have bought into the idea that choice is always good, and that more of something good is obviously better. This post asks whether that can always be true.