jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

The Coffee Cup

I’ve had this coffee cup on my desk at work for the past year or so now. It’s just a plain white cup, with the Ubuntu logo on it. I got it from CafePress. I loved it, for one, because the Ubuntu logo is great. Best Linux logo out there. I also loved it because as I was thinking about how to solve one problem or another, the cup was normally there with hot coffee waiting to be sipped as I pondered the solutions. Today I picked up the cup, walked towards the coffee pot, and dropped the cup. My wonderful Ubuntu coffee cup shattered as it hit the floor.

I loved that cup, so I didn’t want to break it. However, it seems appropriate, as today I also switched back to Windows at work. I’ve been running Ubuntu as my primary desktop at work for several months, and running XP in VirtualBox when needed. Lately, I’ve been needing the VM more and more, as I do more diagramming and planning in VMWare Infrastructure Client and Visio, both Microsoft centric applications. Also, rumor has it that in the next couple of months we will be replacing our aging Lotus Notes servers with Microsoft’s Exchange 2007. IBM released a Linux native Notes client which supports Ubuntu, and really works great. When we made the switch to Exchange, I was hoping to use the Evolution client that comes with Ubuntu. Unfortunately, Microsoft changed the MAPI standard for communicating with the server in Exchange 2007, and there is no supported Linux client. Which left me with two choices. Run Outlook in my VM, or moved everything back to Windows and conform to company standards. I debated this in my head for a couple of weeks, but in the past three days I’ve had X crash on me three times in Ubuntu. When X crashes, it takes all of my X applications with it, along with the data… it’s like Windows ‘95 all over again.

X crashing for no apparent reason was the nail in the coffin for me. I moved all my data over with a USB drive, and Monday I’ll format the Linux partition and fdisk /mbr from the XP recovery console.

I’ve really enjoyed using Linux, but honestly, it’s kind of relieving to be back in a supported environment again. There are still quite a few desktop tools missing from Ubuntu that are available on Macs and Windows. My current favorite so far is Evernote, with the aforementioned Visio running a close second. Launchy is nice… not as nice as Quicksilver or Gnome-Do, but nice.

Mentioning Gnome-Do brings up another point. Gnome-Do has been acting up lately, catching on something or other and eating up 99% CPU. The developers are aware of the problem, and are working on a solution. However, using Gnome-Do as an example, the very idea of what they are doing with “Release Early, Release Often”, completely goes against the grain of a business desktop. Any Linux desktop will contain beta-quality code, and when I’m relying on a computer to do my job, I can’t have it acting as a beta tester. Ubuntu is doing lots of cool stuff with 3D desktops and cutting edge software, but I don’t need it to be cool, I need it to work. Reliably.

One last note about why I’m not using Ubuntu at work any more. My computer is a Dell laptop, mostly used in a docking station, attached to a 22 inch monitor. I noticed after a while that my laptop was getting really hot in the docking station, and I couldn’t tell if Ubuntu was reading the docking station correctly or if it was displaying on both the internal monitor and the external monitor. When I popped the lid on the laptop, the monitor either came on suddenly or was on the entire time, and the keyboard was hot to the touch. In the Gnome “Screen Resolution” preferences I found that I could turn the monitor off from there, and I think that solved that issue, but I’m not sure. I’d hate to think that I was actually causing the hardware harm by running linux on it. I don’t want to spread FUD, but if its true, its true. When I’m running Windows, I don’t have that problem at all.

So, now I’m looking for a new coffee cup… something to inspire me, and be my companion in my little beige box. Whatever the new design is, it needs to be something that will last, something reliable, and something that’s in it for the long haul. Ubuntu has been good to me, both the OS, and the coffee cup, but in the end, they both broke, and I’ve got to move on.

work linux productivity quicksilver