Too long ago I posted in From Windows to Linux about my transition from my very old Dell laptop to my new HP laptop.
It’s been an adventure and it ain’t over yet.
The good news is that the grand scheme works pretty well. I run a host OS with VMware Workstation and two guests systems – Ubuntu for as much as I can and WinXP for the rest. The transition from Eudora on WinXP to Evolution on Ubuntu was difficult but the end result is better. I would like to figure out where Evolution stores its stuff and make sure that it is under My Dropbox for backup purposes and I am still doing too many things under Windows as I climb up the learning curve on Linux alternatives. But using Dropbox (see Loving Dropbox) makes switching back and forth and working between platforms pretty painless.
I even, for grins and giggles, used the various sources around the web to create a Snow Leopard virtual machine. It’s completely against the Apple license, but it was a fun experiment and it runs okay by itself. But as one of three VMs, it starts to degrade the performance pretty severely. I only run one program on the Mac (Scrivener – highly recommended for writers) and it runs just fine on my Mac Mini so there it will stay (although I can see buying a small, used Macbook instead of a new netbook for just this program — yes, it’s that good).
The bad news is that I gave up a lot when I swapped Win 7 out in favor of Ubuntu as the host OS. Win 7 on the physical hardware is quite deeply integrated with the Blue-ray player, all the functional buttons above the keyboard (media player controls, sound controls and wireless controls), and the cute little remote tucked into the side of the laptop. All that falls by the wayside when I use Ubuntu for the host. Fortunately, my VMware Workstation License will work for either host, so switching back to Win 7 was a no brainer.
Now, for the ugly part …
The Ubuntu host pops up in a few seconds (okay, maybe 20-30) but Win 7 takes twice as long. Similarly, Ubuntu takes 20-30 seconds to shut down. Since a recent update on Win 7, shutting down takes somewhere between “forever” and “longer than that” (okay, I exaggerate, ~2-5 minutes). Updating Ubuntu is just as easy and less invasive to update (fewer updates and fewer reboots after updating) than Win 7.
Every now and again, the Win 7 host just loses the USB connection to my external keyboard and mouse. Ubuntu never lost this connection. The connection is long and circuitous (wireless keyboard and mouse <–> wireless receiver <–> 4-port KVM switch <–> PS/2 cables <–> PS/2 to USB converter <–> 4-port USB hub <–> HP laptop) so, no I don’t exactly where and why things drop out, and no, I can’t make this simpler without sacrificing the infrastructure that supports three other machines in my office.
Sometimes, if I am very lucky, I can unplug the last USB cable from the hub to the laptop, plug it back in, and get everything working again.
If I am not lucky I have to suspend my Win XP virtual machine “as is” so I can resume it later “as was” (not too painful and one of the key motivations for my “do all the useful work inside a VM” strategy); shut down by Ubuntu VM (as suspending it makes the time wrong when it comes back); reboot the host; reboot Ubuntu VM; and resume the Win XP VM. All this takes ~10 minutes and it stops being fun after the first time. Yesterday, I had to do this four times, this morning once (I got lucky the second time).
I’d love to find a solution to my time problems with Ubuntu. Even with administrative privilege, I cannot resynchronize the time with an outside NTP server. I’ve beaten PolicyKit bloody to no effect. Fortunately, if I shut the system down out from under Chrome, it will offer to bring back all my open tabs. That’s a blessing – not all programs are so forgiving.
The long and short of it is that I’m on the cusp of switching back to my Ubuntu host if I don’t find some way better solutions to these problems very soon. The hell with Blue-ray.