Release the hounds!

Apparently Dana’s been making snide remarks about my lack of participation here, suitably prodding me to make an appearance on the front page. To get started, I’ve selected Gentoo Linux as my distribution of choice for the experiment beginning in September.

While there are certainly many hundreds of flavours of Linux available, Gentoo seems to be the best “mainstream”, workstation/desktop-class choice that I don’t already have some level of experience with. My current job involves maintaining servers running RHEL, Debian, SuSE and Ubuntu – so all of those choices are out given the restrictions on this project. I’m looking forward to trying Gentoo out but not necessarily all the compiling of software packages.

I’ve also recently acquired an Asus 1005HA eeePC, but have yet to decide on whether I want to run Linux on it full-time. My initial attempt at installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix failed miserably; transferring the image to a USB stick with unetbootin and then attempting to install it resulted in a stripped-down shell prompt with no discernable way to launch the installer. From the online reviews I’ve read, running Windows on this particular machine results in two additional hours of battery life over Linux.

While I try to decide about the laptop, I still plan on conducting this experiment on my main desktop system.

A few of the things I’m anticipating that will give me grief compared to a Windows or OS X environment:

  • Instant messaging. I use Windows Live Messenger under Windows, and Adium while on my MacBook Pro. The main instant messaging clients for Linux that support MSN are Pidgin and aMSN – I don’t really like how either of them display alerts or interact with the windowing system. There are numerous IRC clients available for all platforms, and I expect I’ll continue using irssi (The client of the future!) for my ongoing shenanigans on EFNet.
  • BlackBerry support. Up until recently, many BlackBerry tasks such as upgrading device software required the availability of a Windows machine. With the impending release of the OS X Desktop Manager, synchronizing calendar events and music should be significantly easier. Unfortunately there’s no equivalent to Desktop Manager in Linux. I expect this problem would manifest itself with any popular smartphone as well, but I may have to spend time on a Windows system if an OS upgrade for my Bold materializes. The barry package looks like it might be acceptable for the sync end of the equation, though.
  • Media management. Will VLC, Amarok or other popular media library applications be sufficiently workable so I’m not enraged? Let’s find out!

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