The Great Switch – Looking Back

Linux MintAbout a year ago I decided it was time to buy me a laptop. I have always been provided one by my day job but I wanted one that wasn’t subject to work guidelines.  I really wanted a MacBook Pro but I could not justify the Apple tax.  I almost killed Miserly Southard (the affectionate name my friends call my stingy personality) that day and said “Forget the justification!” but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Decked out and with some discounts and coupons, the Dell E6530 I selected came out $1500 less than the MBP.

Just because I turned my back on Apple did not mean I was going to embrace Window 8. I knew I would be installing some flavor of Linux so while I waited for the box to arrive I began downloading Live CDs. I fired up VitualBox and tried out Ubuntu and quickly realized I still don’t like the Unity interface.  I have used Ubuntu for years on the server side and really wanted have the same configuration layout and package management for my new laptop.  I like learning new things but there is no sense in confusing myself. With a little bit of googling (yes grammar police, it is a verb) I found Linux Mint.  I tried the Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce editions but settled on Cinnamon. The goal of Mint is to provide an easy and ready to use Linux desktop which I think they did quite well.  There are things that I have run into that are difficult but overall I have been enjoying it. I do get poked at by my Mac friends who say things like, “If you had a Mac that would just work”.  While it may be true, I am happy with my choice.

When the laptop came I pulled out the hard drive, dropped in an SSD and installed Nadia (Linux Mint 14).  There were lots of bugs and issues, like my trackpad not working and issues getting basic things working but I worked through them.  Then Olivia came out and I found to my surprise that unlike Ubuntu, there is no in-place upgrade available for Linux Mint. Oh well,  I had made a mess of the OS anyway, trying things out, and seeing how things worked.  So I wiped the drive and installed Mint 15. There were big changes in my opinion, it felt more unified and polished.  Nadia had to many things where this item is configured in a native Gnome tool and this is configured in a Cinnamon tool. I still had my share of challenges but between the Mint and the Ubuntu communities I figured most of them out. Getting OpenVPN working was a big challenge but thanks to a friend (and his Mac), we got it worked out.  I did make lots of notes along the way about what I installed, what I tweaked, or how I fixed an issue, and I intended on putting them up on this blog, but never got around to it.

Now here we are a year later with a freshly unwrapped Samsung 840 Pro SSD begging to have Petra (Mint 16) installed on it. This version includes Cinnamon 2.0 which should finally put the Gnome/Cinnamon fragmentation behind us.  I noticed there was a non-recommended upgrade from 15 to 16 but since I have a new drive I am going for the clean install. This means I get to dig out my notes and relearn all those little tweaks and tricks I did to make this OS feel like home And with my renewed interest in making this blog a reality, I will be posting notes here about my configs, challenges and issues if you are interested.

I will say this ‘Great Switch’ was not an all inclusive switch. I do still have a desktop at home running Windows 7.  My wife is comfortable with Windows and it is still my go to machine if I need to do something quick.  It is always in the same spot and ready to use unlike the laptop that hides occasionally. Who knows, maybe one of these days I will pull a ‘Great Switch’ on my wife.  I also have a Mac Mini on my desk that hasn’t been powered on in a while. It is a fun little machine but I don’t have room for two desktop setups and the WAF of a KVM on the main desktop is to low to justify that solution.   I think it is time to find him a new home.  Oh well…

Off to build my ‘new’ machine now. Later!



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