Monday, October 02, 2006

Le Sigh

The Microsoft Windows XP Professional Operating System is really starting to make me angry.

It started on Thursday, when I got a virus. No, wait… let me go back a bit further.

It started on Monday or Tuesday, when I got an email from my IT department, telling me that there is a patch available from Microsoft, for a security issue, and that everyone should install it right away. So I went to Windows Update, to install it, only to be told that there is a security policy on my computer, that doesn’t allow it to access updates from Windows Update. Nice! One IT department has different policies from another IT department, and serna gets no updates!

Then came the virus on Thursday. (Actually, it could have been spyware, rather than a virus—I’m just not sure.) I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have got the virus if I’d been able to install the security update(s) from Microsoft, because that would be a nice ironic twist, but I don’t actually know that for sure. In any event McAffee—which I don’t like, but I’m forced to use it at work—managed to find the virus right away, and remove it. But it didn’t completely remove it; it left my desktop doing strange and funny things. So I did a bit of research on the net, and managed to get my desktop back up and running, almost good as new.

The only problem was that every other time I booted up the system, some process shot up to 100% CPU usage, and I couldn’t do anything. So I’d have to reboot, and hope for the best.

Then, on Friday, Firefox stopped working. It developed problems with Flash animations, and now any time I hit a site that happens to have any Flash on it, Firefox crashes! This was a problem because Firefox has become my browser of choice; I don’t use Internet Explorer anymore, unless I have to. And, of course, almost every site on the internet these days uses Flash. (Slight exaggeration, I admit.) So I tried uninstalling Firefox on Friday, and re-installing it, but same problem. (As I type this, I’ve just uninstalled it again—and gone in and manually deleted its Plugins directory—and am downloading it to install it again.)

So I made a decision Friday afternoon: I was going to install Ubuntu on my work laptop again, to make it a dual-boot system, and try using Ubuntu at work as much as possible. Out of the box it comes with an email client—Evolution—that’s supposed to work with Exchange, and an instant messaging client—Gaim—that’s supposed to work with MSN Messenger. Plus it comes with OpenOffice, which is compatible with Microsoft Office documents. (I’ve already mentioned some of this, in the past.) I’d already tested Gaim and OpenOffice, and had no problems, so if Evolution worked with Exchange, I’d be set. So I installed it on the weekend, and got myself ready for work on Monday.

I came in this morning, and booted up into Ubuntu, and found the following:

  • There were some issues getting multiple monitors to work. And by “some issues”, I mean that I couldn’t get it to work at all.
  • Evolution seems to work great with Exchange! No problems there.
  • Although Gaim works great with MSN Messenger when I’m at home, it doesn’t work great with MSN Messenger on the network at work. I might be able to tweak the settings a bit; my initial tries didn’t yield any results, but I didn’t try very hard before I gave up.
So I’ve rebooted back into Windows—twice, because the first time the CPU shot back up to 100% again, and I couldn’t work—and I’m using it again. I’m going to keep trying to get Ubuntu up and running, in my spare time; it works great at home, it’s just the issues mentioned above that I need to fix, to get it running at work. (And, from what I’ve been reading, getting the multiple monitor thing working is going to be a pain in the you-know-what; I’ve read at least a dozen people’s advice on how to do it, and they’ve all been different.)

As an aside, there was another unimportant-but-neat feature of Ubuntu I noticed on the weekend: It comes with a program that emulates Post-It Notes, out of the box. I always find myself opening up multiple copies of Notepad, for little notes to myself, so I was looking forward to being able to use the notes. (More information here, although the screenshots shown are for some other version of Linux, not Ubuntu.)

Oh well. Maybe, since I talk about it so much, I should start a Newbie’s Ubuntu blog, to write about my experiences? Apparently I’ll have lots to write about; how to get Ubuntu up and running at work, how to get it running on my home laptop, etc. I’ll also probably want to install Xgl/Compiz, so I’ll have that to write about, too. Not to mention that it seemed like there would be a Linux version of HTML-Kit, but now it looks like they’ve discontinued it, so I guess the first few posts would be about finding a customizable HTML editor I could use…

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