Kevin Kempf's Blog

May 25, 2010

It turns out, Windows 7 wasn’t my idea

Filed under: Ubuntu, Windows 7 — kkempf @ 8:48 pm

Up front warning: I’ve abandoned Windows 7 as my primary OS at work.  I dumped it for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” with Windows 7 running in a Sun/Oracle Virtual Box.  Instead of “nitpicking” about all of the things it didn’t do to my satisfaction, I decided to look at what I really need my work PC to be able to do.  Through the course of this, I also realized that my work PC does a completely different set of tasks than my home PC, were Windows 7 is more suited.

The following table chronicles how I “work” on a PC in the workplace.  While some features are available on OS’s I didn’t checkbox, it’s because their implementation is inferior to the other one which is.  Details below the table.

Feature Ubuntu Windows 7 Cent OS
Email Client
ssh client
Flash plugin for browser
Java plugin for browser
VNC/RDP client
SQL Developer
sftp client
Screen Manager
Discoverer 10g Admin Client
Tether Blackberry modem (bluetooth) with VPN
Dual Monitor Support
Open/edit modern Word, Excel, Powerpoint
SQLplus Client
Nice to Have
Fast Bootup
IM Client

Email Client/Calendar: Of course, Ubuntu and CentOS offer an email client with Calendar, called Evolution. The problem is, it’s an awful product. It crashes frequently. It doesn’t sync well with a Blackberry, doesn’t import my calendar/appointments right, and you must install an unincluded Exchange MAPI protocol to get anywhere close to usable with Exchange.

SSH Client: You can find many clients for Windows. None I found are worth the electrons it takes to download them.

Java/Flash plugins: Take note, none of these are officially supported under any flavor of Linux.

VPN: It’s point and click under Windows 7 and (surprisingly!) Ubuntu.  I’m referring specifically to PPTP.

VNC/RDP: Windows has this native, which is easier.  My compromise was to run Ultra VNC under Wine in Ubuntu.

Screen Manager: Virtual screens, on your taskbar, which track what applications you are running there.  On a dual monitor setup, this means you can easily have 8 applications running full screen, and simply click the appropriate screen in the taskbar to get to the ones you need.  For example, I keep the Windows 7 Virtual Box (Exchange) and Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control (performance monitor) running on one screen.  Those are pretty much always needed.  The other 3 screens are for whatever I’m working on “at the moment” and provide a clean desktop to do so, instead of tabbing through 5-10 applications.

Tethering a Blackberry: Again, surprisingly simple under Windows 7 with Verizon access manager, but also simple (all GUI fied) under Ubuntu.   The information online and in Ubuntu help is not so great; it’s good fodder for a future post.

Fast Bootup: Ubuntu is about a 1 minute boot to a functional OS.  Windows 7 is at least three times this.

Silverlight is nifty for streaming Netflix movies during lunch.

In the end, the only thing Windows was giving me that I needed every day was a good email & calendar client.  Since my forays into Discoverer Admin are occasional at best, I’m happy to relegate Windows  to a VM in (free) Sun/Oracle Virtual Box.

Finally, to give a visual, here’s what the Ubuntu desktop looks like (at least screen 1 of 4):

Note that Windows is happily running inside Ubuntu (double task bars there).


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