Pondering Linux

Note: I am posting this both on my personal El Guru and Firefox Extension Guru’s Blogs to get as much feedback as I can on this.

As some my long time Firefox Blog readers may recall I had experimented a bit back in 2007 with Linux Ubuntu. Never really got a chance to do much with it as about six-months after I had installed Ubuntu I had to replace the computer. Given everything I do online, I could not be without a computer for a few days. Because of this I could not go my usual route and have one custom built for me. So the same day I ended purchasing an HP Pavilion off-the-shelf which came installed with Windows Vista. For an off-the-shelf machine this HP is not too bad, except for the Windows Vista part. I know my way around Vista and it does what I need it to do, just so slowly. Heck to even shut-down takes about 2-3 minutes and a restart takes another 3 minutes or so. I really need to do a clean install of Windows Vista again, but if I am going to go through all that trouble I may just as well switch over to Linux.

I recently took a look at what I running and discovered about 95% of the applications I use could run on Linux. A couple exceptions would be Quicken, WinAmp and WeatherBug. WinAmp would not be that big of a deal as I really liked Amarok over WinAmp. Checking on WeatherBug’s site they have a beta available for Debian Linux distribution (Debian, Ubuntu, LinuxMint, etc), so that could work (beta software doesn’t bother me). Quicken is going to be an issue, but I suppose if I do go the dual-boot route I can boot into Windows for that (or find an Open Source equivalent or may be use Wine).

The big applications that I am always using are Firefox, Chrome (it handles Flash based games much better than Firefox) and Thunderbird. Firefox shouldn’t be too difficult to re-setup other then getting my extensions reinstalled (time to do some house keeping anyways) and importing my bookmarks (easy to do since I have to that about once a week at work). Last time I did Thunderbird, I had set it up so that it used my Windows profile. I won’t need to do that this time around as all four of email accounts I use in Thunderbird are setup IMAP so it should remain synced no matter which was I access my email. The only thing I will need to import is my contacts which should not be difficult. Chrome all I need to do with that is just install it (I am not even running any of the extensions).

For my web development work I use an old Open-Source application called NVU. Sadly this is not the most stable program in the world but it gets the job done. There is/was a Linux equivalent called KompoZer I would be interested in finding an Open Source HTML/WYSIWYG Editor. For FTP Client I use FileZilla and I know that is available for Linux.

Now, my two main concerns are installing Linux and some of the hardware I am using. I’ll address the hardware first as this relates to my install concerns. I am using a 24″ Acer Monitor set at a resolution of 1920×1080 in Windows. Back when I had Ubuntu with my 19″ running at 1440×900 I had quite the challenge being able to get Ubuntu to support that high of a resolution. Further I have a Western Digital My Book external USB hard drive. That shouldn’t be too difficult to get mounted within Linux. I use the drive primarily for back-up of my data.

When I ran Ubuntu in 2007 on my Windows XP machine I had installed on partition on a separate (from the drive with Windows XP) internal drive. This time around I don’t have this luxury, without going out and buying another (SATA) drive and trying to install it within this cramped case (hence the reason I bought the external). I have heard it is possible to re-partition the hard drive which Windows is installed on without damaging Windows. I have plenty of space (169 GB available) so should be plenty of room for Linux on the same drive.

So here are my concerns and questions in regards to trying do a dual-boot install of Linux:

  • Is it possible to have Linux and Windows both on the same drive but on different partitions without messing up my Windows Vista install? I should add I do have the recovery disks for my system so if something does go wrong I can reinstall Vista.
    • I might even consider wiping and installing Linux on another machine. As long I can get Linux to mount my external drive I should be able to access all my data from either machine. I just would need to invest in a KVM switch so I don’t have to keep disconnecting/reconnecting peripherals when I need to switch machines.
  • What would be a good distribution to use that would handle my hardware requirements relativity painlessly? About a year ago I do recall downloading and even burning to a CD an ISO for Mint, but never did anything with it.
    • If I go with the clean install on another machine method, I would imagine this would be an easier way to install Linux.

So any feedback, advise, suggestions, success./horror stories, etc would be appreciated. This is something I am looking to be doing in the next month or so.