When I moved back to Windows from Linux late last year I had four major gripes so I thought I’d report back on what progress, if any, I’ve seen in the Linux community in addressing these problems.
- Lack of WPA support. This has mostly been addressed in the Ubuntu distro flavors that I favor. The Intel based wireless card in my Dell just works with Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mepis and Linux Mint.
- Lack of support for suspend to ram and disk. No progress. I have a question on the hardware section of the Linux Mint forum that has stayed at or near the top of the list for a week, but nobody can tell me how to make my laptop hibernate or sleep.
- nVidia drivers won’t work with a flat panel when the laptop is in its docking station. No progress. Not a clue or the hint of a clue. The same question on the Linux Mint forum includes this issue as well and to date, no takers.
- Spotty support for Palm synchronization. I haven’t tested this one yet. If I could get the flat panel to work I might get brave enough to risk the data on my palm to a sync with Evolution, but not just yet.
So the score is 1 solved mostly, 2 no progress and one unknown.
Well I hate to say it, but after a month with Vista I’ve reverted to XP. Vista started out ok but after a few weeks response times were down, reads and writes from network drives were very slow, even opening and saving files to the local disks seemed slower than XP.
There were also some driver issues. HP hasn’t released a real driver for my printer at home so it had limited functionality, the Palm Desktop software is not fully supported in Vista and Pocket Tunes won’t work at all. I can’t blame Vista per se for the poor support from Palm and NormSoft, but until they decide to catch up, what can I do? One of the reasons I moved back to Windows from Linux was for things that just worked, especially my Palm.
I have run Linux for 5 years (on and off) so believe me when I say I know Beta software when I see it. Vista has that Beta feel about it. I think I’ll wait for Service Pack 1 to try again.
As I noted in my last post, I have endured a shotgun wedding and am once again joined at the hip with Windows. However, I am determined to make the best of my situation and will be sharing with you the tools I am using to make the experience bearable. Below is a screen shot of my desktop, click for a larger version. Not too bad. Here’s how its done.
1) Move the task bar to the top (easy enough) and run Rocket Dock, that is a freeware Mac style dock you can get here that works great. It has a lot more features than I wish to use (it could act as your task manager if you wished for a really Mac like experience) has lots of plugins and themes. I use the ZenClear style.
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Just so you know, those of us who live just South of Dallas refer to that operating system from Redmond as Winders. No real reason, we just think it sounds vaguely countrified and is just plain funny.
So as I discussed yesterday I’m back using Winders and I’m not happy about it. Last night I aired the causes which compelled me to the separation from Linux. The support in Winders is better for certain issues common to laptops, like WPA-PSK encryption, sleep and hibernate and others. But just because it supports those things does not mean all is well.
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Yep, you read that right. I’m once more enslaved to the Beast of Redmond. Why? Because Linux just can’t do some of the things I want to do with my laptop right now. Or rather, it can probably do them but I’m unwilling to invest the hundreds of hours required to figure out how to do them.
What things, you ask? Well since you asked, I’ll tell you.
1) WPA-PSK encryption for one. I’ve read it can be done and my hardware supports it both in Windows and Linux, but nobody can tell me how to do it and I can’t figure it out. It seems unreal to me that at this late date this is not a dead solid simple process supported in both Gnome and KDE. But it is not.
2) Bullet proof synchronization with my Palm. I haven’t given Gnome a try, but the KDE conduits are terrible and are not helped by all the changes that have been going on in Linux land regarding how usb devices are recognized. Its a hit or miss thing.
3) Sleep and hibernate. Dudes, come on. Hibernate sort of works but takes so long to save and restore that I may as well turn the computer off. Saying that sleep is problematic is an understatement. It works, sort of, about 50% of the time. Now there will be people who say that these things can be configured to work. The point is that I shouldn’t have to do anything to configure this, it should just work.
1 and 3 are part of laptop life. I have not used a desktop in 4 years and I’m not going to start now. Most people I know are not using desktops either and its time Linux had better laptop support.
But don’t think that just because I’m back to Windows I’m happy about it. I am actively watching and anxiously waiting for an opportunity to move back to Linux and I’ll post my Windows gripes. Tomorrow.