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Sidetracked by a Meerkat

 

Something happened along the way to openSUSE bliss. I read that Ubuntu 10.10 beta dropped. I downloaded and burned a copy to a CD and within a few minutes I was looking at a familiar scene. I was never a big fan of Ubuntu’s Ambiance theme, so I switched it to its contrasted theme, Radiance. Right now I have a temporary wallpaper until I find something more to my liking.

I already know what my problems are in Ubuntu, so I decided to take the operating system for a spin. While the bottom of my laptop got warm, it was nowhere near as hot as was using previous versions of Canonical’s OS. Maybe it is something in the kernel, who knows. What I do know is that I can check email, browse the internet, listen to an MP3 and work on this post at the same time and the fan doesn’t sound like it’s having a nervous breakdown. Looks like one of my bigger issues with Ubuntu have been addressed.

My next issue was taming the psychotic mouse. One thing that openSUSE 11.3 does natively, that even Windows can do with the help of additional software, is to disable my touchpad while typing. The feature is hit or miss in Ubuntu, but thanks to Ubuntu forums, I was able to tame the touchpad demon with the help of syndaemon and a little command line magic. As I type this post, the cursor is out of the way until four seconds after I stop typing. It’s nice to type a paragraph and not have the cursor jump to another part of the post.

Now for the big test: I have to figure out what programs I plan to use in Ubuntu that are the equivalents of the programs I used in Windows. Since Openoffice has a native Linux client (and since I already used it in Windows) I will be using OOo Writer in Ubuntu to format my final drafts of articles, novels and short stories. I like using Q10 in Windows to pen my rough drafts, but unfortunately, the developer has no plans to port the word processor to Linux. Instead of looking for something similar, I decided to use gedit, which is the default text editor in Ubuntu. It has the features I need. It has a full-screen mode with the press of the F11 key. Note open in tabs, so if I am working on different parts of a project, or if I cut something out of an article to save for another, it’s just a Ctrl + N key press away. Work is saved as a plain text document, allowing me to focus on what I’m writing versus how it looks. This will be a great tool for NaNoWriMo in 43 days.

I’m a big Word Web user. I like having an off-line dictionary for those times I don’t want to be connected. Artha is the Linux equivalent. It’s fast, comprehensive and if you can use Word Web, then you can use Artha. (If the program is set to run at startup, you invoke it by pressing Ctrl + Alt + W.) One of the neatest tricks about Artha, is that it can display the definition of a word as a notification, instead of opening the entire program.

In Windows, I used either Windows Live Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. While there is a Linux client of Thunderbird, I am going to be using Evolution in Ubuntu. It is a good mail program that has been hampered by little bugs here and there. Evolution version 2.30 is supposed to address those and offer faster performance. I’ll write more about it throughout the month. I like how integrated it is with the rest of the operating system. Mail notifications pop onto the desktop without being obtrusive.

Let’s face it, writing and social networking are becoming bffs (best friends forever) as fast as technology will allow. Almost everyone I know who writes, has either a Facebook or Twitter account. To keep up with their journeys and to write about my own, I use TweetDeck. Gwibber is the default social networking app in Ubuntu, but I haven’t had a great experience with it. Could be because I am using a beta release of Ubuntu. I will try it out October 10, when the final version drops.

The last piece of my puzzle is a good blogging app. In Windows there is Windows Live Writer and then there is everything else. If I have to give Microsoft credit for one thing, it would be this piece of beautiful software. The closest thing I have found was Blogilo, which is a solid blogging app for the KDE desktop. But, I am in Ubuntu, which uses the Gnome desktop environment. I could install Blogilo, but it means installing a bunch of other stuff I really don’t want to install. Blogtk is one of the few desktop apps I will try out later. For now, I think I will stick with writing my posts in gedit and uploading them to WordPress when I get a chance.

So now that I am so well adjusted in Ubuntu, what does that mean for openSUSE? Good question. Ubuntu 10.10 final drops on October 10, so I can decide after the final upgrade. If everything goes well, I will stick with Ubuntu. If not, then I still have two weeks to test openSUSE and decide if I’ll stay with Linux or return to Windows. No matter the decision, I’ll be ready to win my first NaNo.

Published in The Writing Life

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