Becoming OS Agnostic

ubuntu8-boot-menuI’ve always wanted Ubuntu. It just was never the right time. For us.  I’ve thrown it on older machines.  Something was always wonky.  A driver here, a system spec there.  It was typically installed and forgotten, or immediately replaced.

I found several situations that adjusted this, and made the platform more acceptable.

  • Ease FTW. Ubuntu unveiled an option with 9.04 that you could install the OS within Windows.  It’s on a disk image, and arranges the boot file without hassle.  Perfect to try on my two year old laptop still running XP at a decent clip.
  • Everything works! I first tried the install-in-Windows option on my Dell XPS laptop.  As specialized as laptops typically are, if it passes this test, we should be good to go.  I’ve loaded it on two 2.4mhz-2.6mhz level PCs in the studio and run fine.  I only ran into trouble when I attempted a 1.3 Mhz HP and a built machine I’ve suspected has had a faulty component for a while now.  Only issue here is, I’m not as familiar if there is a problem as with the “big two” to trouble shoot nearly as well.  But most options seem fairly easy to find so far in the system.
  • Web 2.0 put me in the cloud, baby! I have become rather dependent on the whole “cloud computing” thing.  I interact and promote on Twitter, Facebook, so those sorts of tools are easy.  Most of my web work is taken care of by services like those and WordPress, so Dreamweaver sort of dropped out of the equation.  Google Docs replaces Word.  Gmail eliminates task lists (w/ Remember the Milk integration), IM clients (AOL and Gchat integration), and my Calendar.  This has become more and more prevalent as I move from various home PCs(and one iMac) for studio, web, and video work, and even to my iPhone.I just need to swap over to PC/Mac for specific tasks I haven’t suitably replaced yet on the web or with Linux apps:
    -Video editing: Final Cut Pro or bust
    -Photoshop: haven’t bought into GIMP, but need to scope Photoshop online.
    -Audio editing: Trying to get used to Audacity.  I like Audition and Soundtrack Pro, but nothing I can’t do with more rudimentary editing.
  • Feeling behind the times. My Mac has a nice new sort of white cat loaded on it, and most new Windows users are getting & or Vista going on these days, so my not quite dead yet laptop needed a dose of “ooo, shiny” to pick it up.  It’s superficial, but that’s not all…
  • Need for speed: …because I got a bit of a performance boost.  Nice thing about a new, streamlined OS, I don’t use half the power.  I’m rocking a dual core 1.6 with 3 GB of RAM.  Windows still takes minutes to load (only months after a clean reinstall) and generally hover around 1.3 GB of RAM used with general use (Tweetdeck+Firefox+Chrome) while Ubuntu is just under 700 MB.

So far, as partially mentioned before, here’s the implementation in my work flow:

  • Laptop Windows install for when I need an easy web based fix so far.  Great to load up quick for surfing/Ustream checkin machine during show recordings.
  • 2.6 ghz Celeron Compaq in Mayhem Studio.  Been running music, audio and video from web pages during the show where applicable, Talkshoe control, and an extra place to surf news.
  • 2.4 ghz Pentium 4 eMachine in Mayhem Studio.  Machine typically does a redundant record with Audacity, stream Ustream from my Digital 8MM camera plugged into Firewire, and Skype calls.
  • Live CDs:  Always handy, I keep Ubuntu discs around the house and at work in case a machine goes down.  If it doesn’t load, we can narrow the problem down a little bit.  Though I have been introduced to Puppy Linux, which is a bit more efficient in this regard.  It’s still a nice feature to be sure a machine will run the OS without issue before committing to an install.

Unfortunately, the lack of Talkshoe client, and webcam driver issues have excluded the last two from regular use.  Depending on what other machines I get into the workflow, I may be able to shuffle tasks to another Windows machine.  We’re running 4 machines regularly during the show, and hope to expand.

I realize this was sort of a tech heavy article, but it’s a review of the type of thing I tend to experiment with from time to time.  Please, let me know if you liked, it, found it helpful, or would like to hear more about articles of this nature, a run down of our studio setup and processes, etc.

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