So today is my first day with the experiment of using Linux at MPOW(My Place of Work) at the Buffalo State College, E. H. Butler Library. My campus is mostly Microsoft Windows, with a few Mac users here and there, so I was curious to see if its possible to survive on a Linux platform at work. My curiosity started because we have been discussing the use of netbooks for our Laptop Loan program, and many of these netbooks use Linux as the main operating system. I am not the first librarian to take a look at Linux of course, and one inspiration for deciding to go with an Ubuntu flavor of Linux was from the blog post, “do you ubuntu?” at Librarian.net. I also found this series of YouTube videos discussing the use of Edubuntu for Libraries (another flavor of Ubuntu). Here is the first chapter of the series:
So this is the start of day 1 with Linux at MPOW…
I decided to use the Linux Mint distribution (Version 7 Gloria RC1), mainly because it is an offshoot of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope, but with a much easier setup process. Here is a quick list of what I am using ( I won’t get into too much technical details):
- Dell Latitude D610 Laptop with a Docking Station and a second monitor. This is the computer that was purchased for me when I first started. It was starting to get a little sluggish, but the new linux makes it feel like a whole new computer!
- Linux Mint 7 RC1 Codename “Gloria” (Download it here) which I burned to a CD.
Step 1: Installation
I simply booted up the laptop using the CD, and it first starts with what’s called the “Live CD” environment where a basic Linux Mint OS is running from the CD, with an “Install” shortcut on the desktop. You can actually use Linux Mint without installing it to your computer to try it out. The only drawback is that it won’t save your settings after you shutdown. Clicking the “Install” shortcut starts the installation process, and most of the time I just hit continue without any changes. The only time I had to input information was when I told it to use the whole hard disk for the installation, and another step to setup the username and password. Once the install started, it took about 30 minutes for the installation to finish. Then it was just a matter of hitting “Enter” to restart the computer. Once Linux Mint finsihed booting, I was greeted with this screen:
Once I logged in with the username and password I created during the installation, I am ready to go. One of the nice things about Linux Mint is that most of the software is ready to use right away, including the pesky media plugins like Adobe Flash. Usually I spend a good half hour just tracking down the right versions of plugins etc. just to get started.
Step 2: E-Mail
The most important first step was to setup my e-mail for work. I am currently using Gmail for my work e-mail, using Gmail to pull my e-mail from my work account. If your interested, you can try reading the documentation for Mail Fetcher for Gmail. I started this almost two years ago because I got annoyed that Outlook only worked on campus, the Outlook Web Access was annoying to use, and I wanted more access to my e-mail through my phone (previously a Motorola Razr, now an iPhone). Once I made sure that the Linux Firefox had no trouble getting access to Gmail, my e-mail was ready to go. I may still look at using Thunderbird as an e-mail client later, but I wanted to get up and running as soon as possible.
Step 3: Messaging Service (IM, Twitter, Friendfeed, etc.)
Pidgin IM client was already installed for instant messaging, so it was just a matter of typing in the account information and making sure I could login. What I like about the Piding client is that it allowed me to login to both our Library Reference IM, and my work IM accounts at the same time. I also found that a Pidgin plugin for Facebook that allows me to chat with Facebook friends (Our library has a Facebook profile as well). What was surprising was that installing the Facebook plugin was easier on Linux (using the debian package) then it was to install it on my Win XP laptop. For my Twitter and Friendfeed needs, I went with Adobe AIR platform and Twhirl.
Calling it a day…
That was all I had time to setup for today, while responding to e-mail and other work related stuff. The next challenge for tomorrow is to see if I can live without MS Office!