Sunday, 16 December 2007

Leopard Cannot Change It's Spots

WARNING: Apple fanboys, look away now.

What is it with OS upgrades recently? Vista. Don't make me laugh! Ubuntu Gusty seemed to cause me more problems than it solved. And to make matters worse, I upgraded my Intel Mac Mini from OS X Tiger to Leopard a couple of weeks ago.

That's the first and only time I'll pay for an Apple OS "upgrade". There is simply nothing in Leopard worth having. Here's a quick look at some of the features that would have been useful, had Apple taken time to design and implement them properly:

  1. Spaces. Aka, virtual desktops. These are an absolutely must for me. They're just something that you get used to and then wonder how you ever did without. For example, I might have a browser full screen on desktop 1, email full screen on desktop 2, Eclipse ful screen on desktop 3, etc. Linux desktops have had these available for years, yet Leopard still manage to produce a half baked version. In Leopard, I either have to click a toobar icon and select a workspace number or launch spaces from a dock icon and select one. Both of those require at least two actions on my part. Compare this to KDE (or GNOME) where one click takes me to exactly the application and/or desktop I want. In Linux, I can right-click any window or toolbar icon and move the application to another desktop. The point here is that Spaces are just not very usable in Leopard, compared to their Linux counterparts.
  2. Stacks. What a mess in Leopard! These are supposed to make navigating folders easier. What is the point in having the dock icon change, depending on the first item in the folder? That just serves to confuse the user. Again, KDE has had this idea implemented for years and they did it much better. If you're going to copy existing ideas, at least improve upon them.
  3. 3D Dock. How anyone at Apple thought this was an improvement on the previous version, I'll never know. It's just too difficult to see the icon that shows whether an application is running or not. I ended up moving the dock to the left hand side of the desktop, just to make it usable.
I could go on and on. Some people have noticed significant performance improvements, I haven't. The "upgrade" lost my printer details and I had to reconfigure it again. The xserver still has the yellow cursor bug. However, applying that fix to Leopard totally hoses the xserver. I had to revert to the xserver that was shipped with Tiger to solve it. My keyboard has never been detected correctly by any version of OS X, ad infinitum.

All in all, Leopard has been one big disappointment and I didn't even suffer any of the more troublesome upgrade woes. I find it ironic that Steve Jobs has spent the last few years slagging off Vista, yet it took Apple two years to come up with Leopard.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Having Linux Wireless Troubles? Try WPA!

A few weeks ago, my father bought himself a brand new laptop. It was an Advent 7113 and he got a pretty good deal. Of course, it had Vista installed. He already knows about Linux because I've had him use it in the past. This time however, he wanted to stick with Vista to try it out. So I set up ZoneAlarm, ClamWin, connected to his wireless network and left him to it. Everything seemed to be going well.

And then it happened!

The inevitable "Can you come over and have a look at this laptop" phone call. I've had plenty of these calls in the past, so I wasn't too surprised when I received this one. What did surprise me though, was when the laptop started it booted straight into Ubuntu Feisty. Interesting!

It turns out my parents got tired of Vista after a couple of weeks because they were constantly being bombarded with pop-ups. They instructed my brother to wipe Vista and put Linux on it. He obliged by installing Ubuntu Feisty. I was called when they couldn't get connected to the wireless network. Nice!

Running lsusb revealed the laptop uses an inbuilt MSI 6877 WLAN usb card. The Network Manager application in Feisty could see the network but couldn't connect. It just sat there trying to connect for ever after accepting the WEP key. I had a bad feeling about this and posts like this one on the Ubuntu forums didn't help.

I spent many hours trying various drivers, downloading them and building them. I tried every combination of iwconfig I could think of. Nothing worked! As a last resort, I was thinking of using ndiswrapper but Vista had been wiped from the machine and they didn't get an install CD. So, I couldn't find the Windows drivers for the wireless card. I was aware that the Vista drivers probably wouldn't work with ndiswrapper anyway. It would likely have to be the XP ones. Where would I get those? I really didn't want to use ndiswrapper if I could help it.

The fact that Feisty could see the network continued to niggle me. Why couldn't it connect? Why would someone write a driver that could see the network but couldn't connect? It made no sense. Perhaps it was just a very early version of the driver? It's doubtful that such a driver would make it into the kernel and end up in Feisty though! I downloaded the latest live CD of Gusty, just in case the driver had been updated. Still the same issue. I was getting tired of this! WHY WON'T THE DRIVER CONNECT?

OK, let's see what happens if I turn off all security on the router. BINGO! CONNECTED! A router without any security is not the answer but at least this is progress. So, I have one other option. Try WPA instead of WEP encryption on the router. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed while I enter the WPA passphrase and wait for the laptop to connect to the network. And it does! Wireless is working perfectly.

I've no idea why WPA worked over WEP and frankly I don't care! My parents have a fully functional laptop with the latest version of Gusty and I haven't had any calls since.

I'm off to update that post on the Ubuntu forums.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Linux in the Workplace: What the Users Think

When I wrote my first "Linux in the Workplace" post, Vista had just been launched. There were lots of articles popping up stating that Linux was not ready for the desktop (coincidence?). Having used Linux at home and in work I knew this wasn't true. So, I wrote an article to try and show that any modern distro is perfectly suitable for most people.

In the follow up, I discussed some ideas on how to help colleagues make the switch to Linux. I received an interesting response to that second article from Warner, which was the inspiration for this post.

Several colleagues of mine now also use Linux as their primary work desktop. In fact, we now have about a 50/50 split between (K)Ubuntu and XP users in our office. I wanted to get their views on why they use Linux and if they are happy with it. Hopefully the answers will be useful to others considering Linux. I asked everyone the same set of questions. So without further ado, here are their thoughts:

Q. What motivated you to try Linux?

Michael: The amount of time (that was) wasted developing and building my applications on a windows box.

Jeff: (I) had a problem with Wireless on Windows XP. Basically after new drivers were installed the machine was extremely slow and took 10 minutes to boot and get logged in.

Peter: Unreliability of Windows, desire to know more about using Linux and desire to support the open source software movement - In that order.

Sean: I have a mac and really like how reliable it is and I had the idea of trying to get a hacked version of osx onto my PC. When I saw how well linux (Ubuntu) worked I knew this would be a good alternative.

Paul: I initially tried Linux on the recommendation of others on the basis that it would be a more effective development environment. Additionally, the idea of trying something new which may eliminate some frustrations with Windows appealed to me.

Q. What did you think of Linux before switching?

Michael: I'd heard good things from a number of sources. Mainly from those with a development background. Faster development time, more "free" tools to help development. I'd heard a lot of cool apps that I'd like to take for a test drive.

Jeff: My first experience of Linux was at university around the mid 1990's. At that stage it seemed a lot more involved than windows was and it seemed as if you needed a lot more technical knowledge to be able to run it. I also remember thinking that it was all command line based whereas windows had a nice GUI.

More recently I had bought an old laptop and put SUSE 9.1 Linux on it and was very impressed with it. It was fairly straightforward to get it up and running and had a nice UI. I actually gave the laptop to my parents who have no computing experience other than surfing the web, email and some word processing and they have never had any problem with it. The switch for them from Windows was seamless.

Peter: I had the impression that it was not very user friendly and that it had hardly any support for MS file formats (both wrong). I was aware that it is vastly superior in performance and security.

Sean: I thought it was good, but I was wary of it because I thought there would be compatibility issues etc with software that I like and some hardware.

Paul: My impressions of Linux prior to switching over were that it would be more difficult to use and that only 'expert' users would be able to use it effectively.

Q. What concerns did you have about switching to Linux?

Michael: I feared that actually setting up a Linux box would require a lot of effort. I needn't have worried too much. I did have some problems which actually ended up requiring a new hard drive in my box. Once I had that it was plain sailing.

Also, I worried about integration with my existing windows apps. I've used a Windows box for developing on for over 10 years. I'm just used to all it's little quirks and what to do to get things done quickly.

Jeff: My only concerns really were that my wireless networking at home and in the office would work and that the software I use regularly would work or there would be a suitable alternative. I was concerned that there wouldn't be drivers for my wireless card etc.

Peter: That I wouldn't be able to interoperate with the Windows office environment. That it would be difficult to find support for issues I had.

Sean: It might not have the software packages in place for the things I need to do

Paul: My main concern when switching was that I would struggle to find a set of applications to replace the ones I was using on Windows. I thought applications would be hard to find, possibly 'buggy', and generally not as good.

Also, I thought any issues I would come across would be difficult to deal with, and answers would be harder to come by compared to any issues faced on Windows.

Q. What were the major issues you faced in Windows?

Michael: Just the 3 things, slowness, slowness and slowness. Recycling my build environment was just painful. Additional windows would decided to hang for some reason when opening Windows Explorer or going to save a file.

Jeff: The obvious ones were, viruses, spyware and the feeling that while I was online I could be open to attack. Also always having to keep up to date with the regular Windows Updates and keeping my virus checker and spyware software up to date. Plus the problem with the machine running slowly after the wireless drivers being updated.

Peter: Unreliability - Security updates killing my computer and applications causing the machine to hang. Also long startup times (bad for a laptop).

Sean: Security, pop-ups, slow when it gets fragmented, the list could go on.

Paul: On Windows, I had problems with the performance of the OS ie Windows XP. After having it installed for a while, even with anti-virus and anti-spyware software running, the OS became unbearably slow. Having to run anti-virus and anti-spyware software in the first place is a nuisance, and presumably contributed to the performance issues. Turning these off is obviously not an option as the machine would quickly become riddled with virus'! When running Windows I would generally re-install every 6 months or so to avoid these problems... which I don't really want to have to do.

Q. What are the major issues you have with Linux?

Michael: I rely heavily on Microsoft Outlook for email and calendar. It's very integrated with the Company's Exchange server. I still use my windows laptop for all non-coding tasks.

Jeff: I have had a few minor issues, but no major ones. Any minor issues have been very easily resolved with a quick look on the internet.

Peter: Integration with windows networks - especially domain credentials.

Sean: None as yet, a few applications that I would like to see available for linux would be the adobe/macromedia software suite. I would also like an iPhoto type application for linux.

Paul: The only real issues I've found with linux is the problems with drivers. It can be hard to find drivers for some hardware, and even when you do find them they can be a headache to install.

Recently I installed drivers for a USB ADSL modem. This involved about 10 minutes of editing files and running commands in the terminal... even now I still have to reboot the machine to reconnect when the connection drops... pain in the ****!

Not to mention ATI graphics cards...

However, I recognise that these problems are to do with the hardware companies not making Linux drivers.

Q. What do you miss most about Windows?

Michael: I live happily in the 2 worlds.

Jeff: I don't miss anything. Sometimes for work I need to test code using IE but using it is a necessity not a desire of my own.

Peter: Oddly, being able to cut/copy text from a Terminal Services window onto my local machine and being able to share local disk drives over a TS connection.

Sean: There is no denying that there is a huge wealth of apps available for the platform.

Paul: I'm surprised that I don't miss very much about Windows at all. The only thing that comes to mind is the installation of software. In Windows double clicking an .exe to run an installer is clearly easier than building from source, which seems unavoidable sometimes.

Q. What do you like most about Linux?

Michael: Speed

Jeff: That it just works and is so customisable. The amount of utilities that are available is awesome and it's so easy to install them. I was amazed by the "apt-get" and "dpkg" utilities and how they just worked. Plus I can have multiple desktops and use a separate desktop for each application.

Peter: The peace of mind that comes with Linux Security.
- Using Synaptic.
- Powerful Linux tools like grep.
- Useful tools like Parted, the disk usage analyser, CD juicer and creator.
- The ability to mount an NTFS partition to get access to windows files.
- Generally less of my application windows hanging.

Sean: Clean uncluttered OS, none of the annoying stuff that windows plagued me with.

Paul: There are several things that come to mind:
- No anti-virus/firewall/spy-ware.
- Greater confidence in the software I install.
- Greater control of the OS.
- It's free, and the software for it is generally free too!
- Community. There seems to be a greater community aspect when you are
looking for help on forums etc.
- It's not Windows.
- I'm not contributing to Microsoft.

Q. Any other info you would like to share?

Jeff: On one or two occasions I have found that I needed to perform tasks that seemed quite daunting, one example would be compiling the kernel in order to install a VPN client. However there is a wealth of information and HowTo's out on the net that it makes operations like this seem a little easier.

Sean: I think if Linux was used more in schools at a young age, we would see it really gather speed in development terms as the popularity would increase exponentially. Also, I know a few people that play PC games and this is their reason for using windows. Games on Linux is a long way off.

Paul: I now use Linux 100% both at home, and at work.

So there you have it! Those are the views of some Linux users in our office. I think it's fair to say they are pretty happy at the moment and have no intention of returning to a Windows desktop.

I'd like to thank all the people who took time to answer the above questions. I'm sure the information they provided will be useful to many.

My own views are pretty simple. An Operating System is just a tool to let me get things done. I use Linux because it's the best tool for the job. I make no pretense that the Linux desktop is perfect. It's not. However, it is damned good and much better than the alternatives i.e XP or Vista. (Macs are not an option in our office, yet)

Oh, and as for all those "Linux is not ready ..." articles, perhaps they should be renamed "Vista is not ready ...".

Friday, 25 May 2007


So much has happened in Linux land since I briefly discussed Vista that it's difficult to keep track of everything that's going on. The trends are clear though. We all know that Linux has basically won the battle of the server room. I'd like to hear one good reason for installing a new Windows server versus having it run some flavour of Linux. What must be even more worrying for Microsoft though are the clear signs that the Desktop may be next. Let's look a little closer at recent events:

Dell sells pre-loaded Ubuntu machines
This appears to be the first serious attempt by a major PC vendor to sell Linux desktops. I must admit I was a little sceptical at first, so I tried out their website earlier today. I knew Dell were only offering three models (two desktops and one laptop) to start with. I wanted to see what specs they had on offer for the Linux machines, the price and how easy it would be to purchase one. I was impressed on all accounts. Check out the Linux offerings for yourself .

Dell are certainly making all the right noises. I particularly like this quote from their article announcing the Ubuntu desktops:

"We will continue to work with vendors to improve the stability of the associated Linux drivers moving forward. That’s part of our longer-term goal to increase the number of drivers that work at the kernel level—something Direct2Dell readers made very clear. We’ll get there, it just takes time.
Dell certainly has enough clout to get other hardware manufacturers create Linux drivers. This can only be good for everyone. Now, if only they'd start selling these machines in the UK I'd buy one. My next home computer will definitely be a Dell/Ubuntu laptop.

Kubuntu 7.04 is released
I updated my home laptop from Edgy to Fiesty. It's worth the update just to get KNetworkManager. Fiesty is an incremental update to Edgy so don't expect too many changes. Most of the effort in the KDE project is going into KDE4 and rightly so. I can't wait to get my hands on the first release of Kubuntu with KDE4.

Microsoft issues patent threats
Steve Balmer has been telling people that Linux/OpenOffice violates MS patents but he can't tell us which ones, presumably because MS are too busy. Hmmn. Haven't I heard all this before (hint: think SCO)? Thankfully, most people have seen this for exactly what it is: FUD. Jim Zemlin shares his thoughts:

"If you earned $34 million a day from Windows and Office, you too would try to spook the market with patent threats"

Tux at the Indy 500
Finally, I'd like to congratulate the guys running the Tux500 project. It's a fantastic effort to market Linux and I'm sure everyone involved has done a lot of work. Check out the blog over at Lobby4Linux for more details.

So, there has never been a better time to be a Linux user and it's only going to get better. As Stephen Vaughan-Nicols points out, we are all Linux users now.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Sport: Boxing must clean up its act.

I love watching boxing and have done so for as long as I can remember. I've grown up watching the golden era of Hagler, Leonard, Hearns, Duran. I had the privilege of watching a young Tyson absolutely terrorize the heavyweight division. And of course, I'm a massive fan of the truly great Muhammad Ali.

Today I watched a brilliant fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez in the 130-pound division. These are two of the finest boxers in the world at the moment, at any weight. They put on a superb display of skill, speed, stamina, courage, determination and will to win. The fight was so close that the decision could have gone either way. The commentators at ringside were split as to who they thought won. The great trainer Emanuel Stweard had Barrera narrowly winning. In the end, the judges gave it to Marquez.

I have no problem with the decision. However, I have a massive problem with the way the judges scored the contest. One judge decided that Barrera won only two rounds of the twelve. TWO ROUNDS? What were they looking at? It certainly wasn't the same fight as the rest of us. All of which leads me to the point of this rant: Who are these boxing judges? How are they qualified to judge some of the richest sporting events in history?

I'd really like to see only ex-boxers judge fights. They are the true experts. The sport needs to rid itself of the sort of farcical scoring this fight was subject to. Barrera, Marquez and every other fighter deserves nothing less.

Vista: Who wants it?

I don't think I've ever read so much negative press about a previous Microsoft operating system release as I have about Vista. I was going to write a rant summarizing some of the issues but Andrew Grygus beat me to it. Check out his article on Vista. It's pretty short but is a good read.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Yahoo! Mail Beta - Not on Linux

Update: The issue below has been resolved. I got another response from Yahoo! stating the following:

"Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Mail.

We're glad to have this opportunity to assist you with this issue. We
understand you are seeing an error that your browser is not compatible.
We apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.

To fix this issue please update your browser with the latest Firefox
Version "

Indeed, updating Firefox from 2.0 to fixed the problem. If you suffer from Yahoo! Mail beta not working on Linux, check that you are using Firefox

Original Text:
It seems that the new version of Yahoo! Mail is Operating System dependant. Yes, you read that right, Operating System dependant as well as browser dependant.

I've been using Yahoo! Mail for years. Some of the messages in my folders are from the year 2000. I applied for the Yahoo! Mail Beta as soon as I found out about it and have been using it now for several months. I'd log in from my Kubuntu machine at work, my Kubuntu machine at home and OS X from home. All of those machines are running Firefox 2.0 and I never had any issues. Two weeks ago that all changed.

After clearing my browser cache, I logged in to Yahoo! Mail from the Kubuntu Dapper work machine. I was greeted with a page informing me that my setup was not supported and was taken to the old static mail pages. I thought they had changed something, so I raised a bug. Here is part of the response I received from Yahoo Support:

"Yahoo! beta does not support both mac and linux which you are running.
We advice you to upgrade an another OS from the information provided

Operating Systems Supported

" Windows 2000, XP or later versions
" Mac OSX or later versions

Hope the above mentioned steps will help your concern and if not, then
please feel free to contact us again. We will be glad to assist you in
this purpose.
" [sic]

So, according to Yahoo!, I should "upgrade" from Kubuntu Dapper to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. I don't think so. I sent them another message telling them as much and have not received any response yet. I'm shocked and annoyed that Yahoo! would even suggest changing my OS just to use their service.

The real question is: Why does Yahoo! Mail have to be dependant on Windows or OS X? It's a web application after all. Interestingly, if you look at their browser support chart, Linux is not even mentioned.

I'll post updates as the matter progresses.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Why I Don't Buy Music From iTunes

I have two computers at home. A Linux box running Kubuntu Edgy and a Mac Mini. The sole reason for buying the Mac was for recording music in GarageBand. There just wasn't a good Linux alternative at the time (Jokosher looks really interesting now).

Inevitably, I began exploring most of what the Mac has to offer. As it turns out, OS X and iLife actually provide a really nice user experience and iTunes is a pretty decent application for managing my music. However, the iTunes Music Store is a different story. There are two main reasons why I won't buy music from iTunes:

  1. DRM. I simply do not want music that I download to be tied to one device. If I buy a CD, I can play it in any CD player. I expect the same from music I download. This subject has received a lot of publicity lately, with Steve Jobs sharing his thoughts in an open letter. Michael Robertson has written a follow up on his blog, which I agree with.
  2. PRICE. A song purchased from iTunes by a UK customer costs £0.79. That's roughly $1.50. Let's suppose a typical album has 12 songs. That works out at £9.48 or $18 per album. Can anyone see any value in this? There are a lot of costs involved in getting a physical CD to the customer. The cost of the CD itself, printing, artwork, hard cover, distribution, shelf space in the shop and likely many more. Distributing music over the Internet should slash the cost of music. Someone is being greedy.
I won't be using the iTunes Music Store until the above two obstacles are removed. For now, I'd rather buy the CD.

What's your thoughts? Have I got it totally wrong and iTunes is offering great value? Are Apple simply a victim of the large music labels?

Linux in the Workplace: It's Here, There and Everywhere

My first article discussed how easy it was to set up Linux on my work desktop. In this article, I'll explain how you can help colleagues switch to Linux.

I'd been using Linux at home since about 2001 and much preferred it to XP. So, when our company purchased new desktop machines for us just over a year ago, I couldn't resist the opportunity. As soon as my machine was ready, I downloaded the latest Kubuntu install disk and set to work.

I finished the installation as normal, rebooted and got ready for my KDE login. What I got was somewhat different. No UI, just thrown back to the command prompt. It turned out that the default ATI driver didn't work with the ATI graphics card in the machine. I updated the xorg configuration file to use the vesa driver and got the UI started. Shortly after that, I noticed the performance monitors were only recognising one CPU. The machines had a dual core AMD processor. Again, this was easy to fix. Simply install the latest SMP kernel and reboot. However, I was realising pretty quickly that none of my colleagues would ever switch to Linux if they had face these issues. Their setup had to be trivial.

The solution was clear. Everything would have to be documented. We run an excellent internal Wiki that contains lots of useful information. This was an ideal place to set up a Linux section. Every single step that was needed to have a fully functional Linux desktop would be documented here. I started with details of how to set up the correct graphic drivers and kernel. This information was to be used by I.S. Anyone who wanted a Linux desktop would leave it with our I.S. department. I.S. would install Kubuntu and follow the instructions on the Wiki to have it functioning properly.

After that, it was a matter of setting up the applications correctly. Each user would do this themselves. I wrote sections on the Wiki about:

  1. How to use Kontact with MS Exchange for email, calendaring and contacts.
  2. How to install applications and tools.
  3. How to connect remotely using FreeNx.
  4. How to set up printers
  5. How to use Samba
and much more. Everything was in place for anyone who wanted to use Linux.

A few months went by before the first brave soul took the plunge. He got his machine up and running fairly quickly and has been using it ever since. Then, another few months and another convert. This one was really interesting. He was using XP on his T43 laptop. After installing wireless drivers, his machine ground to a halt. It was taking 10 minutes just to boot and became totally unusable. He installed Kubuntu, which detected his wireless card properly and the machine now runs smoothly. Two others are thinking of installing Kubuntu as well.

Colleagues who have made the switch have started contributing their own articles to the Wiki e.g. Installing JBoss, Oracle, GNOME, etc. Our office has approximately 15 people. In the space of one year, we have gone from zero Linux desktops to 20%. The people who are using Linux now are very happy with it.

In summary, if you want people to use Linux in the workplace, you have to make it easy for them to get started. Follow these steps to ease the pain for them and you:
  1. Do it yourself first. It's up to you to prove that Linux can be successful on the work desktop. Install it and work through any issues before you get others involved.
  2. Document Everything. It doesn't have to be on a Wiki. It could simply be a plain text document that you share on a server.
  3. Be patient. Take time to answer questions and solve problems.
Finally and most importantly: ENJOY IT!

Friday, 2 February 2007

Linux in the Workplace: The Perfect Setup in One Day

Recently, I read an article by Jim Sampson about him trying to use Linux on his work desktop. To summarize, Jim tried to use Linux over an extended period of time, kept hitting problems with MS Exchange and MS Office documents and finally gave up. According to Jim:

"I was trying to use Linux on my laptop in Dell's corporate environment... For the next ten years, I would go off and on back to this thought: I wanted to support the Open Source community, and to use Linux, but every time, the reality was that Linux just was not ready."

Well, I was in a similar position about a year ago. Having used Linux at home for several years, I became tired of the limitations of Windows XP as a development machine. I knew how useful it would be to have virtual desktops, multiple tabs in Konsole, access to some great developer tools like Quanta and Umbrello and all the other benefits that come with running a Linux desktop. I really wanted to make the switch.

The first step was to get approval from my manager to run Linux instead of XP. Fortunately, our company develops cross platform software, mostly in Java, so getting permission wasn't too much of a problem. However, the company also uses the MS Outlook/Exchange combination and produces quite a lot of MS Office documents. Clearly, I was going to face some of the same issues as Jim. I decided to use Kubuntu (Dapper now) because that's what I used at home. I was pretty confident it would perform all the tasks I needed.

My basic requirements were as follows:

  1. Access to company email, calendar and contacts. I use Kontact which is an integrated environment. Email is retrieved using IMAP and calendar and contact information can be got by configuring Kontact with the Outlook web urls.
  2. The ability to create, view and edit MS Office documents. OpenOffice 2.x is excellent for this task. I've never had a problem with any of our Word documents or spreadsheets. Admittedly, we don't use many macros.
  3. Access to the source code repository. We use Perforce and they do an excellent job of providing Linux versions of all their tools.
  4. Access to shared printers and other machines on the network. Again, there were no issues. SAMBA performs very well.
  5. Access to application servers e.g. JBoss
  6. Firefox
  7. Eclipse.
  8. JDK 1.4 and 1.5
  9. The ability to IM with work colleagues. I use Kopete.
It took me one day to get Linux installed and the above requirements met. It did involve a little effort on my part, like Googling on how to set up Kontact properly and I won't pretend everything is perfect. Printer setup in Dapper can be a pain sometimes. However, I'm extremely happy with my current setup and probably won't upgrade again until KDE 4 is released.

I have absolutely no desire or reason to use Windows again. XP is simply not ready for my desktop.