By James Cooley - September 06 2007 tags: ubuntu gusty barcampgalway

My ideal situation is to be able to move from machine to machine (XP or Linux) by inserting a reasonably sized usb-drive, type a couple of commands and start working productively.

Moving from machine to machine is a definite productivity killer. My setup for the last few years has been an XP desktop with free software such as Firefox, Thunderbird, cygwin, Eclipse, Emacs, Open Office, etc. and it works quite well. The only thing is it takes days to move my desktop from one machine to another. At least I don't have the 16-character license key shuffle to contend with.

I like Ubuntu on the server and lately it even gets knowledgeable OSX-switchers on the desktop. My new employer knows how to support XP, OSX and Linux (any flavor) on the desktop so it's a good chance to try this out. Also you get to play with Compiz eyecandy as shown in the following clip:

The reason I haven't done this before is because I haven't had a spare machine that I could actually use from day to day - I have lots of old machines but I'm not actually going to use them as a desktop. Moving on your one and only high-spec machine would kill productivity absolutely.

I made a move from my home XP machine to an fresh work XP install first - and that's not particularly easy. The move was easier as I use gmail, google reader and The latest test release of Ubuntu has NTFS (rw) enabled by default so it's easy to work with XP from Linux.

Firefox and Thunderbird settings just worked when I moved them from XP to Linux. The most I had to do was reinstall the addons, most I can apt-get.

Gutsy works well on my Levono T61 - Feisty worked but I didn't have dual monitor or default Compiz support and required quite a bit of tweaking to get to where the Gutsy pre-release works pretty well out of the box. I'm using Gusty i386_x64 - Java works but surprisingly there's no Java browser plugin for x64 on any architecture - you can install the x32 version with some hacking around thought.

All in all, it's nice to work on a Linux desktop - lots to explore over the next couple of months. Eventually, I want to use Mercurial to allow me to sync desktop settings between (XP and Linux) systems on different machines. I'm going to talk about moving desktops at BnaG. Grab the LiveCD and give it a try it's pretty cool.