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Monday, September 23, 2013

Moving to Linux - Said and Done

In one of my earlier posts I blogged about switching to Linux.
That was in May 2011, today is September 2013... it took over two years, but I'm happy to say that the transition has finally happened! (two months ago)

It happened when I bought my new computer about two months ago (the old one pretty much died):

When I bought the new computer I wanted it to be as small as possible and yet to have an optical drive, USB 3 connectors, 8 GB of RAM and 500 GB hard drive. I knew I needed to move the data from my old hard drive, and didn't know if I'd have any way of connecting it in addition to my new hard drive, so I got an external hard drive dock.

I connected the dock to the USB and power, placed the old hard drive in there, turned the power on and made sure the computer will boot from USB.
Indeed, my old Windows 8 (yeah, I know, but it replaced my older Vista (again, yeah, I know, but it was state of the art when I bought it), and besides, it didn't cost me that much) came up, but since it detected my hardware configuration had changed (basically all of it), it booted directly to repair mode and suggested to automatically repair my Windows installation.

Sounds great! Sure, do that!

Windows was then started working its magic for about 20 minutes, just to let me know it had failed. Thank you so much!

After thinking how to fix things (I even thought to re-install Vista from the original DVD I had, but the only valid key was written on a sticker on the side of my old computer, and that sticker was already half torn, so I didn't have a key), I figured I can perhaps use Linux to fix it. I don't remember now exactly what my idea was, but it very quickly changed to "Hey! I can just use Linux instead and that's it!"

And that's what I did:

  • I installed Ubuntu 13.04 64 bit using a flash drive.
  • In order to recover the important data from the older hard drive I used the external dock and copied everything I wanted to save.
  • I had a network drive I wanted to mount in a certain way. I thought this would be simple, and turned out it took a little work to get it done the way I wanted it, but now it's good.
  • I had some paid services (well, just one actually - CrashPlan), so I downloaded it from the website and installed it. I had to reconfigure it to work with the new configuration, and it was a little time consuming hassle, but now I have a working automatic backup running again.
  • I also had other online services (DropBox, Copy) I wanted to use, but happily, these were just working out of the box.
  • SkyDrive, however, does not, and I still don't have it configured. Instead, I just moved everything I had on SkyDrive to Copy.
  • I don't know about Google Drive - I use it online, but I never had its local application installed.
  • I was using the BOINC Manager (for grid computing, running tasks from World Community Grid), so I just installed its Linux version, and everything is the same.
Now about that Windows installation I had... I didn't want to just throw it away, and some applications still must run on Windows... OK than - let's install it on a virtual machine!
I installed and launched VirtualBox, loaded some old virtual machines I had (I had the Windows 8 Developers Preview installed as a virtual machine on my old hard drive, so I just copied it and used it as a base for my new Windows 8 installation). I recovered the installation key from the purchase emails, updated the installation using it, got a new key, re-registered it by phone and now, after all that hard work, I have a Windows 8 virtual machine, ready for a rainy day.

So, to sum things up - transition to Linux wasn't smooth, and there are still some things I don't like (that's for another post), but I have no major problems with it, I like it a lot, and all in all I think it was a good decision. Hopefully in the next versions such transitions could be made smoother and more people will prefer to use it over paid alternatives.

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