Wednesday, March 5, 2008

500 Gigabytes of Relief

Backup Humor

I just bought a Seagate OneTouch 4 Maxtor 500GB external hard drive. The hard drive is marketed for backup purposes and comes with the backup software installed on the hard drive. Below is a note included in the instructions for step 2:

Note: It is highly recommended that you copy the current contents of the OneTouch 4 to your computer before proceeding. Reference Seagate Knowledge Base article 4169 for more information.

It doesn't inspire confidence to know that I have to backup the software on the backup drive in case something goes horribly wrong. If the unthinkable does happen, the backup software is the least of my worries. I'm not too concerned. The really important things will be backed up on a CD or a DVD.

Solution to my Software Backup Problems

Having this hard drive will solve a big problem that I have. Lack of space. With two Linux installations, Windows XP, and several Virtual PC images, my 160GB internal hard drive has reached capacity.

This has led to many other problems that all stem from lack of space. I want to try more distributions of Linux, but I have so much data spread out on different partitions that I was afraid I might lose something important if I tried to install the latest version of Ubuntu or SUSE. Now I am free to proceed with an upgrade.

I also wanted to be able to convert my Virtual PC images to VMWare as part of the Microsoft Quit Date. This has not been going as well as I've planned, but it hasn't been going bad.

I am using the Mozilla Thunderbird Extension Lightning for my Calendar application; however, I'm still using MS Outlook for email. If I can get a solid Linux distribution running then this will help reduce my dependence. At the moment, Pandora is the only music that I have in Linux. I had MP3 support briefly, but for some reason G-Streamer is complaining about missing something.

Don't get me wrong, I like troubleshooting broken software, but not my music player. I just want that to work. I don't care why it broke, or why Novell didn't include it by default, after fixing it once and having it break, I am at a point where I just want to hear music without having to read a bunch of knowledge base articles.

However, overlooking media player issues, there are a ton of advantages to using Linux. As a programmer, it is 10 times easier to get things done. Web programming isn't the same when loading a local file in the browser. You're not using http when you do this, you're using the file protocol. AJAX, as well as other techniques, behave completely different under this scheme. To get an accurate idea of what a JavaScript library or technique will do when served on a web server, you need a development platform that mirrors this environment. In Linux, I can configure Apache, PHP, even Java's Tomcat servlet container, in under 30 minutes. In Windows, I'm not as confident.

I can also use tools like grep, vi, and locate in Linux. In Windows, I am lost without these. The cute puppy that appears in Windows Search is cool and all, but I don't have all day to search for a string in a file in the file system, I just want results. Grep gives almost instant results. Sure, there's no puppy, as my 7 year old nephew would say, but it's fast.

Little by little, I have been moving data to the hard drive. In the next couple weeks, I hope to have SUSE 10.3 installed on a partition. I might also install Ubuntu. We'll see what happens.

Oh, and in case something happens to the hard drive, don't worry! I've backed up the backup software on my computer. Now you can sleep at night.

UPDATE (7/5/2008): I installed Ubuntu 8.04 last month and love it! I also share a VMWare Image with Windows using VMPlayer on Ubuntu, which is a great alternative and enhancement to dual-boot setups.


Alec Deason said...

What's this about an installation of XP? I thought you were going to go 100% Linux.

James Mortensen said...

Slowly but surely I will reduce my dependence on Windows.

The first step is to move by data to an external source that's accessible from any operating system.

The second step is to use only software that is cross-compatible.

Finally, I'll need to replace my two limping Linux distributions with the latest versions of SUSE and Ubuntu.

With a solid, stable Linux installation on my PC, perhaps I will be able to go 100% Linux.

Alec Deason said...

I dunno, I guess since I moved to Linux from the OS9 era Macintosh (though I did dual boot OSX for a while) things were less difficult for me. I went from a platform where I had a few of the big commercial apps and virtually none of the open source ones to a platform where I had essentially all the open source tools but almost none of the commercial ones. Little lost and a lot gained. Now I can't imagine going back.

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