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trying to switch to linux

This is a really long Linux post. You've been warned. 🙂

Over the past several weeks I have been trying several flavors of Linux.

Here's a list of what I've tried:

Fedora was the latest one I downloaded and tried out. It is the only distro I've seen that has a proper Add/Remove for software besides Ubuntu - and that's important to me.

However, just like all other Linux distros, attempting to make a dual-monitor setup work is nothing short of a severe pain in the ass. The only one I was actually able to get working was Sabayon. But I can't use Sabayon. More on that in a moment.

The Big Question: Why am I trying to switch to Linux?

Microsoft Windows XP is my primary operating system. It does everything and does it well. It works flawlessly. I have no complaints whatsoever about XP. It is the best OS Microsoft has ever made, period.

But there's a problem. The OS has officially started to become obsolete. Windows Vista aims to put XP out to pasture and I don't want to switch to Vista. Even though XP still has a few years left, it will eventually become as obsolete as Windows 98.

I won't switch to Mac. OS X is junk and requires a proprietary box (i.e. the Mac itself) just to run it. I've owned one before (and returned it,) and I recently almost bought another one but didn't. Upon reflection it's good that I didn't because I only had semi-solid reasons for wanting one. Buying Apple is nothing but a huge money pit even when you buy lower-end products from them.

So then there's Linux.

I can run it on the hardware I already have.

It completely destroys Windows and OS X both in functionality and style. (Where style is concerned, Beryl makes both XP and OS X look like toys.)

It's constantly on top of the latest tech. Microsoft and Apple are always playing catch-up to Linux. For example, when 64-bit processors were first introduced, Linux was first and it was ready. What I'm basically saying is that I do not have to worry about release updates because Linux is on top of it all the time. And when a major change comes about, you just update the kernel. Very easy. No b.s. involved.

It gives you absolute total control over the GUI. Neither XP or OS X do that.

The future of operating systems is undoubtedly going to be Unix and Linux based. I have no doubt of that whatsoever.

It's free.

However...

What problems have I run into?

1. Difficulties with a dual-monitor setup.

I have an nVidia card that has one DVI port and one VGA port. I have a widescreen plugged into the DVI and a normal aspect plugged into the VGA.

X absolutely "hates" this setup.

Sabayon is the only one that did it right, however...

2. Add/Remove of programs isn't that great

I can't use Sabayon because the way it installs/uninstalls apps completely sucks. That "Portato" thing is just plain awful.

Fedora, above all others, is the only distro that does add/remove correctly.

3. Virtualization problems

There are two ways to run Windows apps in Linux. You can either use Wine or VMWare server. Wine sucks. It's never been that good and I don't believe it ever will be. The last time I tried VMWare was in Ubuntu and it sucked.

However, I haven't tried it in Fedora yet. If I can get Windows XP to run via VMWare in Fedora I may have a winner.

4. I want to play a DVD!

I watch all my DVD movies on my computer. For that task I have Cyberlink PowerDVD 6. It's awesome and I love it.

Other than Sabayon, whenever I try to play a DVD in Linux it always gives me that "download [this] codec" crap and I hate that.

If I can get DVD's to play in Fedora I will be a happy guy.

As you may have suspected, I'm really impressed with Fedora. The look is right, the add/remove is right but on attempt to do the dual-screen thing I ran into a brick wall.

However, I'm determined to get the right xorg.conf configuration to make it work.

Once I figure that out, the next step will be to get DVD's to play in Fedora. I'm relatively certain I can get that working.

The crux is that if I can get VMWare installed in Fedora correctly (and it would appear that you can) and get an XP install running in that, I'm close to having all the bases covered. I say "close" because I'd have to test whether or not some video and audio apps would work without taxing the system too much.

There's also one more thing: The fonts.

Fonts in Linux have always sucked. They just don't "look right." Fedora is nice, but I'm hoping there are additional fonts I can add that look more like Lucida Grande, Helvetica or Arial. For serif fonts I like Garamond and the tried-and-true Times New Roman.

If all this stuff comes together and it works to my liking, I will have no reason to run XP as my primary OS any longer.

I'm crossing fingers that I can make this work.

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