It’s time to say goodbye!

Well, last 6 years I was using Windows as a main OS for my home/developer computers. Partly it was not mine decision, since my employers required me to run Windows. But, since I’ve jumped out of regular 9to5 two years ago this was not true anymore. It was convenient for me to use Windows, and during first year I was developing bigger application which was meant to be run on Windows. And it was Ruby application, so it was wise to develop on Windows. Almost year ago I have finished this assignment and Windows was still on my notebook.

Last weeks finally made me to change that. As You probably know I have converted to TDD development style. Having tests covering work already done (and already squeezed bugs) is very handy, but when running even partial tests take to much time – it decreases productivity. Waiting for test to complete (to know if they are green and I can move to another task or I have introduced some other bugs ;) and need to work on code) causes my mind do wander to other topics. You know, Internet has a lot distractions to offer. I was suffering in more or less silence – my laptop is old, I thought (and it is old indeed) and changing OS won’t help much. But then I have read this blog post about some comparisons between Ruby implementations in context of performance.

Enough! I have said to myself – I was busy last months and it was hard to find some time, and jump with replacing Windows with Linux during some work with deadlines. Quick browsing through pile of old PC parts I have accumulated through last years, and tada! Old 20 GB HDD and USB20 – IDE interface made my day (or rather all-night). After some issues with not working CDROM drive I’ve managed to install Ubuntu on this drive.

Ubuntu on my desktop have arrived
Ubuntu on my desktop have arrived. Image (c) karindalziel

Boot from USB and… I was surprised how far Linux desktop have advanced with easy of use and integration since I was last time trying. Even my backup GPRS modem was recognized and Ubuntu has configuration for my GSM operator. Cool.

Then I have installed my dev environment (of course I have not used Ruby and gems from Ubuntu’s packages, I have compiled my own) and did ultimate test.

The same notebook, HDDs of comparable speed (or rather comparable in slowness :)) ) – both 5400 RPM with small cache and the same Rails project- around 300 assertions (100 in unit tests and 200 in functionals). Time of execution of rake test: Windows XP, Ruby 1.8.6.p111 – 2:49. Ubuntu, Ruby 1.8.7-p72 own compilation – 0:29.

Bye, bye Windows…

I will stay in this setup (USB drive) for some time, and when I will be sure that something small won’t be annoying problem I’ll make final switch.

This post was in draft mode few days and today I can say – I’ll make switch. The only issue I had it was issue with sound. At first I thought something does not work. But it turned out I’m too old fashioned. I was using command line tools to make sure volume is set as needed, and I did something wrong since – no sound for me. I had just doubleclick speaker control in Ubuntu’s taskbar to un-mute PCM and CD and get music playing – as work in home freelancer with 3 kids working sound is a must, believe me :))

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  1. Well … this sounds like a wheel of history has made its turn … when it comes to a sound problem :). I recall one night during our university time where we were sitting together all night trying to enable sound in FreeBSD on my PC – finally around 5 AM it made a sound … tiny “beep” and we were justified to go to get some sleep :).

    And regarding your switch – knowing You for a few years I’m still surprised that it took You that long to abandon Windows OS :)

  2. @Tomek
    It seems I have acquired ‘not broken, do not fix’ attitude in last two years. Until I wasn’t sure there are real benefits I had no motivation.

    Or maybe less time I have is the real reason – in old university times it would be for sure done long time ago ;)

    But now all-nighter is real challenge – to survive day after :)

  3. Good luck with your OS change. Personally, I tried a few times switching from Windows to Linux but each time I was spending too much time with the little tweaks that didn’t work.

    Like working out that fifth mouse button, or getting hibernation to work right, or the wifi, etc… In the end, I spent countless hours tweaking the OS and not much doing actual work! I always came back to Windows out of frustration. I hope you’ll have better luck!

    Are you still planning on using Netbeans for Ruby development on Linux?

  4. Hi, I have similar problem right now with changing the main OS on my laptop and I wonder why u didn’t choose FreeBSD instead of Ubuntu on your desktop?

  5. @martins
    Well, in short – Linux is not ready for desktop and FreeBSD is even more ‘not ready’ :)

    I gave FreeBSD a try with this USB drive (again, since I was running FreeBSD on my desktop in late 90-ties), but it seemed to much work to get all things working and configured like I wanted, so I dumped it and replaced with Ubuntu . I mean – I’m pretty sure it is doable, but I do not find fun setting up and configuring OS anymore. I want to focus on other tasks, and that is why I have chosen Linux.

    I still use FreeBSD as server OS, but to be honest on new machines I often install Linux. Why? Since there is much easier to find good sysadmin for Linux box than for FreeBSD one.

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