Monday, December 01, 2008

Using Ubunutu for Real

Over the years I've made quite a few tests on Ubuntu to see whether it was ready for general consumption. Until now, it's never lasted more than a few hours on the device I've loaded it on because I've either had no time to test it properly or I've become too frustrated with driver setup problems to continue.

This time, I loaded it on a laptop which just didn't seem able to run Windows XP. The results were astonishing.

The Good
For a start, the laptop which has 512 mb of ram runs quite well now. On XP SP2, it took literally about 5 minutes to boot, under Ubuntu, it take about 15 seconds.

Google and Firefox
Similarly, Firefox was already installed and all of my favourite google apps and bookmarks worked a treat.

VPN and Remote Desktop
I found some instructions for VPN setup and was remote desktopping onto my work PC within a few hours. Between Remote Desktop (to Windows) and the web apps that run in firefox - and of course Open Office which was also already installed, I've got 90% of what I need on the laptop.

The Bad
Wireless Network via PCMCIA Card
Tried it, found very little assistance on the internet and gave up. I'm going to stay "wired". I can live without it.

Lotus Notes
The web is full of pages which tell you how to install Notes on Linux and I tried installing according to several different versions of instructions but they were all a bit unclear and since I'm being a "typical unthinking Windows user with no patience and no Ubuntu experience", I figured it best to forge on without trying to learn anything.

I don't know much about Linux at all, and about all I know is how to extract the Tar to a folder and then run it. The Notes installer started working then suddenly bombed out with a message "The installer is unable to run in graphical mode. Try running the installer with the -console or -silent flag."

I tried the -console flag and things looked promising for a little while. Then it failed with the same message.

I can live without Notes on the laptop. It would have been nice but I can live without it.

This reminds me of an old adage from my information science days;

"If it's harder for people to obtain information than it is to go without it, then people will go without it."

This is true for systems too. I don't know if I'm looking at a Notes problem or a Linux problem - probably a bit of both. In any case, that's why they both "fail" the dumb user test (IMHO) for now. I believe work has been done on Notes 8.5, so I'll give that a go eventually.

Conclusions
Ubuntu is ready for use by low use computer people (or retired people, like my parents) who only want office and internet apps. It's not really ready for people who use their computer for other types of applications, or who rely heavily on Windows integration.

If I could sort out the Notes problems - and I'm sure that in time I could... I just wanted to install as a moron for this test - then I feel that, Ubuntu would be suitable for several people at my office. Perhaps I could use it to revitalise the older laptop fleet?

All in all, Ubuntu has come a long way but it still needs a good look-over by someone who specialises in UI's.

8 comments:

Vladimir said...

Unfortunately, Debian is not supported platform for Lotus Notes. Check IBM site for reference.

I have it running on CentOS 4.x and CentOS 5.2. Mind you, installing to CentOS 4.x required quite some tweaking on my part. Installation on CentOS 5.2 went nearly without any complications.

jwylie said...

Hi Gavin

If you are in a position to test Lotus Notes 8.5 beta - there's good news that the files are available as .deb installers. The installation is covered here...

http://jwylie.blogspot.com/2008/09/ubuntu-804-on-my-thinkpad-t60p-part-6.html

This makes life with Notes and Ubuntu a lot more pleasant - especially when it updates via synaptic.

The PCMCIA wireless cards have been problematic in the past, however
with inbuilt wireless Ubuntu has been really smooth.

Anonymous said...

Hm i do not understand why people with no knowledge in linux try to install notes on unsupported linux distributions. If you want to try to use Linux and Notes together without much knowledge you should use a supported Distribution like SLED, or Redhat Linux. I think Notes 8.5 will be supported on ubuntu and the beta works already out of the box, with deb support.

Miguel Angel Calvo said...

Hi Gavin,
You can try Ubuntu 8.0.4 and Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta 2. It can be installed very easily in a graphic way and it works.
I've also tried Ubuntu 8.0.10 but there's a problem you can follow here
Miguel Angel

Anonymous said...

You will LOVE Notes on Ubuntu when release 8.5.x comes out. I am running it as part of the Lotus Design partner program, and it is just awesome on Ubuntu. Ad a Smart Icon to see the remote server Console and your all set. I have even seen a preliminary screen shot of the Domino Designer on Eclipse Client on Ubuntu !! With that, I can finally get back to the days when Microsoft was what the other folks used, but hey I loved OS2!

Anonymous said...

I think what you are missing for the Notes installer to work is Java. Get Java and make sure it works, then try again. Also get the ttf nonfree fonts, without it the client will look horrible. And for the record, Ubuntu is not a supported platform for Notes (yet).

vfoschi said...

Hi , i'm using ubuntu on my laptop from the 4.10 release ... When IBM release Lotus Notes 8.0.1 for linux i try it. The result is not so good ... but with 8.5 and ubuntu 8.04 the installation of lotus notes is very simple because IBM release .deb files!

Now i have installed on my notebook Ubuntu 9.04 and Lotus Notes 8.5 and i'm very satisfied ... i'm think that the linux version of client is better than the windows version...

Anonymous said...

it might probably be no 'news' to you all by now but Notes 8.5 is supported on Debian/Linux. i have just used the same package on my Ubuntu 9.04 and the result is amazing. and to make it look prettier download the windows fonts too but using this command; sudo apt-get install ttf-xfree86-nonfree