Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to dismantle an Atomic Bomb (otherwise known as de-stressing by migrating from Vista to Ubuntu)

Finally it's happened! I've been able to get off Windows Vista and install Gutsy Gibbon on my work laptop. Herein follows a few notes on things that I noticed, which may help others take the leap. This will probably get updated as I notice things that I've missed, or that went well.

  1. Cygwin. I can't say enough good things about that project. It's been great to have on Windows and ultimately played a very important part in getting stuff off my laptop before wiping the hard-drive. I've found the people involved very helpful and responsive. My initial attempts to rsync data to a safe location failed. If you're using Windows, go fuck yourself, jwz, 2007. Contacting the mailing list led me to try the snapshot versions, report issues and see them fixed very quickly. Thanks Corinna and others.

  2. Firefox. My profile was split over ${HOME}/AppData/Local/Mozilla/Firefox and ${HOME}/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox. I consolidated the two by copying to ~/.mozilla/firefox. The profiles.ini file needed editing, since it has an incorrect relative path to the profile folder. I also needed to rename extensions.rdf, so that a new one is built on startup. This preserved all of my extensions (apart from Google Toolbar; there is a Linux-specific version?) and associated data such as ModifyHeaders values, UserAgentSwitcher values, etc. I have needed to manually edit some preferences, such as Download location, and then restart Firefox for it to take effect, but otherwise it all seems to be working fine. Similarly for Thunderbird, although I should have exported my Lightning Calendars first - I seem to have lost them, but that's no biggie. I still have all of the emails (MBOX!) (although my tags seem to have disappeared. That's a bit of a pisser). Maybe I should have migrated that to GMail, rather than copying mboxes around, but it's worked.

  3. SSH. I made sure that I copied my keys over and that they all worked. I seem to have missed the full known_hosts file; I have a copy, but some entries are missing, which is slightly annoying. Also, I forgot my System32/drives/etc/hosts changes, so I'll need to recreate the local aliases that I have for some servers. Sure I can remember that, so not too painful an omission.

  4. sudo aptitude install tofrodos

Ubuntu just flies, versus the same hardware running Vista. That's a shocker, obviously ;-).


Eclipse was using a lot of file handles (I just install the world in terms of the number of plugins I have), which required an addition to /etc/security/limits.conf.

# raise limits due to Eclipse complaining about too many open files
* soft nofile 5120
* hard nofile 5120

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