linux as my main box – part 1

I have used Linux here and there in the past 5 years, but in the past 2 years, my experience has been drastically limited to livecds (which, in their own right, are really awesome anyway!). I’ve long wanted to get away from Windows since I know 95% of what I’ll ever know about Windows XP and previous anyway, and I really want to use a Mac or Linux box as my main OS at home for various reasons.
I’ve never made the jump and kept putting it off due to this reason or that, most notably two major reasons: I wanted to play WoW, which is difficult for anyone on Linux, and I wanted easy wireless access that wasn’t a bitch to configure, support, or install. Wireless support has gotten better in the past few years, and my laptop really is not nearly as fun to play WoW on as my resurrected gaming rig. So…all the big barrier reasons are gone!
This weekend I went out and bought a new laptop drive, 100GB. My plan was to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu Linux and also have some room to run a VM in Ubuntu and Vm another Windows install or two plus others. The reason to dual-boot is so that I can get true wireless on both OS, since any VM is going to think it is on a wired connection. More on this later…
So I swapped my drive and put in Ubuntu 6.06 desktop. I did an install, it performed a format on my drive and was done. I literally blinked a few times and figured something screwed up or the instructions were incomplete. I rebooted Ubuntu from the livecd, saw that I had missed nothing, and on a whim decided to reboot without a cd. Sure enough, Ubuntu started up just fine and had been installed on the HD just like that. Wham! That’s the shortest install of an OS I’ve ever had!
The sad thing, though, is the Ubuntu partition support. It is basically an all-or-none approach and I didn’t get much help or options in doing manual partitioning. Unfortunately, the automatic part made me use all 100GB of the disk for ext3. Hrmm..well, I guess I can live with that for now and just swap hard drives when I want to go Windows. I may have to add in a mini-project to see if I can get an external enclosure and boot from it, but that’s another project.
So, Ubuntu was working. In fact, both my wired and wireless network cards were recognized immediately. I hooked into my wired network, got an IP address, connected to my wireless AP to get my WEP key (yes I use WEP because I practice breaking my own network with various tools…long story), and configured up my wireless. Big props to Ubuntu, as it took on the first try and I had wireless on Linux with zero blood and sweat. Wow!
Now, I’m swapping back and forth between my hard drives and Windows and Linux as I move all my tasks and things I do on Windows over to Linux one by one. Hopefully in the next week or two, I will be running Ubuntu 95% of the time my laptop is powered on. The only snag may be if I figure out how to most properly carve up my disk so that I can still dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows XP. This might mean installing XP first and using it to format the disk, then seeing if Ubuntu will limit itself to whatever space is still open. I’d like to just do about 35GB for Ubuntu (ext3), 15Gb for Windows XP (NTFS), and the rest for either shared space (FAT) or VMs.
Next steps: Opening up Synaptic to allow me to install packages from the universe and multiverse, finding the root password (yeah, go figure, I couldn’t find it and it never asked me for one on the install?) so I can su up, and getting some common apps installed that I use on a daily basis, such as Thunderbird, gaim (or a Linux equivalent to gaim), and mp3 player. Now that I think about it, my ipod support may be all borked up now. I use winamp+ml-ipod to manage my ipod and music as opposed to iTunes, but thankfully that is a minor gripe. I’ll live. 🙂