woensdag 3 juli 2013

New laptop with Windows 8

Yesterday I bought a new laptop (the ASUS S400CA ultrabook). The main reasons why I chose this model were its price, its sturdy feel, its SD card reader and its VGA port. As a bonus it has a touch screen, and I am curious to find out how that works out.

My previous laptop was also an ultrabook, which I liked very much. So I wanted one again. My previous laptop did not have a card reader, so I had to use a separate USB card reader. No big deal, but just extra hassle. My previous laptop did also not have a VGA port, but just a micro-HDMI port, which meant I couldn't attach a beamer. That was more than a hassle, because I need to give presentations to make money.

Of course, it came with Windows 8 pre-installed. I am not a Microsoft fan, and usually install Ubuntu as my main OS. However, after playing around with Window 8, to my own surprise I must say I like it. The tiles are no paradigm changing innovation, but they work as an opening page. Once in the desktop, it has the same light-weight feel I like about Linux/Ubuntu/GNOME.

Unfortunately, some of my objections to Windows persist: I had to uninstall bloatware (primarily McAffee), it still takes forever to start/stop because of all installation/configuration that has to be done during shutdown/startup, and I cannot access files over SFTP in Explorer like I can in Nautilus.

Removing McAffee was 'funny' ("but, but, but you have 30 days of free use left!?"), but I haven't been able to remove its Anti-Theft Service (through Intel). I hope the installations during reboot will become less as soon as as all files are up to date. Finally, access to SFTP servers seems to be solved by SFTP Net Drive. So, I decided to go with Windows as my main OS for a while.

Does this mean that I have been converted? Not really. To me it primarily means that the OS has become mostly irrelevant, because of web services and cross-platform tools. I spend most of my time in the browser anyway, and that means I hardly even see the OS. One of my main objections to Windows has always been that it got in my way. Now it seems Microsoft managed to remedy that.

Finally, I short selection of the tools I installed:

  • Chrome browser, because Internet Explorer does get in my way. And because Chrome allows me to synchronize between platforms.
  • Truecrypt for data security.
  • SFTP Net Drive to access SFTP servers.
  • Cygwin because I wouldn't want to do without all the CLI goodies and because it's a convenient way to install e.g. Python.
  • Sublime Text 2, my favourite text editor.
  • Gramps to maintain all data about my family tree.
  • TeamViewer to be able to give technical support to my parents (in law).
  • LibreOffice for editing documents.
  • GIMP for image manipulation.
  • EasyTether to be able to use my Android smartphone as a mobile modem.
  • Classic Shell to avoid the tiles/Start screen (i.e. go straight to the desktop) and add a classic start menu.
  • CutePDF Writer to be able to print to PDF. (Warning: be careful while installing this and opt out of any additional tools)
  • Workrave RSI prevention
Most of these tools (all, except NSFTP Net Drive, Classic Shell and CutePDF Writer) I use on Ubuntu as well, so that makes it extra easy to migrate. We'll see how it works out...

Update (3/7/2013): One of the problems with Linux is the support of devices. For instance: I never got the scanning of my HP CM1312 MFP to work. It turns out that this is also problematic for Windows 8. I ended up killing the setup program when it gets stuck (using the Task Manager). I noticed that at that point the scanning already works, and killing the setup program prevends it from uninstalling averything again.

Update (4/7/2013): One thing that makes switching between Ubuntu and Windows hard for me are their different mouse focus approach: Ubuntu is pointer oriented (if I roll the scroll wheel, the object under my mouse pointer scrolls), while Windows is cursor oriented (when I roll the scroll wheel, the object with the cursor in it will scroll). I never know where my cursor is, so I get unexpected effects. Worse, I need an extra click before almost anything I do. This drives me nuts. Partly, it may be something I need to get used to, but really I prefer the GNOME model...

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