For the longest time, I have always had a goal to be Windows-free. Many people I work with feel that it is pure apostasy, because I have worked in Microsoft shops in the past 10 years or so. But frankly, I am particularly sick of Windows as a whole. If I can still continue doing my work without having Windows on on my HP Pavillion dv9008nr laptop, then I think I am set.
So, I installed Kubuntu 9.04 (Juanty Jackalope) today. It was the most painless installation of Linux that I had… ever. It was even less painful that my initial installation of Ubuntu 8.10 (Intepid Ibex) on the family desktop (recently auto-updated to Jaunty).
My laptop wireless has the ever painful Broadcom chipset, which historically has been a problem on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. But I found out that they got off their butts and started to provide drivers for Linux. So, after enabling the closed source drivers, my wireless just worked period. There was no manual configuration that I had to do, no driver to look for, and no searching through outdated documentation for clues on configuring everything. Do you have any idea how refreshing that is?
Here are other refreshing things:
- The NVidia chipset for graphics acceleration worked with zero configuration.
- All of my external devices worked.
- Even though I like the GNOME interface in Ubuntu, I absolutely love the KDE interface in Kubuntu. I am ecstatic that I went in that direction.
- BZFlag looks / feels much better on Linux that on Windows.
- The best system for tools I already use on Windows: Pidgin, GNU Emacs, Steel Bank Common Lisp, Mozilla Firefox, and others.
- Even Adobe Flash has decent performance, even though there is no 64-bit native version for Linux. Most YouTube videos do work, even in full screen mode. So, I can deal with it for now. (Adobe is now the new Broadcom, IMO).
- The default Remote Desktop (RDP) client allows me to connect to my Windows desktop at work, basically completing my minimum requirements for total conversion.
So, I look forward to writing more about my experiences on Kubuntu.
Douglas Purdy recently mentioned on his blog that his team was hiring testers for a project within Microsoft informally described as Emacs.NET. I am going to take a step back and think about that for a second. In this stage, why would Microsoft invest in such a project? Microsoft products did have some basic capabilities before, like Emacs-style key bindings in Visual Studio to named commands and such. There must be something more.
Could be that Emacs is the most versatile editor out there? Emacs users know all too well how flexible Emacs is. Many hack their favorite programming language in Emacs, some like to use Emacs as an application interface, while the elite execute shells that make them never have to leave Emacs. Users can customize their key mappings, customize the look, or even code their own custom commands. There are hundreds of different modes out there that help users create and edit even the most arcane file types. It is available for Unix, Windows and MacOS X and most modes and extensions are very portable.
The absolutely coolest aspect of Emacs is the interactive programmable environment. Emacs the only editor that I know at this time that allows you to create extensions for editor from within the editor itself and apply them immediately the current session. This flexibility within Emacs is made possible it’s powerful, built-in Lisp execution environment. Here is a quick example that I hacked up in a minute. In the scratch buffer in Emacs, I create a simple function:
(defun my-hello (msg)
"Prints hello message"
(message "Hello %s" msg))
then I select the region containing the function and execute
M-x eval-region. The function my-hello is now applied and I can now execute it using
My big question: would a .NET version do the same thing? I doubt that there any Lisp involved, but interactively applying extensions in .NET seem to be tricky to me. So, I would imagine that extensions will be compiled to IL assemblies. If Emacs.NET contains an interactive compiler, things in the Windows world could get very interesting.