Writing this column in mid-November, I know with absolute certainty that come New Year’s Day, I will have listened to way too much loud music, drank way too much alcohol, and eaten way too much good food. I know that upon waking up, sometime in the very late morning or early afternoon on January 1, 2006, that I will hardly be in the mental state to come up with any New Year’s resolutions other than “I will never do this to myself ever again.” So, it is now, two months in advance, that I propose a few New Year’s Linux and Open Source Resolutions for 2006.
I endeavor to convince all of my friends and family to migrate to Open Source software and Linux-based desktops.
Right now, only two people in my personal sphere of influence use Linux and Open Source software of any kind: one is my buddy, Fat Guy, and the other is my best friend of nearly twenty years, Jon, for whom I just built an Athlon 64 media server rig running SUSE Linux 10. Jon’s MP3 and DIVX/XVID collection is so freaking huge that he practically needs his own EMC storage array to keep it all.
That being said I know I can do a better job of promoting Linux desktops or even “baby steps” moves to Open Source software by telling everyone about OpenOffice, which runs perfectly well on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. I’m still not sure if OpenOffice is an ideal solution for the enterprise, for businesses that have really complex document libraries, but for personal use it’s absolutely fine. Why, Fat Guy wrote his entire book, “Turning the Tables: Restaurants from the Inside Out,” in it. See, even non-geeks can write books using OpenOffice.
And I cannot stress enough how making everyone in your family move to Firefox from Internet Explorer is probably the single best thing you can do to alleviate hair loss and long, arduous, weekend-long stay-overs at your in-laws dealing with virus breakouts and spyware infestations. Just pull the damn Internet Explorer icon off their desktop and give them Firefox with an Internet Explorer or Windows theme. My father-in-law didn’t even know the difference when I was done.
I plan to take my own medicine and eat my own dog food.
Sure, I can talk a good game about moving to Linux desktops and Open Source software, but I admit that I still use a lot of Windows stuff, namely Microsoft Office and Outlook. The consulting company I work for basically runs on Exchange, Sharepoint, and Active Server Pages, and we’ve got a lot of really complex proposal documents and marketing collateral that, frankly, fall over and die if I try to open and export them using OpenOffice. So rather than try to make all my nice Open Source software work with their stuff, I run VMware on my SuSE Linux 10 laptop, and I have their standardized Windows environment, complete with VPN software, virtualized in its own little cage.
But this isn’t as much eating my own dog food as it is making the problem go away. I really, really would like to ditch Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Office completely. My company has Outlook Web Access, which seems to work pretty well over their web-based VPN client using Firefox, and most, if not all Active Server Pages and Sharepoint sites work well in Firefox, too. There’s also the (now free) Exchange Connector for Evolution, which I’d like to experiment more with. Let’s also not forget that there’s a new version of Crossover Office that can run Office 2003.
I’m also hoping that Microsoft gets on the Xen bandwagon, so I can use a free and Open Source virtualization solution as good as VMware. In the interim, if you’re inclined to operate as I do, download a copy of the VMWare 5.5 evaluation, create a Windows virtual machine, and then run it on the free VMWare Player when the evaluation software expires.
I will be much more security conscious about my own use of technology.
I may be totally paranoid and anal retentive about architecting secure IT client-server solutions using Linux and Open Source for the clients I work for, but at home, I’m probably one wardriver away from total disaster.
My attitude is that I live in a suburban town in northern New Jersey, and the pimply “l33t Hax0r” squad from the local junior high probably isn’t interested in stealing my bandwidth or jumping onto my LAN. Moreover, it’s a big hassle to use key encryption on my wireless and to use rule-based firewalls, because I’m always testing a lot of hardware and software. I know, however, that I will get nailed one of these days, and I will be very, very sorry when it happens. So, this year, I will close more of the security holes at Casa Perlow.
Jason Perlow is still recovering from New Year’s 2005. Or at least it seems that way. You can email Jason at