Rob's Project: Getting Ubuntu Doing What He Needs

Rob Dawson rob.dawson at
Sun Aug 15 23:05:15 BST 2010

Hi Rob,

I may have mentioned on an unrelated post in here that daily I work in
(almost) exclusively Windows environments at large corporate and
government organisations installing and configuring enterprise-wide
service management software (Windows based) so you would understand from
that, that my need to have a Windows capability and presence is fairly
strong!  And despite this, I work exclusively from my laptop running
Lucid 64bit (and have done so since Intrepid 32bit).  To achieve this I
use a number of VirtualBox VM's running different flavours of Windows
from XP to Win 7 and Svr 2003 32bit to Svr 2008 64 bit (and all in
between).  I need to emulate different scenarios in my building and
testing, hence the number of different machines.

My reason for explaining this, is to point out that I would highly
recommend from my experience, that you install VirtualBox (it's
fantastic - free, robust and reliable) and build the Windows machine you
require/prefer with all the functionality you can't access or find in
Linux and run that machine when you need to.  I use my XP VM for this
purpose and have it loaded with M$ Office, Adobe Acrobat and a few other
Windows-only applications that I need to use occasionally.  I don't have
to dual boot, I have full interconnectivity between my Linux file system
and VM file system, full internet access on my VM (including use of IE
for the now rare IE-only sites you find), no loss of functionality
running Windows applications in Wine or other piecemeal solutions, no
need for Windows anti-virus software, and can have both machines (Linux
host and XP guest) running at the same time so I am only a mouse click
or keystroke from switching between each.  I use OpenOffice to work in
all the documents that cross my desk but can fall back to M$ Office on
the XP machine if a document or spreadsheet etc won't load or run
correctly in OO - usually because of a macro or special formatting,
something like that.

As for my Linux machine, I use the following in my day to day business:

Email/Calendar - I have the Lightning add-on installed with Thunderbird
3 and this combination provides me all the functionality I require that
Outlook would provide me.  I have 2-way access to 4 different work
calendars as well as my own personal calendar and 3 different email
accounts via POP (although IMAP is an option for all I prefer POP
because I can configure Thunderbird to use a global inbox and folders to
store my mail).

Skype - I have Skype installed on my Linux machine and have no problem
with sound or video, regularly using it for video calls and telephone
calls over scratchy wireless broadband from various hotel rooms.  If you
travel for work and use a wireless broadband dongle then you will know
what I mean!

Printer - Our office (up to recently) used a Brother MFC ("CN" type but
I forget the model number) of a slightly newer model than the one you
mention and I was able to connect to and use it as a printer with all
it's print functionality.  We recently upgrade to a newer model Brother
(9042CDN) and I am able to use the networked print, scan and email
functionality.  It took a little bit of 'googling' to find the files and
setup instructions for each of the printers but both worked perfectly
once I set them up.

Browser - I use Firefox (3.6) and once I installed the
"restricted-extras" package and "Novell Moonlight" add-on there is
little web video content that I have come across that I can't access
(although I must admit I have the occasional problem with videos on the
AFL site loading but that is related to the AFL's incestuous
relationship with M$).  I can't speak for hi-def content as I have
limited requirements and my current setup serves my purpose.

Music - I have an iPhone and to manage my music and photos on the phone
I use Rythymbox and F-Spot.  Both of these natively connect in Lucid and
once I got my head around how iPhones do business then I was able to
transfer my music between my computer and my phone.  I have iTunes
loaded on use my XP VM and use that for proprietary requirements -
software upgrades, App Store etc.

Phone - I don't know about the Motorola specifically but I know in the
past with my Nokias and other phones I have been able to access their
internal files to allow transfer between them and my Linux laptops. 
Where I have needed a specific transfer (contacts etc) obtainable only
with the phone's proprietary software then my trusty old XP VM has come
to the rescue every time.  I have also read before that it is possible
to 'share' the same Thunderbird configuration file between Linux and a
Windows VM so transfer or sharing of contacts via this method might be a
solution for you.

Games - I don't game (except for solitaire etc) but from what I have
read, serious games = Windows = my VM solution.  That's my uniformed
solution to that one.

Sorry if you were looking for step-by-step instructions or a number of
links to achieve any of this but I thought I would give you a
description of my setup that might point you to what is possible in a
real world situation.  I am happy to pass on more info if you decide to
go down the VM path and/or need some assistance in setting up a Linux
box to work as I have described but seriously, I am not a Linux expert
by any stretch and Google was (and remains) my best friend.  The only
thing I would suggest is that if you want to go down this path then I
would recommend using a 64bit machine as your Linux host because that
will allow you to install and access more than 3gb of RAM - this will
give you better performance from both machines when running your VM, and
although I have successfully run them on 32bit hosts in the past, there
is an improvement when you go to 64bit.


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