I’ve been using Fedora for a week now, and it’s really enlightened me as to what apps I use and what I don’t.
Since I’m having to find replacements for my Windows apps, I’ve learned that 90% of my app usage can be condensed to (1) Web browser, (2) email client, (3) RSS aggregator, (4) text editor, (5) FTP client (which, thanks to KDE, is built into the text editor), and (6) command prompt (which isn’t really an app).
I found rdesktop which enables terminal services from Linux. Thanks to that, I can open a window back to my Windows machine (oh, the irony — using a window to help you run something other than Windows…) if I need to get anything I forgot, and that helps with Windows server admin as well.
Using smb-client, I mounted a folder on my Fedora desktop that opens to the C drive on my old Windows machine. If I hadn’t named the folder “Windows C Drive” you’d never even know you were accessing a different machine. Reading and writing files between my Fedora machine and Windows shares is undramatic. It just works.
Mozilla Mail connects to my Exchange server via IMAP. Not perfect, but it does the job. It doesn’t open all the folders — just Inbox, Sent Items, and Deleted Items. Those are the important ones anyway — if I need anything else, I have Outlook Web Access.
The UI options in KDE are dizzying. I’ve never had this much control over my environment. Like I told Joe the other day, I now own the interface that Hugh Jackman used to write his worm in Swordfish. It looks like the interfaces in every cheesy hacker movie you’ve ever seen. If you upgrade to Linux, schedule two hours just to play with all the options.
Multiple desktop support is great. I have four desktops, all running different stuff. A little toolbar plugin shows me thumbnails of what’s on each desktop. They each have different wallpaper (the default wallpapers provided are gorgeous) so I know which one I’m on at any given time.
Video rendering is amazing. If you’ve ever used a high-end Mac running OS X on a high-end monitor and drooled over the quality of the display, then Fedora is your OS. My Windows machine display is horrible by comparison, and that’s even running a better video card.
Font and window rendering is so smooth and…luscious, as to make you want to dive into the monitor like it was a swimming pool on a hot summer day. Fedora and Mozilla together make me want to drizzle Web pages over ice cream and eat them.
I do a lot of client scripting in PHP. I have the file extenstion set to run them against the PHP executable when I double click, and pop a terminal window with the results. Makes a lot of chores so much easier. They chug away on another desktop while I go do something else.
As good as all this is, I still have the nagging question: am I any better off? Besides the display quality, UI options, and integated FTP, I think everything I’ve done with Fedora could be done with Windows and little elbow grease. So, the question remains, am I better off than Windows? I don’t know.
I do know, however, (1) that I’m certainly no worse off and (2) Fedora is free. That’s a compelling argument in and of itself.