Ok - now that I have decided that I'm going to do this and how I'm going to do it, it's time to get things organised. I already have a reasonable laptop (a Toshiba A100-147 which I have upgraded with a 160GB HDD, 2.5GB RAM and Vista Home Premium [although some may not see that as an upgrade!]) for my Windows development and although I could develop using Python/PHP within Windows I though that this was not (in my mind) TRUE Open Source development. To make the environment truly Open Source I would have to go to a Linux distribution of some description.
I had played with Red Hat Linux 8 in the past but never had the time to really get into it. I found it pretty difficult to scale the learning curve and ultimately called it a day. But that was a few years ago now and things have moved on a little since then.
I asked my new manager (who is into Open Source in a big way) which Linux Distribution I should start with and he suggested Ubuntu. I had heard of Ubuntu from a few sources but never actually seen it so had no idea what to expect or how it would run on my system.
One of the best things about Ubuntu was that it was possible to run it without installing it! It would not screw up my Vista installation and I could see if it would run on the laptop.
Running the LiveCD was a breeze although it is obviously not possible to save any of the work that you do or the setting changes you make. Having said that my first impression was very good, all my hardware was recognised and even my wireless card was detected and setup. I was able to connect to the internet, download updates and bring the 'installation' up to date in a few minutes. So the time had come to install it properly but I was still unsure about how to do this - I didn't want to end up having to reinstall Vista. Luckily I still had the 60GB HDD that originally came with the laptop so I installed that and completed the installation of Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) without any problems.
So that's where I am right now - Vista on one drive and Ubuntu on another so you can't get more separate than that really. I will be spending some time getting to grips with Ubuntu and finding out what tools I will need to develop my project application.
The only downside of this setup is that I need to swap out drives to switch between operating systems and there is alway the risk that the drive that is not installed will get dropped or damaged. So what do I do? Well as I see it I have two options:
- Buy a cheap secondhand laptop (afterall Ubuntu is not as resource hungry as Vista) or
- do I go for the Dual Boot option?
Well, maybe it's the Cornishman in my but I can't bring myself to part with a few hundred quid for obsolete technology so I think it will have to be the Dual Boot option.
I don't expect this to go smoothly so expect another post here in the not too distant future.