The most recent addition to my heap of technology is a salvaged lab computer from work. And "salvaged" does it an injustice; it’s quite the zippy little thing with an Nvidia card and such nonsense. In the tradition of my other computers — Holly and Ziggy — I’ve named it after a fictional computer: Abulafia.
Since I’ve toyed with Ubuntu on Ziggy for the last couple years — currently useless, as there’s some kind of graphics bug I can’t work out — I had plenty of discs on hand to try it out on Abulafia. I started with 10.04 on the disc and went through the update chain to 11.04, Natty Narwhal.
After about ten minutes of struggling with the new Unity interface, which seems to be entirely tablet-oriented with giant chiclet icons in pop-out drawers, I switched back to the good old Gnome environment. As a longtime Mac user — OS 7 and counting — that’s just about my speed. Add in the Docky application to replace the default toolbar panel at the bottom of the screen and it’s even more like my usual Mac workflow.
Since my current desktop, Holly the PowerPC G5, is dying the slow death of obsolescence, I’m taking a stab at using Abulafia as my primary computer. Before, running Ubuntu on Ziggy was a novelty, even though I did it all the time. Ziggy still has a Windows installation I could fall back if I really wanted to work on the laptop — I generally don’t and so Ziggy languishes unused because of the graphics glitch.
As part of setting up Abulafia, I had to ferry all my files over, music and such. I could have done it via hard drive, but I took the opportunity to finally figure out how to make my computers talk to each other via the wireless router. It was surprisingly easy, once I took the step of resetting the router to circumvent the forgotten admin login. Right now, Holly can access Abulafia via Samba, but the same doesn’t work in reverse. I don’t need to figure that out, but it would be nice not to have to do all the transferring through Holly. And once I get Ziggy’s graphics problem sorted, she should be even easier, running Ubuntu herself.
By the same token, I’m hoping that networking the USB printer will be as feasible. I tried it via Holly, as that’s what the printer is currently connected to. Abulafia can see the printer, but the jobs don’t seem to arrive. So maybe hooking it directly to Abulafia, then sharing with Holly will work better.
When I first acquired Abulafia, I had the notion of making it a media server. It could hook up to a television, serve files and stream services. I might even find a wireless remote to run it all. I might still do that. Once I get comfortable with Abulafia, it’ll free up Holly for experimentation. I could sock a different OS in there — although every one I’ve found so far seems much more involved in configuring than Ubuntu — or stick with Tiger and figure out how to strip it down to do media as best it can. Frankly, though, given how much Holly’s chewing it these days on Hulu, that’s probably not a good idea. And I’d still be locked out of Netflix streaming, if I ever reactivate that service.