Pains of Cross Platform Computing

14.41.00 - Mark

Part of me is going nuts.

I'm making efforts to use my linux box as a regular computer (because I can't seem to get my damned video capture card working the way I need it to for it to work as a PVR box). If I was doing this with windows I would have passed the going nuts part and would be having a hard time typing this out the use of my straitjacket encased upper body. Thankfully I'm working on linux, and have tried to use open source software on my Mac.

My browsers are easy to move across (I have firefox on both, but mainly use Safari on my mac - the functionality is virtualy identical however) other tools are identical on both systems such as Azureus (bittorrent) and video clients (VLC). I've got a basic understanding of some of the command line tools and server software that occur on both platforms, like FTP, SSH, Apache, Mysql and others.

Some of my personal preferances are easy to move acorss the OS gap with a little tweeking - I have a folder of background images I pull from every 15 minutes. That takes a couple of clicks in OS X, but in Linux I had to dig up and modify a script and set up a cron task. Not impossible to geeks and anyone who wants to learn, but not easy enought for your average computer user.


There are some things that are infuriating. One is the keyboard. keep in mind I'm a long time Mac users and perfer my keyboard to a mouse any day. I grew up on hotkeys and damn it I want my command modifier (the control key on non-mac keyboards) next to the space bar where my thumb can easily reach it, not hidden underneath the base of my left pinky/palm. Not supposedly its possible to change this with xmodmap or something like that but I've been working on the problem for hours and I can't get any potential solution to work.

Another fustration is moving files between systems easily. Now I'll admit that I haven't fully investigated this one, but I'm an RSS junkie. I haven't installed an RSS reader onto my linux box quite yet, but I know that I need a way to sync my feeds from one system to another. This isn't really anyones fault, but its an annoyance I'd rather not have to deal with. From the inital reseach it looks like I need to set up my iBook, with its aggerator NetNewsWire, to upload its information to a sever, then pull it down with an aggerator on the linux box, then see about resyncing the information to the server. I'm not really looking forward to that headache.

The last major irratance I have is the lack of a quicksilver like piece of linux software. Quicksilver, for those who don't know, is an amazing piece of software for OS X that can best be described as a high level graphical command line interface. It can, when combined with some of my other software titles, control audio and video, open and append information to documents, open recent files and locations, even send basic emails or blog posts. Its an amazing program that I'll install on any Mac I have to use on a regular basis. However as I mentioned, I haven't found a linux based equvilent. Which is somewhat sad, and yet another item to look into.

Anyways I'm off to go improve the functionality of my linux box some more.

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