I’m on the way to leave Windows for Unix. There is only one big obstacle: software compatibility. I have to move the most important tools or find and learn suitable replacements.
There are really only 3 programs that matter:
Total Commander, Firefox and MirandaIM.
I use Total Commander as the main computer management console. 99% of what I do on a computer starts with it.
Firefox. Web browsing, obviously. But also good majority of my public communication.
MirandaIM does all private talk.
Also, these are the only tools that I heavily customised. Ever. And not surprisingly – they are the most tweakable tools in their respectable categories. I spent 100+ hours on Miranda. Significantly more on Firefox. And probably ~1500 on Total Commander.
I think the numbers say it clear, they are important for me.
Moving Firefox turned out to be easy. Copying the config folder to a Linux version mostly worked. I still have some edges to polish, but it’s manageable.
Total Commander works great on Wine. Except for one thing. It can’t launch native programs. Which is 80% of what it was supposed to do.
Miranda is said to be working great with Wine too. Except that it doesn’t launch. Well, I’m not surprised, nobody said that the 36 plugins that I use are compatible with Wine. I leave troubleshooting for later, there are more important things. And I think I can live with Pidgin. Though don’t want to, Miranda gives me many features that are unavailable on it.
So the biggest problem is TC. I have to find a replacement. Actually I know this for several months already and I spent some hours on research.
But also, I don’t want to leave it. I put a really big piece of my heart in it. I went through every single thing that can be customised in the GUI. Then in configuration files. Then started writing extensions. Then started implementing (but never finished) entirely new plugin framework based on instrumenting Total Commander binaries, then integrated hundreds (literally) of external tools to streamline their use. I stopped when I realised that for months I’ve been spending much more time on configuration than on actually using it and that I was optimizing for scenarios that have never happened, but I thought they might happen.
So I stopped extending and just did some maintainance. Why did I put so much time in it? Because I enjoyed productivity that Total Commander enabled. I knew that returns were smaller than the time I invested, but it was so much fun to do whatever I wanted to do so really fast… And talking with people (often programmers like me) about advanced management tasks that were problematic to them and knowing that a couple of keystrokes, 2 clicks and in a second or 5 I can have it done.
I wonder whether I’ll ever be as productive with Unix. I have little hope. I’m thinking sometimes about writing my own file manager. Better than TC (it’s not *that* hard, there’s 1000 things I’d improve). But I don’t think I’ll bite the bullet. After all, there is a reason Total Commander is so good – a great programmer developing it full-time for 18 years. Some work could be saved by using more modern (read: productive) tools. But the cost is still overwhelming. 1500 hours doesn’t look so big now, does it?
This post is the first productive work I did on my new Lubuntu.
EDIT: I was tired when I wrote it and got hours calculations wrong, you know, 40*52 was just over 1000. Fixed now.