Linux Bookkeeping–First Impressions


I have started to realize that doing these experiments is so much better than my previous strategy; jump into a new project blindly and hope for the best. Apparently that’s not the way to make positive changes in your life. Who knew?

If I had dumped Windows altogether by just solving the bookkeeping problem, I would have been in trouble. That’s not the big picture. There are some other issues with the switch that I hadn’t anticipated.

1. Just finding replacement apps isn’t enough.

This isn’t the first time I’ve installed and run Ubuntu, so I had an idea what to expect. The main problem is the “feel” of things in a new OS. I think it’s the same as a new house. Sure, there are rooms, windows, doors, and appliances, but it’s still not quite the same as your last house. I have a word processor, a media player, and the browser is even the same one (Chrome), but all my routines and shortcuts are different. Plus, despite my best efforts, I could not setup the wireless drivers without having to connect to an wired connection. I even downloaded them from Windows, and then rebooted. Still nothing. This is probably my lack of knowledge.

If I had to live in Ubuntu 100% of the time, right now I’d be a bit lost. It will just take some time to figure out all the idiosyncrasies that I spent 20+ years learning in Windows. More importantly, I really need to learn how to live in the terminal if I’m going to be productive in Linux. If I have to run to Google every time I need to change a setting, this is going to kill my productivity.

2. Linux isn’t designed with certain professionals in mind.

If you’re a coder or a network admin, I can’t imagine a better platform. Unfortunately, I think the more mainstream professionals are in a standoff with developers. Nobody wants to work on certain apps because the users aren’t there, and the users don’t want to run Linux because the apps aren’t there.

Bookkeeping is a prime example. So far, I have found one desktop option that’s even remotely close to anything I’ve used in Windows. It’s called GnuCash. I will be writing at least one post in this series on GnuCash, but my first impressions aren’t great. It’s all about UI, which probably isn’t the primary focus for Linux developers. I’m sure the fundamentals are all there, but when I can’t even pull up a customer list from a menu, we’ve got a problem.

Bloggers are also short-changed, at least from my initial impressions. I wanted to do some screencasts of my experiment, but I haven’t found anything on par with the Windows or Mac counterparts. I briefly tried out something called recordmydesktop, but the video came out looking like someone had taken a lighter to a VHS tape. That could be my ineptitude showing again, but it shouldn’t be this hard.

3. It’s not all about work.

Obviously I don’t work 24/7, although it sure feels like it sometimes. I also don’t follow a very normal workday. I don’t get up and work from 9-5, Monday through Friday. I have sections of time throughout the day, from morning until bedtime, that I get my work done. So, I need to have an OS that will handle my downtime as well, without having to reboot.

I discovered a big strike against Linux a couple days ago. For some reason, Netflix streaming won’t work. Now, there is probably a simple explanation, but why would something that runs in a browser care what OS I’m running? I’ve been using this more and more lately, so this is frustrating. Plus, if I leave Windows, I’d leave iTunes behind, which means no rentals from there. Since Canada doesn’t get Hulu or Amazon streaming service, I’m not sure how that would work.

Initial Conclusions

I need more time to get used to the OS. This is very early stages here, so I’m not about to give up just because I’ve run into some headaches. I still like the idea of running an open system. I just hope that “you get what you pay for” isn’t the case here.

As always, insight and advice are both appreciated.