Laptop installation revised18 Dec 2007 It's been about half a year since I've reinstalled my laptop, and it's time for a review of how it's doing in the real world. The current installation is based on Ubuntu Feisty. Right now, Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon is the way to go and it's about time I upgraded.
Most of the laptop installation will remain the same, but I will make some corrections and additions.
Phase 1 - Encrypted filesystem
I still want an encrypted filesystem, but I don't want to use EncFS anymore. I found out the hard way that EncFS is quite slow (I get a max throughput of 10MB/s on my SATA disk, which gets 60MB/s when I don't use EncFS).
I also found out that the default EncFS options don't play nice with a lot of applications like rtin and evolution.
So, instead of using EncFS, I will try to use dm-crypt. I still want it to be transparant, which means it needs to work from PAM. This should be possible with the libpam-mount. DM-crypt should also be many times faster than EncFS. The only downside I see is that a dm-crypt partition doesn't grow dynamically. I will have to use a fixed size.
Phase 2 - Versioned data and remote backup
I'm very very fond of my backup system. 3 times per day, my system gets backed up on another computer, which takes a lot of worries off my mind.
However, the versioned data bit is pretty much useless. I haven't used the versioning system at all since I've set it up. In fact, I'm not even sure it works at all.
A colleague of mine suggested to use versioning on the server side of my backup, by doing some kind of incremental backup. I forgot the name of the software he mentioned, but the idea sounds really nice. No more keeping versioned data on all my files (I don't use it anyway). All my data will still be backed up, and I can recall any backed up version I want.
Phase 3 - VPN
This phase was still on the TODO list, but in the meantime I've experimented enough with OpenVPN to deploy it soon. Unfortunately, the openvpn plugin for NetworkManager kindof sucks. Maybe this is different in Gutsy, but if it's not, I'll have to script my own OpenVPN setup.
Phase 4 - VOIP
No plans for this yet, still on the TODO list.
Calendar system and timesheets
I've started using Evolution as my calendar system (and even briefly tried to use it as my mail-client, but that was no success...) and plan to keep using it. It's possible that I will have to start using Evolution with a Microsoft Exchange backend because my employers are trying to shove it down my throat.
In the timesheets department, I gave up on it. The advice I gave to my employers regarding timesheets (don't be intrusive and think VERY HARD about what you really want to track) seems to have been neglected. The result is that noone really cares about the timesheets and they are handed in pro forma. I hope noone will ever try to extract useful data from these timesheets... garbage in, garbage out.
Phase 5 - communicating with GSM
I still use my computer to send SMS messages through my GSM. I even use the contactlist in Evolution for this purpose. But I discovered an annoying bug in gnome-phone-manager: it doesn't inform me when it couldn't send a message and fails siltently. This is really annoying...
Next to that, I should still try to find an automated way of synchronising my contacts from and to my GSM, aswell as my Evolution calendar...
Phase 6 - Health Monitoring
Still on the TODO list.
Phase 7 - Desktop search engine
I don't know if it's because of my lack of order or not, but I really have no need for a desktop search engine. I just use a combination of find and grep if I need to locate a file. But in any case, Gutsy seems to have a desktop search engine built in by default and I might use it if it isn't tucked away too far.
I've had time to find out some additions I want on my laptop by default. One of those is SSHFS instead of the "Connect to server" crap in Nautilus. Another addition is a QEMU setup for emulating virtual machines.
I also want to install a local Mantis bugtracker to organize my own projects. And of course, I probably want to install the VMWare console client that is now opensource and should have been packaged for Debian (and thus Ubuntu)
Finally, I have stumbled across an annoying heavy load on my machine when I'm at work. For no apparent reason, my laptop will get a heavy load and respond very badly to use input. I'm suspicious of the evolution data server, but I can't prove it. I also use Rhytmbox as a media player for radio streams, and that might also be causing it. In any case, it's something I need to dig into to and fix.