Changing up is hard to do

Switching to a new computer is always a chore. There’s mail and files and passwords and bookmarks and so forth, to bring over. If one is moving to a new OS, there’s new idiosyncrasies to find and work around, and old idiosyncrasies to bemoan the loss of. Fortunately, modern times have made things easier than in the past.

I’m moving from a six-year-old System76 Wildebeest to a System76 Wild Dog. Faster chip, more cores, bigger RAM, SSD drive for the OS. If you remember from my Kicking and Screaming series, I ended up dumping Ubuntu for SUSE Linux about two years ago. With this new purchase I’m back to the Big U, Ubuntu Linux, UL. Not totally happily (I still miss my slideshow screen saver), but there.

The changeover has taken most of Spring Break, but that’s ’cause I’m lazy, and don’t like late night debugging sessions any more.

FILES: Easy. Copy from the old to my NAS, then from the NAS to the new. Interesting hiccup — not all the directories brought their contents with them. No great problem. If I find one that is empty, that I want to not be empty, I go back to the ‘beest and recopy that one directory. As long as I keep the old machine stuck in a corner but attached to the network, I should be OK. Right now it’s sitting in the closet, plugged into the plugs that the box with the OS-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named was using. Don’t worry, I disinfected them first.

It does make me wonder how many of my backups are real and how many are empty folders with a note that says “IOU 10MB”.

eMAIL: Easier. All my stuff is in the cloud these days. My ISP automatically forwards to gMail, and most of my other mail is gMail.

BROWSERS: I already said how I’ve dropped Opera. I make up for the lack by opening a second Firefox window in the L/H monitor. Once I get my old motor responses under control it should work fine. UL doesn’t offer Chrome as a download, but it does offer Chromium, so po-tay-to / po-tah-to. Haven’t felt the need to try Vivaldi yet.

BOOKMARKS: A work in progress. Both FF and Opera let you export them as .html files, so I did that, and imported them into the new FF. Now, my only problem is that I have a thousand or so bookmarks what need organizing. That and the fact that the way FF organizes bookmarks is to me counter-intuitive.

RSS FEEDS: I really liked Opera’s RSS feature, part of Opera Mail (which I didn’t use). So now I’m not using Thunderbird as a mailer, so that I can use the T-Bird RSS feature. How’s that working out? Kirai Janai — I don’t dislike it. At least, not enough to go scrounging for alternatives. It is a little feature-thin, however. For example, both Opera and T-Bird show the topic folders down the side, and if you click on one it shows you the contents as a collection of subject lines. However(,) that’s all that T-Bird offers. Opera would let you click on the Feeds folder and see all the feeds in one list — great for cleaning up the previous nights take. Or you could click on a topic folder and it would unfold to show you all the feed sources — the Cooking folder would let you click on the Alton Brown feed and just see his messages, etc. One can approximate this by going into a folder and sorting on source. That works if it’s just one contributor (Hi, Alton!), but in the News folder, I find that the feed from The Week has half a dozen contributors. In addition, every now and then it seems to not want to update the feeds. It’s a little irritating, but one perseveres.

PASSWORDS: FF keeps its collection of website passwords in a json file buried down in its directory tree somewhere. Copy that over and one has all one’s passwords back.

SPEED DIAL/TAB GROUPS/RELOAD EVERY: Areas that Opera pioneered, of course. I have found plugins that more or less duplicate the functionalities. But duplicating functionalities is one thing, one then has to functionalitize them. In my case, I had to recreate my five tab groups and all the speed dial settings for each. What worked for me was to just open the old speed dial on the closet monitor and read off the URL for each panel while typing it in to the new one. Since I’d already brought over my passwords and things, FF knew right where to go.

Overall, I think I am happier with UL than I was with SUSE, and of course, I have a nice new silver box to play with. I’ll keep you informed.

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