design for budgets


XP, OS X and Linux: working on a sane, productive workflow


Over the course of the last few months I've moved from using Windows XP as my sole design and development environment to a mixture of OS X, OpenSUSE Linux and XP in various contexts.

Recently I wrote the following:

everything a person can do can be broken down into smaller units of action. It's a wax on, wax off sort of deal. If we can just remember that, and then simply seek to learn the vocabulary and identify the moving pieces...

...then we can build mastery. It's never really that hard. It just takes perseverance.

Working in three distinct environments, I've found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that building the technological muscle memory takes a bit longer, and that's a little frustrating when trying to level-up one's skills and reach the point where all of the minor tasks coalesce into symphony. Yet, the exposure to so many tools and interfaces (especially all the granular power of the Linux command line) has been eye-opening and inspiring. I haven't yet begun, in a serious way, to put all the pieces together and create scripted actions, or to be using some of the more option-loving commands without reading a man page or taking a moment to find an example usage online.

My goal is to get through the next few months of feeling like I've taken a 20 point hit to my IQ, and get it down, then I'll have a whole new world of developer's power at my fingertips.

Heck, years ago I learned to code HTML, CSS, and of course PHP from scratch by hand and to use MySQL via the command line - freeing me from tools like PHPMyAdmin (which can be slow), and I've already reached the point where I'm productive with the Vi editor and prefer scp and ssh to an FTP client.

Laying the groundwork...for bigger things. Gone are the days of Dreamweaver, and other tools that ultimately encumber and encourage dependence and lack transparency, limit growth.



Over the Christmas vacation I repartitioned my machine and installed Kubuntu "Gutsy Gibbon" Linux after testing it out with a live CD. Everything I wanted was there... and it worked - except I had a big question mark regarding how I was going to handle running XP virtually (I need Photoshop, sigh). Parallels - which I'd ran on XP and which allowed me to dabble in Linux didn't work well on Kubuntu Gutsy, I'd heard from a friend. But I decided to make the leap anyway, as my XP was getting rather sloooow, being installed three or so years ago.

Once on Kubuntu, I happened upon VirtualBox which reolved all my problems, and you can read more on that at

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