Don Marti from LinuxWorld asked me to write a bit about using Ubuntu on the road. The article appeared here, but I thought it would make a good blog post too. I’d love to hear from folks about tools you use with Ubuntu to make it rock harder on the road!
The original article is here.
I do use Ubuntu on my laptop, and travel a lot. My laptop is both my primary working environment and my primary development environment. I also have a desktop machine, which runs Kubuntu, and which I use for development at home over the weekends.
NetworkManager is (mostly) my friend. When it works on your hardware it’s a blessing, though every now and then it can get itself into a horrible jam. The primary missing feature for me, now, is the ability for it to recognise “locations” and configure printers accordingly.
I’m a Thunderbird fan and use that rather than Evolution. The best tip I can give anyone is to try the Quickfile extension for Thunderbird. It was developed in response to a bounty I put out some time ago, and has made my life much, much better in dealing with several thousand mail folders. In simple terms, it lets me file a mail to a folder by typing a hotkey and then a few letters from the folder name. This lets me drive Thunderbird almost entirely from the keyboard. Combined with the offline email function of Thunderbird I can be extremely productive with email in planes, trains and automobiles, which is where I get a lot of time these days.
One glitch in that routine is when people send me email with a URL in it. I am often offline when I get to the email, so it can be frustrating because I can’t then see the document they are pointing at. To work around this I use a combination of Firefox bookmarks and T-bird labels. I have a “Needs web access” label, which I use to flag emails that have this issue. And I have a “To read” folder on my firefox bookmarks toolbar. By right clicking on the URL in the email I can copy the URL, then I right click on the “To read” folder and create a new bookmark to that URL with a note about the context. Then, when I’m online, I can trivially get T-bird to show me all the mails that need online attention, and open all the relevant pages in tabs in a new Firefox window. The result is that I can immediately deal with everything that NEEDS me to be online. This is a huge win if, like me, you are traveling constantly and can only grab net access in short windows while parked outside a Starbucks or in an airport lounge.