Realignment.

Earlier this month I received word at work there would be a change in the BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device” policy at work. Since last year I have been using a personal Mac mini for all of my work from the home office. While I work for a company that full embraces Microsoft’s business offerings, Microsoft has shifted their approach over the past couple of years and have made their products much more friendly to operating systems outside of Windows. The official approach at work has been if you’re participating in BYOD you can use the Citrix-based VDI (Virtual Desktop Instance) to get to company applications. While connected to the work VPN with my Mac Mini I could do pretty much what I needed to do without delving into VDI and I was a happy camper.

Since the Mac Mini is a desktop device, I also had a work issued Windows 10 Dell laptop, which is my official work computer. I figured I would use that for travel and I would log in with it every couple of weeks to keep it up-to-date with the latest patches from work’s desktop services.

At least that was my intention.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that I hadn’t logged in with the laptop since late March and I needed to log in to get important updates. Not a problem, I’m always happy to oblige, so I did just that. The only thing I don’t like about that Dell laptop is the screen resolution; at 1366×768 it’s a little compact for me to do what I need to do on a daily basis. I have my own 32-inch USB-C monitor and the Dell laptop has a USB-C port on it so I hooked up the whole affair and was actually delighted to see I could use the monitor at it’s fullest resolution without throwing the laptop’s fan into fits.

Since I was tardy with the updates this must have brought some attention to my account and I received another message from desktop services, this time advising I could make a choice of staying on my personal Mac Mini or I could use the company issued laptop, but not both. The company is moving to Microsoft’s WVD, or Windows Virtual Desktop, and the way the licenses are managed the company allocates either a laptop OR a WVD license per user, not both.

Staying with my Mac Mini would result in me not having a mobile solution for when I start traveling for work again, so that wouldn’t work. So, I decided to give up the Mac Mini approach to work and set up my Windows 10 laptop for full time use.

It has been a surprisingly smooth and pleasant move for me.

As a software developer and systems engineer I work in Linux all day long. I primarily work from the “command line” when doing much administrative stuff and the reason I liked the Mac Mini was because it had a Unix terminal baked right into the operating system. But over the past year or two Microsoft has done a complete 180º on their feelings around Linux and now offers “Windows Subsystem for Linux”, the ability to run Linux right inside of Windows 10.

This too has been an amazing experience for me.

My transition to the Windows 10 laptop, with Ubuntu Linux running in the “WSL” has met all of needs for work both effortlessly and easily. I am surprisingly pleased with the setup I’ve been using for the past week; today I took the opportunity of the quiet afternoon to put the finish touches on my setup and I’m ready to go after the long holiday weekend.

A while back I told my husband and family that my requirement of sticking exclusively to the Apple ecosystem had come to an end. With this proclamation we purchased a Windows 10 gaming computer from Jamie and Chris, with my intention of turning it into a flight simulator setup over the next couple of months. My husband has been enjoying playing online games with friends on it. It’s a fast machine for about a third of what we’d pay for a similarly-spec’d Mac.

I’ve also been moving back towards Linux full time with my personal computing needs. The hardest move for me was my task management system. I’ve been using OmniFocus for over 10 years and while it has served my needs well for all this time, the web version was just not powerful enough to meet my needs on the Windows 10 work computer. I solved the issue in a very simple way. Using the framework of the simple todo.txt text-file based system, I simply wrote my own automations and other task management routines that run on a nightly basis for both work and personal tasks. When I get up in the morning my day is already planned out the way I want it. When I have flight on the schedule, I can go to any computer in the world, log into my little Linux server I have running, and type “flight (date)” at the command prompt, and tasks reminding me to charge devices, update iPads, plan flights, get the weather, and pack all my gear, will appear on all of my task lists with the proper date and intervals necessary to accomplish everything I do before a flight.

I’m getting old. It’s easier for me to type a command at a prompt instead of point and clicking and moving things around on a screen.

The truth of the matter is two-fold, not only was I not able to work effectively within the closed-ecosystem of Apple based products, I’m quite frankly also getting bored with my Apple products. I’ve had an iPhone X since they came out in late 2017 and aside from some battery issues I’ve been experiencing over the past couple of days, I do not feel compelled to get the latest and greatest in any way. My MacBook Pro is a mid 2015 model, the last version before they went to those awful butterfly keyboards, and my iPad Pro works great and does everything it’s suppose to do, the exact same way every iPad I’ve had has done it for the past 10 years. The iPad Pro is a 2018 model and I don’t feel the need to update that anytime soon.

What I really want is to get back into Linux full time, but I can’t justify selling and buying things just for the sake of change. So in the meanwhile I’m running the latest version of Ubuntu Linux in a VirtualBox on my MacBook Pro and it’s running great. Canonical has done great things with Ubuntu over the years. A lot of the diehard Linux community is grumpy about Ubuntu and Canonical, some even going so far as to saying it’s not “really Linux”, because of some commercial software in the distribution. But I find Ubuntu’s implementation to be beautiful and stable and it gives me the ability to just get things done.

Because Linux gives me options, I’ve even gone so far as to install the older “Unity” desktop environment on my Ubuntu install. I simply like the way Unity works better than anything else out their in the Linux world and because Linux gives me freedom to set my computer up the way I want to, I’m going to use that freedom to do just that.

Apple hasn’t done anything wrong and I still recommend iDevices for folks that aren’t super tech-savvy and still want to maintain their own data privacy. I think Apple does that very well when compared to some other solutions out there. Microsoft is making great strides in keeping things open and giving folks choices, and Linux is awesome for those of us that want to know exactly what makes our computer tick and make it the exact way we want it to be.

My only family rule with the technology now is data can’t be confined to a specific device or ecosystem. This cooperative approach is keeping us a happy open family.

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