Days of Sunshine, Days of Clouds

The Linux environment is such a love-hate world for me. In general, it’s mostly love. All the tools I want, speed, eye candy, toys, productivity, it’s all there.
Then there are the cloudy days. When things that should work, don’t, and I can’t figure out how to make them work.
After a couple sunny weeks, I’ve hit the equivalent of spring showers, and the clouds have rolled in.
First, I’m having all sorts of performance problems with Thunderbird. I suspect this is down to some twitchy DNS problem, but I’ve never seen it before, and others have not seen it as well. Right now I’m in ‘suck it up and deal’ mode, but it’s infuriating waiting 5-6 seconds of total GUI lockup whenever I hit Alt-Enter.
Second, I’m still working on setting up the new replacement machine for my roommate. This is a bellwether project for me – can I replace a windows machine completely with Linux. For the most part, we’re ready to go, except I cannot get the VPN to their Windows server (a PPTP connection) to work properly. I had great hopes for a new KDE tool called KVPNC, but either due to the programs’ newness or traditional complexity of setting up VPNs under Linux, I have had no success. At the moment, this is a showstopper on the project.
And last night, I wanted to edit some recordings I had done with my minidisc recorder at band practice. “No problem!” sez I, “I’ll just use Audacity,” an excellent free multitrack editor. BZZT! Audacity refuses to talk ALSA properly, and I cannot play the tracks I’m editing. I’ve used Audacity many times under Windows, and I thought I had also used it under Linux, but now on startup Audacity is yelling about not being able to access the ALSA device. Various forums have said that is because ALSA has sound device locking issues (which I mentally flag as bogus – wasn’t ALSA’s point to allow multiple applications to access the sound device at the same time? Avoiding the dreaded /dev/dsp lock? Frustrating)
So I have 2 projects held up, and one constant, ongoing annoyance. And, over on the side, my windows machine running quite smoothly, without any of these problems.
I want the sunshine back.

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A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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