VMware, Linux & Web Development

So there I was a couple of nights ago reading a PC magazine, when I came across a great article on how to use VMware. I’d heard of virtualisation but not dabbled. But it seems so easy I’d give it a go.

And you know what? It actually is easy!

My intention was to install Linux so I could run browsers for testing websites on. Of course that doesn’t cover them all – but I’ll probably need a Mac to collect the set!

I’d not used Linux before so this was an education in more than one.

Anyway, I installed Ubuntu at first as that appears to be the flavour of the month. That came with Firefox as standard. But what I was really after was Konqueror. After the briefest of investigations I found that this only comes with KDE environment – Kubuntu was therefore the better option (essentially it’s just Ubuntu with the KDE interface on it). I’ve since found that simply apt-get kdewould have sorted it.

So, then I had Konqueror. The built in package manager knew about Firefox so I could install that simply from that.

Now I needed two more… Opera and SeaMonkey. Oh my.

Opera – I downloaded this from their site. It was in .deb format. Next I came across instructions which showed how to convert it into .rpm format. Once it’s in that you can simply click on the file and install it.

It was also during this that I found that the equivalent of root password (or super user password) in Ubuntu is to append sudo at the beginning of your command line.

SeaMonkey was tricky – the instructions on the site look a nightmare. Thankfully, I was pointed in the right direction – an automated script.

So now I have all 4 browsers installed that I needed. I kicked off the BMTG website and immediately found a problem. Linux does not come with the Arial font as standard – it would appear that this is Windows only. However, Helvetica is similar so I’ve added that into the Stylesheets as a “fall back” font. The site in the Linux browsers now looks better but the fonts aren’t quite the same in size… I suspect it’s not the font but rather the browsers. That’s something to look at in future.

What I did come across was various websites recommending Arial as a “web safe” font. That doesn’t make sense to me – Microsoft apparently allow you to use Arial elsewhere but not to distribute it. Hence why it’s not in Linux.

Now I have all my browsers, but I still need to get VMtools working.

So what do I think of Linux? Well, it’s not for the feint hearted – just getting software installed is a bit of a nightmare. I’m not quite sure how people think this is worthy of replacing Windows.

But VMware is definitely worth a punt – get that and, say, Ubuntu and have a play!

Posted by David Artiss

Enterprise Happiness Engineer for the WordPress VIP team at Automattic. Gamer, film lover and general fan of all things Marvel, Star Trek and Star Wars. Failed comedian. Writer for The Big Tech Question. World's Greatest Grandma.

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