It has been a while
First up, sorry, it took longer than expected and I am still not there yet, but at least I have some insight now I am ready to share.
Where I am at by now
In short, about to give up. A bit longer, keep on reading.
As you might remember I sat out to find the ultimate one device computing experience from desktop to tablet to TV and back. One ring to rule them all, so to speak.
But the issue here is, that all these interfaces are very much different. If you are on a tablet, you would want most things to work via touch gestures. On the desktop the keyboard is king with the mouse being the sidekick and a touchscreen being mostly useless. On a TV side, you want non of these things to be you interface. A touch TV would be a really silly thing to operate, keyboard and mouse might work, but your needs really drill down to a remote control with a very short list of buttons.
A fully blown desktop environment is very useful on a desktop and a laptop, but very much in the way on a tablet or TV.
Issues over issues.
The analysis of my problems
It was about time to rethink the whole endeavour. And that meant going back to the base issue I had. An overhead of configurations. And overhead of little isolated computers each needing individual setups.
One of my main issues was e-mail.
I currently do business for 3 companies and in addition have a private mail and one for this blog. Each has (or had) different users, passwords, signatures etc. All to be setup on every device I used so I always had access. All in all 6 mail addresses to be setup on 4 devices.
This was the most important issue for me, e-mail is my main mean of communication and will be for a long time, since no other service has come up yet, that could possibly replace its ability of archiving, managing attachments and separating tasks and issues.
I have not solved this one yet, but I am following multiple routes. The biggest issue is, that one company I am only bound to by contract insists on only allowing me access to my mail on one of their computers. I can access it via Microsoft remote desktop, but that is all.
As for the rest, I can alter things. I currently follow two approaches.
Number one, I have a mail server of my own and could easily run all mail through that machine, as the other two companies are mine. However I only ever used this machine for my private stuff and when it comes to business, reliability is key. Anyway the idea is to use roundcube (https://roundcube.net/) as my mail client and access the mail server through it. The mail server would of course be moved to a server within one of the companies so it could take advantage of all backups and backup power supplies.
Number two, go with Microsoft. Now prior to starting the shitstorm, at least let me explain the idea.
Microsoft offers a product called “Microsoft 365 for business”. It includes licenses for 5 installations of MS Office per user, 1 TB of cloud storage per user and an hosted MS Exchange Server. The last one being the most interesting.
As I am the only one using Linux within my companies and everyone else running Windows and MS Office the fees actually aren’t that bad considering my current costs. And as a business I’d be getting Microsofts european data protection in accordance with GDPR. And, most importantly, they’d be caring about backups, uptime and safety.
However giving away control of a key component like mail is something to be very careful about….
I am currently following both approaches, testing out roundcube with one of my domains and I am currently in negotiation with Microsoft about a demo access to their 365 program.
Programs, programs, programs
The next issue I face is me needing various programs to get my jobs done. Some are not available on every platform, other simply unusable on some devices and at the end of the day, a nightmare to keep in sync.
The path I am following here is to move the bulk of it to a virtual machine hosted on one of my servers so I can access it easily from wherever I am.
However, remote services in the linux realm are very much lacking behind of what Microsoft has to offer.
I recently connected to that one company I do not own from my home using a surface go 2 using windows 10 and frankly was blown away by the speed of the connection and the ability to connect both monitors at the same time. Moreover disconnecting the surface from the dock I was amazed that Windows simply switched the remote machine to a single monitor setup. I was also able to forward all audio devices to the host computer, thus I could directly pick up a phone call on the softphone on my remote computer. I am unaware of any protocol enabling the same within the Linux realm. If you should know of one, please let me know.
Conclusion, so far
This project pushed me in a direction I did not expect when I started out. That is looking at Microsoft products.
Running Windows 10 on one of my devices keeps me away form running it as a main operating system for sure, today it repeatably failed at copying files from a server to a backup drive without a failure message, under Ubuntu there error was shown directly and after resolving it the backup went ahead without issues. But, their software offerings sure are tempting so I might be looking at at Windows 10 VM on a KVM basis as a remote machine to use on most of my devices and a set of free software devices as my carry on devices.
These are sure interesting times, I was a Microsoft Fanboy for the better part of the last decade and to this day Windows Mobile is the best mobile operating system in my point of view, Windows 7 was my favorite OS for a long time. Around Windows 8 the relationship got tainted but other than servers, Microsoft used to be my number one vendor when it came to operating systems.
I have been away for a while now, but maybe partly returning to Microsoft would be financially sound….
There will be a lot of trails the next couple of weeks, and maybe a change in direction.
There are still many things that scare me away from using Microsoft products, but from a straight business point of view, it starts making sense.
I will wait for what Microsoft has to say on Monday at our scheduled call and let all of you know where I’ll be moving to…