Okay.. I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to be using MS Live Writer for my main blogging tool. It seems to have all of the features I’m looking for – except for being cross-platform. No worries, I came up with a game plan that would allow me to use Ubuntu as my main OS and still use Live Writer.
WINE? no. Unfortunately I haven’t found anyone that has gotten MS Live Writer working with WINE. I wasn’t going to waste my time on it as I don’t think it would have successful in any event.
VMware? no. I really didn’t use this as I have VMware Server console installed on my machine so that I can remotely control a VMware Server. I know I have to do some virtualization if I didn’t want to go the WINE route.
Then I stumbled upon this article: How to Integrate Windows XP Desktop into Ubuntu Gusty. Winner!!
The article gives one way of installing VirtualBox – the open source competitor to VMware, onto a Ubuntu Gusty environment. Why use VirtualBox? As the article above mentions, you can launch Windows applications and they appear as they are running as native Ubuntu applications. (Right now I’m running Windows Live Writer in this fashion and it’s working great!) This very similar to VMware’s Fusion product for OS X.
The entire installation and configuration was pretty simple to setup – almost not even worth mentioning.. but I do have a few notes:
If your networking requirements are minimal (basically get me to the Internet) you can use any version of VirtualBox. However, if your networking requirements are a little more advance, for instance, if you need the ability to bridge your VM network to your real network, you cannot use the Open Source Edition (OSE). The OSE version is the one included in the standard Ubuntu repositories. Instead use the latest full release version. I’ve worked on bridging my VM to my normal network for a couple of hours without success. So I’m using standard NAT instead.
Multiple monitors issues – there are some known issues with the usage of multiple monitors. In my case, I’m using an older ATI X800XL board to drive two 21" monitors. VirtualBox will only launch programs in the window that the VM was bound to. So basically all of my applications launch in only one of the monitors. There is some good news however – you can drag any launched program into any workspace that uses the same monitor. This almost gives you the same functionality.
Give yourself enough memory - I ended up giving my VM a 1 gig of memory. It may be overkill for one application, but we are talking a Windows app running on XP!! My entire Ubuntu working memory set isn’t more than 700 megs anyway so I have a ton of memory to spare.
Do setup a shared folder – this will make transferring files, etc easier between the two systems. You do have to mount the shared directory in your client OS however. The image above was captured in Ubuntu and save as a png file in the shared folder that Live Writer was able to see and post to the web.
So it looks like I can have my cake and eat it too. For weeks I was worried that I may have to switch back to Windows because I couldn’t get those killer tools in Ubuntu. Now I have a solution that meets my functional needs and the overall experience is that I’m still using one OS instead of two.