Another holiday over, a new year begins.

As I face my second year in my quest for an ICT degree, I recapped and learned from the past mistakes.

Here in Holland, as well as a lot of other countries around the world, Windows dominates the education sector.
This is kind of annoying as the ICT sector more than any other education knows the importance of an open selection of software.
The problem arose last year when I turned up with my Linux laptop ready for the course only to be warned that if I turned up with my laptop needing to be repaired, they couldn’t due simply to the fact that I did not run Windows.
Encountering some problems which caused me to not get the grade I needed for a particular subject was also down to me having Linux (not because it didn’t run well, but more because the teacher refused to help me since it wasn’t Windows).

The problems didnt stop there.
There was also some aspects of the course which required Windows specific software which at the time I had no alternative for.
One such example was the ‘Database’ part of my course in which we HAD to use Microsoft SQL and Visual Basic. Don’t ask me why they didn’t instead use MySQL but my guess has to be that Microsoft may be a sponsor of the education sector here in Holland.

This meant that for a big part of the year I was running programs on XP through VirtualBox which was not really what I wanted, as I want to use my diploma to work with Linux.

To stop potential students from having the same trouble as me, I am now going to list the software I used, and will use which allow me to do all these things without having to use Windows.

Web Development

This was my first subject and for this I had to be able to build a website in HTML, CSS and PHP.
Luckily there was a long list of tools at my fingertips and I use BlueFish Editor, which is available in the repositories.
The beauty of Bluefish is that it is a HTML and PHP editor with an option to preview your code and also uses some intelligence to guess what code you are trying to use whether this be bolding of text, padding or type of text.

In order to use PHP it had to be switched on and Windows users were told to use a local server by means of Xampp. Well, Xampp for Linux is also made by the same people as the Windows version and can be found on this site: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-linux.html

Make sure that you switch it on though, as I made the mistake of forgetting to switch it on during my presentation resulting in a failure. Please learn from my mistake!

If you are not a big fan of the terminal, then you can create a GUI as followed:

1) Download the latest version of xampp for Linux through the link above

2) After having installed it according to the instructions on the site, run the following command in a terminal

'gedit ~/.local/share/applications/xampp-control-panel.desktop' (Without Quotes)

3) In the empty gedit page paste the following once again without quotes and save it:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Start/Stop XAMPP
Name=XAMPP Control Panel
Exec=gksudo "python /opt/lampp/share/xampp-control-panel/xampp-control-panel.py"
Icon[en_CA]=/usr/share/icons/Tango/scalable/devices/network-wired.svg
Encoding=UTF-8
Terminal=false
Name[en_CA]=XAMPP Control Panel
Comment[en_CA]=Start/Stop XAMPP
Type=Application
Icon=/usr/share/icons/Tango/scalable/devices/network-wired.svg'

Once that is saved you will find it under Applications > Other > Xampp control Center.

Thank you Petervk from the Ubuntu Forums for providing this information.

Embedded Applications

In this subject we looked at Java and eventually had to create a hangman game on a Java Mobile Device.

We were instructed to use BlueJ IDE first and later on Eclipse IDE.
BlueJ is available here: http://www.bluej.org/download/download.html and download the .deb file.

Eclipse is available on the repository and you will need the Mobile Eclipse tools from the EclipseME site here: http://eclipseme.org/
The site also gives instructions on installing this. Please note however that this is not for the faint-hearted. However, if you are stuck you can even ask Windows users for help as they have to use the same tools.

Database Applications

As mentioned before, we had to use MS SQL and VB.

If you are allowed to use MySQL then that is available in the repositories, if like me it HAS to be MS SQL then there is something for you.
An incredible tool which looks like the twin brother of the MS SQL Management program is available for Linux through this site: http://www.aquafold.com/
This program connects to many different types of databases including MSSQL, MySQL, and Oracle to name a few. If you are familiar with the MS SQL Management then you will find this program just as good. Only one downside, it isn’t free.

I also installed Mono from the repositories to fill the VB gap.

Game

For game we had to once again create a game on a mobile java device but this time it had to be complicated and self-thought up. For this I just used Eclipse and EclipseME.

Infrastructure

This subject was about security and lay out of a network and it’s protocols. If you are a power user then this shouldn’t be too difficult but unfortunately eventhough my teacher was very sympathetic to Linux users and went out of his way to show Linux users how to achieve the same results as Windows users and giving the Linux equivelant commands to type in, he was forced to give the assignment to set up Active Directory and a client on Windows within VirtualBox or VMWare. This was something we couldn’t get around. The positive is that even Windows users had to use VMWare to do this assignment, therefore it was something not caused by ‘having Linux’

Some useful additional software

I used the following software to make life easier during the course. It wasn’t compulsory but it did help me enormously.

GIMP: For designing a website and game elements this was very handy. Please note, you are probably better off downloading the latest version from the website  than to download it from the repository due to the fact that it has a one-window mode making it identical to Photoshop.

Wine: Well this is simply for running Windows programs just in case

Rednotebook: An odd choice perhaps but switch it on and save all your lesson notes there, it is good for later reference and you know the date too!

I hope this helps people in their quest and proves that even if your told you can only work under Windows, that this is simply not true.

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