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Versora Progression Desktop 2.0 Progresses - page 3

Versora Overview

  • August 10, 2006
  • By Jem Matzan

First let's take a look at compatibility. Versora Progression Desktop 2.0 is certified to work on Windows 98, NT, 2000, and XP as source operating systems. I'd list all of the GNU/Linux distributions it is supposed to work with, but there are many, and Versora claims that Progression Desktop will work with more distros than they list. So I tested Progression Desktop 2.0 on a Windows XP Professional origin, with SUSE Linux 10.1 for x86, Mandriva Linux 2006 PowerPack Edition for AMD64, and Gentoo Linux for AMD64 (with the "unstable" keyword enabled) as destination OSes. I'd tested the previous version of Progression Desktop as bundled with Linspire, and found that it worked wonderfully, but wasn't well-suited to Linspire's unusual home directory layout. For this review I tested the standard Versora release, not the Linspire-specific edition, so I can't say if that bug has been fixed in version 2.0.

On the Windows side, there are no unusual prerequisites--you just install it and go (see Figure 1). On GNU/Linux, however, Progression Desktop needs the following packages in order to run the import tool:

  • GNU gettext 0.14 or newer
  • Python 2.3 or newer
  • PyQt 3.1 or newer, or PyGTK 2.2 or newer (depending on whether you're using KDE or GNOME)
  • Mono 1.1 or newer
  • GTK# 2.0 or newer (including gconf-sharp)

Of these packages, I found Mono to be the biggest hurdle--it isn't even available for 64-bit Mandriva 2006, and rather than spend an hour downloading and installing dozens of Mono-related RPMs for a different distro and hoping that everything would go well, I decided to skip further testing on Mandriva 2006 PowerPack Edition. Mandriva is listed as being qualified to run Progression Desktop, though I'm not sure that the 64-bit edition was tested as part of that qualification.

The Gentoo test machine didn't have most of the prerequisite packages installed, though Portage took care of that in short order. However, I'm kind of unhappy with the fact that I now have a half-dozen new packages to update regularly just for one program that was used once.

My Windows test machine has a relatively large number of diverse programs installed, most of which have their own settings and data. Progression Desktop 2.0 can recognize the fact that you may be saving data from two or more programs that perform the same function--saving email account settings and messages from both Outlook Express and Thunderbird, for instance--and transferring it to a single program on the destination OS. Upon recognizing that potential conflict, you're given a choice: you can either import data into separate programs (Outlook Express to KMail or Evolution, and Thunderbird to Thunderbird, for instance), or you can attempt to consolidate the data into one program. The software warns that the latter option could lead to trouble; I didn't have any problems importing bookmarks from both Firefox and Internet Explorer into Firefox on SUSE, but Internet Explorer's default home page won out over Firefox's.

Not only did all of my email transfer properly to Evolution, but the Outlook Express "new mail" sound transferred as well. It's amazing how important that small detail is--the new mail notification sound is as familiar to many office workers as the distinctive ring of their cell phones or doorbells. Changing it could mean a delay in email response time.

The 1000+ fonts I had installed in Windows transferred to GNU/Linux without any trouble, and were available in OpenOffice.org after restarting the X server.

Backing up and restoring a large amount of data can take a long time--almost an hour for a few gigabytes worth of My Documents files. With that amount of data, the resulting backup package is too large to fit onto removable media, so it must be transferred to another computer via a network connection, or stored on a USB hard drive.

Some things you won't want to restore in GNU/Linux, like desktop shortcuts for programs that don't exist in your new operating system. You might also find that you don't want to restore your desktop wallpaper or other cosmetic settings--they're probably better in a modern desktop GNU/Linux distribution than they were in Windows XP (see Figure 2). Fortunately you're able to pick and choose which parts of the backup package you want to integrate into GNU/Linux, and if you change your mind later, you can revisit Progression Desktop to restore settings you opted out of the first time through.

The documentation installed in Windows was old and inaccurate. While the product Web site claims that Progression Desktop will work with a variety of GNU/Linux distributions, the PDF documentation in Windows states that only Novell Linux Desktop 9 and Mepis 3.3 are supported. Furthermore, the screen shots show options and settings that are not available in the product as it was delivered. The copyright on the PDF was 2005, so I suspect it was designed for a previous version of the software. I did manage to find the correct PDF guide on the CD, however. An automation and scripting guide is also on the disc; it explains how to create an XML template to direct Progression Desktop without the GUI, and how to manipulate the program so that the entire save and restore process can be done unattended. This enables sysadmins to do fully automated migrations when the process is integrated with a GNU/Linux installation framework like YaST, Red Hat Network, or ZENworks.

I didn't have the chance to test Progression Desktop 2.0 on FreeBSD, but I believe it will work if the Linux compatibility layer and all of the above-mentioned prerequisites (as well as either KDE or GNOME) are installed. In other words, I didn't discover any "Linuxisms" in the migration process.


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