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Elementary OS (taoofmac.com)
594 points by rcarmo on Oct 30, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 386 comments

I am really intruigued when people say they do most of their computer usage on an iPad. I get massively frustrated anytime I try to do almost anything other than consome on an iPad. As just one example trying to copy snd paste almost anything makes me want to tear my hair out it's so frustrsting. Moving the cursor or trying to fight with the os about what I really want to select as it keeps trying to expand my selection, or the fact tbat I can't copy the text of a link, only the link itself.

That's just one of many frustrstions I run into anytime I try to use ios (or Android) for anything other than consuming and so I'd really like to know am I doing it wrong? Is there some magic to work around these issue? Do others just never need to do the things I need do regularly?

It's so bad I recently bought a headmountable camera to document the frustrations in the hopes of generating some awareness of the issues because I'd love to be able to get by with just a tablet.

Yes, it's really strange! It's like these people have never used a keyboard efficiently in their life, so they are happy with a touch interface.

It's the same with my phone, although I am pretty decent typing on it. But long comments and emails I find myself forced to get out the laptop.

I sort of miss the Blackberries in this regard - I could comfortably get over 50wpm on the physical qwerty keyboards.

Wow, that's great to hear about the head cam. Where are you putting these recordings?

You can use two fingers over the keyboard for moving the cursor on an iPad (force touch on the keyboard with iphones)

But you can not select text using that method, can you?

On the iPhone with force touch you can. You have to press again then you can freely select. That's the only time I use force touch :)

I definitely agree with your sentiment. I too get very frustrated with those things, and had a terrible time just formatting this comment!

> or the fact tbat I can't copy the text of a link, only the link itself.

I wanted to share a tip in regard to this: select some text before or after the link text, then use the markers to adjust/refine down to just the link text that you want.

Definitely agree with you about selecting/copy paste.

Same here. I bought an iPad a few generations ago and it was noticeably slower than even my iPhone. If your iPad is slower (even a little bit) than your iPhone, you will hate your iPad. Not to mention, anything involving multitasking or juggling several different things at once becomes a frustrating experience on the iPad.

Anything I would have gotten done on my iPad, I could have just done on my iPhone. And if I can't use my iPhone for it, I would have used a real computer.

I have absolutely zero issues of that nature on iOS - it can be a bit fiddly to get the hang of positioning the selection handles, and moving the cursor using the soft keyboard is a relatively recent feature, but it's _miles_ ahead of Android.

I am using elementary OS for the past one and a half years, and honestly speaking, I am in love with it. I am a long time Linux user, and whenever I get a chance, I tell people about all the great things about Linux and why it's better than Windows and the MacOS. But there was always one aspect of Linux that I always felt a bit uneasy about, and this was design/UI/UX/accessibility of the many popular distributions. I liked ubuntu the most in this regards, but after they moved to Unity, I had to ditch it. But then I found Elementary, and have never looked back. Elementary combines the freedom and transparency of open source with beautiful design. I have never seen an OS that scores high on so many different factors.

There's a lot of discussion here about the stock apps in elementary. However, since I am an experienced Linux user, I don't really care about stock apps. The Linux app ecosystem is extremely diverse, and over the years, I have found my best solution for each task. For example, Clementine for music, Atom for text editing etc. So these apps get installed immediately after every installation of elementary and then I never look back at the stock apps again.

Agreed about the stock apps. I think actually they are being too ambitious. They want to have certain interface guidelines which operate across all apps (things like autosaving state so they can be closed and opened seamlessly), and that's why they're so keen on developing a full suite of their own programs. But independently developing so many apps all at the same time is a massive, massive task. In my opinion they would be better off focusing for the moment on areas where there are gaps, for instance making Shotwell / Pantheon Photos or Geary / Pantheon Mail really excellent. It's making the perfect the enemy of the good to redirect their effort to reimplementing their own music app and their own text editor etc, when there are good alternatives.

Agree about the general sentiment, also. In general it's an excellent project.

Really the best strategy would be to take existing Linux desktop staples and send patches that allow them to be reskinned enough to get the consistent L+F they want.

The presumption there is that the UI differences are at the skin level, and not tied to behavior, application architecture, toolkit decisions, etc.

The other approach they could take is the Mono/.net approach, which is to have some core domain logic, and then use that as a back-end for multiple independent UIs. A well-designed back-end allows the UIs to be relatively lightweight and hopefully maintainable.

The trouble is, some of what makes "existing Linux desktop staples" is non-trivial UI work. And sometimes adding a back-end front-end split can add a lot of complexity.

In the end, I think the reason we see such division on the question of custom app VS custom skin VS reusable back-end is that there are serious trade-offs in each direction.

Glad that you have the list of best options for every task, but as you say - it took you several years to figure it out. That would be great to have some sane defaults for most of common everyday tasks without the need of long research and learning, so one can concentrate on what he really cares about(like IDE or image editor) rather than bein stuck choosing a media player that err..plays the media.

With all due respect, when have the stock apps ever been good enough on any OS? I spent 20 years using Windows, and the first thing I did upon getting any new desktop/laptop was immediately go and grab a bunch of apps that I needed. They weren't necessarily the "best" apps, either; my old Windows 7 laptop is still running Winamp as my music player because I've used it since 1998 and it still does what I need it to do.

One's preference for programs is really a matter of personal taste. You can try to make the stock programs "suck less", but I doubt you're ever going to really eliminate the need for third party programs. Distros like KaOS (KDE with all-QT apps) have tried, with limited success. The best thing any distro can do, IMO, is to have an extensive App Center and use a flexible packaging format such that it encourages more apps to support that format.

Still using Winamp as well.

At work, people get awed all the time - "wow, is that Winamp?" :D

And I keep thinking, what the hell are people using these days?

Spotify, Google Music, Apple Music, Pandora?

Before I had to worry about space and moving my music around. Now it's on every device. Has all my playlists, all the music I listened to + discover new stuff, friends can send me songs I might like, can even download for offline if I'm worried about not having internet, etc.

It's been a much better solution than playing everything in Winamp which I used forever or iTunes.

I was about to answer VLC and then I red your answer and realized I'm lagging 10 years behind.

VLC is one of the best open source programs ever written. I use it on mobile+notebook for video and music (320-encoded files on a 128 GB SD card). Youtube/many other apps are just not OK in quality.

> and whenever I get a chance, I tell people about all the great things about Linux and why it's better than Windows and the MacOS.

People like this bore me to death. Let's be frank - you're just biased and you're probably wrong, despite all your good intentions. What OS you prefer is a matter of taste and of choice, and there's no "better" or "worse" unless you're so narrow minded as to only measure an operating system's worth by the features that happen to put your chosen OS ahead. These days if I was a dedicated gamer I'd probably say Windows. In fact, after the Surface Studio presentation, it's tempting as a creative platform.

I used one form or another of Linux on my main desktops and laptops since 2002, until 2009. In 2009 I bought a Macbook and since then I've switched to OS X (or macOS) as my main OS of choice. I still install GNU coreutils on macOS, and still keep a separate desktop at home with Linux on it - appropriately named `lab` in my home network.

So, in 2016 my main laptop is a Macbook Air with macOS on which I do most of my work, my desktop is running various flavours of linux (arch which i keep the most updated, but also alpine, ubuntu, fedora... etc easily accessible in grub). Don't lecture us on what OS is better, we've made a decision and it doesn't have to be the same as yours.

> What OS you prefer is a matter of taste and of choice, and there's no "better" or "worse" unless you're so narrow minded as to only measure an operating system's worth by the features that happen to put your chosen OS ahead.

> Don't lecture us on what OS is better, we've made a decision and it doesn't have to be the same as yours.con

I would agree with that but you don't have to be so harsh, he may actually convince people with arguments as to why Linux is actually "better" (i.e. privacy), rather than "lecturing" them.

I don't think you should be telling him what to do and what not to do, unless he is lecturing you.

I really like elementaryOS - not for myself (need to use macOS for dev), but pretty much all of my family was migrated to it.

It has proven to be significantly more stable and simple to use than Windows and the default applications really nicely hit the simplicity and usability for a user that primarily needs web, email, photos and minor document editing. I'd even argue it's better than macOS for that user profile (especially since it's not localized to my local language, which eOS and most of major Linux apps are).

The fact that it actually looks good by default is nice as well.

Known downsides:

- It's based on Ubuntu LTS (which is great!), but the new versions tend to lag after Ubuntu LTS releases by months at a time.

- No upgrade path between versions.

- Releases tend to be buggy on some hardware after release.

Not sure about the stability. I am using Ubuntu for over a year and it's way less stable than Windows was. Sometimes I encounter crashes when suspending or waking up. I also encounter lots of minor problems. For me the Windows experience was definitely more polished.

Is Elementary OS significantly different?

If you ever feel like giving it a try again do it with a computer that is known to work well. While Linux will run on lots of random PC hardware, its support is not consistent across all hardware. The easiest way to do this is to buy from a company who sells Linux based systems.

One of the biggest problems in the Linux ecosystem is the lack of any good source on hardware compatibility tracking.

Likely the big reason there is that hardware manufacturers test for Windows and write drivers for Windows.

Damn it, there is at least one documented case of a motherboard giving a junk ACPI return if the OS identified itself as anything other than Windows.

While hardware manufacturers testing on windows does explain a lot, don't discount the massive amount of work MS put into making windows work on flaky hardware. They really do (or at least did) seem to have the mentality of "we will be blamed if it doesn't work, so bend over backwards to make things work"

Generally the less like a server your computer is, the less nice the driver support. I have a Xeon workstation with a nvidia quatro graphics card at work and it has been rock solid for years. The same cannot be said of my laptop.

Stability largely depends on your hardware. I would not expect one linux distribution to run better than other in most cases. Especially not here given Elementary is based on Ubuntu.

eOS uses Ubuntus core, so if your hardware isn't compatible with Linux, it's not going to be better in that regard.

I would move to an Elementary OS if it's UI/UX was moved over an Arch based distribution. I mean Elementary OS simply looks beautiful and is stable(-ish). On top of Manjaro or something that holds back updates I wouldn't be able to figure out a more perfect development/daily driver system.

Apart from AUR build as others have pointed out, there is a repo for that https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pantheon

You could try Antergos, https://antergos.com/. it is an Arch-based distro with minor changes and sane default install.

have anyone tried Apricity, https://apricityos.com?

I'm currently using Archlinux now, so far I enjoy using it, but the fact that we have to put much effort on installing it makes me don't want to recommend it.

I try to find simple-to-install-with-Arch-linux-based-OS, still with rolling release and pacman -Syu to update the entire OS.

I haven't tried Apricity, but I have tried Antergos, and you just described Antergos.

That's nice information! Thanks, gonna try that!

Antegros has been my daily driver on my desktop (MBP laptop for work) for about....six months. I wholeheartedly and without thinking twice endorse this.

There were people trying to get Pantheon onto AUR. No idea how that's going.

Just like everything in the AUR I presume. It probably works, but when it stops doing that you're never going to get it working again.

Have you got an example of something on the AUR "never working again"? I'm assuming you mean some kind of dependency problem?

You might want to try Solus. It has a beautiful UI, works great out of the box and is rolling release. Also the devs are really fucking fast if any issues should arise.

That's if you can successfully install it (http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/solus-1-2-review.html)

I've been an elementaryOS user for years and I ended up dropping the whole thing in favour of xfwm4 + synapse + tint2.

eOS is a really nice looking thing, but it's buggy, release after release it's losing features, like [1] - this specific one was never fixed in the previous release.

The built-on music app collapses under a reasonable amount of music, same as banshee or quod libet can easily handle. Geary, the mail app looks nice, but lacks basic features and has a tendency to corrupt IMAP folders.

The window manager of eOS, Gala, is indeed impressive, but lack options to tweak. In the previous release, it was impossible to disable the ALT+TAB effect, even if all the other effects were set to none.

So overally: it's looks nice, the window manager is fast, and if you're fine with the defaults, you're probably going to be a happy user - until you find something you miss, and there is no way to fix that.


> Geary, the mail app looks nice, but lacks basic features and has a tendency to corrupt IMAP folders.

Geary was forked after Yorba wound down, and Elementary are moving it over to the Evolution backend, incidentally.

Forgive my ignorance - what implications does this have? Would Evolution run as some kind of daemon, and Geary just add the presentation layer on top?

Yes, I think so. It means the Geary developers don't have to maintain IMAP etc support, they can concentrate on the other parts of the app.

Looking at the bug you mentioned, the status is "Fix released", so yeah, it too them a while to make a GUI option for lid closing, but they did.

My mini Ask HN:

After over a decade of using Mac OS X, I am considering switching to Linux for my dev laptop. The tools I worry about are those that interact with audio and webcam - Go To Meeting, Google Hangout etc. My work involves me having to teleconf with others often.

Does anyone here have experience using Linux well in such scenarios. If so, what hardware are you using?

Also, does sleep-on-closing-lid work well?

"Also, does sleep-on-closing-lid work well?"

Funny story: My new-ish Dell laptop (Inspiron 15 7559 i7 with 4k touchscreen display; which I got at an absurdly low sales price from the Dell outlet store) does not reliably recover from sleep under Windows, but does under Linux (neither worked when I first got the laptop, but now only Windows fails and now only some of the time). That's a first, for me, as I have had a huge variety of sleep related bugs in Linux over the years, but fewer under Windows.

Google Hangouts works fine under Chrome on Linux, but is quirkier under Firefox (I don't think I ever got the voice/video plugin working under Firefox, but I rarely use the video features these days, so I just run Chrome when I need it). Both video and audio Hangouts work fine under Chrome.

With very new hardware, you probably need a very new Linux distribution, and newer hardware can have installation quirks. Getting Linux onto my box took a lot of fiddling, but it now runs Fedora 24 quite nicely.

I've been using Fedora on my desktop machine for a few months and it's fantastic. Because I had such a good experience with it I decided to sell my MacBook Pro about a month ago and bought this laptop. Dual-booted Fedora 24 and Windows (for gaming) and I'm loving it. Like you, I had to finagle Fedora a bit to get it working but now I use it as my main dev machine.

Funnily enough, for a while I haven't been able to use Hangouts screen share in Chrome (https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=649487) but works in Firefox.

A couple of years back I was having persistent sleep/wake issues that seemed to stem from graphics driver issues. I switched between the open source and Nvidia binaries, trying to find a stable combination. What a nightmare. In the end, I decided that I didn't want to mess around and tried out a few Live CDs (think I tried Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora). In the end, Fedora worked out of the box and completed my "stress test" of sleep, wake, sleep, wake. I had to give up stellar 3D performance, but have found things to be working quite well and consistent now through all the Fedora updates.

Might give Elementary OS a spin. This old Thinkpad T510 is getting dated, but still solid as ever (besides battery life).

Exactly! For example, Skylake support is not mature enough in Linux atm.

Skylake support isn't mature enough in Windows either, though.

However, I have two devices with a Skylake processor and neither have on Linux (as of recently, there were some minor ones with bad power states on cores). One of them dualboots Windows, and windows has some random weird issues with Skylake and BSODs randomly (but rarely). Sometimes it "wakes up" into BSOD.

I presume you know about Matthew Garett already? http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/41713.html

I think it's gotten pretty good in the past few months. As I mentioned, I had problems when I first installed Linux and it took longer than it historically has, but it's mostly been resolved with kernel and other updates. I can't think of any major issues; the 4k support in Linux is a bit quirky (but it's a bit quirky under Windows 10, as well), and so I've found myself fiddling more than I'd like on that front. But, there have been no showstoppers, even though my laptop has very new components on all fronts.

I've had similar issues with Haswell and the Intel 7260 wifi card when it came out. It was fixed, but it took over a year after it was relesed :(

I'm writing this from a Kaby Lake (7th gen) I5 running Fedora 24 and it shipped with Ubuntu (Dell XPS). It does require the newest packages but I don't see any major issues. My Skylake (6th gen) NUC I5 works well with Fedora 24 too. Mind to elaborate what specific problems you have with them?

It's been linked many times around here: https://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/41713.html

I'm still seeing powersaving issues even on Haswell. I believe basic support for Skylake only shipped in Ubuntu LTS only recently, too.

Can you give an example of issues? I’m running on a 6700 here with ARCH.

Here is an explation by an FSF board member. https://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/41713.html

Ah okay, the power savings issues.

Basic "just run code" stuff seems to be working well enough, and on a desktop which always runs at max in my case it doesn’t need to support power savings modes either.

Did you do anything to fix your sleep recovery issues on Linux, or did it get resolved by chance?

Kernel upgrade. 4.7.something or other, I think.

I am using Slack, GotoMeeting, join.me, etc., and in general -- I'm working remotely.

Linux is better for development, but worse for collaboration. You can get almost everything working, but it takes effort.

GotoMeeting screensharing tends to work, but not always. Join.me doesn't. The tools for Windows (my other OS) are much better if you need to capture screenshots or recordings often (typical use case: hotkey -> record part of the screen -> paste into Slack.. this is doable on Linux, but on Windows, it takes almost zero effort). The audio is getting better on Linux, but I have many audio devices (external DAC, audio-through-Displayport, analog headset, etc.), and switching between them quickly is more painful than how it is on Windows. This is aggravated by the fact that I hate all DEs (except maybe Gnome3), so I use i3 WM -- which is brilliant but stuff like clipboard management doesn't work well out of the box.

In general, Linux can work for my (your?) use case, but it's significantly worse than Windows. It's better for development though (in general). Currently I run Linux VMs under Windows, that works okay.

Ah, and Skype for Linux alpha works fine.

Can you elaborate on "Linux is better for development"? Guessing it can only come down to differences in apt and brew and not much more (not that this couldn't be reason enough)?

edit: this article mentioned MacOS and Linux and so that's all I thought OP's comment was referring to. We all know the advantages compared to Windows. Of course Windows is constantly improving.

Sorry - it's better for my job. But e.g. for Xamarin development it's worse :) I don't even consider macOS because I never liked the Mac hardware (had a late 2013 rMBP...)

Lots of tools (one example is Webpack) are significantly slower under Windows.

Since the article was about MacOS/Apple and Linux I thought they were comparing to MacOS.

A ram disk containing your node_modules/ directory can help a ton with webpack on Windows, and Node in general.

1) lack of straightforward symlinks means source management under Windows was always more involved.

I've considered the switch too.

Having a Windows VM on Linux seems workable albeit clunky for the ~5% of things that I must have like GoToMeeting, etc. Thing is I already use a Windows VM on Mac for some things like that because I am very security-conscious and OS-pollution-conscious and don't like installing intrusive stuff like GoToMeeting on my main OS.

No matter what this informal poll shows, there will be more problems than with macOS, over the long term. I know lots of people that use Linux and they very often have problems with audio apps. As for sleep-on-closing-the-lid, I think that's gotten better, but I don't think it will ever approach the stability of it on macOS. In 5 years, I think I've had a very small number of problems with this on macOS, and it always involved undocking from a physical keyboard, mouse and multiple monitors. My friends on Windows and Linux are always having problems with this.

I have personally never had any issues with audio on linux the past 5 years. ALSA and pulseaudio have become pretty mature now. Only thing i needed for hangouts to work was to install Chrome instead of Chromium and then it worked. Webcam, audio and mic worked out of the box. I have however heard that there are some issues with the iSight camera on Macs under Linux, I have not tried this myself though.

With a ThinkPad, sleep-on-closing-the-lid has never been an issue, I actually wasn't even aware it was a problem that people faced. Presumably it depends almost entirely on the laptop.

If you rely on Skype in any way, avoid Linux. The Linux version was killed years ago and basic stuff like screen sharing isn't working as expected.

Last time I tried (2+ years ago, it might be different now) Go To Meeting also wasn't working on Linux.

I've used Linux on the desktop between 2009-2014 and basically anything multimedia related was a chore.

Unfortunately this seems to be just a wrapper around their web app. Meaning there is zero chance for a significant native linux skype client update.

It isn’t. It’s the equivalent of the Windows and Mac versions.

Can confirm. They've brought in desktop sharing and it's a lot more stable.

Now just need a 'stop sharing my desktop' button.

You can use the web version of skype now. I'd never install the dumpster desktop version but if anyone refuses to use alternatives I can just go to web.skype.com and it... works.

Unfortunately you can't make calls from web. I mean to phone numbers. Screen sharing is not working either, obvious.

Hangouts can dial phone numbers if you want a web phone dialer. Phone numbers are agnostic and the client backing them does not really matter (since you should have no expectation of privacy over the PSTN anyway).

Does web.skype.com work on Windows Chrome too?

The web version of Skype works fine in Linux. Also, there is https://meet.jit.si/ - This works very well in WebRTC capable browsers.

I managed a internal version of jitsi meet, its great, but it has had a bunch of glitches and issues with parties with more than ~15 people on it.

Heeeey so, if we're talking about potential alternatives here? I need to just leave this here and encourage anyone looking for something better to take a look: https://www.meetspaceapp.com

Full disclaimer: I'm a friend of the founder, however I'm a paying customer due to the fact that

1. It's worked wonders with my clients and 2. It's so much better than hangouts or skype.

Compared to the big boys it may be considered a bit spartan but for what it does, it does it extraordinarily well.

Looks like your friend is serving a herokuapp.com certificate for his meetspaceapp.com domain. Should really get that fixed.

The reason we stuck with jitsi-meet is that it could be self hosted on an semi-airgapped network, and not break without internet. Also, your friend should invest in a ssl cert, because your link goes directly to a privacy warning.

Ah, the main homepage doesn't look like it's got ssl set up like the actual meat (a subdomain) of the app does. I'll pass it along to him. Thx

I have a Clevo 740su, the same model as the old Galago Ultrapro from System76 (I just got it from Sager instead) which has a webcam that works fine out of the box on Linux, the headphone jack works fine, etc. I use KDE and the plasma-pa tray applet easily lets you switch output audio devices for applications which I use (as an example) to playback movies from my desktop to TV.

I founded MeetSpace, which is video conferencing for distributed teams. I developed MeetSpace on a linux laptop (yoga 2 pro) and a linux desktop (custom w/ logitech c922 webcam).

I can tell you that for the most part it's worked flawlessly. The only issues I ever had were that linux rendering wasn't great, so sometimes the CPU was high just from rendering!

We are browser-only, so because we don't have a native app we just use browser functionality. The only thing we use the extensions for is for security to ask for permission to use the screen (it's really like a dozen lines of code).

Oh, and if you switch, Dell's XPS series tends to work very well in linux, especially if you buy their developer edition, because they support ubuntu, which means you can find the drivers even if you don't use ubuntu.

Google Hangouts works fine. Sleep-on-closing-lid works fine. I use Xubuntu. I'm using a Lenovo Tablet, an ASUS laptop, and a custom-built desktop.

Bluetooth is kind of a mess, on Xubuntu at least.

> Bluetooth is kind of a mess, on Xubuntu at least.

(Speaking as someone who likes Xfce, and is currently switching from MacOS to Linux and is mostly settled on Xubuntu), I think that's mostly an Xfce thing. GNOME (and therefore Unity, Budgie, possibly Cinnamon and maybe MATE) handle it better.

I can confirm that Bluetooth can be a bit buggy using MATE DE/WM on Debian. Mostly I've used it for headphones, which require an unreasonable amount of resyncing. But there are multiple possible reasons for this – reasons I haven't discovered.

Bluetooth depends on your controller. I've had fine bluetooth experiences with the onboard controller on AR9462 wifi cards.

I use Google Hangouts on Linux all the time. No issues at all.

Sleep-on-lid-closing works reasonably well nowadays; I can't remember the last time I've run into a laptop which has issues on that front. However, I'd definitely do my research before buying a new laptop, especially if it's a very new one (in other words: you'll have better chances of power-management compatibility on laptops that are a bit more battle-tested).

I'm using project sputnik from dell. No issues the entire time I've had it. Skype works pretty well and people have told me several times that it is the clearest screen sharing experience they've had but I don't really know what that means. Been about 3 years now and has gone from ubuntu 12.04 to 16.04 without any problems. I expect it to continue to work fine and have been looking into upgrading to the latest model.

Laptop support will vary a bit, but some brands tend to work really well. Look for the specific model + Linux to see if there are hardware issues.

I used to use Ubuntu and had Hangouts and GoToMeeting work just fine (also, Skype and Appear.in).

I switched to Mac for two reasons: browser testing Safari and quality hardware (aluminum case, retina screen, support for 3+ monitors, nice hinges). I suppose iOS app development is another reason you'd want it.

This is why I still choose to go with Mac OS X, even if their most recent hardware is very, very expensive.

I don't have time to tinker with compiling kernels, configuring X11, figuring out which photo management software to use, setting up reliable backups, getting my Bluetooth headset to work, and, yes, getting the machine to suspend when I close the lid and wake up when I open it.

These are basics that will just work with OS X, very, very, reliably.

That said, if anyone can point me to a Linux distro (Debian/Ubuntu preferred) and hardware that actually work reliably together, please do.

Gosh, frankly speaking, I haven't had to do any of that stuff (except for the Bluetooth headset, I never had one of those, no idea how it works) in 7 years.

In 2009 I installed Mandriva on a laptop--everything just worked. In 2011, I jumped ship to Mageia, the community-driven offshoot of Mandriva. Everything still just worked. Fast forward several laptops later, including mine and friends' and relations' laptops, and it all just works. Compiling a kernel? Wouldn't know how anymore. Fiddling with X11? No idea. I don't even have problems with Pulseaudio.

Compare that to dual booting this one with Windows 10. For several months, Windows 10 had a bug where it wouldn't save the touchpad settings. Every time, I'd have to disable tap-to-click. UGH. They finally fixed it, but what a pain.

(And when I had an OS X machine, received as part of payment for a job... between the beach ball and the not-infrequent crashes, where the screen dims and displays that fatal error message, it was a pain to get any work done.)

> compiling kernels, configuring X11, figuring out which photo management software to use, setting up reliable backups, getting my Bluetooth headset to work, and, yes, getting the machine to suspend when I close the lid and wake up when I open it.

I haven't heard of the need for compiling kernels, configuring X11 etc. in a loong time.

> setting up reliable backups, getting my Bluetooth headset to work, and, yes, getting the machine to suspend when I close the lid and wake up when I open it

Again, works out of the box, just pick a laptop that is known to work well, i.e. a Clevo, Lenovo or some of the newer DELL machines to give Linux a proper chance - there's no point in trying a laptop that is known to work only with Windows and then complain about it - the same way you don't complain if macOS doesn't work well on a DELL.

You pick a specific machine to run macOS, do the same for Linux and everything will work beautifully out of the box.

For personal use, I decided to move away from a laptop entirely. I'm very much enjoying having a workstation that enforces me going to a specific place to do work. If that appeals to you, then it's very easy to find 100% compatible hardware.

If not, then I can vouch that my wife's Thinkpad runs Ubuntu with no issues. I concur with others that kernel compiling and X11 configuration have long been non-issues.

Compiling your kernel hasn't been necessary for like a decade by now. Configuring X is becoming a thing of the past, partially because of working automatic config, and partially because of the move away from X to Wayland-based desktops.

I use Fedora on a ThinkPad X230. It works an absolute dream. GNOME is my favorite of all the desktops, and Fedora by default ships a fully setup and functioning Gnome on Wayland session (which will also be the default session in the next release, coming in a few weeks).

The reason I chose to run Fedora on a ThinkPad is because it required no tweaking and fiddling at all to get working nicely. I'm all about that seamless out-of-the-box experience.

I was amused by the post here today about the Touch ID fork of sudo for macOS, because I already use the same feature on my ThinkPad every day, and it required absolutely no configuration or setup (other than enrolling my fingerprint).

For reasonably popular hardware, compiling kernels or configuring X.org has been a thing of the past for years (unless one really wants to).

Since you are asking for specifics, I run openSUSE Tumbleweed on an Asus Zenbook UX 305, and with the exception of keyboard backlight, all the builtin hardware works as expected. I have never tried to attach an external display. I did not try Ubuntu on this machine, the Debian installer pretty much bailed on me. (Tumbleweed is a rolling release distro, so the amount of updates it receives can be slightly annoying at times, OTOH the software is very much up to date.) I have to admit I have not tried suspending the machine by closing the lid, but Fn+F1 works reliably.

> These are basics that will just work with OS X, very, very, reliably.

That's fine, you are paying a premium for all this, it better "just" works. Elementary OS is free of charge.

linux works perfectly well in all these scenarios and is actually better than Windows.

hangouts works brilliantly. skype (even the old version) works great with both audio and video. in fact i have switched over to the skype web version which works on the chrome browser (no video call for now.. but audio works brilliantly).

i use fedora 24..which just works and is pretty cutting edge. i switched over from Ubuntu pretty recently and have been very happy.

im on a xps 13. previously i was on a thinkpad. there is no dearth of cool laptops on Linux.

Nice to see another Fedora user! I find it runs better than Ubuntu. Faster and more stable. Recently I have been using Cinnamon over GNOME3. What DE do you use?

gnome 3. i really enjoy the way that gnome 3 has evolved. i think it is more usable than even OSX.

plus it comes with all the new systemd security integration. i dont think cinnamon has been rebased on gnome 3 yet

May I ask what are you using to get media and crypto? As far as I know, Fedora doesn't ship media codecs (including mp3) and has limited cryptography, right?

I use this.

    su -c 'dnf install http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm'

    sudo dnf -y install cabextract lzip p7zip p7zip-plugins unrar gstreamer1-libav gstreamer1-plugins-bad-free gstreamer1-plugins-bad-freeworld gstreamer1-plugins-base gstreamer1-plugins-good gstreamer1-plugins-ugly gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-bad-free gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree gstreamer-plugins-base gstreamer-plugins-espeak gstreamer-plugins-fc gstreamer-plugins-good gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-rtsp amrnb amrwb faac faad2 flac lame libdca libmad libmatroska x264 x265 xvidcore hexchat mpv smplayer vlc

Google Hangouts works fine. I've had problems with Skype and audio after a distro upgrade on Ubuntu (but an `apt purge` and `apt install` fixed them).

Sleep-on-closing-lid has worked fine for me for many years.

It's funny that, with regards to Just Working after installation, Linux seems to be way ahead of Windows. I installed both of them on my laptop and while on Linux everything worked fine from the start without needing extra setup steps (including the multitouch trackpad; the not-so-standard function keys like keyboard brightness; even the this weird external subwoofer that came with the laptop), on Windows i had to download and install special drivers for all those things, and even for much more basic stuff, like the wireless card (had to dig through old computer stuff to find an ethernet cable to connect to the internet).

Now, i understand why this is the case. Linux distros are designed to be installed by their users, while Windows is designed to come pre-installed on computers. But i still find it curious how Linux is much more non-tech-savvy-friendly in this particular regard.

Only the g2m web client works on linux; anything you need the desktop app for (i.e. pretty much anything for which you are the presenter) does not work.

WebEx's Linux support is excellent though.

Google Hangouts works fine under chrome on linux.

As far as hardware, webcam support is generally good. It's now at the point where if you bought a random webcam, there is a better than 50% chance it will just work. That being said, it's much safer to check if others have used it, or to just buy a laptop that has a webcam and ships with linux support (Both Dell and HP have laptops that ship with linux installed). I have a Creative Labs USB webcam that unfortunately has no model number printed on it (I have a long list of things I don't like about built-in webcams).

Sleep has worked on all laptops I've tried in the past decade or so. Hibernate (i.e. suspend to disk) is much more spotty.

Battery life lies somewhere between windows 7 and Mac, though certain applications are particularly bad at draining the battery (powertop can be useful in identifying these).

In general linux on a laptop has gotten way better; in particular networking is much more bearable now that NetworkManager actually works and it's much easier to find laptops with linux supported wifi gear preinstalled.


I saw someone mention audio issues; that reminds me. The situation there is more like what networking was like 5-6 years ago. Pulse Audio promises to provide all the basic features people expect from an audio stack), but sometimes crashes, or drains your battery or just causes weird sounds to come out of your speaker. On the other hand, getting ALSA+dmix setup correctly without pulse audio (which is the only real alternative), is fairly arcane, and leaves you without things like per-application volume control (though many linux applications provide their own software-implemented volume control).

My idea that I think would work but never came around to before Windows became usable for me was to keep a linux workstation or decent developer laptop and then have an iPad (or some good Android pad) for Skype etc.

That I think would be the best of both worlds for me.

Goto meeting does work on GNU/Linux. It even has some terrifying X exploit that allows you to share any window that X knows about. It works fine, you just have to use Chromium.

Both GTM and Hangouts work well over web applications they offer.

Some laptops were designed around Linux. See e.g. system76

Not really - they're just Clevo rebrands with the bare minimum effort. When graphics switching was new, they were quite helpless.

Can confirm this. I'm typing this on a System76 galago pro, which is more than 2 years old at this point. Over time, I've seen the very same issues which you'd expect from any other system: bluetooth misbehaving, graphics issues etc.

In particular:

1. The graphic card (Intel onboard Crystal Eye) switches to low-power mode on battery. The windows Intel driver has an option to switch it to performance mode. No such option on the linux drivers.

2. The damn Xf86Display Key (Projector shortcut) isn't supported.

However, I've realized over time that irrespective of your choice, you will face issues on _your device_. NTFS would stop working on your Mac, or your iPhone will refuse to connect to your Car's bluetooth one fine day.


i've been using linux on my macbook for the past 1.5 years and now i have it on my desktop.

webcam both on the mbp and my logitech hd work out of the box. sleep on closing lid also works quite well -- and i feel waking it up is faster.

Using Deb on a macbook 4,1 from 2008. Camera doesn't work though. What year is your mackbook? I configured this one last week for a friend who had it laying around in the closet for years with a locked password and no particular interest in Macs. I convinced them to nix the MacOS and try Linux, arguing it would perform more efficiently, and compared to the MacOS version previously installed, it very much does. And tell me; did you reformat the drive, or just add a partition? I used gdisks and GPT partitioning and eventually wangled it, though not without a little trouble.

i used the native osx disk utility to create a partition. i'm using archlinux on a mid-2012 macbook pro.

which kernel were you installing?

I'm not sure; it was an old Debian Stable dvd, from early last year. And the first thing I did was change the repos to Unstable and do a dist-upgrade. The kernel release is presently 4.7.0-1-amd64. It was all a fairly annoying task to begin with a blank hard-drive and end with a usable system, but it was pretty neat when I got it. It's a usable system now, with a few minor bugs.

I have a logitech camera, an old one, and hangouts work fine.

For some reason I had to install "cheese" to make it work. But that's all. No extra drivers needed or anything else.

I really don't understand why developers use macs at all. They're not good dev machines. All production systems I work with are some flavor of linux (mostly ubuntu). There is actually a real impedance mismatch when I'm using my mac for work purposes. All those cores and RAM become meaningless when I have to do everything in a VM anyway. My personal dev machine is a project sputnik running ubuntu 16.04. I can understand why designers would use them but programmers never made any sense.

1. It's UNIX (more or less, but it's much more UNIX, than Windows), it's familiar bash, grep, awk, etc. It also has proper and popular package manager for command line programs (actually 2, macports and homebrew).

2. It just works. You don't have to configure anything, every hardware part functioning properly and it's guaranteed that this will work in the future without any hassle. You don't have to think about drivers, kernel versions, sleep/wake up scripts, swap. You just install OS and start to work. That's on macs, of course, hackintoshes are more like Linux in that aspect.

3. A lot of hardware designed for Macs. I have yet to see a device which will claim that it support Linux. Yet almost anything will work in Mac. Windows is better, of course, but Mac is good too. With Linux you better google it before you buy it, and even then something might be not perfect.

4. They are nice machines overall. Good enough quality, good casing, good design, good internals, good service. Not best, but not much drawbacks.

5. GUI is pretty nice and pleasant to use, there is a lot of GUI software for macs and almost every useful Linux program will have mac port (but not the other way). Linux doesn't have so polished user experience. Though it's not that important for power users, but it's nice to have IMO.

> it's guaranteed that this will work in the future without any hassle

I wish this was true, but I always hold off updating my work MBP at least 6 months, before all the issues with the newest release are resolved. I remember updating to 10.7 since 10.6 was a solid release and it was a nightmare. There's a bunch of stuff broken with 10.12 as well, including a bug which prevents curl from working well and a bug which makes Duet less reliable under Sierra.

> They are nice machines overall. Good enough quality, good casing, good design, good internals, good service.

I'd agree with the aluminium casing and good external design, but in regards to internals; the GPUs are very lacklustre in performance, I had a problem with my MBP showing green tint on the screen after just months of usage and have a dead/red pixel on my new display already.

The fans also do a terrible job at cooling and the CPU can reach 95 degrees C while compiling code, which makes it not so hot a dev machine, (pun intended :-)

But I agree, the service is good.

> I have yet to see a device which will claim that it support Linux.

I may have misunderstood this, but System76[0] specifically make 'designed for nix' desktops and laptops.

[0] https://system76.com/

I was referring to something like modem, audio card or gaming mouse.

System76 looks really interesting and if it works like Mac, it's awesome.

As others have mentioned, those System76 machines are rebranded Clevo laptops. Thinkpad's dominance among the OpenBSD developers is a strong hardware compatibility endorsement as far as I'm concerned.

It's not more or less UNIX, it is a UNIX. It's certified by the Open Group. See http://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/register/brand3627.htm

When OS X was released, this claim to fame was more exciting than it is today. Nowadays, Linux / GNU dominates what it means to be a mainstream Unix-like operating system.

The extent to which other *nixen deviate from this determines how much of an uphill battle one will face. And I say this as a lover of OpenBSD, and someone who wishes Linux weren't such a dominating de facto standard.

But the Open Group--I can't think of one reason why UNIX certification has mattered for a good number of years now.

> I really don't understand why developers use macs at all.

I don't want to single out your comment, but there's been a lot of this lately (and every time this discussion comes up).

There's no one true version of a 'developer' or a 'pro.'

Broadly speaking, people will be most productive with the tool they know best. And the 'real' pros can be productive with just about anything.

For myself, I consider myself a developer too, but my workflow is probably very different from your workflow. My main machines are a MacBook Pro (2012) and a hefty HP workstation (64GB RAM, dual Xeons) running Ubuntu. There are things I use the Mac for that I'd struggle to do on the HP, and vice versa. But that's just me... But the idea that there's 'one true dev' or 'one true platonic ideal' of a development machine, is just crazy. And that's why I think a lot of this recent Apple criticism is missing the mark (especially when there are plenty of things to criticise Apple for, if that's what one wants to do).

My preferred toolchain and stack just works better on a native linux box because it doesn't need virtualization overhead when I'm on a linux box. Those efficiencies add up pretty quickly. Since I mostly do backend dev work macs have never worked for me as they should.

To address your point about this being a recent trend I actually noticed the mismatch when I first moved to the bay area 5 years ago. It seemed weird to use a mac as a dev machine and then deploy to a ubuntu box in production. There was always some issue that came up because whoever was doing the deployment didn't verify things in a VM first and then had to do some firefighting on a production box.

This wouldn't be a problem if workplaces gave you the option of getting a linux box or a mac. At most places you don't have a choice. All the IT management software is built for a mac so you get a mac.

Seriously??? In that case the real problem is pushing directly from a dev machine to prod. It is simply crazy not to use a staging server. I bet that even if the Dev machine has the same OS as prod a lot of shit happens when not using a proper staging server (been there seen that). So the production problems that you experienced are completely unrelated to the OS on the dev machine. They are simply caused by the wrong deployment process.

We can go around circles for days. The fundamental issue still stands. You are losing time and spending effort working around OS mismatches because your dev machine and your production servers do not line up. Adding a staging server moves the problem one level higher. You will still spend however long it takes to fix whatever mismatch was caused by the differing environments.

I develop on windows and deploy on Linux. I have done that for more that 10 years and I never found a problem that wouldn't have happened if I developed on Linux. And obviously I always deployed first on test, then on stage and only at the end in production. What kind of problems did you see that happened because of developing on Mac OS instead of Linux? The only ones that I can think of are all caused by a wrong deployment process.

Try setting up a virtualenv on windows, linux, mac and then tell me there are no issues. Sometimes the versions won't even line up for some libraries because whatever works on windows will not work on linux will not work on mac. Same with ruby gems and npm modules that require compilation.

Maybe because after decades I'm frankly pissed of all the infinite glitches in windows and Linux and I want something that just works? Every hour spent in fighting those problems is real money that I lose, but above all I want to write code, not to fight with a machine. I'm not 16 anymore (when I had all the time of this world and when I even enjoyed the fight), now I just want to use my time to write code instead of wasting it. Simply as that.

> Maybe because after decades I'm frankly pissed of all the infinite glitches in windows and Linux and I want something that just works?

I actually ended up switching from OS X to Linux (on a MacBook) for this reason. Things break all the time, but at least I can usually figure out how to fix them on Linux. (OS X would freeze at random times, requiring a hard shutdown, and also sometimes resume from sleep with a black screen and no way to change it, the former happening across every version and the latter only after I upgraded to Mavericks).

I spent a lot of time fighting with macs to get it to behave like other operating systems. Like setting up the terminal to not look stupid.

A lot of time was spent fighting to get tap-to-drag without a release delay. Still nope.

Overall, it can be a pretty infuriating operating system as well.

I don't remember when it happened, but there came a time when the amount of effort to strip and disable stuff in Mac OS X became more of an effort than free *nixen. Sometime later, I made a small investment in swapping a desktop environment for a vanilla xmonad, and I couldn't be happier with the minimalism and lack of distractions.

I agree but how does a mac deliver that experience? How hard is it to fuck up installing the required dev toolchain and then jumping into Vim or your IDE of choice to get work done? How does a mac help with any of that?

I've never run into any issues with my dell machine and it started with ubuntu 12.04 when I first got it. Each upgrade has gone without any hitches or glitches.

Simply getting Linux onto a lot of my machines with working graphics, audio, and other drivers is a pain a lot of times.

If you intend to purchase a system with the intent of running linux on it, please consider a system76, (or any other Clevo reseller, such as Scan Computers in the UK) or a Lenovo that is known to work well or the XPS Dev Edition and you'll have much better time getting all these things to work, (usually out-of-the-box) than on a random PC meant to run Windows and nothing else.

You don't need to understand anything, you just need to accept that not all people are like you. Some prefer pepsi(ugh), some like red, some enjoy winter more. And some like using a Mac.

Why you are trying to group everybody together is beyond me. There are hundreds of programming languages, dozens of popular platforms, maybe hundreds of niche ones. There is no one single, correct solution, just as there is no one single answer to your question, because there is no one single deleveloper, there are millions, and some enjoy the stark look of a terminal and others prefer to look at pretty icons.

> All those cores and RAM become meaningless when I have to do everything in a VM anyway.

Virtualization is a bit less efficient but it certainly does not prevent you from utilizing multiple CPU cores or all your available RAM -- minus the resources consumed by the host OS of course.

> I really don't understand why developers use macs at all.

Because there are developers on this world that don't develop for UNIX, rather native applications for macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS.

Being a developer doesn't mean one is only allowed to work on UNIX.

In short, they provide a good enough Unix experience in a machine that just works™. Or used to, depending who you ask.

> It has polish and care that the stereotypical raging neckbeards who espouse the mantra of Linux on the desktop are unable to appreciate (or, apparently, build), and it has to exist, even if merely as a counterpoint to all the ugliness.

That's the part I don't get I guess. I'm either in Chrome, Vim, some IDE, or experimenting in some REPL. There isn't much room for improving ergonomics in any of those instances by adding extra "polish". I prefer my technical aesthetics to be compositional instead of pretty and the dell machine I have with ubuntu delivers on that front very nicely.

Imagine the Venn diagram of "Has a Unix environment because we deploy to Linux" and "Can run MS Office, including Outlook". The intersection has the word "Mac" in it. That's why our entire team was issued Macs (I work in a 70,000 person company) and lots of other developers choose it too.

I pretty much don't use any technology outside of Node, the browser, and HTTP so it doesn't really matter to me what platform I'm on.

Maybe I'm not a real developer according to your standards. Not enough configuration files and build systems modeled in my brain to qualify. I just prefer code to black boxes.

> the Screenshot app knows how to obfuscate text

Wow, that's a pretty great idea. Enough people do this wrong manually that it seems like something that could be better solved by the OS.

One example I've seen of doing it wrong is adding black opaque rectangles as layers and then sending out all layers including the original. Another is pixelating it in a way where it's possible to revert the pixelation since the font is known (e.g. parts of a facebook post)

I bought a 2015 MBP back in January, so I'm all set for a few years at least. Whether OSX goes down the pan even more, I don't know.

Moving to Linux seems like a romantic idea, but I can forsee there being a number of problems that would make it unfeasible for me

1. I use 1Password, no Linux client

2. Spotify client is no longer being developed for Linux

3. YouNeedABudget software is not Linux compatible - I have 2+ years of financial transactions in there...

4. Google Drive, no (official) Linux client

5. I have a number of Alfred workflows, and enjoy using Alfred in general.

Yes, there are a number of open source alternatives, but I've built up enough inertia on OSX it's going to be very difficult for me to switch.

There are things about OSX that couldn't care less about like iTunes, Apple Maps etc, but overall it's not so bad

1. 1Password apparently works fine with WINE, but I haven't used it myself.

2. Spotify will still receive updates for Linux, they just don't have a dedicated Linux developer on it anymore. On my machine it still works fine.

3. I prefer GoodBudget, which IMHO is much better than YNAB, especially when it comes to their iOS/Android apps. The desktop client just runs in the browser. Also, I've heard YNAB will be discontinuing their desktop apps?

4. There's https://github.com/odeke-em/drive, a fork of the official drive client, and it's still being actively developed.

5. Haven't used Alfred, but you can get some of it's features using other tools, e.g. indexed search using Tracker, clipboard history using Diodon, and perhaps some other things. However you are right that you can't get the kind of polished automation Alfred seems to provide. Rather, you'll have to write shell scripts and use the commandline tools to get what you want. Absolutely everything is possible, but it'll feel a bit like using lots of duct tape at first.

Note: I'm not saying you should switch right away (1). But I used Linux (Ubuntu) full-time for work and at home for the last 5 years and I was able to do everything with very few exceptions (2). Most peripherals that I bought just worked out of the box. Going Linux full-time is 100% doable.

Also, with so many apps running in the browser (or on Electron) the choice of OS matters less every year.

(1) in fact, I'll probably get a Mac myself this year for developing iOS apps.

(2) Only exception: Windows VM for Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint & iTunes for iPhone syncing. All other software ran in WINE or had a reasonable Linux alternatives.

> 1Password apparently works fine with WINE, but I haven't used it myself.

I run 1Password in Wine in Docker on my (secondary) linux ThinkPad with Dropbox sync. It works, but it's clunky. Part of that is that I don't like the Windows 1Password application compared to the macOS one, though.

YNAB also works great in WINE. They've gone cloud with the new version, but the old desktop app still works.

> 5. I have a number of Alfred workflows, and enjoy using Alfred in general.

You may want to check-out Albert. [0]

> Yes, there are a number of open source alternatives, but I've built up enough inertia on OSX it's going to be very difficult for me to switch.

The longer you work on one platform the more you get locked into it. This may not be a problem for the time you are happy with the platform you are locking into. But keep in mind that you are currently locking into a closed source platform. I migrated from MS to Linux about a year ago after being on Windows for about 2 decades. The burden migrating out of it was heavy. With the upcoming closed source cloud platforms this will get even worse. An open source platform gives you more control and freedom over your workflows and data. IMO this is something which cannot be valued highly enough.

[0] https://github.com/ManuelSchneid3r/albert

> 2. Spotify client is no longer being developed for Linux

As a consolation, I'm aware of a number of music clients on Linux that can stream from Spotify via their API. Ad-supported accounts don't have access to the API, of course.

These rely on libspotify which Spotify have not updated for years. Sadly they recently also removed the download links from their site. The new Linux SDK has been promised for a couple of years now but nothing has emerged. The future for Spotify on Linux looks bleak.


What's wrong with the browser version?

No MPRIS (media keys, media info display), no local caching, poorer power usage (browser vs native)

AFAIK the Linux client is just an Electron app, so that last point would pretty much be the same for the browser client and the "native" client.

There's [1] if you don't mind Google Music.

[1] - https://www.googleplaymusicdesktopplayer.com

I can't testify to the rest of your issues, but the Windows client of 1Password runs reasonably well under Wine.

But does it integrate well with Firefox or Chrome on Linux?

Honestly I haven't tried to set that up yet, I just assumed it wouldn't.

It does actually. You have to disable web browser code signature checking and start some program (Agile1pAgent.exe iirc) which then runs in the background. Full instructions: http://eduardosanchez.me/2015/01/25/1password-on-ubuntu-linu...

Wow. I expected otherwise, but am glad to be shown wrong.

The Mac UI ripoff issue may not matter to you, but it does to me. It's gross and slavish, like using a KIRF Chinese knockoff phone with stolen icons.

Yeah, to me it's kind of the broken-windows theory. When I see something that tasteless upfront, it makes me question the quality of the thing from the top down. It's like if you went to buy a used car and it had flame stickers all over it. Sure, it's just surface level tacky, but it would lead you to question how well the owner took care of it. When I see a bad macOS knockoff, all I can think is, if the best their ux design can do is rip off apple, then I'm not sure I want to commit long term to the thing (especially since I think that many of apple's UX decisions have actually been really bad form-over-function calls)

I agree. Every time Elementary OS comes up, people are like, "Finally a nice looking Linux desktop!", and I'm over here thinking, "meh...regular old Gnome 3, as shipped with recent Fedora versions, looks nicer and more cohesive, to me."

Regular old Gnome3 is horrible to use with multiple screens.

Good luck running a program in full screen on your main monitor, while also doing stuff on a secondary monitor, where you have to switch windows, open new ones, etc.

Gnome3 is only useful on non-touch laptops, not on any other usecase.

Huh...I don't think I know what you're talking about. What specific problems have you had with multiple screens? I don't currently have my system setup for multiple displays (I live in an RV and don't have room for that kind of setup), but did use Gnome 3 with a second display for quite a long time. I don't remember any problems with switching windows and such. It seemed to work pretty much the same as Windows or macOS.

The only multi-monitor complaint I had about Gnome 3 was that opening the Activities bar or changing apps led to both displays dimming. This makes Gnome 3 horrible for presentations, screening films, or pretty much anything you'd want to use a projector for. I'm hopeful that problem has been fixed, as I've rarely felt so annoyed at a piece of software. Notifications were also problematic, in that they would pop up over full screen applications (which is, IMHO, never the right behavior...full screen apps should really be treated as sacred, by default). But, at least notifications can be disabled. The misfeature of screen dimming and shrinking app windows across displays could not be disabled last time I messed with it (admittedly, a year or two ago).

"Gnome3 is only useful on non-touch laptops"

Which touch features do you think are missing? Mine seems to work fine, though I so rarely use the touchscreen that I may be missing something important. I find touchscreens hard to use for anything more than basic scrolling, so it's not a feature I even wanted, but it came with my laptop, and I was surprised to see it worked fine out-of-the-box with Linux. I didn't even tweak it.

> This makes Gnome 3 horrible for presentations, screening films, or pretty much anything you'd want to use a projector for. I'm hopeful that problem has been fixed, as I've rarely felt so annoyed at a piece of software.

That’s exactly what my issue with multiple screens is.

Still not fixed.

> Which touch features do you think are missing?

It’s not that I think touch features are missing, it’s that I think non-laptop features are missing.

On a screen with 1440p or 2304p height, and 27" diagonal, I can afford to have a lot of things directly in view – I don’t need to have them hidden behind things like the dimmed activity menu.

Which, btw, isn’t very ideal for touch users either.

Great artists something something

Not interested in Elementary OS at all, but I do keep an eye on Solus https://solus-project.com

(Well, there's also http://papyros.io, but I'm not confident that it will amount to anything)

BTW, that practice of making keywords (which often repeat throughout the text) into links (often to your own damn blog) is abhorrent.

It's not a blog, it's a Wiki (https://github.com/rcarmo/sushy), and the blog just hangs off it. I see no damning in that - you can always either not visit or not click :)

Then you gotta warn us in the title that you link everything :). Just kidding, but on a more serious note I also found it very distracting. Sure, link the first occurrence of the word, but I see no reason macOS needs to be linked every time it's mentioned. Even the big daddy of wikis, Wikipedia, recommends against linking things that have already been linked and very common terms [0]:

> An overlinked article contains an excessive number of links, making it difficult to identify links likely to aid the reader's understanding significantly. A 2015 study of log data found that "in the English Wikipedia, of all the 800,000 links added ... in February 2015, the majority (66%) were not clicked even a single time in March 2015, and among the rest, most links were clicked only very rarely", and that "simply adding more links does not increase the overall number of clicks taken from a page. Instead, links compete with each other for user attention."

When I, an internet user see a link, it's visual distinctiveness cues to me that it might lead me to more information that emphasizes something. It's fine for websites to link to their own tags, but there's also overdoing it.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Link...

I'm testing out a little JS to hide all but the first link of each kind (it makes sense for the anchors to stick around to do internal reference counting). Will be up soon.

A desktop linux could really grab an audience right now with the current state of windows and the agnosticism that is common in today's applications. The problem with desktop linux has always been that polish isn't quite there.

Things like handling gracefully video card/dual monitor, audio switching, and sleep mode recovery end up being headaches that use up a lot of time googling around and generally learning about stuff you shouldn't have to know.

It would be nice to see a company that specializes in a linux flavor sell a machine that is specifically built for that OS and with high build quality. Chromebooks are the closest thing to that but pushing a web-only interface is a major drawback.

Are there any serious projects in this direction?

KDE just started shipping their own distro with Neon that always pushes the latest desktop rather than freezing it between releases on Ubuntu. It would be really neat to see notebooks shipping with it preinstalled.

System76 might be what you're looking for here.

One of many, many resellers of generic China OEM laptops with zero development capacities by themselves.

They do offer apt repos with some light configuration, firmware installation, etc. I referenced their source code when setting up my equivalent Clevo from pro-star.

Do you happen to know if they use Clevo, or somebody else? I'd be curious to know which China OEMs are at least marginally Linux friendly.

afaik they mainly use clevo

Closest thing to an off the shelf Linux MBP: https://puri.sm/

It's a scam project. They claim 100% open hardware but it's just an off the shelf Intel laptop with closed firmware and ME intact. You'd do better with something from System76 or a similar Linux-first vendor.

They did make over-ambitious claims when they were initially crowdfunding/scoping, but I don't think it's their fault that Intel run the processor market for laptops. I think it's good (if naive) that they were shooting for the FSF hardware badge.

I've spent a few minutes on a Librem 13, and it seems like an extremely high quality piece of hardware. It's cool that they're assembled in South San Francisco, too. I really really want to like System76 machines, but they're just so damned ugly!

They didn't just make the claims during crowdfunding, they doubled down after release. They are charging a premium for a claim of fully open hardware that they can't back up. You can get the same hardware at the same quality level for hundreds less and install your own Free OS. No, you're still not going to get a fully open BIOS, but at least you're not paying hundreds more to be lied to about it. They made promises that Intel would allow them source access to ME and other low level BIOS components, when Intel obviously would never do such a thing for one small startup. The whole project stinks of bait-and-switch.

Your best bet for a Librem-quality machine that is actually designed to run Linux is a Google Chromebook Pixel. If you want a truly 100% open from the chips up laptop, right now your only option is Bunnie's Novena, but it's not for the faint of heart; it's a true hacker's machine and not a ripoff of a MacBook.



I've been keeping tabs on ChromeOS as well. Right now the variations out there aren't as flexible or well-suported as Elementary, largely because it's essentially Ubuntu LTS.

Dell comes closest with their Developer Edition, but even they aren't trying too hard and just tell people to suck it up when e.g. the touchpad firmware is broken.

Dell is really not trying. Most laptops ship with touchpads that work fine on Linux. Dell ships buggy, painful firmware with a premium laptop, and people give them the benefit of the doubt because it's a "Linux problem," not their mistake.

Have you seen the buggy behaviour you mention with the Developer Edition laptops?

Their Developer Edition laptops get special treatment with regards to Linux compatibility. At one point, the made the the company they sourced some new touchpads from develop drivers for Linux and got it upstreamed.

My company issued me one when I started a few months ago. I tried really hard to make it work, but the thing was too buggy in too many different ways. I finally gave up and grabbed a random old Lenovo out of storage, put an SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a new battery in it and it works great.

Do you have more details? I was just about to get one of those.

Interesting reading.

Since 2012, I've tried Elementary several times but I always come back to whatever other (Debian based) distro with LXDE because there's one thing, really JUST ONE THING, on Elementary I can't stand: the Application Switcher (alt+tab) animation. It's slow and distracting and, even switching any and every UI animation off, I couldn't speed it up.

I still like the project and I really want to use it as my main OS some day (at least for 1 year or so. I'm always switching OSes)... I'll give it a try again next month to see how things are going.

This, besides the no detailed window tiling, was one of my main issues as well.

I've used elementary OS for a few months now as my primary development environment. It's great to have set up in VirtualBox on 2/3 monitors, and the fact that it's based on Ubuntu makes finding support online pretty easy for someone not as experienced with Linux.

My biggest complaint is actually that the OS file selection interface (like what I get opening things in Sublime Text) is not same as the fancy finder application, but the default Ubuntu one that doesn't look consistent.

Funny how everyone here in comments and author is saying "I really like Elementary OS" but nobody really wants/is ready to use it.

I've been using it for the last 2/3 years. Started using it because my computer was old, and it was a lot faster than Ubuntu, and much more polished (in my opinion) than XFCE or LFCE, and have used it ever since. Has worked really well. Definitely has one or two persistent bugs, though. There was a really annoying cursor one for a long time, and then one with window focus which Ubuntu also suffered from. It's also annoying not to be able to do updates in place. To be fair, I think they are often upstream issues, Ubuntu also was waiting for that upstream focus fix for a long time. But it does mean they're not yet fulfilling the promise of a completely seamless, polished, Linux distribution.

For the moment, for my use case it's the best distribution, but it's not quite at the stage where I'd want to put it on a relative's computer, and I think given their stated aims that's the litmus test.

I paid for it and put it on both of my kids' computers. They like it a lot.

You're right. I played with multiple distros before settling on Ubuntu because it gives me the least headaches.

As a slight aside. Can anyone point me to any recent work being done to get working Linux drivers for the various Mac hardware bits that have been problematic in the past? I'm only finding old howtos for Linux on Mac which usually end up with some hardware or other not working. I'm specifically interested in Linux on MacBook Air. Thanks.

Arch (or Antrgos[1] if you want an out-of-the-box experience), work very well on my MBP, can recommend.

[1] - https://antergos.com

Thank you. A great start.

I've been using elementaryOS for a few years now and just upgraded to Loki. On the whole it has been great, but there are just a few buggy elements that occasionally make me want to wipe the thing and start fresh with Ubuntu, which at least I can trust to not break. Hoping that eOS continues to become more polished.

Agreed about the few buggy elements. The last version had a bug with the cursor for about 6 months. Freya's still got the window focus bug that Ubuntu has had for years (haven't tried Loki yet). They're waiting for upstream fixes, but it does undermine the fundamental usability message of the distribution. If they do manage to grow to a major distribution, they really need to set aside a significant amount of money to sponsor upstream developers to fix these problems in weeks rather than months.

I really wish that they'd narrow their ambition and just ship a really great desktop environment that could be installable in stock Ubuntu. I guess that's harder to monetize.

Tried elementary awhile back, but I've recently gotten tired of ubuntu's kernel, and just some errors/quirks with my hardware. So when I upgraded my hdd to sdd/hybrid I said screw it and went with Antergos (arch linux) distro. The gnome build is pretty beautiful, lightdm is styled very lovely, better than ubuntu/xubuntu/lxde/kubuntu by far. My hardware performs way better with less crashes, though I think I've narrowed that down to a bad memory chip that I need to replace soon.

I did pull out gnome and swap it for i3wm. I recommend if you haven't tried i3wm give it a try, there's less graphical flair, and panels -- but you gain in performance, speed, and productivity, everything is just a shortcut away, and the i3 config file makes adding more shortcuts even easier. Definitely worth the time to learn.

This may sound silly, but I'm mostly concerned about losing the three-finger side-swipe to the other desktops. Is this possible with elementary OS?

It's certainly on the to-do list, but some features related to swipe were implemented in the GTK version after than the one Ubuntu 16.04 LTS currently ships, so it'll take a bit more time.

I personally want that feature too.

OP here. No settings for that on my trackpad. It's doable in Linux, but I don't see any prebuilt hooks for that in Elementary other than a hotkey combo.

Last time I tried Elementary OS it _looked_ very nice but basic stuff like adding an HTML signature in the email client was missing.

Did they improve on this front?

You can install any email client available on ubuntu, e.g. thunderbird. No need to use Elementary's stock apps.

OP here - Yes and no. Mail can now cope much better with some HTML email, but there still isn't an obvious way to add a signature (I allude to that in the post).

Why would you want an HTML signature?

Some companies will require you to use a signature with an image and particular formatting. Also, tackiness is in the eye of the beholder.

It's a common use case that's why.

Because he's tacky.

Mail used to use webkitgtk (the old api), but has been since ported to use webkit2gtk (the new, multi-process api), you might wanna give it a second look.

EDIT: I stand corrected. This has not happened yet. I confused this with some other changes.

The AppCenter is the hottest development area, so there are new features and fixes landing every day. But in the not very distant future you're going to see the result of a lot of work: https://houston.elementary.io/

There is a problem with Epiphany, namely that the webkit version that ships with Ubuntu is long outdated, hopefully that's going to get fixed: https://blogs.gnome.org/mcatanzaro/2016/02/01/on-webkit-secu...

Loading this page with JS disabled, all the images are blurred. Loading it with JS, there's a fancy fade-in animation on the images. What is the point of this? Why would you intentionally distort the images for people who browse with JS disabled?

It's a simple approach to lazy loading, so that you only download the images you actually want to view on a phone as you scroll to them.

(I also pick the right kind of image depending on your display DPI, and resize them on the back-end, but that's beside the point here)

I get a _lot_ of mobile visitors, and mobile bandwidth is expensive, so I'm considerate to them - folk with JavaScript disabled know how to re-enable it to view the images, and are a very minute percentage of my page views.

Sorry! :)

FYI I also get the blurry images in Firefox's reader mode. (I had to go back to the original to see if that was intentional when I saw the first screenshot ;-)

Yeah, well, that's actually JavaScript that (go figure) strips away all the event handlers :)

The images did not load at all for me the first time I went to the page. There were just blank spaces at odd places and it wasn't until halfway through the article that I realized there were supposed to be images. I also saw some raw markdown-looking text like "[foo][f]", though other formatting and links rendered correctly. I'm using Firefox 49 on Ubuntu 16.04.

I just refreshed again and everything seems to be working now.

For the same reason that you would intentionally clutter up the document with HTML markup tags for people who are browsing on a teletype machine.

because almost everyone has JavaScript enabled because websites are broken with it disabled…

Because web developers deliberately break websites...

Now I need a decent terminal (iTerm2-like quality) and a sane set of shortcuts (like a shortcut for "Copy" that doesn't stop processes in terminal) and I'd be all set...

This is probably the #1 reason why I still want to use mac OS every day. Emacs-style editing shortcuts and not having to press Ctrl-Shift-C to copy when I'm in my terminal window (alternatively, not having to remember to press Ctrl-Shift-C to copy but only when I'm in my terminal window).

Yep, I really like this about Mac OS X. The fact that I can c-w to kill a word anywhere or c-u to kill a line is pretty nice. And OS-level copy/paste has the same shortcut everywhere, like you say. I think it was a mistake for Windows and linux to use control as the default meta-character for gui operations. I always switch it to super if I can.

It is unfortunate that the ‘desktop Linux’ groups all came from Windows backgrounds and ignored all the previous Unix windowing systems, most of which knew better than to screw up terminal emulation.

Qt has a flag to use the GUI key for shortcuts, but it's hard-wired to the platform. I keep hoping there will be enough OS X refugees to make it a user-configurable setting.

As a long-time user of the terminal, I just don't get this complaint. I haven't had to "remember" to press the right keys, my muscle memory understands the context I'm in and simply takes care of it.

Is this really that big a deal? I am genuinely curious.

On macOS, we don't need context because many shortcuts work the same everywhere. That might be a reason why our muscle memory hasn't been developed to "understand the context". Erasing all of your muscle memory and starting anew is a big deal, yes.

I haven't looked myself, because my muscle memory has always been reliably aware of the context, but I don't think it would be that hard to find a good terminal emulator on Linux that can be configured to send SIGINT on something other than Ctrl-C and to use Ctrl-C itself for copying.

...until you open Vim and find out that Ctrl-V doesn't paste.

And you can't remap things in Vim because ... ?

Well, I can remap things, but then it wouldn't work on a remote aws machine, or at my colleague's machine, etc. And this is not only Vim.

Having a system-wide set of shortcuts without having to fight the system is extremely powerful. I have suggested Win-C/Win-V to the elementaryOS guys -- as an addition, not a replacement -- but they weren't interested.

> Well, I can remap things, but then it wouldn't work on a remote aws machine, or at my colleague's machine, etc. And this is not only Vim.

Hmm, backtracking to my grandparent comment, if you can map the terminal emulator to do the equivalent of C-c upon C-S-c, then why not do the same with C-v and C-S-v. Just send the ASCII keysequence for C-v down the shell.


> Having a system-wide set of shortcuts without having to fight the system is extremely powerful.

This follows the exact same argument OS X has to not using Ctrl-c, Ctrl-x, and Ctrl-v for copy, cut, and paste: history. When I first used OS X, coming from a Windows and GUI Linux keyboard usage background, I found that odd similarly to how OS X terminal users find Linux's terminal shortcuts.

But hey, historical decisions have stuck. And it's not that hard to commit to muscle memory a few platform differences here and there. There certainly are many OSX-isms a not-primarily-OSX user has to deal with.

> if you can map the terminal emulator

But then I would have to press some keystroke to copy/paste in terminal, and some other keystroke everywhere else. This is the default state of things in Linux today. This means my muscle memory needs to be contextually aware; today it's not.

I've been pretty happy with the "sakura" terminal[s] - I don't really know iTerm2, though, so I'm not sure what "iTerm2-like quality" means, or if Sakura matches (or surpasses, for that matter) it.

I'm not sure why you need a shortcut for copy, select copies by default on linux[x11] - middle-button pastes (or shift-insert).

[s] http://www.pleyades.net/david/projects/sakura

[x11] https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-reference/ch01.en....

Select means working with a mouse? Thanks, but no thanks. Also, where would a middle button be on a trackpad?

How do you usually select text to copy in iTerm, if not with a pointing device?

First option is, with a trackpad on my Macbook, as that has minimum travel distance from where my fingers are already are. It's literally can be done within 3-5 cm moving distance. Second option is, pipe something to pbcopy, and it's put on the clipboard.

But it's not necessary that I copy from iTerm; maybe I have something on the clipboard and want to paste it into iTerm.

Right. So select copies. You can select with touchpad, or select with mouse. As for pasting, it's typically shift-insert (that is the keyboard shortcut for third mouse-button - three-finger tap should work, if you prefer). But I think Sakura might try and follow gtk(?) convention of generally supporing ctrl-v for paste (can't test that right now, as I've not gotten around to dual-boot/install a Linux vm on my Surface).

Well, there is no Insert key on my laptop, and Ctrl-V means something else in Vim, for instance.

Now, Linux vs MacOS vs Windows -- I get the difference, it's like moving from a manual car to automatic. But imagine you're given a manual car where every gear works normally except for the second -- and second gear requires some extra movement; like pressing a button, or turning a gear stick 90 degrees clockwise. How soon before this car would absolutely infuriate you?

And now imagine that people who learnt their driving on this car are coming to you and just aren't getting what's the big deal.

> Well, there is no Insert key on my laptop

One could argue that you have a broken keyboard (which can of course be fixed with xmodmap). Certainly, it's odd to complain about going from a non-standard command-c/v combination, that your keyboard is missing an insert key.

> and Ctrl-V means something else in Vim, for instance.

Sure, ctrl-keys are semi-consistent in each niche - and vim can paste and yank from the standard X11 cliboards (yes, sadly plural): "+p and "<star>p (where <star> is * escaped for hn formating).


You're free to make up your own mappings, just like Apple has done. And Apple deserves credit for forging a consistent user interface. And Microsoft at some point gave up fighting over ctrl and alt, just like Apple did, and rather than copy "command" they made the "windows"/super and "menu"/super keys.

So again, for all the faults one can find with inconsistencies in Linux/Xorg, the clipboard is actually fairly consistent IMNHO - especially considering the various archaic software packages it continues to support (eg: vi(m), emacs, tty's etc).

Three fingers?

I think that would necessitate at least a multitouch trackpad, and I frankly don't know what is the state of things in the Dell land with regards to that.

GNOME terminal uses Ctrl-Shift-C to copy from the terminal...

You can also configure urxvt to copy whatever you highlight.

But every other Gnome application uses Ctrl-C to copy.

Now I need to constantly follow whether I am in terminal or somewhere else, and invoke shortcut A or shortcut B depending on that.


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