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Switching from macOS: Developer Environment (elementary.io)
254 points by bdcravens on Nov 4, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 172 comments

Elementary doesn't strike me as a particularly good distro for dev. It's not that I've anything against it, but other than your personal preference in the DE (and Pantheon isn't without its charms) it doesn't seem to have much that's going to lift it over any other linux distro. Perhaps I'm missing something.

I've tried Elementary a couple of times for dev and it isn't suited for that at all. I understand they've been getting a spike in traffic since the new macbook pro release, but I don't see how that would be a great choice for developers, cause most of the similarities with macOS will stop with the design.

As much as I wanted to enjoy the distro since its DE looks more well-thought than other DE's around, you're going to get more problems than if you simply switch to Ubuntu with outdated packages, poor documentation to solve problems and it's easy to realize it's not made for devs.

I would say Ubuntu or Fedora are better distros for developers to switch from macOS if they don't want to spend a long time setting things up, or maybe even Arch Linux if they are experienced with Linux. After a while, I couldn't even recommend Elementary for friends since I knew the amount of problems that would come with it.

+ I'd like to add that xubuntu DE is xfce and by default with some small tweaks it looks very much like macOS/os x, but with the added benefit of ubuntu base behind it. once ubuntu ditched gnome DE i adopted xfce. https://goo.gl/zQcuGU



for screenshots (of any DE) there's also /r/unixporn


Thank you so much for that link. I didn't know it existed, and it's a lot of fun looking over all of those different designs.

The thing is, Apple took care of my basic laptop needs very well, but at a price. I had to put up with all of their little, annoying decisions (a finder lacking so many obvious file-management features but will NEVER be improved, a ridiculous emphasis on trivia like "flat design" instead of substantial things like RAM & SSD, social media nonsense built into everything, features that are more about Apple's agenda than mine ("this new version gives you more ways than ever before to buy stuff from Apple!"), a pathetic range of preferences because "we know better than you, and we've decided for you", and so on.)

But if they won't make the hardware I want and won't allow anyone else to make it for me (meaning licensing OSX to companies who still care about serious computer users), then the basics are no longer covered, either. I'm really not looking forward to having to fight to get basic stuff working right for myself, but if I give up and conclude that Apple has moved on and I should, too, then I'm going to go all the way with the others stuff as well. I'm getting rid of all the "you'll get used to it eventually" compromises I had to put up with from Apple and doing it the way I want. I'd like to see what other looks are available (the looks aren't a trivial issue if I get to choose them, right?) and it doesn't have to look anything like OSX. In fact, I'm sure I would prefer a design that is very unique to ME over Jony Ive's design that is best for everyone.

to be fair, the SSDs in the new MBPs and also in the last 2 generations have been among the best of their class when released. They went with PCIE really early and the new MBPs SSDs reach insane (sequential speeds). Also i believe the RAM is limited to 16GB by Intel for some reason (maybe chipset or CPUs), not by Apple.

> flat design

I do not mean to nitpick - I enjoyed your comment - but isn't that more the preserve of Windows (post-8)?

SiVal might be referring to the iterative thinning and weight reduction of the machines.

No, I'm referring to all the recent hubbub about Ive's declaration that he had decided that the "skeuomorphic" look was no longer his fashion preference, so the flat, featureless, cartoonish rectangles for UI elements that he considered more fashionable would be enforced on all developers wherever it could be enforced (App Store, Mac App Store).

I don't really care either way, and yes, other makers are doing flat-look fashion makeovers, too, but this is about Apple as a pro computing platform. I just wish that if Apple couldn't stay ahead in both fashion and practical usefulness to people who need serious computers, that they would let the former languish instead of the latter.

OK, completely misunderstood you there, then; thanks for the clarification!


I used Xfce for a while but I still prefer vanilla Ubuntu, Unity feels more polished to me. It's the little stuff like vsync being enabled by default (no screen tearing when you move a window or scroll a web page).

The compositor included with Xfce is really terrible. I installed compton[1] and all those polish issues magically disappeared.

[1]: https://github.com/chjj/compton

As far as I can see, the meat of your argument is 'outdated packages, poor documentation to solve problems', but in those terms Elementary is almost identical to Ubuntu LTS. In fact, under the hood, Elementary is essentially an Ubuntu LTS flavour with their own default apps, running a customized toolkit.

For any problem not related to those apps, or the desktop environment, you look up information for the associated Ubuntu release. I imagine in that sense it's very similar to any of the flavours, which you are suggesting as a better alternative.

For some developers LTS is no good, because they need the latest packages, for others it's not an issue. That's a fine point to make, but I don't see how you get from that to 'Elementary is no good for developers'.

I agree. Elementary is ubuntu and they are reccomending ubuntu as an alt?

While not a full time dev, I would always classify Elementary as an OSX "experience" rather than a work platform.

It's elegant, it works, it has almost nothing you do not directly need, and honestly even compared to Ubuntu it's user friendly.

If you don't use many apps on OSX beyond the basic / apple ones (excluding video/media editing) you'll likely never feel the difference since even the UI is rather similar.

Especially because a lot of the standard dev libraries are outdated or get outdated quick

Well. One problem with development for Linux is that the libraries get outdated pretty quickly forcing you to chase the dependencies. I think programming against the LTS releases is not that bad of an idea. And there is always an option to go bleeding edge and just pull dependencies from sources.

I use stock ubuntu with i3 on a Dell XPS 13, with no issue. Once I moved to i3 I realised I just don't care about the DM of the day. Dependencies go in their docker containers, where they belong.

OK that's not true: I can only use 2.4G wireless, and sometimes I have to unmute system audio after using headphones.

I have not yet had the time to look into containers, but from what I understand it does indeed look like a solution to this problem.

Can you give more details on this? I've been using Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora (as well as OSX/macOS) for ages now without any issues like the one you describe.

If you wish to distribute binaries rather than source for users to compile, you can not rely on the system libraries because that can get updated in a non compatible manner any time. Thus you need to package all of them all the way up from libc with your application (basically what windows and macOS apps do). So in regards to the original criticism of elementary not being updated often enough, I do not think it is an issue for development because it gives you a longer living target. As long as you get the security updates.

Usually distros don't change libraries in dangerous ways within a major release. For Debian, "stable" remains as it is for a very long time and even "testing" doesn't change much. Red Hat also maintains the environment stable to a fault. If you want to package for Ubuntu and Fedora, you'll have to probably build for every six-month/one-year release.

We agree. That is why I think that elementary not having the latest greatest libraries (it is an ubuntu lts under the hood) is not a problem and more of a benefit.

Let's say you write an app in Qt, Ubuntu 14.04 (LTS) has Qt version 5.3 but you want to use this cool new feature from Qt 5.7, you can pull the Sources and build Qt 5.7 on your computer and get it working. But obviously when you distribute it, other people who don't have Qt 5.7 installed yet because they are on a LTS distro will not be able to use it.

I have had a decent experience using KDE. It is not as beautiful as GNOME or MacOS but it sure is productive.

Well, for people who were using another OS not especially great for dev-work (there's nothing special about OS X in that regard) it seems like a fine recommendation. The biggest reason to run OS X apart from the obvious "you should do it because you want to develop for Apple stuff" is that it's a clean experience that mostly gets out of your way and you won't have to tinker all that much.

The macbooks are well tailored for dev work because the hardware itself hits most of the points that people want and care about.

There are arguably more options for dev work on any linux distro and Arch, for example, will do a better job with its repositories and the AUR in giving you easy access to devtools (and all other apps) of all kinds.

elementary is a fine system, but nothing special for developers. As a developer I would always use an Arch based distro (Manjaro, Antergos, etc.) or Arch itself - of course.

Everything a developer needs is in the repos, no fiddeling with ppa's or downloading packages from websites.


I haven't tried it but Elementary has always seen like a clone of OS X. And like most clones likely to be a bad clone.

Gnome is a bit crazy these days, I'd recommend kde.

Would disagree. Using Gnome with Fedora and it's rock solid and does everything I need as well as looking good.

Have they stopped removing menus from everything?

Elementary is fine, it doesn't strike me as a bad clone of macOS, but I recommend kde too. For a tech savvy person by far the best DE right now.

Wonder why they didn't go with Cmd+C/Cmd+V for copy&paste. As a developer, that's one of the reasons I really enjoy working on macOS. There's no chance to confuse Ctrl+C and Cmd+C - both of which are shortcuts I use frequently.

P.S.: Not to mention that I appreciate using my thumb for the primary meta key instead of my little finger.

In another thread on keyboards I was criticized for identifying this as an important reason for not switching to Windows.

That and Karabiner is simply too good and has no real Windows alternative.

Try AHK (Auto Hot Key). It is much more powerful than Karabiner.


You know keyboard remapping can be done natively just using tweaking your Windows registry.



Also if you want a program with gui read the following article.


I tried to tweak my work Windows-laptop to have the sane cmd+q, cmd+w and cmd+h shortcuts.

Windows feels like a mess. Sometimes it's alt+f4, sometimes it's ctrl+f4. I gave up.

No, it's always ctrl+f4 for closing the current window and alt+f4 to close the whole application.

What method did you use?

Using AHK requires thorough knowledge of how keyboard work. There is already lot of keyboard remapping samples available on GitHub or on their own website, check that out.



The only reason I used karabiner in macOS was for TouchCursor. But TouchCursor is originally a windows app, so when I transitioned to windows I didn't miss any of karabiner. OTOH I haven't found yet something like that for linux.

Totally agree. A decade ago when I was planning my switch from Windows, I tried BeOS / yellowTAB which had the Apple-like shortcuts, and it was one of my favorite things about using it. It was significantly more comfortable.

(BeOS actually used Alt+C and Alt+V, but in the days of Model-M keyboards without a Windows button, Alt was very similar to Command in terms of ergonomics.)

I might be wrong, but I think it has something to do with applications themselves explicitly looking for key combinations that involve the ctrl key.

So no matter how much Pantheon (elementary OS' desktop environment) and elementary OS' default applications use the meta key for copying and pasting and other functions, applications themselves would have explicitly be updated to listen for meta key presses.

But yes, I agree, I prefer Cmd+C/Cmd+V for copying/pasting, just that no matter how much I complain, and how much the elementary OS team could nod in agreement with us, it would take a major shift in momentum on all application vendors to prepare an entirely separate build, specifically intended to match Pantheon's idioms (favouring meta key instead of the ctrl key).

> it would take a major shift in momentum on all application vendors

This is probably why people like OS X. Apple can and does pull this off.

Before the Linux CADETs took over with goal of cloning Windows, X11 programs routinely had configurable key bindings; poke around in /etc/X11/app-defaults (or your system's equivalent) for a few stragglers. Unix workstation keyboards typically had some form of Meta key (e.g. Sun's diamond keys) because they could think a quarter step ahead and realize that screwing up established uses of Control (i.e. ASCII) was a bad idea.

I think Qt / KDE is probably the best hope today. Since Qt got ported to OS X, there's an internal flag to use the GUI key for shortcuts instead of Control. If this flag were user-configurable it would solve a large part of the problem; perhaps the latest MacBook ‘Pro’ will generate enough refugees to make it happen. In the interim, KDE apps at least have individually configurable key bindings.

Because most of the users come from other Linuxes or Windows I guess.

A lot of people remap Caps lock to ctrl, you may want to try this.

One of the major benefits of macOS has been that everyone who uses it has a consistent experience. Some people will use more specialized applications or tools, but the base has been very consistent.

Homebrew has made things even easier and has been adopted as the one right way to install things in a lot of projects and companies. And the fact that it is a rolling release package manager means you can always get the latest and greatest or use homebrew/versions to stick with an LTS version.

I have always found installs of the same Linux distro by different people to be almost incompatible, let alone installs of different distros. Different hardware, different desktop environments, different applications and configurations. On the one hand everyone can have a tailor made experience, but it makes it hard to debug or come up with common configurations and instructions.

Elementary is making some simple and familiar choices that make it easier for everyone to start at the same place. It looks and feels good, but is different enough that I can't just switch without feeling all the rough edges.

If developers are serious about migrating to a linux distro and PC hardware, I think a hybrid rolling release for devtools and versioned releases of the base system might be needed to capture a lot of the success of macOS. I'm not even sure if that's really possible.

Homebrew barely works. I dread messing with it. It's not Homebrew's fault: with Macs the stars have to align to get things to work much of the time. I find that the origin OS for most of my libraries (Linux/Debian) is much more reliable than a Mac. I had some issues switching away from a mac at first, but I got over them.

> Homebrew barely works. I dread messing with it.

One of us must be smoking something. I've never had a more reliable/friendly package manager (among apt-get, pacman, macports, pkg_add, yum).

Brew works great most of the times and it is indeed very human friendly. The problem sometimes arises when you need to install something a little bit more exotic than usual (eg. graph-tool was my last case) in that case lot of things can go wrong.

Maybe the experience depends on what packages you install?

It is hard to say, because the grandparent says that Homebrew barely works without providing any examples of the problems they have ran into.

Yeah as long as you're using what everyone else is using and stay "inside the lines" it's OK. But step off into special territory, you're better off on Linux.

Wild guess: people who keep Xcode and its associated command line tools up to date have smooth experiences. Those who don't, do not.

Brew recently started refusing to install anything if your xcode is out of date, and forces you to wait for a "brew update" if it hasn't updated in 24 hours. It's actually hideously user-unfriendly, but it probably saves the devs a lot of stupid github issues.

Unless you made the mistake of upgrading to Xcode 8 while staying with El Capitan and then wondering, why nothing works.

What specifically doesn't work?

It's working for me but I would love to have an example of breakage to take to my IT as another reason they should allow the company machines to be updated.

The only time I remember having a problem with Homebrew is in the summer where I'll run some beta version of the new macOS on a testing machine while trying to use Homebrew which does not support the beta. Other than that it never fails for me, and I install a boat load of tools through Homebrew. I even install as much of my GUI tools as possible using brew cask.

Parallel universes with opposite realities: proven!

What's forcing you to use Homebrew? You could easily use pkgsrc or Nix.

The problem absolutely is Homebrew.

It's better to substantiate allegations. Causes people to take you more seriously.

Homebrew is a "package manager" that has worse dependency management than a ham sandwich and a community that reacts to criticism with "don't talk to us, you're being negative".

If Homebrew is better than Apt it must be really, really good.

Pro tip: it isn't. With it's absolutely abysmal dependency management, I'd argue that it barley qualifies as a package manager.

As a Linux user that has also used Mac for almost 3 years I would say you shouldn't get away with that without explaining exactly what you mean here.

Homebrew was built as a source-only package manager, with the most basic of dependency management systems.

Now they try to default to binary distribution but the dependency management basically works up until compilation time only.

So for example, the Percona Toolkit package has a dependency on `:mysql` which can be provided by the Oracle mysql package, Persona Server package, or MariaDB package.

But binary packages don't really do dependencies like that - they hard-code to whatever they were built against.

The end result is you can't realistically have percona server and percona toolkit installed via homebrew, without also having the oracle mysql package installed and constantly link/unlink-ing between percona server and oracle mysql whenever you need to update percona toolkit.

Do you know what the Homebrew response to this issue was?

Close the issues, remove/disable the binary package of percona-toolkit, and force all users to compile the package from source, every time they install/upgrade it.

To even put Homebrew in the same category of tools as Apt/Dpkg or Yum/RPM is a joke.

Are we talking about apt on Debian/Ubuntu vs Homebrew on Mac or about some special Mac apt?

The only apt I know is the Debian package management tool.

Ah, my bad, I misread earlier and thought you meant homebrew was better than apt.

Sorry. My fault.

Why are they even making a code editor? Seems like effort that could go towards more fruitful endeavors.

Given how well VS Code, Sublime and many others work, I'm pretty surprised as well. I only glossed over the article (which mentions electron), I'd think they'd just re-skin Atom or VS Code and use one of them for their editor.

They are merely chroming gtksourceview - the same engine used in, for example, GNOME's (and Ubuntu's) default editor gedit.

Agreed. I run Sublime on macOS and Windows, and it runs on Linux, so I see zero reason to migrate to another editor. Surely they're all using something other than their editor for developing it, right?

Weird use of resources.

From the post:

> But you might be surprised to know that most of the development of elementary OS itself is done from within Scratch.

SublimeText is not open-source. But there are probably other good editors on Ubuntu – Why not reusing them.

Does it have to be? The people this seems to be aimed at are not people looking for open source. They're looking for a replacement for OS X because of issues with the new hardware.

I, for example, develop on OSX or Linux using open source frameworks using jetbrain products like PhpStorm, Pycharm, Datagrip...

I think for most people invested in OS enough to work on a distro (or whatever you call Elementary) it does, yes.

A free software enthusiast might not reach for Sublime as their first choice, but if its what you're used to, and you paid for it, and you like it, I don't see any reason to abandon it other than trying to be a hipster. Surely you've got enough things to figure out during the transition where learning a new editor is just an extra unneccessary step.

I wasn't saying that people who use Sublime won't continue to do so if they switch to a free OS, I was saying that it's not at all surprising that people invested enough in free software to put the OS together would choose a free editor.

I think those people are a minority overall and the fact that we keep investing effort to make those vocal few happy is what keeps Linux on the desktop from reaching a larger audience. Normal people don't care if they can get the source code or not. They might care if it's free in beer, but certainly not that they can look at code they won't understand.

I'm not sure you're seeing the distinction I'm making. I distinguishing between the users of a Linux distro or desktop environment and it's creators and maintainers. The latter are heavily invested in free software or they wouldn't be doing it.

When you say "we keep investing effort" which group are you talking about and what effort? And characterizing the maintainers as a "vocal few" seems so entitled as to suggest a misunderstanding. Want Sublime to be the default editor for a Linux distro? You're probably going to have to start your own.

I don't think I am misunderstanding you. I think the question is what do the Linux maintainers want to achieve. Do they want to build the ideal OS for themselves or do they want to bring Linux to the masses? If they want to make the ideal system for themselves then they obviously should keep doing what they are doing. If the primary goal is to bring Linux to the masses than closed source will have to be embraced more.

I personally don't care much for myself right now, since the OS X laptop + Linux on the server is still working great for me.

I honestly think the religious tendency that some OSS developers/advocates have is holding the whole thing back. As a user I don't care that much if it's OSS. It's nice if it is, but if not it's not big deal for me. Sometimes closed source works better and it's annoying when the OS goes out of its way to direct me towards OSS. For example it would be great if Linux where to point me at the newest Nvidia drivers for my Nvidia graphics card instead of replacing them with some open source drivers. In fact it would be better to not even implement open source drivers for the graphics card and instead spend the effort elsewhere.

Consistency. Most large DEs have their own text editors (Kate, mousepad, Geany?) why not one for Partheon ?

I literally don't know anyone who actually uses their DE-specific editor, though

They're like the BMW turn signals of the free software world. If you spend more than a couple hours a day editing, you use Vim and Emacs.

When I was using KDE I edited scripts and whatnot using Kate. Much later I have upgraded to Vim/Evil but having a good experience out of the box is fine. I also use mousepad in virtual xfce machines quite a lot.

> Similarly, you can just Ctrl+V to paste in the terminal instead of having to work around with extra modifier keys.

– that's a bit dangerous; Ctrl-V is normally used to "escape"/make literal the following keypress, or do block select in vim.

The notification-on-long-running-process looks very handy though (I've been using https://gist.github.com/unhammer/01c65597b5e6509b9eea , but of course clicking it doesn't put me back in the right tmux window). And the "energy-sucking apps" indication mentioned in http://blog.elementary.io/post/152626170946/switching-from-m... looks very handy. (I've been considering creating wrapper for Firefox that Ctrl-Z's it when it's minimized …)

Is anyone running the Elementary DE (or parts of it) on Ubuntu? Does it work OK, or do you have to run the whole OS for it to be worth it?

That's one thing I love about macOS. The GUI app keyboard shortcuts all work with the command key and don't intervene with the ctrl key. You can always be sure control-v will paste text in terminal and CTRL-C will send SIGINT.

I don't get all the hate of elementaryOS distro here on HN as a dev machine. I've worked before on osx, ubuntu, xubuntu and fedora. Comparing to other linux distributions, it is just another linux-like system and works as a dev machine similar to any other distribution, but IMHO looks nicer. Please, provide me information what makes elementaryOS worse than e.g. Ubuntu as a dev machine? (I'm a webdev working with cordova/phonegap, RoR, Django and Node.js every day and eOS works like a charm for me)

I have not used elementaryOS so I have no opinion about it, but if its raison d'etre or main differentiator is 'looks' I can imagine why many devs wont be going gaga over it. I care, but I care less about looks than I care about default installed dev tooling, or how well organized its package bundles are. (I believe its packages and package management is pretty similar or exactly the same as Ubuntu). I am less impressed with fancy, memory hogging, terminals with transparency and what not, give me rxvt (not bloated like xterm, but has enough of the functionality) and tmux (well screen will do fine too) I am happy.

For example I like Debian testing more than Ubuntu as I find Debian's package groups better. I couldn't care less about unity. Or atleast I care less than I care about the ease of fiddling with non-mainstream languages. I can trust a whole lot of them being available in Debian testing in the right groups. It might just be familiarity.

Its main differentiator is "user experience" not "looks". This DE is great to use. Of course screenshots only show that it looks good. You need to experience it to really understand where it shines.

I bought a System 76 laptop a couple of years ago. It completely smokes my 2x more expensive MBP (which has faster processors) in important tasks like running test harnesses and compiling projects. The body, keyboard and trackpad all have this cheap, "dollar-store" quality that initially drove me nuts but I got used to it after a couple of days.

I keep hearing that System 76 laptops are just rebranded Clevos, but I haven't personally looked into it yet.

They look similar I say that much.

I've been running only Linux for years. Here's what I miss and why I still regularly contemplate just getting a Mac:

- a modern full featured client for email, with an efficient and pretty UI, with good shortcut support (at least as good as the Fastmail and Gmail web interfaces)

- a fast and full featured PDF viewer that supports annotations properly -- anything based on Poppler unfortunately does not cut it

- friendly software to create pretty presentations -- Keynote still seems to be king

Development tools are the least of my worries.

Let me know if you find that email client on Mac. The best one I've found has been Mailplane, which is literally a native frame and some OS integration features surrounding a Gmail page. There are prettier native ones but the ongoing support has always been hit or miss, and few are even as powerful as Gmail.

Hmm, I actually mostly stopped using Gmail, so I would not miss labels too much.

How about Postbox? I tried the latest Windows version under wine, only to learn that there is no calendar anymore (let alone caldav support) and the contacts do not sync at all. On the Mac they seem to integrate with system contacts and I could probably live with the system calendar.

Postbox is basically Thunderbird with system integrations, last I looked. I tend to find Gmail easier (and more pleasant) to use than Thunderbird, but I also haven't checked out Postbox for awhile to see how it's progressed.

It's sure to be more powerful, as is the Mailmate client mentioned earlier. I'm just not sure how "Maclike" the UIs will be.

Mailmate might not be "pretty" but it's fast and powerful for power users.

Wow, they are really pushing hard in the wake of all the "controversy" with the new MBPs.

It makes sense though, from a marketing angle. A lot of people will want that 'Mac' experience and now they can get it without having to commit fully to the whole ecosystem.

If they can convince a bunch of technically minded people to at least try it out and be seen in coffee shops etc on a non Apple device looking quite 'Apple' like, then that legitimises their OS and might spur everyday consumers to jump on board.

I don't mean to be offesive here, but did look at how their laptops look like?

This is exactly my point though... People are being put off the new MacBook range, but if another hardware manufacturer can pull off a shiny, good looking notebook, and it has Elementary running on it - Voila! Instant Apple-like coolness for a fraction of the price.

Signaling theory dictates that cheaper price can be a primary source of detraction, not aspiration. Cheaper never yields "coolness."

The thriving Asian replica knock off market for high end goods would counter this argument though, I would think? I think the important distinction here is that people without the means to afford a real Apple device would be satisfied with a 'nearly Apple' facsimile.

It only further demonstrates it. Knock offs are a way for people to signal more wealth than they actually have -- they'd rather have something that looked like the real thing than something cheap which doesn't try to be anything it's not.

Cubic zirconium had not made the diamond market go away, for example. Probably, if anything, it's made it bigger by giving diamonds a bigger cultural cache.

So you are saying if I show up in a coffee place with a bulky black laptop running a cheap imitation of OSX people will think this is cool?

Elementary will never be cool, in fact you will be "bullied" by both cool kids with expensive (good looking!) OSX MBP and geeks running some obscure Linux distro on a Thinkpad.

> Elementary will never be cool, in fact you will be "bullied" by both cool kids with expensive (good looking!) OSX MBP and geeks running some obscure Linux distro on a Thinkpad.

Are you in some sort of bizarre TV show cross between Silicon Valley and Mean Girls? Out here in the real world no one cares what computer you're using so long as you can get the job done.

I think you need to re-evaluate the sort of people you hang around with.

Purely anecdotal on my part, but the last time I was out at a co-working space with my ThinkPad running Elementary in a full screen virtual session, at least 3 other tech guys stopped by my desk and asked "Whoa! What the hell OS is that?!?". Previous 100 times at the same place with my MacBook, I had exactly zero people exclaim about it...

I installed Elementary in a VirtualBox on my old Windows 7 Thinkpad, and am loving it. Seriously considering installing my Ruby (Padrino) development environment within it to fully test, with a view to completely scrapping Win7 from the laptop and running pure Elementary in the future.

The only reason I have to use macOS for development is Xcode which I need to make iOS mobile apps. I used to use macOS in a VM with Linux as a host system, but it's just too slow and laggy even on good hardware.

there are still other ways (like Xamarin) where the actual building could be done on an old mac mini or similar.

This is not particularly interesting. You can't leave the Mac ecosystem because of vendor lock-in. To me this would make me want to change my tech stack. If you don't care, you are just not the target audience for the article.

You're just as uninsteresting as people not switching to Mac from Windows in 2010 because it doesn't play games.

The problem is that you legally can't drop MacOS unless you want to drop iOS which is pretty difficult to do when it is the second most popular platform right now.

I don't recall if the restriction is compiling on Apple hardware or under macOS but while people had iOS compilers running for a while I think they have fallen out of date.

Do you have to compile locally though? Or could you use a cloud based system for compilation?

I guess Elementary had to copy the Cmd+spacebar shortcut to mimic the Mac OS experience (Spotlight), but on that count, Windows' just-press-Win-and-start-typing experience is much better. It's just one key less, but opening up a program is used ALL the time, and eliminating that key press makes a huge difference, IMHO. Not sure when they introduced it in Windows, but that was a good one.

> just-press-Win-and-start-typing experience is much better.

Despite the non—stop bickering, this has been the killer feature of Gnome 3 since it's inception. Most applications can be launched just by hitting win, the first one or two letters, and enter. The whole DE is streamlined for efficient keyboard driven operation and makes multitasking and launching arbitrary programs lightning fast. It doesn't have as many customization options that some other DEs have, but I highly recommend trying it out.

Mashing two buttons that are literally side by side vs. pressing one button is not really a huge usability boost.

Having a key like Option which allows you to easily type accented characters and other things quickly is a big deal.

As someone who works on both a Windows + Mac environment day to day...I find myself accidentally hitting the option key expecting the spotlight a lot.

I don't know if others feel this, but moving between IntelliJ on MacOS to Windows and back is a nightmare. I stick to the defaults as much as I can and it's still memorization hell.

> Mashing two buttons that are literally side by side vs. pressing one button is not really a huge usability boost.

I have a feeling you're saying that while being a Mac user 99% of the time, and using Windows 10 1% of the time. Correct me if you actually used Windows 10 for a serious length of time.

IMHO, once you get used to the convenience of Windows 10, you can't go back. Not having installers, clunkiness of Spotlight, the outdated sheer unfriendliness of Finder...I found the one year I used a Macbook Air with OS X Mavericks an unpleasant experience.

The accents: I would have no idea. Even in the corner case that Microsoft has not thought about Europe at all, I bet you can find a Windows utility (most probably free) that would replicate exactly what you need.

Edit: "The AltGr key functionally resembles the Option key", apparently: http://superuser.com/questions/814843/mac-style-option-key-f...

  > Having a key like Option which allows you to easily type
  > accented characters and other things quickly is a big deal.
On ⁎nix (ie X11 or Wayland) the functional equivalent of Option is ISO_Level3_Shift, aka AltGraph or AltGr.

If you use one of the common Linux desktop environments, there should be something in the desktop settings that allows you to make one or both PC Alt keys act as ISO_Level3_Shift, as well as a keyboard layout variant with Mac-like mappings. In KDE (which I think is the current best choice for Mac refugees because you can rebind shortcuts to use Command), look in System Settings under Input Devices → Keyboard → Layouts → 3rd Level Shortcuts.

If you don't use one of the common Linux desktop environments, you want something along these lines as part of your startup:

  setxkbmap 'us(mac)+level3(alt_switch)' -print | xkbcomp - $DISPLAY

For occasional accented characters, the Compose key is pretty good.

€ is Compose, C, =.

Æ is Compose, A, E.

Ë is Compose, ", E.

I go with Winodws+R and there is a software called Everything http://everything2.com/.

Windows + Space is for switching input language or keyboard layout. But other alternatives are win+Q or win+S. It just works fine.

elementary again within 2 days? Come on.

Anyway, Geany beats Scratch.

Yep. Let's stick to the Javascript Framework Of The Day posts, toy program languages, masturbating about Docker, and "12 reasons why you should XYZ".

My main problem is that despite the "polished" feel neither elementary nor it's apps are as good as their marketing. Geany beats Scratch with closed eyes, Quod Libet or Banshee can actually handle large music collections without crashing, and the terminal should work as a terminal and not as MS Word ( I'm looking at ctrl+c ).

True, few in the Linux and BSD community are willing to put in the time to make things as polished as they could be.

However, you can always install your editor of choice. Geany is in the apt repos.

i was reading this and wondering why there would be so much emphasis on stuff like apt...then realized that there are indeed developers who've only ever used OS X (and perhaps windows). i guess i assumed everyone ended up with Linux as a daily driver at some point, if even for a short time

I haven't read the page, but I would guess they're trying to highlight how a real package manager works, compared to the cool-kids toy tool Homebrew.

Given that there are Mac using developers, who somehow think Homebrew is a good tool, and then want Homebrew for Linux so they can use it there, because they have no fucking idea what a real package manager is like, I don't blame them for wanting to highlight how powerful Apt is.

I'm a die-hard Mac developer but recently tinkered with a Raspberry Pi for a toy project. Have to say apt on Debian is really very good.

I think there are a lot of us developing on Windows and/or Mac and deploying on Linux... Depending on your experience, you may not even be doing the deployments.

I happen to use all three almost daily, so less thrown by various differences, but can see how it would be very jarring to some.

Does fonts rendering look smooth on hidpi screens?

Check out the infinality project. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Infinality

Don't use this. It'll install and patch a bunch of stuff that won't get updated and will eventually break your system.

Font rendering in Linux distros is actually pretty good these days—the problem is that the free fonts don't look right if you're used to the Mac defaults, and the font rendering settings are a little off by default.

Without installing any third-party software, I actually recently found a way to make fonts in a Linux desktop look mostly the same as they do on Mac. This was done on Debian Stretch under GNOME 3.

Step 1: I copied all the TTF font files from my Mac and installed them into Debian, instantly giving me all the awesome (but non-libre) fonts I'm used to.

Step 2: I disabled all font hinting (I think this was in some GNOME config, might have been xorg.something but I honestly don't remember, just google how to disable hinting).

After this, browsing the web in Chrome looked (to my eyes) just like it did on the Mac. If you're wishing for a more Windows-y text rendering experience, you'll want hinting, but the Mac generally stays away from hinting (at the expense of slightly blurrier but prettier fonts on low DPI screens).

That's an odd statement to make. I have used Infinality for years and just about every time I run `pacman -Syudd` I get a massive amount of Infinality updates. I have literally _never_ had a problem with Infinality. If you're a high DPI monitor user, using Linux without it is misery.

You get updates because you installed it from the AUR, which isn't officially supported by the Arch devs

This may be a good transitional and familiar OS for people now having to migrate away from Apple now that it isn't taking developers and professionals seriously. Some may find this meets all their needs.

As a mac user I wonder why do I need to use sudo to install packages?

The systems binaries are only writable by the root user to prevent malicious changes. The unixy parts of OSX are the same as they are based on systems designed to safely accommodate multiple users. Unlike Linux, OSX has been considerably updated to accommodate the modern single user desktop. There are application bundling schemes for Linux applications that take a similar approach to OSX bundles but they are not widely used.

Because they are installed system wide and not in the home directory. Unlike on macOS, in Linux ecosystem, letting regular users write outside their home directory without privilege escalation is considered a very bad thing.

BTW, there is a homebrew port that installs to home directory IIRC. https://github.com/Linuxbrew

MacOS also requires superiser privileges to write outside of home directory. Indeed, current MacOS versions do not allow any changes to system directories at all, at least not without changing an obscure setting in an obscure way. Homebrew is an exception, but that's because Homebrew is an abomination.

A better answer to this question is that Linux package managers are somewhat primitive and require that any package be installed system wide. On the other hand, it is easy for the unprivileged Mac user to install software to her own directories because Mac application bundles make this easy.

If you're looking for a package manager which does not force applications to be installed system-wide, Nix in daemon mode (as used in NixOS) works wonders.

I was not talking about macOS allowing it technically. I was pointing out the cultural differences between macOS and Linux. A homebrew like system that changes permissions of system directories will never fly in Linux land.

Because it involves writing in naughty places on the filesystem, in places that affect other users. It's a Unix thing.

Because it's logged, so if someone does something salacious to the system, it's written in a log (which you need sudo to read the indecency).

So there's an extra step to think through before you hurt yourself.

So someone doesn't log on your laptop while you're not looking and in seconds wget and install and remove all evidence of a package that will log your keystrokes, or tell you you're a poo-poo head in a mean (but funny) popup on your screen.

Because it's sexier than [edit:shift-]right-clicking and selecting Run as Administrator. That always felt dirty somehow.

Because Linux package managers do not manage user packages they manage system packages.

Unlike Homebrew, APT manages the entire system - from bootloader to browser. It is designed to work in multi-user environments where you don't want 40 different users installing 40 different copies of the same program, not updating them, getting viruses from unpatched software, and ruining the well behaving user's day.

Instead, software is installed once under root privelages so regular users can't sabotage each other, and everyone can share the same up-to-date copy.

It is possible to compile and install software per-user (without root) as well, and by setting $PATH you can have your user-installed software mask the version installed on the system. I recommend doing this for software which cannot be obtained through the package manager, or for bleeding edge git HEAD versions of stuff. Otherwise, let the knowledgeable maintainers of your distribution do the work for you.

You don't. Package managers like aptitude will do it for you behind the scenes just like what happens on mac.

Aptitude still needs privileges. Just like you do on the mac within installer.

Perhaps the OP is referring to installing packages with Homebrew.

Yes, you're right - I'm comparing to homebrew.

As a mac use you are switching from 10.11 to 0.4... good luck.

My plan is to turn my old laptop into a spare Elementary-based workstation and see how it goes. In current situation it does not make much sense because comparable non-Apple notebooks are not sufficiently cheaper and I consider macOS the best offer at the desktop OS market today, but I don't like the direction MacBooks are going so I want some backup solution for my daily needs.

I didn't like the hurdles I needed to install non-store software at whatever point that was (mountain lion?).

I've never been a big fan of spotlight, and finder just seems all the more cumbersome to use. To be honest, I find most Windows software slightly more comfortable to use, but prefer the unixy environment I get from bash in linux or osx over even the bash that comes with git (which is nice enough, mostly).

I really like the Windows taskbar more than other launchers I've seen, though I like the windows7 style start menu more. I don't mind the Ubuntu Unity start menu, as I can use that mostly the same as on windows.

I find Finder more comfortable than Windows Explorer. It did look cumbersome at first, but it turned to be much more useable than Explorer. On Windows I've used Total Commander, so when I've switched to mac I've installed ForkLift, but I found out quickly that Finder is good enough for my needs. I use Spotlight to launch programs and nothing more and it's good for that. And yes - unix environment is the key selling point for me alongside with the sane UI and a great choice of cli software, ported from the other unix-like systems.

I use KDE, which is probably closest to Windows for the taskbar and "start" menu.

(Or the other way round. KDE had the search interface first.)

e.g. http://www.databook.bz/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/KDE4.2.4-M... (KDE 4, but 5 isn't much different.)

Agree. It's very silly.

GNU makes a package manager that doesn't require sudo privs, but it's not very mature or well-adopted.

An year ago I started dualbooting Elementary as my daily *nix OS. All was well, until one day, with no hardware change or OS update, the touchpad stopped working. I'm back to VMs now.

If I wasn't dualbooting I might have spent more than a day to figure out what happened - but I was too lazy and scrapped dualbooting.

My understanding is that there was a kernel change that borked touchpads this year on many distros and that the change was related to the Synaptics driver seeing little love over the past several years. [1] It looks like the folks who care (like Alps) have been patching over corner cases off and on and as recently as last month.

[1]: Linux kernel 4.6 switched from RMI4 to RMI6. https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=linux-4....

As someone suggested also in the previous post about elementary, take a look at Apricity Os (arch-based)

[ https://apricityos.com/download ]

My gripe with Elementary OS is that it's too much like MacOS. It's dervied and feels boring and stale in the same way that MacOS does. If you're switching, do it with a bang, not a whimper.

Opposite feelings here. I like Elementary because it looks and feels polished and finished. Most Linux distros to me seem like a veritable tower of Babel, with many almost every corner you peek in to seemingly designed and built by a different teams with absolutely no prior consultation with anyone else working on the project.

Do you mean "distros" though? I would agree with you about DEs, but I would concur with parent commenter on the "bang not whimper", and suggest that that bang be i3wm.

Clarification: Yes, I meant the choice of DE with each distro, not the underlying Linux kernel per se.

I'm quite happy with my desktop less i3 + tmux for shells. (Ubuntu) I switched from Mac three years ago tired of iTunes and the rest of bloatware.

I'm an iOS developer. Everything is irrelevant.

This whole thing reads like an Apple product release. Not sure if that's good or bad considering the intent.

Not switching anytime soon. No reason.

elementaryOS is ok'ish but before you dive into it you should know that there's no way of upgrading system, you're going to have to do fresh install once new version is available.

Man, I didn't expect this surge in ElementaryOS articles :)

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