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Tim Cook assures employees that Apple is committed to the Mac (techcrunch.com)
400 points by tambourine_man on Dec 20, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 607 comments

The latest rev pushed me to a PC for the first time in like 15 years. It's partly because I didn't love the new Macbook Pro, but also cause hey..change is fun sometimes.

I'm very happy with my new Surface Book. I never thought I'd like the touchscreen as much as I do. I LOVE being able to go to tablet mode for calls and stuff where I sort of want to just wander around. The pen has completely changed how I do flow-charting and wire-framing.

The new Linux subsystem thing is a god-send. It was completely seamless for me to transition from the Mac to Windows pretty much solely because there wasn't really a transition. All our provisioning and development scripts just worked.

It's been fun to do a bit of gaming on it too :)

The touchpad is really the only thing that I think compares poorly. Apple really nails that whole experience. After a few weeks I'm getting better with it, but it's still painful compared to the precision and certainty I had on my Macbook Pro.

I'm sure I'll be back on a Macbook someday (cause hey, change is fun) but no regrets right now.

I'm also considering a switch, but Windows drives me up the wall whenever I touch it. macOS has been getting uglier and more awkward to use the last few years, but Windows is still the king of ugly.

So I've been considering Linux as my first option. I fired up a few VMs and dipped my toes in various Linux desktop environments: Elementary, Fedora 25, and Ubuntu (Unity) so far. These are all GNOME 3 variants. And... oh boy. Linux land really needs some kind of unifying revolution to happen, because this is a mess. Things have gotten a little smoother in the decade or so since I was last exploring Linux desktops, but it's like they're still figuring out what it's supposed to even be. GNOME feels like it's stuck between trying to be Windows and OS X, with some super weird details (like the launcher thing) that makes it feel like they had plans to build a touch screen OS for tablets or something. Meanwhile, there's little consistency between apps (and Elementary tries to remove menu bars as a concept, what's up with that?), and everything feels put together randomly by people with widely divergent ideas of what a kind of desktop environment to aspire to. It also struck me how much competition there is -- there are at least three GNOME forks (two of 3.x, one of 2.x), for example -- a situation which seems to exist partly due to infighting.

Maybe with out tweaking and plugins and customization you can beat it into some shape that lets you work efficiently, but the experience put me off, to be honest. I don't like being that negative, but I was a bit shocked about how bad it was. Mint was next on my list, but I'm not sure I will continue since it's another GNOME 3 fork.

I am experiencing the same thing, but on the reverse side.

At my home, I have a Ubuntu desktop which works perfectly. I use Eclipse, Android Studio and Atom editor. On work, I use MBP and pretty much the same environment.

I know it is not a common opinion but no matter what I do, I still like Ubuntu more than macos. I agree that macos looks more polished, engineered and complete but somehow, I prefer Ubuntu's plastic feeling. It has been 6 months and still my opinions did not change.

There is also the problems of macOS with Eclipse and other GTK applications (Meld) some other stuff about Mac that I couldn't fully adapt yet.

Lastly, FYI, no, I am not hater and I like MBP, especially as a solid metal object.

I'm just trying to find a high end laptop that will run Linux flawlessly. No trackpad driver issues. Zero. Perfect plug and play.

It's the only thing keeping my mac at this point. Fear of having to debug driver shit when i don't want to deal with any of that.

System76 sells laptops with Linux preloaded. I believe Dell does as well (or at least used to if they don't anymore). I'm not sure how high end you are looking for but a quick glance shows System76's most expensive laptop is well over $2,000.

You can also look at Zareason[1]. I have been interested, but my 2015 MBP still gets things done. I did install Lubuntu on my old 2009 MBP. Runs well, but I have yet to get the keyboard mappings right and a USB mouse makes things easier. I want to minimize GUI bling and use my CPU cycles for number (and image) crunching...

[1] https://zareason.com/shop/Laptops/

My XPS 13 9350 works perfectly with Fedora 25. Installed Fedora and literally everything works out of the box. That includes things like HiDPI auto scaling, touch screen, suspend, media keys, etc.

When it was first released, there were some issues with suspend and the touch screen, but they were all resolved a few months later in a newer kernel release. Fedora 25 ships with that newer kernel by default.

>I'm just trying to find a high end laptop that will run Linux flawlessly.

My 2nd Gen Lenovo X2 carbon is high end and runs Ubuntu flawlessly.

I've run ubuntu with zero issues on my thinkpads (w520 and w541) at work for the past ~5 years. No trackpad issues, no wifi issues, no audio or bluetooth problems. It just works.

Check out Razer Blade or the Blade Pro, any Alienware, any System86 machine, most of the Dell XPS series. Don't touch HP with Linux (really bad firmware and driver compat issues).

I just bought a Razer blade and it has not been flawless with Ubuntu. Specifically, when I close the laptop lid, and then open it again, I keep getting logged out every ~15 seconds, until I restart the computer. As a work-around, I must manually suspend the laptop before closing the lid.

I have the Blade Stealth and haven't had any problems with it yet apart from an update that caused my fans to keep on spinning. It's been fixed since then.

I do agree that Linux has very variable performance and experiences across machines. I really do like the laptop though. I'm looking at the Razer Blade Pro (that machine is a beast but looks sexy still) and some Dell Precision laptops for an upgrade (will be passing on the Blade to my brother) but the Pro is extremely costly at the moment.

MacOS lost me somewhere around Mavericks and the idea of a tablet that is also my PC was appealing, so I tried a Surface Pro 3 and decided to keep it. Ubuntu Bash for Windows is great, but is Beta and still needs some work. As for my old 2011 MBP, Ubuntu runs very well on it. For a couple of decades I kept trying Linux on the desktop, and today I am happy with it. From managing photos, CAD for my 3D printer, Python development and music with my keyboard, Dropbox support, it really is remarkable how far the desktop has come. I am still using the web client for OneNote though...

Eclipse is just super janky under macOS, and the GUI doesn't even work the same as its Windows counterpart -- which makes teaching classes with Eclipse a study in pain

Had the same thing. Turns out, I'm more of a design snob then I thought I was. Trying to move away from macOS and trying out Windows and a few Linux distro's, my god it's all ugly.

I don't care much about Apple hardware specifically, but they got my hooked because of the OS.

Pretty lame.

Try something without any design at all, like Linux with a tiling window manager and some minimal applications.

I totally agree with you- but it's worth pointing out that a tiling window manager + minimal applications is still a designed interface.

This is what I use Windows for. It's an SSH terminal that has a web browser and plays music (via groove which is actually quite good)

My previous laptop was a windows machine that acted as a web browser, music/video player and VirtualBox host. All of my work was done in linux in virtualbox (and my SSH terminal was also bash running on linux in virtualbox).

My linux environment was very minimal though (mostly living in the terminal, used a tiling WM, vim as my editor). In many ways my mac environment isn't that different except without the tiling WM.

That setup worked quite well, although used more resources than if I hadn't used Virtualbox.

Is Putty still a thing on Win or does it have something native?

Putty (or Kitty or MobaTerm) is still a thing, but there are other options. The Linux subsystem will give you a *nix shell and ssh that works exactly like you expect it to. There is also msys which will give you an ssh client you can run directly from cmd.exe or power shell. Microsoft have been working on a proper native port of OpenSSH, but while it apparently works pretty well, it's still not feature complete or ready to be shipped as a standard part of Windows (hopefully early next year).

I use putty. Haven't found a compelling reason to use anything else yet.

I agree. To my mind the greatest obstacle to Linux Desktop adoption is the traditional Desktop concept.

To me, NeXTStep was the best feature rich desktop.

I wish there was a modern version that isn't macOS.

Well it depends on what you consider modern but Openbox is still alive and kicking (albeit it is only a window manager).

On a rant tangental note a slight annoyance I have lately is that all the window managers are getting pushed out / ignored because of Wayland.

With Wayland you basically have to write an entire desktop instead of just a window manager. I used to love that about Linux.. the pick and choose what works best model but now the choices are becoming fewer.

Oh well back to my macbook with zero choice.

The only wm I loved and stuck with on Linux was Windowmaker. Your comment is why - NeXTStep was awesome and missed..

Back in 2009 my dream was to run OSX with a Thinkpad keyboard and trackpoint. Now that I have OSX on a Thinkpad X220 my dream is to run i3-wm with unified application design language and underlying foundations. On OSX Spotlight works well and gives me what I want, and applications look good. There aren't any missing icons and text size isn't all over the place. Amethyst WM on OSX is pretty good, but it's not as good as i3. I'm not sure if it's easier to make applications look good on Linux or to get a WM that looks more like i3 on OSX.

Oh nice, how is driver support on the X220? I've had mixed luck with Hackintoshes.

I agree that there is a lack of great window managers on OS X. I'd love to be able to run awesomewm.

Weirdly enough that's how I spend a lot of my time on my iPad Pro - use Mosh to connect to a Linux box and then use tmux and vim to set up tiles and do my work.

Funny I'm the exact opposite. Only on a MBPr for the hardware, otherwise would prefer Linux to OSX. Lightweight tiling window manager + Vim keybinds for all apps = super efficient. With OSX I actually have to use the mouse. How quaint.

Customizing the Cocoa Text System (which in turn pretty much affects all apps with text input)


This enables you to do what you're referring to in MacOS.

If you haven't yet tweaked these "not well-advertised" settings, this may indeed turn out to be a "this changes everything!" moment for you

how do you get vim keybinds in every app?

For OS X at least...


If you haven't yet tweaked these "not well-advertised" settings, this may indeed turn out to be a "this changes everything!" moment for you

pretty much everything has a vi-mode these days. all shells, tmux, browser via extension (vimperator/vimium/cvim/surfingkeys) or by default (uzbl et al), wm by configuration or default (bspwm/i3/awesome etc.). intellij even has support for an .ideavimrc which surprisingly works quite well.

Yup, this.

Also curious!

(dupe of other comment in same thread by me)

For OS X at least...


If you haven't yet tweaked these "not well-advertised" settings, this may indeed turn out to be a "this changes everything!" moment for you

I guess he's picking the apps that support that - probably web browser via extension, and cli apps which often do that.

Script that stuff with Hammerspoon :)

Take a look at reddit.com/r/unixporn

C'mon now, don't be lazy, add that http:// to the front to create a link:


> C'mon now, don't be lazy, add that http:// to the front to create a link:

C'mon now, don't be lazy, add that s to the end of http to create a link:


I didn't know that was a feature. Oops!

I never get these screenshots of desktop backgrounds. It's background-porn. The fact that it's made on Linux and has a Linux menubar and different fonts than Windows or Mac - who cares?

I've used Ubuntu since seven years at work, the mac since 17 years, Windows not anymore since seven years, unless when helping others. I would change to Linux anytime if all would just work, meaning Photoshop and other software that now doesn't work. Plus the mac is still my favorite piece of hardware. When I bought this 2015 Macbook, I've looked for a good Linux laptop, and came out at about the same price. Then the choice was easy.

Don't get it either. Most themes or skins or whatever for Linux desktops (including the default ones) are pretty terrible - the fit and finish is generally poor. If I'm going to be staring at something for 8+ hours a day the inconsistencies really start to grate.

Most of those desktop screenshots remind me of Winamp skins from back in the day - yes it's a great piece of software and endlessly customisable, but most of those customisations are terrible. Like a 14 year old with a copy of Neuromancer and MS Paint.

I'm constantly trying Linux distros and DEs and the answer when I talk about this is 'Well if you spend time tweaking it...'

NO, that's not the right answer. Endless configuration options means there wasn't the will to make a design decision and stick to it. 'Customisation' can be an excuse for a poor job. That's why Elementary OS is the least horrible desktop, even if it still has issues. Their lack of global menus may be a questionable decision, but at least it's a decision.

Maybe someone should do a kickstarter project for this: to get a decent Linux distro well designed. Hah!

do y'all really think Cinnamon is unpolished? I use a Mac at work and definitely prefer Cinnamon over the Mac interface

The problem with your rant is that people have different opinions on what is "good". You would probably hate my setup because it's a tiling WM with nothing. No conky bar, no date/time in the bar, no power monitors, etc. But it works the best for me because I don't like any distractions at all.

Linux gives you the freedom to choose the environment that suits you personally best. Windows doesn't give you ANY choice, and it's still bad! If you like to be told what is good and make no optimizations for your personal workflow, more power to you. But don't go saying that Linux is "not the right answer", that's just silly. Works on my machine :)

Most of those posts have a good deal of theming setup. Usually people include just the background alone because people invariably want the source to use on their own setups :P

Give an up-to-date KDE a shot.

KDE certainly is powerful and the Kparts system is amazing. However, in the beauty category I would put it at the bottom of the bunch.

KDE Plasma 5 is gorgeous. I couldn't stand KDE4's "windows XP" look but now KDE is one of my favorite DEs.

I used Plasma 5 for a while and really loved the interface and the ability to customize almost anything, but what got me in the end was trying to sync settings across multiple machines. From what I can tell, there are a bunch of random files with names starting with "k" dumped in ~/.config that store most of the settings, but copying them to different machines didn't seem to work. Of course, it's not much easier to sync settings with something like Gnome, but it takes me a lot less time and effort to set up Gnome with the exact settings I like than Plasma. If I didn't switch around machines/distros a lot, I probably would have stuck with Plasma though.

So, did you use a recent version?

I have to concur, the latest Fedora 25 with the KDE Plasma is a beauty to use. Put it on a new Thinkpad X1 Carbon, screen is amazing, fonts crystal clear, all very smooth.

KDE was trash when Ubuntu first started and chose GNOME but I'm sure they are kicking themselves now.

You'd think it wouldn't be that hard to make a prettier UI, but apparently it is.

Original windows interface is pretty usable.

What makes it worse is that they change, regroup and rename things each f-ing year. W7 made it hard to select apps (floating groups in taskbar), explorer introduced dumb libraries, control panel is always a mess, as is /Users/Shared (iirc) thing. Now that w10. I try it and understand that I'm unable to do anything again and again.

Biggest questionable change in macos for 6 years was new ui flavor and maximize button became fullscreen. That said, iTunes also experiments too much.

Ubuntu with Unity looks pretty good out of the box. The appearance of my desktop has been a non-issue for years.

>> but Windows is still the king of ugly.

>> So I've been considering Linux as my first option.

Linux re-defines ugly. It works great but it's very kludgy. Like many others I can setup my workflow on any of the three machines and have tried it out on many different machines from Dell to IBM to Apple. Sublime, terminals, Chrome/FireFox, DropBox, it works well enough on anything but I made my current choice on 'niceness', battery life, screen, and form-factor, even if it cost me a couple hundred dollars more. On a machine I use for 3 years it's 30-40 cents a day.

Maybe I'm an old fart, but everything seems to be getting worse. OSX is worse than it was, Windows is worse than it was, Linux is worse than it was. If you just want to browse the web, okay, but anything beyond that and you are off in a maze of twisty passages, none of them like the other.

Windows has definitely got worse for the consumer, but great for Microsoft. Not sure MacOSX has got worse... there just isn't much innovation anymore

This is why I always return to XFCE. It may not be rapidly evolving, but if I'm running a Linux desktop, I want simple.

I never understood why XFCE is not the default for Ubuntu desktop. It was(is?) part of Xubuntu, the lightweight Ubuntu distro, years ago. I had the most basic entry level laptop, but I managed to connect 2 external monitors to it while the tiling would remember the locations of all programs in all three monitors and it was FAST. Nothing I have tried since has touched it. It set me up for a lot of disappointment! I now have a macbook and while it's a great and integrated machine, CMD-tab - which I use to switch screens - doesn't even work properly if an application is in fullscreen mode.

Xubuntu still exists.

Not everyone misses CDE.

At least that is what it reminded me of.

I never really used CDE, but XFCE just turned out to be my speed.

On what Distro though? What should I try if I want something that pretty much works out of the box i.e. has acceptable battery life + WiFi + Sound + Suspend mode on a Macbook / Latitude / Thinkpad without me having to set up config files according to all kinds of internet sources for a day... or even a week?

I'm using a Thinkpad T460 with the latest Ubuntu and everything works out of the box. Even the smartcard reader works with my ID to sign my tax form.

Battery life is 12-14 hours of real work with the big battery (which costs something like 18$ more than the regular one).

I still use a Macbook Air for iOS development but I now boot the Thinkpad for everything else.

(Oh and if there's an engineer working for Spotify in the crowd, thanks for the Linux app!)

XFCE is very stable so it should work almost exactly the same on every distro. Just pick the one that you like the most / is easier to install for you / etc.

KDE is a bigger and more complex system so it works a bit differently depending on what distribution you use. Some distros like KDE Neon always have the most recent KDE while other like OpenSUSE Leap prefer to use stable versions of the applications.

When it comes to wifi/sound/etc it has to do with whether the driver for that contains binary blobs. Some distros don't ship blobs due to security and/or software freedom concerns while other distros have a more relaxed policy when it comes to proprietary software.

Thinkpads have a reputation for being very easy to run Linux on. You should expect everything to work out of the box. For the Dell computer you might have to install drivers separately but you can't tell for sure without knowing the exact model you have. You could do a test drive with a Live USB to check out. I wouldn't expect things to work out of the box on the macbook though. Apple isn't very Linux friendly and their macbooks have many specialized components that are only found on Apple products so Linux support is not very good. But even then, some dedicated hackers still try to reverse engineer them so you might have better support if you have an older model instead of the latest macbook.

The following table can help a bit with determining if wifi will work on your computer:


KDE Neon or Kubuntu.

That's what you want.

Just works, anyone can use it, and if you wish, you can right-click on anything and have tenthousand config options to make everything exactly as customized as you want it.

Try Xubuntu off a USB stick on your chosen hardware first.

Fedora XFCE spin, or CentOS 7.

Edit: Fedora on workstaton / laptop, CentOS 7 on a dev server where a desktop has utility. Not on production boxes.


> [XFCE] may not be rapidly evolving

Which is why I use it!

And it works. No flashy in your face features trying to impress you with bouncing balls or animations, it's just like an improved version of Windows 2000 interface.

You can try https://neon.kde.org if you want. I am very pleased with it on a desktop.

Woha! That's some serious design there. I am heavily, heavily impressed by what the KDE folks are building. I will admit that I don't think I'll switch to KDE anytime soon - I had been using it throughout the 3.x series, and was extremely excited about (and then disappointed by) the 4.x releases, but then switched to MacOS and never looked back.

If I get myself a workstation again (and there are solid reasons for doing so, like CUDA for DNN development when you're tired of working on servers for local development), I'll definitely give KDE another go.

> "Meanwhile, there's little consistency between apps (and Elementary tries to remove menu bars as a concept, what's up with that?), and everything feels put together randomly by people with widely divergent ideas of what a kind of desktop environment to aspire to."

This is the product of dictatorship style development on one side (Windows, OSX) Vs democracy on the other side (Linux distros).

Democracy implies diversity. Dictatorship implies uniformity.

Can you have the uniformity you are looking for within a democracy?

(or some would argue that anarchy would be a better metaphor for the Linux scene)

It's not democracy vs dictatorship. It's individualism/pluralism vs central planning. You can have central planning with democratic legitimacy or without it.

But I don't actually think the horrible state of desktop Linux is down to any of that. Device drivers are Linux's big problem. Desktop environments are a simple matter of getting used to them and learning what to tweak.

> "the horrible state of desktop Linux"

I don't assume the state of desktop Linux to be horrible. It's simply more diverse than the state of Windows and OSX.

For many people that is a good thing. There's intrinsic value in variety.

As I said, it's driver issues that make the Linux desktop/laptop experience horrible, not the diversity of desktop environments.

I don't think it's a good idea for Linux advocates to deny or downplay the effect that driver issues have on the overall desktop/laptop Linux experience.

I tried Ubuntu and couldn't get over the ugly font and not being able copy paste from anything to anything else. Plus there's no good power management on laptops and no PC ever came out with a quality trackpad that can match macbook.

> I tried Ubuntu and couldn't get over the ugly font and not being able copy paste from anything to anything else

Please elaborate. I mean... Universal copy paste has just been working the last 20 years... Unless I'm missing something basic?

I remember that ctrl+c and ctrl+v didn't work across applications. I think Terminal was one of them. Couldn't copy and paste into it. Out of the box anyway.

Yea that is a 'feature'. The problem is that ctrl+c already means something else in the terminal. Many (most?) terminals map copy and paste to ctrl+shift+c and ctrl+shift+v to get around this.

Of course most *nix user use the middle mouse button for copy-paste in the terminal as standard and never really notice this.

shift-insert pastes anywhere, including into the terminal.

Either that or select - right click - copy/paste. It all works, but the shortcuts don't align. Ctrl-c is sigint, ctrl+v varies, but in vim it escapes special key press.


I miss the middle-click-paste in macOS. Also the maximise behaviour in macOS is really annoying.

> Also the maximise behaviour in macOS is really annoying.

I use hammerspoon to paper over a lot of the annoying parts of macos (after using linux on desktop+laptop for over a decade). Here's a minimal excerpt from my config to get a more-reasonable "maximize" behavior: https://gist.github.com/philsnow/c19506dec17597ab9e4bf02f8d2...

Install Spectacle. [cmd]+[alt]+[f] for actual maximize (NOT fullscreen). Replace the f with left arrow and you get half pane left, same with right, or up... you get the idea.

Switch alt for ctrl with the same commands to send to the top quarters of the screen, add a shift to that to send it to the bottom quarters.

I don't move windows with the mouse on OSX/MacOS anymore.

This is why I prefer OSX,the command + V works in terminal because command + V is not mapped to anything in the terminal.

I wish the various linux WMs/DEs took inspiration from the Mac on this, vs the Windows ctrl-combo method. In addition to avoiding key combo collisions in the terminal, I like how in Mac OS X all the control keys for line editing work everywhere. It messes me up when I go to a Windows machine and find that ctrl-w closes my window when I just wanted to delete a word.

In MATE Terminal, and I think GNOME Terminal, you can chance the keybindings to remove the shift — and if you do this, you can send ^C with shift-control-c.

That's a limitation (or rather idiosyncratic behavior) of Terminal not Ubuntu. Copy/paste works everywhere else.

Try i3 or fluxbox while you're still experimenting (or KDE for that matter if you've only gone with Gnome so far). Diversity is actually a good thing :)

I've standardized on Xubuntu but there are some pretty sweet desktop managers/window managers out there. That being said I feel like I'm fairly close to converting to i3.

I have surfed through distros, desktop environments and window managers for nearly a year.

My equillibrium point is suckless.org's dwm[0] with all defaults except using Terminus as font and Super(windows) instead of Alt key. ~6 months, no irritation, no configuration change.

Tiling window managers which have extensive configuration options are useful as tinkering material, but not actual working environments. If you want a tiling window manager not for eye appeal and beauty but for simplicity and ease of use, look at r/unixporn/ and use whatever they are not using.

[0]: http://dwm.suckless.org/

I've ended up in a very similar position: stumpwm, st, Adobe Source Code Pro & Super.

For my particular style, being able to extend the WM (not customise endlessly: actually extend) is pretty awesome, but I understand that not everyone's into that.

After getting everything set up the way I like it, I'll never switch.

Hah, I run the exact same config. I used to be a wmii user but moved to Windows for quite a while when work and school required software that only ran there. Now I'm back on the tiling window manager train with dwm, and I realize I had forgotten how much I like this setup.

Try Linux Mint + Mate. It's simple, pleasant looking, and totally intuitive for me at least.

Or Ubuntu Mate 16.04, and switch to the "TraditionalOK" theme. (The default theme is, IMHO, not attractive.)

Mate is not only in Mint.

Right, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. GP said they were considering Linux Mint, and so I replied with a suggestion for a GUI that in my experience pairs well with Mint.

I recently switched because I need something with some GPU horsepower. I was pleasantly surprised with Windows 10 dark theme + http://cmder.net

> they're still figuring out what it's supposed to even be

"It" can be any distro. GNU/Linux distros aren't a single entity, and they never will settle on a common interface---that's a good thing. Larger distros like Ubuntu will, but if you're going to adopt this perspective, you'll need to start thinking about the individual distributions and companies/communities behind them rather than "the" GNU/Linux desktop.

> that's a good thing

Not if you're looking for a macOS alternative. I'm fine with the "distros" doing what they want. However, that is not going to lead to a cohesive experience of the kind that macOS is able to provide.

A bigger problem than the desktop environment may be that apps are written to different UI toolkits (these days mostly GTK+ and Qt), and the different environments provide themes to get a unified look. Most apps aren't targeting a particular desktop environment, and so you get this inherent tension, where it's "unopinioned all the way down" and nobody makes a clear decision about a unified look/feel to anything.

I can see why a certain group of hackers like this jangly mess where a lot of time is spent on customizing stuff to work exactly the way they like it, being able to choose a completely different "window manager" and so on. I was like that in my early years, and today I just want things that work. What I want is consistency and stability with a mind behind it. I want it to boot up and render high-quality, subpixel-aliased fonts, and then I'd like to get right to work.

The KDE community seems more closely aligned with this idea, but they still don't control the apps, and unfortunately they still seem to be stuck in the Windows 2000 copy machine mindset.

> A bigger problem than the desktop environment may be that apps are written to different UI toolkits (these days mostly GTK+ and Qt)

I can agree with this criticism (granted, I don't use many GUI programs)---not that they're different toolkits, but that they often have drastically different theming and UX. Uniformity through common theming/UX APIs would be beneficial.

You know lots of environments are quite configurable both in aethetics and functionality have you explored this. If you just booted up and didn't explore your options you might have missed the better part of your options.

Functionally I think there a lot to be said for tiling window managers and I think they look great with Compton plus semi transparent windows, selectively obviously.

Of course it might not be your cup of tea.

Great thing about Linux is you can customise it to no end, and you can make it look much better than Macs even.

> s. Things have gotten a little smoother in the decade or so since I was last exploring Linux desktops,

Actually it has gotten worse

I would love to use Windows all the time at home but as my Windows 10 installation believes it is up to date (but is clearly an old build number, irritatingly/stupidly only visible in the settings app and not my computer > Properties), it really is not up to date and I have no idea when Microsoft will decide that it is.

It's rubbish. And the lack of consistency throughout the OS (icons different everywhere, duplication of settings app despite same underlying COM snap-ins, settings app titlebar isn't really a titlebar, 3 different right-click menus - one for the Start menu, one for Edge, one for everywhere else) it is driving me insane. You have to learn all of these edge cases on how to interact with core OS windows.

That shouldn't be the case!!

Windows 3.11 came with a manual (I have it) that informed you how to interact with the desktop and windows. Just imagine the mess they'd have to write for Windows 10 - "drag the blue bar at the top, unless it is the settings app, where there is no blue bar and you can't tell where the titlebar ends and the toolbar begins"; "single click on buttons, unless you are presented with the 'open with which app?' dialog where you will be able to double-click on the button that has the name of the application you wish to use" etc etc etc

EDIT: And I say all this where I use my PC all day at work as a C++ Windows dev and Windows at home when I need to cross-compile. Don't get me started on the lack of future for the MFC codebase we have at work.

Yeah the design issues really get to me too. I'm a Windows guy through and through. I've been on Windows since 3.11. I'm not moving to any other OS, but wow is the design fucking horrible. With MS's budget, how bloody hard could it be to actually get a design grad to unify the design? It's seriously 2 months of work for a handful of people. It drives me up the wall.

Sometimes I think there are less people working there than what we think.

If you think that it's 2 months of work and can be done by a design grad, you're crazy.

Implementation might be far more work, but unifying the design is not.

I wholeheartedly disagree. When you have that many products and that much user testing to do, unifying a design like that could take even an entire year unless it's something they've been working on already (which, in this scenario, we're assuming they aren't).

Just to chime in that my windows 10 also still does not want to go to the Anniversary version. I have tried the auto update and the manual installer to no avail. Reinstalling the whole system did nothing as well. I have a standard 2014 mbp so the configuration is all but banal. Everybody is raving about the Linux subsystem but as far as I am concerned it does not exist.

Yep that's the problem I am faced with too. My work PC is also on Windows 10 but not on the anniversary update, so I have no idea what wonderful new delights everyone is partying about.

How can I be sure I am running a secure up to date system if the "am I up to date check" essentially lies to me?

The older Windows 10 releases still get monthly security updates... You can force an upgrade via the Media Creation Tool.

What is so special about the anniversary update that I would have to do that though? Colleagues with the exact same hardware did get the update, is it some sinister A/B testing?

It comes with the Linux subsystem.

Honestly, I haven't had much luck with it as it is still lacking serious features. It has improved in beta versions, but I think it is going to be a while 'till it is stable enough to use instead of a Linux VM, at least on standard builds of Windows 10.

My understanding is that if your computer tries and fails to upgrade, it will only retry a certain number of times before giving up. Your best bet is probably to do an upgrade install with an Anniversary Edition ISO, which I believe you can download from Microsoft directly. Upgrading with install media is a totally different mechanism, more akin to a clean install + data and app migration, than Windows Update and should get you back on the update train again as well.

I still say Windows 7 is the best OS they've put out. The whole Metro UI is a disaster.

You don't really get the Metro UI as a start menu in Windows 10, although the metro apps forced on you are irritating. E.g. Calculator now has a pointless splash screen, delaying your use of it.

Same here. My employer, who is almost exclusively Mac, were reluctant to get me the new MBP.

I got a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (Kaby Lake) and so far, so good. Am very happy. Like you say, I wish it had the Apple touchpad (but not the new one - that's getting _too_ big).

Everything else is great. The Infinity Edge screen, beautiful keyboard...

Been considering getting one. They come with option of Ubuntu. But I read too many complaints on things like coil whine, HiDPI, and low uptime on battery.

Did hear about coil whine - mine doesn't exhibit it.

HiDPI looks pretty good for the most part.

I largely run with AC power, so really need to test this (I've only had it since Friday).

Hmm? Doesn't the Kaby Lake have like 20+ hours of battery life with the fullHD screen? 14 or so with the hiDPI?

In Windows. Driver issues in Linux drop battery life to more "normal" levels, IIRC.

A few months ago I made a similar transition - to a Surface Pro 4. I'd been on Mac since 2009. Before that, Windows and Linux.

I think you sum it up well - there are some rough edges in the Windows world, but there also are in the Mac world. I find I hardly use my iPad now.

Oddly enough I find the track pad on the Surface Pro 4 keyboard to be the absolute BEST track pad I've ever used on a PC (even better than the one I played with on the Surface Book) which is...just absurd and odd. But hey I thought it was interesting just how much I liked it compared to everything else.

I found that the gestures were odd, coming from a MacBook. I also notice that my MacBook's touchpad (whilst great in macOS) being absurdly dumb when I reboot to Windows on the same hardware.

To the touch experience you describe, I would add that the terminal support is also rather "meh".

I use WSL a lot during the day; and the stock terminal is way not good and third party options such as conemu are OK, but still comes with annoying issues. My emacs quality time gets messed up because of some of these issues... there may be no way around some of that and it may simply be the reality of a system that maps certain keys one way and a subsystem that would like them another.

Otherwise, I own a Surface Book for travel and tablet like usage and I use a Lenovo workstation for my day-to-day stuff. All Win 10. Very happy overall.

Could you elaborate on its impact on how you do development? One reason I still have a mac is because it's so developer friendly. Linux is very time-consuming to make things work with and is incompatible with various hardware. Also some mac software is great.

I have a Zenbook.

Windows for development isn't nearly as convinent as OSX. Yes there's lots of customization you can do to make it bearable. Powershell isn't as awful as CMD, but projects aren't supporting Powershell as much as bash any time this decade AFAIK.

The Linux subsystem works, but the flow between Windows and Linux is lacking.

I tried Linux. Linux doesn't handle my mix of high DPI and normal DPI monitors (every month I'm told Wayland is going to support it "soon") so I can't use it. I know that sounds silly, but my monitors are a huge part of how I work. Not supporting my workspace is pretty much a non-starter. But to seal the deal it also crashed going to sleep a few times.

So I installed OSX... on my Zenbook. Because somehow OS X managed to handle my hardware better than Ubuntu had (bar the stock wireless card), and it was developer friendly.

I prefer brew to apt-get. Yes, apt-get is vastly more powerful, but I never had brew fail on me because a previous install had messed up.

OS X also has a lot of mindshare. Tooling tends tend to progress from Linux and OS X in ease of use before entering a gulf and reaching Windows eventually.

I got my copy of OSX legitimately, but to me it's telling I essentially had to go to "bootleg OSX" to get my hardware and software experiences in sync. OS X even supports the touchscreen as a mouse, not that I ever used the touchscreen on a laptop that only supports the laptop form factor and no others...

Problem is that each software upgrade from Apple contains important security and reliability fixes. You get those even on old Mac hardware (my MBP is 6 years old now). On a Hackintosh, you don't know whether those software upgrades are going to work, or if they will break or brick your system. On top of that, when I looked around, I couldn't find some kind of good guide advising me which ultrabook to buy as Hackintosh. There's no clear comparisons and just a lot of homebrew mentality. I'm not interested in that; I want something which works well, and stays working well.

> OS X also has a lot of mindshare.

Sure, but I expect that to go down now. IMNSHO, YMMV.

I didn't get the Zenbook ever dreaming I'd Hackintosh it, it was more a move of desperation than anything.

And I definitely wouldn't recommend buying a laptop just to Hackintosh it, its more of a fun hack than anything with a few specific exceptions where there's strong overlap between an Apple product and an existing PCs hardware (and at that point you might as well just buy the official product if you're only going to Hackintosh it, bar cost)

I'd have just gotten another MBP if I wanted OS X for the start for the reasons you list (and the fact that while in many areas OSX was handling the hardware better, it still didn't support the stock wifi or the Optimus setup).

I think the MBP issues are overblown. The 2015 is still around and still fully capable. I find it strange that people are complaining about the 2016, but then comparing it to laptops that were out for months, and in some cases years, when the 2015 was out, but weren't being chosen over the 2015 by the same users.

There's some backlash because people wanted a MBP refresh and it isn't want they wanted, but I don't see OSX losing that much developer mindshare in the long term. I don't agree with the fear lingering about it being the "end of days" for "Pro MBPs", I think this MBP was an interesting experiment that came at a very poor time (when people were already anxious for a progression of the MBP 2015-2011 in a new form factor, with a bigger battery most likely)

> I find it strange that people are complaining about the 2016, but then comparing it to laptops that were out for months, and in some cases years, when the 2015 was out, but weren't being chosen over the 2015 by the same users.

Well given that the 2016 is more expensive, has shorter battery life, and is missing a bunch of ports, one could argue that it's worse (at least for some use cases) than the 2015.

But the 2015 is still being sold, so I'd expect them to move onto the 2015 (or stay on it if they were already using it)

It did not lower in price, so you're working with hardware of between 1 and 2 years old which on top of being old did not become cheaper.

One small advantage the 2016 version seems to have is being able to get power from either side of the laptop while the 2015 has 1x Magsafe (why on earth did they replace that) and 2 USB-C.

> Linux doesn't handle my mix of high DPI and normal DPI monitors (every month I'm told Wayland is going to support it "soon") so I can't use it.

This, this, this. I have been trying off and on for a couple years to move from MacOS to Linux and the HiDPI situation is a mess. Apparently it's not much better in Windows, so maybe if someone is coming from Windows they are used to problems. But, coming from MacOS where I have a rMBP and a mix of HiDPI and HD monitors and they all 'just work' I had assumed that was the state of the industry for a long time. Once I started reading up on the issue it became apparent in the HiDPI world it is MacOS >>>>>>> Windows > Linux.

The last time I brought this up on HN, someone responded saying I didn't need HiDPI :/

I had similar experiences with Windows hiDPI support but they've all been resolved in the last year with recent software updates.

Windows support it pretty well. Some/Most applications don't. I am running windows on a MBP at 150% and a second monitor at 100% somethings are zoomed on the second, some are very small.

Hackintosh works really well if you have the compatible hardware. It's also my platform of choice.

Couldn't recommend this enough, though I do wish I had portability

The only times when apt-get fails is when your disk is full (!) or when you're including foreign repositories. (Debian has a LOT more in official repos than Ubuntu).

Thanks for the details! Interesting the touchscreen still works.

Yeah, I sometimes joke that Asus put out a touchscreen MacBook before Apple did


Windows 10 have built a very impressive Linux compatibility layer. It's not a VM, they are executing native ELF binaries using the windows kernel. They run a version of Ubuntu 14.04 on top of it that most notably includes package management. It's currently missing upstart, so some things don't work nicely, but MOST things work just fine. I believe upstart is available on some preview versions now. Everything on our development stack (largely python) worked straight out of the box.

So on windows I have a real bash shell. I have dpkg. I effectively have Ubuntu. I can provision my machine using the ansible scripts we use to provision our production machines (took only minor updates to make them work).

There are some missing pieces. Docker doesn't work from within the linux subsystem. Upstart doesn't work. There is some weirdness related to how you interact with the windows environment from the linux subsystem. For instance I had to install a hack to allow me to open files in sublime from within the linux subsystem.

It's a mixed bag. You have a real Ubuntu environment with real package management, which is awesome (as opposed to homebrew). Yet some things that work on OS X don't work quite as seamlessly on Windows.

I think for most developers, it's probably going to work pretty damn nicely tho.

One painfully missing thing is FUSE support. My workflow involves coding on an sftp-mounted directory, which doesn't work in the Windows version. Alas, it seems the only remote mounting Windows will ever have is WebDAV.

Dokan provides FUSE support going back to Windows 7. There are also paid solutions with ExpanDrive and Mountain Duck, but in my experience Dokan+WinSSHFS [0] is easy to setup and works great.

[0]: https://igikorn.com/sshfs-windows-10/

I don't thiiiink this is WebDAV behind the scenes: https://www.petri.com/vsphere-powercli-psdrives

Last time I used Windows, there were several commercial (but cheap) products that supported mounting remote file systems, including SFTP. Tried any of them? Quick Google gives me NetDrive (free) and ExpanDrive.

Hopefully you're just opening files on the Windows side in the subsystem: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2016/11/17/do-n...

Also why can't you use Docker for Windows for your Docker needs?

I wish it could access hardware. Currently want to play around with machine learning, I only have one graphics card that I regularly use for gaming, so I have to dual boot to get anything like TensorFlow working.

I'm a developer and spend most of my time in a terminal, usually in vim. I recently switched from OSX to Linux and have not looked back. OSX/macOS has been getting too goofy for my tastes.

I spent roughly $300 (reusing my current Apple Cinema LED monitor) to build a desktop replacement for my mac pro. Can't be happier.

Then I spent about $600 on a laptop (Thinkpad T460) to replace my Macbook Pro Retina. Also fantastic.

Everything's been great. The keyboard on the T460 is awesome. The battery life thus far is about 16 hours.

I don't see myself ever going back to macOS again. I'm running Arch, using i3 as a window manager, and feel right at home. Basically this feels like a computer again.

I'm curious about that keyboard, because i'm considering getting a Thinkpad T420 or T460, but the T460 keyboard looks like one of those horrible mushy and wholly unacceptable laptop keyboards to me, whereas the T420 at least seems reminiscent of the old revered Thinkpad keyboards. Can you comment?

Hmm, I have the new 2016 MBP, 2014 MBP and T460s and the keyboard on T460s beats the other two by a significant margin. I don't think it has the same feel of the older thinkpads, but it still gives a very clear feedback and give in comparison to even the 2014 MacBook one.

The 2016 MacBook keyboard is just downright horrible. You kinda get used to it but returning to others keeps reminding me that it's just worse in every regard.

After researching a bit more i might end up getting the T420. Solid keyboard, and with an i5 and a fancy SSD it'll be fine for my needs (plus a cd-bay battery, yay!). Blazing even, considering that i'm still on a C2D as my daily driver. Frustratingly my first-gen unibody (2008?) MacBook with Arch Linux just won't die, which would give me an excuse to drop a few hundred on a 2nd-hand Thinkpad.

When I develop on Windows, I use a full-screen Ubuntu VM. It's not meaningfully different from having a Linux machine at the scale of work I'm doing.

Same, though I used to use Fedora.

The Win 10 Linux subsystem is still a mess, though it is improving in beta versions.

When I've switched back and forth (to Thinkpads), I don't miss the touchpad as I love the trackpoint. I do miss trackpoint a few months when I've switched to Mac, despite the excellent touchpad.

Latest Macbook Pro drove me to finally switch to Ubuntu for my main dev machine. It sucks not having some of the mac apps I'm used to but I've had nearly 0 problems since switching.

I am shocked how often I use my touchscreen on my Dell XPS laptop. I started off never using it, now find myself using it regularly when I'm on the go (not docked obviously).

Takes a bit of time to get acquainted, but I really enjoy it.

Same here, I thought I would never touch it and almost looked option without it. Glad I bought touchscreen.

Ditto. Last year, I made the mistake of buying a non-touch laptop thinking I didn't care that much. Had to take it back to the shop and swap it for a touch-screen machine....

If you want touch on your laptop and you're not ready to upgrade yet, you should check out the AirBar. You do need to buy the right bar for your screen size though. It's obviously not as good as a real touch screen, but it seems like a decent substitute until you can get one.

Product Site: http://www.air.bar/

Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR5r1EfvheI

Many thanks, that's very interesting.

No 17" models. :(

> The touchpad is really the only thing that I think compares poorly.

Which is why Surface Pro owners often turn to these: https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/pdp/productI...

> I'm sure I'll be back on a Macbook someday (cause hey, change is fun) but no regrets right now.

After a few years with Surface touch and pen, going back to a Mac is like having a limb removed....

Strong opinions, weakly held :)

But, yes, I transition from a Mac (home) to Windows (work) daily and while I can choose not to, I find that working on different OS and learning its nuances has taught me a lot about how my Python programs execute, for instance.

> The new Linux subsystem thing is a god-send.

Does that mean I get a UNIX env/shell on windows?

Yes. Ubuntu 14.04 specifically[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Subsystem_for_Linux

And 16.04 is on developer preview, so that should hopefully be coming to everyone soon. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/commandline/wsl/release_not...

The only painful bit is that they don't yet support the nvidia drivers, I'm doing rnn under the linux subsystem and it works great except I'm hurting for gpu access. If you plan on using windows subsystem for linux for machine learning don't bother spending money on a GPU https://wpdev.uservoice.com/forums/266908-command-prompt-con...

Yup, and to my (and many others' surprise), this thing works actually very well. Not every single app will run but all of the basics for what we need here (mainly gcc) seem to be fine. And it runs graphical apps as well: run an X server on Windows (Moba XTerm or so), export DISPLAY=:0 and of you go. Only tried it with SublimeText so far and that worked out so no complaints yet.


Same here, switched to a Dell XPS13 after 15 years of macs (Still use an iMac at work).

Dell quality has been very bad though, I'm not amused.

Linux bash on Windows also helped me a lot to transition development work to Windows.

I just bought an xps 15 running arch linux to replace my mba 13. The build quality is poorer for sure.

My main complains.

Keyboard: - Cheap plastic that doesn't feel nice to type for long hours - Oh I miss the mac keyboard layout, the control and alt keys on are hard to adjust on windows and linux especially when copy and paste puts your fingers in awkward positions

Touchpad: - Good, but still a ways to go compared to macs. I am buying a MX Master to compensate for this.

Battery Life: - Over exaggeration of duration in advertisement

Its aesthetically pleasing but the general everyday use just doesn't physically feel great. With a macbook, its very easy to focus cause every command is almost second nature. With the xps, I have look back at the keyboard all the time to see what's going on.

I need a linux machine so I don't have much choice. Or I can pay almost triple the price for a macbook pro for the same specs and even slower vm on top.

What's the problem with the XPS keyboards? I have an XPS 13 skylake (early 2016) and I absolutely love the keyboard. I'm saying this as a touch typist who actually used a Model M keyboard (best keyboard ever made, period; fingers just fly over it) back in the day. I found the XPS keyboards way better than that of Mac notebooks, especially the newer ones found in last year's 12" Macbook, and now in the Macbook Pros.

> I just bought an xps 15 running arch linux to replace my mba 13. The build quality is poorer for sure.


> Or I can pay almost triple the price for a macbook pro for the same specs and even slower vm on top.


If not buying the new MBP is scary enough for Apple to make them really work on their laptops, I will stay a bit longer on my 2013 MBP.

What's reassuring is that we need a Mac to work/compile iOS apps. Until they port the toolchain to iOS, not taking care of the Mac could be dangerous to their ecosystem.

Actively taking my Mac environment into a Linux one. Have been for a couple of weeks now. [1]

I use PCs for most of my development work, and Macs when I can (when I'm doing the more ops-like bits of devops, and for personal use). The MacOS environment is really nice, and the Windows tools for writing native code are really good, but the writing is on the wall: Own your computing environment or you will working at someone's sufferance.

I'm not going to go full bull-goose Stallman, but it seems like a worthwhile thing to do.

[1] It's rocky. Device support is spotty, and user interfaces are often staggeringly bad. Maybe with more people piling on things will get better.

It's been several years now that I've been wondering if my current Macbook might be my last one. I love the one I have (it's a late 2011 17" Macbook Pro with a ton of custom upgrades), but they don't make anything like it anymore, it's harder to do your own upgrades, and new versions of their beautiful OS are getting uglier.

Windows is a no go for me. I want a unix underneath, and Windows has its own share of ugly (though I do keep hearing nice things about Surface). I haven't looked at Linux distros lately, but I'm hoping there's one that's as nice and pretty as OS X in its better days.

I've honestly tried hard trying to use the Linux subsystem but I always end up hitting a roadblock because of some feature they don't support yet. Recently I tried installing postgres 9.5 and failed. There is also no sync between Windows files and those in Linux. Additionally so far I haven't seen a single good terminal emulator in Windows with the looks and features of Pantheon or iterm.

I tried windows. I stopped because I didn't like all the telemetry they collect on users, including your keystroke and stylus movements.

They say they do this to train Cortana, but it has the side effect of giving the NSA a front row seat to everything I do.

You known this is optional, right? You can turn it off during and after installation of Windows.

Also, Android and iOS + most of the popular apps you use, including the desktop ones, use some kind of tracking/telemetry and you don't even have the option to disable.

What kind of anti virus program did you buy for it?

You don't need to buy them anymore. Microsoft's one comes built in.

I wouldn't recommend it as it fails in pretty much any test I've seen. However, there are plenty of good, free antivirus software for Windows. I use Avast (free).

Our company is sticking with our current stockpile of 2012-2014 Macbooks. They have a lot of life left in them anyway, but when it comes to an office, having to reinvest in new, HUGE displays, new cabling, new laptops? Apple needs to come up with something more compelling than a stupid bar.

And agree, at home, Windows 10's unix capabilities are amazing. Apple needs to dedicate some real resources to the Mac line and turn them back from being overpriced toys and back to useful tools.

I just bought a new mid 2015 mbp for that reason. Beyond the $300 price increase, there's an additional $400 backdoor price increase for additional chargers and a pile of dongles to replace all the functionality that currently works. Not throwing in a single usb-A port was the final fuck you that tipped me over the edge to the older generation.

$400 for dongles? Got a breakdown on that?

Not the original poster but I'll have a go...

1. OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock so I can connect my existing monitor and wired network (not yet available): $279.

2. Replacement for my USB-A Superdrive: $39.99

3. Thunderbolt 3 hdmi media kit for presentations: $49

4. USB-C SD card reader: $29

5. USB-C to Lightning cable: $20

6. USB-C to USB-A dongle so I can connect my ANT+ dongle: $9

7. Power supply extension cable (you don't get that included anymore): $19

8. Probably would want a USB-C to microUSB lead too (although I could go through the USB-A adapter with existing cables): $19

Total: $463.99

That doesn't seem too outlandish a set up for me. I haven't included an extra PSU, VGA or TB3 to TB2 for example.

Now I live in the UK and the exchange rate isn't doing us any favours at the moment so all of the above will be somewhat more expensive too.

It's also worth noting that the OWC dock is not official hardware and so may not behave quite as smoothly as the Thunderbolts (currently) do.

Just a note. If you get the TB 3 dock most of the other dongles are redundant unless you need the functionality on the go.

Yep that occurred to me too.

It becomes a case of do you disconnect and bring the TB 3 dock with you, buy a second 'traveling' dock or get just what you need for travel and hope for the best.

Honestly, I think a docking situation like that looks awesome. I like the idea of just usb-c, but Apple was probably a bit ahead of the curve here. In a year no one will be talking about it, and places like monoprice will have cheap dongles.

I also get what Apple is trying to do. My current MBP has the sd-card reader. I use it because I have a d7100, but everyone else I know with a mbp has literally never used that reader. For them it's a complete waste of space/weight. It is easy to get caught up in what we (as in HNers) need, and miss the fact that many people probably never using anything beyond the power port.

It's a similar situation with the removal of the headphone jack. Apple has stats and those show that the majority of people either use the headphones that come with the phone or have bought BT ones. Apple got ripped hard, but the rumors are most of the flagships coming out next year will also not have a headphone jack.

Good list, although replacing all your USB-A peripherals can be avoided with a C->A adapter or two.

Two additional chargers, one that stays in my backpack and one for the other room in my house where I work: $180. $150-ish worth of dock for my desk so various stuff works including Logitech wireless mouse, monitor, external drives -- I didn't choose one yet but that's the price range. DVI for projectors and HDMI for various stuff: $100. Three $10 usb-A dongles, one each of which would probably be tied to the power adapters because I personally and professionally have a dozen devices that use usb-A. And the above is well over $400.

I'm still sticking with the 2012 pre-retina because it's apparently the last MBP you can get if you don't want the damn glossy screen, which somehow is standard even though it makes the problem of reflected lighting/glare worse.

What I really want is for my state (SSD, RAM, maybe the CPU, but probably not the GPU) to be easily detachable from my human interface devices (keyboard, mouse, display). I want to be able to use a desktop in one place, then unplug a small unit which contains the aforementioned state (i.e. the equivalent of a sleeping laptop but with no keyboard or display), carry that someplace else, plug it in to a different set of HID devices, and pick up exactly where I left off. And, of course, one possible set of HID devices would be something like a present-day laptop so that I can continue working while en-route. But there is no reason why the business end of a computer needs to be in the same enclosure as the HID, and a lot of reasons why it should not be.

I can do much of this now with a USB3 SSD, but the problem is that there is no way to "sleep" such a configuration. To change locations I need to shut down in one place and reboot in another.

I would go a bit further: I want my state to be inside a seamless hardware agnostic VM, that I can access anywhere through public terminals that I only partially trust. I would have the option of either having my storage with me that I plug in, or in the cloud and I just provide 2fa. My device would have a cpu/gpu/etc befitting a mobile device, and the most barebones / untrusted terminals would just be screen/inputs/charger, but in better environments the terminal can optionally provide extra oomph if permitted.

It's all niche ptoducts with no reach, though. I'd like something mass-consumer-oriented and ubiquous, so I can actually get (roughly) the same experience everywhere from bus stops and coffee shops to my office. The current situation is like pre-ipod mp3 players: the tech is all there, the ux and marketing effort is not.

I think the network bandwidth isn't there yet either. Latency will always be a constant that we'll have to deal with as well.

VMs are great, but clientside rending/editing, etc, will probably always be best, where it's only IO for storange/persistence that goes to the cloud.

You want the Nintendo Switch of computing?

Amazon WorkSpaces is just VNC/Remote Desktop-type tech. You get a desktop computer in the cloud, which you connect to as a thin client. Performance is exactly what you expect -- pretty bad, but probably okay if you're doing simple things like word processing or order management or call center stuff.

What is partial trust and how does it differ from full trust?

Presumably in the case of a public terminal, you would have to trust that your keyboard inputs and screen outputs weren't being recorded. But then you also have to trust that the VM container wasn't being malicious too, which the VM itself wouldn't be able to protect against...

Even if there's a keylogger on the machine, it should not be enough to access your accounts without you present. The trick is the USB key should use a crypto method so that when it's unplugged, the public computer can't access your data anymore.

Could that be done with a Linux pen drive? When I was in college I used to carry around a usb stick with a QEMU image of tiny core linux. With some trickery, that could boot on public, school computers. Back at my house I had a server running and could rsync files back and forth.

It sorta worked as a mobile work station but I'm not sure if that's the kind of thing you had in mind. A vnc or gnu screen could help too but neither have 100% perfect usability (especially on slow networks).

There's another project that does the same[0] but using a usb stick isn't a BYO cpu/gpu solution.


I went with VirtualBox and Xubuntu on a USB 3.0 pen.

But I will probably change back to a "bare metal" setup next year. The performance is just so bad.

I'm hoping to one day be able to use my phone as this device.

I love this idea, but I'm not sure that the phone's heat dispersion capabilities (well, the lack thereof) will ever make it feasible.

Sun did something similar with their Sun Ray hardware and software.

You could close a session with a number of apps open, go to some other location, and login with a different Sun Ray located there, and your session just as you left it would be there, no rebooting or loss of state (assuming that the Sun Ray was somehow connected or federated to the same server that had your login details and apps).

Sun Ray was pretty nice, but I want the opposite. I carry a ok processor, storage, and some memory that can hook to a dock which gives me more processing, storage, and memory.

I get the feeling we need to look back to things like Newton Soups for the storage and then applying those concepts to the others.

I guess you want something akin to what Razer Core is for Razer Blade, but then you don't want more graphics power. Apparently it uses USB-C to achieve this. Does that give confidence we may see this feature more commonly?

I consider the current group of GPUs to be more processing power, but yes, something like what USB-C is supposed to offer. I would expect it will need to go beyond the use external memory and CPU.

You could keep a virtual machine on the SSD, with each docking host having the same VM software installed. Then you'd literally be able to hibernate the VM and physically move it.

I literally thought about doing this today. Have Ubuntu + VirtualBox on multiple computers and any OS in a virtual machine and use a USB 3 SSD (you can get either a specialized one or a generic SATA SSD and a USB 3 enclosure) as the storage medium. I'm going to try it now, might even make a blog post if it works out.

I ran VMs on a Thunderbolt HDD, and had issues with VirtualBox being frustrating to setup regarding file-paths. There might be a better way of handling that now, at least!

Having a VM in picture decimates video and storage performance.

I've tried this exact approach not a week ago. There's an NVMe drive with ~700MBps read speed and a GFX 10xx hooked up to a 4K display. The best I could squeeze from VM was 245 MBps in read and I couldn't get rid of a lag in cursor movement when running Visual Studio full screen. Going up and down one a page was OK, but when you get to the edge, there was a very noticeable hiccup before it started scrolling. CPU and memory throughputs were largely unaffected though. That's using VMware Workstation 12.5 with Win 8.1 as both guest and host.

I ended up with just sticking all data onto an encrypted USB3.1 SSD and setting up the desktop and the laptop identically. Not as elegant as a VM would've been, but works really well so far.

>Having a VM in picture decimates video and storage performance.

No, using shit virtualization software decimates those. You can pass through both the GPU and the disk directly to the VM.

You are ignoring the context, which is that of a portable VM.

1. You obviously can't direct map local fixed drives, and direct access to USB drives yields the same 200-300 MBps read performance, which also has a lot of jitter.

2. To pass-through a GPU you need to be running an ESXi with all the consequences. In particular, moving a VM, while doable through export/import, becomes a royal pain in the ass.

PS. And try and express your thoughts in a bit more civil manner next time.

>1. You obviously can't direct map local fixed drives, and direct access to USB drives yields the same 200-300 MBps read performance, which also has a lot of jitter.

Of course you can, and if you want to access the "host" OS just boot the drive in a VM and hope for the best.

USB will be just as bad as it'd be without VMs.

>2. To pass-through a GPU you need to be running an ESXi with all the consequences. In particular, moving a VM, while doable through export/import, becomes a royal pain in the ass.

I think for this you'd probably just want to use a live distro with KVM rather than messing with ESXi. But yeah, it'll be significantly harder. It's a strange problem so you'll need something more configurable than vmware player.

>PS. And try and express your thoughts in a bit more civil manner next time.

I don't see anything offensive in my comment, unless I'm supposed to be offended by your "pain in the ass" wording.

No one mention the Mac Powerbook Duo, so I'm just going to do that, for completeness.


The OQO was mentioned elsewhere, I too wanted it for this years ago, along with a Pico projector and virtual/projection keyboard. Now that I've been disappointed by both the new MBP and the price of the current gen Google/Android phones, I've started wondering if I can spend $1000 on a new "phone" and use it for everything (with peripherals left at each site). I briefly investigated this approach just a few days and found Debian noroot and AndromiumOS (see also their related Superbook kickstarter, which did really well -- though personally, I don't want a laptop if I go this route). Quite a bit needs testing, but it seems promising, maybe one generation away still (USB-C/3.1gen2 everything, with power).

Check out the InFocus Kangaroo

I do this with a vertical docked MBP. I mostly am on my own display/keyboard, but when i need to go somewhere i can just sleep it and go.

Yes, that's what I do too. But if I could detach the keyboard and display then I could fit what remains in my pocket instead of having to shlep it around in my backpack.

This is want I have been dreaming about. While sitting by the desk, I want to use desktop class CPU since there's no need to save power. However I don't want to drag a workstation class laptop while traveling.

I've tried having two different computers. Dropbox makes it easier, but still you have the problem that you need to maintain two separate systems.

I think technically this is not so far fetched. With the portable USB3 memory you could almost achieve it. This would just require that the operating system supports waking up in a bit different hardware (at least different CPU, possibly also different amount of RAM).

Isn't this the same as the gaming-oriented laptops that have offered external hot-pluggable docks for dedicated GPUs in the past?

Iirc there are even generic Thunderbolt based docks that could hook up some of the beefiest desktop GPUs to a laptop.

The CPU aspect is still an issue, but high end full voltage mobile CPUs are pretty powerful, and can still scale down power usage.

Surface Pro comes close to this - it's very small and easy to carry around, and you could use the Surface docking stations for easier transitions I suppose. The only difference from your dream is that the display doesn't come off, but sometimes it can be an advantage.

What I want is to have docking stations with extra computing power/GPU/RAM/HDD etc built in, so that I can keep the small Surface with its limited battery for the road but have an absurdly powerful desktop PC when I dock it.

But then I would have to run Windows :-(

Absolutely. I actually feel like the Mac Mini form factor could be good enough for this. It's not pocket sized, but it's better than a laptop, I could happily schlep it from the office to home again. The one thing it's missing is being able to turn it into a laptop somehow when I do actually need that, i.e. when travelling.

> it's better than a laptop

Can't say I agree with that. The mini is awfully fat, and most of that space is power supply, fan, and a rotating hard drive. (Seriously, Apple, don't you know it's 2016?) So I still need a bag to carry it. I'd much rather have an MBP than a Mini. (Also, a mini can't sleep unplugged.)

I had a camera bag that exactly fit my Mac mini and accessories and carried that from home to work to my parents for visits. It was quite nice loaded up.

Apple currently already does this very well via their iCloud sync.

You stick 1TB of your files in your Documents directory (or app-specific data folders..), and you can access them in any device that supports iCloud, including iPhones & iPads.

Try it, you'll like it, and you don't have to deal with physical storage devices.

I mean, have people never even tried iCloud sync?

We're not just talking about files and folders, but the actual user as well (including all settings, etc.)

Exactly. And all my running processes too.

I haven't. After using iCloud for my photos it's going to be an awfully long time before I trust any Apple cloud service. It's was shambolic and is still deeply dysfunctional.

If they could do this with a phone (x86/x64), or at least something with a cellular radio, they would hit it out of the park. I want a laptop that is just a dock with a phone slot in it. A desktop as well. Slide the phone in and instant form factor change with ports, GPU, extra HDD/SDD, etc.

I believe that's supposed to be the unique selling point of Microsoft's continuum approach to mobile.

Where at the mo they need to overcome the issue that desktop apps are x86 but for battery reasons mobile apps need to run on ARM

Is it possible for x86/x64 to approach the efficiency of ARM over time, or does the CISC vs RISC make that nearly impossible?

I read a while ago that Intel abandoned their mobile chips.

I'm sceptical a phone can emulate high-performance x86 software at the speed of a Core i7 but is Photoshop-on-a-phone the use case for most office workers?

Office runs natively ARM but businesses have a few productivity apps tied to x86 (e.g. requiring a P3 or higher) that shouldn't tax the CPU too much.

Part of this is promised by Microsoft with the upcoming Surface Phone (hinted at April 2017).

> maybe the CPU

It's a good question if a CPU should be included or not. On the one hand, I want a desktop class CPU in some situations and a laptop class CPU in other situations. And it would be nice to upgrade your entire computer without even having to shutdown the OS.

On the other hand, an Skylake or Kabby lake laptop class processor is actually the same silicon as the desktop class processor, just but with some cores disabled, clocked at a lower speed and binned for low power usage instead of performance.

So theoretically, you could have CPU which can be a quad core desktop processor when plugged into a beefy power source and cooling solution, but disables cores and downclocks when power and cooling is more limited.

The Surface Book is a step in that direction, particularly with the GPU going in the base. You can keep one or more Surface Docks connected to monitors, keyboards and what-have-you in the places where you work, and carry around either the laptop-sized unit (with keyboard, GPU, and a chunk of battery) or even just the large-tablet-sized screen piece. And you can keep your programs running the whole time.

A 13" tablet is still a bit big to be carrying around - I'm hoping they'll eventually manage to make an x86 phone with enough oomph to operate as a development workstation - but it's getting there.

This is exactly what I want. Well articulated.

Yeah, I really like that idea. Here's a writeup I had quite a while ago. Not sure if it's in any way similar to yours, but I guess we're trying to address a similar problem here


Surprised no-one's mentioned EOMA68:


It's an open hardware standard for switching the computer between different interface devices.

I've wanted this for a while too. The OQO tried to make it work, but was too early.

It would be interesting to have something like process migration across VMs, but with mobile devices.

The Intel Skull Canyon NUC works great. Didn't even realise I was doing just this until you mentioned it.

Not quite what I'm after because (AFAICT) it can't sleep while unplugged. But this still looks like a pretty awesome little machine. I may just have to get me one :-)

It can hibernate. With an SSD, restoring back from hibernate is just a few seconds.

Yeah... my laptop auto-hibernates after a period of time, and I can't be bothered to turn it off because the 2-3 second delay hardly registers.

Cool. So... is there enough room in the enclosure for an SSD or does it have to be external?

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