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Why I switched from OS X to Linux (jeena.net)
472 points by jeena on Jan 12, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 458 comments

I think it's important to note here that the reason a lot of people switch from macOS/OS X to Linux is because they can.

There's been a tremendous amount of work over the last ten years to make the Linux desktop environment habitable. At first it was usable for very narrow use cases, like living within an Office-compatible application, but over time that space has grown. What was once done out of spite can now be done for the sake of convenience.

Instead of being all negative about Apple not living up to our expectations I think we should appreciate how much Linux has exceeded them.

There's been a tremendous amount of work over the last ten years to make the Linux desktop environment habitable.

I thing that this is a misrepresentation of the history of desktop Linux. There was a period at the beginning of the century where Linux was arguably far better positioned to take significant market share. At the time, consumer Windows (98/ME) was dramatically bad. Both in terms of stability and security. OS X just came into existence, but was slow and required expensive hardware.

At the time, Linux was far less fragmented. There were only a few distributions and KDE and GNOME ruled the desktop. There was a very serious push some companies to make Linux easy to install (graphical installers popped up in Red Hat, Corel Linux, Caldera, etc.). You could run Microsoft Office using CrossOver Office with virtually no glitches (I used Office like that for years). Corel released Wordperfect for Linux (which still had significance at the time). Loki was pumping out Linux ports of games like crazy. There was a genuine feeling that Linux was taking off on the desktop and many non-tech family/friends installed Linux.

The problem at the time was that web apps basically didn't exist. So a lot of interested people eventually abandoned the idea to switch to Linux, because they had some win32 application that they needed to run.

In 2017, the Linux distribution landscape is more fragmented than ever and the Linux desktop landscape is more fragmented than ever (heck, even GNOME has three popular forks). Moreover, problems are far harder to debug than they were around 2000, because there are multiple layers of stuff piled on each other (D-Bus, systemd, Debian alternatives, *.d, et al. have blessings and curses).

I think there is some movement from OS X to Linux (though it is hard too tell whether it's not just some vocal minority) for four reasons: 1. people rely less than ever on native applications, so it's much easier to move now; 2. OS X is also Unix, so for OS X users it is quite simple to move OS X to Linux and vice versa; and 3. there are serious worries among OS X users about the future of OS X and Apple's lack of focus; 4. Macs are becoming so expensive that it is hard to justify getting relatively bad specs for 1.5 times the price.

I started playing and using Linux around year 2000, before XP. My first computer was a Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and I went through the painful transition to Win 95, 98, 98 SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 8 and 10, so I've known them all.

The Linux you remember is very different than what I remember. To say that back then Linux was unusable on the desktop would be an understatement. Yes, you had Red Hat, Mandrake (later Mandriva) and SuSE that were trying hard to provide a usable desktop distribution, but nothing was working well. And people needed Win32 apps because there were no alternatives usable for Linux.

Nowadays Linux usually works well on most hardware you can throw at it, it doesn't choke on the most basic of tasks and while it still has an app problem, sadly, the web is making that less relevant. Nowadays all that average users need is a good web browser, coupled with Linux's security and remote debugging capabilities, it's a very good fit for my father for example.

Speaking of which, I don't have a high regard for companies and products popular among developers and that don't support Linux. I pay a premium for Dropbox because it works on my Linux box, even though my primary workstation is now OS X. And I've been transitioning away from 1Password. Voting with your wallet does work and if a company isn't supporting Linux then it means it doesn't want my money. OS X was in the same situation a while back, for certain use-cases it still is, yet it prevailed because people have stuck with it.

The Linux you remember is very different than what I remember. To say that back then Linux was unusable on the desktop would be an understatement. Yes, you had Red Hat, Mandrake (later Mandriva) and SuSE that were trying hard to provide a usable desktop distribution, but nothing was working well. And people needed Win32 apps because there were no alternatives usable for Linux.

There was a reason why you could buy Linux in bookstores for years. People were actually using it. For instance, SuSE had quite a stronghold in Europe. I was still in high school and I knew quite a lot of people that were using SuSE Linux.

coupled with Linux's security

What security? It's running every application unsandboxed and each X11 application can read all keystrokes, mouse events, make screengrabs, etc. Linux on the desktop is way behind macOS and Windows when it comes to security. It's just not a very interesting target, because of its small marketshare.

One can only hope that distributors will follow the lead of Fedora and move to Wayland soon.

> Linux on the desktop is way behind ... Windows

At that time Windows security was a joke. You could write anywhere on the whole disk and you could "read all keystrokes, mouse events, make screengrabs" as well.

Heck, some antiviruses were distributed as ActiveX, meaning they executed directly by browsing to a page in IE.

Gee, I've been using Windows since version 3.1 and never ever, ever had a major problem with the allegedly bad desktop security. Also, Linux since RedHat 5...and I've definitely spent way more time configuring Linux to do shit that Windows does without any configuration than I ever spent on Windows security issues.

Windows has always had the best desktop system and it still does. Some loud minority always talks about how great the Mac UI is but I think it's hideous and most of the world agrees with me since nobody copied the Mac OS' major UI gimmicks (and if they did, it was seen as a stupid unpopular mistake).

Anyway - I run all three in my business and I'm well versed in each of them. Linux is great for servers and I need Macs for iOS stuff, but nothing beats the sheer convenience of Windows, the best desktop OS that ever was.

Maybe one day Windows will become open source and all the Linux folks can stop trying to catch up on the desktop. Until then, I'll gladly throw my money at Microsoft for providing such a beautiful system for me to use.

Can't you capture all Windows messages also?

It used to be a big deal - you could use the shatter attack to read the contents of text controls that stored passwords, etc:


These days less of a problem. Message injection/sniffing between applications in different contexts doesn't work. Unless you're the administrator, in which case it is game over already.

Windows has UI isolation between processes with different privilege levels per UIPI.


(Note: I am not a Windows expert.)

Vista was only released in 2006. I think the thread is discussing the period a few years before that.

I was reacting to:

Nowadays [...] coupled with Linux's security and remote debugging capabilities, it's a very good fit for my father for example.

Right, well as you point out, nowadays Wayland is default on major distributions like Rebecca Black OS and some minor players like Fedora.

In any event, when a user is compromised, it's lol Windows. But when Yahoo is compromised, is anyone opining security in Linux? Or are these social engineering hacks?

Yes I can agree with you regarding the state of Linux alongside Windows 98 era. KDE 2 was on the scene and GNOME2 was there but it wasn't as polished as the systems are today.

Furthermore StarOffice was the office app available (Abiword and Gnumeric and KOffice were very young and struggled with MS Office files as I recall).

Konqueror as a web browser didn't really take off or mature until KDE 3 as I recall? Firefox/Firebird was very young, there was no Google Chrome. I think I might have been running Netscape on Linux at this time??

Having said all this, I did enjoy using Linux at this period. It was a fresh new operating system to me. I remember wasting hours of my life using it.

All this before .Net, Vala, before Qt was open source. egcs and the gcc fiasco, XFree86 etc. etc.

I don't think GNOME2 was really a part of the Win98 era since it was released almost a year after Windows XP came out. GNOME 1.4 was terrible and the memory requirements of Linux with a desktop environment in general were far and above those of Win9x back then.

Frankly Gnome 1.x was Icaza trying to "virtue signal" his way into the big times.

He was a fervent KDE fanboy until he did an about face and starting disparaging KDE over the Qt licensing while pushing a hodgepodge of software under the Gnome moniker.

During that whole time he picked up idea after idea from the Windows world (hell, his first program of fame, Midnight Commander, was a straight clone of the DOS program Norton Commander) and rammed them into Gnome.

And Now he works for Microsoft, go figure...

Thinking about it, i get the feel that Poettering is a rerun of Icaza. Only this time OSX is the source of the "inspiration" rather than Windows.

Beyond that it is yet another round of NIH projects and divide and conqueror political rhetoric.

Very informative. Interesting you should mention OSX being the inspiration for Poettering. I always thought GNOME2 and beyond were turning into OSX Snow Leopard (really dumb Nautilus, useless file dialog) and removal of all configurability (and I loved Snow Leopard, sad to see GNOME being a bit simplistic as it was happening though).

I did enjoy using Gnumeric so thank Miguel.

Also MC is pretty useful when you SSH into a box and want some form of file manager.

Ha my memory isn't that great then! Must have been the GNOME 1 I was using. I remember being impressed with the squidgy themes it supported, until using them for 2 days made you switch back to something more conservative.

KDE 3 was released in 2002, but Firefox, even the 1.0 version was a really good browser. It was so much faster and less resource hungry then netscape / mozilla suite.

Well Firefox basically paired down the suite to just the browser, and also "accelerated" the XUL UI by using native widgets where possible (GTK in the case of Linux, though i think there was some attempts at using Qt as well).

>Nowadays Linux usually works well on most hardware you can throw at it, it doesn't choke on the most basic of tasks and while it still has an app problem, sadly, the web is making that less relevant.

There's always been some flux to the ease of Linux vs the ease of say..Windows.

There was a time during XP SP1 and SP2 where installing Windows took fucking forever because it had none of the drivers pre-installed, whereas Linux had a grand majority of them bundled.

Windows still had better overall hardware support with peripherals, so there was still the odd thing missing - but if you had a compatible machine, you could do a clean linux install in under an hour and be loaded with apps, codecs, drivers, the works. With XP you would've been left scouring one web page after another for endless download links, often from another computer b/c your NIC driver didn't work out of the box.

> Nowadays Linux usually works well on most hardware you can throw at it...

I remember reading those same words in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008...

Well anecdotally I remember it being true back then :-)

The "less fragmented" past you describe is not the past I remember. Back on those days you have WindowMaker, Enlightenment, Blackbox, Fluxbox, Sawfish and many more. All window managers where a choice apart from Gnome, Kde, FXCE or mixed with desktop environments. Corel Linux had their own Kde mod. Many distribution had their own administration tools and desktop environments had different settings and look and feel: Suse, Mandrake, Turbolinux, Yggdrassil, Stormlinux. I would also like to mention Slackware and Stampede Linux, just because...

I'm not your parent commenter, but I think fragmentation mentioned is at lower level. Back then I could just install base system (few megabytes) and freely choose wms, panels, login managers, etc to build my desktop. Now I hardly can setup sound and x modes without installing e.g. gnome that pulls all the dependencies and initial settings. Lots of userspace modules now exist to make work things that worked out of box before. Dbus, pulseaudio, hal, etc. It is not unix-like anymore, it is bunch of poorly built osx-es on top of technology, that is half-functional unless magically tuned via Desktop Environment (r)(tm). Distro hell only made it slightly worse.

Some distros where more or less tied to a desktop environment on those days "a la Ubuntu" and some other offered the choice during installation or after. I have been using netinstall for my Debian machines for more than 8 years and I can do what you are talking about.

Debian has had flavoured CDs for long time ago.

Is not the first time a read somebody complain about lack of choice but unknowingly is only trying or using Ubuntu (not Kubuntu nor Xubuntu).

May be in latest years Ubuntu has messed up a bit the percepction of Linux Desktop, but Linux Desktop is as healthy and fragmented as always.

Funny thing, I'm from '00 and never touched Ubuntu. Debian (2005), FreeBSD (2007) usually. And yeah, netinst, only needed things, so it's not my noob-experience. But now I can't make it work because... idk. This state, 'idk', was not even imaginable in old linux, because you opened the handbook/reference and solved it. Now I fail to do this, because there are so many layers that are out of control of core system developers, and it's all about gnome/kde/xfce/craphaldbuspulsed/etc. Recently installed xfce-debian showed me a page of cryptic mounts (systemd's job, right?). Even osx is not a monster anymore vs this crazy thing.

And there is a probability that I'm also able to do all that on your box. Not sure about mine.

We... we still have those in the linux desktop. Window managers still are a choice. Surely that's a feature?

A huge issue in the past was the lack of a good web browser. Firefox really helped. Other annoyances were little things like Flash player. I've used Linux on the desktop as my main OS for at least a decade. Personally I'm really disappointed with the lack of noticeable progression on the desktop. There is a dearth of great desktop applications.

As the article mentions, Thunderbird as an email client is _okay_. Rewind back to the late 90s, and applications like Winamp were pretty amazing, it just needed a better user interface. There are loads of music applications on Linux, but I end up using CLI mplayer and even Foobar2k under Wine, because of some of the other shortcomings.

Even the core of Linux desktop applications like Nautilus feel like they are regressing. When a file manager in my mind should be at the heart of an OS. Mounts and copying should be very intuitive.

Much functionality exists in CLI apps, but is stripped out or lacking in desktop applications. Having something like Rsync in your file manager could be great. And better integration with something like Git. But that's after the core utility of the application is polished to the max.

It's the final 10%, and I appreciate how difficult that is, with moving targets weird Window tool-kits and other abstractions and APIs, but it's that polish that makes it.

Having said that Windows always feels like a fragmented Frankenstein's monster with UI inconsistencies not only across core applications but also with third party ones.

While some of the desktop paradigms have worn well, I don't see much radical experimentation on the desktop, and Linux could provide exactly the platform to try things out.

I remember when the only available web browser was the "Mozilla suite", which was extremely slow and basically unusable. You could not play MP3 files out of the box due to patent issues. Most graphic cards only worked in VESA mode, so we had no 3D acceleration of any kind. But the worst thing was the lack of fonts. Fonts were truly abysmal.

So I disagree that there has been no progression on the desktop front. The progression has been extraordinary. It's true that in some areas things have stalled a little or even gone backwards as of lately, mostly due to the introduction of Gnome 3 in my opinion, but all in all there's no contest between what we have now and what we had 15 years ago.

I remember when the only available web browser was the "Mozilla suite", which was extremely slow and basically unusable.

In this period, Netscape 4.x still worked pretty well and was available on Linux. Opera was also available for Linux at that time. So, it's definitely not true that the Mozilla Suite (which was indeed horrible) was the only available browser.

You could not play MP3 files out of the box due to patent issues.

I remember mpg123, xmms, etc. being available in many distributions. It was primarily Red Hat who didn't distribute MP3 support out of the box. IIRC free decoders were exempt from the decoder licensing fees.

Most graphic cards only worked in VESA mode, so we had no 3D acceleration of any kind.

Around 2000 there were not that many 3D chipsets. 3DFX was still ruling the world and there was 3D support for Linux per Glide. Many 2D accelerators did have support (e.g. Tseng Labs ET series, Matrox chipsets, ATI chipsets, most S3 chipsets). I had a 3DFX Voodoo 3 and was playing accelerated OpenGL games on Linux. I remember tinkering with NetBSD and having to go back to software rendering, which was frustrating.

But the worst thing was the lack of fonts. Fonts were truly abysmal.

Erm, Microsoft's 'Core fonts for the Web' were distributed since 1996. There has been a Sourceforge project (msttcorefont) distributing the fonts since Microsoft took them offline. Many distributions had an installer or package to get these Microsoft fonts. Then you had all the usual Windows fonts.

> Many distributions had an installer or package to get these Microsoft fonts. Then you had all the usual Windows fonts.

I think this shows the main problem with users' perception of Linux at the time. Most of the people who tried Linux expected things like that to work out of the box, and when they got the bad defaults instead they proclaimed Linux "unusable". They most likely never knew that MS Fonts package existed. I think I was using Linux for over a year before I discovered it.

I think I spent months fiddling with Linux before I got it to great looking, productive, usable OS which was in some regards even better than Windows XP at the time. For example, CD burning on Windows required 3rd party software which took over the CPU and your machine was basically unusable while it was doing that. K3B on Linux was so much better.

I used KDE in the beginning, but then I switched to IceWM, and spent days configuring it until I got it to run really fast, with USB drive icons showing up and stuff like that. And you got free stuff like CPU/hard drive/network monitors in the taskbar which Windows doesn't have to this day.

>And you got free stuff like CPU/hard drive/network monitors in the taskbar which Windows doesn't have to this day.

Yeah Linux attracts some really strange people - why, why, why do you need these monitors? Why do you need conky with your hostname? With your IP? With your kernel version?

Your workstation is not another random server you administrate, so hostname showing is absolutely not required (unless when you sit down in front of a computer you are high as hell and cannot tell it's your computer, or just too stupid to tell which computer it is)...

There are times I need to check CPU usage, but simple eye candy for 12 year olds who watched too much Hacker movies widgets won't help anyways...

> why, why, why do you need these monitors?

It really pisses me off when I double click to run a program and there's no indication that it's starting up. Seeing CPU spike confirms that it's working. If I had a penny for every time I started a program twice on Windows...

Similar problem when I start some operation in some CPU/HDD intensive program. If the program itself has no progress bar or similar indication I have no clue if it started doing it, or maybe I misclicked.

Similar problem when a browser or another network program seems stuck on a download and I have no clue whether it's the network problem or the program itself is the culprit.

And there are some programs that eat RAM like crazy and on Windows you have no clue when it starts swapping to disk. With monitors you can clearly see that 1. you ran out of RAM and 2. you disk I/O is the cause why the system is slowing down.

I really don't care about hostname or kernel version though. But, I absolutely want to know what's happening in order to use my computer efficiently.

So, you are either using your system inefficiently or you have some beast of a machine with infinite RAM, CPU power and super fast disks.

Not infinite, of course, but with enough. Last time I checked RAM usage was, let me think, 5 years ago?

So those monitors are required if you have 2GB RAM, no SSD and use poorly designed software - seems about right for a linux user, which cannot afford and OS.

I have 16GB of RAM and I need to check usage 2-3 times per week because I run a lot of resource hungry apps. Computers can be used for other stuff, not just running a web browser.

CPU monitor is needed to see if some app is running or not. It's killing me not having that on Windows on a daily basic. For example, starting up Steam takes 5-10 seconds before you get any visual clue that your double-click on the Steam icon was acknowledged. On Linux and Mac I get feedback right away because I can see the CPU and I/O spike.

Yeah CPU monitor gives you an idea of something happening at a glance.

My recollection is very different. Netscape 4.7 seemed to be falling apart all the time at the point when Mozilla reached 0.9.x and started to be usable which made me very happy to promptly switch to it. I don't remember when Mozilla got tabs but possibly they were already in at that point. Of course things got even better once Phoenix/Firebird later to be known as Firefox got started.

The 4.x line of Netscape was really, really bad, on every platforms, not just Linux. I distinctly remember a small period of time, between the time when Netscape 4 came out and the time when I learned about Opera being available on Linux, when I was routinely using lynx, non-ironically, locally. It crashed all the time and had all sorts of weird bugs.

Netscape had a horrible bug that blocked on startup until a DNS request finished or timed out. This was dreadful for dialup users, such as myself.

I'm impressed with better fonts. Only my hardware still lacks, my display is 1280x800 pixels. And however I seem to muck about with settings it never feels entirely comfortable. Aliased bitmap fonts in a terminal are probably easier on my eyes. Web sites are quite horrid to look at. Which seems counter intuitive. I don't really miss my CRT and low display resolutions, but I think for a 12 inch monitor more resolution helps, especially with anti-aliasing. But this stuff is superficial compared with actual functionality.

I think the articles comments about poor calendar and contact applications really highlight missing functionality. Outlook did well I think because of the calendar integration. Even the most architecturally stunning systems aren't worth much without a great application eco-system. That's no slant on Linux.

I remember being overjoyed that xmms would run and take Winamp skins.

I struggled with Flash on Linux for years.

I too am disappointed by the lack of desktop applications. The advent of the microcomputer has meant that we shouldn't need to connect to a server the other side of the world to do tasks - we can do 99% of them locally (unless collaboration is involved).

Whilst I agree that Windows has 20+ years of history to maintain (and it does this very well) and suffers from inconsistencies (particularly apparent in Windows 10 as they push out apps like System Settings which doesn't adhere to UI standards, I can't double-click the icon top-left to close a window like since 1990 because it doesn't exist...), I would prefer Linux did not experiment with desktop paradigms - look at the Unity and GNOME3 weirdness. It seems apparent that the normal "windows and taskbar" system has worked well for decades. You can take a Mac from the early 90s and find your way around it. Experimentation of this paradigm would be for experimentation's sake.

I have road driven Gnome 3, and in the most part it buys me nothing. Unity gives me the creeps. So I run a normal windows and taskbar desktop (bit like win 95), but I must say it's still pretty sucky. Partly because of inconsistencies across the platform.

Applications end up doing their own file management for example.

There are alternative innovative ways to access menus and trigger actions. Context tasks etc. But people are stuck in the past it's like they can't imagine anything different.

Linux also has inconsistencies between windowing tool-kits.

Mobile gets a little more attention these days. But that seems to also be stuck in a rut.

I meant experimental forks. Ubuntu foisting unity upon people was pretty damaging. Again if only they'd concentrated on the last 10%. Instead of creating a mess.

With age some tasks have become harder for me. I used to be quite a whizz at dragging and dropping, and fine pointer precision. Now I'm a bit of a fat handed twat, and my eyes aren't that great. I really do need a 10ft display with simple controls.

A lot of this is stuff is usability and ergonomics 101.

I ended up just going Blackbox or WindowMaker! (And yes, there are likely some who will look with disdain on my choice as if it prevents me from having valid opinions on the other DEs or UIs. I use OSX at home mostly, and Windows at work).

Experimental forks would be a safer way to go. I suppose if they don't have massive development teams/effort, it would be difficult to do. It would satisfy everyone who wants to go and invent the future and do exciting new things (which will likely revert to how they should be when real use of them occurs). I imagine the "let's maintain the existing" team would shrink.

Do you use a mouse or touchpad? As resolutions increase, we have to be more precise for UI or just scale everything 200% (like everyone does on 4K screens or Microsoft Surface Pro 4) thereby defeating having a high resolution in the first place......

My current window manager is pretty basic. But that's because I haven't been arsed to script up something, that would help me with window tasks. I tried double monitor for a while, but the main OSs sucked with the way they dealt with more than one. I gave up in the end, so just use a couple of workspaces and window cycle mainly. Main drive is mostly a laptop. Pointer (nub) is too stiff, touchpad is okay - nothing fancy.

> I ended up just going [..] WindowMaker!

There are dozens of us! DOZENS!

I remember both that Windows 95/98/ME had it's issues and that at some point you could even buy Linux distros in a box next to the Windows boxes.

But how do you see the push Canonical did with Ubuntu? As I remember, the sentiment was that they were going to make Linux usable and easy for the average user, instead of going after advanced users. And IMHO they really succeeded in doing that, surely you're not saying that was all there before?

A user with absolutely no Linux or terminal experience can use an Ubuntu system for writing letters/emails/browsing and doesn't need to ever touch the terminal (provided all hardware is supported).

"A user with absolutely no Linux or terminal experience"

I can speak to this. Both my wife and roommate use ubuntu referbished laptops I supplied. Neither knows what a terminal is or how to use it. It just works(tm).

But even distros like Mepis or Knoppix were good pre-ubuntu.

When hardware works out the box, everything is fine and dandy. As soon as it doesn't like with many OSs, it's a time waster, you loose your confidence with the entire project.

> people rely less than ever on native applications, so it's much easier to move now;

I find it ironic that the GNU/Linux is the one that helped make the GNU/Linux desktop less relevant by fostering web apps. Anything that is able to run a recent browser is good enough.

Also the desktop fragmentation and FOSS culture, makes it almost impossible to sell desktop software to GNU/Linux users.

> almost impossible to sell desktop software to GNU/Linux users.

If you look at the engineering workstation segment, there are companies with hundreds or thousands of seats pooling FlexLM licenses of very expensive software, namely for microelectronics design.

Those seats are typically RedHat or CentOS. If you look up revenues for Cadence, Mentor and Synopsys, most of it is EDA software licensing (remainder is mostly IP and training.)

Not prime time news, but not pocket change either.

When I talk about selling software to GNU/Linux I mean the normal consumers, not the enterprise.

The enterprise is relatively easy to sell software to GNU/Linux users, because what gets sold is actually training, support and consulting.

All things that non-technical consumers don't care to pay a dime for, but they usually buy shrink-wrapped software, even if on digital form.

I remember circumventing FlexLM on SGI machines with IRIX and Nokia N810 with libfaketime and LD_PRELOAD.

I believed back then, and still now, that money is to be made with experts & service. Seems to work very well for companies like RedHat and IBM.

I find it ironic that the GNU/Linux is the one that helped make the GNU/Linux desktop less relevant by fostering web apps. Anything that is able to run a recent browser is good enough.

True, but it also boosts the non-traditional Linux desktop. Something like the Chromebook would be a flop 15 years ago.

I don't consider Chromebooks a Linux desktop, because normal people don't even know what is Crouton.

They only see a window manager taking care of Chrome instances, with ChromeOS specific APIs.

Google can release a Chromebook without any access to Crouton, replaced the Linux kernel by something else, and no USA school buying Chromebooks would notice.

Same applies to Android, specially after the Android 7 locked on linking to private shared objects.

chromeOS is based on gentoo.

Yup, that was the exact time when I switched to Linux. KDE 3.x felt so much better than Windows XP, and OpenOffice just came out. Firefox (called Firebird at the time) also had the first release. For webdev work, it was great. You could deploy websites to remote server without having to care about Windows vs Linux filesystem differences.

The only real problem which you missed is the hardware. Hardware support on Linux wasn't really good these days. I had to buy a new printer and scanner and setting the CRT monitor to work at acceptable framerate took a lot of fiddling with Xorg config.

"Far less fragmented" is anything but a good description of what I remember. There was a time when you had reasonable chances of running applications which used five different toolkits -- Qt, GTK, WxWindows, Motif, Xaw (, FOX, the various "incarnations" of Xaw and so on, like Xaw3D and the one that gave it the NeXT look, I don't remember its name). You could drag and drop within a Xaw application, but not from a Xaw application to a Qt application. A lot of distros routinely shipped with like 5 windows managers, besides KDE and Gnome.

There was a very brief period, between cca. 2005 and 2011 or so, when the fragmentation was less obvious because there was some degree of integration and cohesion (we had things like QtCurve, for instance). Then everyone started having delusions of grandeur again, in an early-90s-Unix manner, and things have been pretty much degrading ever since.

Today's "Linux desktop ecosystem" (God I hate this particular sequence of words) seems less fragmented largely because application development outside the major desktop environments has been largely abandoned, except for very relevant niches (photo/video editing, web browsers). A development that's largely unsurprising between KDE's architecture astronautics and Gnome's see no feedback, speak no feedback, hear no feedback attitude (that GTK, sadly, adopted for a pretty long time).

The unpleasant consequence is, of course, the "app problem" you speak of. A long time ago, the default KDE installation in Slackware 10 (which shipped with KDE 3.5, I think) shipped with a huge suite of applications, including graphical diff tools, VCS frontends, several multimedia players and so on. Two major rewrites later, they haven't re-accumulated this wealth of applications (and some of the ones that they do ship or advertise today are practically abandoned or remnants from the KDE 3 days). Some of the developments have been outright catastrophic, like KMail, which was turned from a very useful mail client to something that borks in a gazillion unpredictable ways as soon as you try to configure more than one account.

Similar things are happening in Gnome land, where they've chased feature-parity with Gnome 2 for years as they've been scrambling to fix everything that wasn't wrong with it and the horde of bugs that ensued from these fixes. Which, in fact, is why they have three forks in the first place. There was a lot of negativity about the Gnome 1 -> Gnome 2 transition, too, but that never resulted in forking. Nowadays we have people trying to keep a KDE branch that hasn't been developed in almost ten years alive, and actively using it (TDE). That's because, for all its flashiness, Apple and design fetishism, the super-disruptive community of desktop developers has failed to develop anything that's convincingly better than what was available ten years ago. The discussion, for some reason, is centered on whether the UI metaphors are adequate, ignoring users' feedback that focuses on far more obvious things, like "this thing KEEPS FUCKING CRASHING", "I just did apt-get update && apt-get upgrade and now all my applications look weird" and "everything is huge on my screen and this would look great on a tablet but this is not a tablet".

The Linux desktop today is far less fragmented, but that's because a) most of the people who could fragment it by developing fragmenting applications have long given up and use Macs and b) a lot of the traditional functions of a computer's desktop and applications have been eaten up by the web. There's little fragmentation to have when virtually all you use now is a web browser, the terminal and maybe a mail client.

GNUStep: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNUstep

Franly if it were not for the objective-C stuff it would make for a real nice option.

Sadly, it never gathered much attention outside the former NeXTStep users crowd, save for a small resurgence of interest back OS X adoption soared and a lot of people began to actually like Cocoa.

Which is quite a shame. Mail.app, for instance, was really good.

Seems Darling is still being developed as we "speak". The Github repo is showing commits as recently as 2 days ago. And it builds on Gnustep in an attempt at supporting OSX software running on top of Linux from what i can tell.

GNUStep is still being developed, much to my amazement, but somewhat slowly. Back in 2002-2003, it was actually in use for some commercial development, too, so it's not like it's a long-abandoned turd. But the development rate is fairly slow and many applications that use it haven't been updated in a while. I expect it will be all but dead in the 3-5 years it will take the lovely members of the Linux Foundation to push Wayland everywhere.

The biggest hurdles to GNUstep's adoption were a) its lack of documentation (you were generally expected to use the NeXTStep documentation, although some functions were not implemented at all and others were slightly buggy) and b) the fact that Gorm and ProjectManager were really buggy for a really long time. This made GNUStep development not significantly more pleasant than GTK or Qt development -- not to mention difficult to get into for people who had never written NeXT or OpenStep software before.

Actually, back in early days, Linux was probably worse than Windows 98. A few things changed the landscape. Compositing on Xorg (to make the desktop modern finally), Pulseaudio (before then, Audio always had issues), DBUS and the rest of project Utopia. Steam also made a huge difference.

I think Linux will be the better option after: SNAP/Wayland goes mainstream and JACK becomes easier (Low latency Audio on Linux is still a nightmare compared to Windows and OSX).

But there are still a few rough edges. That being said, I use it for everything at home now, except for my Suunto GPS tracker, and Serato.

PulseAudio took a while to be good. I recall removing it in every distro for years and using ALSA instead.

Perhaps I didn't play sound very often in multiple apps at the same time (who can listen to two sounds at once?)

Never mind that Alsa offered dmix even back then, but you had to know to enable it yourself.

Frankly the major reason for PA to exist at all is to handle transitory audio devices. I think Poettering started working on it because he bought himself a pair of USB headphones (basically a USB soundcard with some headphones hardwired to the analog pins).

Dmix could just as well have been extended to do audio routing. Or just ram sound down all channels unless the user decides to mute some of them.

I heard this stuff ("...it was terrible until PulseAudio delivered us from evil") so many times that I actually began to question my memory and dug down in old mailing list threads and my old screenshot folder. It especially pisses me off that so much of it is PR -- which I appreciate, but which I think has little place in the world of free software, at least the way I see it.

For all of you poor onlookers who have no idea why people don't like PulseAudio, sit down and let grumpy ol' notalaser tell you the story of how PulseAudio gets all this hate -- much of which is, in fact, entirely undeserved today.

Back in 1999-2000 or so, things were really bad when it came to audio on Linux. The biggest problem most users faced right after being able to finally make something come out of their speakers was mixing audio streams from more than one source. This was especially relevant because, at the time, audio effects were really in vogue on the desktop.

The problem was that OSS was flaky and had basically no support for software mixing -- which meant that, save for the few sound cards that supported this feature in hardware, you couldn't play more than one stream at once. ALSA, on the other hand, was in a very early state, had all sorts of trouble, not too many drivers and updates were going slow considering that this was back when virtually everyone installed Linux from CDs and the biggest hurdle to a rolling release model was dial-up.

The way most desktops solved this problem was with a sound server (yep, basically PulseAudio). KDE used something called aRts; Gnome, I think, used Enlightenment's ESD. Both of these would do the mixing in software and pour everything into /dev/dsp. The bad news? They were really slow, high-latency (and I mean high latency, sometimes I'd get the sound alert a dialog about ten seconds after closing the dialog) and were a little funky. If aRts' queue stalled, for instance, the effect was a little comic -- after unstalling it would end up playing all the sounds that had accumulated in the queue. It was very comic.

By 2004-2005 or so, however, the whole concept ended up being mostly irrelevant, as ALSA began to really support hardware (and software mixing). Gnome eventually dropped ESD altogether. KDE kept up with aRts (but IIRC a lot of distributions started shipping KDE with aRts disabled) up to 2004, then embedded some of its ideas into Phonon. Those of us using something else finally rejoiced and never ran a sound server again.

2004 is also the year when PulseAudio was first released. By the time it got included by default in Fedora, in 2006, playing multiple streams using nothing but ALSA was very much a solved problem. I think it was so solved that it worked on Gentoo out of the box, without having to configure anything, on the more common sound card models. Not that Linux sound was perfect -- drivers were still flaky-ish sometimes, but obviously that was not something that a sound server, be it PA or something else, could solve.

So fast forward to 2007, when PulseAudio is actually unleashed upon the computers of everyone else except Lennart and his friends as it's adopted and enabled by default in Fedora 8. To put it mildly, nothing worked anymore. Very literally -- when we installed it at the crufty place where I held a part-time job there, it broke sound on every single one of the 10-15 different configurations we had, from laptops to desktops. On really old desktops, the breakage was subtle (high latency, occasional crashes). On newer laptops it was entirely terrible, they wouldn't even hiss. PA had no useful documentation, basically no means to do any useful debugging, and its upstream team quickly made a lot of friends due to its leaders' difficult (if superficially gentle) personality.

This was extremely unfortunate because alsa -- while not sucking as much as Pulse's PR machine claimed -- was still pretty bad, and many of its design decisions were firmly rooted in the landscape of the late 1990s Linux. dmix wasn't too power efficient and it had a bunch of other problems re. dynamically-added devices. Linux' sound system needed the improvements that PulseAudio brought; unfortunately, PulseAudio was both very slow in delivering them (in a manner that would not crash once a day, that is) and very eager in being adopted, which resulted in it being widely deployed while it was pretty much in early beta.

This is how everyone came to hate PulseAudio (and Lennart Poettering). It created quite a rift in the community, too, one that went on to be made even deeper. It also hurt PA's development pace in the long run.

tl;dr PulseAudio was too bold, too soon, even though it was, in many ways, too late.

I think the real PA shit storm hit when it was adopted by Ubuntu because Canonical wanted to match the pr program volume control that was introduced in Windows 7 (only use i have found for it so far was to mute a pesky game launcher/updater).

This complete with a "you are holding it wrong" like statement from Poettering as new servings of bile rolled in...

Yeah, that was even terrible-er. Fedora mostly fixed things by release 11 or so (not that this wasn't still about, what, 1.5 years?).

I don't think being able to play multiple sounds simultanously from the desktop in the Win9x era was that common anyway although some sound cards probably supported it. I do find it useful for playing my own music while playing a game or watching some talk-only video and so on. Never had any issues with OSS or ALSA so I can't say audio "always having issues" before PulseAudio matches my experience at all... Maybe that's referring to ESD.

I tried Linux back in the Win 98 days. I don't remember which distro. I went back to Windows because the X server crashed at least once a day. Windows was much more stable for me.

i think it is in your head, it was not easy, and most of the apps that you needed would not work there, i even had a lindows and that had the same problems, webapps where nonexistend, and while sure you could maybe find a decent replacement for one app you could not for others. everything was hacky, and there is no chance in hell that average person would run this.

and then xp came and it was the better in in everything from 98/ME.

I don't really care about apple's influence or ragging on the new mac book pro.

But I will say that linux has come miles and miles. My transition from Windows to full time linux by way of Ubuntu was incredibly seamless. The only thing I really miss is Excel.

> The only thing I really miss is Excel.

Sadly Excel for Mac is the main thing keeping me from switching to Linux. OpenOffice/LO are ok for very basic documents but I routinely deal with files that they can't handle.

Have you tried the google docs sheet? A lot of Excel lovers seem to like it.

Many of the files are XLSB, which is like XLSX except it stores sheets in a binary format. For reasonably large files, opening XLSB is much faster than XLSX.

Google Sheets straight up fails if you try to upload files in that format. No preview available and no option to work around. So I would have to open the file in Excel anyway.

Relatively new versions of LibreOffice are capable of opening simple files, but once you get into features like named ranges LO fails.

So even if the UI is acceptable, failures on data import force me to keep a copy of Excel around. Keep a VM with Excel for Windows around just in case files don't work in Excel for Mac, but I've used it maybe once in the last 6 months.

Yep. It's almost there. Used to use excel a lot earlier (on Windows) in data science job. Now have excel on Mac, but google spreadsheets mostly gets the job done on most occasions. (Now I am mostly a programmer/product guy) A few problems I have encountered with google spreadsheet: 1. Sharing some stuff with third parties who exclusively use Windows and just want an excel. 2. Speed of working with all the keyboard shortcuts still seems better in desktop excel as compared to google spreadsheet (but I am happy with the progress of how many of those same shortcuts now work on google spreadsheets).

Can you give some examples? (Or even better, some example files to test.)

Some people that use Office really push it hard, they've got macros, indexes, all sorts of junk that's edge-case. The converters do not always pick up on this stuff, or if they do they subtly mangle the formatting enough it's all wrong.

For example, if you have an index then a tiny kerning shift can bump an item to a new page and screw up your numbering.

It really depends on the types of documents you're dealing with. Some are hell, others are a no-brainer.

We would love to have your bug reports: http://bugs.documentfoundation.org/

It's good to search for duplicates first or see this filterable list of the most popular dupes: https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/duplicates.cgi

I remember working in an office environment with some very large powerpoint files (50-100 slides with large images), and the rule of thumb was that 'openoffice is free, but MS can handle the big stuff'. Don't know if that's still true, haven't tried OO in a while.

OpenOffice is basically dead in terms of development nowadays. If you're looking for a desktop office suite on Linux, LibreOffice (a fork of OpenOffice) is still actively maintained.

I tried Libreoffice writer briefly recently. I imported some large pictures onto a single page and it became unusably slow. It seemed to be redoing an expensive computation (likely the pictures) with every character I typed. So yes, clearly not as optimised as Word. I had to reluctantly ask to borrow my wife's computer with MS Office for this particular task.

Pretty easy to get Excel + Word + PPT windows versions running under WINE. I have had the 2010 editions working no problems on Ubuntu & Arch.

Do you have a guide? I'd be interested in trying this out as the last time I did anything I needed 2 versions of wine (32/64bit) but I'm hoping office is compiled to 64bit now.

I dont want to be snarky but its literally just using a gui wrapper for WINE called "Play on Linux", google it and just click through a bunch of dialogues its very very easy (and stable!).

Have you tried ONLYOFFICE [1]? I heard that their Office compatibility is better than LibreOffice.

[1] http://www.onlyoffice.com/de/download-desktop.aspx

I find gnumeric to be superior to excel for my workflow: create csv, import it, do math, make N similar graphs, tweak for publication, export to high quality PDF, embed in latex.

You could try office's web app thing if you are mostly a read only excel user.

Surely, you could run it with Wine?

> The only thing I really miss is Excel.

You could try SoftMaker Office.

Quote: "No other spreadsheet is as compatible with Microsoft Excel as PlanMaker 2016. Both the old .xls files (Microsoft Excel 5.0 and higher) and the modern .xlsx files from Excel 2007 to 2016 are displayed true to the original and saved reliably. This guarantees trouble-free data exchange with Excel users."


I haven't felt restricted by linux in a very long time, and I've been using it for over a decade.

Out of curiosity what do you (or anyone else who wants to chime in) use for filling PDF forms? Adobe is about the only reason I still dual boot Windows alongside Linux :/

Nowadays almost all popular PDF readers can fill in PDF forms: Evince, Okular, and so on.

Heck, you can even create PDF forms entirely with Free Software, using LibreOffice / OpenOffice.

And don't forget PDF.JS of Firefox, which enables you to view and edit most PDF forms directly in your browser. However, it still has issues with some PDF documents, so I prefer Evince and Okular.

The still-common advice to install Adobe Acrobat Reader is outdated! And it has been outdated for years. In fact, some time ago the FSFE started a (still successful) campaign to convince public entities to no longer tell people to download Acrobat whenever they offer a PDF file. With public entities you can argue that they advertise Adobe without getting paid for that, that they ignore the fact that PDF is an Open Standard, and that they put the plethora of good PDF readers into disadvantage. Instead, most of these public entities now point to a community-driven overview of Free Software PDF readers:


But as mentioned before: As a Linux you don't need to worry about that, you almost certainly have already installed a good, free PDF viewer in the default installation.

Google Chrome added that feature at some point recently. You can fill in forms you open through it. And it's a very good experience.

Chromium possibly does it do, have not tested tho.

I can confirm that it works on Chromium with this test file: http://wwwimages.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/feature-deta...

You can install adobe reader on Linux. On Ubuntu it's acroread from package adobereader-enu.

Although sometimes you can use Chrome (or evince, or okular), occasionally Adobe Reader is the only one that can fill forms properly.

But Adobe does not officially support Linux any more so you won't get updates.

I've had some success with running current Adobe Reader in wine but trying to print makes the program crash, so there you have it.

To be honest I don't remember the last time I filled out a PDF form. Every form I've had to work with in the last 5 years was either fully online (docusign) or required me to print it out and sign it.

Atril works well.

Atril is what Evince used to be before it regressed in usability.

what you like about atril over evince? it looks similar but with slightly less features and not any greater speed at loading PDFs?

Basically atril is evince minus the Gnomish UI, which a lot of people hate.

Foxit PDF Reader is available on linux, some cool features including form filling I think

uPdf is nice. Linux actually has a whole ton of pdf manipulators which I find a lot easier to use for most common tasks then Adobe (or which actually do things you can't do with reader).

I always liked Okular, but it seems external PDF readers are less and less necessary for simple work. Really only needed for reading lengthy documents now (50+ pgs.).

I honestly can't remember the last time I have had to do that. One idea would be to try installing Adobe via wine if you can't find a native program.

I fill in tax forms with adobe 9, if no that I think the new acrobat compatibles for Linux are getting better at forms now

Last time i did that about 6 years ago i opened it with gimp and drew over it


Okular is by far the best PDF app on any platform. It supports annotations, margin trimming, overriding colors and other accessibility options. For heavy PDF users, Okular alone is worth the switch to Linux and KDE.

Master PDF Editor or Chromium

evince. It is the default PDF viewer in gnome, I think.


I have been using Linux for a long time, and it seems like every time I try to watch a DVD, it's a fresh round of hacking for 30 minutes before I can get it to work.

I just recently built a new workstation, including a Blu-Ray/DVD/CD burner. After seeing the recent announcement here about Handbrake, I grabbed the closest DVD, fired up VLC, watched the first few minutes of it, and shortly afterwards I had ripped and encoded one of the episodes to a file I can watch on my Roku.

The only hacking I did was to install libdvd-pkg or something like that.

Last time I checked, some early blueray DVDs will work on Linux but newer ones will brick your blueray reader.

The AACS key file is updated every now and then. I get it from here: http://www.labdv.com/aacs/

I've run into some recent disks that I can't play, but never one that actually damaged my blu-ray drive.

"but newer ones will brick your blueray reader"

Source? I don't even see how this could be possible.

Say hello to DRM. Best i recall they introduced a updated DRM system for BR some years after launch, and to play those discs one need to either firmware update or replace the player.

Never mind that the BR spec has all kinds of weirdness, including things like bundled Java applets(?!).

All in all, its problems like these that keeps us torrenting.

Wow, that's crazy.

I haven't really used the drive other than what I mentioned. I just grabbed the nearest DVD (disc 2 of 3 of season 7 of "The Big Bang Theory"), popped it in, and it just worked.

That was just a quick "test" to see how difficult it was nowadays to rip/encode DVDs (I haven't done that for probably eight years or so and it was a major PITA back then). I was planning on doing the same to most of our "media collection" so I'm hoping it continues to go well.

Thanks for the heads up. I'll be looking more into this.

You just need to install one package at the most for dvd decryption, or use VLC... hardly a problem these days...

"Hardly a problem"

Several hundred AskUbuntu posts disagree with you. (And that's for Ubuntu...one of the friendly distros.)


I use linux as well, but wifi drivers are always an issue, as well as sound.

Sure, things are much better, but I think most criticisms of linux not being "out of the box" ready are valid.

Not as a comparison to apple. You want osx you buy the hardware they specify. Buy a laptop known to work out of the box with linux and it works out of the box with linux. Try it on any random laptop, ymmv. Not many of them work as badly as non-apple blessed machines with osx. It's pretty rare I can't get something useful out of any old laptop with a linux install. Is hackintosh still even a thing?

I have a hackintosh as my main computer. It works ok. Graphics drivers are sometimes a pain/ buggy. iMessages doesn't work unless you want to do a lot of work.

However it is faster/more expandable than most macs available today.

Hackintosh is still very much a thing. I had a great 10.5 desktop with Kalyway years ago. I recently tried to get Yosemite or something working with a Core-i5 Sandy Bridge PC and it did not go well due to graphics drivers.

> wifi drivers are always an issue

I keep hearing this, but I've never had an issue (Arch, Macbook Air 2013).

On the contrary, I have endless problems in macOS with WiFi where some networks won't work if I don't specify a DNS (I use Google's, but I assume that doesn't make a difference) - and others won't work if I do! (Meanwhile, other devices are fine doing the opposite.)

I have a TP-Link Archer USB 802.11ac Wifi USB stick. It definitely does not work out of the box. You have to get and compile some driver from GitHub using dkms. After some stable Ubuntu updates Wifi just stopped working.

Never had a problem with macOS Wifi since 10.5.x.

You need to check the chipset before you buy. Intel and Atheros have a good reputation for Linux support. Broadcom does not. I heard broadcom is leaving the wifi market soon. If so, this should get better in short order.

The thesis was that Wifi is simply not a problem anymore on Linux, which is false. Wifi is not a problem if you pick the right chipset. However, this has always been true. I was using Wifi without a problem more than a decade ago, when Intersil Prism (Orinico) was very well supported on Linux and BSD.

But it's currently not the case that you can take an arbitrary Windows or Apple machine, install Linux and have a working Wifi. It's very much hit and miss.

The remaining holdout with problems is Broadcom. All other chips (Realtek, Ralink, Atheros, Intel to name a few of the more popular) generally work.

The only trouble you may get is with cutting edge hardware because manufacturers are slow.

FYI: the TP-Link Archer that I mentioned uses a Realtek chipset. It does not work out of the box. You have to get an untrusted driver from GitHub, compile it with DKMS. Breaks with stable Ubuntu updates. The driver also seems to be quite flakey, regularly losing connection to the AP.

How do you expect a normal user to this?

I really don't understand why there isn't a niche company that does nothing but make high quality peripherals that work in Linux. I just bought an atheros wifi card off amazon marked ENGINEERING SAMPLES ONLY, because no one sells the chipset I want standalone.

Intel chipsets are OEM only. Cards are readily available on Amazon, but are all gray-market apparently.

In short, I don't expect normal users to do this, but I'd expect them to be willing to pay triple the normal markup on $20-$50 componens if they "just worked" in Linux.

To be clear, I'm talking about having an ODM run off copies of Intel/Atheros reference boards. The engineering effort is as low as it gets for hardware manufacturing.

The only wifi device I've had trouble with in recent memory is an Edimax EW-7811Un USB dongle. It "works", but the best transfer rates I've ever gotten out of it were in the hundreds of kilobytes/s, paired with up to 5 minutes of uninterrupted connectivity.

There are problem devices out there, but more and more they're the exception, rather than the rule.

Which macOS version is that?

I stay up to date, it's 10.12.2 - I've had the issue for at least a couple of major (marketing) versions.

>but wifi drivers are always an issue

This is not true if you have Intel wifi hardware, which is a lot (a majority?) of laptops.

Its not true these days anyway as you can just use the windows drivers if everything else fails. Which works perfectly except the initial 10 minute setup.

> Its not true these days anyway as you can just use the windows drivers if everything else fails.

Is ndiswrapper still being developed?

It only supports Windows XP drivers and crashed the kernel when I tried to get my TL-WN8200ND (RTL8192CU) working with it on 64 bit Ubuntu 16.04

I am pretty sure i got a win7 driver working without any further issues. I could be wrong tho

Just set up linux on a machine recently with an Intel network chipset. Mint had no driver that supported it so I ended up having to build from source. I can't imagine trying to understand that process if one is not a developer

This is... very strange. What Intel chipset was it that didn't have a driver built into the kernel? That's usually your safest bet.

I think the issue was that I was installing from a Mint 17 bootable USB but I needed the driver to be able to upgrade to 18.

The ethernet controller is an Intel I219-LM (rev 31). The driver source that worked was https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/15817/Intel-Networ...

What I had hoped would happen during install was that the kernel would fall back to some simple driver, kinda like the simple VGA drivers, and then find the correct driver and install that.

Sadly there's no basic compatibility layer for NICs, except in so far as many small manufacturers emulate some specific well known NIC. Intel doesn't really do that, though. But they do tend to update the drivers in linux pretty quickly themselves, which is what makes them attractive for linux use.

FYI mint sucks with these things. Badly. Their driver support seems more random than anything. That said i am pretty sure i remember some kind of bloat kernel in their repos which ships with all the relevant stuff.

There's an official ubuntu mate flavor now which is everything I enjoyed about mint with none of the things I disliked about it, so I'd recommend trying that.

Installed Ubuntu 16.04 yesterday and could not get graphics acceleration to work on Android's emulator. This should be the ideal environment for working with Android...

I cannot understand people that think Ubuntu is on par with OSX and Windows for workstation use.

I've literally never had a sound card that didn't work on Linux since alsa stabilized in the 2.4 days.

WiFi drivers are much less likely to work out-of-the-box; usually you need a firmware file which may require futzing with the windows driver installation package.

Another feature I'm yet to have any confidence in is that I can just close a Linux laptop, and have it do a pretty much perfect suspend that will come back to life in 2-3 seconds even if it's been closed for days.

As a counter example, I've yet had this to be a problem on any laptop I've owned.

It works 100% reliably 100% of the time.

Same here, both on ThinkPad and on my Tuxedo laptop with Ubuntu, Debian and Arch.

I had issues with OS X sometimes that I put the MacBook into a bag and it would get hotter and hotter because it didn't sleep and the air couldn't move, untill it panicked and shut itself down to not start burning.

I started owning laptops in 2007. There's a real difference between ACPI DSDTs compiled with the Microsoft compiler versus the Intel compiler (surprise surprise)

Acer/Wistron laptop with MSFT DSDT would reset spontaneously instead of waking up from sleep.

I have no complaints about suspend itself, but I do find lidswitch detection to be faintly unreliable on various laptops. I often find my laptop fully powered up and hot in my backpack. I suspect poor debounce.

I cannot remember having any trouble playing DVDs on a Linux based system within the last decade. Through this time, I've used: Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware, Arch and, Suse. If your distro doesn't come with DVD playing capabilities out of the box, there are plenty of instructions regarding this on the the web.

I have a hard time seeing how you could possibly be being honest about this.

I have a hard time seeing how you could possibly be being honest about this.

Isn't distributing libdvdcss illegal in the US and therefore most distributions don't include it? So, most distributions don't come with full DVD playing capabilities out of the box.

This. This is the reason for parent's complaint - it's legal, not technical. I have exactly the same experience of "30 mins hacking to make a new system play DVDs" - sure, it's a single package install usually, but which package? libdvdread? libdvdcss? Does the package include the library, or does it contain a script that downloads the library because of the legal issue? I know the answers to these questions on Debian because I use it so much (and it has a well updated wiki), but plonk me in front of a distro I've not used before, or with poor documentation for their particular idiosyncratic way of end-running the law, and suddenly it's a minefield.

I should have been clearer, I guess. Yes, there's some legal issue but - a google search is not illegal. The poster was saying he/she has to go through some lengthy process every time he/she wants to watch a DVD? That's the dishonesty I'm talking about. Getting dvd playback working in a distro is a do it once and forget about it until EOL type thing.

True for Fedora, probably Debian, probably not Ubuntu.

For Fedora, it's a matter of adding the RPMFusion-nonfree repository, and installing a couple of packages.

How? VLC + every distro has drivers...

What distro are you on ?

As I recall, installing libdvdcss, libdvdnav, libdvdread from the official repos solved that problem and allowed me to painlessly watch dvd's through players like VLC and MPlayer.

I usually use VLC without a problem. Some distros won't include something like libdvdcss, and you have to download, compile, and install it.

It's annoying, but better than when DVD support first appeared, and you'd end up compiling something like 5 libraries and a custom version of Xine.

You still watching DVDs grandpa? I wanna watch Netflix on the stupid thing. I use my android tablet for that instead.

Netflix works without issue on Chrome in Linux.

And firefox if you switch your useragent -- https://linuxconfig.org/play-netflix-on-linux-with-firefox

Wow thank you for that link. I've had two browsers installed with chrome being used purely for Netflix. Now I can finally give the damn thing the boot.

Yes, it also works. And you need to enable DRM support in Firefox as well.

I slowed down for a while when I first got Netflix. Then I sped up again when some of the shows I was watching disappeared when I was mid-season. Netflix is great, but when I want to actually be sure that I'll be able to watch something, I buy it.

Honestly i feel more restricted now than i did back when i first started...

Concur; switched to Linux full-time in '95 and to OS X in 2002 and haven't really looked back. I still use Linux daily in my job, but I can't say I miss it as a desktop OS.

I've seen almost everything from Sinclair ZX Spectrum to Microsoft Azure.

Linux has another learning curve for me than products like Windows server, but i'm slowly getting used to it again.

These days i have very limited money to experiment with computer systems. So i turned an old desktop into an esx. Using linux for my vm's has been very rewarding. There is a ton of resources. Most of the stuff is free. The communities usually love to help you reach your goal.

There have been a multitude of high quality desktops for at least 10 years.

The main reason people don't switch is just lack of familiarity, driver issues and unsupported software - all driven by network effects.

There's very little about the OS itself which is preventing adoption. It's entirely about the ecosystem.

That pretty much requires a fuck up on the part of Windows or Mac to drive people to use Linux.

My "fuck up" was a Finding Dory ad on my lock screen. In OS advertising is a non-starter. I let the start menu ad's slide in 8, but that was the last straw for me. That and it bugging me "Edge is faster, Edge is better, use Edge!".

I feel like paid $199 just so Microsoft can sell me to advertisers. Bill never would of stood for this shit.

A "Finding Dory ad" doesn't sound right. Did that really happen without installing something dodgy??

Sounds like the Windows Spotlight "feature" at work:


With OEM Windows, everything can be expected, from bloatware "drivers" slowing down your machine by half to obligatory root certificates (thanks Lenovo! thanks DELL!) that are necessary to serve you in-browser ads. And you're not theoretically allowed to remove them or it voids you warranty. So an ad at startup doesn't surprise me, it's not really Microsoft's fault, but that's what you get with a Windows OS.


I'm fairly certain that its Microsoft that was responsible for this. Others have reported it as well.


> That pretty much requires a fuck up on the part of Windows or Mac to drive people to use Linux.

Windows XP, Vista, 8. I mean even if these fuck ups haven't brought Linux market share above rounding error, nothing will.

One thing that could make desktop Linux viable - is throwing transparency, openess, customizability and all similar "good" Linux stuff through the window, having a dictatorship with good UX people and forcing users to one true way.

People do not care that they can tinker with their desktop - I really do not care that I cannot make my macOS or Windows look like screenshots in unixporn subreddit - I just want an experience that's concise, the same for every application, polished, clean, lean, etc etc etc. Windows had this in Windows 7 (10th version with UWP programs for tablets really disturbs the UX), macOS still has this.

Elementary and especially Solus distributions are doing that - "oooh you want X? well screw you buddy, that's poor UX".

Did you mean Windows ME/2000, not XP?

Vista was a major screw up. I didn't mind Windows 8 as much. But yeah if those mess ups don't sway people, nothing will.

I don't intend to scoff at the work done on Linux distros; however, many of us looking to make the switch are doing so only because Apple has gone too far with their latest pricing schemes, and/or due to hardware changes.

Personally, I don't care about USB-C replacing USB 3.0, or the introduction of the new Touch Bar. The problem is the pricing (that Touch Bar is costing me $700-800 on top of the equivalent 2013 MacBook Pro model). The removal of the physical escape key and the inexplicable removal of the 3.5 mm jack on iPhones does not help to relieve fears that Apple has completely lost control of basic sense as to what their professional users want and need. The MacBook Pro line has fallen into the same category as the MacBook Air. It's supposed to be a professional machine, but it's now being specced to the lowest common denominator, meant for any average consumer.

For some of us, Linux is not being transitioned to with enthusiasm. We do not consider it a drop-in replacement for OS X, and already pre-emptively regret the inferior keyboard and trackpad we'll get on the OEM PC laptop manufacturers offer. Honestly, what the hell is with PC manufacturers that still include the TrackPoint™ Style Point, Nub, Nipple Mouse, Clit Mouse[1]?!

tldr; Apple is alienating its professional users. Windows is flat out unusable as a Linux-based developer platform for us. Linux is simply the only remaining alternative. Frankly, it's not "good enough" - it's simply the only remaining alternative when you can't reason spending $4,000+ on a laptop you actually do still want to buy.

[1] https://xkcd.com/243/

They include it because people use it. I actually disable my trackpad on my thinkpad, and only use the trackpoint. (So does Randall according to that link). Thinkpad keyboard is in my opinion better than the apple keyboard.

Agreed. I just joined a company where Macs are mandatory, and so I'm reluctantly making the transition from Linux/Thinkpad to MacOS/Macbook.

I'm experiencing substantially more carpal tunnel issues because of the Mac's trackpad-only setup. The trackpoint means I never have to take my hands off the keyboard, which I love. Two months in I'm used to Apple's keyboard, but I don't think it's as good; my error rate is still much better on Thinkpads because the more sculpted keys make it easier for my fingers to know where they are.

And I should say that here I mean the older Thinkpad keyboard, not the newer one that looks much more Apple-ish.

The keyboard is by far better IMO. And trackpad is about the same in my opinion. I dont get the hate

That's a reasonable frustration, but I haven't seen anyone complaining that pc manufacturers still ship trackpoints. That's not to say that any pc comes close to Apple's trackpads though.

Most people switching, however, are annoyed by the absence of visual polish everywhere (hardware and software) and the lack of robustness compared to Apple laptops, which you can literally walk on or drop in your bag without paying attention to what else is next to it. Except for mil-spec laptops and thick toughbooks, I wouldn't do this with any computer.

Apart from console apps, there is no unified visual language on Linux, and most desktop application developers do not expect to make as much money as with mac or Windows. This often results in apps that just "get the job done", without much extra polish, but sometimes a LOT of extra features, which can actually confuse users. The best advantage of most Linux software is to be open source, which is unfortunately something 99% of people couldn't care less about.

I'm a day to day Linux user, and I couldn't be happier to have switched back from osx (2004-2016), but the switch is clearly not for everyone yet.

> lack of robustness compared to Apple laptops, which you can literally walk on

I weigh 138kg. Please hand over your apple laptop for a quick test.

> I'm a day to day Linux user, and I couldn't be happier to have switched back from osx (2004-2016), but the switch is clearly not for everyone yet.

Personally, I have no issues with Linux being used almost exclusively as a developer OS (on desktops and laptops). I don't really see Linux moving towards being used by non-technical users any time soon, and I'm perfectly okay with this.

Tbh I never realized it but I feel the same way. I used to try to convert people to Linux when I was in high school, but those times are over and I'm okay with having my friends and family on MacOS.

Ideally, with more of us on Linux, things will improve. If vast swaths moved over at once, we might even get Adobe tools.

I've been on Ubuntu for nearly a decade, so I barely notice many issues any more, but you're absolutely right. It's a long way away from wonderful.

Obviously, I'm just used to it; I wait 2-3 months before upgrading to the latest releases because having three monitors has _always_ been a headache for me when upgrading any sooner. That's my new normal.

That said, I rarely have any issues that make me lose time. I might have to spend 5 minutes googling around before buying things like web cameras to ensure compatibility, but otherwise, everything tends to be stable. My desktop stays running for months at a time without complaints.

The next step would be to go beyond stable and make the platform a joy to use. I want to be able to plug in some of these fun toys like multi-touch pads and high dpi screens and have them work just as well as they do on other platforms. The journey to that ideal is far longer on Linux. But it remains free, hackable, solid, and powerful. And the more people using the system, the faster progress will come.

I remain hopeful and patient.

My problem with desktop Linux is actually development - it seems really hard to get patches and fixes into upstreams or deploy them stably (i.e. not fighting apt overwriting your custom builds, etc.)

There's scope somewhere in there for Canonical to improve Launchpad so the experience of fixing issues is more streamlined.

This use case is filled for me by Gentoo's portage (https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Overlay)

Currently I'm looking into what Guix and Nix can offer me wrt. custom packages.

> Honestly, what the hell is with PC manufacturers that still include the TrackPoint™ Style Point, Nub, Nipple Mouse, Clit Mouse[1]?!

There aren't enough of them?

My one gripe about Macs is the lack of the nipple mouse.

> Honestly, what the hell is with PC manufacturers that still include the TrackPoint™ Style Point, Nub, Nipple Mouse, Clit Mouse[1]?!

Because it's fucking awesome.

> Honestly, what the hell is with PC manufacturers that still include the TrackPoint™ Style Point, Nub, Nipple Mouse, Clit Mouse?!

Some people like them.

Windows is flat out unusable as a Linux-based developer platform for us.

Actually, I was surprised how well the Windows Subsystem for Linux actually works. Yesterday I even compiled some Ubuntu packages (using C++, Qt, Boost, etc.) and submitted them to my PPA on Launchpad. From Windows!

However, this is thing: http://www.ghacks.net/2016/11/21/microsoft-dont-edit-linux-f... . Half the reason why I'd consider making the switch is being able to keep on using my CLI tools while still having access to sane UI tools.

You can. Just edit the files on NTFS, and access them from the mount folder from the CLI. The article is about editing the subsystem files themselves.

True, it's just somewhat unpleasant to have to remember where the file you're editing is and wonder if it's safe.

The good news is that a lot of these things are getting fixed. E.g. it used to be that path expansion for executable files lookup didn't work too well (as in, you could launch native Windows executables only via direct path, because the subsystem would otherwise check for an ELF header, so you couldn't launch foo.exe in your $PATH just by name), but I understand that this is getting changed in upcoming releases.

I'm keeping an eye on this thing, it is promising. I'm so looking forward to putting all the Red Hat-branded breakage behind me and not have to wrestle with my computer all day.

As far as I understand, it works fine if you store data outside %localappdata%\lxss. So, just put it on your regular C-drive and make a symlink from your home directory for easy accessibility.

But I agree that it would be great if they could solve this in the future.

PC laptops have often had better keyboards than Macs (e.g. Thinkpads), so I and many others would disagree with you there.

The trackpad situation is a legitimate gripe, but this is hopefully improving with Microsofts Precision Trackpad standard.

The big advantage of stepping outside the Apple garden into the wider world is choice. You have choices like matte screens, 17" screens, up to 64GB RAM, hotswap batteries, upgradable components, ARM chips, Xeon chips etc etc

Even the current Macbook Pros (high spec Airs) have had equivalents available in the PC world for a while, e.g the X1 Carbon, which is being upgraded to KabyLake soon, while Apple have only just released their Skylake machines.

Apple Music, global menu, font rendering exact like macOS (with same fonts); dock software in which applications can fill their own context menu (imagine launching Spotify, pinning to Plank and upon right clicking spotify you can skip song, shuffle all songs, etc, truly, that is the future... that windows had since Windows 7 with it's new `tasks` API for taskbar entries...); I want Adobe AfterEffects and Excel and OneNote that work and do not have alien UX because wine; I do not care that there's Xorg and Wayland, I just want this desktop software to not kill my Rider IDE when nVidia drivers crash;

Are there choices? No, I do not see any choice. You see i3, i3-gaps, fluxbox, openbox, xfce, gnome, cinnamon, mate, kde, panteon, budgie, bspwm etc etc and go "whoa, all these choices", meanwhile I couldn't care less even if there three times more clones of a tilling wms, I just want macOS desktop. Choices of stuff that I will never use are useless.

Would Windows 10 not give you most of want you want?

> what the hell is with PC manufacturers that still include the TrackPoint™ Style Point

Different people have different preferences - I like the TrackPoint far better than a touchpad, because I can use it without moving my hands from the keyboard.

I really don't understand why you wouldn't pay $3,000 instead of $1,500 to have the work laptop you want for the next several years. Assuming it only lasts two years (my last Macbook Pro lasted 5, and I wasn't nice to it), and you work 240 days per year, that's $3.13 per day to have your preferred development environment.

I'm a huge linux fan and have ubuntu on a desktop and laptop, but if you hate it there's really no reason you have to use it.

I loved the magic trackpad 2, the main thing that held me back from switching away from osx. Now I love the logitech mx master. It has a thumb button that lets you do window management stuff that is 4 finger gestures on the mac trackpad. I was ready to shell out for a new macbook pro, but I was looking for a ram limit increase and don't really get that much out of the super expensive ssd vs the average priced ssd I can put in a pc.

Speaking of enthisiasm, I just transitioned from OSX to Fedora 25 and I'm loving it. I use both macbook pro and fedora laptops for development and both are excellent. Linux is faster all around, Gnome is excellent and my only complaint is oversensitive trackpad. OSX does much better job with that

Online package management has made Linux usable for desktop and even today's rapid development environments. Prior to the introduction of these solutions like Apt and Yum there were manual builds required of source code to meet the dependency needs of software you wanted to install. I recall spending a day trying to satisfy all the requirements of Gedit on an old version of red hat. Now with today's high speed internet and package management that's like a 10 second command.

This change happened a long time ago though. Debian stable releases included APT starting Debian 2.1 in 1999, RH resisted for long and finally included yum in late 2003. But agreed, it was a big improvement for workstation use.

For what it's worth; the main problem I've run into when getting work done on Linux (and I'm really grasping at straws here) is lack of compatibility with applications which run on both OS X and Windows. But when I look at my coworkers' screens (they're on macs) I realize that the native OS X versions of these applications tend to run about as well as the Windows versions do in a VM on my machine. The only one I've ever needed a VM for is Excel.

If I were starting up a 2D media company I might have some concern moving new hires from probably-familiar Adobe applications to the (excellent) Linux alternatives; but still probably not enough to dissuade me completely. For a new 3D studio the industry is so diverse anyway that it would be worth going with Blender to start with, or Maya if the heart desires it.

For software, I don't think there's a worthwhile platform which you can not develop for from Linux (aside apple nonsense, but even all-apple shops end up using OS X VMs for iOS builds since XCode build is highly stateful(!)).

Are you joking? You would not be dissuaded from forcing your employees to switch from the many world-class graphics tools on Mac to the terrible Inkscape and Gimp? I wish there were better graphics tools on Linux, but it's just not the reality right now.

Harsh word. I don't think gimp and Inkscape are all that terrible for casual use.

On that note, I honestly can't think of anything other than Adobe products and Microsoft Office that is preventing a mass migration to Linux (or rather Ubuntu, let's be honest) at this point. It has all other killer apps. Dropbox, Spotify, VSCode, Atom, Steam, Chrome, VLC, etc...

I know that Excel is the only thing keeping my dad on macOS these days. He is definitely not the Apple fanboy he once used to be.

What an amazing day that would be... when, at least Adobe, would release builds for Linux. Does anyone know if there's a serious obstacle for them other than market share?

While likely not as widely used as Adobe, until mechanical CAD software like Solidworks, Inventor, or PTC Creo support Linux I won't be making a full switch any time soon. There are a few offerings lacking in features and I guess you can do some FEA with Nastran, but there is no comparison to these Windows only suites.

And while Steam is supported, the Linux library is a shadow of the Windows library even if you exclude older, underplayed games.

> And while Steam is supported, the Linux library is a shadow of the Windows library even if you exclude older, underplayed games.

True, but you can't expect things to change from one day to the next. There are many more games on Linux now than there were like 3 years ago. Like 2000 more. And it's still growing, and in 2016 we have got more AAA titles than ever mostly thanks to Feral Interactive's porting efforts. It's better and better for Linux gamers. And even AMD is slowly fixing its broken Linux drivers.

A lot of this seems like problems with the graphics sub-systems. It's getting better, but nvidia still doesn't have open-source drivers, and graphics switching still doesn't work (nor does power management). By "doesn't work" I mean that as someone with >10 years *nix sysadmin experience, I couldn't get everything to work right on Ubuntu 16.10 on a Dell XPS 9550 in a week of downtime effort (probably around 10 hours total).

If NVidia, Intel, and AMD got serious about Linux graphics support for enthusiasts and professionals, I'm sure we'd see a huge improvement and make switching viable for many traditional hold-outs. Chicken and egg, unfortunately.

> but nvidia still doesn't have open-source drivers

They dont have any open source drivers for ANY platform. So that's the same on Windows and Mac. On Linux you have the Nouveau (open source, independent) drivers for nVidia though, and you can already play some games with it despite major performance loss.

As for graphics switching you'll be happy to know this is a problem that the SOLUS distro is going to tackle in 2017 to have a better solution than the existing ones which are mostly broken.

Nvidia are serious about graphics for professionals. The linux driver is fast and continuously updated.

I have deployed thousands of workstations with various ranges of graphics cards. Nvidia is the simplest, a trailing second is AMD (they do make rolling RPMs easy though) They are just as buggy as the windows drivers.

Intel make brilliant drivers now, its just a shame the graphics cards are tiny compared to AMD/Nvidia.

Nvidia just don't do opensource drivers. For me, I frankly couldn't give a fig if they are open source or not, just so long as it works.

For the first time ever, I bought an AMD card. The open source drivers are miles ahead of the nvidia open source and binary drivers (at least with my old GTX 570 that used to work flawlessly, but now has tons of visual corruption).

The "TearFree" xorg feature does the best job of vsync I have seen in a long time. On the downside, the variable refresh rate stuff hasn't quite landed in mainline yet, and audio over display port hasn't either. holding breath

I agree. There is simply a lot of inertia on Windows heavy game development. Unfortunately, Windows will be needed for a long time for classic titles that probably wont be officially ported. Browsing through the list of top played Linux titles I am surprised by the many games I own that have since been ported, but I still see mostly indie titles. Until the really 'AAA' devs like Activision, EA, Ubisoft make changes I don't anticipate a n OS shift for the enthusiast crowd.

> Unfortunately, Windows will be needed for a long time for classic titles that probably wont be officially ported.

I don't think that is necessarily true. WINE does a wonderful job nowadays to run older games - while the support for DX11 is still very much work in progress. Most DX9 games run just fine, and older versions of DX have little to no issues either. IN some cases WINE does a better job running an older Windows game than Windows 10.

> CAD software like Solidworks, Inventor, PTC Creo, etc...

This is why I still have windows machines for work. If open source CAD software were competitive (or if the commercial companies offered Linux ports) I would be 100% linux.

Is Steam supported? Steam is in the Ubuntu repos and available for download, but it seems like it's impossible to install for thousands of Linux users and this has been the case for 4 years. The problem seems to either be that it wants 32bit libraries that 64 bit linux does not include (and the problem is impossible to fix, I have tried) or that Steam wants a different GPU driver to the one you have installed (why a browser and installer need a particular GPU driver idk).

At this stage in Steam use on Linux, I would say it exists, but it does not appear "supported" by Valve.

I think valve very much supports Linux. Their steamOS is built on top of Linux, so it is in their best interest to support it.

I've been running steamboat. Linux for a while now and have never had any issues running g it. Sure, there aren't a huge number of games for like us, but that has more to do with the game development ecosystem at the moment. Developing on Windows or Mac is just easier. You have access to all the 3d packages from autodesk and other companies.

I'm not talking baout the games, I'm talking about the Steam client delivered by Valve. It seems that a great many people share my frustration (1) You can tell me I'm wrong a hundred times but the link speaks for itself.


Steam it fully supported. I run it on Ubuntu 16.04 and 14.04 without any problems. Just run it like this:

    env LD_PRELOAD='/usr/$LIB/libstdc++.so.6' steam
I have no idea why Valve doesn't make that command the default.

I have tried that and many other solutions and forums are still piling up with hacks to get the steam client to work on 16.04 and as far back as 14.x.

Just tried on fresh 16.04 install. Works out of the box.

Make sure you download Steam from official website, not the version packaged with the distro.

I have tried both on identical PCs.

That's interesting (I assume 64bit version of Ubuntu, right?). What GPU do you have?

Well, as a linux (latest linux mint, 64 bit) steam user for more than two years I can tell you it is pretty much supported.

I had it working on 14.x but cannot get it to start on 16.4 after hours of trying. Just because it works for you...

I am on Arch and I followed the documentation https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Steam and it just worked on every machine I tried it.

Bully for you. As an Arch user you must not flinch at having to tweak to get something working, but on Ubuntu for an app in the repository I would expect apt to install and resolve any dependencies and for the app to ten start.

From your link: If you have a 64-bit system, you must install the 32-bit Multilib version of your graphics driver, lib32-alsa-plugins to enable sound, and lib32-curl, lib32-libgpg-error to enable update at first run.

Maybe someone can explain why I need a GPU driver for what is in essence a browser and install wizard? Not being facetious, I honestly want to know why drivers have anything to do with the Steam client working or not.

And is it not time for 64bit Steam client on Linux so that users of 64 bit systems can be free of all these hacks?

>(and the problem is impossible to fix, I have tried)

Somehow I managed. 'dpkg add-architecture i386' ? Also, the steam client never asked for a driver on my machine. Proprietary nvidia does the magic I need for everything to run.


As I said, I had tried "everything" and that includes the "add-architecture-i386" fix. I have the proprietary Nvidia driver installed.

pebcak yourself, I linked to a very long list of google results for this very problem, suggesting quite strongly that the problem does not just lie with me but with the way in which Valve choose to roll out the Steam client. Or are you suggesting that dpkg -i steam.deb and resolving some dependencies is beyond all of those Linux users? Or maybe the problem does actually lie with Valve.

One thing that I've run into when running Adobe stuff on OS X is that it fails catastrophically on a case-sensitive filesystem. That would be the first thing to sort out; short of that I think it would be a matter of platform integration for color management, and windowing system integration (iBus, libnotify). I'm sure there's plenty more in the way of technical difficulties in porting Creative Cloud. One reason they might do it is to capture the film industry, which seems to do grading and compositing on Linux (which is why Autodesk's products in those categories support it).

I actually reard in an HN comment that OS X's case-insensitivity by default was a choice that revolved solely around compatibility with Microsoft Office, so I think you're on to something.

> reard

Is that a combination of heard and read? I like it!

I rear you!

That sounds unlikely.

I believe case preservation but insensitivity has been in Mac OS since the original Macintosh File System; certainly it was in the Hierarchical File System and was inherited by HFS+. When they switched to OS X, they still had to maintain filesystem compatibility for the Classic system, and maintaining it for the entire OS probably made porting other Mac applications simpler as well.

I think here's the comment he was referring to[1]. You're right, case-insensitivity was introduced in HFS or earlier. Back then filenames could use any byte except ":". With HFS+ it accepted all Unicode, where case-sensitivity gets quite a bit trickier. With the later switch to OSX it would have been a great time to change the default to case-sensitive if they wanted to, but as they said, you're then betting on a few killer apps like Office and Adobe products supporting it. Office has always been notoriously slow to update and Adobe has been notoriously slow at adopting new technologies like Carbon and Cocoa. I'm sure Apple at the time was in close communication with those teams.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8877431

Speaking of Autodesk, they do have SketchBook Pro, not sure they have Linux version of it.

I meant film. Where all of the major grading and editing packages for large productions are available for Linux. Please calm down. :- \

Also, I think it's pretty unfair to call Inkscape "terrible". It has, by far, the better shape editing tools (especially CSG) between it and Illustrator. As a bonus, Inkscape tends to output SVG files with maybe one or two unwanted transform()s, rather than the six or seven you get with a typical Sketch or Illustrator SVG.

What about Cinelerra?

Let alone video editing software! If I'm missing something let me know, but last time I checked people were recommending editing within Blender, of all solutions.

Blender really isn't just a 3d modeling tool, it's a bit of a hodge podge. It does things well though. It gets the name "blender" for its video compositor features, comparable to AfterEffects.

For video editing, kdenlive is the state of the art on linux. Here's a guide written by a professional video editor who uses only free software http://slackermedia.info/

I've heard about https://kdenlive.org/ but never used it for real myself.

Using Kdenlive regularly and it does simple jobs very well and is really stable nowadays. It's certainly nothing like Adobe Premiere but it works.

Lightworks? It is pretty much the best software i've used for that and it runs even more stable on linux than windows

Depends on your industry; there are bigger players in film than Adobe. LightWorks is quite accessible, and Autodesk has lots of software for you to throw your money at.

Black Magic Davinci Resolve is fantastic on windows but costs money on Linux. For professional video editing I was very impressed after having tried kdenlive, sony vegas (and premiere long ago).

> world-class graphics tools on Mac

I hope you don't mean Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator. I tried those a couple of weeks back. Compared to Gimp and Inkscape they are as buggy as hell. Simple .png export with custom dpi often doesn't export to custom dpi. Exported images often aren't pixel-precise if you repeat the export and layer boundaries somehow suffer from float rounding errors if you load/save the file multiple times. I find it amazing how supposedly professional tools can have such major problems. I guess it's just good marketing.

The only thing missing in Gimp is CMYK support and that might be sole reason people are still using Adobe products.

Adjustment layers/non-destructive effects are really the biggest missing pieces in GIMP

Gimp has a learning curve just like everything else. It's _different_ from Photoshop, but for most tasks it's not actually _worse_. It needs to be learned. I learned it and it's comfortable to use.

Does Gimp have any kind of smart object equivalent yet? I've been using Photoshop for years and haven't been able to move to Gimp because it's missing a lot of "non-destructive" editing features like smart objects, smart filters, adjustment layers, etc.

Not that I'm aware of. The workflow would be to make a copy of the thing before you do a destructive operation on it. You can put it in a hidden layer or something.

save your image state in git, you get non destructive editing with extra layer of control. But its not seamless.

Has the CMYK situation improved? For someone that needs to output files for offset printing, that is an instant deal breaker.

I don't know much about CMYK, but I found this summary on the current state of CMYK support in Gimp: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GIMP/CMYK_support

Gimp is definitely horribly bad but there are good graphics programs for Linux - Houdini, Nuke, Digital Fusion, Maya, etc.

And Krita.

Hmmm... Most iOS devs I see here use their Macs, not OSX VMs running on Windows/Linux PCs.

Well I might give it a try, anyway...

For one, OSX in a VM is a bit tricky. Also it's expressly illegal to run OSX in non-Apple hardware, at least with its standard license.

"Illegal" is not a correct word. It infringes on Apple's EULA, and is at most copyright infringement.

There's another reason too. While Linux got more 'desktop-friendly' with all the GUI apps and Windows-like WMs we faced a shift to web-base apps which I think is the real reason.

I run Arch + i3 as a WM, so a very bare-bone setup, and use just terminals and a browser. No other GUI app. I don't need anything else and I am not a power user, rather a non-tech guy who wants to get stuff done.

I've been using evilwm on my desktops and laptops since the last century. What a time to be alive!

I was beginning to think I was the only one left!! I have a mac trackpad at work, which finally forced me to learn the window move/resize shortcut keys. I should have done that sooner.

About ten years ago, I read all the evilwm source and fixed some quirk in an afternoon. That's usability!

I'm on the other end.

Early last year I switched to OSX. In the past I was heavily into various Linux distros: From Ubuntu, to the more lightweight Xubuntu. Fedora. Elementary. I've played with Gnome and Kde.

It is my opinion that the people who seem ecstatic about their switch to Linux are still in their honeymoon period. I don't feel like any Linux distro out there comes close to the stability and elegance of OSX.

I've had so many issues over the years, it's hard to even list them:

- Ubuntu only used the dedicated gfx card on one of my laptops. Never would it settle into integrated. This caused performance issues, overheating, and I ultimately decided it was impossible to use.

- Gnome had so many display, rendering, and performance issues... I still don't know how people tolerate it. Even software listed in this blog post: KeePassX copy/paste never worked for me. Random software that would just blank out and require a full system restart.

- Crashes... so many... crashes. Especially when using multiple monitors.

- Some distros (Elementary, for example) seem to have quite a few hardware limitations. Half the computers I tried to install these distros on would run into errors, a lot of bios chasing, too much time spent on forums to find help... Most of the times you just give up.

- There just isn't enough software. And Wine isn't exactly the perfect solution. Not ONE single good MySQL gui for Linux (just an example). Think about that - and no, Workbench isn't good! It's extremely intensive on resources and bloated.

I moved into OSX because I was fed up. I wanted to work and be productive and not constantly look after hardware and software. At the end of the day I wanted access to bash, pleasant to look at, with plenty of software options. I didn't want to worry about performance, random crashes, and lack of support for multiple displays. It's costly, but the solution for me was OSX.

This was the reason I switched to OSX too. I wanted to get stuff done, not fight all the time. I don't have time to tinker just to get stuff done.

Of course, now we can both be upset the course the OSX takes from our adoption of it and observe the removal of features with no recourse. Lesser of two evils I suppose.

My solution (not for everyone): Don't use what doesn't work. So…

- No dedicated graphics card. Intel's work well enough.

- I use Lxde with Xmonad. It's fast.

- No crash since I bough my laptop 8 months ago. No multiple monitors either, though.

- Still need proprietary hardware, so I stick to distros that distribute them. I blame the hardware vendors for their needless secrecy.

- I don't miss anything but the latest Windows games.

I agree with you 100%. All these Mac users leaving for Linux will eventually realize how much work is involved in keeping a Linux system running. I was the opposite, I left OS X after nearly a decade (used Linux prior) and I hate Linux more now than I did before I switched to the Mac. Way too much work, errors everywhere for no apparent reason.

> Way too much work, errors everywhere for no apparent reason.

Interestingly, that would describe my experience with OSX (or macOS).

At home I use my Lenovo T440s with Linux without any problems or glitches in the past two years. Before I had a Dell Vostro, running Linux without problems for five years.

At work I have to use a MacPro (the winecooler-shaped thing) in a network run by the OSX Server app.

Every other day I have to disconnect the thunderbolt display because it can't be woken up.

Thunderbolt network has an incredible latency when connected to other machines in the same room. Unless you transfer one huge file, 100Mbit ethernet is always faster.

Sometimes you're stuck at the login window because the magic mouse and keyboard refuse to connect (randomly) for half an hour.

The OSX Server App fills the error logs at an incredible speed with only six machines and a couple more users. Network home drives are impossible to get right: NFS breaks ~/Library. AFP has constant "Resource busy" errors. SMB is the only one that works for all users but experiences so many random bugs that are impossible to trace. I can't remember a day where all users were able to login in the morning and no program had crashed overnight with data loss due to an SMB mount suddenly disappearing (work is scientific computing). And this is on a 1Gbit ethernet network, six machines and a server, all in the same room. Incredible!

And has anybody ever tried updating the Server App? Last time it got stuck at upgrading the Wiki (that we have never used) because the postgres upgrade script was botched. That was fun to find and fix.

And then the support. Nobody at the shops can really help you with network/server stuff. And the Apple forum is always like this: You find an old post with a apparently working solution. You try to implement the solution but Apple has removed a button that you're supposed to click.

Or you make a new post, only to be told (from somebody who is not an apple official but apparently has access to a secret forum) that apple knows about the bug since 2011 and is working on it. Just wait for the next update. Sure.

On the other hand, I have never had a Linux question that was not already answered in the Arch Linux forum. Is it really just me? Judging from the posts in the Apple forums, it can't be.

But what do other people do to be productive in an Apple network?

For the MySQL GUI, have you tried JetBrains' DataGrip? It's not free though.


Btw., I switched from Linux (SuSE on a Sony VAIO notebook) to OS X (and the iBook) in 2003 and never looked back.

I moved to OSX after a 15 month period on Linux after years on windows. I moved because of stability, and because of software like office, and at the time, iTunes for updating my shiny new iPhone. Despite the pain, I'm looking at moving back, because I'm fed up. I want to work and be productive. I'm looking at a Dell laptop with 64gb and escape key.

> Not ONE single good MySQL gui for Linux (just an example)

SQLyog Community works wonderfully on Wine. I've been using it through multiple versions for almost 15 years with no problems. In fact I'm going crazy looking for a Posgres client that works as well and doesn't cost a fortune (meanwhile I'm working with a mix of pgAdmin and InteliJ's database plugin)

I'm not sure if it meets your needs, but DBVisualizer [1] has a reasonably full-featured free version. I use it for basic tasks and it works really well. They have a paid "pro" version but I haven't yet needed those features.

[1] http://www.dbvis.com/

Nice article.

I started using Linux (Ubuntu) last year. I was trying to get into open source software and I had a choice between a Macbook or a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on it.

I was aware that Linux had a reputation of being difficult to use but I was planning on doing some learning anyway, so why not give it a try? Of course, another factor was that I've never really cared for Macs much. I never understood the appeal of Mac design and I always felt like Mac products, and particularly one button mice, violate "form follows function." (note: I'm not design-minded).

Anyway, I was really surprised that Ubuntu desktop (unity) was basically the same thing as Windows, except the sidebar was on the left. That and I could use the software manager (and later, apt-get) to install common programs instead of googling "skype installer," which is what I would have done on windows.

Later, I learned to appreciate how easy it is to edit config files in Linux. Plain text files vs. regedit? Yeah, I'll take the English please.

Maybe UnixPorn[0] would interest you.

[0]: https://www.reddit.com/r/unixporn/

You just got started :) many long time users would agree that unity is the most terrible ux out there. Go and try gnome shell, mate, kde, i3, ... ;

I disliked Unity when I was new to it, but after learning the keyboard shortcuts I really like it. I think that, and getting used to the idea of searching for things rather than expecting a directory structure for displaying programs/operations, is the main limitation.

Of course, discovery is an issue with this method, and that just came with a few weeks of using it.

Same for gnome shell. I also prefer this way a lot

That's really a matter of taste.

"Many long time users" will also agree that Unity is just fine as far as UX goes.

Source: I'm a happy Unity user.

True that

I loved the design of the original Mac OS. It was a breath of fresh air in comparison with the ascetic world of MS DOS. I loved Windows, too, both in its 16-bit incarnation and as the 32-bit NT. It gave you the power unseen before. The design of Windows NT, as it was originally conceived, seemed amazing to me. And I loved Linux, too - for being a UNIX, for its openness, and for its virtually immediate availability at no charge...

As years passed, both Mac OS and Windows have been gradually losing their appeal, getting more and more bloated, resource-hungry, sometimes plain crazy. Finally, they deteriorated to the point of a marginal usefulness to me. Linux, on the other hand, has been improving at an astounding pace. Today, it is friendly. It is snappy. And it does not spy on you. There are many variants to choose from. You can get it up and running in no time. It is there to suit your computing needs.

Today, there is nothing better.

How exactly has Linux been improving??

Two I've noticed in the past 3 years: - Better compatibility with modern hardware. In particular, working out of the box just the way you'd expect from windows, without having to go find some drivers and build them yourself. Still some ways to go here on some peripherals (wifi adapters in particular), but a lot of progress. - Much more emphasis on user experience. Ubuntu in particular really has tried to create a non-power user friendly desktop experience. If you need a program you can get it without having to compile from source and decide where to put it yourself. Once again, this is much longer term and also requires the people actually creating the software to make changes, but it's definitely improving.

How one can switch from OS X to Linux and still feel comfortable without a track pad with the same quality?

Everything Macbooks (and the OS) provide is replaceable with good alternatives on a Linux environment and I personally had the satisfaction to do so. But still, there existed no notebook with the same keyboard feeling, trackpad (touchpad, whatever), weight and durability as a Macbook. What do I miss here?

Edit: Grammar fix. :)

What's so nice about Mac trackpads? I've heard that argument frequently but when I use my wifes Air and switch back to my laptop (either HP, Dell or Lenovo - not the cheap ones) I don't see a difference, at least when I added in synaptics driver the natural scrolling by swiping up and down.

Right now I think that Mac trackpad has three issues:

* it is freaking cold in the morning (metal case)

* you don't see the buttons (I still don't know if mac 1 one or 2 or 3 buttons :)

* click sound, when you have a child sleeping you don't want to have it so loud or at all (it should make same sound as pushing a keyboard button).

Yes it is cold in the morning, takes up to 10 minutes to heat up at the office.

The advantages are:

* 3 finger, 4 finger gestures for desktop switching, window management etc. * You don't really need buttons. 1 finger tap/click is the left click, 2 finger tap/click is the right click. There are tools (i.e MagicPrefs) to make 3 finger tap/click the middle click. If you prefer clicks over taps, the sound can annoy you, that is a catch for sure. * Natural scroll is almost always pixel perfect instead of line snapping.

The desktop switching works in GNOME ith 4 fingers too, tap/click, 2 finger for right works the same. The line snapping only is in the browser, GNOME apps are pixel perfect, but I'd like to know why it doesn't work in the browsers.

Legacy GTK does not support pixel perfect scrolling if I remember correctly. That may be the reason,

The Force Touch trackpads are awesome. They are big, and clicking is done by pushing on the trackpad (and there is noticeable feedback). Right click is done via a two-finger push. Thus, no need for buttons.

The best feature is that the click force needed can be configured, and there is a 'silent mode' that removes almost all the click noise.

Tap to click makes using it silent. 3 finger drag, 2 to scroll and rotate, 4 to show expose or whatever it's called these days.

Rebooting my Macbook into Windows makes the touchpad dumb.

You can do all of these things on Linux these days. https://github.com/bulletmark/libinput-gestures

That's informative, thanks.

Do you know if this is available on any particular distros out of the box?

Its available from the AUR but idk about others.

there are no buttons. the mac trackpad isn't an emulation of a mouse anymore, you have gestures now. pinch, zoom, etc. you can "click" anywhere on it, just like with a regular trackpad, and you don't need to know much more to use it, but you can do more advanced stuff if you want to (like getting a word definition, preview a page, etc)

Is there really no other laptop with a trackpad as good as a macbook? This is seriously such a killer feature, it's the only thing making me stick to macbook laptops.

Microsoft intend to fix this with their new Precision Trackpad standard.

The gestures are there but damn are the animations terrible when an action is triggered

Because the gap isnt as big as you think it is. I have a retina MBP, a Surface Pro 3, and a Zenbook UX32VD all running Arch Linux. The trackpads on all three are very good and they can all use 3 and four finger gestures fully with Gnome and libinput. Maybe the scrolling isnt quite as good as OSX but everything is just as fluid these days.

On windows is another story, everything feels janky when using trackpad gestures.

I don't understand why they have to give up the hardware. You can install Ubuntu on a Macbook.

I've been on Ubuntu for a couple of years now.

I would never go back to Windows or even OSX.

I love Gnome's workspace switcher. OSX's workspace switcher felt tedious and slow by comparison.

With Ubuntu/Gnome, I just Ctrl+Alt+arrow-key to move between workspaces and it's so smooth/quick. It's great for writing/debugging code; I have one workspace with the app/site I'm building, one with my source code and one with the terminal for launching/killing processes. Sometimes I use the fourth workspace to do CPU profiling when doing performance testing.

It's nice that there are just four workspaces - One in each corner, then I can switch to any one of them with a single hotkey without even having to think - I can instantly bring up the one I want in a fraction of a second. It really adds up.

Windows was terrible. I had to move the mouse and click several times every time I wanted to test a change I made to the code. I can't believe I was doing that just a few years ago.

Same here. Ubuntu with quick desktop switching is a breeze to develop, Windows feels cumbersome compared to it, needs way more keystrokes and mouse gymnastics to get the work done ;-)

My Windows usage is restricted to gaming and music production. Sadly, getting low latency audio on Linux requires lots of fiddling, and even if I do get it running, I'm still going to miss the tons of windows-only audio plugins.

Ubuntu can do the workspace switching as well, but also other window managers.

Step 1. Enable workspaces in Settings->Appearance->Behavior->Enable workspaces You can see the four workspaces on the Launcher, near the Trash icon.

Step 2. Add shortcuts to switch to these workspaces in Settings->Keyboard->Shortcuts->Navigation

You set a shortcut for "Switch to workspace 1" (up to 4). Ideally, you would set these to "Alt+1", "Alt+2", etc so that a single shortcut takes you as once to a specific workspace.


Ctrl-left/Ctrl-right switches workspaces for me. Four-finger swipe does the same.

what am I doing wrong?

At one point, I ran everything I needed to on free nix, then got a Mac in the early 2000s. Over the years, I enjoyed trying the shiny new things, and being on a supported platform was a novelty. Plus, it was liberating to not futz with XF86Config files and to have a mobile \nix workstation.

But there hit a point when learning the shiny just felt like a chore, and I started gravitating back to tried and true software like emacs. And Linux stopped requiring much futzing to work pretty well. And the need to exchange Word docs evaporated due to Google Docs, LibreOffice, and life circumstances. And somewhere I decided that workstations are a luxury.

And then MacOS started crapping up the UI with stuff I never asked for. It became more of a hassle to strip the Mac than to build up a more comfortable free \*nix environment.

I'm unlikely to go back. I'll always be glad for the decade+ Apple gave me. But I'm even more thankful for the luxury of not needing them.

I'm mostly enjoying the KDE Neon distro. It's polished, built on a stable newish base for the rest of the system.

But as I've said repeatedly in the past, the thing that still drives me completely insane are the keyboard shortcuts, their general inconsistency across DE, apps, etc., the layering interaction of how they're intercepted by different parts of the system (so even when I can manually change them to be consistent, I still can't guarantee they'll be interpreted correctly), and their use of the Control key as the primary modifier in both GUI and Terminal applications.

Linux mostly copied Windows in this regard, and it's just as painful as Windows (and then some) for that reason. I would gladly pay $1,000 for a KDE Neon or Fedora Gnome distro that went through the trouble of thoroughly implementing and maintaining a version with fully Mac-like keyboard shortcuts and keyboard shortcut customization facilities.

I'd pay that per user for my team too. We'd make the money back quickly on savings in hardware purchases.

On the other hand, KDE is the most configurable DE I've ever seen. I've never looked too much at its defaults because I usually switch to KDE in my "let's customize everything" moments (and get back from it in my "let's learn to live with defaults" ones).

Being able to bind almost everything (including running custom scripts) to a keyboard shortcut, having tons of desktop options you can force by matching window or app properties, using special attributes or regexps, all of that screams "don't use default and customize me" to me, which is where KDE really shines, IMO.

I agree. It's almost customizable to the extent I'd want. Except that several things don't work because they're either not under KDE's control (shortcuts for Firefox, Chrome, Gtk apps, etc.) or its flexibility is subverted by the layering of its concept of Global Shortcuts, Application Shortcuts, and where both of those things slot into event handling along side Xorg.

> I would gladly pay $1,000 for a KDE Neon or Fedora Gnome distro that went through the trouble of thoroughly implementing and maintaining a version with fully Mac-like keyboard shortcuts and keyboard shortcut customization facilities.

From your response to the sibling comment, it sounds like you're looking for a way to swap the Super and Control keys? There are actually settings for that in both Gnome and KDE/Plasma. In Gnome, you can go into one of the sections of Gnome Tweak Tool (I think it's called "Typing") and in one of the lists of options, there's a checkbox for something like "Swap left Win and left Control". In MADE/Plasma, it's in main settings app somewhere there's an identical list of checkbox options (I think it's in the "Keyboard" section, but I might be wrong, as I haven't used Plasma in a while; if you're having trouble finding it though, I can go back and find the exact location tomorrow and let you know)

That just remaps Control and Super/Meta/Command. I can do that with a bunch of things.

What that doesn't do is decouple terminal shortcuts from GUI shortcuts. It just puts the Control key under my thumb.

Ah, I see. I've always preferred having the same key for both terminal and GUI apps, which is one of the reasons that I'm not fond of OS X's shortcuts.

I don't like Ctrl-C being a super, super common thing I can safely and non-destructively do literally everywhere in my working environment, such that it becomes unconscious reflex/muscle-memory, _except_ when I'm in a terminal... where it means usually instantaneous death for whatever I was doing.

Qt (the library KDE uses) has an internal switch to use the GUI key (Command/Windows/Super/...) instead of Control, but it's only enabled on OS X. Making that a user-configurable option for other systems would go a long way. I have no idea what the Qt/KDE folks' attitude toward that would be, but I can see it as a selling point for Mac refugees, so it may be worth your while to investigate.

That would be absolutely amazing. Then the only applications on the machine that would drive me crazy would be Firefox and Chrome, since they're basically impossible to get to work correctly this way. Firefox actually let's you choose a different primary modifier key in an obscure setting, but it's not interpreted consistently.

I'll take a look. Maybe I can have some luck either rebuilding everything in a fork of the KDE Neon repos with that enabled or getting the maintainers to enable it.

edit: and LibreOffice would drive me nuts since it won't just import an exported config from a Mac that has Mac keybindings, and the export format is binary, so hard to export on Linux bulk-modify and re-import, so I'd still have to painstakingly go through its clunky interface to change everything to make sense. But still... that'd all be a huge improvement over the current state of affairs.

Have you taken a look at elementaryOS?

I have. How does that solve the problem I mentioned?

The whole thing uses basically GNOME standard keyboard shortcuts, and two extremely common ones, Cmd-S and Cmd-W, which are normally used universally for "Save" and "Close" respectively are actually for doing things with the window and workspace manager in elementaryOS.

For the most part the shortcuts seem to be inherited from GNOME/Gtk.

This could use some copyediting, OP. You make a lot of typos, like 'controll' or 'powerfull' or 'simmular'. Have you tried adding Flyspell to your markdown-mode Emacs hooks?

Hm no I didn't, but I should!

Also your comments on Ubuntu looked too emotional.

There are Linux users that love to hate something, but we those at a distance.

I felt that need to change from mac to linux very recently also; it turns out, I lost plenty of time just to get the desktop environment "to work".

Used ubuntu + Unity, then switched to i3 on Ubuntu. After lots of tweaking, I found out how to get nice font rendering on i3 (default rendering is not so good when you're used to osx).

Then I went on the hunt for replacement apps for my office work : email + calendar + contacts; oh my, spent hours trying Thunderbird, Evolution, Geary (and it's new fork also), also Gnome Calendar, Thunderbird lightning and California for calendar.

In the end, I settled on Thunderbird + Gnome cal, but it felt like a compromise rather than a happy choice.

After some weeks of working with that setup, not finding emails when needed, forgetting about calendar appointments because of sync issues, I just gave up and when back to The Path Of Least Resistance for me : macos.

The whole email/calendar/contacts thing works so much better in KDE I think, however personally I have had all that stuff on google apps for business for many years now.

The sole problem with KDE PIM apps is it's using MySQL underneath and it can get dreadfully slow. Otherwise it's quite neat, though I'm fine with Evolution for now.

By the way, so many are using gapps and gsuite these days that this may not matter at all.

> I have had all that stuff on google apps for business for many years now.

Yes, I'm pretty sure also that office apps are not a problem for many Linux-on-desktop users for this particular reason; turns out I don't want to use google office services, so this was not an option for me.

This is one of the major reasons I've switched from Linux to OS X many years ago. I spend my working hours in the terminal, but when I use a PC at home or for not programming, the desktop experience is just better on OS X. Email, calendars, contacts etc. just work without endless tinkering.

Also, there is no good email client for Linux. Thunderbird is a huge waste of time and other programs are even worse.

> Also, there is no good email client for Linux

Can't comment on the state of graphical email clients. But there's still mutt ...

> Also, there is no good email client for Linux. Thunderbird is a huge waste of time and other programs are even worse.

So true :)

His "Usecase OS X Linux Comment" table is interesting. My main workstation is a desktop machine I built that's running Ubuntu 14. I've been slowly stockpiling parts to build a new/bigger/better/faster desktop, and I'm going to run Ubuntu 16 on that. 90% of my work is done in the terminal, so I'd be just fine on OSX, but I can't justify paying so much for the hardware when the OS is just not that much better. My good ol' reliable 2009 PowerBook finally died and I'm not traveling with a ThinkPad Yoga 11e thing. Windows 10 has been acceptable, though the updates are just damn painful sometimes. I found MobaXterm works well for me in the way that I work. I keep thinking I really want a new PowerBook, but I just don't know why. I know it's just not worth it. The only time I use the laptop extensively is when I travel, and the ThinkPad/Windows gets the job done just fine.

So, yeah, switching from OSX to Linux now isn't so bad. Isn't 2017 the year of "Linux On The Desktop", or was that 2016, or 2015, or 14...

FYI ThinkPads have great Linux support. Tested my X1carbon with Ubuntu 16.04LTS.


X260 is also great with linux if you want an even smaller screen (like me).

It works great. Running Arch linux btw.

Any reason you aren't running Linux on the laptop?

Also, you might want to look into a used Macbook Pro. As you have seen, they can last for awhile and parts (like batteries) are usually easy to source even years after they've been discontinued. FYI, they stopped using the PowerBook naming in 2006.

Just wanted to share my personal experience with Linux. I recently got a new laptop and was very salty about it because it came with SecureBoot on and Windows 10. However, with the help of some people on the Internet, I managed to figure out how to turn off SecureBoot and install Ubuntu on it. I tried various Linuxes and always keep going back to Ubuntu, might be the familiarity of it. I like Mint as well, but I miss the Unity desktop, heh. Anyways, I'm currently on Windows 10 again, but I keep switching to Linux and back to Windows because Windows bothers me, and I think soon enough I will permanently break free from the shackles of Microsoft and use Linux full time. Currently what bothers me most is that the mouse pointer is fiddly and requires some terminal commands to fix but it never "just works" as on Windows. I have a weird USB Wireless mouse, and it's old and becoming broken slowly, so I think I might fix it with a new mouse. On Linux, my most used feature is SSH, because being able to remotely control a computer with text (on a 1Mbps upload connection, RDP is too slow to use), from a phone or a laptop over 3G or something, it's amazing. And I often forget a file on my computer when I'm working on a laptop, and I can just SSH into it and transfer it with FileZilla or HTTP or whatever. It's nice. I have become much more grateful for open source and Linux in general, and much less angry and entitled. Bit rambly but it's 5AM I don't even know what I wrote...

Welcome to the Linux family!

What finally got me to switch was a tiling window manager. I hated all graphical desktops on Linux, and finally bit the bullet and installed XMonad. My productivity has increased measurably. Its the only graphical environment I can tolerate besides OS X's window manager, and I actually prefer it.

"OS X's window manager" wait what? IIRC it doesn't have any tiling support at all.

XMonad's killer feature isn't tiling, which you can even disable.

It's the multi-workspace support, that completely decouples workspaces from screens. (So you can swap them around arbitrarily.)

Ah didn't know that, thanks :)

I can't tell if there's legitimately more of these articles going around, or if I'm just noticing them more because they reflect my personal desires. Like the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon when you get a new car.

Seems like there are more of them than before because of the recent disappointing Mac updates.

Why I switched from OS-X to Linux: 1. tensorflow with GPU acceleration only works on Linux. 2. Mac Pro is silly expensive and old, HP z440 with Haswell 8core xeon + much better GPU cost me much less than the entry level Mac Pro 3. I can reboot into Windows and play games (on a good GPU)

I realised I liked consistency of keyboard shortcuts and replaced my work MBP15 with a X1 carbo nand realised how crazy heavy the MBP is.

Still miss Lightroom and Preview on Mac OS.

I love Linux. I use it every day and have since around '98.

Recently I decided to get my teen brother, who's going into CS soon, a Linux laptop for development and a Raspberry Pi for a project we're doing together (a "magic mirror").

Instantly found desktop Linux to still be a giant pain in the ass. Ubuntu on the Pi defaulted wifi to only manual addressing, not DHCP. On top of that, set to IPv6 only as well. After digging through SO and other forums for a while we finally figured it out.

I've never had a desktop Linux experience work "out of the box". It still takes a power user to make it even half-way tolerable, and as a power user, I found it intolerable. I could see how overwhelming it was just writ plain on his face. Then realized I was making the same expressions.

Apple is definitely irritating me lately with their hardware decisions, but at the end of the day OSX is just better with desktop tasks. Hell, I'd choose Windows desktop experience over Linux, even with MS's privacy issues with Win10. Because I don't want to spend 3 hours figuring out how to turn on wifi.

>I've never had a desktop Linux experience work "out of the box"

Completely the opposite for me. Ubuntu installs on almost anything I've tried (laptops, netbooks, desktops with production dates ranging from 2006 to present day). Install and setup for use usually take less than an hour. For a couple of years now I haven't encountered a single issue (like networking or graphics not working).

Not to say your experience isn't accurate, just wanted to add how impressed I've been with Linux and particularly Ubuntu for the past few years.

Conversely, installing windows (8) on modern, fresh from the factory, HP laptops has been an experience I will never voluntarily repeat.

I totally disagree. I've installed Ubuntu on 4-5 systems over the last 3 years, I find it exceptionally quick and easy compared to installing Windows. Obviously, I can't compare it to OS X for install because it's not possible to buy it standalone.

Additionally, if you're installing on a raspberry pi you're fundamentally at a power user level - my non-techie friends and family are nowhere near that level. If you actually install it on a desktop it's a breeze, I think your frustration stems from engaging in an activity that's fairly challenging no matter what you do. There are plenty of alternatives for your pi, but neither OS X nor Windows are among them.

I'd be more interested to hear how the linux laptop went. Did that come preinstalled? Did your brother like it?

Bad on me for mixing my frustrations with the Pi and the laptops together. I suppose just having frustrations with both in just the past few weeks added up, ha!

The laptop for him seems to be going okay as a development machine. He's definitely not using it as a daily desktop. And editor and console open is mostly what he's using it for.

It wasn't pre-installed, it was a laptop donated from my work without a hard drive. I gave it to him with a new in box HD and a bootable USB stick for his birthday in November and told him to roll with it. Eventually I had to step in and help because the install just wasn't working, we switched to a DVD install disc instead. The USB just wouldn't work.

I did the same for my daughter for Christmas, except with me doing the installation. This was going to be a desktop experience for her to use for homework and the like. Google Docs, watching YouTube videos, etc.

Sound card issues. Browsing issues. Bluetooth headphone issues. Blue or black screens with no response. Eventually I just bought her a Windows laptop and she's been productive ever since. I'm sure given time I could have corrected every issue by delving through documentation and forums, and in fact she was willing to over look all the issues and power through. But at end of the day I wanted to give her something that worked.

I love Linux for servers. But Linux for desktops still seems like a tinkerer's passion to make it work. In my own experiences it seems not that more advanced than it was a decade ago. I'm glad it works for some though.

For comparison, how was it setting up Windows and OSX on the Pi?

Amazing actually. Worked like a charm. Of course these are my own super secret tweaked versions of Windows and OSX developed specifically for the Pi. I'd share with you but I need to clean the code up first. ;)

No, I get it, I mixed together my frustrations with the Pi with my frustrations with the laptop installs. At the end of the day though the combined experiences recently made me go "this is still a pain in the butt".

> I've never had a desktop Linux experience work "out of the box".

I keep saying that I have, and its way better now. But, I'm slowly realizing that I haven't done a bare metal install in probably 6 years. I suspect that a lot of people are in the same boat.

For any Android devs out there. I built a linux beast workstation just for running Android Studio/Gradle et al. Then used NoMachine to headless into it. Kept my 2013 MBP and got a 4-5x improvement in build/deploy cycles without leaving OSX completely behind. Highly recommended.

You wouldn't happen to know where to get a decent NoMachine 3 replacement would you? I'm completely sold on the compressed/cached X forwarding that 3 offered, even if the server can only be an X11/*nix based machine. It was so fast it beat my school's on-LAN citrix server when I was remoting home through my house's DSL! I'm sad they abandoned it for more server compatibility in 4 and won't provide old 3 downloads that I could find...

NoMachine, in the Workstation version uses the exact X protocol compression of the version 3, even improved, with the same brilliant performance. Anyway the Workstation is a commercial product, so I understand some may dislike it or prefer completely “free” stuff.

X2Go is a remote access program which is based on nx3. It worked pretty well when I was messing with it. I've never been on to do a lot of day-to-day work on rdp/vnc/nx but if I wanted to using an x11 system, it would be my choice.

I actually might do the same thing, just not with OS X, but instead using Linux as a desktop OS and a virtual Windows for specific stuff that Linux doesn't do, can't remember off the top of my head right now. I'd like to build a beefy server and put a few VMs on it for my family and have them use linux PCs as dumb thin clients and use the VMs, so I can roll-back changes and keep it always fresh, and of course benefit from a fast CPU.

Thanks! I know what I am doing this weekend. 2010 MBP don't fail me now!

That "usecase" table is pretty handy! I must admit that I'm enjoying all this recent spate of articles on the front-page about Linux compatible laptops and similar programs, even if they cause a bit of an adversarial comment section. :)

As [astrodust] points out, there's been great strides in making the Linux ecosystem "habitable." With more people thinking about putting in the effort to switch, I think it would be useful if we focused on the positive aspects of a free operating system and not just that you can run them on systems without a touchbar. The article mentions configurability and being able to run it on anything. I'd add zero cost and privacy. If you value those things then switching could still be worth it in the end even with other pain points.

I'm always surprised when these discussions happen how few people are using macOS because of Mac-only software. I'm thinking of things like BBEdit or TextMate, Messages, any of the Omni Group's titles, Automator, Final Cut, Scrivener, GarageBand, etc...

Before switching to Mac, I admired Omni Group software. Now after so many years on Mac, I don't use them, I use others. But I agree with you, if your intent was to emphasize how good this software is.

Main reason why I didn't use it, I don't want to be tied only to Mac platform. From this perspective, it was a good hunch. I have android phone, omni focus is not available, others are.

A text editor shouldnt tie someone to a platform in 2017

Why not? The text editor by itself might not be what ties you, but how that application integrates itself into the operating system might. For example, you can do some pretty cool things with Automator and BBEdit.

Im curious, like what?

Scrivener isn't Mac-only.

The ports aren't as good though.

I use it on Windows. Seems fine to me. What am I not noticing?

The Mac version is always ahead. The Windows version is still a v1.9 and the Mac version is at v2.0.

It's just a number. It only reflects the fact that the Windows version started long after the original Mac software. They're still mostly the same.

List of differences: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t...

I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

Uhhh this person re-wrote a text editor because TextEdit now defaults to iCloud save? Something that non-developers probably appreciate, but we may not.

Is it not known that this behavior can be disabled back to the old way with a single line command? You simply run this from Terminal:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false

Actually, probably not. I'd say a majority of macOS users are unaware of that particular setting, much less that settings can updated via the command line. Thanks for posting this!

I know various MacOS refugees who switched to Linux because of gaming and Apple abandoning their OS. With OpenGL stuck on 4.1 for years, and no Vulkan support in sight, they for example can't use many latest features in Wine that depend on recent OpenGL and Vulkan, while Linux has no such problems.

Wait a minute, switched to Linux because of gaming? I'm considering switching to macOS so I can play StarCraft. (That's not the only reason haha)

I have used Steam on Linux for some time, of course many games are Win only but the choice on Linux is not bad, I guess the situation has improved thanks to the introduction of SteamOS.

In addition, often you can play Win games using Wine, while on a Mac [EDIT: the following is true only if the game needs Vulkan or OpenGL > 4.1] the only way would be using bootcamp (which means you have to reboot every time you want to play).

Disclaimer: I haven't used Mac OS in recent times so I may be unaware of other solutions.

You can use Wine perfectly well on Mac, as far as I'm aware. I have used PlayOnMac (a wrapper of Wine) for Artemis Bridge Simulator and it works great. Though Wine is used more often on Linux, I think, so it may be more stable.

You can, but it's limited because of stagnation of MacOS graphics stack. While Wine on Linux continues chiseling at DX11 support, it's not going to happen on MacOS (no OpenGL beyond 4.1). Same goes for Vulkan. Games like Doom (2016) can work in Wine on Linux, but on MacOS - no dice.

Wine on Mac does not support 64 bit, because OS X overwrites a CPU register that Wine requires.

I was curious about this topic so I googled a bit and it seems it's being addressed by the community, there is experimental support for some x64 applications: http://www.wine-reviews.net/2016/04/run-64bit-wine-197-on-yo...

You are right, I should have worded my comment differently, Wine can be used on Mac OS although it will not run some recent titles due to the issues mentioned by the user shmerl in this thread.

Yes. Gaming situation on Linux continues to improve, and Wine is falling behind on MacOS as I wrote above. So overall, Linux is becoming better for gaming that some switch to it. I've heard it first hand from former MacOS users.

> Wait a minute, switched to Linux because of gaming?

Sales of my game on Steam seem to confirm that. It sold 8x more copies on Linux than on Mac.

Sounds very similar to my story with some minor differences. I never had an Amiga/Atari ST/C64 as I simply had...nothing (friends had ST and Amigas so I got some exposure). Later on my family got a super expensive PC (first generation with CD rom, 486 DX2/66Mhz) but we had no internet access for a quite some time. Did some programming on it, learned from books I picked up in a local store because they looked exciting (that big TurboPascal book). Linux from magazine CD...completely butchered the first attempt at a multiboot install, said screw this and just installed Linux (it was a Suse). Then also had a Gentoo phase which was great for learning. Bought a G4 Powerbook eventually (don't even remember why I did that), thought the OS was horrible. Installed different Linux distributions on it (Yellow Dog, Debian) and eventually went with OpenBSD.

After that pretty much a desktop PC with different Linux distributions, have since standardized on Xubuntu. Got a MBP for my current job. Not exactly loving it but it's ok. Next laptop will very likely not be an Apple laptop. Maybe I'll just stop the little iOS stuff I'm doing completely (as it's my experience that it's fairly horrible on non-Apple products). I'll gladly take recommendations (I was thinking about maybe buying a Mac Mini the next time I get some iOS request) but that's pretty much the only reason why I'd buy Apple hardware now.

I recommend Geary if you wan an experience like Mail.app. The keybindings are a lot more ergonomic than Mail.app's (C-M-a is finger-gymnastic, especially on Mac keyboards).

If you're looking for a great mail experience on Linux, I definitely recommend checking out Nylas N1. It's open source and built on ElectronJS with a beautiful UI and modern features.



PS: I work at Nylas. :)

> I definitely recommend checking out Nylas N1

I definitely recommend against Nylas, unless you want to pay a subscription fee.

I, and many others, had a very sour experience [0] that wasn't helped by poor communication [1].

tl;dr - a free product suddenly turned into a paid product that was (mis-)sold as an upgrade.

[0] - https://github.com/nylas/N1/issues/2617#issuecomment-2331371...

[1] - https://github.com/nylas/N1/issues/2617#issuecomment-2331802...

Hey Ollie-- sorry about that. Honestly the truth is we weren't expecting N1 to grow so fast in popularity, and we realistically couldn't afford the unbounded infrastructure cost associated with running it for free.

We also didn't want to add an advertising system or sell user data or anything scammy like that to pay the bills, so we decided to simply charge users for the version which uses our hosted backend. We had to implement this pretty quickly, and I wrote about the transition here: https://nylas.com/blog/nylas-pro

Our team at the time was almost entirely engineers (including myself) and we definitely could have done a better job with the messaging.

But on another note... stay tuned! We're working on some updates that should make it more affordable for folks who just want the basic mail experience and don't need any of the pro features like open/link tracking, mail merge, Salesforce integration, etc.

Thanks for your reply. I totally understand, and of course, at the end of the day I was trying to just leech on the free tier. It was just the communication around it that sucked, as well as the suddenness.

To be honest, it's not really for me - I liked the app, but was only using your server infrastructure because that's the way the app worked. (I just wanted the UI into gmail and outlook.)

> Thanks for your reply. I totally understand, and of course, at the end of the day I was trying to just leech on the free tier. It was just the communication around it that sucked, as well as the suddenness.

Well, you did get a year subscription for free. That part of communication didn't suck. I'd agree it felt a bit like bait 'n switch, but their developers also gotta eat.

I'm just using Nylas N1 as home user, and I don't want any more subscriptions. I'm oversubscribed as it is. If I were commercial of business that'd be different.

A one time fee would be OK with me (YMMV!). It is also still an open source version.

Would I be able to self host on a Raspberry Pi btw? Aren't businesses better off to just self host instead of going w/Pro?

> Well, you did get a year subscription for free.

Nope, I would have been more than prepared to roll with that (hell, I might even have ended up paying for it) - but that disappeared as soon as the free tier disappeared.

It seems 1yr free Pro was there to entice you to upgrade, but once there was nothing to upgrade from there was nothing free at all.

How so? The free 1 year Pro came with additional features. There was effort required to activate it, but it was minimal effort. To me it feels like a 1 year demo. I come from a time where shareware stopped functioning after X days (where X was usually a month). So to me, it feels generous.

> but once there was nothing to upgrade from there was nothing free at all.

There is, if you self host. To me, it seems a serious organisation should anyway, for data protection reasons. Right now, I'm hosting the access to my e-mail data in the USA. Sounds good? For a European (individual, for profit, non profit organisation, or government), it isn't. I'd like to not hold that against Nylas, but OTOH they could just provide a self hosting backend server with Nylas N1 anyway. Or inform the user about this at least.

Nylas also plan to offer a limited, free version on top of that.

Its a young company, so they're still figuring out their business models. Its easy to attribute malice to that, but it could just as well be incompetence.

We sent out several emails to existing users that included a coupon for a year free, and thousands upon thousands of people did take advantage of this. Perhaps you missed the window? Either way, stay tuned. :)

> great

> ElectronJS

A tad mutually exclusive.

I did try N1 ~6 months ago and performance was as bad as expected in an Electron app, though admittedly it may have improved since then.

We've made it a LOT faster and the next release is going to have an insane performance improvement. :)

I use N1. Love it. And it's open source!

What is the Nylas business model?

We charge people for premium features: https://nylas.com/pricing

We also have an infrastructure API product that powers many apps: https://nylas.com/cloud

Aside from the Terminator being better than iTerm2, he's pretty spot on :)

Same, I was surprise to see this bit ;-)

Konsole has been my daily terminal emulator since the move from GNOME {2,3} (since the removal of fallback mode which subsequently disabled compiz fusion, also breaking a lot of my long term formed habits) to KDE 4.10 (now latest plasma 5). Cannot complain.

However, there is a new GPU accelerated terminal emulator emerging - alacritty which claims to be the fastest in the business. Looks promising (I've tried it) -> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13338592

My issue with Alacritty is that it is attempting to be a GPU-accelerated terminal in the space that urxvt operates in (bare-bones, few configuration options, etc). One of the things I like about iTerm 2 is the ability to configure so much of it (even just small things like having multiple cursor styles to choose from, and configuring cursor blinking).

If terminator supported keyboard shortcut transparency change in the same way iterm2 did I could switch, (not the full window just the background of the terminal). I often have the docs up and want to type and read at the same time on my laptop without flipping back and forth.

I love Iterm2 but Terminator is very much awesome.

Windows and OSX are pushed to consumers. Untill someone starts bundling Linux with matched hardware and markets it widely to endusers Linux will always remain a pull model. End users come to it, out of curiosity, ideology and the things it's good at - programming and systems related needs.

Its only because a lot of general use case computing is becoming browser specific and Linux desktops have made massive strides in usability that the general use case even becomes a possibility but the push factor still remains.

Poeple who are not computer centric will use what comes to them and nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where they reach to install another OS. Even developers are often not systems folks, they know how to get their programming environment going and little beyond that.

The kind of knowledge you need to really manage an OS from installing, hardware, networking, storage is specialized and unless is designed in by hardware and software vendors with support and training be it Linux, Windows or OSX becomes an uphill battle. Possible but time consuming. This knowledge is held by people who are paid to know it or are in technology software industry and unlikely to interest people who just want to use stuff and not gain an indepth knowledge of it.

I just sold my 2011 13" Macbook Air and bought a Razer Blade Stealth to run Linux. Will have to write up my thoughts soon (I don't have the replacement yet)!

I'm in a similar boat. I'm replacing my 2013 13" Pro with a new XPS 13. It just came yesterday so I can't really review it at this point, but I'm impressed so far.

I had considered doing the same, any chance you could ping me when you post about it?

I'm a long-time Linux user, I've used Linux on a desktop for years and I started that with Slackware when I was about 15 or so.

But now I'm my late 30's, I work as a Linux Admin/DevOps/automation engineer for a living and I have more money than I have time. So time has become very important to me. Even in 2016, running Linux in a desktop is a time sink, since researching hardware and troubleshooting X, etc. other issues, selecting which variant of some basic killer app with strange names to use, all that other stuff I ENJOYED doing I now don't enjoy, because I have hobbies.

HOWEVER, I would be willing to forgo all of that, and suffer the miserable time sink of running Linux on a desktop again for one thing: Adobe support. Lightroom and sometimes Photoshop are 'killer apps' for me for photography as a hobby, and no, I'm not moving to Gimp or something else that's open source. Again, my wallet has more power than my free time is vast.

I had a Mac Pro tower years ago, the big heavy one, before the newer revisions turned it into a tiny garbage-can-shaped appliance that you can't upgrade (soldered graphics, clever). Then I've Macbook Airs, and once that new Pro came out, needless to say I had to pick other alternatives.

At the end of the day I chose a Microsoft Surface Book, because a) Microsoft is now the underdog (and this is coming from an open source, Linux guy by trade) b) the hardware is sexy, with a screen that comes off a real base with a discrete GPU and decent keyboard, turning itself into a tablet c) It runs Lightroom and Photoshop! And the pen is a nice touch.

So that's my story. I'd have a story more closely aligned to moving to Linux if I weren't hobbled by Adobe dependence. But I do say, I don't regret the (very expensive, but time-saving) Surface Book.

I may be switching to Linux sooner than I expected, just because the latest Emacs for MacOSX is so broken regarding input issues.

Which version are you using? I've never found emacs in OSX to be great. When homebrew came along, it greatly simplified and improved my experience because they maintained a better version of emacs. And when I'm feeling particularly lazy, I use Aquamacs.

You may be interested in giving SpaceMacs (http://spacemacs.org/) a shot.

Linux has all of the foundation in place to be a great desktop OS, but the various user interfaces for it have all been inferior in my opinion. I've tried all of the major distro's and I've always come away thinking that the desktop UI was no where near as polished as OSX and the gap never seemed to shrink. There was this one distro I thought might have a chance, but Papyros never amount to much and seems to be in perpetual alpha. Linux has always been a function over form OS and that will probably never change, but it sure would be nice if form and function had equal billing one day.

Have you tried elementaryOS? It's very inspired by macOS and us basically a design first distro with Ubuntu upstream. I had betas on an old rubbish laptop and it was never as stable or fast as Ubuntu, but I always saw praise about it and the design is nice.

now that so many applications (slack/atom/spotify/signal) are built with Electron, there's tons of first class software in linux, plus with tiling window managers that are better than anything on macOS

Signal is built with Electron? I thought it was a Chrome App, not a standalone app.

Hmmm.... nope, don't use any of those "apps".

A few people have made the point that the ability to switch is much easier-- both because linux has become more user friendly & their skills have evolved as well.

Linux is great. I have been coding/learning/programming for almost 3 years and there is a lot of knowledge neccessary to be productive-- in any environment. There have been a large amount of these "os x alternative posts"; and I agree with them.

Apple is alienating people like me-- not just the archetypal guru ninjas who contribute to the kernal or live in vim. I just bought a used 2011 15" macbook pro. The 2012 mbp are really the last year that could be hardware updated. I have a flashdrive with bootable yosemite and a carbon copy of one of my hard drives that run Yosemite. This is because if you upgrade you can't revert to previous gens. Sometimes even when testing a beta.

I am ALL for progression, it would be AWESOME if people updated their browsers and the web could push forward-- but os x has gotten worse. El capitan & sierra are pretty bad imo and many others.

Also, the hardware is leaving a lot to be desired. Also, linux is rising, shit even Microsoft is making software for linux. Apple is barely competing in the "pro" space.

I am sure people will still decelop plenty of hq apps for iphone and macos but with Linux, Android and Microsoft making such obvious pains to win devs, this could be a mistake.

I am running 2 OS back on a 5 year old hardware and the experience is only alightly worse than when I had a 2015 maxed MBP. Also web platforms are allowing tons of greatvsoftware to be env agnostic.

I am semi sick of these posts, but there is a reason they keep topping HN. A few years ago I remeber PG even calling Apple out. He said something like, he had just unconsciously subscribed to Apples next computer, but it wasnt obvious he would anymore. They weren't keeping up.

OS X was-- and still is, pretty great. Cook is likely making the right business decision in the hub progression:

laptop is hub > cloud is hub > phone is hub

But a little more effort to ship better software and reasonable hardware would go so far. No ports, non-upgradeable, limited memory and SSD storage for fing 1600.

I can punt on a decision for 1-2 more years with current configuration but without marked improvement and inprovement v alternatives i will leave amd so will many other like me-- avg & beginner developers, designers and media(photo/video/music) pros.


The OSX third party app eco system is leaps and bounds what's available on Linux and that's unfortunate and really the only thing that keeps me on OSX. I switch back and forth every few years. I need 32GB of ram so I may switch again.

There of course are far more apps available in apt/yum, but the quality of them typically doesn't compare at all to what you get on OSX. What's a super simple app in nix nearly always tends to have a far higher quality OSX version that has a nice menu bar with actions available, status changes, integrations with other apps, etc.

A lot of simple third party apps that I use daily, like popclip which saves me a ton of clicks when copy/pasting, 1passwords browser extensions (you can run it in Wine but the extensions can't connect to the app), bartender, fantastical, some pomodoro app I always forget to use tend to not have nix versions or alternatives that are anywhere near the same quality and once you've gotten accustomed to using these your workflow when dumped into a raw nix desktop just plummets.

Not to mention when any new hip thing is released on github I can almost guarantee that there's going to be an OSX release readily available.

It's a chicken egg situation which sucks. There's less users so there's less incentive to port the apps.. and there we stand.

Good writeup. I made a similar switch after the new MBP announcement this year. I used windows through college (muh games), switched to linux in the 3rd year, used it for about 2 years, then bought a mac which was nice at first because of the nice unix tools while having supported software and a decent gui. 10.11/12 did me in, the OS is so much worse than it used to be, and that brought me back to linux and it has honestly been a breath of fresh air. Everything is so nice!

Strange that iTunes was one of the reasons I switched from Linux to OSX a decade ago and now it's first on the list of applications I'd like a decent alternative to.

The replacement apps list does not look very appetising though :)

I'd love to switch back also. But 3 counter arguments:

1. dtrace (I don't see systemtap improving that, and there's the unhealthy NIH syndrom)

2. wifi reconnnection time (10x slower)

3. power (always behind, always have to patch or recompile kernels or kernel modules. this actually broke my last linux laptop)

OS X is getting worse and worse, almost to the state of systemd. But do I want to switch over to systemd? No, hell no.

Interesting.. my path is Windows -> Linux -> Mac = Happy ever after.

Interesting. My path has been Windows -> Linux -> Windows -> Mac -> Linux -> Mac -> ?

This is so illuminating. I think I'll write a blog post on why I switched from Wheaties to Corn Flakes.

I got to the part where the Op says "we are creating custom Linux distributions for car manufacturers, we do UI work, we write Linux drivers, Linux middleware and so on" and thought of course you'll be running Linux. With that kind of work what else would you be using mate?

I was alienated by Apple before it was cool. :P

Seriously though, it was only until last year that I decided I want to only use Ubuntu (specifically) because I did not want to switch between keybindings between my work Mac and my home PC. My work MacBook is actually much more capable than my home PC, with the retina screen/better processor/etc. However, it now sits collecting dust, only opened to watch movies and will be used as such if and when my employment terminates. I regret asking for a MacBook, thinking I was going to be doing more work within OS X.

However, my mind changed when the little things about OS X started to get to me. I work on two screens mostly (unless it is just my laptop at home.) All windows are usually full-screened. They usually consist of Emacs, Chrome and a terminal, with some side applications like Skype. I don't use any special Unity features, like the Dock, etc. and only use the graphical file browser occasionally. In this setup, OS X seemed to conflict with my desires towards this use-case. I was also getting scared that Apple's use-cases would override mine in the future, conflicting with my rather simple and stable usage requirements. Ubuntu, through the years, has been incredibly stable for me; I rarely have issues with it. When there are issues, they are usually just dumb ones. However, it was 16.04 that solidified the case for me, because it turned out to be more solid than previous versions.

A long time ago, the cracks were starting to show when I threw up my arms over OS X over compiling ruby gems. At the time, I had to always fight with it to compile ruby gems. In Ubuntu, things just worked.

My wife still wants to use OS X/macOS, running a 2010 macbook pro (that is in an advanced state of decay :)) but that's her. I wish I can just by a cheap+powerful PC laptop and stick ubuntu on it, but that's not going to happen.

To sum, to me this is about taste and tolerance. I am glad people are interested in using GNU/Linux-based distributions more. With the audience growing, I am glad to see that this can lead to more investments in the desktop Linux space.

I have been Linux for a few years, OSX for a few years and now back to Linux

- i3 is great, better than tiling WMs for OS X, including amethyst.

- I didn't notice lack of Microsoft Office - Import to google docs and LibreOffice have been more than sufficient.

- Gimp and inkspace are the biggest difference. Photoshop and Illustrator are much better. On the other hand, I disliked spammy "Adobe creative cloud" on Mac.

- Installing many dev tools is easier. brew was much worse than pacman/yaourt in Arch Linux.

- For many tools mentioned in article (mail, music, calendar) web interface have been better for me, even on Mac

- If you want to use nice new things happening in 2016, like train deep learning models or play VR you need a PC.

Procrastination isn't it? mac, linux, bsd, windows, even android or ios seem to work for some people. I have this feeling that if the trackpad quality and other osx niceties are a must have for some, they should just stick to it and move on.

- everything sucks at some point - it has never been easier to test before making a decision - it is possible not to switch but to adapt and use different devices and systems - "switching' is not an life commitment; if it sucks for you, switch back; it is not an insult to the system you chose - when encountering issues, spend some time contributing to reports or wiki. Not a user but archlinux wiki is great.

«"switching' is not an life commitment; if it sucks for you, switch back;»

Switching back and forth assumes investment of time and effort, which are tradable things. We trade our time and effort for money, we are willing to pay money for things that saves us time and effort. It's kind of a big deal for some of us.

> Then they introduced iCloud into TextEditor and instead of starting it and you could instantly write, which I used often to take notes, you had to create a file first, so every time this one extra step which I hated.

What is it with MacOS and this workflow? It's annoying enough to make me want to buy Office just so I can open an app and fiddle before I decide if and where I want to save things. Why does everything have to be in a concrete location in the filesystem before I can do anything in the office apps? I do think they fixed this for textedit though so that's nice, that'd have been annoying.

As a web/app developer there's nowhere to go unless third party apps mature. The OS itself really doesn't matter.

What I feel unreplaceable, (I don't mind free or paid)

- Sequel Pro (Windows may have HeidiSQL)

- Source Tree (Windows one exist but not Linux.)

- Better Touch Tools

- Forklift / Transmit (That does dual pane file browser / sftp remote browser)

- QR clipboard (To pass URL to phone)

- Xcode

Web browser, email and Jetbrains stuff are available all over, so those are fine though.

It's sad and ironic that I can't recommend a good git gui client to a friend who uses Linux daily.

> Xcode

That one's going to be a hard nut to crack...

> Forklift / Transmit (That does dual pane file browser / sftp remote browser)

MC anyone? /semi-s

For Mail/Calendar/Contacts/Tasks you should really consider Evolution. I've switched ~2 years ago, and it's amazing. Stable, sleek, and with tons of options.

It has a bad reputation because, back in the day, it was buggy and bloated. But I haven't hit a single bug over these years, and while it eats a significant amount of memory, it's on par with other options (and these days everyone has plenty of RAM).

I'd love to see more people giving it a second chance.

I've never switched to apple hardware when it was the trend, in late 2000' and stayed on pc/linux, so my apologies if this comment is naive.

I see a lot of "leaving apple" articles and comments lately. From what I gather, this is because their latest macbook is disappointing. But from what I remember, the initial reason for switching to apple was because of the incredible UX of macOSX.

Did I miss something and there also are software problems in apple world?

It's not just the MacBook, I think.

The fact that Apple machines built in the last ~4 years do not allow to upgrade RAM, for example, is a problem to me. I own a MacMini, the last version that allowed upgrading RAM, and I just went from 4GB to 16GB, and the difference in performance is significant. Next, I will replace the hard disk with an SSD. Both are impossible on more recent Macs.

Also, it appears many people feel the quality of OS X (pardon me: macOS)) is not what it used to be; Apple, I heard, is also rather slow to deliver patches for security issues other bugs.

The feeling I get, while not following Apple-related news that closely, is that they focus most of their resources on the iPhone/iOS, and OS X and Mac hardware is not really that much of a priority any more.

The UX of macOS is very nice in some points, but personally, I find it about as nice as Gnome2/Mate - some things I like better on macOS, some things I like better on Mate. And of course, this is highly subjective, and may be largely due to force of habit. (In all fairness, Gnome2/Mate seems to have taken a lot of, uh, inspiration from OS X, but still.)

Thanks krylon.

Now that you mention it, I think I've heard something in the stance of "they focus on mobile and leave desktop behind" before.

Thanks for feedback!

I'm loving Win10 with WSL and Mintty on my Lenovo X1 Carbon. A few glitches here and there, but the touch interface is intuitive, battery life is good, and reasonable driver support. I've also been quite happy with Linux VMs managed through Vagrant, regardless of host OS.

I'm bored so here's a revision of that table:

listening to music = cmus

cutting pictures = darktable can stay

text editor = emacs or vim

audio processing = idk about this one

writing iso = nope dd is perfect

irc = erc or weechat

email = mutt or gmail website

calendar = org agenda mode (emacs)

address book = org mode table

terminal = urxvt or st

rss = idk i don't read rss

tweeting = don't

passwords = paper

don't have your don't read articles to you, either.


browser: vimb or chromium i guess

terminal: alacritty (fewer kinks every day)

clock: xclock

Music - Spotify

Text Editor - Sublime (nothing comes close, sorry)

Illustrator - Krita

Terminal - Alacritty

Passwords - LastPass

Browser - Firefox

All of these are available for Mac and Linux. A good and simple image editor for Windows is paint.net

I moved from fedora linux to OSX in the last few months (free macbook). I miss fedora a lot.

Instead of Ableton, you could use Bitwig which was developed my ex Ableton employees..

I really don't understand why these posts keep making it to the front page.

The real time audio situation can be vastly improved using a nice kxStudio tool called Cadence. It starts up Jack, session handling and bridges PulseAudio and alsa properly for most use cases.

My use case is: I have a Bluetooth headset which works great with PulseAudio, if I'm on the train I use it because it has noise cancelation and I can listen to music or YouTube with it. I'd like to use it to work on my podcasts too which I do in Ardour, but once I start Ardour it wants to start jack and I haven't been able to get the Bluetooth headset to work with jack, I don't know where to start looking.

> GNOME Calendar (...) It's getting better but still lacks the day and week view, which is really bad.

Consider using Lightning, it's a plugin for Thunderbird and it's really excellent.

What office software do you need to use? I still find LibreOffice is not compatible with Microsoft Office for complex formatting. Or are you only using Latex?

Have you tried the latest version, LibreOffice 5.2.4 ?

They keep on improving, but it's not enough

Yet another piece of proof that Linux remains a great operating system for programmers and techies.

For the rest of the world... sadly, just look at it.

Is it yet possible to build an iPhone app using something like React Native on Linux? This is the only reason I'm still on a mac.

Kind of but not really: http://www.proreactnative.com/How-to-Develop-iOS-Apps-on-Lin...) I see no reason why Apple would make it easy to develop iPhone apps on anything but MacOS.

I think something like this exists, but you still need a Mac because you still need Xcode to sign and publish afaik.

Linux is fine until you need to install a graphics driver. Then you can expect a black screen and failure to boot.

Indeed. But mainstream distros won't let you go there, so it's not an issue anymore.

Might as well switch to Windows now. They've got a bash shell (thx Ubuntu) and have a much more polished UI.

You do not get the full Linux, just the Ubuntu user-space packages.

But once you need something advanced, you can install Ubuntu as dual-boot and you will be at home.

@jeena, have you considered applying infinality patches for your freetype package, or using freetype v2.7?

Great post. I'm working on migrating from OSX to Linux.

hexchat isnt a good replacement for textual. There's a lot of features that textual has that hexchat is missing, even comparing to limechat

I was a Windows user from 1993-1998, then when Win98 was released my new custom PC would lock up every 90 seconds, so I bought a 6" Linux bible and learned enough to get a Linux machine up and running.

Then XP came out, it was better, but still much of the same, I wanted Linux. Went back to Red Hat. Then Ubuntu came out a few years later, stuck with that, but overall Linux didn't progress much.

In 2007 I switched to Mac and stayed with the platform until summer 2015, when I sold my Macbook Pro and switched to a Lenovo Thinkpad running Win10.

Windows 10 is solid, stable and fast, but it just isn't - and will never be - a developer's OS (unless you're a .NET dev). This past summer I built a rig and was running Win10 for a while but couldn't stand it. I installed Linux Mint with Cinnamon. But Cinnamon crashed every time I logged in, no idea why, even on fresh builds (as I kept a separate /home partition).

So a week ago I ventured into the mysterious world of Hackintosh, and I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner. It's the best of both worlds, assuming you don't mind maintaining the system before/after updates to keep it running. I don't have a WiFi card/adapter nor a bluetooth one, so I obviously don't have all the functionality the platform offers but I don't care, it's plenty good enough otherwise. I even have iMessage working with no issues at all.

OS X is the only platform for me, plain and simple.

Windows 10 is solid, stable and fast. And runs my games, and Lightroom, and... And now, with Linux Subsystem for Windows, also runs the Ubuntu 14.04 userspace quite well. I've setup the dressed-down version of mintty with VcXsrv for the occasional X11 app, and to my surprise it does what it wants. Now, for most of my day-to-day development I either use Tmux or iTerm2 with tiled terminals or IntelliJ, so YMMV, but I'm actually seriously considering to have my next workstation be on Win10.

I was excited when MSFT announced WSL, I immediately started digging into it when I received the AU last summer. What killed it for me was being unable to edit the same files between WSL and Windows - I'm a CLI guy but I do like the occasional text editor to write in. So I gave up a couple months ago. I also found no way of storing ssh/ppk/pem keys anywhere for WSL.

I know it's in beta and I know many changes are coming, but I needed to start working on a real side project and needed a reliable and dependable dev environment. maybe one day we can replace CMD with bash entirely, that would be nice.

But I also need to target and test Ionic apps on iOS, so I need OS X in some capacity. I've used Phonegap Build but it's a hassle and not free, I'm just more comfy in OS X

My biggest peeve with OS X is HFS+ and the defaults regarding case sensitivity and folder names (They are insensitive). Having OSX for developers and Linux in prod can be a bad combo as you are sometimes led to believe that the systems are very similar... Well they are, but then at the same time they arent.

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