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Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X – Part 2 (bitcannon.net)
168 points by wezm 233 days ago | hide | past | web | 223 comments | favorite



For anyone thinking of switching, here are some thoughts.

First, you'll hear all about arch. It's lovely, it really is. But, if you like the "just work" nature of OSX back in the day, look at Ubuntu proper or Ubuntu-gnome (if you don't like Unity). I'm sure people will chime in here with others that they have thoughts on here, though in my experience, Ubuntu is the best at this game and it's not even close. Yes, it has problems too (let's not start the nitpicking thing, I'm making a general statement), but it is by far the best stable linux desktop. Fedora is acceptable, particularly of late, but it /still/ is behind Ubuntu.

Second, with Ubuntu/Debian, stick with whatever is in the archive or PPA. Everything else isn't worth the pain. Perhaps Snaps can improve this problem, though I'm sceptical. Linuxbrew and other such things will not be worth the problems they bring.

Third, use a stable UI. Don't go with Pantheon, Mate, Cinnamon, Elementary or something else like that. Again, it's not worth the pain. I personally don't like KDE though it would qualify as "stable" along with Unity, Gnome-Shell and XFCE. I prefer Gnome-shell and Unity so that is what I use.

Lastly, things will be worse in some ways from OSX, and much better in others.

If the advise looks pretty straight forward, it is. Stick with the known working, well supported projects as your base, tinker in customisation to suite, and don't go with lesser known/supported projects if you only really care about something "just working".


I just switched back from Arch to Xubuntu recently and could not agree more.

I had been using Arch for over 5 years and I really enjoyed it but these days it's just not worth the effort. I had to format my hard drive and start from scratch and just didn't want to go through the pain of setting everything up to what it was before so I just went straight to Xubuntu. I was very positively surprised at how much just worked the way I wanted it to work out of the box. Sure, the default installer installed a bunch of packages that I did not want but it's easy to remove those.


> I had been using Arch for over 5 years and I really enjoyed it but these days it's just not worth the effort. I had to format my hard drive and start from scratch and just didn't want to go through the pain of setting everything up to what it was before so I just went straight to Xubuntu.

The installation work can be trivially automated with a shell script (note though that the Arch wiki generally discourages this). The benefits of this are that in the process of creating the script, one has a good sense of the installation process and can customize it, unlike the case of Ubuntu and many other distros where a lot of stuff happens behind the scenes. The con is that this script needs to be kept up to date with the (occasional) change in the Arch project.

I have had good success with this method - over the past 2 years and 3 fresh installs on laptops and a desktop. Basically, with a new laptop and a reasonably fast internet connection, I can go from the USB installation medium to a complete desktop environment tailored for my needs with everything configured correctly in ~ 10-15 minutes, with minimal interaction needed during the process (only to set things like the password).

Also note that in most use cases some post installation tweaking gets done, such as the installation of new applications as per interest.

So there are primarily 2 things the script can handle: 1. The annoying "low level work" - network configuration, boot loader configuration, etc. This should be relatively stable and fixed across a variety of hardware.

2. Application specific configuration needs (e.g vimrc, .bashrc). This may evolve over time/usage patterns - for this one can try keeping the script up to date, or not bother and simply focus on 1 above.


Anything can be automated but it's the effort required to do that which is the hump. when you can just click through a UI otherwise.



If you use the Minimal CD for installing ubuntu (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/MinimalCD) you can pick a metapackage along the way that may be more to your liking. I dont know what exactly you dont want from a standard xubuntu install but there is an xfce "minimal" metapackage in the ecosystem which may help you install only what you need from the start


I've used Linux since day one, and I couldn't agree more.

In my case, as a musician/creative (and thus also a MacOS user) I absolutely recommend the UbuntuStudio variant of the Ubuntu family, because it comes with tons of great applications for audio/media/video production. Anyone who thinks that this is a Developers-/Hackers-only option should definitely take a peek at just the depth and breadth of the creative tools that are packed into UbuntuStudio setup.


I end up choosing Ubuntu for the reasons you mention, and recently found that I get a lot of crashes of unity, seemingly due to the nvidia prprietary drivers running at 4K. I'd guess the crashes aren't this common for all users or else they would not be considered stable.

My take on unity is that the main problem is simply bugs, not design defects of philosophical issues.


>I'd guess the crashes aren't this common for all users or else they would not be considered stable.

You'd be surprised.


Yes, Ubuntu is the distro that has crashed the most on me. The software updater particularly seems prone to crashing. Actually ended up having to disable Apport in order to get any work done, too many annoying crash reports. I have lost count of how many times I've seen "Sorry, Ubuntu has experienced internal error" or "... problem detected".

It's not like this has been the experience on just a single install or a single system. I've used Ubuntu on and off for many years on various hardware. IMO Ubuntu has only gotten worse.

I've yet to experience a single crash in Arch.

As for those complaining about Arch's install being tedious, use Arch Anywhere; it's a great installer.

https://arch-anywhere.org/


I tried arch a few years ago on a $150 netbook and liked it a lot. Is it fairly easy to map package dependency names to the Ubutnu versions? Also, is it possible to install both i386 and amd64 versions of a library?


Yes, you can enable the multilib repository for pacman; 32-bit libraries go in /usr/lib32/ and 64-bit in /usr/lib/.

As for your first question, give me a few example package names and I'll check how easy it is.


In my experience, Ubuntu (and Unity specifically) gets stale after a while; as more and more cruft builds up it is difficult to use the system without breaking things and you end up having to do a clean install to refresh the system.

I haven't experienced this with a ``cutting-edge'' distro like Arch.


I went with one of the "arch for humans" distros (antergos) recently and while the installation was simply enough it didn't help the day to day operations, like mounting my second hard drive. I agree with going with ubuntu for the "just works" stuff, but it may not work at all with newer hardware.


Is Cinnamon not stable? I've had good luck with it, and very much prefer it to the others.


Cinnamon is extremely stable. I haven't had issues in a couple of years now.


For what's it worth I have had a much better experience (more stable) using Linux Mint and Cinnamon than Ubuntu Unity, Ubuntu Gnome, or Ubuntu KDE.

But like I said above, I prefer Arch (with i3).


If Arch is not for you, you can always try Manjaro. It is more stable, but still you get the power of Pacman.


You can also run GUI Docker apps since Docker is (actually) native on Linux. Works for eg Skype chats.


I really don't get why someone would want to change platform while doing his damnest to keep things exactly as before. Instead of, I don't know... embracing the changes? Maybe try something new??

I mean switching to Linux but using a homebrew port instead of the native package manager? Really?


If I were to switch, it would be because I am disappointed in the company that manages my current platform (Apple) not because I dislike the platform experience. The point of a switch for me would be to keep my workflow but extract the element I dont like (Apple); to that end I would switch platforms and then try to keep everything else as it was before.

I really don't get why that seem's so off.


I think it's the general pattern that's off, and that pattern may or may not apply in this case. The general pattern is that a developer builds up a lot of skill with one specific instance of a broad category of software: a programming language, an OS, an editor, a 3D graphics API, whatever. For one reason or another, they move to another instance in that category. The first time anyone does this, there's a natural tendency to try to make the new software conform to the patterns of the old software, without learning the idioms of the new software first.

Example: in college I had to work with some C code written by a professor who was apparently a Pascal diehard. He included a header in everything he wrote which #define'd Pascal keywords to their C equivalents:

#define BEGIN {

#define END }

...etc. I like Pascal just fine (Turbo Pascal 3.0 forever), but this just seemed belligerently pointless.

Eventually the person gets more acclimated to the second system on its own terms, and when the need arises to use a third system, they just go straight to learning the idioms of that system first, they don't try to make the third system conform to a previous system. I've got to think that the Pascal guy stopped using that header after a while, and didn't bother making a new one when circumstances made him move to a third language.

Anyway, so IMO that's the general pattern that people might think is off, because we've all had to deal with it in one form or another, but I don't think that's necessarily what's happening here.


I think bash was (is?) written in that kind of C.


But then you will completely miss all the advantages of the new platform has while getting mad at everything that doesnt work exactly as in osx.

You will be running back to osx in no time after a horrifying Linux experience. So take my advice: save yourself the headache and stay with Apple.


>But then you will completely miss all the advantages of the new platform has while getting mad at everything that doesnt work exactly as in osx.

The parent's goal is not to embrace change, is to get back to having the same things they liked and worked for them on the new platform.

If they could be satisfied with any random thing, they would have just as well stayed and followed the old platforms new direction.


> The parent's goal is not to embrace change, is to get back to having the same things they liked and worked for them on the new platform.

I think that's understood. It's just that trying to make Linux behave like OS X might end up being more painful than just embracing change. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try, I guess, but it's something to keep in mind.


I've switched OSes many times over the decades. If you've never seriously used another OS, you might not see them, but there are a LOT of little nuisances in MacOS that you either can't do anything about or would require buying workarounds requiring license mgt on multiple machines.

If you switch from MacOS to, say, Linux, you'll inevitably lose some things you value, but there are also inevitably things in the new OS you would miss if you switched in the other direction. You owe it to yourself to go find a few.


Indeed. I'm making the switch from Linux (which I've been using almost exclusively since 2004) to MacOS, and so far I find a lot of nuisance, and almost nothing that works better. Different, yes. More pro apps available, yes. But inherently better (or just basically in the OS)? Haven't found where yet.


Best battery life, best trackpad, best HiDPI scaling, best app selection under the UNIXes, ecosystem (Apple's garden is indeed high-walled, but its also very nice)

Oh yeah, and you don't have to be afraid an OS update will make your laptop unbootable. Has happened to me under Ubuntu twice.


> you don't have to be afraid an OS update will make your laptop unbootable.

That's not true. Apple's yearly OS upgrades can and do brick machines. At least with Ubuntu, I'd stand a good chance of diagnosing and fixing the issue.

Also, we are just talking about Ubuntu here and not all Linux distributions. For example, NixOS is a Linux with an entirely different method of managing upgrades.


There are other annoyances though. My current ones are:

- Apple Kerberos does not support MS-KKDCP and multiple factor auth. Services that require Authentication Indicator are simply not available from macOS. Their Ticket Viewer is even more simplistic than in 10.6 timeframe.

- Their IPSec implementation is weird and haven't managed to make it work with Strongswan yet.

> Oh yeah, and you don't have to be afraid an OS update will make your laptop unbootable. Has happened to me under Ubuntu twice.

Just wait, sometimes it happens there too. There's a reason for that recovery partition.


I've been using Macs for almost a decade now, never had something go belly-up that wasn't my own fault. Referring my anecdote, can't say the same about Linux sadly..


My wife's Mac has had numerous issues with updates and upgrades and third party software. In comparison, my NixOS machines update flawlessly, as expected from a stateless OS. But that's also just an anecdote :)


Funny you mention that. On linux i dont have to worry that updates break my development environment. On osx ever major update did.

Perspectives :)


I did it the other way round (desktop Linux for many years and MacOS from 2004) : nothing that works better, really ?

Built into the OS :

Automator (aka Unix pipes for GUI apps)

Preview (doubles as a comprehensive image + PDF editor. Scans your signature from a piece of paper held in front of the webcam)

OS-wide data detectors : hover over a date in any text field, set up a calendar event instantly.

Time Machine : dead simple backups

Notes (now with native Evernote import)

Photos (with easy to use bread & butter editing + ML-based search/cataloguing, not to mention integrated backup+iOS sync)

iMovie

Garageband (+ comprehensive audio/MIDI routing)

Comprehensive cross-device integration with Messages / Facetime / Photos / Continuity

Before anyone replies with a list of supposedly equivalent desktop Linux apps : Apple has never been about the What (ticking boxes in a checklist), more about the How (the overall experience)

I'll admit that quality has suffered under the new 1 year OS release cycle, but in my experience it's still a notch or two above Windows or Linux's best desktop setups.


You cannot make sweeping statements like that. Yes the Mac stuff can be convenient, but in no way is it better than all free alternatives.

For example, despite the shallow learning curve, in our house, time machine was both unreliable and patronising (the time travel UI). For me, I'm using ZFS snapshots for my backup, technically it's more than a notch better than time machine.

Another example would be Notes, Apple have demonstrated over many years that they cannot write reliable bidirectional sync. Unison just works.


> Apple has never been about the What (ticking boxes in a checklist), more about the How (the overall experience)

That's the key issue. If you're starting out, do not like to customize, or have not yet reached your (locally optimal) setup, then I guess Mac is superior.

However, having perfected my setup over the last 12 years, I find the default Mac tools quite limited; e.g.

Time Machine is inferior (except in UI) to Borg, to which I've switched recently from Bup, to which I've switched before from a set of rsync scripts (which are time-machine equivalent, and I had them running long before time machine existed).

I don't make music (so don't care about GarageBand), and I also care about privacy so all the cross-device integration that apple offers goes out the door.

Thunderbird is, for my use case, superior to Apple Mail; Firefox is superior to Safari.

Finder puts junk all over my file system, and the old hacks to stop it (aseptic, and a couple of others) are no longer supported under Sierra.

I like Unity (the v on 14.4 - I think v7) with a few tweaks much better than the Mac doc, though that's a matter of taste.

And I like the transparency of the system. My main laptop ubuntu never breaks, but when I do weird experiments on other hardware, I can actually tell what's going on - if my Mac had trouble booting, it's likely the recovery partition will come useful - but there's basically nothing else I can do.


And the New Oxford American Dictionary.

For years I used WordNet as my dictionary because it was the only electronic dictionary I knew of that was less than 90 years old and didn't put the definition on a web page cluttered with distractions (and because paper dictionaries are too slow and tedious compared to electronic ones).

But over the years it slowly dawned on me that it is not a good dictionary. Then I realized my Mac came with a good electronic dictionary.

(Another former Linux user.)


Same got forced on a mac more than a year ago. I missed many little things and often was annoyed by how much more complicated things can be. But then again i am just used to linux. I am happy i've made the experience.


If you're a laptop user you'll likely notice much better battery life.


My 6 year old thinkpad has a slightly better battery life than my 2015 MBP had in the beginning (and only then)

Not every non mac laptop comes with shitty battery and components ;)


What seems off is that you'll not be taking advantage of the platform's capabilities and thus handicap your experience, which seems like a large cost to pay for a tiny amount of adjustment cost. Using Homebrew on Linux seems really off.


> I really don't get why that seem's so off.

Because you're fighting a losing battle.

There's absolutely no way to make Linux work the same way as macOS, simply because they do things differently by design. If you try, you're going to waste countless hours, have a horrible time, and at the most only make Linux slightly resemble macOS in terms of the experience.

I actually find that in terms of UX, Linux is a lot more similar to Windows than it is to macOS.

For me, what I missed of macOS when I tried out Linux was the easy shortcuts, easy access to special characters (accented letters, etc. without the compose key), the focus on drag-and-drop to do things, the quality of the look & feel of most apps, and most importantly the consistency that macOS has. There is of course no way to make all Linux developers stick to the exact same guidelines, but I had a feeling on Linux that every time I installed an app, I had to relearn a lot of things. Shortcuts and other conventions are always the same on macOS, on Linux they change alongside many interface elements, down to the windows controls.

In general though, I had a better time when I embraced how Linux does things, rather than try to recreate my macOS workflow.

Ultimately, I have no interest in wasting hours and hours configuring and fixing things up, just so that I have freedom with the software on my computer. I don't like many decisions that Apple has taken lately, and don't especially like how expensive and outdated their hardware is, but my hourly rate is pretty good, and with the money I make from gained (or not lost) productivity because things just work I can buy not one, but probably 10 MacBook Pros, and save myself a lot of frustration. I can then have freedom not from using open source software, but because I'm done working and I can go grab a beer with my friends or girlfriend instead of staying home configuring X.org.


You can't beat MacOS at it's own game.

As a developer, switching to Linux can give you a very nice custom enviroment with CLI applications like mutt or zathura and a DE like xmonad or i3. But you can't have a GUI as polished as MacOS, although things are getting closer.

One of the big innovations of Linux was package management. So using homebrew is indeed a bit absurd.

Actually, I would argue next-generation package managers like nix or guix are extremely interesting and have tons of advantages. Maximizing benefits of a MacOS to Linux switch maybe makes it advisable to use one of those.


> But you can't have a GUI as polished as MacOS, although things are getting closer.

I'm not sure I agree with that. Frankly, I don't find macOS's GUI to be particularly polished, or even pleasant. Of course, people that like macOS usually do, but, well, that's somewhat self-selecting.

I honestly think thinks like Cinnamon or KDE are nicer that the macOS GUI.


I prefer Linux too, but I recognize MacOS is really polished and consistent. The overwhelming majority of applications use the same Cocoa libraries, so look & feel is enforced all over.

On Linux we have a myriad of alternatives.


> You can't beat MacOS at it's own game.

Why not?

> you can't have a GUI as polished as MacOS

Why not?

All it would take would be for a company to publish a Linux UI library and a standards doc, and to curate an app store. I don't see any reason that a Linux machine could not be made to look and feel like a Mac. There's no magic in OS X, just a lot of hard work.

I'm not saying this would be easy, only that I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be possible. And given how badly Apple is dropping the ball, I also don't see any reason why it couldn't be lucrative. When Google started, everyone thought that the search market was mature and that Yahoo and Microsoft would lead the computer industry forever. I don't see any reason Apple could not be unseated just as they were.


>Why not?

Because for the last 20+ years, FOSS haven't managed to be consistent, employ professional level designers, not rewrite everything from scratch every 5-6 years, and maintain parity with commercial OS offerings at the Desktop GUI level.

Why? Because of lack of resources, programmers hoping to what's interesting and not to grunt work that must be done, people dropping out of projects and no formal structure to force a continuous experience so new members get to change whole direction, etc.

And plain lack of resources. GTK+, the core basis of Gnome and tons of apps, one of the more important libs, only had one person fully maintaining it (at least a few years ago -- the person complained publicly in blog posts).

Contrast with the Windows or Cocoa gui libs that have teams of tens of programmers.

>I'm not saying this would be easy, only that I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be possible.

Anything is possible, it's all 1s and 0s. Whatever it's there or at least probable is more important.


Piggy backing on your comment. The problems with FOSS are personalities and alignment. OS X happened because Jobs made it happen. I was hoping Ubuntu and Shuttleworth would achieve something similar, but working the established community and w/ X and the two major UI libraries might be too limiting.


I think the barrier here is going to be driver support in Linux.

You lose 90% of the value of having UX that 'just works' if the driver support is buggy or isn't there. Developing and testing drivers is expensive.

Apple solves this problem by designing and selling the hardware as well, and controlling the whole stack. They then charge extra margins for the privilege of using a Mac.

MS solves this problem by shoving the driver work onto each hardware vendor.

So while you can make and publish a very polished Linux distro / library, what's the business plan for getting paid for it, when the UX only gets you a fraction of the way towards having a seamless 'out of the box' experience for users?


If you use all Intel hardware, Intel video, audio, wireless then you're fine. Everything works out of the box, and I mean EVERYTHING! Linux supports all wacom devices, and touch screens, mice, and keyboards. And so the only things that historically break are wireless, audio, and video. And with Intel devices you get FLOSS drivers that work perfectly.


It just won't be providing any memorable 3D experience.


That depends on your needs. Maybe not modern AAA games.

But as a counter-example, Intel® HD Graphics 530 can easily handle Half-Life 2, with power to spare.


I was just referring to the current state of affairs.

Of course, one can beat MacOS at its polished GUI game. But it requires coordination. A single distro can do it. I expected Ubuntu to follow this path.

With so much fragmentation it's not easy though. X11 vs Wayland, GNOME vs KDE, a myriad of desktop systems, etc.

However, fragmentation comes from the bazaar model that makes Linux so resilient. I would never trade this for a bit of polish.

Also, as a programmer, I prefer simple CLI applications that compose well than GUI silos. That's why the current situation does not bother me much.


Because great design almost always requires a benevolent and opinionated dictator, making most decisions on behalf of the user so they don't have to.

That has historically been antithetic to free software culture and its bazaar style of development.


GUIs are subjective, personally I never found the OSX one very intuitive so when I use a Mac on another colleague's computer, the negative part is for me the GUI.


I had the same experience. I also dont think it is particual beautiful. In fact i think all the gradients make it kind of ugly and oldschool.


Most of the more recent Apple criticism seems to be focused on hardware limitations. People tend to like the OS X GUI and experience for the most part. They just don’t like the Apple hardware you’re limited to now that Macs seem to be less and less of a priority for minor updates. The Mac Pro is literally over years old. The Mac Mini is over two. And the iMac is over a year old as well, besides the limitations of the form factor: it’s a limited machine, and I don’t want to use two monitors after falling in love with a 34” curved ultrawide display.

Personally, I came to the same conclusion recently. But I went the Hackintosh route instead of switching to a Linux/dual-booted Windows machine. The latest rMBP’s disappointing hardware and battery life, not to mention the cost premium, made the decision fairly easy for me. That, and I wanted to go back to using a separate desktop and laptop after repeatedly hitting performance bottlenecks with Adobe Lightroom on my previous rMBP. My photography pretty much nixed a Linux option unless I wanted to dual-boot into Windows more often than I’d prefer. There are alternatives like Darktable, but even though Lightroom is a resource pig that needs a diet and a lot of optimization work still, it’s my preferred catalog software that I’m most comfortable in. And when you’re trying to sort through 3-5k+ photos shot over a very busy weekend, comfort is the deciding factor.

As a developer, I have no problem with the popular Linux distros. I’ve worked with Linux servers for years, and I love the approach to package management package management. I’m perfectly comfortable with CLI apps. But when I’m not doing dev work, I don’t want to be saddled by the need to constantly boot into Windows for other tasks.

The Hackintosh route gave me the best of both worlds. Better hardware that I can upgrade on my own terms, my preferred GUI environment, and no need to dual-boot unless I want to game. I had a bit of extra work to deal with in the beginning to get everything working properly (with my Skylake build, proper audio support and the wireless networking card in particular), but it didn’t take much of an effort thanks to a very robust community ([tonymacx86.com]). The only other issue is checking on discussions for new software updates to make sure there aren’t any problems before I go and install them. But that’s not too big a deal, all things considered.

Tl;dr - I guess my point is that we all have our preferred environments and will go to a hell of a lot of trouble to maintain them. Or, if that’s not an option, then to at least get things close to them. Even when that can mean more trouble later on. Using a homebrew port strikes me as a less-than-advantageous approach, but I can imagine why the original author did so.


> And when you’re trying to sort through 3-5k+ photos shot over a very busy weekend, comfort is the deciding factor.

From one phtographer to another, and not to be a dick, but if you're shooting that many photos in one weekend you're doing something wrong.. the only scenario where I can imagine reasonably coming up with that many photos is motion photography with burst. Easiest rule I can give you is to pretend you have an old-style camera with a limited amount of rolls. Imagine how many rolls would be reasonable for the session you're having if it was 1980? If you stick to that, your photo quality will dramatically shoot up and the effort you have to expend sifting will go down a lot.


I don't disagree as a general rule. It's good advice, as people tend to go a bit nuts when they discover their camera's drive mode settings. That said, the weekend I was thinking about was about 3-1/2 days of competition. A lot of that was shot in bursts due to the nature of the subject and environment (high motion sports with a lot of movement relative to the sensor plane with crappy lighting and no flash). In that situation, I'm perfectly fine with a low keep rate because I know going in that I'm dealing with a situation that's going to be tough for even modern AF sensors. Doing the same for a wedding reception or something similar would quickly become a bit of a nightmare, though.

In my personal work, that's not an issue as I shoot almost exclusively with manual focus glass (Loxia lenses, adapted glass, etc.). With focus magnification and peaking, it's very rare to ever have to reject a photo for blatant focus issues even when I'm using a lens with a razor-thin DOF at f/1.2.


My man.. you know your shit. Seems like motion photography was indeed the culprit.. tbh I did think you were a dev who (recently) took up photography and was chasing the perfect picture with a rather firm trigger finger, but it seems you can safely ignore anything I said. Happy shooting :)


Haha, no worries :). I probably would have made the same assumption. I'm always happy to talk about photography.


Does sleeping work reliably with your set up? I heard that was a major pain a few years ago. I would find Kernel Panicing on wake to be unaceptable


Not right now. On wake, the USB peripherals will draw power but the screen stays dark after it receives a signal. It's something I need to look into more, as I recall some Skylake build with the same hardware mentioning that they didn't have sleep/wake problems.


Assuming you're using Clover, you need to set the darkwake attribute.

darkwake=8 worked for me on a Skylake setup (Z170X, Core i5, nvidia graphics card with web drivers). Sleep and wake work flawlessly.


>I really don't get why someone would want to change platform while doing his damnest to keep things exactly as before. Instead of, I don't know... embracing the changes? Maybe try something new??

Isn't it OBVIOUS? Because they very much like their existing platform and how it works, but just dislike some things enough (e.g. the hardware options offered lately) that they want to move away.


I tried Linuxbrew but didn't stick with it for exactly the reason you point out:

> However it turns out Linuxbrew manages it’s own version of all the packages it tracks (makes sense I guess). This end up duplicating many of the packages available or already installed by the system package manager. This works on macOS since there is no system package repository but did not sit well with me on a Linux system.


Fair enough.

But I am still wondering why linuxbrew exists to begin with. I mean, I understand the point of having snap or flatpack in addition to native distro packages, but linuxbrew?


Unless you are using Arch, the packages in the system package manager are often several months old. This is somewhat of a regression to anyone used to homebrew where packages are updated promptly.

The Linux 'solution' to this problem is to compile from sources. linuxbrew is a way of automating that, if you will.


Do flatpack and snap require root? A cursory glance over their examples all have users sudoing to get things installed.


There is at least one (can't remember which) that allows users to install packages locally.


Flatpak can install system-wide by root, or by any user to their home directory.


Sounds like with Linuxbrew you get actually updated packages, which non-rolling release distros lack.


Bingo. The benefit here is that you can get your choice of rolling-release packages on any distribution you want without mucking up the base system.


Not entirely, you can always use PPAs and alike.

There are also these universal package formats that some directly from the developers.


The intent was access to better hardware. He believes Apple is falling behind.


Or getting some hits on their site.


I went through a lot of the same experimenting and found a happy home in Fedora 25. I was totally up and running with all of may various accounts setup and software installed within about 2 hours...which came as a shock.

There have been some adjustments but it's been very smooth. Adding the non-conflicted 3rd party repos suggested by Korora was a big help.


+1 for fedora. I have been using it for years. I have never been a big fan of doing the kind of tinkering arch and some of these other linux distributions require for getting work done. Driver/hardware wise I personally haven't had problems with fedora. I tend to buy asus and lenovo for those who are curious.

Hardware aside,fedora strikes the right balance between control and easy to use for me.

I also don't have high end requirements for my text editor though. I'm a java/c++ guy who uses commercial IDEs.

At the same time I like that nvidia and others more or less "acknowledge" fedora exists and publishes drivers and rpms for most things.

That being said, DNF also works well enough for me. I haven't had to build anything from source.

I have tried macs, lived in SF for a few years surrounded by them, had colleagues who used them, and just never understood the appeal. I tried it once and just didn't feel the need to switch.

Macs feel over priced and don't really get upgraded.

For those who buy in to the whole apple ecosystem (including development) I could understand why you would do it though. I don't do mobile development though. Much of my experience is definitely specific but I think broad enough to match a certain kind of audience that might use macs but be on the "fringes" of the ecosystem without doing iphone development and the like.


Fedora is fantastic. Just works, good hardware support, minimal crap. At the same time it's well supported, remarkably bug free, first time in a long time I've had a completely carefree Linux experience.


Fedora may soon have its own port of Pantheon available if this awesome guy finishes his work soon:

https://github.com/decathorpe/elementary-stable-rpms


Also happy with Fedora 25. Only thing that is still missing from the good UX on Fedora 25 is (proprietary) software delivery but I hope that that will be soon solved with flatpaks[1].

[1]http://flatpak.org/


I've used Fedy so far. Worked for me for most of the major stuff without any surprises.


I'll second this. I too went through a whole bunch of Linux distros a few years ago, and found Fedora to provide the best (looks and functionality) experience for me.

Currently dual booting it on one MBA11" 2012 and one MBA13" 2014 (wifi via the proprietary wl driver).


As a Mac user, whenever I run Linux, I get depressed about how bad the font rendering is. It's getting better, though it sometimes requires installing a special non-free version of Freetype and setting some global config that I can never remember. I always lose track of which distros get it right without requiring any tweaks. However: While the glyph rendering in the article's screenshots looks quite, the kerning is just awful.

For example, here [1], upper left quadrant: "Ap plications", "A ppC enter", "C alendar". Anyone know why it's so bad? Is it a configuration flag?

[1] http://bitcannon.net/images/2017/4k-elementary.png


> For example, here [1], upper left quadrant: "Ap plications", "A ppC enter", "C alendar". Anyone know why it's so bad? Is it a configuration flag?

Perhaps I'm just used to font-weirdness, but I honestly would never have noticed that had you not directly pointed it out.



Check out the program Infinality. It has settings for different rendering methods including one that mimics OSX. It works great for me although I will admit that I am not one who notices this stuff easily.


Apparently Infinality has been abandoned, and can cause problems, so might want to be careful installing it. I recently had an issue where I could not log into Gnome, I took it as an opportunity to reinstall Arch as I wanted to do a fresh install anyway, but have since found out (from the podcast Linux Action Show) that the issue was very likely due to Infinality. Just a heads up.


Ohh thanks for this, I'll definitely play around with that: Main website appears to be down, GitHub repo is here: https://github.com/bohoomil/fontconfig-ultimate


Interesting. I see it now and I was expecting this to be an issue with switching but I haven't really noticed it. Here are the same words rendered by macOS (9pt Open Sans): http://bitcannon.net/images/2017/open-sans-on-macos.png I think it's showing similar spacing.


Here's macOS, comparing Helvetica and Open Sans: http://i.imgur.com/6uGxKbQ.png

While Open Sans is clearly not perfect, it's not as bad as the Linux screenshot.


Yeah definitely looks like it's Open Sans when viewed like that.


"Calendar" looks fine to me. I see the problems with "Applications" and "AppCenter", though.

Maybe the problem is just with the particular font used. See the browser window on the right side of the screenshot. It mentions "Apple", and it's rendered well there.


In "Calendar", "ndar" has tighter spacing than "Cale". It looks really off to me.

It definitely seems that Open Sans has weaker kerning than the other font used in the web browser in that screenshot.


More disturbing is the LCD font smoothing being applied when on the Mac you can shut it off when using a Retina display


Looks kerning related


Elementary OS is a shallow, ugly, uninspired and lazy attempt to make money.

It's trying really hard to imitate Apple – they even have these "Human Interface Guidelines" somewhere that read like some sort of Apple parody. In reality it's a fake, thin veneer of a user interface bolted onto a generic Linux distribution. Apple software may have their own faults. I think most of the whining is just boredom, but iTunes for example is definitely not the pinnacle of UI. But the beauty of macOS has always been in getting some things exactly right with the competence and attention of a master craftsman/woman. I'd name text rendering as an example, or sleep.

Elementary OS is made by people who think wearing a turtleneck makes them Steve Jobs, but they just don't get that you also have to throw a prototype or two at your CXOs from time to time :)

I don't think Linux on the desktop will benefit from such cloning. Just look at Open Office: a UI that perpetually felt four years out of date that probably took five times as many hours of work as the google docs that actually made Office unnecessary.


The drama around their statement "choosing $0 is basically cheating" was the point where I lost interest in the project.

(https://funnelfiasco.com/blog/2015/02/13/elementary-misses-t...)


I honestly haven't paid attention to elementaryOS drama, but I don't want to give them shit if they are at least trying, even if not entirely successfully.

I admire open source, but open source software suffers very strongly from "programmer design". It's a difficult process to get these things right, and I wouldn't expect some distribution to pop up overnight that does things on the same level of refinement as OS X. These things take time, and we need to encourage projects that do try.


Removing the window menu in all applications is not trying.

Really, there is something as 'being too minimalist'. To the point of being almost useless.

When I tried to use the default video player of EOS, there was no option in sight to add a subtitles file.

I can understand not being able to fine tune the font used for subtitles. But removing the feature altogether?


I'm very satisfied with Linux Mint 18 and Cinnamon. Everything ran out of the box on my Thinkpad; It comes with nice looking fonts that render well; The Mint-y theme is quite beautiful (IMHO); It's a Debian/Ubuntu derivative, so you get very good support and a lot of packages; High-dpi scaling works very nicely, especially since version 18.

If you need a replacement for Alfred, you should have a look at Albert [0]. I use Albert in Linux Mint as a replacement for the Main menu.

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


Exactly the reasons I can't stay switched. Too much drinking around. When I was younger I loved fiddling with Linux but I'd rather do other things with my time so I use a Mac.

Millions of people get their work done with Linux every day and it works great and people love it - but it's not the Mac feeling or way. You have to learn to like Linux for what it is, even if it's not perfect. You might miss a few features but it's easily ran on a variety of hardware these days and for the most part works great. The T450S I have Ubuntu on is the best it's ever been in my 15+ years of running Linux on laptops. Heck it wasn't even that bad back then with my Dell C600 and RedHat 7


Exactly. I love Linux on servers. Easy to work with, easy to develop for, etc. But OSX is just much better for day to day task. Everything more or less "just works". Plus with modern C++ I can usually easily develop locally and deploy to Linux (with some CI to make sure compatibility remains).


> A Long Term Support (LTS) release makes sense for servers but for a desktop I think it’s the wrong choice.

For many Ubuntu users, the LTS release is the best choice. The base packages remain stable and supported. The Linux kernel is updated automatically every six months and the next update is scheduled for next week when Ubuntu 16.04.2 will be made available (existing users will get upgraded automatically.)

If you want any actual development packages which are not provided by the system packaging, you can (and should) install them with Ubuntu Make (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-make). Anything Jetbrains, all Eclipse packages, Go, NetBeans, SublimeText, Arduino, Android Studio, Scala, NodeJS, Kotlin, DART, and more.

edit: typoes


> The base packages remain stable and supported

Problem is they weren't stable. I ran into bugs in the old so called stable packages that were fixed in newer versions.


I'd love to switch to Linux but about 50% of my income depends on Photoshop.

If there was a way run it fast and reliably I'd switch in a heartbeat. Basically no crashing, hardware accelerated (GPU) display/filters and a color profiled workflow. Booting to Windows to generate the profiles would be acceptable.

Last I checked, however, neither virtualization (even with GPU passthrough) nor Wine where quite there. Besides, with the tight release schedule that the Creative Cloud imposes, I don't think it ever will.


If anyone is looking for an open source alternative to Pragmata Pro, I found Iosevka[1] to be a great replacement.

[1] - https://github.com/be5invis/Iosevka


I absolutely love Iosevka - language/character support (IPA!), efficient yet legible, lots of weights/character variants... A bit surprised how seldom it's mentioned, to be honest.


Can you explain to me the benefit of this compared to a traditional programming font like the Microsoft Consolas?


It's more compact so makes better use of the space available. Subjectively it's pleasant to look at and if the software supports it there are ligatures to make code look better.


Thanks, will give it a try when back at work


Wow that looks great, could have saved myself some €€€. Fabrizio has done an amazing job with Pragmata Pro though, so happy to support his efforts.


It's just so much work getting Linux to work on the desktop. The hatred and bios against Windows 10 is baffling. It's fast, stable, secure and reliable. I've been running it for 6 months and never had an issue. I run Linux VMs via VMware and they work great, especially in Unity mode (v7).

And now with WSL it's becoming increasingly easier to keep using Windows. The "forced" reboots/updates is simply 2 config changes away from getting out of your way (takes 10 seconds) and the recommended apps takes 30 secs to uninstall. Seriously it isn't rocket science, it makes me laugh seeing developers (who are technical in nature) complain and struggle configuring the OS, all the while they'll gladly spend hours/days/weeks configuring Linux. For what? "Freedom"? Please.


My experience with elementary had a lot of the same warts. It looks nice and I want to like it but the packages are way too out of date, considering I was used to using Arch and OSX with Homebrew. I just dont see why elementary cant just be a shell (DE) project instead of a full OS.


.. that's like saying 'why can't macOS just be a DE on top of Linux/BSD?' If you want something that's totally cohesive, centralization is the way to go.

Having said that, there are definitely some major issues. One of the most contentious is not having a minimize button by default. Their reasoning is 'well if you close one of our apps, it resumes state when you start it up again, which is effectively the same as minimizing'. Not only do their apps not reliably resume state, most other apps don't support this, and their response is 'well that sucks.. but they should adjust their app to work with our specific distro gimmick kthxbai'. Another big one is multiple Window management: if I have 5 windows open of the same app and want to temporarily hide two of them, minimize accomplishes this easily. With Elementary, I have to pick which one I close last because that one will 'resume state'.

Another baffling thing is them not using the 'global menu' in the menubar that Ubuntu (and macOS) have. The global menu is probably one of the main reasons people like macOS so much (even though they don't realize it).. you know that whatever app you're in, you can always find all actions in the menu bar. Preferences are always under $APPNAME, Print is always under File, Hiding and viewing interface elements is always under View, etc.

Their (Ubuntu's as well) installer also doesn't use home partition encryption by default, nor does it offer an easy way to set up LVM on LUKS. This is a problem with most distros though.. with macOS having your disk FileVaulted is extremely straightforward and simple. It's literally flipping a switch. And the use of it is simple as well: Boot up, enter user password (which is also the encryption password) -> decrypt disk and login.

They also do some funky stuff to the Ubuntu installer since installing 16.04LTS gives me working Wi-Fi on my MBP 2015 Retina, but installing Elementary OS (which is based on the same 16.04LTS) doesn't even detect my Wi-Fi chip. The firmware and driver are there, so it should work (doubly so because same base distro), but it simply doesn't.


I guess my point is that I don't see Elementary as doing anything that really requires an entire new OS. If they did enough special things it would be worth it.

I totally agree on Global menu. I use Gnome and I miss global menu dearly


I've been quite happy with Elementary as a development environment, and use Docker to host both dev tools and packages I need.

I've also had zero issues with installing .debs, including Slack, so I wonder if the problems the OP faced were just lack of familiarity (I had no troubles when switching from Fedora to Ubuntu a long while ago, and am constantly amazed at how Linux folk tend to have visceral reactions to different package managers and distros).


The shell of elementary OS, called Pantheon, can be installed on Arch linux. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pantheon


I tried that and it doesn't look right because the elementary theme hasn't been updated for GTK 3.20/22. It only looks right on GTK 3.18.


Yup... all because they use super outdated packages


I have a Windows system and a 13 Macbook retina laptop and by far prefer the Unity desktop for speed and polish.

Unity is unbelievably sleek and fast and everything mostly just works. Those of us who have struggled with Linux desktops since the early 2000s will know what a massive leap this is.

Now if you can get this experience pre-bundled by hardware vendors then those who are not locked in to other platforms by platform specific apps can definitely use this productively. But if they have to install the OS and fiddle with drivers then it becomes a completely different ball game like it would be if they had to install Windows or OSX from scratch.


Small point: QuickTime on MacOS does have speed controls. You press FF or RWD while holding command (or possibly option) and it will speed up or slow down by 10% each time.


Am on my iPad right now, but it's most likely Option. Option/Alt is consistently used throughout the OS for fractional adjustments (volume, etc.)


For a platform that champions usability macos sure has a lot of magic keycombos.


Thanks, never thought to try that.


Try holding option/alt on most controls, it usually have something nice hidden.

E.g. alt+clicking the button that shows/hides the notification center (that's the name?) will toggle notification popups.

Another one, alt+clicking the wifi will display additional data about it.

Holding alt while right clicking on an app in the dock will toggle between "quit" and "force quit" as well.

Etc.


My dev home these days is Arch + i3. This allows me to spend minimal time window-managing, and I tend to find most packages I need either in the official repo or the AUR. My Linux computing experience basically consists of bash, gcc, gdb, qemu, and emacs.


Only reason I use OS X instead of Linux are the commercial apps. Not because of how Mac OS X looks. I like to pay for apps when/if they are better than their free/opensource counterparts, but very often those are not available on Linux.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a commercial multiplatform apps marketplace, similar to Steam but more productivity focused?

The marketplace could even provide developers with an SDK to enable them to easily create packaging, networking and UIs without having to use OS specific libraries. Basically anything that usually has to be done for each platform separately. Similar to how Unity3D helps with multiplatform game development.

Something like this could push developers to release commercial software on Linux, too, because it would be basically just another build from the same source.

And who knows some day Adobe and other big players might release their products like Photoshop, Lightroom etc on it.


A note on the unicode code points, I have found I can use the same keyboard layout on Mac and Linux (including right alt magic like # on the British layout) by using the "Mac" layout in the initial configuration. Works a charm of you are a flip flopper (which I am).


Re: Slack

Why not just use the web version? Seems to be exactly the same as the app as far as I can tell


Yeah it is basically the website wrapped in an app. Having it as an app makes it easier to launch, switch to (Alt-Tab), it shows up in the task list, can be pinned to one or all workspaces, this kind of thing.


Chrome profile. Done.


I have the app installed and it is nicer due to better hotkey support, but on the other hand the Electron shell its built upon takes up far more RAM than a couple of browser tabs.

Edit: typos.


Also slack has an irc gateway so you can also use your favorite irc client like irssi.


> For now Windows is off the table.

It's a pity there's so much antagonism against Windows from MacOS/Linux users.

I've been using both MacOS and Windows on a daily basis for the past ten years (and a lot of Linux before that) and to me, Windows has become the best OS for developers.

First of all, let's get this out of the way: Bash works just fine. Install a distribution and a console with bash and you'll get everything (dotfiles, ssh, etc...) working under an hour.

Another important point is that Windows is the most keyboard friendly OS out of the three. As a developer, I use my mouse as little as possible so it's vital that I have access to all functions and all menus from the mouse. MacOS is terrible in that area (how come I still can't pop up the File menu from the keyboard in 2017?).

Windows also has some of the best file managers of all. My preference is for xPlorer2 because, again, I can manipulate files at the speed of light with just the keyboard, but there are plenty of alternatives.

Anyway, keep an open mind if you're looking for another OS and make sure you include Windows 10 in your trials, or you might be missing out on something that will make you at least as productive as you used to be with your current OS.


Forced adware and terrible update experience == a total nonstarter for me. I am continually boggled by how bad the user experience is for me on my windows 10 partition that I try to use for gaming. Everything from the standard networking drivers not working in windows (but worked in ubunu out of the box), ads for edge or office 365 whenever I open the thing up, or forced restarts when I am gaming in the middle of the night continually baffle me. I just keep asking why I gave these guys money, why I payed for this experience and become complicit in setting this standard. This is on all new top of the line hardware. So no thank you.

I also don't share your frustration with the keyboard use in Mac OS; I rarely take my hands off home row but when I do it's to use a beautifully responsive trackpad full of powerful and useful gestures just inches below. It's the one thing I miss on ubuntu.


I am both a MacOS and Windows user, I have trouble completely recommending Windows 10 to anyone solely on the basis of Microsoft's invasive telemetry services. That and the catastrophically anti-consumer upgrade paths they forced on people.

I am still running Win 7, and still have a MBP with MacOS installed. At this time I'm not buying another Mac laptop/desktop(LOL) but if I do get a new laptop that is Win only I'm going to install Win 7 over Win 10.

Windows Explorer to me is way more intuitive that MacOS Finder, which I find to be more difficult to use.


You'll probably have trouble installing Windows 7, it's not even supported on Kaby Lake processors anymore and the security patches are going to stop in 2020.


I use Windows daily in my job. It has come a long way from the consumer/business driven PITA it was years ago. The issues are pretty simple: I don't trust Microsoft to not screw me over a few years down the line, and I don't like the in your face consumerism of every aspect of the OS.

I literally had to spend an hour removing every POS adware app installed by the OEM, then I still have to put up with notices from M$ asking me to buy their stuff, even though I don't use their software for anything. And there's the virus software, which are all installed by two or three different people and all of which are asking me everyday to buy their stuff.

It's nice that they've moved devs out of the ghetto and I admire the work people have put in to make sure we have nice things again. But I still will be at best lukewarm to anything from M$.


Keyboard lovers unite!

It's amusing to see GUI-resistance all these years later, after Microsoft has worked so very hard to make Windows work and look just like MacOS. Well, like it would look if it had been designed by people with no taste.


> Another important point is that Windows is the most keyboard friendly OS out of the three.

I'm sorry, but have you ever seen a true master of the command line?


I've yet to meet someone who uses their keyboard as well as me :-)

I routinely juggle between vi, emacs, IDEA, bash, Word and Excel and I use the keyboard on most of these apps. But I'm forced to reach for the mouse a lot more on MacOS than on Windows.


>> how come I still can't pop up the File menu from the keyboard in 2017? <<

Fn+Ctrl+F2 = focus on menu bar


> Another important point is that Windows is the most keyboard friendly OS out of the three.

Maybe keyboard shortcuts in windows have improved since Win7 which is the last time I used it semi-regularly, but I've always found the opposite to be true, and don't understand where the notion that windows relies less on the mouse comes from. The consistency of keyboard shortcuts between apps on the mac has been much better in my experience, and it's very straightforward for regular users to discover, customize or add keyboard shortcuts to specific menu items that you access frequently via keyboard preferences. It's also just more consistently designed; it's intuitive that if cmd-z is undo then shift-cmd-z is redo. ctrl-z and ctrl-y on windows is much harder to learn & conceptualize.

Even more important is that every text entry field in the mac os gui implements emacs cursor selection and movement and has since 10.0.[1] While windows relies on less powerful modified arrow key commands. If you know or learn these, then not having them all in other OS GUIs is painful.

I also much prefer that cmd takes on shortcuts for GUI apps while ctrl is relied upon much less frequently in this context. It drives me a bit nuts in windows that ctrl-c is copy for gui apps, but still also abort process in the commandline. Not overloading historical commandline control characters is an underrated reason why mac os is so comfortable to use it as a unix system.

As for the menubar, it's ctrl-F2, but if you're spending a lot of time paging through menus using the arrow keys, there are better solutions to accessing frequently used commands.

Add to this the bevy popular third party text ui tools over the years that allow one to carry out complex tasks without leaving the keyboard, from launchbar, to quicksilver, alfred, and spotlight (which has itself improved a lot over the years). Mac 'power users' kept their hands on the keyboard using these for years before windows implemented win+r to bring up a very limited application launcher.

Taking it to an extreme, utilities such as the actively-developed Karabiner[2] offer a ridiculous amount of additional functionality for keyboard shortcuts, including different takes on global vi-binding, adding a 'hyper' key for more custom shortcuts (actually cmd-opt-ctrl-shift), modifying access to international characters (changing it so that opt-a,o,u quickly produces umlaut characters for writing in German on an american keyboard is hugely helpful for instance), or allowing the caps-lock key to function as escape if you're a heavy vim user, while preserving a mapping of caps-c to ctrl-c (amongst any other shortcuts) if your muscle memory for that is too powerful to give up. I realize that similar tools must exist on windows, but the uptake on stuff like this and the aforementioned quicksilver and alfred seems higher amongst mac devs than windows devs.

[1] See here for example: http://jblevins.org/log/kbd

[2] https://github.com/tekezo/Karabiner

Edit: I'd be remiss to not link to these incredible old posts by Brent Terpstra on changing keymappings and using Karabiner (then called KeyRemap4MacBook). Some of the stuff people do is nuts, but it shows the power, and how easy it is to achieve a lot just by editing a DefaultKeyBindings.dict file in your home directory.

http://brettterpstra.com/2012/12/08/a-useful-caps-lock-key/

http://brettterpstra.com/2011/08/13/keybinding-madness/


The worst part about Windows 10 is the forced restarts.


The article mainly serves to remind me of why I switched from linux to mac a few years back. All that configuring stuff just isn't how I want to spend my time now. I can't think of the last time I spent any 'sysadmin' time with my macbook (other than clearing space off my undersized SSD). I won't repeat the obvious over-used marketing phrase, but it's been pretty much true in my experience.

The trouble is with Apple falling so far behind on hardware, and enforcing the developer-hostile 'touch bar' faux keyboard to the few new machines they do bother to introduce, it's hard to see what happens next. For the first time in my computer-using adult life, there just isn't anywhere good to go when my current machine needs replacing. Linux demands more of my time than I'm willing to give it. Windows is adware. MacOS runs on hardware I don't want (Hackintosh? Might as well just go linux).


As some are pointing out the perils or maybe horrors of not having what OSX offers - the ease, the "just works" thingy. To be honest so does Windows and a lot of Linux distributions now.

What is one point here, and most important for me at least, is that Apple Air line probably going off the air. The price point (value for money) of it was what convinced me to buy my first Apple product (4+ years ago; and last so far except a keyboard as I couldn't find a decent third party one in India). The cost of a machine that I don't need and don't like much either is isn't justifiable just to remain in a particular ecosystem I became comfortable with.

My battery is dying and the machine itself is showing signs of age. I know I won't like it but when the time comes I will be looking for alternatives too if I can't get OSX in an affordable way.


> I had a custom PC built for work. It has a fast Intel CPU (4Ghz i7-6700K), plenty of RAM and fast SSD storage

If I got this right, he built a desktop PC? How is he then comparing his custom-built PC to the Macbook Pro, which is a laptop. Maybe he should have saved the pain of finding the replacement and bought the Mac Pro?


Step one was the PC. For about 6 months I sshed to the PC from my MacBook and used iTerm's tmux integration to do development on that machine. This is phase 2 using that machine without the MacBook. Eventually I'd like to get a non-Apple laptop (if the experiment sticks), but one step at a time.


> Things did not go as smoothly with Slack. [...] This feels like something that is harder than it needs to be in elementary. Especially since it is a simple double click on a stock Ubuntu installation.

> After all, most parts of the elementary desktop environment (pantheon) are in the Arch User Repository (AUR).

So, Mr. Author, let me get this right: in Ubuntu it was really easy to install Slack. Just a double click of a package.

Then you thought that Arch Linux was better then Elementry because you couldn't double click a dpkg file, so you installed the Elementary stuff through the AUR. A website that would require you to use the command line before you could get Slack even installed?

Ubuntu does have old versions of drivers and applications. As Elementry is based on Ubuntu, it is to be expected that you would recieve older driers inside Elementary.


> A Long Term Support (LTS) release makes sense for servers but for a desktop I think it’s the wrong choice.

LTS releases make sense for plenty of desktop use cases: enterprise/education SOEs; kiosks; non-technical users; even developer workstations in some cases.


Personally, I find that an LTS along with a container system like Docker, snap, flatpak, or subuser is the best way to go. Stability + flexibility.


The two things that have kept me from switching completely from macOS to Linux (currently Fedora) all these years have been a good alternative to Mail.app and Sequel Pro (MySQL client).

Are there any good alternatives available on Linux?


I use MySQL Workbench if I need a GUI, works well and is actually more powerful than Sequel Pro, however the UI is nowhere near as pretty. Still, it is an adequate replacement recommend checking it out.


I just stumbled upon N1, although I haven't tried it:

https://github.com/nylas/nylas-mail


I does indeed look good (to me) and they have hired a designer that I greatly respect to work on it (https://dribbble.com/sdw) but it's an Electron app (goodbye memory) and requires you to hand over your email account details to Nylas: https://support.nylas.com/hc/en-us/articles/217518207-Why-do...


Hey-- I work at Nylas.

We're transitioning away from cloud sync for almost all functionality. More info here: https://blog.nylas.com/nylas-mail-is-now-free-8350d6a1044d


It would be nice if the client was usable without having to register with you guys. Is that something you're looking into?

PS. SSL Labs gives your site an F grade due to CVE-2016-2107.


Looking into both-- thanks for the heads up.

Edit: Fixed now. We should have an "A+" rating. :)


Cool, thanks for the tip! Will definitely check it out. It's going to be interesting to see how it responds to https://www.emailprivacytester.com



I use the same setup of tools at work as at home on 2 different systems. OSX at work and Linux Mint at home. Love mint, it's fast, lean and simple (and has basically everything debian has)


I wish they finally fixed the freezing bug in Cinnamon; every time I switch to a user while logged in as another user Cinnamon goes down hard (Intel systems, Core M and i5). And 1/3 of suspend/resume attempts end up that way. I use Mint for >4 years but this is starting to kill me :( HiDPI is fantastic on Cinnamon, 4k is a joy.


Wouldn't it be fun if Apple turned this latest underwhelming MacBook Pro release for developers/professionals into something magnificent on the next release? Something like a MacBook Pro, Creator's Edition that attempts to address all the criticisms of the current crop of MacBooks. Sure, those laptops will sell for a double premium and nowhere near the volumes of standard MacBooks, but that's a small price to pay for keeping their developer mindshare.


That's more or less what is rumored to appear later this year: a no-hold-barrels high-end version with latest cpu, 32gb of ram, top graphic card and larger battery. Whether it really happens, though, it's another matter; the rumor might well be Apple trying to do some damage control.


But it will not have a real keyboard, new macbooks having replaced it with a bizarre hybrid (3/4 of a keyboard + a tiny screen aka 'touch bar').

So it will be entirely useless for touch typists, ie. most developers.

I like macOS, but my current MB Pro will be my last.


Given all the friction and various issues, I still don't see why a hackintosh with well-supported hardware running macOS isn't an option.


It's what I do, ThinkPad T420 running OS X Yosemite.

I actually wrote about my experience: https://medium.com/@Ezhik/2fb487efe717 - but even disregarding obvious concerns like legality, there's still plenty of reasons to want to give Linux a shot properly, which mostly come down to the direction Apple is taking OS X and its hardware in.


Because it's illegal. Do we have no respect for laws anymore?


Yeah, no it's not. Apple hasn't launched iCountry yet.


Mainly because, "well-supported hardware", could change at any time. It felt better to me to attempt a clean break.


For what it's worth, I've been using my Hackintosh on the same hardware since 2011. It'll be 6 years in March. Just upgraded to Sierra 10.12.3 this morning, in fact.

On top of that, I've actually had to spend far less time computer janitoring it than I have on the various *NIX installs I've run in those same 6 years.

I totally understand not wanting any OS-based surprises while trying to get work done, but as long as your CPU and motherboard are supported, you're generally good to go.


> All the videos I’ve encountered so far online and offline have played fine. Unlike QuickTime X player on macOS the GNOME video player has speed controls!

Is there a way to get better performance out of Gnome video player when scrubbing back and forth in a video? Quicktime 7 and X on macOS (and commercial tools like RV on Linux) are great at this, and it would be cool to have an open source equivalent.


Wait, gnome has a video player?

Why would anyone user anything other than videolan VLC?


Because mpv is better


In what sense?

I don't think I've ever used mpv, I am really curious why you believe it is better.

The reason ive stuck with vlc is because it can handle anything you throw at it, and has a responsive and minimal UI. If I find anything equally good I wouldn't mind trying it out


mpv beats VLC at that game. :)


...aren't they both using ffmpeg? Where's the difference coming from?


I started to look for an alternative after the recent MacBook pros refresh debacle and I found Thinkpad plus Arch Linux to be a fantastic combo.


Let's just hope Apple takes the comments on the latest Macbooks serious. So next time we won't be having articles like this anymore.


I don't think that Linux on a Macbook will be problematic; I've been running Arch on mine for the past 2.5 years, and it's been mostly great.

And I really enjoy the up-to-date nature of Arch compared to Debian distros; I don't look back fondly upon the trouble I had to go through to use new packages with Ubuntu back in the day.


Hows scrolling and battery life?

I consider the track-pad and how most apps scroll in OSX one of the big niceties of the platform.


The trackpad actually works great; I haven't been able to get four-finger support working, but I think there's a program that helps with gestures like that; I haven't had time to look into it.

Battery life is not quite as good as MacOS, but I think it's pretty good for my needs (at least 4-5 hrs running non-trivial workloads).


It depends entirely on the luck of which MacBook you have.


Well, yes, newer Macbooks are probably not well supported, but anything older than 1 year probably is.


I have a 2013 MacBook Pro is that likely to be a good or bad one?


I have a 2014 model; everything works great except the webcam, but there's efforts to get that working too.


For people looking for good apps on linux, I'd recommend Franz[1]. It basically replaces all of your chat/messenger apps, including support for facebook messenger and Whats app. It runs in the background really well.

[1]:http://meetfranz.com/


What's this no 4K at 60hz thing I keep seeing in threads this month?

I'm driving two 4K@60hz Dells and the built in screen on an older MBP 15". Granted, it's finicky to get set up right, but it works w/ configurable screens and right cabling.


You probably have a discrete GPU. The 13" 2013 era MacBook Pros like mine with only Intel graphics can't do 60Hz.


I feel like this thread keeps repeating that there is no good alternative.


You can use lesspass.com as an open source alternative to 1pass or enpass. Would love to hear how it measures up. I use keypass in a rather manual way myself.


Installed ElementaryOS for a friend who essentially just needed a browser. He absolutely loves it and i'd consider it should i find the need to switch.


Unrelated, but what do people think about enpass? I'm looking for an alternative to 1Password that runs on Linux. Lastpass is another candidate.


I used LastPass for a couple of years and would definitely recommend Enpass over it. You get native apps and can choose how it will sync if at all instead of all your passwords being stored on LastPass's servers.


Enpass is actually excellent. I've been using it steadily for the past 9 months and its the only password manager that I've managed to ever stick with. Right now I have it on Mac, Ubuntu, iPhone and iPad. Highly recommended. They actually have technical support and they even respond.


Pass is pretty good; you synchronize across devices using a git repo, good command line support, and generally easy to use.


Doesn't pass expose metadata?


To your git repo, yes. If you have a private server set up, then it's not a problem, but if you're using the big cloud providers, then that's something you have to consider.


It's a shame that the new mac labtops are so bad, especially now that they've had that huge breakthrough in disk speed, in recent years.


Lol there is no alternative, unless you don't care for any of macOS's features that makes it so great.


What "great" features? Buggy and slow interface? Inferior terminal and UNIX support? Lack of customizability?


I'd settle for an actual goddamn delete key if nothing else. The "delete" key on a Macbook is backspace not delete you aren't fooling us Apple!


The Fn + Delete key on macOS == Delete key on Win/Linux


Yes, especially for deleting files but for writing such as these words it's weird.

I don't like multiple key presses for what should be one simple key press it seems sloppy and counter intuitive for a key that's existed for decades.


Are you talking about macOS here or DOS cuz it's a weak move to take shots like that with zero explanation.

Furthermore, you sound like you're describing Linux itself. You're either a troll or terrible at indicating sarcasm.


Why are you not responding this way to the thread starter? He gave zero explanation of how OSX has "great features". I've made the switch from OSX to Linux (after over a decade of using Macs) and the only thing I miss is Network Link Conditioner, just because the Linux equivalents are a bit tedious.


Mostly because it's not hard to acknowledge both sides have good and bad parts. I don't understand how you can be so obvlivious.


I am talking about MacOS. I have MacOS on a separate partition, and everytime I boot into it I'm astounded by how slow the interface can be to do even simple things like resize things in Keynote, or resize windows, or open the launcher.

The next issue I had was the lack of a nice, Apple-supported package manager. Homebrew and ports are poor replacements for things like Pacman and the AUR. There's no emphasis on many of the things that makes life on Linux easy.

These are my top two complaints; the second can be debated, but the first is unjustifiable when Linux runs on the same hardware without hiccups.


What is that hardware?


MacBook Pro 2014; runs Linux just great. MacOS also relatively Ok, but much more buggily.


Windows is a proprietary, closed source OS. It is not a valid choice imo.


The author actually was using Mac OS X before this, and it being proprietary wasn't a problem.


Proprietary hardware+software was the problem, proprietary software isn't much better.


sudo apt-get install neovim


A lot of us are on this journey. Apple blew it. They lost me as a customer when I had to hurriedly replace my 2012 mac mini with a 2014 model and came to find out the RAM is soldered to the board making my 16GB DIMMS worthless. No forgiveness for cheapening their product and their brand.


Honestly, just get Elementary OS, this is the closest you can get to MacOS if you are "get things gone" kind of person. And support the team too! They do a great job!


Did you read the article? The author evaluated Elementary OS and found it lacking for a number of reasons.


Sure! And did you read my comment? I don't say "people who want to recreate their own desktop from all the software available" but rather "gtd" kind of people, who doesn't mind if their nvidia driver is from 4 months and not from yesterday. As long as everything works who cares? Sure, OP has his points (although the neovim is not the case anymore), but same bugs appear in other distros, unfortunately :(


Sorry, but the parent commenter had a point - it sounds like you did not pay enought attention to the article.

    > elementary almost completely removes menus. As a heavy 
    keyboard shortcut user this makes discovering shortcuts 
    difficult

    > the Mac App Store, Homebrew and Arch Linux. With each of 
    these it’s a simple matter to install the latest version 
    of a tool or application. On elementary I ran into a 
    number of cases where software I wished to install did not 
    exist in the Ubuntu repos or were outdated

    > as time went on I started running into more bugs [...] 
    At this point the system was actively harming my productivity
This doesn't seem to fare very well for your 'as long as everything works' view. The difficulty to install popular software is the exact opposite of that. I love Elementary OS and its UI style/guidelines; found it many years ago, but have stayed with OSX since. As the author mentions, basing it on a Ubuntu LTS release comes with consequences and is a questionable decision for a desktop.


If your primary requirement is "looking" like MacOS, I found Deepin to look just as similar, while being far less buggy. Then again both Deepin and EOS are buggier than Ubuntu. If you're open to the idea of trying a new Desktop and a "get things gone" kind of person, you should try out Ubuntu.


Elementary Os is based on Ubuntu, but it's true that many things still need to be polished. The thing is that most of the time you work in apps, and this is where most annoying things usually happen.




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