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A Year Away from Mac OS (bitcannon.net)
101 points by wezm on March 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments

I also migrated away from MacOS. I'm currently running Linux (Slackware). I came to the conclusion that Linux works best for me on desktops, but MacOS works better on laptops. I don't use laptops much anymore, I prefer multiple monitors, I don't like the way MacOS handles multi-monitors.

I ended up buying a couple of used Dell Optiplex 9010's for a little more than $100 each. Also picked up a couple of Thinkpad X220's also about a $100 each. They all run faster than my Macbook Air.

Tried all of the Linux distributions, didn't really like any of them (I hated Ubuntu and all the variants). So I installed Slackware, I use a customized FVWM (as in I hacked the source code). Removed things like PulseAudio and NetworkManager. I use a customized version of Gnustep (just the Foundation part) because I need Objective-C. And I wrote a bunch my own UI using Cairo (not a fan of GTK or Qt).

I still use MacOS on my Macbook Air, but more as an appliance and not for anything serious. I feel much more comfortable with my computer now (I am no longer dependent on Apple!)

Did you try Debian or Arch? I tend towards Debian but I realized the time I spent with Arch, too.

I used to run Debian but my packages would always end up in some kind of dependency hell where I couldn't upgrade to newer versions.

would it be possible for you to share your fvwm hacks? i too run fvwm (on arch) and was wondering what i might be missing out on ?

thank you :)

People move around, and that's fine. After two decades of mostly using Linux, I just made a leap of faith into the walled garden of Apple, replacing pretty much every Linux and Windows box with either nothing (the best choice!) or a Mac.

It's just a month in, but I'm quite happy. Everything works and everything is pretty. I can concentrate on important things, and of course on social media shilling.

I've done the same 2 years ago, after being Linux-only for two decades.

Sure, macOS has its flaws. Sure, GNU command line tools are better than the BSD ones (fight me). Sure, it's not as hackable as a Linux machine.

But I've never been as productive. Everything works, I'm not fighting any hardware issue — Bluetooth? Wifi? Resume from sleep? Hell, I'm even rocking an external GTX 1080 GPU via Thunderbolt 2->3 adapter, and playing 4K games in Bootcamp.

I have a 16GB rMBP 2015, which probably is the last well made MBP, since the newer revisions seem to have so many issues, but I don't see myself going back to a Linux desktop ever again.

To be honest, the only two things I miss that work really well on Linux are Docker, and Wifi packet injection (aircrack-ng & co.)

Do you have a recommendation for an external GPU enclosure? I have the same model MacBook as you but I've been hesitant to pick one up.

I have an Akitio Node. It's noisy as hell, but fits a full sized GPU and quite hackable - there are some silent fans mods if it bothers you.

There are plenty of gotchas, so make sure you read up on egpu.io and /r/eGPU

But once setup, and when Windows doesn't break everything with an update (happened with the Fall Creators update), works great and performance should be within 90-95% of a desktop setup, provided you're using an external monitor. You can use the internal LCD, but TB2 bandwidth will be the bottleneck in that case, and you'll get a bigger performance hit.

Here's my success post on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/eGPU/comments/77e86g/success_macboo...

Do you have problems with Docker for Mac?

Not really, it works, but there's tons of reports that it's slow, containers run in a VM (obviously) and you need workarounds such as docker-sync.

It makes sense, since Docker relies on the Linux kernel and its VFS interface, which have to be emulated on other OSes.

I have set up a Linux box for Docker work and I actually found Docker for Mac much nicer to work with. The installer and GUI are all really well-made and make it easy to tweak the resources that Docker VMs can utilize.

Meanwhile on Linux, I had to wait for a month or so before the Docker PPA was updated after I'd upgraded to Ubuntu 17.10. (I've since migrated to an LTS-based distro, lesson learned.) I also like to use Kitematic for reading logs, which was annoying to install, and which looks out of place on Linux because it's an Electron app skinned to look like a macOS app.

"Everything just works" - this is the reason I use macOS for my workstation and laptop. I don't have time to fumble around for six hours patching a driver for it to work with some slight variant hardware component (you know what I mean). I'll do that stuff on my free time, with systems other than my workstation.

TimeMachine and comprehensive HiDPI support are great bonuses. If I need to work in some other environment, I have VM's, Docker, and external development environments. The primary concern with macOS is security: both inherent (telemetry, etc) and what's been in the news lately, but with some easy tweaks and good security practices otherwise, it's generally not something I worry about.

> The Dell power connector is a barrel style connector with an LED embedded in it. The LED appears to serve no useful purpose. It’s always on, whether connected or not and doesn’t change colour or turn off when charged.

I believe the only use for this LED is to know that the cable is actually plugged to the wall. It's probably useless for people who keep their charger plugged all the time, but it's very useful for me, a QA engineer with a testing table full of devices and cables, plugged and unplugged :)

I totally understand the shift in thinking that you get when you become immersed in open-source - you realise how it's possible for all the elements of your system to play well with each other because it's possible for the authors of the software to understand how the kernel/OS/apis/drivers etc. work to a deep level. Once you get used to this, proprietary software starts to take on an appearance of a socially-oblivious actor on your system, needing special attention to keep it fitting-in.

You might want to check out the MATE desktop. It's a fairly no-nonsense desktop which also looks quite nice (see ubuntuMATE - especially with the arc themes). I keep going back to check out gnome, but while I admire the polish, I find some design decisions to remain a bit grating.

> The thing I dislike about the XPS the most is probably the power connector. I miss the ease of attachment and feedback of MagSafe.

Well I still don't understand Apple's decision to axe MagSafe. It was a huge selling point of MacBooks. While I don't miss it sorely, the USB-C plug just gives me no joy.

MagSafe could be sometimes unreliable. USB C is fun too. Although I don’t like other aspects of the MBP. Like it’s keyboard.

Very occasionally I do have to plug then unplug then plug back the magsafe connector in order to power up my 2015 macbook, however the magsafe design has saved my laptop from certain damage many, many, many times. Literally, the only reason for removing it from Apple's point of view is that it saves too many laptops from needing replacement/costly repair.

Only when you’ve got crap stuck to it. Not trying to defend Apple, but that design was a marvel.

I'm still a bit nervous about leaving an USB-C MacBook plugged in near any kind of foot traffic.

On the plus side, with USB C you can charge from either side of the laptop, and dealing with broken cables is quite a bit cheaper than with Magsafe, where cables seemed to disintegrate with depressing regularity.

I like being able to plug in the power on either side of my laptop depending on where I'm working

On the plus side, it means I can charge my XPS 13 from new macbook chargers now.

The gnome JavaScript rant is real. I had to move on to kde plasma because of it. Kde plasma is more powerful but a little cluttered. Gnome has managed to keep things very simplistic. There is a silver lining though, gnome4 has plans to ditch js.

> There is a silver lining though, gnome4 has plans to ditch js.

This is intriguing. Do you have a link to more info?, I can't seem to find anything.

gnome3 problem is NOT js. its that a few devs took over when nobody was looking, changed everything, and released a new version without ANY of the features hundreds of people contributed over the years. now, years later they are at 30, maybe 35% of thr minimum features for a wm (and that thanks to hacks on top of the legacy pieces, because those devs were too busy changing the default theme and moving the window buttons left and right to better mimic apple choices du jour)

I've been using Gnome for about three days now, and I'm incredibly irritated with all the minor things.

Attempting to drag something from the Activities bar to the desktop results in the whole UI crashing, taking down all applications with it.

Trying to set the screen to wait more than 15 minutes to power off required googling up a StackOverflow answer. Why is there not a text input option for this?

I'm sure I'll discover something stupid tomorrow.

Have a look at KDE Plasma. They've added a lot of polish to it, and it's superb. It's been my daily driver for the last year or so, haven't had as much problems as I did with GNOME.

Thanks, I'll give it a shot, and hopefully not amend this comment with a paragraph bitching about switching :p

I recently switched from cinnamon to gnome, assuming that gnome had an extra few years to mature since I last used it but I found it still lacked so many features. Firstly, where is my taskbar? How do I add it? It took some tinkering about to find it. Where are my desktop icons? More tinkering. Why don't the desktop icons align to a grid? Why doesn't the file browser show me my free space? How do I add shortcuts to the top bar? Why are all the buttons so huge? I am genuinely surprised that gnome hasn't really moved on in the years since I last used it, and at this rate I'll probably end up going back to cinnamon.

I've been there. Eventually moved to kde plasma as well. Its much more reliable than gnome but it requires some getting used to. It's a little cluttered when compared to rather simple gnome

It sounds like you are using Wayland. If you use Xorg, when Gnome crashes, it restarts keeping your applications safe.

I've been using Gnome for quite a lot of time until recently. I got annoyed with a bunch of stuff, so I moved from Gnome to i3 and Fedora to Manjaro and I'm sooooooooo happy with the change!

> but I’ve still seen a couple of the MacBook keyboards fail in their short life. One had a key become sticky and unreliable, the other had its space fall off.

The return key on my 2 month old 13" Macbook Pro has already lost its "click". A couple of times a week I have to reboot it to get sound working again. Plugging external monitors in is a coin toss. I have to carry an external dongle around to use it and the dongle gets noticeably warm when in use: what's going on in there?

My MBP keyboard degraded over time, only 2 years in. Started with WASD (hehe) and spread outward until nothing worked. I plugged in an external keyboard and soldiered on. One day I bootcamped into Windows and something went wrong. I got completely locked out because apparently the internal keyboard is the one and only way to get the boot menu. I understand repair would cost $250+. Very disappointing since my previous MB lasted 9 years.

Was it the 2015 13" by chance? Those were known to go bad quickly.

2013 13”, but probably the same general issue.

If it is only 2 months old I would suggest bringing it to the apple store for repair. They made is very painless for me.

Wow, I'm in the exact same situation.

Using Xfce and loving it so far, went through every single distro in existence.

Cool series!

Switched to Linux about 5 years ago. Most of the popular distros have converged to being very similar in that time. In the choices between modern OS's (once you've let go of all the habits each enforces), satisfaction depends on how well your software needs are met.

For everyday needs, Linux has a lot to offer. If your needs include sophisticated, specialist applications (EG audio production), you'll want to look closely at what's available. Generally there are far fewer options, and they all may fall short of your professional requirements.

I've settled on XFCE as well. Xubuntu and Mint 18 are both stabile and solid.

Thanks! What OS/distro did you settle on?

Personally, Xfce heavily configured to my liking, on top of Ubuntu Minimal (basically, I took the Minimal CD and installed xorg and xfce4-session).

In particular I've installed DockbarX--a dock that integrates into xfce4-panel, and vala-panel-topmenu (or somithing similar) to have a global menu.

I've been a UNIX user since 1984, I've been using Apple as my personal hardware since about '87

I jumped from Mac OS due to cost of Apple Hardware, last year. I can't justify spending $3K for hardware that if it weighed 1lb more costs $650.

I bought a Quad core i7 Gaming laptop, Dual SSD's, 1080p display, 32GB of memory for $800, yay Black Friday. My original plan was to make the machine into a hackintosh, but while waiting for the WiFi daughter board to arrive from China I decided to install Linux.

I tried a number of Linux variants. I ended up settling on Elementary because it was the only distribution that would consistently "wake up" from hibernation or sleep. Every other distro would cause the machine to hang after hibernation or sleep, I spent a lot of time trying to make other distributions work, but to no avail.

I did get the WiFi daughter board and installed it, but I never seem to get around to creating my hackintosh.

I'm completely happy with my Linux laptop. Elementary has a couple of quirks, but nothing that makes me want to switch. The online version of Microsoft office allows me to interact with Office documents, which was always the biggest stumbling block, at least for me when it comes to Linux.

> I can't justify spending $3K for hardware that if it weighed 1lb more costs $650. > [...] > I tried a number of Linux variants. [...] I spent a lot of time trying to make other distributions work, but to no avail.

Just curious: What kind of value are you putting on your time ?

Admittedly, I can perfectly understand if you consider tinkering with distros an intellectually gratifying pursuit and therefore time well spent; I just wanted to point out that it would NOT be all that hard to justify spending an extra $2K.

You are crazy —- the good kind of crazy tho —- for moving away from MacOS on your work machine.

I’m just a dabbler in all things Linux/sysadmin/IT who tried going from Windows to Linux as my desktop and did well until it came to dealing with X and graphics drivers for my aging nvidia 660. Sure I got everything up and running just fine with hardly any effort but just basic things like hardware acceleration in browsers and screen recording software were a giant pain in the ass that took entire weekends for me to only half way solve. Still, it taught me a lot more of how Linux has evolved since the dark days of floppy based Slackware and redhat installations. Give the people responsible for Quartz on OS X and the Windows GUI a kiss for me, bless their hearts. The year of Linux on the desktop will come when we can move away from the ancient parts of X and flatpaks are perfected.

> If anyone is interested in a paid project to build an open source command line replacement for my use of MoneyWell in Rust

Don't know if you've seen this, but as you mentioned a command line accounting system...


It's an open source command line accounting system (though it is written in C).

I looked at it. As far as I can tell it doesn’t do envelope budgeting with automatic flow. This is the key feature to me and why I went with MoneyWell back in 2008.

What do you mean be automatic flow?

You can pull off envelope budgeting: https://frdmtoplay.com/envelope-budgeting-with-ledger/

I used Linux (mostly Ubuntu) for somewhere around 10 years on my personal laptops. After using Macs at work for a few years and being frustrated with the music making and photography apps on Linux I made the switch about 3 years ago. There just wasn't anything on Linux that had the polish and ease-of-use of Photos.app and GarageBand/Logic and when I want to engage in creative hobbies, I want my technology to just work. Has Linux made any progress on alternatives to those?

Consider some alt operating systems. OS/2 is still out as econ and Blue Lion. AROS is based on AmigaOS 3.x, Haikuos is a rewrite of Beos, Reactos is a rewrite of Windows XP, and FreeDOS is a 32 bit DOS. You can Google them and try them out.

There's something about reading a blog in monospaced font...

Enjoyed the article very much. The macOS / Linux / Windows switcherooney debate has been going on for years with me. The new MBPs make it an easy choice but Linux on the desktop (T470s recently purchased) makes me less productive than macOS on a 2015 MBP.

I've switched away from this MBP no less than 4 times to 4 different Linux laptops and each time have come back after roughly 1 month. It sickens me (I work for Red Hat so FOSS is quite deeply ingrained) to work on a Mac every day instead of respecting freedoms but sometimes you just need to get on with it.

I ran FreeBSD on my home and work desktops (and most of my servers) for almost 10 years. I use a Mac these days, but I still have a soft spot for FreeBSD on the desktop.

For Dropbox on FreeBSD, I found just installing the CLI (pkg install dropbox-api-command) and then calling "dropbox-api sync" in cron ever 10 minutes was good enough.

Interesting. I was aware of the CLI but didn't know it worked on FreeBSD.

This links to an abstract, but I can't find the actual blog post.

It works for me. What are you seeing? (Feel free to email wes AT wezm.net)

Sorry for the noise. I thought it was a table of contents for your blog, but now I see that it is actually the March 2018 post with a bunch of sub-heads.

If only a stable *nix desktop OS could run a webex meeting I'd switch my devs over. But noooo it's a 10 year old java applet.

I've been thinking about doing this too. Great write up.

Wow so much hate for the MacBook

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