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The Decline of the MacBook Pro (dannyguo.com)
211 points by dguo 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 294 comments



You really start appreciating macOS when you go and install Linux on laptop and use it for a month. I had a same issue, I was in Apple camp for 10 years (as of this year). And I was like things suck now, Snow Leopard days yada yada yada... And then I installed Arch. Oh god... I mean, the worst thing is I can use Linux only as pure text/terminal UI. Although Gnome looks more polished than ever, whole UI/UX thing on Linux just can't be compared to macOS and Cocoa.

What I didn't like with OPs post is that Apple isn't making machine specifically for you, nor for developers. Why their machines had so much success since Jobs return was that they were making machines that were equally loved by music/video/content creators, developers, mothers/fathers/grandparents, students etc etc... If you aren't satisfied with your dev. environment go spin up a VM, rent a server or just get other machine that will fulfill your needs.

Where this post gets right is keyboards. Reliability has been number one aspect that Apple created as part of their brand's identity. I won't buy new machine until they do something about those crappy keyboards. And I would like to see them move from Intel. I would like to see how Apple do their own in-house development on CPU, or go with AMD.


While you are right that Apple isn't making machines specifically for the OP, the Pro was intended specifically for people like the OP. And the new MBP seems to have very different design goals than ealier MBPs. An obvious example is the ports. Older MBPs were renowned for the many different types of ports they supported.

The new MBP seems to be geared towards people who use Macs for Office work, but want the most expensive version of a mac portable they can find. Before writing this comment I was gonna add that Apple's definition of Pro seems to have reduced to people who deal with videos and photos, but if they were catering to that audience they would have left the SD card reader in.

The main difference between the old Apple portable lineup and the new one appears to me that in the old one, the Macbook, Air and the Pro all had overlapping but different design goals. Today's devices all seem to have the same primary design goals, with the differences existing so they can be slotted in different price brackets.


The crappy GPUs make the MBPs much less appealing for video work than they used to be, compared to other laptops that are better able to cope with modern demands (4k, HDR, noise reduction, stabilization, etc.). So maybe scratch another profession off that list.


Adobe Premier runs just fine on Windows, an ecosystem where raw power comes much cheaper. It wasn’t so much lackluster GPUs as the decline of Final Cut Pro.


I actually don’t mind giving up the ports on the mbp when these self-powered USB c docks have (HDMI, 3xUSB3, sd, micro sd, gigabit Ethernet, and power)

The hubs are pretty small. And fit in travel bags nicely. They actually make pretty good dicking stations too


I felt this for a while, but then I went to do something on my old 2011 MacBook Air and it was a breath of fresh air to just plug things in (DisplayPort! USB-A!) and not have to go hunting for myriad dongles.


I recall watching some professional photographers, some years ago, chasing George Cluny and some other celebrities filming on location (where I just happened to be, that day). I and a couple of them landed in a Starbucks at the same time. Out came the MacBook Pro. In went the media card. Debate, select, edit, maybe copyright/watermark/whatever, and off the photos went, to be some of the first available.

I suppose cameras may connect wirelessly now (?). Anyway, new format MacBook Pros don't seem to fit this scenario, nor others I see for real professional work portability, well.

Add to that the keyboard. I don't see how one keeps it "dust free" when running around chasing a story -- or work or whatever.


> In went the media card.

So these pros were all using SD cards and not CF cards? Not defending Apple, but putting in an SD card slot never made any sense to me because at that time the high end cameras often used CF cards. It also made an assumption that SD cards were never going to change. Plus, it wasted space for people who never needed to plug in some media card.

I would have much rather Apple added another USB connection in that space because it would have had much more flexibility.


A full page spread in a mass printed magazine like People is about 6 to 8 megapixels, i.e. they don't need to use the full 18 to 24 or more megapixels; most likely they crop heavily.

The CF cards are more expensive per megabyte and less compatible than SD cards.

Many pros shoot SD cards and never reuse them, giving themselves a backup just by copying the pics to their laptop and keeping the cards.


Since it’s a laptop, wouldn’t it make more sense to target more of a serious-casual type audience, and therefore use SD cards? The professionals who are more likely to use CF cards would be more likely to have a dedicated desktop for it.


My memory's had a bit longer to cook/regurgitate. Maybe they used a cable. If so (I am uncertain), sorry for my mis-recollection.

I would still worry about the keyboard situation.


“At the time”? The 5D mark IV still has dual CF/SD slots, with CFast being the highest-performance alternative available


> And then I installed Arch

It's so cool to hate on Ubuntu, but it's the best desktop linux experience. You did yourself a disservice.

What shines for linux is the package manager as a 1rst class citizen. I've had all sorts of issues with `brew` and no issues with `apt`


I love Ubuntu. But I installed it on my MacBook and still had plenty of trouble with it. External monitor support is meh, plugging/unplugging them too quickly will cause issues. Plugging into a 1080p monitor alongside my MBP's retina monitor causes issues because I can't seem to run different DPI scaling factors on different monitors at the same time. Suspend didn't work at all at first, and didn't work reliably even after some hacking.

For a work machine, it comes down to reliability and a hassle-free experience for me.


Unfortunately Apple hardware is not particularly well supported by Linux.


Fair enough, suspend and some other small things are probably better on other machines. But the issues with external monitors and DPI scaling are gonna be present for all hardware.


There are a few long-time MacOS design decisions that puzzle me. The lack of proper package management is one. Of course, the same might be said of Windows--although it's different enough from *nix that it's at least somewhat understandable.

The other one is the limitations of the Finder. There are better third-party apps but they don't integrate as first-class citizens.


It's because package management is a bad paradigm for application management.

MacOS descended from NeXT, which had Application Bundles, but even before that MacOS Classic did the sensible thing and just used folders. You want to install an application, you just put the folder somewhere on your disk. No library conflicts, no web of dependencies to break, and it integrates easily with the file management metaphor personal computers have had since forever. Want two copies of the same application, but different versions? No problem. Want to move the application to another disk? No problem. Uninstallation is one delete away. Want to put it on a floppy and take it to a friend's computer and run it? You get the idea.

Turns out you don't need a package manager unless you intend to over-engineer application management to the insane level that the open source community has.


For simple apps that makes sense. But then you have apps that require kernel drivers. Or the app itself is a shared library. Or multiple users on the same system use the app, etc.

>Turns out you don't need a package manager unless you intend to over-engineer application management to the insane level that the open source community has.

You don't necessarily need a package manager, but you can't solve the problem with simple folders either.


> For simple apps that makes sense. But then you have apps that require kernel drivers.

A.k.a drivers. The app is just a control panel. MacOS classic used "extensions" for this, which were basically just app folders you put in a specially designated folder.

So the modern version of that could just be dropping a folder into a special location there kernel knows to search for drivers, and include a control panel app.

> Or the app itself is a shared library.

A.k.a not an app at all. Shared libraries only really make sense as part of a stable base system that developers can target and depend on, otherwise you get DLL hell and require something like a package manager and all its associated limitations for basically no benefit at all.

If your application uses a library and you don't want to compile it statically, just include a copy in the app folder, secure in the knowledge that it will never cause a conflict or break your application due to an update or some other application replacing it.

> Or multiple users on the same system use the app, etc.

Desktops, a.k.a "Personal Computers", don't really have much of a multi-user use case. They did briefly in the time after the internet became a big deal but before smart phones were invented, but that time is over. Know what we did on Windows 98? We just shared the system, it wasn't a big deal.

Even so, it's not like you need two copies of the application to have two different configurations.

None of this is anywhere near as complicated as the people who promote it like to pretend it is.


>So the modern version of that could just be dropping a folder into a special location there kernel knows to search for drivers, and include a control panel app.

Do you mean the kernel is going to load random files from a user writable location? That sounds like a security nightmare TBH. Also, then you can't safely lazy-load kernel drivers because you never know what the user has done to the folder. Or if the OS has to lock access to the folder then the user has no feedback as to why they can't "uninstall" stuff by simply deleting folders, etc, etc. There are dozens of problems. Turns out, people have already thought over those problems and proposed solutions :)

>otherwise you get DLL hell and require something like a package manager and all its associated limitations for basically no benefit at all.

You claiming there is no benefit to being able to install/remove/update third party shared libraries doesn't solve anything.

>just include a copy in the app folder, secure in the knowledge that it will never cause a conflict or break your application due to an update or some other application replacing it.

That assumes you have the rights to distribute the library and that the library is small enough.

>Desktops, a.k.a "Personal Computers", don't really have much of a multi-user use case.

Maybe not for you. For millions of other users, its a very important use case.

>None of this is anywhere near as complicated as the people who promote it like to pretend it is.

Well its certainly not complicated if you re-define the problems as non-problems.


> Do you mean the kernel is going to load random files from a user writable location? That sounds like a security nightmare TBH.

On a server, sure, but on a PC? It's their computer, they should be able to do that. You're confused because permission systems on Desktop OSs are currently based around user accounts, which is silly. If they were based around applications instead it wouldn't be a problem.

> That assumes you have the rights to distribute the library and that the library is small enough.

If you don't, then why is your application using it? As for size, multi-GB applications are pretty common. It's not libraries that bring that size up, it's assets. Some applications have icons larger than most libraries. Otherwise, if your application isn't valuable enough to be worth the size of that library, then maybe you shouldn't use such a huge dependency in the first place.

> Maybe not for you. For millions of other users, its a very important use case.

Apparently not one you're willing to elaborate on. Besides, as mentioned, I believe there are better and simpler solutions to the problem than package management. In fact, how the hell does package management even help here?


>On a server, sure, but on a PC? It's their computer, they should be able to do that.

A user-writable location should never be used to load kernel modules. This is a privilege escalation vulnerability.

>You're confused because permission systems on Desktop OSs are currently based around user accounts, which is silly. If they were based around applications instead it wouldn't be a problem.

I prefer to deal with the real world design of operating systems rather than imagined ones.

>If you don't, then why is your application using it?

Using an API doesn't give you distribution rights. Copyright law assigns that to the creator of the application/shared library/. Depending on the license you will get different rights to either include a copy of the library, include a separate installer of the library, let the user install it separately, etc.

In other cases, patent law can disallow distribution. To give you an example off the top of my head - MP3 encoding is under US patent law and Audacity (an audio editing software that I use) does not allow you to save to the MP3 format till you install the shared library separately and point the software to its location.

>Apparently not one you're willing to elaborate on.

What is there to elaborate on? Are you not aware that millions of computers used in schools, colleges, corporate offices, server farms, homes, etc rely on multi-user features?

Solving a general problem involves solving it seamlessly for a large number of usecases. Otherwise you end up with a fragmented system that is confusing.

I would prefer they solve it in a perfect manner with perfect compatibility and perfect code with zero bugs, but they wouldn't listen to me. ;)

> I believe there are better and simpler solutions to the problem than package management.

Okay?

In any case, your folder based idea doesn't solve many of the real problems that users and creators face w.r.t. distributing, installing, and updating software. Before you reject them, its worth thinking about them. Bye!


Or if you like to have a secure machine that doesn't have 40 copies of a zero-day embedded in binaries across the system.


Fair enough. And I suppose Apple's attitude is more or less along the line that if you want to use our pristine machine as a Unix desktop/laptop managing the random packages you install is on you.

I almost wrote and didn't, but it's also true, that app stores (whether iOS or MacOS) are also effectively a form of application virtualization/package management.


Not all UNIXes have package management.


Which one doesn't? Solaris, Irix, SCO and everyone else I can think of does.


Embedded UNIX like OSes, mainframes with POSIX system?

Last time I used Solaris, around 2004, it had single application packages, like rpm before yum, meaning I had to manually track down the dependencies from Sun repositories.


From the top of my head, CoreOS. (It's built with Gentoo tooling, but intentionally ships without emerge etc. because you're supposed to use it as a base for Docker.)


I'm curious, what are the limitations of the Finder?


I have a few limitations/annoyances to contribute:

1. Try to dragndrop content from a child folder to the parent folder. There is a very VERY small area at the top of the window where you can drop your files. (got worse on 10.13)

2. Transfer of multiple files (multiple actions) is not managed successivly but simultaniously.

3. Constant loss of sidebar content, i.e. mounted drives.

4. Info about folder/s inconsistency: Open info for one folder 'Cmd+i', for multiple folders 'Cmd+Alt+i' if you want the overall size (and it doesnt' get highlighted) | Close info window for one folder 'Cmd+w', for multiple folders 'Cmd+Alt+i'.

5. No option to edit file/folder names in Save As... dialog

6. Save As... dialog again: click on a file by accident and your initial file name is gone.

7. I don't understand how people can use the columns sorting but that's personal taste I guess.

8. Missing native window snapping (half size, full size etc.).

MBP 2009 OS X 10.11 & Hackintosh macOS 10.13.4 and my background is years and years of M$.

There are things I love about the Finder, too. :)


Look at something like Pathfinder instead. The ordering of folders makes more logical sense to me. There's more flexibility in navigating to frequently used locations. There are more options in the menu. Etc.

There's nothing really bad about Finder. It's just sort of meh for a tool that one uses all the time.


Having a 'shelf' (with stack-like behavior) like Pathfinder does is very useful, it allows you to go into a dir in one tab, grab arbitrary files, park that selection temporarily, then switch to the destination and drop them. Yes, you can copy-n-paste (finally) in Finder.app, but without any way to to see what files are on the clipboard (short of pasting), and you can do two bunches at once. Of course, for lots of other file-moving, it's easier to use the command line anyhow (like matching on patterns). Pathfinder also filters and searches in the current dir, which Finder never seems to do...


The shelf here was a key part of the NeXTstep manager. Drives me nuts that Apple removed it.


What's wrong with Pathfinder that makes it not a "1st class citizen"?


When you do something like Save As... within an application and the dialog box is the native Finder.


I'm pretty sure that's a misconception. That's just the application using a system library for that dialog box, and the system library's look and feel (unsurprisingly) match the Finder's. In some cases, the code may actually be the same (i.e. the Finder itself uses that system library, too), but far from always.

This tends to show up if you're trying to tweak/customize preferences (e.g. from the command line or editing plists directly), since you usually have to duplicate the effort for both places.


At that point you're into semantics though. I'm fine with saying that Apple has BOTH a meh file manager and a meh system dialog box related to file stuff that may or may not share code. (And if they don't both work in pretty much the same way, that's mostly an annoyance as well.)


I brought it up not to nitpick semantics, but to elucidate to the, arguably more technical audience of HN, how the technical details can matter here.

Even to call it a "system" dialog is misleading, since it's just a system-provided library that each individual app is, technically, free to use or not use.

I certainly agree that it's annoying when the look, feel, and fucntion of all the apps' common interactions don't match each other. I do recall a time, though, when the system library features were so anemic, that I was actually glad of app's departure from the norm if it provided a useful new feature (e.g. "New Folder" button in a "Save" dialog).

I also agree that makes the suggestion of "use a Finder replacement app" not a solution to your real problem.

Maybe I'm suggesting that, to a nerdy-enough audience, you might have to state your real problem as being with "the Finder and all the system provided file-picking dialogs other apps tend to use".


I don't know, I just tried out Lubuntu on an MBP and it was a shockingly bad experience. And I use Linux every day in the terminal.

After an hour of trying to figure out how to connect to my WiFi I gave up -- I was hoping to get a non-technical friend onto Linux on her very old laptop, and I though if I as a nerd can't figure out the most basic thing, the first thing you'd want to do with the OS, well...

Still looking for a Linux for older hardware that will not completely freak out non-technie folks from a Mac background. Xubunto was the same, with better icons.


What happened?

All you need to do is click on the little wifi icon in the status bar (or go to preferences -> network connections).


I can recommend elementary os for people that would like a polished Linux distro


> but it's the best desktop linux experience

This is extremely subjective. I'm a full-time EXWM (Emacs as a window manager) on NixOS user and my environment is customized[1][2] to work the way I want it to.

Default desktops can work great for you if your mindset and workflow align with the designer(s) of the UI - but in my opinion it is much more valuable to be able to (note: not forced to) customize everything about your environment to slowly tailor it to your needs.

TL;DR - there's no single "best desktop experience".

[1]: https://github.com/tazjin/nixos-config [2]: https://github.com/tazjin/emacs.d


I completely agree there is no best desktop. I think the statement is better suited as Ubuntu is the "best desktop experience for the average person". I think that's what most people really mean when having this discussion. The average person part is sort of implied.


Problem with that is that "average person" isn't defined by any kind of metrics or anything, it's just whatever the developer imagines it is, which is usually some drooling moron caricature (when they don't want to provide a feature) or themselves (when they've written something that harms others' workflows).


What's an average person, though?

We're keeping this aura of mysticism around customized computer setups (obviously also because there's commercial interests against them).

I think many "average" people would have no greater difficulty learning a fast, simple, customizable mail client instead of Outlook for example.


> It's so cool to hate on Ubuntu, but it's the best desktop linux experience.

Really? I feel like writing the article "The decline of Ubuntu".


That sounds pretty cool.


Preface: I am a full-time Linux user, who has used both Mac and Windows extensively. My systems run Ubuntu with MATE, but I'd accept Mint/Cinnamon or GNOME too.

Snow Leopard was nine years ago to be fair. The UI/UX of Linux has come a long way since then, but the UI/UX could be optimized further. What is wrong with it?

To cover the common issues first: WiFi - Was an issue, but hasn't been on my machines at least six years. Sleep - Was an issue, but hasn't been on my machines at least four years. I've had this machine up to 60 day uptime, so 50+ sleeps, only restarting for the kernel update for example. HiDPI - Still an issue, but the apologist says "It was new tech! Just like the other two." Progress is being made, but it will be a while until seamless.

Due to my familiarity (with all three OSs) my UI/UX views may be incorrect for new users. I don't want a flame war. I want to know what else needs to be done in Ubuntu 18.04 GNOME and/or Mint/MATE. I'll file issues, create bug reports, and perhaps fix some things myself. It's easier to see this forest from another forest.

Edit: Further down the comments I found "Bluetooth" I'm going to look into it.


My biggest gripe with MacOS by far is that I can't hibernate. There is only this "sleep" mode that makes whatever it wants, with the promise that it will Just Work. I frequently find my laptop with an empty battery because who knows what. And a laptop that does not power up when you expect is the second worst kind of laptop (at least you don't lose the data, which would be the worst case).

When searching for solutions, internet delivers hypertechnical answers that are reminiscent of when I was dealing with a Linux laptop (pmset -g assertions browsing). To me, apple as a "Unix that Just Works" is a failure.

The hardware is high quality, but the brand-and-software premium price has stopped being a good deal for me.


I gotta ask, because I've used MBPs for the last 10 years, and I'm surrounding by dozens of people using the same: but what is your setup? Are you on High Sierra?

Sleep used to be a problem for me and a lot of others... back in 2012. I would consistently have issues with my MBP "waking up" when unplugging it from the wall but not opening it; occasionally I would close my MBP and coincidentally hear the fans going full blast 30 minutes later. Definitely untrustworthy 5/6 years ago

But sleep is generally a solved problem, so I have to think you're on a pre-Retina machine or running an older OS, or you've got some kexts doing bad things.


Unfortunately that's not the case; I've got a 2015 MacBook upgraded to High Sierra.



Tweaking prefs could help, make sure 'App Nap' is off, and see what the pmset hibernatemode is set to, it sounds like you want mode '1'.


> The UI/UX of Linux has come a long way since then, but the UI/UX could be optimized further. What is wrong with it?

Only details. Inconsistent layout, spacing, fonts and icons, animations that don't help and introduce artificial weight and sluggishness. It seems like there isn't much time spend with prototyping, maybe because the prototyping tools didn't exist on Linux (now you can use Figma and others in the browser), and most devs won't switch to Macs for Linux UI design out of pride.

Transitions and stuff like that are tricky, if your UI framework can't handle non linear transitions, better ignore them completely, linearity doesn't work out and will always feel slower and of lesser quality as rendering as fast as possible, or perfectly dialed in non linearity.


I continued on with my 17" 2011 MBP for years and finally committed to switch to Linux last year when Apple's hardware policy became clear.

I didn't want to do toe-in-the-water trial, so I researched for a while until I settled on something and ended up with a Dell Precision 7710. I really wanted to have a support line I could call if there was a problem and the Dell Developer Edition option has been excellent for that.

It was not easy at first. I experimented with a lot of distros (Arch is not for the faint of heart) and ended up settling on Fedora 25 at the time. I really enjoyed it for about 6 months until I had to upgrade to Fedora 26 and my machine got frozen in this weird between-upgrades state.

After that I decided to give Mint 18.3 w/ Cinnamon a try and I've been a very happy camper ever since. It's been an absolute joy to work with. Timeshift is pretty great too.

19 just hit beta and I'm looking forward to the upgrade. When I have to get on a Mac now, it feels clunky and in-the-way. I was an avid Mac user for 10+ years...even appeared as the Mac in one of those local "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ads"...but I'll say it right now, it would take a job requirement to get me to go back at this point.


It's insane that they don't support a 17" option still. Those machines were beasts. If I could have afforded to spend twice the money on a laptop at the time, I would have gotten one - I still probably should have with the number of HPs and Dells and Asuss I've gone through since.


A friend of my just replaced his motherboard to keep it going. My laptop is my 3rd screen...not having a 17" is not at option as far as I'm concerned.


I went from a 17" Dell (1600x900) to a 14" Thinkpad (2560x1440) - It mattered a lot less than I expected and the hidpi is lovely.


The screen size wasn't the only motivation. I like my laptop to be a portable server. This thing has 3 HD (2 NVMe & 1 SSD), up to 64GB / ram, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C, 1 Mini-Display/Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, SD card slot, ethernet port, finger print scanner and a smart card slot.

Plus the battery is replaceable.

I love my beast of a laptop with all the interchangeable parts.


I understand that, I went with a T470P which is an absurdly powerful little machine, i7-7700HQ, 32GB RAM, NVMe storage, no thunderbolt but I had no need for it also has HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet port, Fingerprint reader.

Happy with it for what I paid (lot of machine for the money).


Does it have ECC RAM? If it does, then that system sounds very tempting. I wouldn't dare to use it for work without ECC.


Spot on. I remember not long ago trying to replace my MBP with a linux box and asking/complaining about the HiDPI situation on linux on some forum. One the responses I received was no one needs HiDPI. Huh?

I'm hoping this is just a down period for Apple. They have had issues before and corrected them, so we'll see.


What is somewhat ironic is that X11 is DPI aware at least since R6 (early 90's or so). But most modern applications tend to ignore that because it caused "stuff to look wrong" (as in not exactly pixel-exact same everywhere). FWIW Windows' GDI also has some DPI awareness since forever, but it didn't really work well to the extent of even Windows components having totally broken UI for anything other than 75dpi (caused by mixing of units in UI definition).


Elementary OS Linux supports HiDPI pretty well.


Disclaimer I bought and supported Elementary OS last year. It's definitely got potential. Then you run straight into the braindead lack of UI decisions or "opinionated design" and are just kind of like ugh.. Ok.


Linux Mint + Cinnamon (or even + Macbuntu + Docky if you want to feel like on Mac, including switching flat dock to 3D if you liked Mavericks), then in General settings choose HiDPI in the first option. I run like that for 3 years already, on 3x 4k monitors. You can thank me later ;-)


> Why their machines had so much success since Jobs return was that they were making machines that were equally loved by music/video/content creators, developers, mothers/fathers/grandparents, students etc etc... If you aren't satisfied with your dev. environment go spin up a VM, rent a server or just get other machine that will fulfill your needs.

So Apple used to make machines that delighted all audiences, they now don't, so one of those audience (developers) needs to get in line and change. O...k?

Apple should actually go out and understand why developers are lukewarm on their machines, and if they're not or just ignoring one of those audiences, then they're doing so at their own peril.


> Apple should actually go out and understand why developers are lukewarm on their machines, and if they're not or just ignoring one of those audiences, then they're doing so at their own peril.

They did but only recently, it's why they've redoing MacPro and released iMac Pro, which was a good step in a way but it didn't help. They've admitted to failing the devs on this in that rare interview last year when they were talking about Mac Pro.

The question is, will they apply the same lessons to MacBook Pro? They need to step up on the next generation and if they fail to do so, Microsoft is getting my money as I liked playing with Surface Book.


Your comment seems pretty accurate to me, and developers are especially relevant since they are forced to use OsX if they want to do anything for the other parts of the apple ecosystem. Parts that are apparently important enough to ignore desktop will begin to suffer from less 3rd party developers and more hostile cross platform developers..

The intern who has to make it work in Windows store then having to find and try to boot the iMac to sign the iPhone binaries is the fast death of desktop and the slow death of Apple's profit centers.


Odd. I've been waiting for a Macbook Pro that has something that excites me for a while (as my present one is 7 years old) and kind of gave up when the most recent Macbooks were announced.

I threw some more RAM and a 4 core CPU in a desktop that I'd previously been using as a PVR, and have gotten along with GNOME just fine. While a lot of folks dislike GNOME 3, I actually find it to be one of the more innovative and interesting desktops going around at the moment (including macOS and the various Windows iterations).

Oddly, the main thing I miss is that, while Mail.app has loads of annoyances, it still seems to do better with large IMAP folder better than anything on Linux except Thunderbird (which I find a bit clunky in the interface).

Were it not for music production software, I'd be very tempted to do a wholesale switch (in my case back to Linux, as it's what I used in the decade before I got my first Mac).


"Were it not for" is exactly why Linux is such a sub-par desktop experience. GNOME/KDE are fine, but they're just the desktop shell, what is missing is high quality apps.

If all you need is a terminal and a browser, then sure, Linux has you more than covered, but the apps for just about everything else are either lacking in UX or features or both.

I ran nothing but Linux from 1997 to 2010 and I switched to macOS full time in 2011 when I came home from the birth of my son, and decided to take all of the photos of the pregnancy and birth, import them into iPhoto and use the book designer to order a big printed photo book. It was so nice to be able to do that at all, so easy to do, and the results so pleasing, that I immediately demoted my Linux partition to a VM and haven't looked back :)


As of the last few years, there are actually high quality apps for music production on the Linux desktop (BitWig, Tracktion), they're just not the apps that I've used for the last 15 years, and since I have a Mac, I'm not inclined to change. However, if there's not a Macbook I'm excited to drop €3000 on by the time that my current one dies (or stops getting updates), I'd consider spending the time to switch tools.

Notable there too is that my next Macbook will almost certainly be around €3000. My last one was €1300 plus another €80 to max out the RAM. That's a pretty massive difference for the top of the line 13" model.


Those music production apps have the same issue though - most plugins that people want to use don't support Linux, at least not natively and easily.

Progress has been made but there is still a long way to go.


Precisely. For me it was 2001 to 2012. In the six years since, I miss two things from Linux based desktops: being easily able to launch any application from the terminal and having a clock in the top bar that also has a calendar widget.

What I’ve gained is productivity in a whole bunch of non-dev scenarios. People moan about Creative Cloud or Office pricing but I now no longer have to make a hundred little compromises each day.


> launch any application from the terminal

I am not sure I understand the issue here, but is there some reason that 'open -a "ApplicationName"' does not work for you?

I can think of some things; I haven't tried but the app developer would need to provide an API to handle command-line options. Sometimes I examine an application's Scripting dictionary via the Script Editor or Automator, but in general I am not writing big shell scripts to drive applicaitons.


With Ubuntu, and other Linuxen I've used, it's a matter of typing "firefox" or whatever the app is called. So, sure, I can type the extra but what I like about the Linux world is that there's no distinction between terminal and GUI apps when it comes to launching from the terminal.


> KDE and Gnome are not only desktop shells.

This is just not true. KDE and Gnome both have a huge app offering.


Now that Thunderbird is under active development again it should improve. The beta seems a good bit snappier.


I don't know. I had to use Mac at work and I hated it. It seems like for every stupid thing you needed to install an app or something. I had to spend considerable amount of time to make os x usable in dev scenario, whereas when I compare it to Ubuntu, Ubuntu has everything working out of the box. I am glad I don't have to use OS X any more.


> whole UI/UX thing on Linux just can't be compared to macOS and Cocoa.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I much prefer the look and feel of my i3/polybar setup. As a professional developer, I am not the target audience for Apple's UI.


Those guys and gals creating Mac specific software are professional developers and pretty much the target audience of Apple's UI.


They are "pretty much" not--it's the 10s of millions of non-developer consumers that drive Apple's UI/UX.


You should experience attending a WWDC, even if virtually.


If we are talking developer tools, sure, they are developer oriented by definition.

The overall Apple UX is clearly inheriting from the other side of the spectrum. Headless Linux is massively popular among developers for a reason, and not because the average developer is stuck-up.


There are many developers on Apple systems that care about their exclusive Apple users, using macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS native APIs.

They really care about the UI/UX that they provide to their users and what graphical tooling and OS APIs can make their jobs easy.

Then there those using Apple computers as pretty GNU/Linux replacements, doing development work that should actually be done in a GNU/Linux distribution.

Developer is not only someone coding away UNIX CLI apps.


Arch is an OS for people who like hacking together an OS. For a full desktop experience, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu flavors, Elementary, and many other distributions are probably a better way to go.


> You really start appreciating macOS when you go and install Linux on laptop and use it for a month

Actually, the opposite happened to me: I started really disliking macOS after switching to Ubuntu + i3 on my main development machine. That's on a desktop computer though, not a laptop, so I didn't run into any Linux issues regarding battery & sleep. The experience might not be as good on a laptop, especially if the hardware is worse than my 2015 rMBP, which unfortunately seems quite common for non-Mac laptops even today.


So far I've had a good experience with Kubuntu on an old Lenovo ideapad from ~7 years ago, after throwing a new SSD in to replace the old HDD. Everything so far has worked out of the box without any problems, I was able to get both MATLAB and Mendeley (the only two programs I was concerned would give me issues) up and running without any problem for my research, and I configured the desktop environment so it looks and functions almost identical to MacOS (at least for how I usually use MacOS, and with a few changes that I feel are more aesthetically pleasing).

I tried this because my main 2015 macbook pro somehow developed an swollen battery, which has caused the case to warp really badly (wobbles distractingly when typing). There are reports that this swelling can, predictably, lead to explosions [1]. The ETA for arrival+service of new battery was ~ a week, full cost to me, and no loaner program. Pretty ridiculous for a known hardware defect.

[1]https://medium.com/@dourvaris/my-2015-macbook-pro-retina-exp...


Pretty sure that no one will see this, but just to make a correction in case someone does, the new battery was totally covered even though the machine was out of warranty, and I dropped it off saturday afternoon and the machine was sent out, repaired, and ready to pick up tuesday morning. Surprisingly a really painless experience.


Get a Linux Mint/Cinnamon on a notebook with 3k/4k HiDPI screen, 32GB RAM, install MacBuntu & Docky, and then come back to tell us about your experience ;-) It doesn't feel like a wannabe Mac slap-on anymore. I use such setup for some local users and it is smooth as on a Mac. I even had people asking me during a video call where I shared my desktop what kind of macOS mod it was.


Keyboard on Macbook Pro: it sucks big time. Can't believe how they shipped it this way.


Same here. It was the touch bar that did it for me. Didn’t mind the ports. Dell XPS with fedora 28 is so much faster, quieter and comfortable than any MacBook I had before (3 in total).

Last MacBook I had bricked on me while I was trying to shut it down while at the library. It didn’t shutdown but started heating up in my bagpack. I noticed the smell and was able to take it out and open the lid and let it die naturally.

Best thing about Apple though is still their ethical and generous customer service. Dell customer service is truly disgusting. At least in Germany. Would probably not buy a new Dell laptop but look for something else.


I don't know what to say about your comparisons.. I find all desktop OSes unusable at the moment and I think that is more embarrassing for Windows and OsX than Linux, since Linux has a lot of other places it can be besides desktop.

As a developer I am going back to pure window managers without the "environment" of gnome or KDE. For non-developers, Tablets seem to be dieing so I guess you are supposed to keep a larger phone at home.


Yup, agreed here.

I shared the sentiments that this post had. Then I got a XPS 15" and booted ElementaryOS on it and trying to deal with the resolution issues from the 4K display was just a huge headache.

Also, say what you will about the MBP, even though I paid $2k for my XPS, it still wasn't nearly as nice as the MBP's touchpad, etc. I would definitely still pay a premium for that MBP hardware.


> booted ElementaryOS on it and trying to deal with the resolution issues from the 4K display was just a huge headache

Jeez. The sentence, "I booted distro-X on it and trying to deal with the resolution issues from was just a huge headache," is still true in 2018. People were saying things like this about Linux 15 years ago!


Windows 10 has resolution issues with HiDPI displays.

I find KDE to be fine with a single 4K display. I think the difficulties come with mixing a standard and a HiDPI screen.


Agreed. Pre-Wayland, Linux/X typically needs to treat all your screens as viewports onto a single virtual screen, which of course has to have a single DPI.

This is a more common use case than some folks might imagine. My laptop screen is HiDPI, but as soon as I plug into a projector or screen sharing device that acts as a second display, things get realllllly weird: Linux/X does not know how to dynamically change screen DPI without logout/login. I work around it by just running my laptop screen at "low" DPI. I don't miss it TBH; I suspect that many people who do notice it have better eyesight than me (possibly an age thing).

Wayland is supposed to help with this to some extent, but it's not yet ready for prime time.


Definitely this, I have a Thinkpad with Ubuntu 18.04, built in 4k display with 2 external 2k displays. I spent way too much time trying to get it to work. I just resorted to change magnification each time I dock/undock


What kind of issues? O-o


And 4K is an easy one if you just want doubled density 1080p! I tried to set up a fractional scale once on a Surface Pro (Windows defaults to 1.5x) and the answer is "Set 2x in the UI, then configure xrandr to scale it back down 0.75x"

This was a few years ago, maybe things have improved.


To be fair, ElementaryOS is based on software from 2015/16 (Ubuntu 16.04). HiDPI support in Linux is better (though still not perfect) in 2018.


You should have tried Fedora with Wayland Gnome. Its been working pretty well with HiDPI since F-25 and it's F-28 now.

Fedora still has some issues with mixing 1x and 2x DPI screens, but heh, so does Windows.

And yeah, you still have to manually edit the fonts for the virtual consoles and the GRUB boot, if you care. Otherwise keep a magnifier handy to edit the boot commands. ;-)


The problem is you expected an Arch Linux laptop install to "just work" when you were new to desktop Linux in general. Linux really isn't a "just work" desktop OS and it caters to power users. You might try Ubuntu as your first Linux distribution, but you will be continually frustrated if you expect a fresh Linux desktop install to fit like a glove.


How long has Linux been around? Why haven't "power user 10x developer/hackers" solved building a Linux desktop that fits like a glove? That works out of the box with modern hardware for wifi, video, audio, bluetooth etc.?


Used Gentoo and FreeBSD for years. I knew what i was up to with Arch. I’ve used it in high school for few years with different desktop env. So I think I was more than prepared for Linux experience. Operating systems are my fetish if I may say so. :P


If you can't handle a terminal-only environment, or even see it as less preferable to a desktop (you can install any WM you please in 15 minutes), it seems a bit disingenuous to claim you are "more than prepared for Linux experience".


You don't go to Arch for the UI/UX. I have used Windows, Mac, and Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora, and Arch). My experience with Arch (i3wm) has been vastly superior to anything I have used before. I would not trade it for anything. The thing about it is it caters to a certain group of people, and if you are not one of those, then you won't have a good time with it.


>the worst thing is I can use Linux only as pure text/terminal UI

Genuinely curious, but why on earth would you install Arch of all things, then? Surely you would have preferred any of the myriad distros that come with a desktop environment preinstalled?

Even on Arch, GNOME is just a pacman command away. You don't have to run i3 with anime wallpaper.


I had enough of macOS disaster so I have installed ChromeOS on my Macbook Pro Retina and Debian Stretch via crouton.

Never looked back - it is excellent combo of graphical environment of ChromeOS which really just works and Debian in terminal with zsh, Vim and all...


I agree with you. To me the 2 primary blunders are the keyboard / touch-bar and the removal of the magsafe. But the other things together are indicative of a train on the wrong track.


That's odd. After having to deal with MacOS for a while, I really appreciated Linux.


i have both a mac book pro, and ubuntu running on a xps 13. the mac book has infintely better hardware: better keyboard, touchpad, screen, battery life.

I think the real issue is laptops suck. I would rather have a mechanical keyboard, real mouse, and a 24" screen at eye level.


Unfortunately Mac is still miles ahead of Linux on usability. I recently got an XPS 13 and put Ubuntu on it, and immediately ran into many small issues such as:

- Touchpad had a very low resolution. This had to be fixed by using a different display server.

- Touchpad had nonexistent palm rejection. I fixed this by turning off tap to click which doesn’t actually fix the problem but stops it from causing an issue when typing.

- Touchpad generally had a very old fashioned layout with large zones for the right click button and scroll bar.

- All of these touchpad fixes had to be done with some strangely formatted text files.

- Key remapping also required diving into a whole set of text files and searching around for incomplete documentation wikis on it.

- Gestures do not work without switching back to the display server with the very low resolution touchpad.

- The windowing and multi desktop system is generally not as well thought out as Mac.

- Bluetooth just doesn’t work well. I need to “forget” and then reconnect to a device to join it again. Feels very buggy.

There are also a lot of other things I’m forgetting right now. Currently Linux does not offer a top tier desktop experience, and it’s been 90% of the way there for like 15 years, so I doubt it’s ever going to get better until the dynamics of the ecosystem change. My guess is that Linux developers don’t want to do boring stuff like fixing obscure bugs for certain peripherals, and they don’t want to listen to designers to create a polished unified experience.

I briefly used windows while installing Ubuntu and it was generally much smoother. If windows can get the Linux subsystem stuff working 100% my guess is that it will start to gain momentum as a developer OS.


I agree, but the problem is that if the MBP can't be considered 'reliable', then none of that really matters.

I've been a happy Mac user for years now, and historically, on the very rare occasion that I had a problem, it was either fixed near immediately, or solved to 'better-than-satisfaction' levels by the geniuses at the store.

My first Touchbar-equipped MBP has been the most problematic computer I've ever owned. The keyboard, despite that I love the short throw and initial feel of it, just stops working sometimes, or sticks, or becomes weirdly responsive. Five times in six months, I've had an update fail to load, with the system complaining that the OS couldn't be detected. Easy to solve for techies, nearly impossible for the average user. Having to carry three dongles is just an inconvenience, but it's very much inconvenient. The touchbar? I don't even want to get into it. The physical power button has failed -- the whole thing is flaky as hell, and I'm forced to choose between a touchbar system that works when it wants, or a tactile ESC key that is a full 1Ghz slower and arbitrarily feature restricted. So on and so forth.

Beyond that, for each of my many complaints, Genius bar appointments are being scheduled weeks out, and have been providing fixes that recur as quickly as the same day I receive the unit back.

They have problems. And while you're right that the next-best product is still way below the quality of even the worst MBP, that hasn't stopped me daydreaming of throwing this thing out the window and replacing it with a Thinkpad. As it stands, I've retired my old Mac Pro and replaced it with Ubuntu 18 on a desktop. With a standard PC and mouse, the UI polish is still very noticeable, but the usability quirks aren't as apparent as trying to run Ubuntu on Mac hardware.


I briefly used windows while installing Ubuntu and it was generally much smoother. If windows can get the Linux subsystem stuff working 100% my guess is that it will start to gain momentum as a developer OS.

Right. We may be in a transition now where Apple has given up on the geek market (except for iOS developers), and Microsoft has realized there's an opportunity. I'm also keeping an eye on the upcoming Linux support in ChromeOS.


> > If windows can get the Linux subsystem stuff working 100%

It has to be a whole lot better than it is now. You know what would be awesome? If I could have something like VirtualBox Seamless mode, but without all of the hassles. I open a control panel, pick from a list of lightweight distros, and the Linux apps appear on the Windows Start panel. I open them from there, and they just open.

The killer would be this: Let me have multiple virtual machines, which I can snapshot, copy, etc, then let me switch between them on the fly. Do this, while letting me keep the same Linux home directory in a way that looks to the guest OS like mapping it as a network drive. (But which is much faster, so I can compile without penalty.)

Come to think of it, a feature set like this could easily fit into MacOS.


> and the Linux apps appear on the Windows Start panel.

GUI's are explicitly not the focus of WSL, and WSL is not VM's - it's running native Linux code on top of the Windows kernel. It is possible to run an X server on your windows and let your Linux gui binaries use that though.


There is a huge difference in UX between what you just described and what I just described.


Fwiw, I recently was forced to use a MBP at work after being full-on Linux for ~20 years. I find OSX to be irritating on a number of levels but coming from the opposite direction.

> My guess is that Linux developers don’t want to do boring stuff like fixing obscure bugs for certain peripherals, and they don’t want to listen to designers to create a polished unified experience.

I think OSX offering a Unix-like experience drew away a lot of open source developers to donate their free time and expertise towards a commercial company like Apple rather than the community. If this had not happened, it's possible the Linux desktop experience may have kept up with the times better.

Decade old coreutils is closer to traditional Unix than Ubuntu. Heck, OSX started with tcsh as the default shell. OSX without the magnanimous gift of Homebrew seems pretty garbage.


Nah. Linux will always have poor ergonomics when it comes to device support simply because of the development culture in Linux, and particularly the Linux kernel culture: support every device under the sun in a way that minimally satisfies every stake holder. That means there are always too many controls and knobs. Device support stops at 80% completion (all the esoteric features working, but poorly integrated) because, theoretically, with all the knobs the end-user has the capability to take it the next 20%, and there's always something new around the corner that needs that 80% support. That's the Linux way and will always be the Linux way.

There are two other ways: the Microsoft way which is to invest billions sustaining an OS and commercial developer ecosystem that does marginally better in terms of working well out-of-the-box. And the BSD[1], Apple, Chrome[2] way, which is to focus on specific hardware and specific use cases and outright reject everything else.

Pick your poison.

[1] BSD is a broad brush. NetBSD and OpenBSD are more focused than FreeBSD, which sits somewhere between those two and Linux. NetBSD is more developer focused (always emphasizing the perfect APIs and frameworks) while OpenBSD focuses on functionality, both server-side and client-side. AFAIU, if you buy one of the laptops favored by OpenBSD developers things will work very well out-of-the-box. The downside is that because of lack of manpower if they can't do it well they won't do it at all (e.g. the previous lack of 802.11n Wifi support for many years).

[2] Obviously it is possible and viable for a vendor to complete that last 20% that Linux leaves unresolved, at least if they very narrowly focus their efforts. But Google is for the most part the only such success; there have been (and will be) many other attempts that will drown in the endless complexity and churn of the Linux ecosystem.


When I read stuff like this, I'm reminded why, despite working professionally with Linux on average 5 days a week for over 15 years, my home machines run Windows 10 and OSX.

The tragedy of the "Linux on the desktop" coming-revolution-that-never-arrived is most obvious on the laptop environment. The user community, at least when one googles solutions to problems, seems to fall either in the "completely clueless" or the "elite expert who's skeptical of people" categories. It's excruciating to look things up, and 'fixing it yourself' is no longer possible for me given time constraints. Time is money, much more so as you get older.

I'm a sysadmin/sys engineer and not a software architect, but is it possible that a software project that's essentially defining an entire GUI system that apps would have to follow would ITSELF require human centralization at the developer level? It seems what makes OSX's UI so clean is that specific people made specific rules that everyone has to follow.


That's odd. I recently prepared an xps15 with Ubuntu 18.04 for one of my engineers moving from a Mac.

I don't recall having to tweak the touchpad in any way. I did need to install the correct nvidia driver and use nvidia-prime to default to the Intel video card for best battery life.

I moved to an xps15 over a year ago and am really pleased with the transition. 17.04 and up have just worked for the most part.

The occasional issues that arise usually take deep technical understanding to solve, but that's a price I don't mind paying to have an underlying set of tools and libraries based on Linux.


Yep. My partner has had Windows laptops where the hardware is just junk too. I had my previous Macbook Pro for 7 years and just upgraded the internals. The Touch Pad is still today unmatched on that thing (except by my new macbook pro) and the hardware was always top notch in terms of its integration with the OS. In my niche field of audio programming Mac is basically required as most commerical software is released to be used by live musicians who also use Mac. Can you guess why? Superior audio drivers with minimal latency. To get something comparable on windows you have to use an external audio interface which is fine, but on windows is generally more buggy. Mac definitely still has the strangehold for audio on 'just works'.


I decided to try switching to a linux laptop (x1 carbon) recently for many of the same reasons listed in OP's article. Though my employer maintains a reasonably well polished flavor of debian, so I haven't had to deal with the slew of driver-related annoyances that usually come with trying to run linux on a laptop. So far so good.

+ keyboard is great

+ after getting used to the trackpoint, I like it

+ matte screen

+ working in a dev environment that matches your production environment is presumably useful, particularly when working with docker.

+ first class package manager

+ noticeably lighter

- UI isn't as slick. maybe one day I'll try a WM. i3 or something.

- occasional driver issues


Minor nitpick:

You're probably already using a WM (unless you're in tty all the time). Gnome, KDE, MATE are all WM (and more).


The Pixelbook with Crostini (for full Linux support) solves some of these problems. I have one and love it, having switched from a Mac. The Crostini Linux support is way way better than I expected.


My main desktop is an old 2008 Mac Pro tower that is still going strong. However I've recently been developing on an old(5+ year out of warranty corporate) Dell desktop and laptop running Mint. Because it basically supports nothing I use on my desktop, it's completely distraction free. When I want a gaming experience, I jump on my Windows rig. I agree on all your points though, the MacOS environment is what Linux desktop wishes, and should be. It won't ever reach that level. Until Apple figures out what they ultimately want to do with professionals, I'll continue using 5-10+ year old hardware until it just dies.


> It won't ever reach that level.

A bold claim! I can't be certain either way but Linux has gotten so much better in terms of usability in the last 4-5 years for newer users.

Both my parents and in-laws had issues with Windows, they are up and away on Ubuntu for the last year and I've never had to solve any issues for them with it.

My colleagues that use Macs cling to the old ideas that second monitors, hibernation, gestures, compatibility is poor on Linux whilst ignoring the same issues they have with more recent version of OSX (wifi dropping, failure to sleep).

If Linux Distros can keep improving I think they'll have a small shot but I wouldn't go far as to say that shot is impossible.


It is a bold claim but I agree. I used a Linux desktop for 10 years after ditching Windows but I was often fighting with it. After that I used a Mac for the last 10 years and things are generally smoother. Linux is pretty good these days but there are problems that prevent it from being great and I suspect it will always lag behind a bit. I think most of the problems stem from inferior drivers.


If you've been on OSX for the last 10 years then indeed Linux was very different. Whilst I won't attempt to argue you should swap or anything, I've found modern distros are pretty much plug and go when it comes to wifi/multiple monitors/graphics (things that used to be a real pain).


You just can`t compare linux desktop on laptops with macbooks.. just can`t.


Whilst macOS is pretty polished for many thing it still has some pretty big usability issues itself particularly with regard to keyboard shortcuts.

Case in point Split View; it doesn't have _any_ keyboard short cuts. In Gnome 3 you can snap a window to either side with Super-Left or Super-right. Shift-Super-<arrow> will move it to another monitor.

You can't do anything like that on macOS without installing third party software like Better Touch Tool (which you have to pay for).


Whilst you do need third party software for this, it is not the case that one need pay for it. Spectacle [1] is free of charge. I have personally used it for years.

[1]: https://www.spectacleapp.com/


Thank you, I'll definitely give that a good look.

I still don't get why Apple didn't even consider keyboard based users whilst developing Split View. It's like the silly full screen animation you have to wait for every time or having to use the mouse to get a spelling suggestion because there's no keyboard shortcut for that either.


user here for +3y. Great app (i never touch the full native full screen mode with that app)


I find that Linux really shines on a workstation/desktop with a regular mouse and keyboard. MacOS shines in laptop format, but that is where most of the UI/UX benefits end.


I have an older XPS 13, one that came with Windows 8, and putting Ubuntu on it absolutely saved its life. The touchpad driver on Windows was _terrible_ and sleep/hibernate didn't work consistently. I pretty much abandoned it, until one day I decided to try out Ubuntu 16 on it. Suddenly the touchpad was astoundingly accurate and felt on par with my MacBook Pro. I truly love that laptop now.

I thought about upgrading it to 18, but I think I'll just ride it out. It's perfect as-is.


I have noticed the Bluetooth problem as well in Ubuntu 18.04 with some new Bluetooth headphones I got... very annoying.


I think what bugs me about bluetooth on Ubuntu the most is that it forgets its state on reboot. Turn it off, reboot and it's back on.


I agree. After using OSX for about a decade, then Ubuntu for about 18 months, I now use Windows 10 with an Ubuntu VM running inside. It's currently the best of all worlds IMO.

I think ultimately Chromebooks with Crostini may emerge as the ultimate dev boxes.


> Unfortunately Mac is still miles ahead of Linux on usability

That's like saying a sandwich is ahead of a box of air in preventing starvation. We already know.


Most of what the author mentions, like the "bloatware" (that happens to be one of the best OEM pack-in values in the history of personal computing) is personal preference.

There absolutely is a problem with the direction of Apple's pro laptops, though, and that is simply that they've lost the pragmatism of the Macbook Pro line:

A balance of current and future ports is pragmatic. Going from exclusively USB-A to exclusively USB-C is not.

Making the occasional experience of replacing the battery harder in exchange for a thinner and lighter device is pragmatic. Making the everyday experience of typing on the keyboard less reliable for a thinner and lighter device is not.

Adding a novel new mode of interaction to high-end models is pragmatic. Adding the Touch Bar to the base 15" model and increasing the entry-level price point by 20% is not.

There has always been an element of designer vanity to Apple's products, but it has been tempered by pragmatism. The 2016 MacBook Pro marks the point where vanity gained the upper hand – and I hope pragmatism takes it back soon.


The idea that Apple software is bloatwate because he’s fully bought into the Google ecosystem is laughable. It’s fine if you don’t want in on Apple’s rich ecosystem, but that’s very different from “bloatware.”


He's probably alluding to the fact that these apps are installed by default (which needn't be the case because MAS).


I had the same thought. I really like Numbers, I stoped using Evernote because it was bloated (I am using the simpler stock mac notes). I use Calendar, Reminders, Preview and Safari. Quick look is not an app, but is a great mac feature that you don't find elsewhere.

I think that the stock apple software is really good. It is simple without lacking usability. It is something that you can really use and, if you need something better or more customizable, you can get third party apps.

I feel like bloatware is something that is very bad and not usable.


The fact I can't uninstall certain non-critical applications like iTunes certainly makes it feel like bloatware.


You can, there are a ton of instructions on the internet showing how. Not sure why you would bother though, disk space is cheap.


> disk space is cheap

Not from Apple it isn't.

* Adding 128 GB to a MPB = $200

* 512GB SSD on NewEgg = $100.


On my machine iTunes is 200MB, so about 30 cents worth.


My belief is that being able to not see stuff like that gives a much stronger sense of ownership of the device. It also removes you from an endless treadmill of software updates to something you don't use (some of which may even force you to restart your machine). Following someone's guide to perform hacks to remove something that the OS vendor clearly expects to always be there is both a hassle and likely to cause unforseen consequences in the future, so I don't really agree that the desire is actually solved by the existence of these guides.


It's only rich if you only use apple devices... none of the software works on non-apple devices. For those of us who use non-apple devices, nearly all of that software is bloat.

Apple could easily fix this by releasing their software for other platforms, or web-enabling them... but they don't...

So... bloat.


Mail, Calendar, Keynote, Contacts, Photos, Notes, Reminders, Pages, and Numbers are web enabled. Go to iCloud.com. You can legit edit and collaborate in Keynote/Pages/Numbers on the web, and in some ways is superior to G suite apps (especially Google Slides).


If the web app is good enough, then the desktop versions shouldn't exist and thus shouldn't be installed. They end up being "bloat" either way.


Ah so you are an electron fan eh? Web apps "good enough" eliminate desktop apps? <eyeroll>


My point is that if Apple's webapps are good enough to serve as the only interface to e.g. your documents on other platforms, they should also be good enough for MacOS. I don't personally believe that they are good enough for that but you can't have it both ways: Either Apple doesn't support other platforms well enough for their ecosystem to be a good choice for a multi-platform user or else their web apps are good enough that they don't need corresponding desktop apps.

To directly address your question, though, I am a fan of so-called progressive webapps and very much not a fan of electron.


If you use non-Apple devices then there is no bloat since you do not have these apps.


My company was recently acquired and we switched from GSuite to Microsoft exchange. Using the native mac apps (email, calendar) instead of Microsoft's clients was nice and i probably wouldn't have done it if they weren't installed.


I mean if OP wants an OS without "bloatware" according to his definition, Arch is really the best option (which was his conclusion).


Not only that, but unlike the crapware installed on Windows/Android, you can simply trash those apps and they take up no space on your system. 99% of users probably find the majority of those apps really helpful.


An evernote user complaining about bloatware is pretty funny.


Author here. I've been looking to switch off Evernote but haven't found a suitable replacement yet.


Apple notes is quite good. I replaced Evernote with it years ago and never looked back.


Google Keep is alright


I don't get the complaints over stuff like HDMI and SD slots getting dropped. When they're left out, people who need them have to carry around adapters. When they're included, people who _don't_ need them have to carry them around (in the form of less battery and a bigger laptop).

Doesn’t it make sense to put the “burden” on folks who need this stuff? I don't want your HDMI. I don't want your SD slot. I don't even want your USB-A or audio-out. Why should my laptop be burdened with all this crap just because other people can’t manage dongles or a port replicator?


For connectivity, device : cable : client is a simple solution.

Adding a dongle to the mix is something else you might not have with you. Its something else that can break. It adds to desktop clutter.

Honestly i can live without an sd card slot, but that was a nice differentiator for the laptop market. Its also arguably better than usb drives. Just tuck a disk in when you need it and dont worry about sticks hanging off the side of your laptop catching on things. Also many usb dongles are too wide, crowding other ports.

Dongles just dont simplify things and are counter to the older product design focused on simplicity and requiring users to manage less of their computing.

I use both windows and mac. Simplicity is on the decline in mac, but when you see the contrast in complexity your focus is better for a lot of tasks.

The dark side of this is over simplicity which gets in the way of more detailed tasks.

No downvotes, I enjoy different perspectives.


Options are what a "Pro" line differentiates from a "base" or "premium" line: that there are models with and without SD card slot (most mid-tier Android phones have SDXC btw), and models with and without USB ports (higher-end Android have basically more ports than a MacBook "Pro" at this point). Same with display and RAM choices, and especially the touch bar. But Apple only produces shiny thin and thinner notebooks; nothing "Pro" about them.


> higher-end Android have basically more ports than a MacBook "Pro" at this point

The base model MacBook Pro has three ports; the higher-end model has five. Are there actually Android handsets with more than three ports, and if so...why?


S8/S9 has USB-C, MicroSDXC, Audio, and SIM


Didn't think about SIM, thanks. Seems unusual to consider a SIM slot as a port for the purpose of this discussion, but it's technically correct.


I don't need your ... gray case ... or whatever is supposed to be good about the new MBPs compared to the 2015 models. But I rather enjoy SD card slots for my cameras and multiple ports, so now I have a Dell.

And based on sales numbers it seems like I'm not in a large group there. Which is fine, the Dell is great. But if I were Apple, I'd be doing a lot of research to find out how narrow is too narrow, when it comes to the bulk of their sales.


> I don't get the complaints over stuff like HDMI and SD slots getting dropped.

Trying to connect to a projector is a fairly common use case, so is reading media cards from cameras and phones. Removing them makes them less portable, as they require lugging around a bunch of extra bits. It's basically going back to the 90s where you had to carry a bunch of random PCMCIA cards with you depending on what you wanted to do.

What about the "burden" of watching someone scramble around for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to connect their computer to the projector because they don't seem to have the right series of dongles and cables, because their manufacture decided that less ports was a better aesthetic.


No downvote. You're argument for sparseness could be what's best for the most customers but a decline in sales, a law suit and numerous forum threads like this one over the last few years seems to indicate that its not.


Hmm kind of a strange piece that's borderline misleading. It starts off with interesting points that are generally fixed usability issues (there's only one keyboard, only one trackpad, etc), but the "bloatware" section seems strangely out of place.

It's basically "I personally don't use these applications" ...and therefore that supports why the MBP is in decline? That's great that he uses Firefox but... who cares? I personally have given it up for Safari and Chrome. Ditto with the rest of the apps; I still use about half of those integrated apps (yet here, too, who cares?).


Plus, many of the integrated apps actually do support the platforms he's using - for example, Google syncing with the macOS Contacts, Calendar, and Reminders applications.

Additionally, the macOS Messages app is way more capable than most people realize. Of course it supports iMessage, but it also supports sending native SMSs when used with a paired iPhone, either via relay or through WiFi calling with a supported carrier. It also has Hangouts chat support AFAICT, and support for any other (standardized, decentralized) XMPP/Jabber server.

And the majority of the other applications come preinstalled, but can just be deleted.


I disagree. I know a lot of hardcore mac fans, and only a few of them use the built in mac software, and when they do, they don't use many.

Every point the author made about hardware was 100% spot on though, and he made a lot more points than just about the keyboard and trackpad. Virtually every change that mac has done to the hardware has made it worse, with the exception of efficiency, and maybe a slight improvement in power. But the efficiency and power improvements are vastly outweighed by the hardware negatives.

And the author is right about the software. None of the software changes they have made over the last 3 years have made anything better. It just keeps getting bigger.


I should have elaborated on that section. The fact that I use almost none of the native software is a negative for me personally because the native software used to be a reason for me to pay the premium price for an Apple laptop. I used to use iTunes, Safari, etc. But now that I don't, the inclusion of that software in the cost of the laptop is largely a waste to me.

It's definitely a very personal opinion though, hence my disclaimer at the beginning about my complaints being hard to generalize.


Trying Arch on a ThinkPad, Ubuntu on a Dell, and Windows on a Surface Book made me appreciate my MacBook more.

It's very tempting to realise you don't use any Apple apps, see how you're paying a lot for last year's hardware specs, throw up your arms and say “I'm done with Apple! I'll get a hacker's laptop!” But — if you've become accustomed to Apple hardware and macOS — the experience felt like a real downgrade to me.

I have a laundry list of Mac niggles, but they're generally in the category of, “I wish I could tweak that behaviour a little” (like fully removing OS-level UI animations beyond what “reduce motion” offers) rather than, “I can't work until this problem is solved”, which is what I saw much more of on Arch, Ubuntu, and Windows (redraw issues that rendered applications unusable, updates that broke critical deps and required rollbacks, and almost daily blue-screening on Windows).

Apple also gets a bunch of things right by default that you miss when you go elsewhere, like their trackpads, screens, and zero-config full-disk encryption.

The Touch Bar MacBook Pro I have now may be worse than the previous model in some ways (I do not like the keyboard or use the Touch Bar), but overall the experience hasn't declined enough to fall behind everything else that's on offer for me.


"and almost daily blue-screening on Windows"

Please just stop, that never happened, unless you're job is to write device drivers and then it's probably you're device driver that's causing it.


This continues to be a well-documented and persistent issue for Surface Book owners. You can read about old accounts here (around the time I owned mine):

https://forums.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-book/406...

And more recent ones here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/7qtavp/surface_boo...

Microsoft told me it was a driver issue but trying alternative drivers did not improve things for me.

I have no desire to slander Microsoft and was only sharing my experience. I very much like other aspects of the Surface Book and would be tempted by a device of the same form factor if stability issues could be resolved.


That is unfortunate, but ManFromUranus probably meant that this is very rare for today's Win users. BSOD is now more of once-in-a-year event. So claiming Windows is somehow inferior OS due to it is a bit misleading.


Disagree with most of the items here:

- Charging/Ports: USB-c is excellent. Used to have two+ cables to connect power and dual monitors. Now its just a thunderbolt cable feeding to an elgato dock. I can also (albeit slowly) charge my laptop with a usb-c power bank when traveling. I've yet to find myself needing a dongle most of the time. Cameras these days have wifi to copy files off and wireless ac is fast enough to not need ethernet. The only time I bring one is when traveling and even then its low profile and half the time I forget its even in my backpack.

- Keyboard: Okay this is fair. Gets really bad as the computer heats up, way more noticeable on normal Macbooks.

- Trackpad: Yeah I don't get your criticism, I love having a large trackpad.

- Touch Bar: I find it really useful and have it customized like crazy using better touch tool. Pretty nifty. I could live without it, but why? Love it.

- MacOS: Not sure how this makes the MBP "decline" as all macs have had this for years.

- Docker: Again not a MBP problem, complain to docker devs.

Biggest problem the MBP have is lack of ram. They absolutely should have sacrificed battery life for the people that really wanted more than 16gb. I'm already hurting my battery life as it is with the radeon graphics card.

Other thing I wish they'd change is round out the corners near the trackpad, they can be quite sharp sometimes.


The port situation is just confusing for me. I'm getting a new Macbook Pro soon, and I have two 4k monitors. It seems like most docks don't support dual 4k monitors at 60hz, and there's weird and sometimes conflicting info online about what configurations actually work. For example, Apple's own USB-C <=> Thunderbolt 2 adapter will fit with my mini displayport cables but apparently won't actually work. Some things may also be dependent on which USB-C port is being used (the ones on the left have more bandwidth). I don't mind the move to USB-C (or Thunderbolt 3 I guess), I just wish the MBPs had at least 1 USB-A and maybe an HDMI port for a couple years while people start switching over


Yeah man there's a lot of bad info about docks out there. Took me a while to find one that did dual 4k 60hz. I can confirm this one does work https://www.elgato.com/en/dock/thunderbolt-3 but theres an issue where macos wont detect the ethernet unless the ethernet itself is unplugged and plugged back in. Not sure if its a dock issue or the laptop but doesn't really affect me.

It's also kind of silly apple hasn't released their own adapter for 4k 60hz displayport.

Update: Just checked and ethernet connected just fine so perhaps it was patched recently.


For the Docker issue I would disagree. If that's how the ecosystem looks on mac, it's a valid consideration against getting one if that is indeed where one spends the majority of ones time.

For example I don't use linux because I need macOS to develop iOS apps. Should I just stop doing it and complain to apple? No of course not.


The docker issue in question is just that, a docker issue. Recent versions have improved it greatly. I run some pretty large docker containers and it can be slow but not totally unbearable like a year ago.


So having 2 cables is worse than 4 components? (Using a TB cable (1), a Dock (2) a power cable for the dock (3) and another cable to connect to your display (4))


The keyboard is really the main problem as the laptop performs very well otherwise. You have to turn off force feedback etc. I don't recommend taking your laptop to the beach but i kind of tend to and the butterfly keyboard will utterly fail if you get a single grain of sand near it as its too damn flat. Otherwise, I like the dynamic bar and trackpad and the thing just works without heating up.


I don't agree the keyboard is the only issue. But it is the one thing that, if they fixed it, could sway me to buy one. And I know many others feel similarly


I've had the new MBP for about 18 months, and the keyboard is the only element that continues to consistently trip me up. Most of the time, it's fine, but every once in a while I get that out-of-body sort of feeling that something is off. I have never had that experience with any other keyboard, except possibly the Kinesis, which is a very different layout.

Otherwise I have to agree with the GP. Most of the complaints about this computer are not valid. E.g. dongles: I upgraded from the late 2011 MBP, which was old enough to have a DVD drive, and I always carried around dongles for video connection. Now it's a different set, but basically the same situation.


Yes! As it stands right now, my current MBP will be my last one as I'm by now willing to migrate back to Linux/FreeBSD after quite some years. If they throw out the shitty touch bar thing from the Pro lineup and give the next model a proper keyboard instead, I could see myself giving this a second thought …


It's not just the keyboard. The big-ass trackpad often mis-clicks. It gets worse with BTT, but the force-touch combined with the unavoidable size has been in my experience, a step back.

I've had to stop working using my laptop on my lap (yes I use a lap-pad/cooler) which I had found incredibly productive in previous years with former MBPs.


When working on laptop in my lap I found trackpoint (I own ThinkPads) incredibly powerful, as I never need to put my hands away from keyboard.

Also once you get used to track point you will always look down on clunky workflow with touch pads - moving hands from/to keyboard all the time is worth it only with real mouse.


Yeah I'm with you there. I've had a 2017 15" MBP for about 6 months now and the keyboard is acting up a bit. I guess I must have something under the left Command key because it's not really pressing the same way as the other keys. The 'H' key sometimes decides it doesnt feel like working or feels like working too hard and I end up with "hh".

Other than that it's a great system. The performance I'm pretty happy with, even for gaming.


I love the new keyboard and the super low travel. It definitely took a lot of getting used to.


I love the new keyboard as well. Hate the fact that like 5 of my keys have a strange combination of sticking and being not properly affixed (ie they just fly off the keyboard at random times). It's pretty crazy that to get your keyboard fixed you have to turn it into an Apple affiliated store (Apple Store won't take them in Berlin), and suffer through a 10 day wait. For fixing... a... few... keys.


until the keys stop working. It really breaks your flow when once in a while a shift or ctrl keypress does nothing. This keyboard is a failure and it is way too unreliable for daily work with lots of typing.


As I wrote the main comment here, I just performed an experiment in real time...the language you use in a comment has to be carefully worded to not convey too strong of an opinion excluding others or contain too much colorful language reflecting one's personality that may stray too far from the mainstream relatability. This is a perfect case to apply machine learning as I could see in real time votes responding up or down solely based on the emotional tone rather than the underlying meaning.


this morning my space bar requires two thumbs to work, seemingly random. show stopper.


I love the keyboard. The Touch Bar is interesting sometimes, but the virtual Escape key is a deal breaker.


My guess is the upcoming MacBook Pro update this year will solve the keyboard problem. There is a reason how Apple name their new macOS. They want you to use the new MacBook Pro 2018 in Mojave dessert to showcase that the problem is gone.


ha ha this keyboard was a conspiracy to upgrade. I'm kidding kind of but after using it it feels like they were just warming me up by letting me down.


This is exactly my point. The comment here reflects a more emotional experience that is too personal as to alienate the mainstream thus causing a negative perception. If it were worded as "Apple may have unintentionally created a motivator to upgrade based on their current keyboard design." this would be received positively yet the underlying meaning remains.


Is here any alternative that can keep up with Apple's font rendering?

This might be highly subjective but for me the same font on a Mac looks much more pleasant than on Windows or Ubuntu. It is tempting to understate this as a minor detail but for me text is one of the most important parts of the user interface and I can't understand how the other platforms could neglect their font rendering this much.


I agree completely. Even on a HiDPI screen, I couldn’t believe how bad Avenir and other great fonts looked in a Windows and Linux browser. Although, the Retina display may be spoiling me, I checked some work on an older 27” iMac, non retina, and it looked pretty bad also.


My reference is a non-Retina MacBook Air and external displays that are around 100 DPI - I still live in a non-Retina world and the difference is still glaring.


I think it's more noticeable on non-Retina, I guess there is more anti-aliasing going on.


That's an interesting comment. I bought my first MBP in mid-2012 (and, it's my current mac, although I just dropped it and cracked the LCD screen, so this discussion is suddenly very relevant to me) and I found, especially when outputting to a 1080p monitor, that I hated the way text looked on the Mac. I think this was one of my biggest complaints. Either it's gotten better over the years, or I've gotten used to it, because I don't notice it anymore.


Have you tried out what it looks like on Windows 10 with a high resolution display properly set to zooming like 200%? I think that Windows has made a lot of progress on this in the last few years.


In 2012 I switched from a 2010 MBP 13" to a Thinkpad T410 running linux for personal use and haven't looked back. I distro hopped for a while (Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, CrunchBang, Debian and Arch) before settling on Fedora. I'm seeing quite a few complaints about usability issues in Linux. I think that's fair for the most part, but as a counterpoint, I've had very few issues and these days it seems like most things just work.

Fedora is not perfect out of the box, but it's pretty easy to fix.

1. Install Fedy (folkswithhats.org), provides one click installs for pretty much every application I use that isn't in the fedora repos. It also has a script that improves the font rendering. 2. Install Gnome Tweak Tool, I wish this was included by default. It makes it easy to change themes, keybinds, etc. 3. Install a decent looking theme (I use Arc). IMHO at this point the UI looks far better than my wife's Macbook Air and is significantly more usable (of course that's coming from a long time gnome user).

At that point I'm pretty much done. You no longer need to install TLP or powertop to get good battery life. I can't remember the last time I had a kernel panic (while my Windows 7 machine at work BSOD'd this morning). I vastly prefer the trackpoint on my thinkpad to any touchpad I've used (although my old MBP had the best touchpad I've ever used). As a bonus I spend lots of time at work logged into a redhat server, so having the same CLI on my personal machine is great.

Another point is that you can activate a Windows 10 VM using the OEM key. I keep a Windows VM installed just in case, but I seldom use it.

I will say that I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on a T480 and am going to stick with the 1080p display because I've heard horror stories about scaling in linux.


I can relate to most of these points. However, he lost me with the bloatware statement. It came off to me as 'Apple didnt design MACOS for my 1 very specific development use case so its bloated and useless'.

Completely disagree with this. None of these apps are tied to the OS in a similar way IE was linked to Windows, and just because you like Google apps to handle your utilities doesnt mean everyone else will. Some people do want iMovie, Photos or the productivity apps and dont want to share all of their personal data with google to use their suite. Ive never looked at an unused included utility by apple or microsoft and thought this is BLOATWARE!!!

The new macbook pro has plenty of flaws that you can avoid the above point and still make a compelling case. Ive skipped upgrading my 2014 model until I see the next version. I tried a buddy of mine's MBP and the trackpad is pretty bad and in the way of my hands.


Author here. In retrospect, using the word "bloatware" was unnecessary, given the connotations of the word. I totally get that it's a very personal situation and that most Mac owners probably use a fair amount of Mac software.

I only included that section because my shift from Mac software to alternatives was so gradual that I didn't really realize how complete it was until I started writing this blog post. At which point I wanted to list them out point by point for my own self-reflection.


All the flaws mentioned are valid enough, but most don't resonate with me as strong negatives, with the exception of iTunes, which is a bloated, slow, nasty mess.

That aside, a big deal for me is that Mac laptops max out at 16GB. That's perhaps the biggest single reason I'm not buying one now. Hopefully the refresh will fix this.

Another big deal is the general lack of attention for OS X (or macOS or whatever). The exception is the updated filesystem, and even this was an extremely painful transition for me because (although it may be fixed now) Spotlight doesn't work on external volumes using APFS. Or how about some good process/application sandboxing and quota capabilities? Or, my machine with 128 GB (!) of RAM starts out blazing fast, and then slows down: process switching can take a second or two, which is really annoying. How is this happening on a modern OS in 2018? Simple -- Apple is not trying.

Having said this, I agree with some other posters that macOS is the worst desktop OS out there, except for all the other ones. I frequently have to use Windows and I simply cannot make myself like it. I love Linux for its freedom and for its terminal, but none of the desktops are awesome in comparison to macOS. Not many people would say they "love" Windows or they "love" Gnome, but many would still say they love macOS, despite the flaws.


I'm getting more and more disappointed in Apple's hardware, but OSX is still better than any other OS out there by a mile. I'm feeling conflicted about this.

I have an emojibar Macbook pro. Since getting it shortly after they launched, I've had two complete hardware failures resulting in Apple replacing the whole thing. Most of this post's other complaints I agree with but don't feel strongly about, but the keyboard thing is really bad. Specs of dust have caused keys to stop functioning. Trying to fix them, I one day popped the enter key off and broke the plastic clip holding it on. So I bought a replacement key, only to find out that the mounting bracket for the key (which I have to replace) is _glued_ on to the case. So now I have a perfectly functional enter key, except that the entire thing will fall out of the laptop whenever I tilt it sideways.

This isn't the level of hardware quality I've grown to know and love. If they release a new MBP that resolves these issues, I might stick with it. But as things stand, I'm looking at a non-macbook for my next laptop. I really don't want to do that, since I've gotten used to OSX and nothing else compares to the ease of use and the things I have set up. But I'm getting tired of paying thousands for second-rate hardware


> I would rather use keyboard shortcuts than look down at the touch bar.

I actually happen to like the fact that I don't have to remember the non-essential shortcuts anymore. That, and volume & brightness sliders. Still, it's extremely immature and far from being useful.

Most importantly, a few applications actually support it in any meaningful manner. Most of time, my touchbar is empty, or shows the function (F) keys. Even when app provides some controls, they're usually for from being actually useful, leaving a feeling that they were added in a haste, just to fill "we support touchbar now" tick, without giving it much thought. Rarely I want the buttons app provides by default, and rarely the buttons I want to see are available.

And it really lacks any tactile feedback. The hacks that use trackpad magnets are not working for me - in a sense I don't like how it feels, at all. If it'd work like a trackpad with display - it'd be perfect. Slide fingers across to "feel" the button, then push a little harder to actually "press" it.


Since it wasn't mentioned in the article or in the comments, max 16GB of memory has been the main complaint among our engineers.

In the article, some of the gripes about macOS software is just filler. Safari runs very well on macOS and mac hardware. I know people who prefer the Mail client, Notes, and Reminders over alternatives. FaceTime is way better than Google Hangouts and Skype.


Apple basically killed the "Pro" and turned it into a consumer-level concept laptop that is a downgrade in nearly every possible way that matters to actual pro users.

- The keyboard is horrible and unreliable. A piece of dust can render it inoperable and require an $800 repair? Give me a break.

- The Touch Bar is inconvenient, annoying, and ergonomically terrible. It is a problem looking for a solution but instead causes more problems.

- The lack of a hardware Escape key and function row is inconvenient, annoying, and hostile to pro users. I use my Escape key and FN keys multiple dozens of times per day.

- Losing MagSafe is a downgrade with no conceivable benefit

- USB-C is inconvenient and inconsistent

- Dongles required for everything possible is annoying and inconvenient

- 16GB RAM is comical in 2018 for a "pro" machine

If you want a good Mac laptop at the moment, you have to buy 3-6 year old hardware, usually refurbished or used on eBay/craigslist. Think about that for a minute. This sums it up well:

> "Apple has made many great laptops, but the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (2012–2015) is the epitome of usefulness, elegance, practicality, and power for an overall package that still hasn’t been (and may never be) surpassed."

https://marco.org/2017/11/14/best-laptop-ever

My sincere hope is they actually fix the keyboard (and add the Escape and FN keys back), remove the Touch Bar, give it 32GB of RAM, and re-introduce MagSafe. Getting ports back is almost certainly too much to ask for, I don't think there has ever been a time where Apple removed ports and then brought them back again.


I don't get why people who like Apple downvote comments like yours. If you flip your opinions around, it's absurd:

- I like the new keyboards. I hope Apple continues to reduce key travel. Maybe they should move to a glass touch keyboard in future.

- It doesn't concern me that the keyboards have a higher failure rate - mine has never broken down. If it does, I feel that an $800 keyboard repair is reasonable. I don't want Apple to worry about making this repair less expensive.

- I think the Touch Bar is useful.

- I'm glad Apple removed the Escape key. I hope they remove other physical keys.

- I don't want Apple to bring back MagSafe. I can just avoid walking past the USB-C port.

- I've never had any issues with USB-C reliability. People who have problems should simply research USB-C cables more before they choose one.

- I like Dongles. I think Apple should use more non-standard ports. The more dongles, the better.

- I don't want to encourage Apple to build Pro machines that support 32GB RAM. "Good enough" is good enough for me.


Counterpoint: I've never run out of RAM or been worried by the limit. USB-C is fast, can charge my laptop using my phone. Touch bar is OK, useful in some situations but not really missing much compared to function keys. Build quality is second to none.


I always hear these claims and I think they are wonderful, reminds me of the infamous "640kb is enough for anyone" quote.

Meanwhile I've got a text editor, terminal, and web browser open and it's consumed all 16gb and is requiring 9gb swap already.


I'm running Pycharm, iTerm, two browsers (FF, Chrome), Slack, Docker (2 containers), Whatsapp and Excel. It's using about 12Gb.


After my decade-long love affair with the MBP, i finally called it quits after the last "upgrade" - Being stuck at 16GB RAM seriously limited VMs, etc - Not having a CUDA-compliant GPU forced me to use AWS and not run minor dev work locally - The keyboard...

I got a 64GB RAM ThinkPad P51 w/ an NVIDIA GPU. Miss the feel and art, but otherwise haven't looked back because i'm so productive at work.

For me, peak-mac was the 2014 MBP with NVIDIA GPU and traditional keyboard.


I still prefer MacOS, but I have a 5th gen X1 Carbon, dual booting win 10 and elementary OS (linux). A funny thing happened at a recent hotel stay. The audio wasn’t working while connected via hdmi to the tv, was booted into win10. Jumped over to Linux, using chrome, worked perfectly. I couldn’t believe Linux was easier to use than windows. Was definitely a Tom Hanks, I have made fire moment.


I'm really upset with how Apple's been treating the MBP considering my entire livelihood depends on using macOS to get work done. Sure, I could switch to another platform, but it wouldn't be the same. I'd be less efficient and I would have access to a lot of the tools I love and use.

To be limited to their crappy hardware they've been releasing lately is a shame. I'm ready for an upgrade from my 2013 Macbook Air, but none of Apple's notebooks are suitable upgrades—I refuse to buy any until they either 1) fix the keyboard and get rid of the dumb Touchbar on the MBP, or 2) allow me to buy a Macbook Air with 16GB of memory.


The benefit of everybody hating the new macbooks is that people are going to be writing stuff on the old ones for a while, which will make them respect CPU resources more and performance of web apps will go up. There are a lot of sites where you can instantly tell the frontend developers all used top of the line macbooks and never even bothered to check CPU usage or throttle network performance to see how slow their app is when served in production to people without business tier connection speeds.


> , which will make them respect CPU resources more and performance of web apps will go up.

I disagree. I think the current crop of developers cares more about how quick they can get a basic app coded up than how quick it runs. And they definitely don't care about battery, network, etc. because they're mostly using very fast networks and keep their machines plugged in.


I find myself in this camp. I enjoy optimizing, but I need to see positive feedback.


I agree with the Touch Bar criticism and I think the keyboard is not great in that it seems impossible to repair--it must always be replaced, apparently at great expense.

Apart from that, this seems like a lot of opinion. My personal machine is a 12" MacBook and I've used it extensively for "real work", everything from professional software development to writing stories and novels (just a hobby, but it makes heavy use of the keyboard). It is my favorite computer out of all that I've owned, but it seems to "suffer" from many of the criticized aspects of the Pro, to a greater degree in many cases.

I guess maybe it's more reasonable to criticise the "Pro" model on the basis of these complaints, but there are still many professional users for whom it's well suited. I know I'd be a huge fan of my work machine, a 13", if not for the Touch Bar.


If Tiger/Leopard had real up to date web browsers, you could get what you needed from a PowerBook G4. I am typing this on a Tiger / PBG4 12" - but HN is one of the few sites that the old browser can load and work with perfectly... BTW the keys work great and are nearly silent and have good travel.


Honestly, I wish someone would create a mod for the PowerBook G4 (either the Titanium or Aluminum versions) that is similar to the ThinkPad X62 project; modern components in a ThinkPad X61 chassis. I love this generation of Apple laptops, and it would be nice to use one of these with modern components.


There's a fork of Firefox for 10.4 that worked pretty well last time I needed to use it (although slow on JS heavy sites)


Yes, it is what I am using. It is called TenFourFox http://www.floodgap.com/software/tenfourfox/ . New functionality allows you to create "FoxBoxes" which are like separate containers for a single site; this allows you to both keep some sites separate, and, ensure that when you close the site, all the RAM is reclaimed immediately by the OS.


A year ago I sold my beloved MacBook Pro for $950 and purchased a ThinkPad X220 (circa 2012) via eBay for $300.

Installed Arch and xmonad. Learned how to use xmonad.

I love it now, and I might just continue buying used X220s for the rest of my life or until I'm unable to source decent batteries for them.


The x220 has a lot of issues compared to newer laptops, MacBook or not.

12.5" screen is pretty small for most people. Having a low resolution doesn't help.

Only some models (the ones that came with an i7 processor, I think) have USB 3 ports, and even those models just have one.

It doesn't have an HDMI port. It's thick and heavy. They have 2nd gen core series Intel processors which are way, way less power efficient than the 4th gen or newer processors.

It's also got slow wifi and it has a wifi card whitelist in the bios, so you can't put a better card in it.

Pretty much the only reason to buy one nowadays is if you need something really cheap that runs linux well, which is exactly why I bought one in 2015 when I was a senior in college and also the reason I stopped using it as soon as I could afford something better.


The screen on a X220 is basically unusable in both quality and resolution.

I have one as my backup Windows laptop, but I couldn't use it every day.


It was available with an IPS panel that is good enough quality to be usable, although the TN panel that the base model came with is awful.

Fortunately it is extremely easy to swap screens on the X220, and the IPS screens are cheap on eBay.

You are dead on about the resolution, though. That's the reason I stopped using my x220.


My MacBook has the screengate issue. I had it replaced two times! After a while, the antireflective coating starts peeling off. When I took it to the service again, Apple's response was hilarious: "We cannot keep changing your screen infinite amount of times". Every time I had the screen changed, I was told that the new screen is different and it won't have the same problem. Unfortunately, it did have the exact same problem. Even much cheaper models do not have such a terrible issue. Apple, as a company with zero tolerance to poor quality, is long gone.


Small correction, Messages on MacOS can send and receive SMS [edit: you need iPhone for this, and based on OP's heavy use of Google I assume they're using Android so this wouldn't be an option]. But in general I agree and also don't use most of the "out of the box" MacOS apps. I'm currently on a Macbook Air that's almost seven years old and honestly all I want is the exact same thing with a high res display.


> Messages on MacOS can send and receive SMS

Assuming you have an iPhone though, right? I am sitting in front of a Mac and don't see any option for this (I use Android).


Yes correct, requires MacOS 10.10+ and iOS 8+ forgot about that piece


I was going to buy my first macbook pro but the keyboard is holding me back. the other "premium" laptops are overpriced for what they offer.


I had a RMBP 15 2017 version and recently switched to Arch Linux on Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 6th Gen. I have nothing but good things to say about the experience. I do miss some of the multi-touch gesture stuff, but I've gotten used to the new workflow. I love how customizable Arch Linux is and how great the keyboard feels. Plus, having physical trackpad buttons has been really really nice.


Did Apple flush the case production plans down the toilet?

I don't understand why the 15" MBP with an HDMI and usb ports can't be manufactured with better processors / SSDs / port versions / video cards / LCDs.

Just give me a MBP with an OLED, new SSD/procs/video cards, HDMI 2.0+, and sure maybe a bunch of USB/USB-C. The developers of the world will eat that up.

If Apple cares so little for it's computers, bring back the approved hackintosh.

Don't even get me started about how desktop computing is fundamentally screwed up. Windows died with windows 8. Linux cannot stop reinventing the desktop wheel and busting compatibility every time (Gnome 2/3/Mate/Mint/KDE/Unity is all a big huge disaster). And Apple can't slum themselves to cheap hardware and the CTRL - vs - AppleKey is just terrible for switching between machines.

Intel should have grabbed the reins of OS and partnered with Google for a real Linux desktop. They should have done that the second they saw the Windows 8 tile demo.


The new keyboard alone is enough to turn me off this machine forever. Apple went from building tanks to a vehicles made out of feathers. My 2013 mbpro has been pinched, hit, dropped, and abused but has had no problems. On the new ones you can't even type softly without it breaking. Half the reason to own a mac is gone right there. The trackpad itself too is another reason. The previous trackpad was perfect. Now it's so big it requires palm detection software that doesn't work well at all. Whoever designed this machine should be ashamed of himself. This design isn't worthy of a high school drop out, let alone Apple's designers who I assume make millions. I guess not even millions can buy common sense and Apple and the rest of the world are finding that out. If I was tim cook I'd fire the MacBook leadership asap and get competent people on board... Except I think the incompetence clearly starts with cook himself.


I was just forced to "upgrade" from a 2013 era MacBook Pro Retina 13" to the latest non-touchbar MacBook Pro, and so far I'm not finding any aspect of this to be an improvement. The new keyboard somehow manages to be louder and less comfortable to type on, and the trackpad has an audible "sproing-fft" sound every time I click it. The lack of ports is tolerable at the moment only because my main workspace uses a single thundebolt monitor (required only a $43 dongle) that acts as a hub I can connect my keyboard and mouse too, but woe betide me if I try to take this thing into a conference room to hook up to a projector (or any of the power supplies left lying around in such places). Its especially frustrating since Apple has two other Mac lines that they can use to push the USB-C everywhere concept, I really wish they'd kept the Pro as the "buy this if you need it to just work everywhere" line.


You should be able to adjust the feedback of the trackpad in the settings. The new trackpads are solid state and emulate the click feeling.


We use mac's exclusively at my work. I just started this job two months ago and my mbp stopped charging because of a usb issue. It's off at the depot getting it's logic board replaced while I type this on a loaner from 2015. Not very impressed with mac's at this point and I feel that they've lost quality control.


As a long time Mac user, I still feel like many in this thread that the pinnacle of the MBP was the 2012->2015 rMBP models.

MagSafe for charging isn't without it's issues (cable fraying in particular) but it's incredibly convenient and a real nice anti-damage feature.

The lack of other ports on the 2016+ model infuriates me. Virtually nothing I use is USB-C or thunderbolt 3. There's still no real ethernet adapter like there was for Thunderbolt 2. Literally every device I have has to connect via an adapter. The 2012 model did this far better - useful USB ports, a SD slot, miniDP/thunderbolt and HDMI. Yes I had to use a Thunderbolt 2 -> ethernet adapter, but that was only one. It's tolerable. Especially considering the form-factor it made possible.

The new keyboard is atrocious. It hurts my fingers to type on for more than a few minutes at a time, and it's far too fragile. A quick straw poll of my co-workers at work gave ~20% of them saying they have currently or have had a bad key on a 2016 model. That's just unacceptably bad.

Trackpad on the 15" is just too large. It's not terrible on the 13" but on the 15" it's just too big and accidental input is a big big big issue.

I basically never ever use the touchbar ;) It's just an annoying extra cost.

My personal laptop is still a 2012 rMBP that I spent far too much on when it was new - but it's lasted and is still lasting (but it needs a new battery now) - 16G of RAM and a 512G SSD is still a reasonable laptop for most development work.

I'm seriously considering just getting the battery replaced rather than buying a new one. That's how much of a downer the new 2016+ models are to me.

edit: I've considered Linux laptops over and over... what keeps putting me off there is that Linux is still clunky.

Want to have a high DPI monitor? all of your monitors need to be high DPI or you have to do scaling tricks that make text look awful.

Want compositing? Cross your fingers and hope it doesn't crash! I see this regularly on Intel, NVIDIA and AMD hardware.

Want reliable suspend/resume? Go hunting through obscure ACPI issues with the vague hope it'll work some day.

And the biggest issue - touchpads still suck on Linux. Dell make some nice hardware in the XPSes but the software integration is poor.


I was going through this article with the mental agree/disagree checklist. These would be general apple issues I get it. You want your HDMI port back and I can count the number of times on one hand that I used it on my last MacBook, and I could have gone without in every one of those cases. The reality is that trimming down the system to ports "used daily" by more than %50 of users makes sense to a fair degree - it isn't like you CANT have your hdmi interface but your going to have to carry a dongle.

The apple apps, I get that too.... I use some of them and not others and the ones I don't use feel like bloat...

Then I get to the end, and suddenly it felt like the rest of the article was "fluff" for the author to get their Docker complaint in. Docker is a self inflicted wound, it has NOTHING to do with apple... How many computer users are there vs docker users (directly)?


How many users use a usb-c port directly daily? I don’t have anything that can plug into one except a dongle, I don’t even know what I could buy that would make use of it - probably a faster external hard drive would? But I don’t know of anyone who makes a monitor that plugs straight into usb-c, all the other usual usb accessories are still usb2. Do new phones have usb-c plugs like the MacBook charger, I guess they probably do. So if 50% of users have a new phone and charge it with their macbook daily then you're right, otherwise I'm not so sure. What were you thinking of as the main uses of a usb-c port for >50% of users out of interest?

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