Now, I like macOS but this generation of hardware is shit. I had a 2016 model and the keyboard failed twice. Replaced it and got tired of constant problems with the keyboard.
Got a Dell XPS 13", decided I was gonna ditch macOS due to hardware issues and switch to Linux. After fiddling forever with the trackpad and the fact that sometimes closing the lid did not sleep the machine. It became clear that I was too old for that stuff. Tried Windows with WSL as I need a Unix environment. It works but the IO is too slow. It's just a toy at this point to show people linux binaries working on windows.
Went ahead and bought a 2018 MBP. The 2018 keyboard were supposed to be fixed.
Guess what, my up arrow key just started failing. I'm thinking about moving to a farm.
My rule of thumb for laptops when you have an OS in mind: choose what the developers use. I run OpenBSD, so since I know that the OpenBSD developers use old ThinkPads, I get the best experience on an oldish ThinkPad. Suspend/resume and the trackpad (even gestures) work out of the box, without configuration, every time.
There's so many possible issues that I have to baby the machine & live in constant fear:
* keyboard keys getting stuck - 
* USB-C ports wearing out 
* stage light issue 
 - https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...
 - https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookpro/comments/9l5gno/usbc_por...
 - https://9to5mac.com/2019/01/22/macbook-pro-stage-light/
For a supposed Pro machine that costs $$$$, this machine was not designed well.
Got 2018 fully loaded MBP, keyboard is ok ( probably because I mostly use external one) but speakers stopped working after 0.5year :/ another trip to apple store.
You basically need 2x MBP - one is constantly being repaired...
They (of course) (only) come in stylish matte black, and have the little red trackpoint, which I personally consider the best input device by far (not counting the keyboard obviously)...
If you decide for a professional Thinkpad (which the X1 is), strongly consider upgrading the warranty.
On-site support with coverage for accidental damages is so nice when you need it....
My 4th gen (the current is 6th gen) machine (which is technically a yoga gen1 and not a 4th gen Carbon, but the same base machine) has been running Linux since it's second power-on :)
* Hibernate did not work out-of-the-box
* Lack of fractional scaling makes everything too small or ludicrously big (100% or 200%)
* X server crashes often on suspend
* Audio is too quiet on maximum volume
* Occasionally CPU performance tanks, and I have to reboot
* Track-pad is unresponsive compared to a MacBook (if you have not used a MacBook often before you may not notice this, and it won't be an issue)
* Battery life is a pretty middling 5 hours.
- Battery: A package called TLP should drastically improve battery life. Thinkpad t480s with battery life ranging from 6-8 for browsing to 13+ with min-brightness and just playing music. Before TLP I think it was close to 5 max.
- I'm assuming since X is crashing you're not using Wayland. I've noticed fractional scaling (which is a thing in Wayland) causes blurry text. This isn't an issue in X, but I've noticed if I mess around with custom xrandr config to customize stuff, I have issues -- i.e. total system lockup, reboot required -- with plugging in/out external monitors on to the fly. Anyway, a custom xrandr setup should make things a bit easier on your eyes.
- For CPU performance maybe this anti-throttling script should help. I'm able to run at max CPU clock frequency at 85-90+ deg temps without throttling when doing CPU intense stuff
I'm running Arch instead of Debian, so maybe having newer kernels or packages help in some aspects, such as hibernating, track-pad, and X. Idk. Running newest versions isn't always great either, there are often regressions and bugs you notice after upgrading.
: This is arch wiki, but it should still have applicable information for other distro such as debian and it's a bit more readable IMO, https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/TLP
: FYI, this is somewhat specific for a 1440p display, not 4k or 1080p, but you should be able to modify it for 4k it needed by adjusting the `--fb` value primarily. https://gist.github.com/francium/d93bcf75884ebeea216cc04cee0...
As for battery, my two year old battery hits somewhere between 7 and 8 hours when I work without power for a day.
I don't use suspend at all and have never used the trackpad (why would I, it has a superior pointing device). The trackpad can thankfully be fully disabled in the bios (and has been since the beginning).
The trackpoint combined with the on-site warranty is why I don't even spend time looking for "alternatives"!
Some have hot-swappable batteries (no need to shut down just to switch to a fresh battery), they all have great keyboards, even ancient machines feel fast with a new SSD, and the cooling is miles better than an “ultrabook” design.
Whatever you do, I would caution against buying a machine for the specs. You’ll probably get something heavy, with poor battery life, and if you need more power, you should be doing those tasks on a remote system or a beefy “cloud” VPS instance anyway.
As you point out, the older machines are great for dev work with some basic upgrades [maxed RAM + SSD] -- my go-to machines are the T61 and T520 -- they're tanks that love Linux and are wicked stable.
[currently running Fedora 29, but have 'distro-hopped' a lot over the past year, and never had a hiccup with the hardware compatibility]
The 1080p, 1440p, and 4K screens in the Tx40 series and newer (T440, T/W540, etc) are fine screens.
Don't forget the battery life also didn't get 'good' until Haswell chipset laptops came to be, which is also the x40 series for Lenovo. Before that, if you want any kind of battery life you need the extended battery that sticks way out, or the sheet battery which makes a not-so-thin laptop even thicker. Also, finding a battery that's in good shape for a 6+ year old laptop can be pretty tough.
Just replaced the motherboard of my T420s. While waiting for the part to arrive I used a much newer laptop, which only made me appreciate just how great that beautiful old 7-row keyboard is. I suppose I'll have to give it up one day, but not yet.
I have a T480s, fully maxed out specs except no dedicated GPU (this will give you dual heat pipes instead for better thermal performance on an i7 core). 24GB RAM. Keyboard is incredible compared to Macbook. I recommend non-backlit version for better textures on the keys. Case itself is military spec compliant and probably stronger than Macbook unibody. Hard drive is a terabyte NVME ssd, and I added a Toshiba RC100 480gb NVME ssd into the WWAN slot (runs at 1x performance though, but still good). I upgraded the wifi card to the latest intel 9260 so I can achieve gigabit Wifi speeds at work, an easy swap. I run linux distros and windows in dual boot depending on work requirements.
Thinkpad laptops can also open ALL the way flat which has actually come in handy a few times. You won't know though until you experience it yourself.
It is also incapable of going into hibernate, meaning I have to shut it down every time I want to stop using it for an extended period of time. Closing the lid causes it to heat up constantly, which is an issue if you ever absentmindedly close the lid or put it in your bag without shutting it down. It has gotten to extremely high temperatures from doing this.
Just makes me want a macOS device, for a laptop at least.
I resurrected a MacBook Air from 2013 and have been running Ubuntu for a week now. It's very refreshing to be on stable hardware even if it's not a powerhouse.
Probably the price premium of a Mac is paid off by the frustrations and hours not spent trying to solve these problems
I am much happier with Ubuntu 18.10. Everything is working except fingerprint.
Consider using this:
Oh, and you need a new wifi card.
Things you should care about are:
- Good Linux support (Lenovo is well known to have that)
- Good display
- NVMe SSD (not msata or m2 sata)
- As much RAM as possible
- Quad Core CPU if possible
If you would like to play games, you could think about an external graphics card, then Thunderbolt is required and should be the highest version possible.
Solid advice on the specs! I don’t want to waste time figuring out hardware compatibility to be honest, so I’d pick something not too high end that is widely used.
Thinkpads and Lenovos seem like a good compromise
Take one of the following series:
- X => high end
- T => good value but still top technology
- L => budget but still business line and good specs
For $850 (on sale) the specs cannot be beat, 4k touchscreen, 4 core i7-8th gen, 16gb ram, 512GB nvme ssd, and dedicated NVidia GPU.
My only complaint is that it charges via barrel pin instead of USB-C.
Here’s where I bought it, but I got it from their ebay storefront with a coupon or something: https://www.adorama.com/ihp1kt13uar.html
I came from an ASUS ROG g751jy which was a behemoth in size. I ran Ubuntu on it for most of the three years I developed with it. My biggest concerns with it were battery life and form factor. Both concerns were addressed by moving to the MacBook Pro. I’m happy I did.
So if your budget allows, I suggest going with another Mac, but if you wish to go somewhat cheaper, take a look at the Thinkpad X1 Carbon laptops or the Dell XPS 13 Developer edition laptops.
My biggest beef with most laptops is the 16GB max RAM. I run VMs and a few Java apps, so I need the RAM. Once Apple finally put it into their MBP line, I was sold.
i7-8750H, 1tb ssd, 4k screen, 32gb ram (really good for dev stuff). The screen is also excellent: you don't appreciate it until you've got it, but it's actually usable in bright sunlight. And the battery is huge; near the tsa limit for how much lithium you can bring on a plane.
I don't use the trackpad often, I like my mouse, but when I do it always surprises me how good it is.
I have the companion dock on my desk, which also worked out of the box with Mint 19 despite some forum comment that it wasn't fully compatible. I can unplug the laptop from the dock (which has a large monitor, USB audio, ethernet) and keep working; plug it back in and everything reconnects seamlessly.
2016 MacBook Pro 13" non-Touchbar
It's a great machine. I'm not putting faith in the keyboard lasting longer than the 4 year service period Apple has, it's been replaced once already. The screen is amazing, battery life is great, no real complaints other than it only has 2 ports.
2014 MacBook Air
Also a great machine. Battery still lasts almost 10 hours, which is about 2 hours longer than the 2016 MacBook Pro I have. It's very usable, but it's not very fast. The other MacBook is 50% faster in both single and multicore tasks. I keep it around as a backup machine as well as having a slower device to use for testing. However, if I spilled a coffee on it I would not miss it. I'm partial to the Air as I had a 2010 and loved it.
This is a great machine. I work in a Windows world so I can't use a Mac. Works great docked, gives 8 hours of battery on the road, really winds up with 4 cores of power, 16GB RAM, an 512GB SSD, and was a little cheaper than the Mac. Screen and keyboard are great. Single-core stuff it's only about 10% faster than the Mac but for the multicore stuff it's over 50% faster. Strangely not 2X as fast like my 15" MBP was.
Upgraded the WiFi card to an Intel 8650 and storage to a Samsung NVME 512GB.
Keyboard is pretty good. No real strange key placement.
Screen is great since matte was an option.
Battery life is great.
Form factor is perfect. 13" in the size of a traditional 11".
It can be fixed thou with https://github.com/TomFreudenberg/dell-bios-fan-control
Amazing laptop, great linux support. Shame the TB16 dock is hot garbage.
It is for these reasons, I find it hard to discard some of the trusted old kit. So, I either try to reappropriate it or find a utility; otherwise, it a goes to a new home.
For example, I have managed to turn a Thinkpad T420s into a Hackintosh, recovered 17" FHD panel from a Sony Vaio and connected it to a Raspberry Pi via LVDS interface, a 1st gen Lenovo X1 which dual boots Ubuntu & W10, runs VM's and does so much more despite it's meagre specs. It is my Tamagotchi and a device I will miss when it dies, probably due to battery degradation or some kind of fan error.
It doesn't have dedicated graphics card and it doesn't feel sturdy like an all metal laptop - though it has survived several flights in a regular backpack in overhead compartment.
I switched from MacBook Air to this. Mainly because the sharp edge in the front was getting tiresome while typing. Plus I didn't think any of the new Mac's are worth the outlandish premium for my mostly terminal driven work.
Before that I had a Dell XPS 15 where the battery overheated and bloomed up to the point of destroying the chassis and touchpad. Needless to say, that wasn't great.
My hardware needs are within the current scope of silicon Apple has in their lineup, and using both Thunderbolt 2 and 3 I can connect everything I need (usually only using 1 or 2 cables for everything).
I do not need or want to use Windows on my own hardware, and I do like how macOS presents a reasonably polished Unix/POSIX type of experience. I run Linux on stationary hardware as a side-workhorse, everything else is either in a datacenter or in a public cloud.
While this Apple stuff isn't perfect, it works in the areas that I need, and other mobile hardware + software combinations simply don't come even close, which isn't as much an Apple-does-it-right thing, but more of a the-others-need-to-get-their-crap-together thing. It's 2019, you'd expect things like responding to input (trackpad, closing the screen, connecting devices) to be solved.
I'd like to use a mac as my primary machine. Right now I have an 8GB 13" macbook pro, and when I tried running Windows and Ubuntu in Virtualbox, it was pretty laggy. I wasn't sure if that was because of issues with Virtualbox, or whether my system didn't have enough resources to run virtual machines efficiently. I haven't tried either yet, but I'd be happy to go with Parallels or VMWare Fusion if they run better than Virtualbox.
I'd really like to stay with a 13" macbook if possible. Does anyone know if a maxed-out 13" macbook pro will handle multiple OSes well, or do I need to get a 15" to handle this load?
Maybe for Ubuntu, unless you develop apps with GUIs you can just use a VPS?
Many/some Mac users regret their switch.
Personally I tried it the opposite way. I love Linux, windows is okay - but OsX was the reason I gladly took a 1000 USD loss after three months for getting rid of a fully specced PowerBook. All longtime Mac Users tell me that 10.4 was near the high point...
I tend to work on a few projects at a time, and I'd like to be able to run a VM without having to shut everything else down. I'm fine to power down a VM when I'm not using it, but I'd rather not have to shut everything else down when I turn the VM back on.
In comparison, the MBP that I have to use at work is a nice piece of junk. Can barely handle 2 external monitors and had to be replaced twice because of filesystem encryption being corrupted.
Not sure if this is a good mindset to have, but I feel less worried about lugging a ~$1000 laptop around town compared to a $3000 Macbook. It feels a little less like a priceless object and more like a "disposable" tool (as disposable as a $1000 object could ever be).
Also the keyboard is perfect and isn't the Mac's, which I can't really deal with.
Currently I'm rolling with a Zenbook UX430U, primarily because it was the one with 16 gigs of ram.
You just can't beat the ease of access to the guts. Swapping the RAM was easier than on a desktop. Great Linux support, huge aftermarket. Ultrabay slot allows for an easy on the wallet small SSD for OS + data HDD setup. Hell, the entire laptop can be bought for $200 or less.
Not a great laptop for the road though, at least for me. I plan to buy an X series (X220 or even an IBM era laptop given the 51nb treatment) or another 10-12" business laptop.
I have to say with the recent release of the Librem v4, there's not much reason to get an X1 or an XPS13: the Librem looks great, works great and I really like the idea behind it.
As for Mac vs Linux: it really depends on your workflow. I do backend dev in Go, Rust and Ruby, so I was already in a Terminal most of the time.
Personal: Thinkpad P51s running Ubuntu 16.04. I also have the big 72wh secondary battery. I'm one of only a few people at conferences not looking for power by 2pm.
Work: Dell precision 5530. It came with Ubuntu 18.04. the extra work Dell has done to make all drivers/hardware working is great. Everything just works out of the box. Even my Thinkpad required a slight amount of tweaking.
I'd love a new machine but every MBP made by Apple since 2015 has been an absolute sack of shit. I'm guessing I'll just cling on to this one until it dies, then buy another reconditioned 2015 model from eBay with a years warranty or something.
If someone offered to modify my MBP to give it a worse keyboard, emoji bar, and take away all the useful ports, I'd wonder what they'd been smoking.
Although the only thing I'm missing is charging via USB-C (which it has but cannot use for charging). Everything else is excellent: the screen is beautiful, battery life is in the 10 hours range, the aluminium body is quite tough, and it doesn't get hot.
Aluminum body, 15 inch form with a 10 keyless keyboard. So your hands are centered and don’t feel like your sitting left of the screen.
Was about 1000 bucks with the ram upgrade at the time. However now, it’s about 800 a year after I got mine.
Turns out the BIOS in it is garbage and has virtually zero customization options. So I'm waiting on Nouveau to catch up with the GTX 1050 in it so I can just use the Intel GPU forever and have decent battery life
Sold my Macbook Air (Early 2015) for the latest model and did not regret it. 2K display, very decent hardware and responsive. WSL is a excellent way to use linux tools on windows. And you can use it like a tablet.
If you can shell out the cash and still don't want to feel like you got gouged, this is great choice.
At work Thinkpad T470.
Very happy with both. A Thinkpad S-series was my gateway drug.
Worked on a rMBP for ~1 year, would always go for a Thinkpad now.
8GB (upgraded to 16GB)
1TB + 16GB SSD cache(upgraded to 1TB + 240GB SSD)
fullHD TN panel
Love the keyboard, don't like the touchpad but on linux i don't use it much. TN panel was the only option back in the day if I wanted fullHD but I thought of it more as an advantage since it was harder for other people to see what I was doing :)
My laptop is pretty good for scripting and light compile jobs, but if I could just code on it and forward the heavy computing to my other buffed computers it would save me both battery and time.
Compared to the Dell and Razor laptops at the time
I was in a similar situation as you. And I looked at the alternatives but came back to Apple. I upgraded from a 2012 model.
It has taken me about 6 months to get used to the keyboard but other than that it is a truly excellent machine.
I was able to upgrade the SSD and it was a pretty good experience, if you're into that.
Before that, I've been using ASUS Zenbook UX32LN - I think it was the best machine I've ever had (now my wife is using it, I wanted to try out Surface devices since I've fell in love with the design of that product line)
- Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8250U CPU @ 1.60GHz, 1800 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
- 8 Gb memory (enough for me)
No complaints so far
Have been running Arch Linux for a while, suffered from several bugs like freezing, overheat etc. But the major issue seems to be related to the the battery not properly connected… which was actually an man-made assembly error.
Besides that, everything works.
I've run Linux systems for a little over 20 years now and have historically found the Linux laptop experience to be pretty painful, full of driver incompatabilities and other annoyances like non-functional suspend. So when Apple transitioned the Mac to Unix-like OS and Intel chips I hopped on board and was a huge Mac fan. Early on in the 10.x series Mac OS was a great Unix operating system with a nicely functional desktop environment, most stuff just worked without a bunch of hacking. Over the years, though, Apple has been gutting the core of Mac OS and replacing it with their own proprietary APIs that lack Linux compatibility (OpenSSL, OpenGL, OpenCL, etc...). Homebrew and Docker can spackle over some of this but it seems quite a hack, especially given that most production work I do runs on some variant of Linux. At the end of the day most of the tools I use heavily are open source and run on Linux and those that don't have reasonable open source alternatives (1password vs pass, for example) so I migrated.
On the work front I've been using Linux desktops since around 2006 and have been keeping tabs on the desktop experience. It's improved a ton over the past few years. As much as it pains me to say this systemd has helped a lot. In my experience Dell hardware has mostly had decent Linux compatibility because they rely heavily on Intel chips and Intel puts a lot of work into the Linux kernel. The Dell Sputnik hardware has helped even more since the whole system is Linux certified by Dell (well Ubuntu certified, but all the patches make it to upstream) which makes a huge difference for things just working. The unpatched mainline kernel just works on Sputnik hardware without any hacking in my experience.
In my recent experience Fedora is an easier distribution to run because they keep packages very up-to-date whereas Ubuntu has inherited the slower release cadence of Debian. Neither are unpleasant but Fedora has required less configuration to make it work. There are a few minor annoyances so far but nothing that can't be fixed. Suspend defaults to suspend-to-ram, which is IMO wrong but configuring it to suspend-then-hibernate (sleep to RAM for an hour of inactivity then wake up and hibernate to disk/power off) is just a config file edit. Apple accessories (can't break up with my Magic Trackpad) require really recent kernel versions (4.20+) to work reliably and then some X configuration on top of that. The Atheros wireless cards can be a little flaky around suspend/resume/unexpected device behavior (this is Atheros or the driver's fault, hopefully Dell ditches them for Intel soon). Projectors, printing, pretty much everything else has just worked without any issues at all.