Geekery, Technology

After being on computers for 25 years, I did something I’ve never done before: I purchased a Mac. For the last 10 or so years, I’ve owned PCs or laptops that were setup to boot to Windows or some flavor of Linux. That flavor of Linux has been Ubuntu for a long time. Until 12.04, and Unity came along, this was a pretty happy experience. I stuck in the 10.x versions, only dabbling in the 11.x versions until 12.04 came out. I’ve written many blog posts regarding Ubuntu and the use of Ubuntu over the years. I’ve even written open source software for it. You could even say I was a fanboi for a while, trying to push all my friends and family away from the evil of Mac or Windows to the open beauty that was Ubuntu.

Over my years of computing, I too had developed a completely biased sense against the Apple ecosystem. The oft-touted cries of “walled garden” or “my device, my rules” or “locked into Apple” arguments were valid to me. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why people were paying so much money for something that seemed so obviously wrong. My mind has been changed and I would like to share the story of how it happened since I’m much, much happier for it.

Here’s a screenshot of the very last time I booted into my Ubuntu installation to push some files onto an external drive:
Goodbye Ubuntu

This is representative of the constant, buggy struggle that Ubuntu became for me. All I had was a dual monitor setup on an NVIDIA card with an Intel chipset. Nothing particularly special or weird, it was a rig I had built to play Battlefield 3 back when I used to still be a gamer. I decided that, in addition to my laptop being a dual-boot machine, I needed my PC to dual-boot since I would be working from home.

The Struggle

The first struggle came when trying to setup a wireless USB adapter. I was able to find a driver and fire up the abomination that was NDISwrapper. Unfortunately, I had to end up Googling around for hours to find a solution consisting of modifying the driver itself before the USB adapter would work. Once it was actually working, it would just randomly stop every once in a while. This never occurred in Windows. This required me to remove and re-insert the USB adapter, constantly. I actually moved my PC onto my desk instead of on the floor because I got sick of bending over to take care of this.

Next, came the display. Ubuntu, for some reason, labeled my two monitors as “Laptop” and treated it as a single screen. This meant I could not use the regular display configuration. I was forced to use the NVIDIA display configuration utility. This also meant I constantly struggled with apps not knowing how to go to a full screen properly, weird issues dragging windows around, and other oddities.

Onto the window manager. Beyond the frequent crashing for no particular reason, there were constant glitches. Leave the computer for a while and come back? Title bars for windows would become glitchy and unreadable. Restoring a window from being minimized? Sometimes it’ll just be white. Go ahead and minimize and restore it again to fix. Icons randomly disappearing from the dock, requiring a restart of Unity? Yup, pretty consistent there too. Not only this, but the experience felt laggy. On the beefy machine it was running on, I expected the performance to be smooth and responsive but it was quite the opposite.

Unfortunately, none of these bugs were consistent enough to recreate reliably which meant I just had to deal with it until it because so infuriating that I would have to find a fix.

I decided enough was enough and Unity was not going to work for me. At the login screen, it’s possible to select GNOME instead of Unity so I gave that a shot, assuming going back to GNOME would work. As soon as it booted in I was greeted by a monitor that didn’t work and a window full of error messages. After Googling around for a while, I found some configuration changes to make in my xorg.conf file and was able to actually get it working. I was met with even more errors and problems so I decided it wasn’t going to work for me. I decided to switch back into Unity.

When I came back? All of my settings were gone. All of my changes to use a sane Alt-Tab in the CompizConfig Settings Manager, my keyboard shortcuts, everything. I was back to what it was when I first installed. Extremely frustrated, I decided to give the Mint side of things a try and give Cinnamon a shot. Again, a few weird problems, but got that running as well. Cinnamon didn’t quite fit the bill either. I ran into a display issue or two and found myself actually missing a few things from Unity so I decided I was going to dig in and really give Unity a shot. I didn’t want to jump ship to an entirely different flavor of Linux because I had already invested so many years in getting used to the Ubuntu experience.

When I purchased a printer for my computer? Of course Ubuntu had no idea what to do with it. Of course there was a run around necessary to get it working. Even the mouse had problems. My old Logitech MX500, for one reason or another, would spam the logs in dmesg whenever I was using the scroll buttons on it. Sound would skip while listening to music using anything Flash or HTML 5 related like Grooveshark or Pandora. The whole system would lock up occasionally pegging a quad core CPU for no reason at all. Sometimes, it would just crash entirely.

How I Want to Spend My Time

When I’m at a computer, its because I want to get things done. Gone are the days where I have time to tinker around and spend countless hours Googling for some obscure mail archive to find I need to change “bop” to “boop” in /etc/something/config.ini. The amount of time that I had to spend doing this crap was growing instead of shrinking. This is not a good direction for an operating system to go.

Over the years, I’ve developed enough acumen to get a lot done in short periods of time. I’ve found that I work in extremely productive bursts. This means, when I’m ready to get down to business: I’m ready to get down to business. I don’t want anything getting in my way. The glitches I had experienced in previous versions of Ubuntu were ones I could fix, get out of the way, and not have to worry about again. They were re-produceable, identifiable, and the fixes worked for me.

With Unity and 12.04, the glitches were random, weird, didn’t offer any useful information, and were downright annoying. Some fixes would work for a while then stop working. Some bugs, like the aforementioned blank window, I simply couldn’t figure out after a couple hours of Googling so I just got used to them as best I could.

Hours Googling, being frustrated, and being bumped out of the zone due to random glitches was no longer acceptable for me.

Making the Switch

I knew I had to make a switch. At my most recent job, I was given an iPhone 3G (at a time when the 4 was new) and it was the first Apple product I’d owned. It was an okay device but it was a hand-me-down and I was much more impressed by the 4. By the time the iPhone 4S came around, I was eligible for an upgrade. I decided to take the plunge and it literally changed something inside me. My immediate thought after experiencing the device was: “I want to build things for this.”

Exploring many options for iOS development, I looked into building a Hackintosh for a while until I realized it wasn’t going to be as stable an experience as I wanted. Since I could still get the development done I needed to and had recently built a gaming rig, I couldn’t justify the switch. So I just dreamed of eventually having some spare dough around to drop on a Mac, but wasn’t terribly serious about buying one.

Fast forward a year or two and it was Christmas time. I wanted to get something nice for myself that I would enjoy. I struggled back and forth again over justifying the cost for dropping into the Mac ecosystem. Back and forth I went until I decided, yet again, I couldn’t quite justify the switch. I bought myself a New iPad ensuring I would be able to return it if I didn’t like it. Of course, I loved it. My wife gave up her Kindle Fire usage and we shared the iPad. It was incredibly powerful, had a beautiful screen, and was light years beyond any tablet experience in terms of responsiveness, design and construction. I had another “I want to build things for this” moment.

Now the desire for iOS development was getting stronger. The MBP Retina came out and I was absolutely drooling over it. I wanted one so bad, but, I still couldn’t justify the cost. “I’m not building anything in iOS, yet. Maybe I’ll hate the OS and be stuck with a $2,500 bad decision. Walled garden. Non-customizable.” Those were the thoughts that were keeping me from taking the plunge.

Taking the Plunge

Eventually, I was sick and tired of not being able to spend time developing in the zone due to random glitches and small problems. I didn’t want to spend hours or days finding solutions. In short:

I was tired of spending time on my computer working on my operating system instead of working on my projects.

I carefully considered all my options. We don’t have an actual Mac store here, so I didn’t have the pleasure of being able to identify, play with, and choose the right Mac for me. I had to go on specs, the advice of others, and my gut instinct.

I wanted the MBP retina, of course. My friend got one and it was an absolutely incredible machine. The design, the responsiveness of the SSD architecture, the retina display; it was beautiful and I was jealous.

Since it was my first foray into the Mac environment, I didn’t want to be disappointed. I decided that I would be much happier if I purchased something on the lower end, in case my pre-conceived notions about the OS were correct. I had a choice between the Air, the MBP and the Mini. My local store was constantly out of the upgraded versions and Apple does not ship here.

I decided the base MBP would be the best decision for me. The reason being: I had no idea where I was going to feel a bottleneck on the OS during my development. Would I really be CPU bound? Would not having SSD really slow things down that much? I had no previous experience so I had no idea if those things were worth it. The MBP was upgradeable, so I could fix anything I perceived as a shortcoming in my experience. With the Air I was locked in and I didn’t know enough to know whether that was okay with me. The store was constantly out of the upgraded Mac Mini version, so I settled on the last, base 13″ MBP they had in the store.

I was elated bringing the box home. The unboxing was, of course, elegant and easy as my previous Apple products had been. The physicality of the product was awesome. I turned it on, went through the simple configurations, and was up and running pretty quickly. While waiting for the initial setup to complete, I started reading about the various things I could do with my new OS. I started reading about the trackpad and the gestures that were possible. I checked out some things that were “must install” for every user and started to make a list of the OS X apps I had always wanted to try.

Welcome to OS X

The operating system came up and it was beautiful. The responsiveness, the elegance, and the simplicity were awesome. Being a consistent hater of trackpads over the years, it was one of the first things I played with. I had read reviews of it being incredible before and they were not exaggerating in the slightest. The gestures make sense and are very useful. The trackpad itself worked really well and wasn’t constantly triggered by my thumbs accidentally brushing them.

Then I started to dive into the operating system. What I found was absolutely shocking: it was far more customizable than I had ever dreamed. Want to move the dock around? Sure, go ahead. In Ubuntu? Nope. Want to change how the mouse scroll wheel works? There’s a program someone wrote for that. Every tiny adjustment I wanted was available either directly in the OS or through the installation of a simple program.

Ubuntu had introduced the ability to launch a program or find something from the dash and I had started to like it, even though it was buggy and extremely slow in a lot of cases. Spotlight? Completely blows it away. It’s fast, responsive, and gets me to the program or thing I’m looking for every time.

Every device I hooked up to the machine worked flawlessly. Printer? Plug it in, it finds what you need, and you’re good to go. Monitor? Plug it in and it recognizes it correctly and makes it available to start working right away. External hard drive? I plugged it in and it immediately asked me if I wanted to start using it for backups. It’s like the OS knew what I wanted and was eager to please every step of the way instead of the struggle I was used to. I didn’t have to tell it, nay smash it with a hammer in the face to force it, to get it to work. In other words:

OS X delivered the experience I wanted Linux to, and more.

What’s My PC Up to Now?

My PC now sits on the floor under the desk. Beyond grabbing some files off of it: it’s dormant. I keep it around in case I need to boot up Windows and test something or if I get the itch to start gaming again. But, I am now a 100% Mac convert.

The hardware is great. The OS is a constant pleasure. All my time that I want to spend developing or doing things is actually spent developing or doing things instead of the constantly interrupted, buggy experience I had before. Because it’s Unix-based, everything is familiar or easy to learn since I spend most of my time in a terminal.

Instead of finding a brand new and unfamiliar experience, I found the experience I was looking for Linux to be: a great and consistent environment for me to get things done.

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  • osx didn’t “just work”…you bought dedicated hardware for it. you could have done the same for ubuntu (system76,zareason,etc). try holding osx up to the same standard you held ubuntu to…installing on arbitrary hw….

  • Rick Downer

    It seems to me that you’re now in a walled garden whether you admit it or not. Ubuntu isn’t the only Linux disto out there, Linux isn’t the only Unix-like operating system out there, and everyone paying the least bit of attention knows to avoid Nvidia hardware because they won’t open their specs and everything has to be reverse engineered. You got what you paid for, and you complain about it? You got what you deserved. Enjoy the garden. I hope you’ve got deep pockets.

  • Andre P.

    Unfortunately, Ubuntu does have some annoying bugs. But my experience is much better than yours. The reason is, I think, because I payed very close attention to the hardware I was buying. You have to buy Ubuntu friendly hardware if you are to have a good experience. The upshot? My printer works flawlessly (doesn’t work in Windows), my desktop is stable, resume and suspend are fast, graphics and games run great… Linux doesn’t have vendor support, so you really have to be careful with hardware.

    In fact, I was going to take your route before changing some pieces of hardware to see my experience become awesome. Macs are fine, but ultimately make it more difficult to install and use programming and math tools that I care about.

  • Love your wallpaper! Would appreciate it if you post a link to it.

    I’ve been using MBP and Ubuntu on a Thinkpad for several years now and while I think both are great, I still prefer the Thinkpad for development – most of it has to do with me not having to switch between the Control and Command keys to get stuff done, especially when using Vim or Emacs. But other than that, I think MacBook makes life easier in most other ways. Just be sure to get MacPorts to install some of your favorite linux utilities. Enjoy!

  • You have summed up perfectly my thoughts on Linux, Windows and Mac that I always try to explain to all the Linux fanboys that try to drag me away. I’ve been using Linux for many years (not as many as you, but…) and got tired of the constant tinkering. After all, a computer for me is a tool. I find acceptable spending hours to hone it, but if I need to do this each and every time some minor change is triggered, there’s no time for chopping down the tree.

    Oh, and I gave up Ubuntu when upgrading from 9-something to 11-something or the likes. Wrote a post complaining about what happened, because turns out dist-upgrading via the command line was a bad idea in Ubuntu. Felt slightly insulted at the comments in that post, how come I didn’t imagine upgrading via the command line in a Linux distribution would not work…? After this, I just installed Arch for that machine (a machine I use around once a year) and used only my Macbook. Which is close to 5 years old and still kicking.


  • Welcome to the club!

    I had an almost similar experience and ended up spending a lot to get the retina MBP. I wrote a small post about it here:

    It’s been half a year now and the entire experience is simply amazing. The display is great of course, but I’m really enjoying the “it just works” aspect. Some days ago I saw a friend type “modprobe ps_mouse” to fix the touchpad on his Linux Mint laptop. It was painful to see. Glad I don’t have to deal with that shit anymore. Like you said, gone are the days of tinkering. Computers are for getting work done.

    Enjoy the sudden boost in productivity! :-)

  • I know I’m completely skipping the point of your whole post here, but I have to point out that you must have been extremely unlucky with your hardware. I have been running Mint with Cinnamon for half a year now, and I have never seen anything to the random glitches you talk about. The only thing I have used any amount of time fixing is getting windows games to run in wine, everything else has worked out of the box.

  • I had very similar experiences with Ubuntu and no longer use it as my primary OS. However I was OSX prior to Ubuntu.

    What made me switch was dealing with all the random brew or ports bugs you will run into for compiling certain programs or ruby gems or what have you (and no, I didn’t run them at the same time) or waiting for things to catch up to the official linux package.

    There is a reason brew’s homepage is “MacPorts driving you to drink?” don’t think you’ll escape that with brew for anything advanced. I figured why not skip the middle man and just use what the pros use. Thats when I found my experience similar to yours, Ubuntu/Debian or CentOS/Redhat, there is always _something_ that you will bash your head over for UX. Command line stuff I never had a huge issue.

    Prior to OSX I was Windows 7, and thats where I find myself back to. “Whoa, there isnt shit that runs on windows for programmers!” and you’re right! I use VMWare Workstation (with Unity [not ubuntu unity]) Now I can have any distro act like a native Win7 program. Even OSX which I use for Xcode sometimes.

    Now I can run any OS, it feels and works with my Win7 “windows manager” and when I want to game and push cpu/ram to the max I can suspend all VMs practically instantly. All VMs can be independently snap shotted so if I goof up something restoring takes seconds. I no longer have to worry about not being able to see my desktop or perma crashing after messing up some config. Final bonus, I can run Visual Studio if needed for .net

    So enjoy OSX is is way more polished that any linux distro, but if you get into any brew unhappy times or notice games don’t run as fast as windows (b/c they don’t) try out VMware Workstation

    (your blog system requires a website to comment btw)

  • I took a similar plunge couple of years ago, in my case it was a buggy Vista not a buggy Ubuntu, also I tried Hackintoshing before finally buying a Retina last summer.
    As you say, the development experience is much more consistent. Like, in Terminal, a standard Command-C works instead of shift-Ctrl-C in Ubuntu. And the SMB-connects you do in Finder are visible in Terminal’s “df -h”, but in Ubuntu, SMB-connects made in Nautilus are invisible in Terminal. I could go on.. /Rgrds Henry

  • Dude, you’ve written the blog post I imagined writing (although you’ve probably done it more eloquently!) in a month or so when I pick up my mac upon returning to the UK. I share so much of your pain I feel like you just read my mind!

    I made the big mistake of installing Ubuntu 12.04 preview release after reading on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog that he was using it every day. I was impatiently waiting for the next LTS and so I jumped right in. I’m still regretting that decision. Constant crashing, restarting the unity shell, it’s so slow compared to my old Alt-F2 launcher. Oh dear, it’s just painful.

    I’m getting a 13.3″ MacBook Pro Retina when I get back to the UK. The only question is, do I spend another 50% or so to get a 3GHz processor and a 256G SSD, or stick with the base spec which I can get about 20% cheaper than Apple’s list price. Any advice?

    A friend pointed me at this post, and I feel like you’ve just confirmed the decision for me, it’s finally time to start getting work done instead of working on my damn system. I can’t wait to get started. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yeah, sure.

  • How’s the glossy screen on the MBP treating ya?

  • Ubuntu had and still has serious problems with nVidia. I can’t even install 12.1 on one of my PC’s. I’ve moved to Linux Mint, and have success running 12, but you’re right — it’s a real PITA that sucks time.

    But this is inherent in Linux eco-system, which is dozens and dozens of tiny fiefdoms that care very little about interop or user experience. Also the ongoing frustration of getting basic web stuff to work, like, well… how about AIR or Flash. You can spend hours installing that stuff, and still not get it right. Love you, Ubuntu, but PLEASE, PLEASE do better or you will become irrelevant.

  • Depending on how Windows 9 and RHEL 7 turns out – I too might be changing over to the dark side (i.e. Mac’s). Windows new Metro interface (yes, they don’t call it that anymore but you know what I mean) and RHEL and it’s stupid SYSTEMD fetish has me reevaluating my OS loyalties. My big concern is the mandatory tie in to iTunes – which I do NOT want.

  • Since the introduction of Unity, Ubuntu has sucked. I used to use Ubuntu as my primary OS. Now I switched too. I mostly use Chrome OS. I actually like some of the design decisions of Unity; I switched mainly because it was so buggy and continued to be buggy after several releases. I stuck around for a few Unity releases but couldn’t take it after a while.

    Ubuntu is a great server OS still, so I still use it there. However, I have no will to try Ubuntu on phones and tablets because Unity is so bad. Good luck Canonical selling your phones if your core audience won’t recommend you.

  • Welcome to the “family”.

    Just remember that Macs have problems too. It’s not all rosy (but it usually is far more rosy than struggling with Linux, and that’s worth it).

    As a long time Mac user I would particularly avoid first-gen devices after a large redesign. Some productions runs have faulty parts (a monitor, a battery or something), and sometimes you chance upon those. You can usually replace them though at the Applestore with minimal fuss, but not always. Sometimes, there are also some driver issues that take 1-2 updates to get fixed. In general, I have had 5 Macs (iBook, MacBook Pro x2, iMac, Air) and the only problems I’ve had have been with the batteries on two of them crapping out (after 2-3 years of use).

    Speaking of launching apps, have you tried “Alfred”?

  • Before i found your post, i read this:

    Now what? :)

  • You’re right, much is wrong on linux. But I’d like to make a couple of points:

    1) While having fairly hairy problems on ubuntu, I don’t actually spend my time working on it rather than on my projects. So your experience may be somewhat “objective” there.

    2) While it’s true that OSX is more polished, it used to be even better, but it has gone downhill of late.

    3) Microsoft made their weakest desktop OS offering yet since windows vista.

    4) Linux enjoys the first time in history decent drivers and an offering of games as well as being in the enviable position of being the underdog in a market full of flailing offerings.

    So in a way, your abandonment of “the PC” is indicative of what happens so often when things change radically in a short span of time. You do the right thing, for all the wrong reasons.

  • I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • Linux is an OS written by Geeks for Geeks! An OS should work without being worked on

  • Justin

    Welcome to OS X. Keep in mind that it’s “OS X” — with a space. It may sound pedantic, but Apple has always, *always*, written it that way. Cheers!

  • Laudrup

    So you turned from linux fanboi to mac fanboi? I get it ok? What is next?

  • Jonas

    Of course, you have to buy hardware that “just works”, no matter what OS you use.

    That said, the selection is a lot wider for Linux than it is for OSX. I personally have used the “real” Thinkpads (that is, T and X-series) for the past decade and I have never once had a problem.

    I know my friends develop on a Mac but I find it kind of complicated to install the stuff you need, and there are always some Mac-quirks to how to upgrade your Python or how to handle hard links in rsync or whatever.

    I don’t have time with that. I need my computer to just work. That’s why I’ve used Linux the past 15 years, and bought supported hardware only.

    But great to hear that you’ve found something that works for you.

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  • Tom

    A familiar story! Up until half a decade ago I used to spurn Apple and OS X in favour of other OSes and hardware. Today? A very happy rMBP owner. It’s a magnificent bit of kit. I wouldn’t say it has replaced my desktop (which is now on Win 8) rather it allows me to bring all that power and ability on the road in a neat, light, quiet, gorgeous package. Honestly, I could gush about that thing all day.

    Macbooks have ruined laptops for me, because now nothing else stacks up. The OS X + macbook trackpad combo makes any other solution look and feel like crap. And I have tried many, many such solutions (between reviewing systems and repairing them, hundreds of machines pass through my hands).

    Naysayers’ claims about build quality, poor performance, inferior functionality etc etc just seem baffling to me now. Modern Macs are wonderful to use. Fast. Quiet (oh-so quiet). Powerful too. Yet not compromising in aesthetics. Not compromising on anything, in fact; even the DAC powering the headphone socket is incredible. It actually gives my desktop headphone amp a run for its money. I can’t count the number of times I’ve used a bells-and-whistles laptop which has atrocious headphone output.

    Even the price can’t be called into question these days, with ‘ultra’ laptops costing near enough the same price, if not more. You may find higher-spec’d components therein (processors, GPUs) but you’ll be left with a bulky, loud unit with various aesthetic, ergonomic and sometimes functional compromises (battery life, heat, weight, etc).

    For the sake of full disclosure, I don’t consider myself a ‘fanboy’ or some kind of Apple-obsessed drone. I’m not really a fan of their mobile products -while pretty and pleasant to use, I still lean toward Android-based devices for the flexibility and power- and I steer away from their desktop machines for similar reasons. But their laptops are stellar.

  • You did not mention your dual monitor setup anymore. That sux pretty hard with Mountain Lion, or not?

    Using your MBP stand-alone and connecting it to the external monitors disarranges all your programs – and working in full-screen mode (my preferred way when working with the MacBook only) does not work in a Dual-Monitor setup.

    Or did you find a good solution for these shortcomings of that 12 year old OS?

    I made the switch (back) to OS X two years ago. I am not that enthusiastic about everything (in part because I do not like Apple’s approach to many things), but I like the overall experience more than on Ubuntu or Windows. In particular for Ruby and Rails development it’s the best plattform by far. And I love my MBA (more than my 15″ Retina at work).

  • randomdrake

    I was using dual monitors because I was working with a PC. I’m only using a single external monitor at the moment with my laptop open. Though, as I understand it, it wouldn’t be hard to setup a second external monitor. I haven’t had a need for it, yet. But, I’ve only been using this setup for less than a couple months so we’ll see if things change.

  • I use dual externals with my MBA with no issues. What programs aren’t working in full screen for you?

  • min amisan

    It’s good to hear this from a long-time Linux user. As a dual OSX and Linux user (though primarily OSX) I can relate to everything in this article, though others in my situation would refrain from talking about it in public for fear of being slammed as a clueless noob who obviously didn’t understand the subtleties of Linux and FOSS.

    I use Linux because I like to tinker and it definitely satisfies that urge, so for the times I really enjoy spending three hours to do simple things like set up non-Roman character input, use a printer or (oh dear god) make the damn thing work on my wifi network, it’s interesting and educational. I’ve learned a lot about programming and how software works simply by installing a few different Linux distros. But using Linux as my primary OS would probably drive me round the bend.

    It’s not just the OS itself, either. Generally the quality of applications available on OSX is far superior to anything I’ve used in any version of Linux. I’m still glad the option exists and Linux is great for people who don’t want to/can’t spend lots of money on their machine. But in the end, I always find myself running back to OSX whenever I need to get any serious work done.

  • Then, use something other than Ubuntu. Like Mint or Netrunner?

  • Chris Duncan

    I never expect the latest releases of Ubuntu to be fully backward compatible to either the user experience or hardware. In a perfect open-sourced OS world, sure, that is obviously the most ideal circumstance. I’ve found my Ubuntu OS’s to be fully capable about three distributions behind, or about a year and a half (with that gap closing).

    I feel that you have been fair in articulating your experience. Having said that, and having read your article a few times, did you laterally weigh logistics and also pull out all the stops for Ubuntu? (Yes, I intended use of ‘lateral’.)

    I cannot desire a super user-friendly proprietary OS that is susceptible to viruses and has at least five times the average security holes over Ubuntu. (Not to mention absolute requirements of using third-parties.) I’d rather choose to install ten different flavors of Ubuntu with various configurations until I am satisfied. Of course, my Ubuntu disciplines eliminate such needs.

    With the large capacity of today’s drives and the ability to alter the size of existing partitions which contain OS’s, I don’t understand why many fail to utilize these abilities to their potential by always having at least one OS that is for stable production use. People tend to not operate within the boundaries of persistent fail-safes. Nothing of value should ever be expected to be stored with any sort of guarantee on a single native drive at the end of each day, just like fresh-off-the-presses software, proprietary or no, is imperfect.

    I’ll take a very minimally buggy Ubuntu over any non-Linux on the market. In all fairness, the days not running at least more than one OS at a time are long gone for me.

    Lastly, I have never understood any allure to Unity nor the decision to exclude Gnome by default. For me, Unity was cool for about 2.6 seconds. (The last 2.3 is questionable.)

    Everything else I said aside, just like with religion, I am happy that you have found much more happiness and compatibility with your new OS and machine :)

  • YLee

    I have been using Linux since the mid-1990s. Until 2004 that also meant using Linux on the desktop at home. Along the way I used GNOME, KDE, Enlightenment, XFCE, AfterStep, etc., etc. I used Macs extensively in the 1990s in college and found Mac OS to be, amazingly, even less stable than contemporary Windows. This made OS X all the more impressive when I tried it out for the first time a decade ago. I immediately bought an iBook and am typing this on my third Mac notebook.

    I still use Linux everywhere else (servers and MythTV), but when I see fellow Linux users struggle with basic desktop-usability issues I want to shake them until they get it through their heads that a truly usable Unix-based desktop OS has existed for more than a decade, even if it is made by Apple.

  • uberRegenbogen

    The more i hear about Ubuntu 12, the more i’m leaning toward going straight Debian for my next major upgrade (from Ubuntu 10.10).

  • Dang Ren Bo

    You’re not comparing … ahem … apples to Apples. Put OS X on that same computer / mouse / and printer setup. Either that, or purchase a computer with Ubuntu pre-installed. These are the only ways that you can make this kind of comparison.

  • Michael Sokolov

    I totally agree with you. I was a Linux user for a long time and I thounght that Ubuntu is the best OS. Sometimes I used Windows, of course. Also I had an Android phone and tablet. I was an Apple-hater. But eventually I got tired of spending time reading long manuals and editing configuration files. Now I have three Apple devices: iMac, iPad and iPhone and I dont’t want to use something else.

  • cttet

    In mac it is just not as convenient to apt-get install something… A lot of packages are made for Linux only….

  • I worked in an IT department at a college switching out computers for a summer. I’ll never forget the attitude that one of my coworkers had.

    He was a Linux “Booter” I’d call it. Booting Linux from disks to externals and such. He could NOT stand to be away from Linux and on a computer. He’d brag about having LAN parties with his friends, where they’d just mess around with Linux and all it’s incarnations. They’d spend hours a night, nights a week, weeks a month, months a year doing this.

    He shunned those of us who drank, who did drugs recreationally, those of us who played games those who watched movies and tv shows even! He touted how whatever OS he was using was superior to what we were using and that we were wasting our time.

    Needless to say, this got old fast. But this is not so much about his attitude as the kind of person he was. For him Linux was ALL there was. Linux was life. That was his fun, his hobby, his relaxation, his socialization. He was perplexed that none of use used Linux, most preferring Windows, and how *gasp* I myself preferring OSX. He’d reign unheard speeches of how we were not utilizing our computers to their max, how we were spending so much money and just plain missing out on such a great experience.

    What he always failed to recognize though was that none of us had the time he had to dig into the OS. None of the time to search and fix and tinker. Most of us wanted to log on and just go, which Windows and OSX machines were perfectly suited for. He had hours, and days and nights to spend dedicated to keeping his OS running, but we didn’t. We had friends who wanted to do other things, our friends if we had LAN parties would want to play games. Our families needed us, our significant others beckoned us. We simply did not have the time.

    At the end of the day you can argue the semantics of whatever, but the usability of OSX is absolutely incredible. I very much enjoy the synergy between my devices as well. It makes life simpler. Some might find pleasure in digging deep to get something running, but as much digging as I enjoy is my finger digging into the power button and keyboard to log in.

  • Dennis Lutter

    brew install

  • HappyMacUser

    I can relate with your scenario. I use an imac and just run windows and linux using Parrallels. No driver problems anymore. This is the best of all worlds. Note, i upgraded my memory to 16gb.

  • It’s sad really.

    I’m a long time linux/ubuntu user. My desktop is running 10.4, and there is no way on gods earth I’m upgrading it (last time I tried, ubuntu puked on my dual screen nvidia setup). Unity is ok on my mum’s computer, but painful for me to use. Gnome 3 is also incomplete (and 12.10 broke it completely). I run 12.10 on a laptop as a test to see if anything improves, but so far each upgrade has broken more.

    Really not sure what I’m going to do when my much loved 10.4 is sunset in April, but I can say for certain that my next laptop is going to be a mac.

  • He did:

    > Extremely frustrated, I decided to give the Mint side of things a try and give Cinnamon
    a shot. Again, a few weird problems, but got that running as well.
    Cinnamon didn’t quite fit the bill either. I ran into a display issue or
    two and found myself actually missing a few things from Unity

  • Michael Langford

    The rearrangement stuff by default really matters based on WHERE you add the desktop relative to the others. You can set rules (I think that’s a stock panel, but it might be an app) to make things jump to certain screens. I use 0-1-2 or 3 monitors with it depending how crazy I’m feeling.

  • I switched from Windows to Ubuntu around 4 four years ago. At work and education i also often used Mac OS and later OS X. What i loved about Ubuntu: that was the first time so easy to install a Linux on a PC. The installer was just working and afterwards i had a running desktop, no installation of extra hardware drivers needed. Sure, later i quickly learned to watch *before* buying a printer or scanner, if it is supported by the OS. ;)

    So for me Ubuntu was all the years important to push Linux on the desktop further. Than came Unity, a lot of people switched to other Linux flavors or to OS X because the weren’t able to customize the desktop like they want to have it. I switched to the “Gnome Classic” desktop but it looks for my like not very well supported in Ubuntu. So gave Unity a chance. I found Ubuntu Tweak and that i can bring back my favorite desktop settings. Now i can work with the workspaces like before and my Unity dock is hidden and nearly never used. I do everything with a launcher, “Gnome Do”, and keyboard shortcuts. So now there is no difference in my workflow than before Unity.

    And i learned, that an OS Upgrade is not always as easy as it should. So i stick now with 12.04 LTS, till there is comming a “killer feature” that makes it worth to do one day “post upgrade configuration”.
    BTW: i never had problems with multi monitor setup, neither with AMD nor with NVIDIA grafic cards.

    I will stay with Ubuntu so long as it supports my way of workflow. And when there are security issues i expect that it will be fixed ASAP, not like Apple, taking a few months for it. It is also important for me that i can buy my favorite hardware configuration cheap.

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  • Off topic… Which wallpaper are you using in the ‘goodbye Ubuntu’ screenshot? It looks fantastic. I tried searching for it with no luck.

    On topic… Completely agree with you. My experimentation with Linux, specifically Ubuntu, resulted in much the same outcome – spending days fixing the OS instead of getting stuff done. Now I’m happily on my second Mac and loving it.

  • Thanks for stopping by!

    The background was downloaded from the NASA APOD collection using my nasa-apod-desktop project that I built for Ubuntu.

    You can find the project here:

    You can find the NASA APOD library here:

  • Dorv

    You think Spotlight is great, wait until you try a third party launcher in its place, like Alfred. So customizable, and does so much more out of the box.

  • You’re the 3rd person to recommend that to me. I installed it after the 2nd recommendation. I guess I should just disable the hotkey for Spotlight and dive into Alfred. Thanks!

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