Tuesday, March 6, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

A Year Away From macOS

Wesley Moore (via Hacker News):

At this point I can’t see myself switching back to Mac OS. There is only one task (MoneyWell) that I haven’t been able to achieve with my new Linux or FreeBSD systems.


Over the year I think what I value in an operating system has shifted. I went in valuing design, consistency, and attention to detail. I definitely still value those things but I think I’ve softened on them. I’m willing to settle for a few rough edges. In return I get:

  • Systems that are always up to date
  • More hardware options
  • Upgradeable hardware
  • The ability to build an environment that works for me
  • “The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish”.

That last one has come as a bit of a surprise. I’ve always been a fan of open source but was happy to use well-made proprietary software. It turns out that when a huge portion of your system is open source your perspective changes. Jumping through hoops to install proprietary software (that’s not in the system package repos) is kind of a drag, and feels sort of wrong for the system.

There’s also something wonderful about public bug trackers. You can search and track the progress of an issue instead of just submitting it into the void.

Previously: Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X.


I would like to echo the benefit of public bug trackers. When I stumble upon a bug, it's nice to visit the respective trackers for Firefox, Linux distros, etc. in order to research a problem. It's particularly nice to know when something is "unknown, so little chance of a fix forthcoming (but chance to report, yay!)", "known, with a fix in progress", "known, with ongoing research to untangle the problem", "known, not fixing", and frankly the suggestions for a possible work around are always welcome.

Also, let's not forget public, hopefully, up to date documentation. I love the Arch wiki in particular, but Red Hat has provided a lot of information as well. Reading Howard Oakley's treatise on DAS, CTS, XPC, basically all of what makes Mac scheduling function, illuminated how much of this core system architecture of OS X might not be fully understood by people outside of Apple. It was eye opening to say the least.

Reliability of macOS Sierra: scheduled and background activities

There's more to that series, but that's a good place to start of course. Just a reminder for those who missed Michael Tsai's linking of such work in previous articles. Thanks again.

The interesting thing to me is that for people who are very basic users, I feel like Linux might be an easier sell than people who are really wedded to current proprietary apps like Adobe's Creative Suite, QuickBooks, etc.

Some people want a web browser, email, some photos, music, etc. Linux can do that, and if we pick sane defaults, it all kind of just works relatively speaking.

Ps FreeBSD largely works as well and there are relatively friendly average user "distros" for FreeBSD as well. Thinking of TrueOS largely, but it's a pretty solid choice and has been in development for over a decade:

Nathan: “for people who are very basic users”

See: Android/Chromebook. See also: Network Effect. For average, non-technical users, Google’s platform is *very* hard to beat, providing lots of personal benefits for little personal cost.

“Free” isn’t free when it causes friction, and Linux desktops and apps are full of it. And that’s before you get to useful stuff like music and movies, where Linux isn’t exactly bursting with kosher options. Plus forget finding help with it when nobody you know has ever used it or knows what it is. Sorry, but desktop Linux is a niche product for Linux nerds, by Linux nerds, by design.

> And that’s before you get to useful stuff like music and movies

Normal people don't listen to music, or watch movies, on their computers. They have TVs and set-top boxes and smartphones for that.

> “Free” isn’t free when it causes friction, and Linux desktops and apps are full of it.

Like what?

I can only assume the complaint centers around the possible lack of pre-installation of popular codecs, which was a traditional concern on Linux given such patent encumbered elements. I haven't noticed much trouble in recent years, Antergos mostly just worked out of the box. I do tend to exchange VLC for Gnome videos as I have a strong distaste for the latter.

Hey, I understand the point. Loud and clear. However, the way I set up a Linux system is pretty simple. Music works, videos work, graphics work. Resume works. More or less, regarding resume. Look, I'm dealing with random, often used, hardware. I do what I can to get things working, but it may never be Chromebook smooth.

I'm not telling people to install Linux themselves, frankly, most of my clients can't figure out Mac OS or Windows installation either. In fact, they don't really understand resetting their Android phones. These are basic users. If I'm there to walk them through or I handle things, everything is pretty similar.

I was a Mac user when not being a Windows user meant there were largely the same friction points. I pushed through anyway. Many of us did. I was never an Adobe apps user of any real note, I didn't do anything that required the Mac. Yet, I managed to blunder my way through the dark years. In comparison, modern Linux desktop use has been pretty smooth.

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