Radu Cotescu's professional blog

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Switching to Mac From Ubuntu

When I joined Adobe I was given the chance of choosing between using a Lenovo ThinkPad or a MacBook Pro as my development machine. Since I really dislike the design of the ThinkPads and also because I really wanted to try a Mac for a longer period of time I accepted the challenge. My previous experiences with a Mac were limited to only a few occasions when I had to perform some specific tasks - mostly while dishing Apple and Mac because it took me at least twice the time I needed to complete the same tasks on a machine running Ubuntu.

After 10 days of using only the MacBook as my main computer (even at home), I can’t say that I really miss using Ubuntu.

Sure, there are some things that aren’t as nice on a Mac:

  • the lack of a decent package manager - MacPorts, although usable, can’t compare with apt-get;

  • the lack of a good default text editing application - TextEdit sucks compared to gedit; however I have discovered Sublime Text 2 aka vim on steroids with a GUI;

  • the window management system - although I’ve come to understand why there’s no need to maximize a window (hence why the third window management button is called “zoom”), I really don’t like the fact that if you “hide” a window (minimize it in plain English), you have to right-click on its icon from the dock to restore it;

  • Terminal is not that smart by default - more info here; also, because I often perform tasks from the terminal I needed a way to make the app on the Mac behave more like Yakuake and that’s how I found out about TotalTerminal;

  • Finder, the file browser on the Mac, is not really worthy of “the world’s most advanced desktop operating system”; it lacks tabs, the cut function is not enabled (although it is available) and if you enable it anything you “cut” will make it to Trash.

I had no problems configuring the system and this was probably helped by the changes that were made in Ubuntu in this direction over the previous years. An Ubuntu user would have no problems at all adjusting to the Mac; and the other way around. This was a bold decision - to use the Mac as the source of inspiration for Ubuntu - and I really appreciate Mark Shuttleworth’s leadership in the project. Although I really like the idea of freedom that the Linux ecosystem promotes, I do agree that having some restrictions in place - some would call it direction - helps in delivering a product with a superior quality.

There are a lot of things that I like about the Mac:

  • the hardware is superior to everything else on the market and by superior I don’t mean necessarily performance-wise; everything fits together so good that nothing seems out of place; the attention to details was paramount; the fact that the body is made from Aluminum helps a lot for the overall system cooling - the fan rarely can be heard and that’s only when the CPU is very busy;

  • having an illuminated keyboard is really useful when using the laptop in dim light or when you want to work during the night - such a simple and efficient idea;

  • the battery life is very good - if you don’t use Skype or the GoogleVoiceAndVideo plug-in; you can easily squeeze 4 - 5 hours if you’re not performing rocket science; I managed to reach 3.5 hours while coding with Java on top of a web application that ran continuously in a Servlets container;

  • the gestures and the track-pad really increase productivity;

  • the GUI - this is where the Mac was, is and will be ahead of the other OSs;

  • using a secondary display is as easy as connecting it to the Mini DisplayPort; no other settings have to be made;

  • it’s a widely (?!) supported Unix or it has better support than any Linux distribution anyway;

  • the display (even the one with the 1440x900 resolution) looks sharp from any angle without any colour bleeding.

If I’d run Mac OS X on any other hardware probably I wouldn’t be so amazed (yes, I know about the license). But combine the OS with the hardware and you get a killer combination that’s easy to accept as the norm. It slowly gets you and it becomes harder and harder to go back to what you were using before. Yes, I have become a ”mactard”.

.com, Ubuntu

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