Suffix

Published by Simon Schoeters

Switching to Linux

Hello, I am a Mac. I have been for 10 years ever since I bought my first iBook G4 in 2004. I was a Windows switcher at the time, and Mac delivered on every field. Now, it's time to move on.

Open Source

I ♡ open source. It may not always produce the cleanest, best-looking software, but it's definitly the best software model. I earn a living thanks to open source developers and am grateful for that. It's time to eat my own dogfood.

I feel more at ease using open source. I know (or hope) people look at the source code. There is less invasion of my privacy by big companies or governments, and the software was written to solve a problem, not earn money or sell ads.

Apple

Apple knows how to write software, they know how to build hardware and they know how to bring the two together. I preordered the retina Macbook Pro the moment it was announced, and it's the best computer I've ever had (an ethernet port would have been nice, though). I will miss this.

Where Apple excells in hardware and software design, they lack in building services. Apple isn't Google; it's not in their DNA:

  • Maps places data is wrong in many locations around me, and feedback is never looked at. I don't think Apple will ever make a Google Map Maker.
  • Three years after its release, Messages still isn't usable for me. Some messages show up as read, while the other party never received them, leading to arguments with friends and family.

Apple is a company, and companies make decisions I don't always agree with, like removing bitcoin wallet apps or not crediting OpenStreetMap (was later fixed by Apple).

Apple is shifting its focus from power users to the general public, building on the success of iOS. That's fine. There is a lot of money to be made, and making it easier for everyone to use technology is a noble goal. It's not me, though. I like the power of a multipurpose machine (and even think there is a need for one if we want to motivate our kids to hack stuff and innovate, but that's another topic).

In short, Apple lost its geekyness, and that's what appealed to me in the first place.

What I will miss:

Changing platforms is not something you do every day. Learning a new way to work is fun, but I invested money in hardware and software (Macbook, iPhone, Cinema Display, Photoshop, OS X and iOS apps), which will no longer be used.

I can keep using or find alternatives for most software I use today (Vim, Firefox, LaTeX and VLC, to name a few), but some applications simply don't have a replacement on the Linux side. I'm thinking of Photoshop (no, GIMP is not a replacement), Lightroom, Things and Soulver.

I really like Backblaze; it's my disaster recovery backup. But they don't plan on building a Linux client. I heard of SpiderOak and Tarsnap but still need to find a whortwhile contender.

Preparation

I am not only trying to find Linux compatible applications, but also switching to open source when possible. Switching bit by bit before retiring my Macbook will hopefully make it easier.

I switched my main browser from Chrome to Firefox, switched my iCloud calendar and contacts syncing to my own CardDAV and CalDAV server and started using more command line applications (like ledger) to prepare. I've switched to Vim and LaTeX, and I've been hosting my own mail for a few years now so that should be a breeze.

Also, I've started listening to the Linux Unplugged and Linux Action Show podcasts to know what's happening in the Linux community.

Haters Gonna Hate

Regarding text editors, operating systems, tabs or spaces, developers like holy wars. Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux is no different. I am switching to Linux because I think it will suit my needs better. There will be pain, and I might turn back to Mac. But I will try. I wrote this post to look back at in order to see how things pan out in a few months; I'm not trying to preach the truth.

Extra reading

In It Just Works Russell Ivanovic explains his frustrations with the ‘new’ Apple, I couldn't agree more.