From Mac to Linux

2018-07-01

I’ve almost exclusively used Apple products since I was maybe 5 years old, from OS9 to macOS 10.12, I never owned a Windows computer. In 2008 I bought my own computer for the first time, a “Limited Edition” aluminum unibody 13” MacBook. I pushed that computer far past its expected life expectancy and I replaced it with a 15” MacBook Pro Retina (Late 2013). This computer served me all throughout college very well, with only two major failures (haha) that required replacing (sure glad I had AppleCare!).

But, in June 2017, with my MacBook Pro feeling the end of its life — battery status as “Service Battery”, struggling to do some basic tasks, etc — I decided to look at my options. I could get a new MacBook, sure, but I didn’t want to shell out 2000+ on a computer that was getting pretty poor responses due to a faulty keyboard, USB-C-only input, and a lackluster performance:price ratio. So, I ultimately decided to build a desktop PC. I rarely used my laptop as a laptop, so a desktop just made the most sense.

After building a desktop and installing Windows 10 on it, I realized that I just really did not like Windows! Even with improved features like WSL/Bash-on-Ubuntu-on-Windows, it just felt like I was fighting against the OS at every turn. Trying my luck, I then used a second hard drive to setup a hackintosh. That worked shockingly well for a non-purposebuilt machine, but it ultimately was far too inconsistent to use as a daily driver. I wasn’t so into the idea of booting up my computer being a gamble and having to mess with config files.

Finally, after a weekend where I couldn’t boot into my hackintosh — even when using my backup config files — I decided to wipe the drive and start over with Ubuntu, an OS that I had never touched before but had always been curious about. The whole download/installation process was shockingly fast and pain-free, the most complicated part being the disk partitioning, since I couldn’t do a fresh install with my Windows drive still existing in the computer.

I’ve now been using that Ubuntu machine heavily the last few months with almost zero complaints. There are some things I miss, like Adobe apps and iTunes, as I use Apple Music, but for the most part every app I rely on is there. It’s also forced me to rethink a lot of my workflows and apps of choice to choose the most open/cross-platform/FOSS options.

If this was a few years ago when I still did more visual/graphic work (Maya, Illustrator, Photoshop) I think I’d be far less satisfied with it, but Ubuntu has been getting the job done for me with my current requirements.

Next, I’m very tempted to start heavily customizing my computer UI, starting with using a different window manager and desktop environment.