A couple of days with Mac

I have recently bought a 13″/1.8 GHz/i7/256 GB Macbook Air and loving it. I am basically a software developer and linux lover so coming to Mac was a big decision/change. I was basically looking for an OS / machine with these criteria:

  1. Having a proper working version of Skype/Yahoo Messenger/oovoo/…
  2. Linux like
  3. Light machine
  4. Not Windows
  5. Good battery life
  6. Good for development
  7. Having a lot of ports is not a requirement for me. I am very happy with only two USB.
  8. 256 GB hard disk is enough. I have a couple of TBs UBS disks and really do not need to carry all my stuff around with me.
  9. Not having a CD is not an issue. I need to read/write a CD once in a blue moon and that I can manage by sharing a remote CD.

I am really pissed off with recent and ongoing drastic changes in Ubuntu/Unity and Gnome3. They both are really in a state of instability that I hate. Honestly I think at the moment all linux desktops suck. There are always simple things that do not work in linux and you need to switch to Windows for them. I have always liked writings that say good thing about linux (specially Ubuntu) introducing it as the best desktop in the word but let’s be honest, when you can not get a simple scanner or webcam work in a desktop then what is the point ?! I know we can have Skype (which I brought up as examples) in linux but does audio/video always work smoothly? Can you get your webcam connected without hassle or days of command line typing ?! The same sort of arguments go for Yahoo Messenger. Does all the features of Yahoo work on say Pidgin? I brought up these two applications as examples for the sake of argument but this applies to anything from scanners, webcams, printers and many other devices and software.

I was tired of this and wanted a hardware and platform to just work ! Was that a lot to ask?! The only option remaining (except Windows) was Mac and I have always been defensive against it but a bit of research changed my mind. Mac on the other hand can be considered the only POSIX compliant OS that has a working UI. At the moment I use my Mac for home use and some personal development and keep linux just for servers!

Things I like about Macbook Air:

  1. Most of the Windows software have a Mac version and work almost the same way. This is not true for Linux. My DYMO label software writer and Belkin USB network hub as example!
  2. It is very light. Although I do not travel a lot but it is easy to carry around home or take to work and carry on train.
  3. Battery life is great. I charge it during night and the battery works for me the whole day. I work with it 2 hours on the train and a few hours at work.
  4. It is linux like and I do not miss the command line.
  5. UI is great in OSX/Lion. Once you master the keyboard shortcuts, etc your productivity will dramatically increase.
Things I hate about Macbook Air:
  1. You have to get used to Apple way of thinking ! You have to install 3 GB XCode in order to get gcc working on OSX 10.7!
  2. There is no proper package manager in Mac yet as opposed to Ubuntu.
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11 thoughts on “A couple of days with Mac

  1. For a package manager, I’ve heard good things about Homebrew:

    http://mxcl.github.com/homebrew/

    Also, I do most of my development in a VirtualBox using the VM friendly version of Ubuntu server. I just map a drive over sshfs to use all my Mac graphical tools, and ssh in to run commands. Works great.

    Have fun with the new Air!

  2. While there aren’t any truly comparable package managers for OS/X, both MacPorts and Homebrew fill at least part of that gap (http://tedwise.com/2010/08/28/homebrew-vs-macports/).

    If you haven’t found them already there are some other open source applications that might be useful to you coming from Linux – iTerm2 (http://www.iterm2.com/) and QuickSilver (http://QSApp.com/). iTerm2 has more features then Terminal.app and QuickSilver is what Gnome Do was patterned after.

  3. Other things I miss (I switch back and forth between Windows / Mac doing Android and iOS development)

    Home / End and other keys. I use them a lot when programming.

    Macs insistence on putting files where it wants. A lot of program don’t let you choose the directory you want to download / save to / extract to.

    Creating directories at root level and not where you want. Then having to move them yourself. (Please tell me there is a way around this without using terminal).

    Inability to sort directories first then files (or files first then directories). Makes finding the directory I want tougher in Finder. I just want the option to control this part of sorting, it does not have to be all or nothing here.

    Inconsistency with closing windows. Almost all use Cmd+Q but not a Finder window.

    Why does Maximize not mean Maximize but means size to something that program thought would be good?

    Drop a video file on the DVD drive drops an alias and not the file. You have to right click on the file and tell it to burn to DVD to get the full file.

    There are piles of oddness around Xcode but I cover that on my blog so I will skip it here.

    I use a MacBook Pro – nice and light and does a lot of cool and interesting things but there are still many times I scream at it for doing very odd things.

    1. well i think they look odd because you are used to the Windows way of doing things (most of the times not always though). When I am on Mac I do not try to think like Windows. I never change any keyboard shortcut to make is similar to windows or …
      The only thing that has been tough is the difference between Eclipse shortcuts.

  4. So let me get this straight, you were tired of not being able to use any old peripheral that you wanted to on Ubuntu, so you switched to a mac where you can only use Mac peripherals?

    1. Absolutely not ! regardless of things being old or new there are things that do not work on linux or do not work fully. i didn’t switch to use “mac peripherals”. I said most hardware have mac drivers as well as windows drivers which is not the case in linux.

    1. @cheddar: I also run Ubuntu on virtual machine but I try to use Mac itself. Forget about linux unless you want to run a server. There might be a learning curve but you will love the outcome.

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