The author isn’t alone. I’ve gone back to Linux after over a decade as an avid Mac user.
Now if only I could figure out why every major Linux distro is pig piling into the Gnome project when it seems to be having very serious design and stability issues….
In GNOME’s defense, as far as I know, it has the best accessibility for people with disabilities, especially blind people who need a screen reader. KDE’s page on testing with a screen reader says to just use GNOME for now. As far as I know, the lighter-weight desktop environments, window managers, and other such utilities generally don’t support this kind of accessibility at all. So it makes sense for a distro with a general audience to default to GNOME.
I don’t mean to start a DE flame war; I’m just stating what I believe to be a fact. If I’m wrong, please correct me.
This is kind of symptomatic of the slowly improving but still not amazing state of LInux desktop accessibility.
Gnome itself doesn’t provide any kind of full screen zoom. I’m partially blind and NEED that in order to do anything useful with a computer. Like. At all.
Ubuntu started providing full screen zoom (as well as screen reader support right from the login dialog) in a recent-ish release - 17.something maybe, so kudos to them for that.
KDE provides super awesome very smooth key chorded full screen zoom out of box.
And, to be fair, I WANTED to love Gnome, I literally tried for MONTHS to get it running and filed a ton of exceedingly detailed bugs even practically begging for potential work-arounds to no avail.
This is where I wish I were retired already because I’d LOVE to strap on my rusty C hip waders and dive in there to fix all these issues, but alas I’m not there yet and can’t :) So it’s KDE for me.
Ah, I wasn’t familiar with the state of screen magnification in the free desktop environments. I’m not a partisan, just an interested observer for now.
Can’t you use X.org’s zoom mode to magnify the screen & scroll around?
That’s only part of what a full-featured screen magnifier for visually impaired people does. Another very useful feature is automatically tracking the current keyboard focus, or the caret in an editing context. @feoh Does your current magnification solution do this? Note that this feature is typically implemented by consuming the same accessibility API that a screen reader uses.
I didn’t know such a thing existed. How does one invoke it? I can’t find any reference to such a thing online.
Back in the days of yore it was common to have several resolutions defined in xf86.conf - and later Xorg.conf - between which you could switch using CTRL ALT Keypad-+ and CTRL ALT Keypad_-. X11 would render to the maximum resolution, if one of the lower display resolutions was chosen the monitor would display a viewport on the X11 root window which would scroll with the pointer, no further configuration necessary. This made it possible to run programs which needed a higher resolution than the video subsystem could display - handy on those laptops with 800x600 screens - but is also offered the possibility to make the screen more readable for those who needed such. It is called ‘Virtual display’ and still exists:
CTRL ALT Keypad-+
CTRL ALT Keypad_-
Ooh I actually remember this!
But tell me, at least in the Linux world, who messes around with X1186Config these days? :) (Or whatever it’s called now.)
involuntary shudder as I flash back to 20 years ago and that moment of SUPREME TRIUMPH when I finally got X to fire up on my monitor/video card combination. It was like some kind of horrid rite of passage. Thank goodness we’ve moved on from that :)
The mere fact that you generally don’t have to configure anything is a good thing but I’d say an even better thing is that it is still possible to do so for those who feel the urge. This could be an example of such an urge…
“The good old days.”
I used to rock fvwm2.
fvwm2 & rxvt! :)
I use arandr, but no doubt there are other ways to do it — it’s just a wrapper over xrandr.
I use it to manage multiple screen layouts, but I just tested, and it can set a higher-than normal resolution which is quite restful on the eyes.
I didn’t play with it long enough to figure out how to scroll around, but I know I’ve done that in the past.
Gnome itself doesn’t provide any kind of full screen zoom
Gnome itself doesn’t provide any kind of full screen zoom
Huh, that’s odd. Even Weston does. You know, the reference compositor that’s not intended to be usable by end users at all.
My Gnome accessibilty settings dialog includes a “Zoom” feature, one of whose options is “Full Screen Zoom”. I take it that this isn’t the same as the “full screen zoom” you need?
I don’t know. Given that I can’t get Gnome 3 running on Ubuntu on my laptop I haven’t been able to test it very much, but it certainly sounds like the right thing.
XFCE works reasonably well if all you want is a “normal” window manager. LXDE works too if you want even less visual effects and baked-in functionality.
Neither provide any kind of full screen zoom for the visually impaired :( I’m sure you could figure out how to layer in Compiz but KDE comes with one out of box.
That said both XFCE and i3 (not a desktop, I know :) are fantastic and were I not visually impaired I would definitely consider them.
Am I the only one who happily uses both Macs and GNU/Linux computers?
Nope, one MUST use one or the other, never both, or even a third at the same time. Can only ever be either/or!
/s obviously but most of these posts are starting to get tiring
It is not like there are no benefits to using a single platform. For example I use Linux, NixOS specifically, just so I can configure everything–from kernel to user packages to development projects–in declarative fashion. Good luck doing that with OSX (which I use solely for building iOS projects).
I use nix on OS X, its not that different to be honest, not sure I agree with this overall sentiment even as a nixos and macos (amongst others) user.
nix + nix-darwin?
I live out of a suitcase, so I don’t want to carry two machines around with me. I also don’t want to run two operating systems, because disk space is at a premium already on my MacBook Air. I have to garbage collect my Nix store and rebuild my Docker build slave (I need to compile for Linux arch) every week.
I don’t need any MacOS GUI programs, but I do want the It Just Works thing when it comes to running the webcam (I don’t want to carry an external one), audio, battery life, etc.
I could switch away from Apple hardware but so far I still think it’s best in class, although this is less true now that they’ve done away with scissor switches and MagSafe.
With Nix and Docker on OS X it’s kind of like you’re running a few operating systems already. How many copies of the GNU userland are on your drive right now? 😜
That’s true, it’s a sort of hybrid but only because I’m not yet confident I can have the best hardware for me (basically a penultimate generation MacBook Air, maybe with more disk space and memory), with NixOS but with all the other conveniences working.
I think I’m one of the most diehard pro-Linux and anti-Mac developers (just shy of the line between pragmatism and zealotry) I know but if I had to live with one machine and one machine only I guess I wouldn’t think twice about choosing a Macbook Pro. (Right now I’ve been on Windows for games all my life, and using Linux casually since 1998 and for work, fulltime, for over 10 years).
I use MacOS personally (2013 MBP) and Windows at work. Linux in a VPS.
I’m seriously considering going Windows for personal stuff when I need to update my computer.
Why? Because while I love the Apple hardware, the latest iterations don’t look compelling to me. KB issues, no magsafe, no SD-reader (I do a lot of photography), lack of USB-A ports, and higher price. And I really don’t use any Apple-made software (apart from Terminal.app). It’s Chrome, Lightroom, VLC… all of which are basically cross-platform. I don’t feel I’ll miss much from OSX, and it will be much easier to game in Windows too.
I tried switching to windows from mac at home on account of games, but my use case is really centered around audio. Turns out windows is still 3rd place for handling external audio devices (alongside more general web browsing sound) so I’m probably going to take the NUC and sell it or Linuxify it and get a mac mini. I use *nix side of the mac (and linux) constantly at work. Windows doesn’t have that side and the reliability although better in win 10 isn’t quite where I need it to be when I just want to hit record.
As an anecdote, I use three computers, a mac, a windows and a Linux. Recently, I was going to give a talk at a meetup and I had two demos to show regarding p2p in the browser. Unfortunately, I did a poor job in testing them prior to the event day. I didn’t test my old demo, just the new one (my thought was, I didn’t change the old stuff, it should just work), well, it didn’t. In the end, one demo worked only on the mac and the other only on windows. I gave the talk with two computers on the stand and switched from one to the other… sometimes using two computers is ok :-)
i’m a web designer and developer working on linux (plain ubuntu out of the box) in the past 10 years. not a single incident i can remember of. at the beginning i’ve needed an expensive dell laptop to got the speed. then i had a $300 acer which was all good. now again i have an expensive ($1000 scale) laptop just because of weight.
in other words neither the hardware nor the os stands in my way. in contrast they stay unnoticed and just do the job all the time.
I had a TON of trouble trying to get stock Ubuntu (Tried 18.04 and 18.10) on my laptop. Reported 5 bugs (all confirmed) and after 3 months of getting nowhere tried Ubuntu and… It installed flawlessly :)
I am always curious about Mac alternatives, because I am very worried about Apple’s stewardship of the platform. But I just can’t bring myself to switch to Windows yet, and I really, really, really, really, really can’t stand X-Windows 11 and the state of the overall non-Apple Unix world. Sigh. Maybe Haiku!
Instead of dmenu and emacs I use rofi and spacemacs. Great alternatives. I can also recommend i3blocks for status bar. It’s a status bar for i3 with a collection of great scripts.
Spacemacs is not “not emacs” though, it’s just a config for emacs
Using Spacemacs is like staying at home with your parent. Eventually, you’ll be 18 and you’ll move out.
So I tried spacemacs yesterday, I’ve been using emacs almost every day for twenty years.
Spacemacs is REALLY COOL! I bet you’ll find some cool stuff you didn’t know you could do in emacs! Try it!
it’s interesting to see somebody moving from vanilla emacs to spacemacs, what is the most interesting point that impressed you? have you used evil mode before? did the loading time bothered you?
So my SO wanted to learn to build webpages, and insisted on using the same editor I use …
We ran “emacs &” on their system, spacemacs came up, and wow it was so easy to do the things I’ve spent decades learning how to load and configure.
My laptop is unreasonably powerful, loading time is not an issue. Their laptop is meh (spinning drive!) but spacemacs still loads quickly. We opened an html file and spacemacs offered to download and turn on the html modes, click yes and instant functionality!
Most interesting point is how much configuration is done for me, I don’t need to know the name of a mode, just open a file with that extension and the correct mode is setup for you.
Lots of “do you want this option turned on? it does this thing for you” clicky things when you start up spacemacs, it’s really friendly!
yeah that automation part is awesome, it’s also what caught my attention when I first moved to emacs, after a while, it just slow down everything haha.
Yes, but it’s a very nice tool for converting Vim users to emacs users. Source: was converted
I know several long time emacs users who switched to spacemacs for the convenience.
I suspect it’s related to why I use byobu instead of maintaining my own tmux/screen config. I have a limited config (time) budget and I’d rather spend that where I want (emacs!).
My 2010 iMac does not support Mojave. But it does run Ubuntu 18.04. Nothing fancy, but still it feels faster than High Sierra. So I am very happy
What is a good linux distro if you want a polished, mac-like UX (though not necessarily thematically the same UI) and be somewhat “mainstream-compatible” (debian, ubuntu, etc.) in terms of packages and such? Dual-screen support (triple-screen) for regular screens of various resolutions should be supported and easy to set up.
I’ve tried a few distros over the years, but in the end I end up working on a mac and using a Windows computer for games. With the advent of Steam Proton and better linux games support in general, it’s getting closer to the point where I can unify the two.
That, or possibly Deepin.
there are tons of options but xubuntu would be at the top of my list
I’ve wanted to get into macOS but I’ve noticed that the first thing I always do on macOS is to open the console and work in console.
Then I’ve wanted to check out FreeBSD but the installation media just throws kernel panics every 2nd run on my laptop. And when it’s working it doesn’t support my USB wifi card which I need (well, I can buy another one I guess).
So I’ve abandoned my macOS & BSD plans and I’m simply using Linux.
I normally run MacOS, and have done for years. Just this week I had to install Ubuntu on a boot disk for a project. I was pleasantly surprised by how much more polished it’s become since I last tried it, but I haven’t been able to find an email client which is within a tenth of the usability or polish of MacOS Mail.app, even though I know many people dislike that pretty hard. I end up using alpine for my own IMAP account and the gmail web client for gmail accounts, which are both OK (in fact I really like alpine), but it’s just not as coherent or consistent and I’d really like a decent GUI mail client with a UI that doesn’t feel like it was written in the ’90s against some bizarre custom toolkit. For me this is the main stumbling block.
On the flipside alacritty is fantastic on Ubuntu and with tmux inside it it feels really fast and stable. (Not that Terminal in MacOS isn’t stable, but subjectively this seems snappier somehow.) Also I have fairly heavy-duty i3wm envy so I’ll try to find time to give that a bash in Ubuntu. (Though I wonder if tmux + i3 would necessarily lead to some kind of recursive rabbit-window.)..
The hardware in the link looks nice (though there isn’t a clear picture of the keyboard…), but yikes, that price tag! My last laptop cost about $450 and I’m happy with it except that I wish it was a little smaller.