Threads for SimianHacker

  1. 6

    OS X is increasingly not resonating with me either. The only thing keeping me on it is mostly inertia and that the hardware is so good. Shit Just Works. But I’m considering moving to Windows in my next purchase and just run everything in VMs. Currently the only applications I require running on the host OS is a web browser, terminals, and emacs. I think Windows can probably do that well enough.

    I mainly want to go to a first class citizen on a laptop (Windows) for driver support, unfortunately.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Arguments for going LInux entirely?

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      I bought a top of the line macbook pro 15" a few months ago and I can’t say that “Shit Just Works” has been my experience at all. It’s been ok but there’s a lot that’s just buggy or badly designed about it.

      • The keyboard scratches the screen when carrying it in my bag. According to the forums that’s normal - macbooks have “always done this”. When I pay for the fanciest screen on the market I don’t expect it to be self-scratching.

      • The bluetooth randomly fails and needs rebooting.

      • The Wifi reports high signal strength even when it’s marginal. This flaw is compounded by its wifi range not being particularly good either, so it reports full signal even when it’s so marginal that the network is often unavailable.

      • The OS occasionally crashes. Not often enough to be a huge problem but linux is much more reliable.

      • The “magic mouse” is an ergonomics disaster with terrible battery life. You end up clutching on to the hard edges of a piece of flat plastic. It looks great, sure, but it definitely wasn’t designed for humans to use.

      Overall I’d rate it as pretty average in terms of problems. I’d just expected better than average when paying top dollar.

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        I came to the conclusion recently that I’ll replace my existing work 11" Macbook Air with a Thinkpad when the time comes. I recently bought an old X220 to run Arch to see if I could use Linux day to day and I’ve been incredibly happy with the results.

        Currently the only piece of software that we use at work that’s OS X specific is [Sketch] (, which I can see us ditching as time goes by. I’m also perfectly happy to be handed a PSD that I can open in GIMP in that particular case.

        Reading this post make me realise just how frequently I run up against OS X oddities, in particular the amount of times that system daemons start hogging resources big-time. When the majority of my time is spent in Vim and iTerm 2 there’s no need to use OS X and have to work around its intricacies.

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          I recently bought a T440s, and I run Debian Jessie, and it’s wonderful. Only downside is the trackpad, and I had to use wired Ethernet to grab some non-free wireless drivers…

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          Why not stick with the apple hardware, keep osx for the battery life and device support, and dev in a linux vm?

          I recently started dual booting gentoo and osx on my macbook pro, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I play with a lot of languages, libraries, and tools, and I benefit from gentoo’s system of being able to specify what kind of support you want compiled into your tools in one place, and have your new things support each other right away. It was interesting to get my company’s vpn client to work, and its instability is why I am usually on OSX while at work, but at home I’m usually on gentoo. My home desktop dual boots arch and windows, because I don’t tinker with it as much and I just want it to work in a generic way with low effort. I’ve heard good things about nixos, and that may be the next one I play with.

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            I would second that. It seems silly to throw away good hardware with a tightly integrated OS for a laptop designed for Windows that will inevitably have a crappy trackpad, poor battery life, and probably a cheap screen. You can use VMWare Fusion full-screened and not really have to deal with OS X constantly changing underneath it. I dual-boot OpenBSD on my MacBook Air and have VMWare Fusion setup to be able to boot OpenBSD directly from its raw partition, so that I can boot it virtualized or on real hardware with the same setup.

            I’ve used dozens of different laptops with OS X and OpenBSD and I keep coming back to MacBooks. IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, ASUS, Samsung, and probably some others I’m forgetting. The old ThinkPads (X40 era) were great but unfortunately they’re too slow to use these days and the screens are very low resolution. The X220 and newer from Lenovo were pretty thick and ran hot and loud, although they did have an IPS screen available. The original X1 carbon was nice, but its screen was very low resolution. The new one has this abomination for a keyboard. The ASUS UX21A was a good PC-counterpart to the 11" MacBook Air but its keyboard annoyed me enough that I got rid of it.

            When switching to a non-Apple laptop, you might not think about all the little things that make Macs such a well designed product (in terms of hardware). The small footprint, the light weight, the silent fans, the low amount of heat generated, the lack of stupid LED lights that are just there to make it painfully obvious that the machine is doing stuff, the lack of gaudy branding, the lack of Intel stickers!, the high quality displays (with little gloss, at least on the MBA), good keyboards and trackpads, and decent speakers and microphones. And don’t forget the power adapters. Apple power bricks are everywhere in case you forget yours, and they wrap up nicely and have MagSafe. PC manufacturers still haven’t figured out how to get rid of those big long black bricks with dual cords that need velcro to wrap up.

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            I also find some things about recent OSX versions to be a bit irritating/galling, but on the whole it isn’t too bad. I moved away from linux because while it worked great as a desktop and a server², on a laptop it was a rather really awful experience.

            That was maybe 6 years ago, and you would think in the interim things would have gotten much better. Reading various articles/comments/posts in the interim, it seems this has not improved as much as I would have hoped – the blame likely lay at the feet of the hardware manufacturers more than the kernel and distro devs, but who knows.

            External pressures aside, a new operating system generally has to be more than just a little better for users to switch. Not just a different set of pain, but either significantly less pain, or some facility that is so much better that it “eats” the entire cost of switching.

            OSX had that when I switched – really great hardware, better font rendering, laptop suspend worked reliably, wireless worked, bluetooth worked, screen brightness controls worked, audio even worked, apps installed easily without having to search for random libs, a more uniform look (no gtk/qt disparity) and conventions, had unixy bits available (terminal, bash, vim, etc).

            Running Windows with something like FreeBSD in a VM does sound interesting, but I spend so much time either in a terminal or a web browser, that I don’t know that Windows would add much value for me. I also haven’t found many of the changes in the last few versions of OSX to be that awful truth be told.

            If you have mac hardware though, try running windows on it and see how it goes? A couple guys at work do that, I hear that works rather decently.

            ²: Have since switched to FreeBSD for person stuff. Still use linux at work though (not my choice)

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              @apy @robdaemon Apart from your web browser, terminals and text editor, is there any other applications you run in the native host operating system (Windows in your case)? For example, what do you use for your email? Do you use a git repository viewer (like gitk)? Do you native apps like Skype/HipChat/etc.? Do you use screen sharing apps (like Do you use some kind of office suite (like LibreOffice)?

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                I occasionally use things like Skype or Google Hangouts, but I expect them to be well supported in Windows. The main thing that I like about OS X is being Unix at the core so using it is nice to jump down to a command line. But I think for my needs cygwin + putty cygwin would work well enough for my needs. I think I would mostly use Windows as just a virtual machine host.

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                  Cygwin is not as nice as a real UNIX environment by a long shot. And putty is such a pain compared to regular ssh. Maybe I use ssh more than the average person but I can’t stand putty.

                  I would use Linux or FreeBSD, except OS X has amazing battery life, and wifi drivers that work beautifully. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty.

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                    I would only use cygwin enough to hop into a VM somewhere or the occasional running around my Windows system with tools I know. I’ve used that setup before and it was acceptable. The main issue I have right now is I just do not enjoy using OS X at all. I feel it is getting in the way significantly more than helping me.

              2. 1

                Done the switch two years ago, for similar reasons.

                I initially started by having a good fat desktop computer running VMS then switched completely by replacing my old macbook pro (bought the biggest T430 I could build).

                The rule on my setup is, nothing but chrome, firefox, steam and a VM soft is installed (plus some minor softs, like spotify). I do everything inside my VMs. Initially, I was running my VMs headless and using putty to ssh on them. It’s great and consume less resources. But Putty is really clunky and I like having a tabbed WM so I nowadays mostly work in fullscreen on a linux VM running Xmonad.

                Honnestly, it works great, battery life is really good, it feels great to be able to pause your whole work environment on friday evening then reopen it on monday morning like nothing happened :)

                Overall, it’s the best of both worlds, Win 8.1 is really stable and you got your unix environment. The only issue I can speak about is that you sometimes encounter problems you’re not used to (as an osx/unix user):

                • incorrect filenames in a phone backup causing the files relocating service to run amok (100% disk usage, 30 minutes after booting)
                • an update in win 8.1 broke usb storage, I couldn’t access my nexus’s files while plugging it. Had to manually delete the incriminated driver.
                • vmware going nuts while resuming the VMs after the laptop was sent to sleep (happened once or twice).

                None of these issues are that much hard to solve, the issues is simply you’ll have to browse shitty support websites with ads everywhere to decipher some obscure tutorials to solve your issue. The solutions are usually straightforward, it’s just a matter of knowing where and how to find them. It’s the exact opposite of Freebsd, where you just go straight to the handbook.

                What I miss the most is the slickness OSX have, but well, we cannot have everything.

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                  I initially started by having a good fat desktop computer running VMS

                  blinks, re-reads, oh, right.

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                  The sentiment in this article resonates with me as well (just ask my co-workers). In the last several months I’ve been reduced to ranting and raving every day I’ve used my Macbook Pro (Retina 13). I was a big Apple fan but that has change after the last couple releases of OS X. When I work from home I work on my Windows gaming PC (doing all my work in a vm) and I am rarely unhappy. I’m not sure if it’s because the laptop is underpowered or if things have just gotten worse and I’m at my breaking point with the OS. I have fantasies of getting a nice Lenovo laptop and just converting completely over but I fear I would just be as frustrated with the hardware. What’s really holding me back is that we have Apple Thunderbolt displays at the office and they only work with Macbooks and OS X.

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                    What’s really holding me back is that we have Apple Thunderbolt displays at the office and they only work with Macbooks and OS X

                    The Thunderbolt display will work with Windows, including all the port expansion functionality, but I can’t speak as to how well it works with non-Apple hardware.

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                    I’d argue for Linux, or rather for FreeBSD with the way Linux is going these days. It works and gets out of your way. Sometimes there will be a problem, but it’s a problem that you can fix once and for all, and understand why you’ve fixed it. It’s wonderful to be able to upgrade my OS without worrying what’s going to break this time.

                    Anything *nixey where you can choose window manager etc. is going to be much more configurable than OSX/Windows; watch the way an experienced Xmonad user works. (I don’t use it myself, but if you’re an emacs person that kind of customizability presumably appeals?)

                    ZFS is very nice, more mature than the alternatives with similar functionality, and is a first-class citizen on FreeBSD.

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