Livin’ la Vida Linux

So, after 7 years of being a mac laptop user, I’m strongly considering switching back to Linux.

On Sunday, the hard drive in my (18 month old) Macbook died. Nothing super-serious, but unlike in the past, replacing the hard drive isn’t a 3-screws operation, so rather than rushing out and getting a new drive, I just waited until work on Monday and grabbed myself a Linux machine.

In using Linux for the past week, there’s relatively little that I miss from OS X. (The biggest drawback may be lack of Netflix; curse my addiction to DRMed streaming media!)

Although I’m on a bit of a beast of a machine — a Dell Precision M2400, hardly the prettiest of Linux machines — I’ve found that overall, Linux has most of the things that I use on a daily basis from OS X — in many cases easier than it would be to get them via OS X. I’d visited the Computer Repairs store far too many to let the computer run on a dawdling pace.

All of my nitpicks come down to minor differences than any switch would have — for example, I miss being able to quickly change between *applications*, instead of just windows of an application; I feel a bit slower on Linux than I did on Mac still, and for some reason my several attempts to install Flash don’t seem to have actually worked. I am missing having Exchange MAPI support in a mail client; with our Nokia mail setup, this means I can’t get my mail from outside the firewall except via webmail (ewww).

But a lot of the things that were problems in the past, just haven’t been issues. Sound and Power seem to work just as well as on OS X. Since I already use VLC, not much difference there. I miss Safari a little bit — not for any particular reason, just in the ‘getting used to things’ sense — but a full screen Firefox… version-whatever-I-Have (apparently, after checking, the answer is ‘6.0’) doesn’t feel particularly different in any significant way.

After 7 years of being on mac, and now switching back to Linux for the past week — I haven’t yet found anything that feels like a huge win for mac, and I have found many small wins for Linux. I expect that in the next couple weeks I’ll make a final decision on whether I want to make the jump and get a long-term computer that’s Linux, but right now, I’m leaning strongly towards “yes.”

I’ll just have to keep my tablet handy for watching Netflix.

4 Responses to “Livin’ la Vida Linux”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    The problem is that Moonlight, the free-as-in-speech version of Windows Silverlight, does not support the DRM that Netflix demands. The Internet-recommended workaround is to run Netflix in a Windows VM, if you can snarf a WinXP install disk from somewhere. You don’t have to leave the VM up when you are not running Netflix; just think of it as an appliance. Unless you are one of these people who can watch Dog Day Afternoon while hacking C++ at the same time, that should suffice.

  2. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    Yeah, I was aware of the problems even before I made the jump; for me, having bad TV running in the background while I do various things is a common thing. I am probably going to be able to grab a Windows VM via work, it just frustrates me that that’s the best solution. (VMs, in general, have not gotten along with me very well historically, so I am hesitant to go that route.)

    It might just be a sign it’s time for me to start stealing my TV again, instead of watching it via legal means. :p

  3. Jesse Bishop Says:

    Out of curiosity, what flavor of Linux are you using?

  4. crschmidt Says:

    I’m on Ubuntu Natty. (Unlike some people, so far, I actually like the general feel of Unity; the magic-ubuntu-button thing is a lot like spotlight, which I got used to having on OS X.)