I spent the most money I ever did on this MacBook Pro, and it’s also the worst machine I ever had because the keyboard breaks down (like, it won’t register the s). When I dock it and use a different keyboard, it’s fine of course. But sometimes I visit my co-founder in Berlin, or want to work from a coffee shop, and then it’s nice to have a working keyboard. So far I’ve brought it in for repairs three times, and each time I’m without my workhorse for a week. Those are unplanned holidays that are dragging my productivity–and basically my company down.
The list of issues he encountered jumped out at me:
- One day, scrolling was superfast. Turns out I had to unplug the USB dongle that came with my mouse and insert it back in.
- Device support is still lacking. I could not get Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 to work without soul crushingly fragile hacks. But I guess a newer kernel is coming that will fix this . I was unable to get my TomTom Running Watch to sync. My Fujitsu SnapScan document scanner had no Linux tools (on macOS it can automatically OCR & archive to my Dropbox). This is very dear to me so I ended up using VirtualBox with a Windows VM for that.
- Photos. Leaves to be desired. This is the main reason I’ll probably always at least keep an iPad or very lightweight MacBook around. But if I don’t have to get a maxed out MacBook Pro 1, I could get a high-end Linux machine and a modest Apple device, and still save money.
- Copy paste is still horribly ‘broken’. I guess
\<Cmd\>Cisn’t a thing on Linux and
\<Ctrl\>Chas a different meaning in terminals, so I can get with that. And I guess there are tricky/valid historical reasons for having two different clipboards, but for the end user, it’s just shit not being able to copy in one app and paste in the next if you closed the former. Or having data in one clipboard while you need it in the other. Luckily I found a workaround that I listed further down. Wholeheartedly recommended. Paired with training muscle memory to do
\<Shift\>\<Insert\>(paste) on Ubuntu, that solves the problem.
- I invested in a screen with high DPI, but it’s not ‘Retina’, and the fonts don’t render like they do on macOS. It seems like a small thing, but 4 weeks in, I never would have thought I still sometimes feel as though my eyes are dry and almost literally hurting Did Steve Jobs spoil/ruin me for life? Edit: I wrote this before my upgrade to Cosmic, and it got significantly better afterwards
- If I close the lid of my XPS and open it 2 days later, the battery is fully drained. I just opened by MacBook after leaving it for weeks, and it still has juice enough to do serious work with (if the keyboard only allowed!). So it seems hibernation is much better on a Mac. Edit: as pointed out by GD in the comments, this: isn’t actually Linux’ but MSFT’s and Dell’s fault for promoting “connected standby”
- Every reboot my screen brightness is so low I can barely see a thing. The button to increase brightness is maxed out. It turned out I have to venture into the power saving settings to crank the brightness up there, but it does not persist across reboots. I avoid reboots now. If someone knows how to automate this let me know in the comments below!
- Selecting the right audio/video input/output is a proper chore. My Mac seemed to pick sane seemingly obvious defaults, whether I hooked up a screen with webcam, removed it, etc. With Ubuntu I have to open the audio settings and select the proper i/o at least twice a week as it doesn’t pick obvious candidates. It’s annoying for me, and often enough also for my teammates who I video conference a lot with. Sorry folks!
- I thought Snaps were really cool until I used them in my day to day. I used snaps for GitHub Desktop, Spotify, VSCode, Slack, and have since reverted all of that to using plain APT repositories. Issues ranged from intense CPU hogs, to links in Slack not opening, or always opening in a new Firefox window, seemingly random segfaults, etc. I guess it’s still a bit too early and some programs don’t like to be contained so much, or I’m just plain unlucky. I didn’t have time to deep dive, APT works fine.
- There are other ways but if I want to type an é, out of the box, I have to type:
\<Ctrl\>\<Shift\>U 00e9, and then, that doesn’t not work in my code editor. Long-pressing a button on macOS wins! I keep forgetting this code, too, so I’m saying Renee a lot. Sorry Renée!
- As tedthetrumpet points out in the comments, I too really miss Preview on Spacebar
Criminy. Linux appeals to me philosophically, I love the fact that it’s community driven, so it’ll never be taken in a direction that conflicts with the community’s desires, like I’d argue is happening with macOS today. But, while I write a lot about how I disagree about Apple’s current direction, I still love macOS and I still love Apple (“It’s the first personal computer worth criticizing”—Alan Kay). Here are the reasons I don’t think I’d consider switching:
- While Linux runs all the most important programming apps, it doesn’t run any of the most important creative apps. This alone is probably a dealbreaker for me. Commercial creative software is amazing these days, and for me that’s the best reason to own an a computer today.
- I mainly use laptops, and the integration that comes from the hardware and software being from the same vendor is particularly important for that form factor. For example, many of the items in Kev’s list stem from that separation. Even if I did setup a Linux-based programming environment, something I’ve considered doing to try i3, I’d still want to run it in as a virtual machine in a host OS that provides the stability and features that come from this hardware and software integration.
- There really is nothing else out there like the Mac indie community, and the passion of its participants. The community talks about the same things that I like, namely great software and powerful features for using the platform effectively. I’d love to follow a podcast like the Accidental Tech Podcast and The Talk Show for Linux, but that doesn’t seem to exist. The closest thing I’ve found is the Changelog but that focuses on individual open source projects and not the platform itself. For me to switch, someone needs to sell me on the idea that Linux is for people like me, that love great software, because right now I just don’t see it.