Why I Moved to Linux (from Mac)

My Mac Days

First of all let me flash back to my Mac days and discuss my move to Mac and my original motivation.
I used Mac for a few reasons however some key ones were ease of use, simplicity and certain proprietary software that was only released on Mac (the Apple iPhone SDK / Xcode). Back when I moved from windows to Mac (2009), this was perfect. I was a very amateur developer / IT guy at the time and this fulfilled my needs and enabled me to do (albeit in a very cumbersome way) what I needed to do.
This was all great at the start, but then a few things happened with Mac, I became a bit more knowledgeable and I started to feel very restricted. Here is a very short (and not exhaustive) list of what happened.

  1. Apple removed a 2D "Grid" of spaces and replaced them with mission control in Lion.
  2. Apple removed support for old Power PC applications in Lion.
  3. I found certain limitations and issues I wanted to get past in Mac and simply couldn't (e.g. the limit on the number of spaces at 16), why couldn't I? In most cases it was "because Apple chose it that way".
  4. Mac was turning into iOS, adding "launchpad", removing certain functionality, etc.

In short, Mac may have been for power users at some point, but was losing its functionality in turn for simplicity. Ask most Mac power users that have been with Mac since pre 2010 and they will tell you the same thing. Apple was seeing incredible growth in mobile at the time and the existing Mac users started to not be the focus of Apple and rather on poaching new users who were familiar with the iOS experience. This was clear with their choice to add the launchpad feature in lion, which is a completely stupid / irrelevant feature within a laptop / desktop computer.
Let me cover a few of the issues I presented. First of all, the limit of 16 spaces. I have over time considered this and have come to a conclusion. It was not because I needed >16 spaces, it was because I didn't have a choice, and to be honest, if you are going to set limits like that in a desktop environment, make them as high as any crazy super power user will need (e.g. 32x32 that you can set in Compiz on Ubuntu).
A lot of these issues came down to that choice and the certain limitations that I found and could not do anything about and hence we find the shift to Linux and how it suited my power user needs much better than Mac.

Shifting to Linux

First of all, to anyone considering purchasing a Mac and has the slightest interest of ever shifting or even trying out Linux in the future, don't. Running Linux on Mac hardware is a nightmare. Also the same statement applies to buying a windows computer with an AMD graphics card.
My computers at the time of the shift were a Macbook (6,1) and an iMac (12,2). For both of these I had to install refit / refind in order to boot Linux easily.  Even after installing Ubuntu 12.04 on both of these systems, I found it just took a long time to get to a login screen. On my iMac, which I specced out (except for a HDD over an SSD) takes over a minute to boot due to the time to start refit and pass the boot processor over to linux. As a comparison, my Samsung Series 9, (my new laptop which came with windows) takes about 10 seconds to boot. That's right, an ultrabook can boot more than 6 times faster than my iMac.
Anyway having that out of the way, lets get down to Linux as an OS and why I chose it (and still chose it) over Mac. First of all the customisation. I can change almost anything so it suits me perfectly. Even if I find a limitation in Ubuntu's Unity (the default desktop environment), I can just run something else. Because Linux lets me do that! I could run Gnome or KDE or XFCE or LXDE or Pantheon... this list is VERY long. There a lot of options out there. I actually run WMII, WMII is not for everyone, heck there are only a handful of people I would recommend WMII to, but it suits my needs perfectly. This discussion of desktop environments also ignores that you can switch out your entire Linux distro for a different one should you choose so (Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, RHEL... once again this is also a very big list).
The next key difference I wanted to discuss is the direction of Linux. This is not decided by an entirely profit motivated company without necessarily taking into account the communities opinions. (for you die-hard Linux users that want to debate about Canonical, I am discussing Linux here, not Canonical specifically). Linux is an OS shaped by power users, designers to every day computer users, for everyone to use. It keeps in mind the interest of people having their freedom of choice whilst making an amazing OS for everyone. Anyone can contribute to Linux and all the associated projects to, so you are allowed to voice your opinion too if you want to.

Do I use Linux for everything?

With great sadness, no, I don't. I use Linux about 90% of the time. However if I need to run windows or Mac specific software that I am unable to emulate or virtualise in Linux  I boot up Mac / Windows respectively. When I want to play a AAA game (MW3) I boot up into Windows. When I want to do some iOS development (rarely at the moment) I boot up into Mac. I have been able to virtualise certain applications such as Adobe Photoshop and others but it just becomes very hard to visualise certain application and achieve the efficiency you will achive when running the application in its native OS. When it comes to Mac apps, it is simply a matter of not having a choice as there is no emulation application for Mac applications and thus the only alternative is to create a hackintosh virtual machine.
How will this change? In short, when Linux makes up a large enough percentage of the sales of software for companies that other software companies start caring. This is very true because even I make decisions like this from my own POV. If I want to sell a mobile application, I make it for iOS. Why? because that is where the money is. This is basic capitalist logic.
BTW if your wondering why I am not comparing Windows to Mac and Linux, it is because that is a stupid choice for anyone regardless.

Conclusion of My Transition

I have been loving Linux ever since I started using it and I do not see my love for Linux dying any time in the future. Linux is heading for a better future with full device convergence

Benjamin Kaiser

Benjamin Kaiser

Software Engineer working on the SharePoint team at Microsoft. I'm passionate about open source, slurpess, and Jesus.
Gold Coast, Australia

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