Archive for August, 2008

Back to Linux

August 14th, 2008 2 Comments

While in the office yesterday (for the first time in almos a month), a couple people noticed I was running KDE/Linux on my MacBook Pro. Yep. I’ll admit it. I’ve given up on OSX and am back using Linux. I feel I gave OSX a pretty fair trial. I used it exclusively for 3 full months, but I could never get myself to feel comfortable with it and definitely feel I’m more productive and less frustrated in Linux.

My main issues with OSX really boiled down to:

  1. Inconsistent and useless keybindings – mostly centering around the End/Home keys. For those that don’t know, the “normal” binding for end/home on OSX is to go to the End/Beginning of the file. Umm… How often does anyone ever need to do that? As a software engineer, I don’t think I EVER need to do that. Very very rare. Why are there dedicated keys to do something I never do? On Linux, End/Home go to end/beginning of the current line, which IS something I do all the time. OSX uses a bizzarre Command-Left/Right to accomplish that for MOST applications. So you need a two key combo to do something that a single key does on linux. What’s worse, the Command-Left/Right DOESN’T do end/beginning of line in one of the major apps I use every day: terminal. That required an even more bizzarre (unless your and emacs person) Ctrl-A/Ctrl-E set of key combos. Anyway, I constantly had to “think” about which application I was in and map that to the correct keys.
  2. Window placement issues – when I work, I have a TON of windows open. Probably 4-6 terminals, 4 or 5 browser windows, Mail applications, rss readers, IRC client, IM client, etc…. I want/demand “single click” access to any of those windows at any given time. (BTW: I hate tabbed browsing/tabbed terminals because that’s a two click access. Once to select the browser window, and another click to select the tab.) I could never really get that to work well on OSX. What’s worse, I seemed to always need to go hunting for windows (use expose) to find thing I was just using. Example: I start writing an email in Mail.app. I switch to a browser or eclipse to copy some data, I click on “Mail” icon on the Dock, but that brings up the main Mail.app window, not the Mail creation window that I was just in. I then need to bring up expose or something to help find the window I really need. I felt I was wasting a ton of time just finding stuff I was just using.
  3. Spaces is a POOR replacement for pretty much any of the Linux pagers. Moving windows from “space to space” is SOO much quicker/easier in Linux. In KDE, the pager in the panel shows all the windows (with their icons) and you can actually drag them from space to space right there. No need to hit F12 or whatever, wait for the spaces to come into view, move them around, etc…. Also, with KDE, the system menu on any window has a “To Desktop -> #” menu to send any window to any desktop. It’s much quicker. (that said, when I’m at home with my dual monitor setup, I don’t really use the multiple desktops/spaces much. I mostly just use it when I’m away from home where I only have the notebook screen.)
  4. Lack of “gnu-isms”. Yes, the command line in OSX is Bash and uses all the normal Unix commands (ls, cp, etc…). That, in itself, is a HUGE HUGE advantage over Windows. However, it doesn’t have any of the “gnu-isms” that I’m kind of used to. “cp -a”, ability to put command flags last on “ls”, etc… Again, minor stuff, but I’m definitely used to them. (I know, install macports and replace the versions in OSX with real versions.)
  5. Likewise, not-so-good integration with some other tools that are necessary such as gnupg. Getting the gpg-agent up and running on OSX sucked. Getting it all working in Mail.app was also not as easy as it should be. Etc….
  6. Mail.app is not as good as KMail – Along with very good gnupg integration, KMail has two other things that are really important to me:
    1. Folder subscriptions – I keep YEARS/GBs of mail up on my imap server in “archive” folders. I just don’t subscribe to those folders so I don’t see them unless I really need them.
    2. The “threaded message list” in Mail.app only has two options: all expanded or all collapsed. I LOVE KMails “all collapsed unless it has a unread message”.

Anyway, I’m back to Linux, which is definitely where I feel I belong. :-)

Besides, it’s fun to hack Linux kernel drivers to get useless things like light sensors working.