Monday, December 03, 2007

Switch

After about two years of running Linux-only (Fedora, to be exact) at home I've switched to a Mac.  I wanted a laptop, needed a new computer desperately (the old one is almost 6 years old), didn't want Windows, and was tired of messing with Linux configuration stuff.

This weekend I bought a Macbook.  So far I love it.  I was hesitant about the keyboard, which is odd, but I actually like it.  I was nervous about using a touchpad instead of a pointer stick, but somehow the touch pad on the Macbook works substantially better than the one on the HP I use at work.  I was worried about quality problems...we'll see about that one.  I just read about some Macbooks and Macbook Pros having defective harddrives, but the model number on mine is different.
So what have I done so far?
  1. Booted the first time.  Wireless worked flawlessly on the first try.  I've spent way too much time making Windows PCs (my wife's, my work laptop, visitors' machines) work with my wireless network.  One of my friends tried to make his Linux laptop work with it and after many hours never succeeded.
  2. Installed Eclipse and the Scala plugin, played around with that.
  3. Installed AquaMacs - IMHO much better than Emacs on Linux.
  4. Surfed the net, poked around, reconfigured some stuff to my liking, etc.
  5. Setup NFS mounts to my old Linux box. This was amazingly painless on both sides.  The only hiccup was that I had to change my UID on my Mac from 501 to 500, which created some oddities before I logged out and back in, but nothing horrible.  The whole process probably took about 15-30 minutes, compared to hours I spent to make Samba work properly with with wife's Windows XP Thinkpad.
  6. Setup sshd on my Linux box and then ran XWindows applications on my Linux box from my Mac.  This whole process took about 10 minutes, and the XWindows apps actually looked good and were very responsive.  Possibly more responsive than running them locally.  Note that this and the above are a tribute to both Fedora and MacOS X.
  7. Upgraded my RAM from the stock 1GB to 4GB.
  8. Ran my Scala widefinder from Eclipse.  It spikes both CPUs once everything is cached.  Puts both at about half if it has to read from disk.
  9. Wrote this blog.
So all that is very positive.  And the UI is so beautiful.  The fonts all look just right...although if I didn't have good eyes I think a lot of them might be too small.
Ok, so what's wrong:
  1. I haven't figured out the keyboard shortcut to switch between windows of an open application.  Command tab switches between applications.
  2. No page down, page up, home, end, etc keys on the laptop keyboard.
  3. The caps lock key is WAY too big.  Keys sizes should be proportionate to usefulness/frequency of use.  Spacebar is huge.  Enter and delete are big.  Caps lock being the size of enter makes not sense.
  4. I had to install ~200MB worth of updates fresh out of the box...over half of that for Leopard.  Why can't a new computer to all up-to-date?  Seems like that "genius" who sold it to me could have given me one that was up-to-date.
  5. After the reboot for the Leopard updates, everything froze.  Just a blue-grey screen with no cursor.  That's a bad first impression.  But I turned it off and back on again and everything was fine.
  6. I had to install codecs for video various video formats.  That's mildly annoying.  Why can't they be preinstalled?  It's not like I had to pay to download and install them.  But what's more annoying is that the first link presented to me for XVid didn't seem to have any appropriate install files for Mac.  I used DivX instead, which worked.
So overall I am very impressed.  I think I'm going to keep my old Linux box around as a server and to run Linux-only stuff over X.  If anything goes wrong I'll be sure to complain about it.

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5 comments:

cms said...

Hi,
Switching between windows within the active application is Cmd-` (backtick)

Erik Engbrecht said...

Cm-`...awesome....thanks!

scruzia said...

Agreed that it's a flaw, but you can use the "fn" key (lower left corner) plus an arrow key for those four items. I missed the "Forward delete" key, but again fn + delete does that trick.

Anonymous said...

You may also use http://www.manytricks.com/witch/ to switch between windows. Installing codecs is pretty easy with http://blog.twenty08.com/2006/12/27/codec-pack-for-all-the-new-mac-users/ . And a general info site is http://osx.hyperjeff.net

Welcome to Mac OS X!

John said...

Please can you post something about how you set up and use X to run your linux apps from your mac?

I've been using X to login and use my linux desktop on my mac laptop for a few things but what I would really love to know how to do is to run individual programs which I cannot get running on my mac or haven't got room for.

Thanks