My experience in switching from MacOS to Linux

I’ve been an avid Mac user for over ten years now. I really loved OSX back in it’s Tiger & Leopard phase; it was so futuristic compared to what as already out there. Lately though, apple has been leaving the pro market behind a bit and have been focussing on the consumer market. Not too weird if you look at the sales of iPhones and iPads, but sadly I’m a pro-user and I want pro features. One simple thing that has been bugging me for years is the fact that the file-system gets moved more and more to the back in favor of black boxes like iCloud and a single Documents folder. I do still love the hardware and the build quality though, although the addition of the touchbar in the new Macbook Pro didn’t cut it for me. 

Hardware

Anyway; when Apple released their new Macbook Pro line in October I started looking into alternatives. The value for money had dropped considerably compared to the competition (this was always true on the hardware side of things, although build quality should be worth a lot imho). 

The new hardware needed to be something shipping with a linux distribution so I’d at least know the hardware support was okay. Eventually I decided on the Dell XPS 13. It’s a good lookin’ machine which actually feels a lot sturdier that my previous Macbook Air and yes; it ran Ubuntu.

Elementary OS

I have to say “ran” since I tossed Ubuntu pretty much right away. I knew I wanted to try Elementary OS which is marketed more as an MacOS replacement. So far my experience has been pretty good. The OS looks great and runs very stable (no crashes or hiccups yet). There where some initial problems with my bluetooth trackpad and bluetooth headphones. If you’re switching to Linux prepare to do a lot more scripting that you’re used to. I had to change bluetooth settings in the distro’s shell scripts to get my headphones to work.

HiDPI Troubles

One thing that really bothers me at the moment though, is that there are very few linux applications that are HiDpi ready. Most of them render extremely small. MacOS provides an automated scaling function, but sadly Elementary still doesn’t have this.

Working with an external monitor in HiDPI mode is equally frustrating. Scaling every bit of your OS to twice the size on a regular 27” monitor makes everything look ridiculously huge. So for now I’m running everything in Low DPI mode, which means a less crisp laptop-screen but perfectly fine external monitor and good 3rd party app support.

Minor stuff

The only thing I’m running into now is the fit & finish; tiny things like being able to drag folders to open in sublime (Elementary adds them to the Dock instead), makes me switch to a more keyboard focused approach (which, in the end, is obviously better). So far my experience has been pretty good. It’s frustrating pouring a lot of time into things that are pretty much plug & play in the MacOS world, but the extendability is really worth it.

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