Bye Bye Mac

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macbook proMess

I’m not the most organized person in real life, but I can be fairly anal about my file organization. And I find it quite an effort to keep my Mac’s file structure clean and simple.
First, there is Apple’s own directory structure – apparently they found it necessary to differ from the BSD they’re based on, and use a list of non-standard capitalized (!) directories (Libraries, System etc – have a look at Applications for pete’s sake).

In my work I use a fair number of open source tools. The easiest way to get those on a mac is using macports. Macports installs things in /opt/local by default, so there’s a few things lying around in their own directory structure there.

The macports people do good work, but it’s difficult to keep up with releases, so often you need a newer version of a tool, or you need an extra library that hasn’t been packaged yet. So you compile. If you’re not careful, the compiled items are then installed in the usual linux directory structure (/usr, /usr/lib etc).

Result: something that works, but it can become a disorganized mess, which chafes a bit. (and don’t get me started on Mac’s very own dynamic libraries and executables)


when I work, I’m mostly using terminals and the command line. Vi is my editor of choice (good vim rails plugins here). So all the nice graphical effects and applications requiring a mouse don’t have much added value.

Friends have introduced me to a great window manager on Linux, coincidentally called Awesome. This is a tiled window manager – which means that most windows don’t float, but are tiled, and make full use of the screen real estate. There are by default 10 desktops, allowing a good organization of windows. Navigation happens through key shortcuts. Shortcut keys, default applications, the whole interface can be customized using Lua. Now tell me that isn’t awesome.

Linux for the desktop

It used to be a pain in the neck to have Linux be completely functional, especially on laptops. I remember poring over hardware manuals looking for chipsets, and endless trawling through forums to get X to work properly. Nowadays installing an ubuntu or a debian is mostly inserting a disk and clicking through an install. Because you see, it’s not because I can manually partition, hand-compile kernels and libraries, fiddle about with settings, that I want to spend time doing this for my desktop, per se. We’ve all got better things to do. Zack the Mac was a temporary solution to this issue.


Fourth (minor) reason to go back: well, Apple. They have the hardware, they have the software, they make me pay. It feels like being submissive to the fantastic marketing machine Steve Jobs set up.

I like the mac hardware, and Mac OS X is fine for casual use (like watching movies, email, blogging), and of course for iPhone development, so it’s not a definite parting. Might make my MBP a dual boot (I’m told boot camp makes this very easy). Let’s see how this goes !