Switching from Mac OS X back to Linux, Part 2: The Distro

Josh Sherman
4 min read

In case you need to catch up, here’s the story thus far:

Part 1: The Motive

Caught up? Solid. Okay so at this point I have been running Linux again full-time for two weeks.

There have been moments of needing to reboot into OS X. Couple times because I have needed to print and once because I needed to test some Docker stuff I had put together in OS X (that’s excusable, right?). Also been some weird wifi issues coming out of suspend mode.

None of this has been a shock because a lot of the issues are the same things I ran into in the past. Freedom though.

All that said, let’s talk about which distro I finally settled on. I am currently running Ubuntu, my Linux distro of choice on the desktop from 2005 to

  1. It’s also been my distro of choice for my servers since 2009.

So why Ubuntu? I’m not running it because it’s what I am most familiar with or because it’s what I used to run. No, I’m running it because of all of the distros I have tried over the last couple of months, it’s the only one that just [mostly] worked on my hardware (MacbookPro12,1).

That said, I avoided settling on Ubuntu for as long as I could. I had a brief love affair with Arch and toyed with vanilla Debian (Jessie, Sid and everything in between) and even openSUSE’s rolling release, Tumbleweed.

All three distributions gave me quite a few issues with the Broadcom wireless card. Most of the issues were during install when access to the Internet was of the utmost importance. I refused to buy an ethernet adaptor for my Mac because Ubuntu didn’t have any issues with the wifi during install.

I mentioned a love affair with Arch. Of the distributions I had played with, Arch was the one I got the furthest with before throwing in the towel. The Arch install is not for the faint of heart but at the end of the day wasn’t all that difficult considering how much documentation there is out there.

Booting into Arch for the first time was quite empowering. Getting GNOME Shell installed and loading a desktop environment made me feel alive. But then part of me died inside when I was constantly being prompted for the wifi password when trying to connect to my home network. Sometimes a reboot would fix it.

I was starting to think that maybe the issue was with my ASUS RT-AC68U router. My fears were diminished when the issue trickled over into not being able to connect to our office wifi either.

Reboots stopped fixing it and I was back in OS X during the day while spending my nights trying to figure out and fix what was happening. This was definitely the Linux I know and love. But seriously, I got shit to do.

After a week or so, I had to finally give up on Arch. Great chance I will be giving it another go in the future though. I can really appreciate the minimalism of the distro and loved that nearly all of my issues had an article or ten out there.

Sadly though, the community does seem to live up to the elitist hype. I didn’t dare ask any questions on the forum because I knew if I had missed something obvious I would have gotten flamed and would have rage quit Archlinux anyway.

So which flavor of Ubuntu did I go with? Even though I had recently steered my buddy from Ubuntu to Ubuntu GNOME I ended up going with vanilla Ubuntu.

In the past, I have run a bunch of different desktop environments in my quest to find the perfect desktop environment. This included Ubuntu Unity for a while when it was initially released. I felt like flavorless Ubuntu was my best bet to be able to experiment with Unity (and Unity 8) as well as run GNOME Shell if I chose to.

Currently I am running GNOME Shell because of my gripes with how Unity glitches out when autohiding the panel and no way to hide the top menu. During the day my setup includes an external monitor on the left and right of my MacBook Pro so losing a small bit of real estate isn’t as crucial as it is when I only have the laptop screen.

So yeah, there’s a chance I may be running Unity again before I write the next part of this series ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Next: Part 3: The Desktop Environment

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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