Switching from Mac OS X back to Linux, Part 5: The Conclusion

Josh Sherman
4 min read
Linux Apple

If you’re like me, you enjoy the journey more than the destination. If you’re just tuning in, you should probably catch up.

On this fifth week of writing about my transition back to Linux, I’m pretty much tapped out. That said, I did want to do one last post to wrap things up.

This is less of a “conclusion” and more of a “I’ve been running Linux for the past month after a few year hiatus and here’s some observations” type deal.

The fact is, the only real conclusion is that I shouldn’t have ever switched to OS X in the first place. But that was addressed in part 1 :)

Ok, so after a month back in the Linux saddle, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at least a few times. Here’s some of the highlights.

Window management hotkeys

One of my major painpoints with OS X was the lack of window management keyboard shortcuts and the reliance on yet another third-party app to do what I felt was the job of the operating system / window manager. Both Unity and Gnome Shell have window placement hotkeys available out of the box, and it’s glorious.

How Chrome treats Chrome Apps

As I’ve been attempting to embrace Chrome Apps a bit more, I ran into something peculiar. On OS X, Chrome Apps are treated as Chrome windows. Quite the pain in the ass when you are trying to get back to your browser and Hangouts or Keep pop up.

Always on top windows

I had forgotten that this was even a thing. Want a window to always be on top? Right-click the title bar and make it so. Easily one of my favorite features of Linux desktop environments. Super userful when you’re developing pop-up windows or just want to keep your notes app up in the corner of the screen.

Terminal sizing and snapping

I’m aware that I should just be doing everything in tmux and not messing around with native tabbing. Sometimes I want something isolated to another tab, don’t judge me. With both Terminal.app and iTerm2 when I would close all but one tab, the window would shrink a bit. Not the end of the world as I have hotkeys to resize the windows.

But wait, I also had a ton of issues with getting OS X terminal apps to snap to a portion of the screen with Spectacle. The iTerm2 beta from a while back was better about this but as you know, I switched from iTerm2 back to Terminal at one point.

Gnome terminal has been a dream in this regard.

Too many choices

It’s part of why Linux Sucks but also why it’s great. I’ve been able to test drive a half dozen window managers across a few different distributions during this transition. Some things are better than others, but more options means more people are trying to solve problems how they feel is best. That’s a win for everybody.

Renewed passion for minimalism

For me, when I’m presented with too many options, I try to figure out whether I need any of the choices. It may seem counter-intuitive but a lot of times I can move forward with a more simplistic solution. This frugality has been restored in me as of late because in Linux, it’s way easier to take away than it is in macOS. I’ve also gutted my vimrc recently, but I’m saving that for another post ;)

Side note / affiliate link warning, if you haven’t read it, you should check out Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I’m planning on re-reading it soon as it was just that good and very relevant to this point.

Re-evaluation of your software toolchain

Kind of plays into the previous statement about minimalism and honestly is true for switching OSes, even to non-Linux ones. When you switch systems you are forced to re-evaluate the tools you use. Some tools aren’t going to be available. Perhaps you’ll find a better tool in the process. Since we are creatures of habit we get stuck in a cycle of running shitty software that has outlived it’s usefulness because it’s what we know.

A sense of accomplishment

Part of why I moved away from Linux was because I wanted to spend more time being productive and less time troubleshooting problems with my system. But, you can’t be productive 100% of the time, and implementing solutions always feels good.

The actual conclusion

So that does it. I’m back to running Linux.

I am keeping OS X (El Cap, forever El Cap) around for a bit longer, just because I love Ableton Live so much and it’s still convenient to use FaceTime with the family.

I couldn’t be happier with the decision even as I run into little quirks that force an afternoon of tinkering.

As I watch Apple creating a dongle economy, I know that I’ll probably end up being PC-only again within the next year.

That all being said, I recently switched from Mac OS X back to Linux, AMA.

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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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