Back to using Linux (now on Apple hardware)

Since 2016 I have been using Apple computers.

Until then (more precisely from 2006 to 2015) I was a Linux user ranging from Ubuntu to Mandriva and ending up with CrunchBang, which had been the last distribution I used.

In 2016 I decided to set up a studio and sell professional video services. During that time I used Windows. The experience didn’t last a year (both the company and my brief return to Windows, which had been my day-to-day system since I started using computers more seriously in 1995). Well then. It was then, in 2016, that I started using Mac.

I was already frustrated with the planned obsolescence of Android phone devices and decided to buy an iPhone after frustrating months using Windows Phone (when I said that I migrated to Windows when I started the company, I changed everything to Windows and it was a huge pain) .

Upon purchasing the iPhone, I was amazed at how comfortable the system is to use compared to my previous Android experience. It wasn’t long before I decided to give it a try and switch all my computers to Apple computers.

These are the computers I use to this day. I have a 2012 Mac Mini, which I bought used, and a 2015 Mac Book Air, which I bought new in 2016.

The first thing I noticed is that, just like the experience of using the cell phone with the Apple system, using the computer had become an excellent experience. So much so that later I also decided to buy Apple computers for my family.

Things work out the way you expect them to work. Things are where you expect them to be and everything is very smooth. It seduced me instantly. Things just work. That is great. There’s a price to pay for that, but I thought it was well worth it because the experience with the other systems I’ve used in the past always left something to be desired.

However, I decided to try new things in this year of 2023. The big motivator for this was my Mac Mini from 2012, which is still working perfectly, but which has not received operating system updates since macOS Catalina. Until then, so good. Catalina is an excellent system and I was very satisfied. However, in November 2022 this version of the operating system stopped receiving updates, which puts my system at risk. Then I spent some time thinking about what could be done… I could spend a good amount of money and buy new Apple computers, or I could try to change again.

Since money doesn’t grow on trees, I decided to try something new. I must say that I am quite satisfied with the choice.

I had heard great things about Fedora and decided to try installing it on one of the computers my kids use (a 2011 Mac Book Pro). Everything worked perfectly once I did the installation connected to the internet via cable and after a few initial updates the system recognized the WiFi as well as the Bluetooth. With the test done, I decided to also put it on my desktop and everything worked very well. With Fedora running on my desktop, I decided to update macOS on my Mac Book Air to the Monterey version. Only something was bothering me. I don’t think I do very well switching between different systems on my desktop and my laptop. So I decided to test something even cooler: put Linux on the 2015 Mac Book Air as well.

But then I started thinking about the limitations of this hardware and that put me off a bit because Fedora uses Gnome and this is not the lightest system out there.

It was then that I decided to follow a tip that came from Mastodon: why not Debian? Studying a little I saw that Linux Mint has a Debian-based version that could be a good option. And it was.

First I tested it by placing it on my desktop (2012 Mac Mini) and everything worked perfectly. Cinnamon is very comfortable to use and the whole system feels very smooth. I decided to try it out on my Mac Book Air as well and today I have the same operating system on both computers again, which makes my life a lot easier.

Linux Mint Debian Edition is excellent, exceeding all my expectations. Things work great and I haven’t faced any serious issues so far.

There are, of course, two or three things that bother me a little. The first is that there is no native client for OneDrive (my cloud option since 2016, when I used Windows), and that made me have to buy InSync and so far, so good. What sucks is that InSync doesn’t have the same operating logic as the default OneDrive client. It gives me a bit of a headache because either everything is in sync or it isn’t. There isn’t that nice option in OneDrive’s default client of showing the document but only downloading it from the cloud when I click on it to use it.
The other thing that annoys me a bit is how fast the track pad and scroll work on Linux. For me this is too fast and bothers me a little. I haven’t found a place to adjust this yet, but it’s something I can live with.

Finally, one thing that annoys me a little is that I’ve spent so much time using Apple’s shortcuts that now I’m always hitting the Command key in Linux when it’s actually the ALT or CTRL key I need to access. This last question is of course not a Linux issue but mine 🙂

Well, anyway, it’s important to point out how much I’m enjoying the experience of using the Linux Mint Debian Edition but also to send a compliment to Fedora, which is the system that is still being used a lot on my kids’ computers.

The evolution that has occurred with Linux systems since I stopped using it in 2015 until now, when I resumed using it in 2023 has been brutal. Everything is very nice and very comfortable to use. Including, I must say that my Mac Book Air is much better. One thing I’ve noticed and I can’t quite explain why is that when I connect this computer to teach on the university’s projectors, the projector’s screen resolution is better with Linux than it was with macOS. In addition, the process of sharing my cellular connection with my laptop for work away from home is also much easier. Amazing that doing this using the laptop running Linux is easier than it was before when the computer was running macOS.

Anyway. Testing new things is always good. Running Linux is always good. Using Apple (intel) hardware with Linux has proven to be excellent.

2 thoughts on “Back to using Linux (now on Apple hardware)”

  1. In 2020 I began trying Linux distros on an old Macbook Pro 2010. I found that nothing worked quite right. As best as I can remember, the main problems were the Broadcom wireless and the Facetime camera. I tried Mint, Ubuntu, and maybe Pop_OS and MX. I only booted from a live usb drive; I never tried an installation. Again, this is all based on my memory of 3 years ago. I gave up and bought a refurbished Dell Latitude laptop, installed Pop_OS, and have been happily using this as my main computer ever since.

    I own an early 2015 MBA. I use it less and less with each passing year, partly because it only has 4 GB of non-upgradable RAM and partly because I prefer my Linux system so much more.

    What has been your experience using Linux on your MBA? Is it worth trying with its sparse 4 GB RAM? Do you dual boot with Monterey?

    1. Hi there Steve! Sorry for the delay on the reply.
      Nice to know that you are interested on trying Linux in your MBA.
      My experience is the best possible. I decided on using Mint with Cinnamon because of the lack of RAM in this machine. It is recommended that you get an USB adapter to connect this computer via wired connection because WiFi will only work after the first update (and you’ll need to be connected to update).
      I have decided not to dual boot because of the lack of patience and time to configure it to dual boot. I do not regret.
      The only thing I thought I would miss was airdrop. But then I heard of LocalSend and everything works greeat.
      Best thing is for teatching, When I used MacOS the screen resolution with the projector was sub-par. With Mint I can send better resolution images to the projector.
      If you are willing to try and enjoy using Linux, it is worth the try.
      I recommend Linux Mint Debian with Cinnamon (or a lightweight DE) to improve performance.

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