Unity drove me mac

This post has been a while in the making. Bottom line, I bought a mac. I’ve had it for about three weeks now, and so far I haven’t looked back.

new macbook pro 13 inch retina

There’s something between Bangkok and operating system choice for me. I first converted to Linux in Bangkok, and I decided to buy a mac in Bangkok some 7 years later.

The decision was a long time brewing. It all started 5 odd years ago with John Berns. He converted from Ubuntu, and told me something that I shot down at the time (sorry John! 😉 ) but have long since remembered. He said, since he got a mac, he doesn’t spend time fixing his computer, he spends his time working.

As I fully come into my fourth decade, I’m entering a new phase. My late teens and twenties were defined by idealism, militancy, and fuelled by an unbridled fiery energy. As I settle into my thirties, about to turn 31, my focus has slowly shifted. My idealism has faded somewhat, some of my zest for life has faded, and I’m more focused on productivity.

The decision to buy a mac was a decision to get stuff done. I chose a 13″ MacBook Pro with a Retina display. It’s a phenomenal piece of hardware, and the software is close enough to *nix that I thought I’d survive the transition. My precious terminal is still just a hotkey away (thanks iTerm2). My expectation was that the machine would just work. It has almost completely lived up to my expectations. It’s phenomenal hardware, an acceptable user experience, and very, very, very productive. It simply works.

Leaving Ubuntu

Leaving Ubuntu was a hard decision. I’d been a dedicated convert and evangelist for some time. I’m still running Ubuntu on all of our servers. In general, I’m a big fan of what Ubuntu has done for the Free Software space.

However, the stumbling block for me was Unity, Ubuntu’s new desktop interface. Mark has spoken about his vision for Unity, and about not just competing in the operating system space, but leading, setting a new standard. I think that’s a noble cause. But all the chaos and confusion that comes with such rapid change has a cost, and an impact.

Personally, I reached a point where my laptop was a constant struggle to use. I didn’t want to use Unity, and I specifically didn’t want fancy 3d effects at the cost of speed. I wanted a fast, simple desktop. Ubuntu had not been that for some time. I considered Mint, which is apparently the second most popular distro behind Ubuntu. But in the end I was burned out. I’d had enough of fighting with my operating system.

I think the popularity of Mint is testament to the damage that Unity and the broader Ubuntu direction are doing to the Ubuntu userbase. I think a quiet exodus of long standing, core users is underway. I think the effects will be easier to see a few years from now. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe Ubuntu will truly compete in the desktop space. I hope so.

Personally, I’d like to see a simpler version of Ubuntu LTS with much better backports. I don’t want to upgrade every 6 months, nor do I want 2 years to get the latest and greatest software. For now, I’m sticking to Ubuntu on servers, and if I had a desktop, I’d probably install Mint. But day to day, I’m now officially a Mac user.

4 thoughts on “Unity drove me mac”

  1. Most of what you’ve written here was similar to me. One year ago my Lenovo was not the quality laptop I had expected, there were too many hardware issues and after Ubuntu fucked up with Unity Gnome started doing likewise with Gnome 3. I needed a new laptop and I needed to work with it out of the box. Apple was the only company offering something like that.

    Unless other companies manage to break Microsoft’s semi-monopoly and start selling laptops with a nice GNU/Linux OS. I’m hoping Google will pull it off with Chromebook but I haven’t seen or even touched on so far.

    I think Ubuntu is still good enough for desktops though. But who’s still using a desktop?

    1. Credit where credit’s due, you were also a significant factor in my decision, your gung-ho attitude to productivity and relaxed yet principles stance on free software inspired me to get on with making stuff instead of getting bogged down in philosophical ideology. 🙂

  2. I was also concerned about characteristics of unity, and took the opportunity to look more into the KDE community.

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