Switch, ep. 3: revert!

So, that OSX thing. I’m afraid I’ve given up on the switch; I’m back on Linux. :(

I got the keyboard mapping working, but Focus-Follows-Mouse and the couple of window-management hotkeys I rely on were impossible to work around.

Focus-Follows-Mouse is emulated by iTerm, but every time you switch to an X11 app or to Firefox, a click is required. This app-specific behaviour is jarring and inconsistent.

For some reason, the window-management hotkeys had a tendency to break, or to be disabled by other hotkeys or apps. I never figured out exactly why.

In addition, OSX has a built-in tendency to hibernate once the laptop’s lid is closed. I wanted to disable this, for a number of reasons; most importantly, I tend to leave the laptop closed, leaning beside a chair in the TV room, while I’m at work, but there’s frequently something I want to SSH in for. I tried Caffeine.app to avoid this, but it failed entirely on my hardware. InsomniaX generally works, but for some reason it tends to turn itself off occasionally for rather random reasons (such as switching to battery power, no matter how briefly, then back again). This was the final straw.

So just over a week ago, I installed Ubuntu on the MacBook Pro, following the documentation on the Ubuntu Wiki. Everything worked!

The Wiki’s suggestions were a little hairy to configure — but then, the OSX experience had been, if anything, less easy. Plus, I know my way around a Linux /etc.

On the Linux side, the Avant Window Navigator is truly excellent, and rivals the Dock nicely, and the Baghira kwin theme gives a pretty good OSX sheen to KDE 3. It’s not quite as pretty as OSX, but I’m happy to lose some prettiness for better usability.

Regarding the interface — the current version of the Linux Synaptics driver supports multi-touch (Apple’s patents be damned, seemingly), and all the nice multi-touch tricks supported by most OSX apps work with it too. I’m still working out the optimum settings for this, but it’s very configurable, and quite open.

It’s fantastic ;) I feel like I’m home again. Sorry, Mac people.

(image: CC-licensed, thanks to Dr Craig)

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4 Comments

  1. Andrew
    Posted October 24, 2008 at 00:28 | Permalink

    Err… It hibernates when you close the lid because the MBPro vents through the keyboard (as do many modern laptops.)

    You’re cooking your hardware…

  2. ben
    Posted October 24, 2008 at 00:38 | Permalink
  3. Posted October 24, 2008 at 09:39 | Permalink

    Ubuntu on Mac hardware still makes you a Mac person ;)

    I’m thinking of my next laptop and whether it should run Ubuntu full-time too. I’ll be getting Ubuntu back onto my MBP over the next week and I’ll see how it goes. I need a replacement for TextMate though, that is my main worry.

  4. Posted October 24, 2008 at 10:40 | Permalink

    Andrew: whether or not it’s “cooking the hardware” seems to be an open question. In Apple-land, running with the lid closed is called “clamshell mode”. If you google around for [macbook pro “clamshell mode”], you’ll find several forum threads like this one, where people discuss the issue from various positions of more-or-less total ignorance.

    The most likely scenario seems to be that the old iBooks did require that the keyboard be unobstructed; however the current MacBooks and MBPs apparently run fine in “clamshell mode”, and indeed this is a supported mode of operation if you have an external monitor connected.

    I certainly haven’t noticed any noticeable heat from this MBP after prolonged periods with the lid closed. If it gets hot, I’ll reconsider, but it seems fine. (In general, it runs at a reasonable temperature level, I’ve found.)

    Ben: my eyes!

    Paul: I hear TextMate is pretty compelling… I haven’t tried it, so I don’t miss it ;)