Vladimir's Tech Blog

From Ubuntu to Mac OS X and back in less than one week!

March 27, 2008

I have been using Ubuntu Linux as my primary OS for about one year now. The advantages are:

However, there are some disadvantages regarding hardware support,

especially for notebooks. I had a misfortune ordering a notebook with an ATI graphics card: the open source driver is not very advanced though progressing well and the proprietary one from ATI crashes randomly or does not support standby or complicated to install or all of these, depending on the version.

The promise

The promise of a Mac is that you get

  • a rock solid Unix-like system
  • with seamless working user interface with lot of eye candy
  • everything works
  • it does not crash
  • you can focus on your job

So after all the pain setting drivers, editing xorg.conf, reading in the user groups, trying out all the howtos and recompiling kernel modules I decided to switch to MacBook Pro and Mac OS X. I have not decided to “give it a chance” - I decided to switch forever. I have turned the old notebook off and started doing the day-to-day stuff on the Mac.

The keyboard

The keyboard layout is is the most weird thing on the Mac.

  • There are ‘home’ and ‘end’ keys, but they work not in the horizontal direction as on Windows or Linux, but in the vertical direction. To go to the beginning or the end of line you need to use the apple key plus the left/right arrow.
  • All the punctuation characters, or for me, the programmer characters like braces, pipe etc. are (for the German layout) placed differently than on a PC and the most funny thing - they are not labeled - happy searching!
  • I was warned regarding the ‘@’ (the at-sign). On the German keyboard you press ‘AltGr’ (the key to the right of the space bar) and ‘Q’. On Mac it means kill the application and discard all the work without confirmation. Very funny for writing a long email and trying to type in the email address at the end. I did not have this problem because I was warned four times by four different people.
  • BTH, what is the ‘Control’ key for, besides compensating for one-button-mouse? Only for using in the console?

Window Manager

  • You can not comfortably use the menu of the application by pressing the Alt and the first letter of the menu label and continue pressing the first name of the submenu items. So you have to learn all the keyboard shortcuts, these are however consistent through all the different applications.
  • Can not use shortcuts blindly - need to leave the home row because of too many keys that needs to be depressed simultaneously.
  • Moving the mouse is like moving through the dirt. Tried with an Apple mouse, Logitech and Microsoft. Even installed Microsoft drivers as suggested in the forums - does not really help. Never knew, that there is a shareware market for programs trying to fix “the Mac OS mouse problem”. More at
  • No possibility to resize or move windows with a keyboard?
  • Exposé is nice.
  • Closing window does not end application - it is similar to Pocket PC.
  • Quicksilver is the solution for all the problems: just type the keywords in, it learns and can later figure out itself, if you want to open a document with this name or start a program or run a command in the console. I had bad luck getting the Beta52 with some permission problems and broken plugin update functionality as described in the howtos and internet forums.


  • textmate is the king of text editors
  • There is no Java 6 for Mac? Seriously?
  • You can install the free software from repositories easily, use sudo port install application-name instead of sudo apt-get install application-name on a Debian like system


  • Very nice.
  • The design is good, but I am not particularly interested in it.
  • Perfect notebook - there is no unneeded hardware like parallel port and so.
  • DVI port.
  • OS and hardware optimized for battery life - you can work half a day or probably the whole day, not just one and half an hour like with my ThinkPad.
  • Easy WLAN configuration, just enter the password, no need to try out all the options like under Windows.
  • Keyboard is (mechanically) the best notebook keyboard I’ve ever touched.


  • As a power user you need to invest your time to learn the system and to adjust it to be able to work efficiently.
  • The software often behaves not as expected, you need to find out the workarounds and read the blogs and internet forums or update the application or whatever. This is valid even for Mac.
  • It is similar on every OS - there is no silver bullet!
  • If your employer is nice like mine and gives you an opportunity to try out the hardware you want and you have a lot of spare time, try it (Mac) out!
  • I had enough. Today I know most of the Ubuntu Linux tricks. I do not want to start from scratch with Martian Mac OS.


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