mac developer working with linux

Date: 2014-05-19 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm a long-time mac/win developer. I recently took a new job that requires me to maintain an develop an embedded-linux device. I initially started running an Ubuntu VM to be my development environment. I have to say that I consider that desktop a joke. its primitive compared to what I am used to using.

Slowly, over time, I've been moving my development activities over to OSX where I can code and build in Xcode. Its just too annoying to operate on the linux side. There are all sorts of little things that just don't work conveniently or at all. At this point, I only have to use Linux to build my uboot and linux kernel images. One simple example... ON OSX, I can use the Finder to navigate down to arbitrarily complex paths. I can copy the file (cmd-C), then paste into Terminal.app (cmd-V and It will put a path on the command line. On linux, when I do that, it pastes a URL. So, I have to navigate to go delete the 'file:/' at the front of each path. On top of that, I must right-click to paste for whatever reason. If you want me to use Linux, simple things like that need to just work as I would logically expect. Things like mounting and managing network shares could be a lot better. All of that should be automated with zeroconf to the degree possible. I should be able to more-often-than-not have all the dirty details automated.

This is a statement of MY experience. I'm sure I can go spelunking into text files or installing other software to do what I want. I really don't want to spend time on that sort of thing. I want to spend my time on my problem to solve. I'm not interested in infinitely "tweaking" the system. I really don't care what the filesystem browser looks like or exactly how it organizes things. I can learn new tools. I just need it to work rationally, consistently, and simply. Simple things should be simple. Dirty details should be hidden.

The worst problem you have is X11. That horrid piece of garbage needs to be retired and replaced with something that just works. One should NEVER get into a state where he can't see his UI. It should be designed so that the graphics stack auto-configures based on the hardware profile and everything comes up in some rational, default mode even if there is some configuration problem. I should not have to be afraid of installing a ubuntu software update because an x11 update with knock out my UI because of some glitch or incompatibility. This sort of thing is unheard-of on a macintosh. It requires massive catastrophic failures for a mac to become usable from the GUI.

The reason I use Apple OSes and equipment and wouldn't consider switching to a Linux desktop for daily usage is because I can count on the mac to just work and get out of my way. Yes, there are sometimes problems. Nothing is perfect, but from my experience, for desktop use, OSX is far more reliable and idiocy-tolerate than Windows or Linux. Apple does do things that irritate me, but not enough to overcome the technical irritations of Windows and Linux desktops.

I'm sure that other people's experiences vary. I'm sure there are people who loathe the OSX desktop. Again, I'm speaking for MY experience. I'm the kind of user that this blog post is targeting for conversion. If you want to convert me, this message convey's some of my expectation.

In essence, I value quality and ease-of-use over customizability.

-James G










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Matthew Garrett

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Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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