Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I got a MacBook

If your first reaction is to smack me... you can kiss my ass and stop reading here.

I've been thinking about getting one for a while. Anyone who knows me well will tell you I bounce back and forth between Windows and Linux a lot... but, since I hate dual-booting, usually I end up reformatting one month... reinstalling Windows... hating it... and a couple of months later I go back to Linux. Everything goes well... until I find something that doesn't work right. Last time, it was wireless issues. I was sitting in a meeting at work, and couldn't get associated to the network. This had happened frequently. At home, I would just have to re-type the WPA key three or four times, and eventually it would associate. However, the WPA key at work is not something that can be remembered easily, and I had to keep typing it in. Frustrating. That drove me back to Windows.

(On a side note, in the newly released Fedora 9, NetworkManager now remembers the passphrase you typed if it fails to associate. Nice. Still wish they'd get it associating better. Maybe I should blame Intel.)

Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is this: I wanted a MacBook because OS X is rock-solid (from what I've read), all the hardware works (including suspend and resume!), and I can get Microsoft Office on it. (I've had problems interacting with others when I use OpenOffice in Linux.) However, it's Unix at the core, and with Fink I can get a lot of the software I'm used to using in Linux, with a sweet terminal and a Bash prompt.

I was pretty surprised last week when my wife gave me the go-ahead to purchase it. The two years without interest at Best Buy helped... we had the cash on hand, but it's a lot easier to swallow payments. So, despite the fact that I'd been up for almost 36 hours straight (working, we had just completed a move of 11 servers from one rack to another in our datacenter), I immediately perked up and ran to Best Buy.

I had decided on the white MacBook with 2GB RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a superdrive. I had originally thought about purchasing the black model, but for an extra $200 it just didn't seem worth it for only an extra 90GB space. (Plus, I've never filled a 160GB drive. Maybe if I copied my entire music & movie collection over...)

So far, I freaking love the thing. I have had exactly one crash, and that was when I idiotically burned the CD image of Office 2008 to a DVD. OS X didn't like that.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the software I had installed in Windows was available for OS X: nmap, wireshark, VLC, the MySQL GUI tools, FileZilla, and nessus were all downloaded and installed quickly. Instead of Pidgin, I decided to use Adium, and I found a VNC viewer and Smultron, a syntax-highlighting text editor that fit the bill great.

Parallels worked a lot better than I expected it to... though, firing up more than one virtual instance kicks you into swap mode damn quick. I had just purchased Money 2008, unfortunately, so this was a nice find.

Spaces is very, very cool. I was looking forward to using Expose, but had no idea Spaces had come along till I played around with settings. Finally, virtual desktops like I'm used to in Linux! I sure wish Expose would list all windows open on all spaces, though.

Terminal.app is OK, but the key bindings annoy me. iTerm was a godsend!

Finally, Time Machine is a cool idea. I read somewhere you could download a 3rd-party tool to make it use network locations as backup media, but that it was buggy. I'm happy to use my external hard drive for now, but I'll be happy when Apple does finally make that part of Time Machine.

I don't plan on becoming a Mac zealot or anything, but I really like the Mac world. It just works.