OS X for the Linux user

About 1.5 years ago, I made the switch from SuSE Linux to a MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5. Here are some brief notes I made regarding the transition:

  • OS X’s Spaces gives you virtual desktop functionality. I don’t think it offers the same depth of customization, but it works just fine for my needs. One feature I like is to left-click and grab a window, then use ctrl-[1-8] to move the window to one of my eight “spaces”. On my Linux system, I had to navigate a menu to accomplish the same thing.
  • The program that I replaced Gaim/Pidgin with is Adium. However, I now see that Pidgin appears to have an OS X client…
  • I miss being able to copy text by highlighting, and paste via the middle mouse button. With OS X you need to do command-c for copy and command-v for paste.
  • Speaking of the command key, it annoys me. I’ve been trained my entire life to use ctrl, but OS X makes you move one or two keys over to use a different key. Which brings me to the next topic…
  • The home and end keys have the obnoxious behavior of jumping you to the top and bottom of a window, as opposed to the start or end of a single line. You can change the behavior in Cocoa apps (more succinct info), but all 3rd party applications (Eclipse, Firefox, etc) seem to require individual adjustment via other means.
  • Not having focus-follows-mouse is incredibly painful; Steve Yeggae agrees.
  • Quick notes on the hardware:
    • Two fingers to scroll, pinch to zoom out, un-pinch to zoom in – I like the multi-touch pad, even though trackballs are typically “how I roll”.
    • The auto-dim/brighten of the display and the backlit keyboard is really cool.
    • The display is gorgeous.
    • The case gets uncomfortably hot for a device that theoretically sits in your lap.
    • The only way to access the alt key is via the fn key.
  • If you have more than one user, do yourself a favor and Preferences -> Accounts -> Login Options -> Show fast user switching menu
  • iTunes is disappointing in that it has no native FLAC or OGG support. Additionally, iTunes servers are apparently “listen-only”; you can’t copy files!

While OS X certainly has a proprietary, somewhat locked-down feel to it, the slick and user-friendly interface more than makes up for it. This is the same reason why I usually run Opera instead of Firefox – I prefer a high-quality computing experience.

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3 Responses to OS X for the Linux user

  1. gatortone says:

    Nice entry. I generally agree with you, but on my Macbook, I hit fn-left arrow for “Home” and fn-right arrow for “end”. Those act as the beginning-of-line and end-of-line commands. Plus, I don’t have “Home” or “end” buttons.

  2. theoden says:

    When working at my desk, I have a big ergonomic keyboard attached to the MacBook – home/end keys included. I’d be kind of cool if OS X had a “Use PC key bindings” option, but I can see why they don’t.

  3. Chris says:

    Excellent replacement for built in Mac OS X Terminal is iTerm2. Many nice tweaks, but the main one worth mentioning here due to your post is that selections automatically get copied to clipboard (no need for cmd-c).

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