Linux vs. Mac

So around two months back I got a mac book pro. Macs are really popular among the Rails community, so they must somehow be better and more productive then linux. While in the beginning it seemed really nice, soon I started realizing its limitations. Here are the goods and bads I found.

Hardware

It is really not fair to compare Linux software against Mac hardware but its worth mentioning that Macs have amazing hardware and built quality. Other hardware seems very plasticy when compare to using a Mac.

Trackpad

Macbook have an amazing trackpad which gives it its great usability. It is essential to learn to use the gestures provided by trackpad, without it, window management can be extremely difficult. It takes a little practise to get familiar with what you can do with the trackpad.

Looks

While Linux is highly customizable, using my netbook for a while made me realize that I often spend some time to make the look and feel something that I would enjoy. On the other hand, Mac gives you nice defaults, not many options can be changed but you don’t need to change many options because Mac OS looks great by default.

File manager

Finder is an inferior file manager, at least for programmers. Anything in the Linux world, Nautilus, Dolphin and even Thunar work better. Its hard to show/hide hidden files, there is no merge option when copying over and replacing directories. Shortcuts are a bit difficult, I’d rather press enter to open a folder rather than Mac+O. There is also nothing like search this folder.

Code Editor

To be honest, Textmate is not as cool as it might look. While you always see it being used in screencasts and you feel like it would be magical, in my opinion gedit with gmate plugin is better. Although one thing I liked was that you can create your own syntax highlighting theme using the options in the editor itself. I am now using Vim, turns out the default Vim is not that great. Don’t know much in this area but it lacks +ruby mode (needed for command-T plugin) and pastetoggle command is missing too, I wonder why.

Package management

Linux has amazing package management. Even though I find packages in Macs way better than Windows, you have to resort to compiling a lot of stuff yourself. Even after using Macports, things are not as good as a standard Linux distribution. Its a headache to get mysql running.

Fullscreen

This is a draw. The new fullscreen modes in Mac are amazing, but you have different shortcut keys for different programs. In Linux the functionality is similar but a universal shortcut key F11 is used.

iOS Applications

Well the only choice you have got when you want to make an iOS application is to use a Mac.

While my primary development computer is now a Mac, I am not ditching Linux.

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