Using a MacBook as a Long-time Ubuntu User – Preparation

Using a MacBook Day 0

If you read my last post, after 30 years of using computers, I bought my first Apple laptop. I’ve long been opposed to using Apple products for various reasons. However, the combination of the new Apple silicon and a requirement for access to an Apple computer for my work means that I now own an M1 MacBook Air.

In that post, I shared my unboxing experience and my initial thoughts on using the MacBook. As a friend pointed out to me, I can’t really form an opinion on the product unless I have used it as my main computer for at least a week. So, never one to back down from a challenge, I’m going to use the MacBook exclusively for a week.

Due to Apple’s shortsightedness decision to not include a bundled USB/HDMI adapter, I first had to buy one to use the MacBook at work, hooked up to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse at my office. I wasn’t prepared to spend almost ZAR 1800 for the official adapter, which only had one USB type-A port. After a bit of searching and reading reviews online, I managed to pick up this NXTech 7-in-1 Type C Hub for ZAR 550.

Before the adapter arrived, I had received some feedback from my Apple friends, suggesting some options to some of the gripes I had expressed in my initial thoughts.

So I tried out Spotlight. It’s a great idea, but I can’t drag it to the dock to make it more usable. You can only access it from the little search icon in the taskbar, or via a keyboard shortcut. I had to laugh when I found an Apple support forum response to the same question about adding it to the dock I had using the phrase “that’s impossible”. One of the main reasons I’ve avoided Apple products was the company’s general attitude of “you want to do that differently? Impossible!”

While we’re on the topic of keyboard shortcuts, yes, I know they are faster than moving your hand to a mouse. And yes, I know many developers swear by them. Some of us prefer to use the mouse because we have a terrible memory for new things, and using a mouse to click an icon is just easier. Forcing someone to learn multiple new keyboard shortcuts to get the best experience is not user-friendly, in my opinion.

Launcher is infinitely better. In fact, it’s so much like the launcher app I’m used to in Ubuntu, I’m almost convinced one copied the other. And I can drag it to the dock. Actually, when I opened Launcher from the Applications list in Finder for the first time, it automatically added Launcher to the dock, which was a nice touch. Sadly, Apple’s “do it our way” attitude soon re-emerged, as I then found I couldn’t place Launcher before Finder in the dock? For that matter, I couldn’t remove Finder from the dock at all!!!

Then, some additional initial thoughts.

Why is there a Relocated Items folder on my desktop?

I’m still struggling to get used to using the Command key instead of the Ctrl key for copy, paste, select, redo, and undo functionality. I’ve only managed to memorize a handful of keyboard shortcuts, and now I have to relearn a bunch of them.

I really, REALLY don’t like the universal application menu thing in the taskbar. I often have multiple windows open, and to have to move the mouse to the top of the screen each time I want to access the application’s menu is a pain. And don’t @ me with “but you can just use this keyboard shortcut”, see my comment on keyboard shortcuts earlier.

There’s a notification icon in my System Preferences. Oh, something about my Apple ID? Ok, but I don’t want to start using iCloud. Is there a way to disable this notification? Oh, ok, first I have to click “Start using iCloud” and THEN click select “Not Now”. 🙈

After a discussion with my colleagues at Delicious Brains, the topic of Mac vs. Ubuntu fonts came up. One of the items of discussion was that macOS had a better default font to Ubuntu. So I did a bit of research and changed my Ubuntu system fonts to Garuda, which is apparently an open-source alternative to the macOS system font. I can’t say I can see that it’s better, but that might say more about me than anything else.

Final thought, I typed up (almost) everything for this post sitting on my bed after dinner, and as a word processor, this thing is great. I can see why it’s popular with writers. I am still struggling with the Enter key and I miss not having a Delete key. Also, I need to figure out what the § key is supposed to do.

Given that it took a day for the adapter to arrive, and I need to work on the Ubuntu workstation the day it arrived, and the fact that the following day was a public holiday, I started the week of Apple off on a Thursday. I made sure that when I left the office on Tuesday, I connected everything up to make sure it all worked. It took a little while to figure out how to make the monitor the primary display; a checkbox here would have been nice. Then I closed the MacBook, disconnected the USB-C cable, and went home.

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