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Old 07-31-2017, 03:21 PM   #1
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bash user wishes to migrate from Mac to linux

I am ready to switch from Apple Mac (Terminal / iTerm) to linux. Is there a forum for people in my situation?


I use bash constantly on three Apple Macintosh machines, through the so-called Terminal application.

The latest mac os X upgrade (macos Sierra 10.12.6) seems to have downgraded the bash environment, so that vim (editor) is unreliable and alpine (email client) now requires 10 seconds to launch, instead of launching instantaneously. Performance is no better in iTerm, so the fault appears to be deep in the OS, not in the

Programmers' disappointment with macos Sierra seems general ( It's not the fault of alpine or vim. Accordingly, it's time consider a migration to pure linux.

My hope is that linux would be a more stable environment. I mean, no more "upgrades" that break my code. Is this a fair expectation?

Ten years ago, I migrated from Windows® to Mac for this very reason. At that time, I also weaned myself from WYSIWYG to the tex/latex document preparation system. But LaTeX also seems to have slowed down with the macos "upgrade."

Any advice for one switching from Mac to linux? For instance, I would need to choose what linux flavor to use --- ubuntu, debian, etc. --- and what laptop to purchase, ideally as physically lightweight and electronically powerful as my Macbook Pro, 16GB memory, 1TB solid state hard drive.

Thanks for any opinions


Last edited by wegelin; 07-31-2017 at 03:23 PM.
Old 07-31-2017, 05:13 PM   #2
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I think that depends on what you are expecting. While similar, linux and MacOS are different systems. I don't have much experience with Mac, so I can't give any experience-based suggestions.

My hope is that linux would be a more stable environment. I mean, no more "upgrades" that break my code. Is this a fair expectation?
I would say this mostly depends on your code and what exactly is breaking.

As far as "linux flavor" the only difference you will find between distributions is the default interface. But every distro can be made to look and feel like any other distro with effort.

If you were to give us some ideas of what your general usage is, I'm sure someone could suggest a distribution that will do what you are looking for "out-of-the-box".
Old 07-31-2017, 10:23 PM   #3
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If upgrades breaking your stuff are a bain, you may want to use more conservative/long term support distros like Debian (supported 5 years on Intel), Ubuntu LTS or Mint (supported 5 years), CentOS (supported fully for ~5 years, minimal patch support for another ~5), or openSUSE Leap, which isn't super LTS but its refreshes every year don't break a lot of things for many years at a time ( It's really a matter of taste, although each user here would argue over which taste would be more refined

But it does depend on what keeps breaking. Linux lets you also do open heart surgery to the kernel and the like if you ever need to mess with things there.

Some low level command line stuff is different - OS X's Mach and BSD lineage change things up a little, but it's largely the same.
Old 08-01-2017, 12:11 AM   #4
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I've run a lot of Apple systems over the years but stopped a few years back because of where they were heading and how far they'd already gotten in that direction. So I can sympathize. I can see that it has gotten worse since then.

As far as choice of distro goes, these days I'd recommend one of the versions of Linux Mint for an intro. It's quite polished and most of the details are taken care of for you by default and/or automatically. And, as wagscat123 wrote, the Long Term Support (LTS) aspect is important. LTS gives you some years of stability plus time to plan your next move. Myself, I'm on Devuan.

As for hardware, that depends on which zone you are in. In the US, there are ZaReason and System76 and maybe some more (Los Alamos, Emperor, and Eight Virtues?) In the EU zone there are and at least, maybe more there too.
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:46 AM   #5
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Welcome to LQ.

The obvious choice for new hardware, in my opinion, would be the Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu Developer Edition:

Other models are available:

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Old 08-01-2017, 03:47 AM   #6
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It's ironic that the 10.12.6 update includes "improves the stability of Terminal app"

While waiting to get your linux laptop, I would suggest trying out the different flavors in a virtual box. I would suggest something like Mint, Ubuntu or Manjaro for a quick install. I wouldn't suggest Gentoo unless you have a LOT of time to spare.

I actually haven't logged on here in LQ for several years but I was recovering an old email address I haven't been using and saw the LQ Community Bulletin. Couldn't resist clicking.
Old 08-04-2017, 04:39 PM   #7
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what breaks

TheEzekielProject, perhaps "break my code" was the wrong term. The upgrade from Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan to 10.12 Sierra has slowed down certain programs that I depend on.

I run the following constantly when I'm at my computer:

vim: In the latest Mac OS, vim makes me wait before it will open even a small unicode file. Under the previous OS, it opens a small file instantaneously. And under the new OS, merely saving a file (:w) can take a minute.

One reason I switched to vim-and-tex, away from WYSIWYG, was so that I could focus on whatever I'm writing, and not be distracted by an hourglass or a spinning wheel. Thus, for vim to make me wait, runs counter to one of my biggest reasons for using vim.

alpine email client: In the latest Mac OS, alpine requires about ten seconds to launch, *before* it attempts to access the internet. Under the previous OS, it launched in less than a second.

xelatex to turn tex files containing unicode, including non-ASCII European accented letters, into a pdf. Every minute or so, I re-compile the files I am editing, clobbering the old myjournal.pdf with an updated version. In the latest Mac OS, xelatex takes a noticeably longer time to compile myjournal.pdf.

a pdf viewer (macOS Preview) which automatically re-loads myjournal.pdf after it has been clobbered, at the same page where I was previously. (Adobe Reader does not re-load and gets all confused if the pdf it's looking at is clobbered.) Even under 10.11 El Capitan, one would have to wait a moment for the pdf to re-load. But under 10.12 Sierra, one waits longer.

bash "while" loops which keep checking whether the tex files have been updated, and if they have, xelatex is run again. The loop contains a "sleep 10" command.

bash "while" loops that check a given file every 10 or 60 seconds and make a backup copy if it has been updated.

A combination of vim abbreviations and calls to bash scripts, to enable me to copy a certain kind of keyword into the clipboard without using the mouse, by typing a certain string into the file I am editing. These scripts functioned instantaneously in El Capitan 10.11, but make me wait in 10.12. The procedure saves a copy of the current file into a temporary directory and then messes with it to find the desired keyword. Thus, disk access seems to be slowed down in 10.12. My hard drive is solid state.

I do not know what the Mac people did when they "upgraded." My primary objective in switching to linux would be to work in a world where such regressive upgrades simply do not occur.

For instance, neither vim or alpine ever announces an upgrade that sends me back to school, so to speak, just to keep doing what I've been doing for years. Vim is dependable and stable, as far as I can tell. I would hope to learn an operating system that is similarly dependable.

Last edited by wegelin; 08-04-2017 at 04:56 PM.
Old 08-05-2017, 08:52 AM   #8
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Oddly enough, I use a Mac every day (for Unix programming, with a case-sensitive file system installed), and, although login takes much longer than it should, I have no objections to it. I run Linux in a virtual machine all day long.


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