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Old 01-16-2020, 02:10 AM   #1
rhimbo
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Should I dump my iMac for Linux or Windows on the desktop...?


Hi folks,

Lately I've been thinking that I won't buy another Mac. I'm debating what to use for my "desktop." I would very much like your comments and opinions to my thoughts below or just your independent ideas on desktop environments.

Reasons I love my Mac. Apple Mail beats any other mail client I've used (search, for one thing). Thunderbird is a joke. Outlook should be pitied (search effectively doesn't work).

Google is evil, but their browser works well. Firefox took money from Google years ago and I don't trust them either.

I love Open Office, but it can't work with .docx, .xlsx and .pptx. So I feel I still need a Windows 10 desktop ('cause Windows does not run atop a VM... intentionally by M$).

I love Gimp.

Linux on the desktop is a toy. Yeah I used to be an old Unix hack and love bash, but I'm not a sysadmin and don't want to spend weeks configuring system utilities, volumes, backups, etc. I must admit using Time Machine on my Mac is effortless, and I have double external hard drive backups.

I could run Windows 10 and cygwin. So I could have a "decent" mail client (Outlook, although far from perfect), a nice touch screen for signing documents using a real signature (which I have to do a lot), etc.

I'm leaning towards Windows 10 with cygwin. That being said, I'm scared as my buddies who are techies tell me each update breaks their systems.

I have Ubuntu on a 5-year old Lenova right now. It's been very challenging to convince myself that it would suffice as a daily use desktop system.

I am not a Windows person at all. I'm not even sure how easy it is to do regular backups of disks and file systems to external drives. That's a critical piece for me. But I'm not sure how to do it (easily, as in via a nice GUI app) on Linux either. In that area, I think Mac OS shines.

So... without flaming me, please, I am seriously interested in your input, feedback, comments and suggestions.

Thanks,
 
Old 01-16-2020, 04:07 AM   #2
Turbocapitalist
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Vista10 is by far the most awkward and hard to use out of those choices. So I'd say to avoid it and that your main option is some flavor of GNU/Linux.

Which desktop environment are you using with Ubuntu at the moment? There are others which may be more comfortable. There are also other distros. Pop!OS is based on Ubuntu but it has a very OS X -like desktop enviornment.

Give up on OpenOffice.org it has been intentionally neglected by Oracle. Try LibreOffice instead, that's where all the OOo developers went anyway. It has support for legacy file formats like the ones that are giving you trouble. However keep in mind that M$ maintains its productivity software monopoly by fiddling with the formats so that no other group or company can easily use them. So if you can, upgrade to the OpenDocument Format. Another option there is Calligra. It is quite different so I prefer LibreOffice but if I were starting out I would probably use Calligra instead.

As for the mail client, I can't imagine anyone finding Outlook usable, so you might take my advice there with a grain of salt. There you have Thunderbird or Sylpheed. I prefer the former. Note that Thunderbird will soon integrate OpenPGP support into the main application and the Enigmail add-on will EOL. However, that is still more than a few months away.

There are ways to get Vista10 into a VM and there are many guides online for that. If you really have a either a perceived or real need for Vista10, then run it inside a proper VM and not on bare metal. That way you can take snapshots of the last-known-good clean installation and roll back to that with a click when, not if, it curdles.

There are many graphical backup utilities, and there is even a third-party graphical interface for the commercial backup service Tarsnap. But I am lazy and prefer rsync via the shell instead so others here can address the graphical backup utilities.
 
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:27 AM   #3
rhimbo
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Many thanks, Turbocapitalist. To be honest, I would prefer to avoid M$ entirely. Yes, the intentionally make .docx, .xlsx and .pptx difficult to read and parse with all the binary stuff and active X controls. I will try LibreOffice. Honestly I haven't given it a fair chance as I found it very disappointing several years ago and OpenOffice had many more "built-in" features. So I didn't look at LibreOffice again for a while. And what the heck, I can try Calligra as well.

I also will admit that I might not have given Thunderbird a fair chance. But I did try it on Ubuntu when I replaced Windows with Ubuntu on my ThinkPad. Perhaps I didn't play with it enough but I found the formatting of messages to be quite limited (font, spacing, just the kind of stuff one expects to be standard with any WYSIWYG editor in a window). But I'll try it again. In that way I found Outlook more fully featured. But generally Outlook is awful; I agree. Send/receive never works right. The search feature is ghastly, and so on.... OH, and I'll try Sylpheed as well.

Honestly, I only tried to put Windows on top of VirtualBox. Perhaps I need a better VM. ;-)

I will look into backing up more. Now that I look at my original post I realize I mislead readers. I am more eager to avoid going back to spending my time being a sysadmin configuring my system, creating file systems, hand-editing /etc/fstab files and stuff like that. It's fun and I don't mind re-learning all that stuff, but it's just a matter of time and getting on with all the other stuff we have to do. That's the one thing I have to say I like about macOS... lots of nice GUI utilities that make managing the system easy.

OK, so I will try out what you have suggested. As I already have Ubuntu on my ThinkPad, I'll try to enhance it and see if I can get to a state where I can easily do all the things I want to do. First thing is connect an external drive and transfer all my files from my iMac. If I can prove I can manage that robustly, back up my system properly, that's the first big step for me.

Thanks again for taking the time to write a detailed reply....
 
Old 01-16-2020, 04:28 AM   #4
mrmazda
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My old mid-2007 iMac has El Capitan and two openSUSE versions. It spends most of its time collecting dust waiting to find a buyer for it. I've spent an insane amount of time scattered over the past three weeks getting a 2013 iMac usable again after its aged original owner was no longer able to help with password and AppleID issues, ultimately involving wiping the HD, then installing Mavericks in order to upgrade to El Capitan in order to upgrade to Catalina. Apple makes it easy, and hard, or impossible, depending on one's needs and wants. My friend with two Minis he's been using since he switched from XP to Mac in 2006 can't figure out how to make one of the two Apple Mail apps fetch since his ISP made some configuration changes. I tried to help, but couldn't do it either. I've been using Mozilla since it was called Netscape 2, running on OS/2, on Linux for the past decade, called SeaMonkey since the Mozilla fork called Firefox decided Internet app integration was a thing of the past. Linux, and SeaMonkey, work for me. I have two PCs with Win10. Win10 gets a little more uptime than my iMac mainly because it spends so much time rebooting and installing more updates, which is to say very little. Good things can be said about both Mac OS and Windows 10, but I'd hate to be forced to depend on either. Their appeal disintegrates when adjusted for use with eyesight well beyond teenage years. They aren't well made for adjusting to aged eyes, or much other adjusting beyond pretty but useless desktop wallpaper or custom rodent pointers. I rarely see a desktop. My 8 Linux desktops are covered by open apps. Recovery from backup in the rare instances it is necessary, is quick, because configuration is in plain text files, easy to copy and relatively easy to understand, so that only the tiny bit need can be restored instead of a whole OS if only a small disruption occurred. In Linux the DE is pretty much divorced from the OS, so I can upgrade the underlying OS whilst needing to change the way I work as a consequence somewhere between negligible and none. In Linux I can read and write to filesystems neither Mac nor Windows can. In Linux I get all my software from one reliable location that has countless choices available. In Linux behind a firewall I don't need the overhead of a constantly scanning virus defense, or the pain of an updater that decides when I must wait for it to do it's thing. In Linux I don't need to replace my hardware every 6-7 years in order to maintain a safe environment.

Many things to consider. What to choose nobody can decide for you. Figure out what you can live with. If one OS can't do everything you need, do as I do, use many, just some more than others, using the others mostly as reminders why I am satisfied to have chosen the primary OS and DE that I did.
 
Old 01-16-2020, 04:29 AM   #5
friefl
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For backup look at Cronopete which is said to emulate Time Machine visually as well as in function.

I concur with use of Libre Office. It is what I found most useful for interoperation with Windows users. Where possible (as it often was in my role), I would hand out PDFs.

I do not use Linux desktop. I am here because I will be replacing my old Mac server with a Linux server. Like you, I am accustomed to MacOS. If I were to abandon its desktop then my view is that Linux would be much the better direction in the longer term.
 
Old 01-16-2020, 04:51 AM   #6
rhimbo
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Oh, I forgot to answer your question.... I'm currently running gnome desktop environment....
 
Old 01-16-2020, 05:04 AM   #7
rhimbo
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Thanks everyone for your detailed input. So it seems that backup has several options. I will play with LibreOffice. I will try Thunderbird again and also give Sylpheed a go.

By the way, I'm not sure if I'm using terminology incorrectly. When I say "desktop" I am thinking "window manager." Is that how the community defines these terms today?

Which window manager would you say (whoever would like to answer) is the most polished in your opinion? Because I have Ubuntu currently, I'd like to try to make it work before trying Pop!OS just to save time and effort.

Thanks everyone....
 
Old 01-16-2020, 06:05 AM   #8
fatmac
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I'd say go with Linux, forget MS, Apple is overpriced FreeBSD with Aqua Desktop, (if I remember right).

I've been using Linux since 1999 without any problems, so I would think that you would be OK once you get to know it.

Desktop Environments - KDE, GNOME, XFCE, etc. (I recommend XFCE).

Window Managers - IceWM, Fluxbox, i3wm, etc. (I use Fluxbox).
 
Old 01-16-2020, 06:25 AM   #9
Geist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhimbo View Post
Hi folks,

Linux on the desktop is a toy.
So... without flaming me, please, I am seriously interested in your input, feedback, comments and suggestions.

Thanks,
Ayyyyy...
Well, I guess if Linux on the desktop is a toy then your question, by process of elimination is answered, at least partially.
Go with Windows.
If you don't want to go with Windows, stay with Apple.

...until you're bored and want to play with toys...which apparently still require weeks of configuration and a degree in system administration, but you can still play then.
 
Old 01-16-2020, 09:21 AM   #10
hazel
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Don't be nasty, Geist! Linux is a toy (among other things). A toy is something that gives you pleasure just from fooling around with it. And the more experience you have of fooling around with it, the more fun it becomes. I can play with Linux for hours!

@rhimbo: a desktop is just a graphical user interface. Every desktop includes a window manager but the big desktops like gnome include a lot more. A window manager by itself gives you movable windows and usually a desktop menu but that's all. It's fast and sleek but pretty spartan and you usually have to configure it by hand.

If you want icons, drag and drop, graphical configuration tools and so on, you need a desktop environment or DE. Like gnome, KDE or xfce.
 
Old 01-16-2020, 09:38 AM   #11
sevendogsbsd
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OP: Linux on the desktop is most certainly NOT a toy. Been using Linux on the desktop for 20 years. Some Linux distros are effort-heavy to get working right some are easier than windows to set up and require zero effort to use.

I absolutely abhorr windows so will never purchase it. I do own a MacBook and will stick with Apple for my laptop needs because it works very well. But...for my main PC, it will always be Linux or one of the BSDs because I have been immersed in open source for 2 decades now and am not going to ever stop. There is so much flexibility and choice there.

If you like apple, stick with that. If you need "office" and don't mind paying for it, I am pretty sure Microsoft has a subscription for their online office product now.
 
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:49 AM   #12
boughtonp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhimbo View Post
Lately I've been thinking that I won't buy another Mac.
Your post appears to contain lots of reasons for why you should stick with Mac OS, and none for why you shouldn't?

 
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:31 AM   #13
Turbocapitalist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhimbo View Post
When I say "desktop" I am thinking "window manager." Is that how the community defines these terms today?
Thinking "window manager" but meaning "desktop environment"

The window manager and desktop environment are two different things. The former is basically the widget set for and drawing your windows, buttons to maximize/minimize/resize/reposition, edges and borders, and small stuff like that, though some might also include a little eye candy like wobbly windows, cube rotation, and other animations. You can run one alone if you like. Openbox, Compiz, and FVWM are three popular ones out of many. A desktop environment runs on top of the chosen window manager and provides panels, status bars, icon sets, drag-and-drop, and smaller utilities to tweak both the DE and WM. The full desktop experience you are used to comes from running a DE on top of a WM. Pop!_OS, Unity, XFCE, and KDE Plasma are among some DEs to choose from.

If you want an experience more similar to OS X then you'll want to pay attention to your choice of desktop environment and run one on top of your distro's default window manager. You can pick a distro with the defaults you like and then swap in the parts you like better to make it closer to perfect.
 
Old 01-16-2020, 10:42 AM   #14
vtel57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhimbo View Post

Linux on the desktop is a toy.

Hmm... you evidently have not explored any Linux distributions in a couple decades, huh?


I've been running Slackware Linux on all my machines for nearly 15 years now. If it's just a toy, as you say, it's a very useful one.


I'm biased here, but if I was to advise you with regards to your query above, I'd tell you to forget ALL the other shit out there and find yourself a Linux distribution that is to your liking/tastes/needs and enjoy the rest of your computering life from that time on.


Luck with your choice!
 
Old 01-16-2020, 03:59 PM   #15
rhimbo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtel57 View Post
Hmm... you evidently have not explored any Linux distributions in a couple decades, huh?


I've been running Slackware Linux on all my machines for nearly 15 years now. If it's just a toy, as you say, it's a very useful one.


I'm biased here, but if I was to advise you with regards to your query above, I'd tell you to forget ALL the other shit out there and find yourself a Linux distribution that is to your liking/tastes/needs and enjoy the rest of your computering life from that time on.


Luck with your choice!
Well, no, I have not done any "serious" research into options. But I did put Ubuntu on my ThinkWare about 8 months ago just hoping it would convince me to go back to Linux. When I said Linux is a toy I specifically meant that, compared to polished desktop environments like Mac OS, it required much, much more manual work to keep it running, keep it backed up, add disks, networking, partitioning, defragmentation, etc.

That being said, I did say that I was posting my question in hopes that the community would give me evidence to the contrary. The truth is, I would love to get away from Apple forever. And I hate Microsoft for many more reasons than I care to detail....
 
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