Switching from mac to ubuntu

Tags: python, nelenschuurmans, gtd

My new job means a new laptop. And not a mac.

I did ask during my job interview what kinds of tools their programmers used, innocently asking whether it was an all-windows shop or… No, there was both windows and ubuntu in use with the programmers.

The new laptop I’m getting is a lenovo (former IBM) thinkpad: the SL510. The thinkpad users I’ve seen are all very happy with their machine, so I guess I’ll be just fine, too. The keyboard is rumored to be especially good, which is important to me (being the owner of The Only Keyboard Worthy Of My Fingers: a real IBM clicky-clicky keyboard).

“Do you want windows (which we’ll support) or do you want ubuntu (which you’ll have to manage and support yourself)?” Ok, that’s easy. Ubuntu of course.

Some thoughts:

  • I’m happy to use ubuntu. I’ve always used debian/ubuntu on the server. And I used debian on my work machine for about 5 years. It works well.

  • Ubuntu is almost certainly easier to develop on. OSX is 95% fine! But there are some problems. Building lxml didn’t just work. The latest snowleopard gives all sorts of strange errors due to a gcc update (which apparently isn’t a problem on ubuntu).

  • Ubuntu has the moral high ground. Apple feels a bit like selling out in some way. Paul Graham said it well a while ago. He bough a shiny beautiful piece of Apple hardware. So I bought it, but I bought it, for the first time, with misgivings. I felt the way I’d feel buying something made in a country with a bad human rights record. That was new. In the past when I bought things from Apple it was an unalloyed pleasure. Oh boy! They make such great stuff. This time it felt like a Faustian bargain. That’s a bit strong, but they did make a couple of decisions I wasn’t happy with.

  • I’m worried how well everything will work. If I close my mac laptop, it goes to sleep. If I open it, it wakes up instantly. On linux, your computer can hang. Or you have to manually sleep it. And connecting a beamer might mean you have to recompile your kernel (at least, that’s what it seems like on conferences: mac works fine, windows takes 5 minutes, linux takes 15 minutes). How well is this thinkpad supported?

  • I’m really really really going to miss omnifocus, my GTD app of choice. That’s such an elegant piece of work. What on earth am I going to replace it with? I happily paid serious money for this app: it is excellent.

  • I’m worried about my iphone. How well does the syncing with ubuntu work? Do I need to install windows to get it to sync? And again, my omnifocus-for-the-iphone app…. Shudder…

Anyway, I’ll keep track of my switch back to linux land. Lots of good things to be found there. I’ll be happy. But I’ve got some odds and ends that need sorting out. Any suggestions for GTD apps?

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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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