Migrating from PC to a Mac

This post is inspired by my wife, Urszula. Urszula’s Windows PC I nearly threw out the window.. if it wasnt for the data on it. But I did replace it with a MacBook Air! Win!

The new Mac
The new Mac

Urszula’s Windows PC (pictured above) was super loud humming and buzzing even when idle. It was also slow (time has shown its face), felt cheap (plastic build) & looked ugly (the case had line cracks) and has been blue screening every 2nd day. What a mess lol… This is what Urszula is now sporting! A sexy fast compact MacBook Air.

Slick and sexy MacBook Air
Slick and sexy MacBook Air
It just flys! SSD drive, 8gig RAM and an i7 core CPU
It just flys! SSD drive, 8gig RAM and an i7 core CPU

I take full responsibility for the PC. People form habits and it takes a lot of work to change. But it is possible. I made my change to a MacBook Pro 1 year ago after getting fed up with my “fast” Windows PC. Before the Mac I even switched to a Kubuntu OS on the PC which to be frank ended up a failure. Too unstable for a development machine. Then I took a deep dive and got a Mac. It was well worth the initial pain of learning new way of doing things. Now m

Without further ado.. here are the reasons you should switch to a mac and some tips & tricks once you do. Enjoy!

The reasons

Reasons TO switch to a Mac – the pros

  • Mac’s crash less than a PC – no more blue screen of death. So you get more done and are less frustrated. This is especially a common signal for power users. The Unix Kernel of the Mac boots up faster and runs more smoothly overall. Especially when running several tasks at once. 1 crashed app won’t take down the whole OS. It’s a pleasure to be working on a Mac while being more productive.
  • You spend hours a day staring at a street. A Mac is not only pleasing to the eye in its design (shell) but all the applications are smooth, consistent and clean. The MacOS is the world’s most powerful and attractive operating system (eye candy) dictating how using the computer “feels”. Ref Kubuntu. Yes I tried Ubuntu, Kubuntu and all flavors of Windows. Mac wins hands down.
  • Stops new users from getting into a bad habit using the worst internet browser out there – Internet Explorer. Your choices are everything but Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. I prefer to use the fast and light Chrome from Google.
  • Always on. Mac’s are fast to go to sleep and especially to wake up. Just close the lid when done using it and open when you need it.
  • Easy installation of software. On my PC I had to find the .exe install file and run it with a million other levers to pull to make it work. On my Mac I double-click I package file, pop opens a window with the app icon which it asks me to drag to the right into the apps folder. Done.
  • No need to mess around the internet looking for free apps and hoping they are not virus or trojan infected. Apple’s iTunes / Mac Store is my 1 place shop for finding, researching, installing & upgrading apps.
  • Speaking of security. The Mac comes with an inbuilt firewall and a number of safeguard. Similar to security of Linux being based on a Unix Kernel. The list of viruses designed to wreak havoc on the PC dramatically outnumber the Mac. So no need to mess around with security antivirus antitrojan antistupidy applications which hog processing power slowing down the machine. None of that PC nonsense is necessary.
  • Windows don’t do Macs—but Macs do Windows. You can read NTFS (Windows) drives using NTFS for Mac OS X and even run Windows in a virtual environment on your mac without rebooting via VMWare Fusion.
  • No more messy wireless internet connectivity settings to get a PC working. On a Mac select an available wireless network and enter your password (if any) and your online. Simple.
  • The OS mirrors that of the iPad and iPhone so user experience is consistent. Furthermore iCloud allows you to share content between all your Apple devices including SMS messaging. And AirDrop makes sharing files between Macs super easy without a network.

Reasons to NOT switch to a Mac – the cons

  • Learning curve. Oh no you have to learn how to do things differently. Ok it’s a bit of a pain in the bum at first especially that Command button but after you get familiar you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Mac Book Air vs Pro vs PC – The Pro is to the right and PC to the left. Notice the thickness diffs?

Tips

So you got your Mac and want to get setup. Here’s a few tips to make this process fast and pain-free.

Recommended software

General

  • NTFS for Mac OS X (paid) to read Windows formatted drives (think portal drives).
  • VMWare Fusion (paid) to run Windows programs on you Mac without rebooting. It even integrated into your Mac OS X should you want a smoother transition or miss that old OS.
  • Chrome Internet Browser (free) – the best browser out there, hands down
    https://www.google.com/chrome?platform=mac
  • Microsoft Office (paid)
    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/?CTT=97
  • Dropbox (freemium) – store your stuff in the cloud. You start off with few free gigs of free space. The client runs quietly syncing your files. It is the most reliable cloud storage sync app on the market. It’s how software should be.
  • Evernote (freemium) – your notes in the cloud. Evernote is a freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving across all devices.
  • f.lux (free) – it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. This helps ease eye strain and sleepless nights from the blue back light of a LCD.
  • CleanMyMac (paid) – Clean, optimize, and maintain your Mac with the all-new CleanMyMac 3. It scans every inch of your system, removes gigabytes of junk in just two clicks, and monitors the health of your Mac.
  • Little Snitch (freemium) – a firewall protects your computer against unwanted guests from the Internet. But who protects your private data from being sent out? Little Snitch does. It protects your privacy.
  • Slack – a messaging app for 1+. Most people use this in teams but you can just as easily use it at home especially if you have IoT connected sending messaging directly to Slack. It’s brilliant.

Development

  • Home-brew (free) – package manager for OS X. Homebrew installs the stuff you need that Apple didn’t. Think of apt-get for your Mac.
  • Sublime Text (freemium) – your Notepad for Mac. Its also a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose. You’ll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features and amazing performance.
  • Balsamic (paid) – a wireframing and mock up tool with a high focus on usability. Quickly come up with mock ups and easily share them with your clients.
  • PyCharm (paid) – the Most Intelligent Python IDE hands down. Got something better? Let me know.

Also check this out; a curated list of awesome applications, softwares, tools and shiny things for OS X: https://github.com/iCHAIT/awesome-osx

Most apps which you enjoyed on your PC will have equivalent Mac versions. If not just use VMWare Fusion to run Windows on your Mac and the PC apps inside that. Contact me if you need help getting this up and running.

Performance tuning

If you do not want your Mac’s performance to drop over time I recommend turning off non-essential Spotlight search results. Spotlight is the standard search on the mac located top right hand corner. It indexes EVERYTHING you do & surf on the mac. Over time this index grows too big and adding / searching it slows the Mac down.

Under System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results
disable the non-essential categories like “Messages & Chats”, “Webpages” & “Developer”.

Useful knowledge for exPats of Windows

GUI Shortcuts

The following are nowhere to be found on the Mac laptop. Only full keyboards. Use these commands to achieve the same effect:

Page Up/Down fn + up/down arrow
Backspace fn + delete
Lock your mac shift + ctrl + eject
Force app to close command, option + esc
Get out of full view command, control + option +f

Terminal commands

The mac has a terminal like Linus flavors. This is great for running some powerful functions vs the GUI that can sometimes be slower.

Find in trash find /Users/ernest/.Trash -name *.jpg
Force Safari to always open new tabs vs new window defaults write com.apple.Safari TargetedClicksCreateTabs -bool true

That should be enough to get your rolling in full swing. As always feel free to contact me if you need help or further information. If you found this post useful please share it around on Twitter or Hacker News.

~ Ernest

Making the switch from Windows to Kubuntu

I finally made the switch from Windows Vista to Linux Free Operating System. I moved to the Kubuntu version of Ubuntu 10.10 (a Linux flavour) as my development box and haven’t looked back. Well I lied, since I did look back a bit at the beginning lol. It has been a an interesting challenge mentally adjusting to new way of doing things, new tools (applications) and driver support. In the end it was definitely worth it.

And why Kubuntu? since it’s basically Ubuntu a Debian-derived Linux distribution with KDE (a prettier desktop) on-top. Ubuntu brings your slower machines to life. While Windows keeps on slowing them down. Ubuntu is a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. Ubuntu is, and always will be, absolutely free. More about it here.

Why I switched

Today all my development is open source. This means I run what I create on a LAMP stack – L stands for Linux Server. Doing development on a Windows box and pushing to a LAMP stack is like clawing your way through quick sand instead of using a ninja sword to slice through your tasks.

One day, I asked myself. Wouldn’t it be kick ass if my dev box would be close to identical to my production boxes. Knowing that whatever I do on my dev box will work in production with high certainty. Yes yes, Ubuntu popped into my mind. Which later after speaking with a fellow Linux hacker changed to Kubuntu.

As you may already know, Kubuntu is highly configurable. You even have access to the source code if you wish to venture that deep. It also has a great X window called KDE. Check out these top the winners from a 5-day competition on Facebook where fans were invited to submit a screenshot of their pimped Ubuntu desktop. No excuses about Ubuntu’s poor UI.

My customized Ubuntu desktop
My customized Ubuntu desktop
My customized Kubuntu desktop
My customized Kubuntu desktop

Linux apps to replace your Windows apps

Here is a comprehensive list of apps to replace your Windows versions.

Note: Most applications & games on Linux are open source. This mostly means free. Thus, the ones I listed below as alternatives in the Linux world are all free and can be downloaded from your package manager. I use Synaptic Package Manager (SPM). All the software here is verified and malicious free – it’s safe to get all your apps from here. To install SPM, in your terminal window type this in and your done. Simple eh.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synaptic

Securitythis one just kills windows. Ubuntu comes with a firewall built in and windows viruses – what are they on Ubuntu – non existent. All you need is software like Gufw to help you “manage” your firewall else you can do it via the terminal / konsole window.
In your terminal window type this in and your done. This cannot get any harder 😉

sudo apt-get install gufw

And if you want hard-core detail on securing Ubuntu, read this post covers the process of securing and hardening the default Debian GNU/Linux distribution installation.

Applications… the following let’s use “Synaptic Package Manager”.

Purpose Windows Linux
Development
Code editor Notepad++ gedit
SFTP, FTP and SCP client WinSCP FileZilla
Telnet/SSH Putty OS Konsole /
terminal window
Code compare Beyond Compare Kompare
MySQL manager and admin tool SQLyog MySQL Workbench
Virtualization VMWare VirtualBox
Multimedia
Video player Windows Media Player VLC
Video editor Sony Vegas Kdenlive
Organize, share & edit your photos Picasa Picasa /
Gwenview
Photo editor Photoshop GIMP
Audio player Windows Media Player Amarok
CD/DVD burner Nero K3b
Other
Office (word, excel, powerpoint etc) Windows Office OpenOffice /
Google Docs
File browser Windows Explorer Dolphin
Internet browsers Chrome Chromium
Antivirus & Firewall Take a pick lol Gufw to manage your Firewall
Silverlight MS Silverlight Moonlight

Additional stuff you can install to make your Kubuntu experience pleasing:

Don’t forget to use your Synaptic Package Manager to look for these apps first. Only when you cannot find them there click on the title of each app below to take you to the website hosting the app and instructions.

  • Docky – shortcut bar that sits at the bottom, top, and/or sides of your screen. You can make it look and behave like mac’s bar.
  • KSnapshot – simple & powerful easy to use screen capture program.
  • Ubuntu Tweak – tweak Ubuntu’s desktop and system options that the default desktop environment doesn’t provide.
  • Beagle – advanced desktop search.
  • FreeMind – premier free mind mapping software written in Java.
  • Etherape – graphical network monitor.
  • Other code editors:
    • JetBrain. Their professional developer tools are kickass! I have trialled their PHPStorm & ReSharper with positive results. They also have editors for Ruby & Python (shakes of excitement). It’s not free but they do have trial versions available for download.
    • Eclipse. Open source IDE editors written in Java.
  • Dropbox – Online backup, file sync, and sharing made easy. Get it here: http://db.tt/QDC0nvU
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras – Essential software which is not already included due to legal or copyright reasons. Gives support for MP3 playback and decoding, Java runtime environment, Microsoft fonts, Flash plugin, DVD playback, and LAME (to create compressed audio files).
  • Adobe Flash & Adobe Air so you can run web applications like TweetDeck.

Missing Windows app/s?

If you still miss or cannot find your favorite Windows applications on Kubuntu, you install Wine to run them on Kubuntu. Wine is a program that offers a compatibility layer allowing Linux users to run some Windows-native applications inside of Linux. You can get Wine from Synaptic Package Manager / package manager or by following the instructions here.

Stuff I still need my Windows box for

  • Photo editing – Photoshop and Lightroom and
  • Video editing – Sony Vegas (goes with my Sony HD cam). The Linux alternative Kdenlive just dosent cut it.

With time I’m sure a super duper speced up Mac (with Dual boot for Kubuntu) will replace both my laptops. Now I need to sell myself why I should move to a Mac and pay double the price for hardware.

PS. If you have suggestions or additions to this post please comment below or contact me.

Happy hacking!

~ Ernest