Linux on my Mac

I’ve been doing an increasing amount of grumbling about the performance of my Mac, which may be unfair as I likely need to upgrade some hardware and do some file maintenance and cleanup. But I’ve also been noting some behaviour from the good ship Apple Corp that has lately been rubbing me the wrong way (disclosure: many people think I’m a perpetually disgruntled pinko anarchist, and I’m OK with that).

Going back to Microsoft is not an option, which means I’ve been casting longing glimpses Linux-way, though I have my doubts whether I have the technical chops to run the system. But it also occurs to me that I am increasingly using my Firefox browser as my interface for more and more of my apps (Flickr for photos, Writely for word processing, etc…). So when my partner said she wanted a laptop for writing we agreed to buy a cheapo PC and slap the most humane Linux OS we could find onto it. When we learned that our friendly neighborhood corner shop (named “Weblog Computer” of all things) specialised in Linux apps and support, we took that as a sign and decided it was all systems go.

Christmas came early to OLT today, as a clever staffer had ordered a bunch of Ubuntu install and demo discs some time back. To my surprise, Ubuntu can be loaded onto my Apple PowerBook — who knew? I’m not quite prepared to ditch OSX, but I am able to get a sense of the Ubuntu environment via the live demo disc. So far it seems pretty slick, and though the instructions warn that the demo disc runs slower than the installed OS does, right now it’s noticeably faster than OSX.

In this instance, I’m easily convinced. Now to find a cheap laptop to liberate from the clutches of proprietary software…

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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9 Responses to Linux on my Mac

  1. Thanks for the nudge – downloading Ubuntu Live Demo for my mac now. Wonder how it’ll run on a creaky old 8600/300…

  2. Oh, and the easiest fix for MacOSX performance problems is RAM. Add more. Whatever you have installed, it’s not enough. It also gets cantankerous when the system hard drive fills up. I’m getting nervous because my ‘book’s drive only has 6GB free 🙂

  3. Brian says:

    Thanks D’Arcy — I do need more RAM, which is why I acknowledged that the performance complaints are not entirely fair.

  4. kk+ says:

    oh oh… i want it too!

  5. Scott Leslie says:

    Hey, so I am far far far from a Linux expert, but one suggestion I would make is that before buying a specific piece of hardware, especially a laptop, do a little research online to see if there are any known issues, especially if you know the flavour of Linux you are wanting to run. With many if not most there won’t be, and it will be a straightforward install. With a few, though, the amount of fiddling to get specific components working can be quite painful. My experience was trying to get an old Compaq Presario Laptop to use wireless through the PCMCIA slot. It was 3 weeks of evenings’ searching online for drivers and help docs and I never did get it to work perfect. Definitely not trying to scare you off this, just noting that if you have the ability to make choices do a little research (on sites like for instance) to learn if there are any reasons why another piece of hardware might make a better choice. Cheers, Scott

  6. novak says:

    good luck with your linux adventure – ubuntu will work fine with any reasonably new laptop PC and wireless should be fine (it can be a very painfull experience if it’s not). You may consider asking the

    “Weblog Computers” guys to help you install Ubuntu and make sure that wireless card is working.

  7. Nate Lowell says:

    Welcome to the Wonderful World Outside the Box.

    I’ve been running Linux as my OS of choice for over two years now. I use Fedora Core on both laptop and desktop to good effect. The only really serious problems I’ve had are trying to use my laptop at work on the wireless networks because of their VPN choices.

    Don’t worry about the technical chops. Ya, you’re gonna be frustrated for a bit — as anybody would be when they move to a new country — but Google will serve nicely to find your solutions and 80% of what you need to know, you’ll have down pat in a week.

    Perhaps we should start a Linux Newbie blog and write about this …

  8. Brian says:

    Thanks for tips everyone! And Nate, once I get the machine, I’ll in touch about some sort of newbie resource (I’m thinking wiki, but am easily led).

  9. Bryan Rieger says:

    I recently installed Ubuntu on an old PC I had laying around, and I LOVE it! It takes a bit of getting used to, but as you mentioned – if you’re spending most of your time in Firefox this OS really isn’t that important.

    I had problems with hoary regarding my sound card, but upgrading to breezy made a HUGE difference in so many ways – including performance.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Ubuntu.

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