Elementary, my dear Watson

I like Apple laptops. I had two of them. The first one was a Macbook Pro 2008 that I bought second-hand in 2009. It worked fine until the infamous GPU fail in 2012. The laptop was four years old and Apple hadn’t admitted any problem with the design, thus leaving poor users to either pay for the fix or resort to unofficial techies. I sent my laptop to Lithuania for changing the GPU and while it was there I bought a new second-hand Macbook Pro 2011. Last month, after 4 years of service, the GPU failed on this as well. Quick googling let me know that it was again due to bad design but this time Apple had agreed to fix it for free. So I delivered it to Apple service and haven’t heard from them since.

I paid half the retail price for one-year old laptops that lasted me 3 years each. So I got 6 years of usage out of a full MBP retail price. While it is very tempting to spend money and buy the top-of-the-line Macbook Pro Retina, which according to this expert  is actually better designed computer, I might restrain myself and spend that money on a top-end custom-built desktop. Hopefully my Macbook will be fixed under extended Apple warranty and I get enough lifetime out of it to transfer my files which are now locked with Apple digital handcuffs. Will my new system be locked with Microsoft or Apple digital handcuffs is yet to be seen.

While my Macbook is being evaluated at Apple service center, I had a brief look into the Linux world. You know, just for fun. To satisfy my curiosity.

I was a Linux desktop user in my university years. Heck, I even ran my ANSYS analyses and wrote my thesis with LaTeX on a Red Hat Linux version 9. I remember it being easy to install but then the battle started to configure printers etc. And the desktop environment looked not too bad and was quite usable compared to the other alternatives in 2003.

Back to 2015. ZDNet voted Linux Mint 17.2 as the Linux of the year, while Windows 10 and Mac OS X El Capitan were the more popular choice. So I installed the MATE edition and my first impression was

DISAPPOINTMENT!

Is this all the Linux community has achieved in 12 years? Sure, the hardware functions out-of-the-box but the OS does not look very easy to use nor pretty. To be sure of my findings I also tried briefly other systems; Ubuntu, Xubuntu and Windows 10. During this experiment, I was forced to learn helluva lot about bootloaders, partition tables GPT and MBR, BIOS and UEFI. While browsing the YouTube for related videos, I ran into Elementary OS review that got me thinking. I pondered, I tried, and I liked it. A lot.

Two positive findings came out of this research.

First, Windows 10 seemed to be a whole lot better than anything before that. Time will tell if the Windows 7 annoyances are still there; forced updates on shutdown (hey, I want to close the lid put it in my backpack and go out the door, not update anything just NOW), the eternal battle of using comma or period as decimal separator in different apps, and last but not least, applications stealing focus (yes, I know you have finished starting up the program why don’t you sit in the task bar blinking while I finish doing something else).

Second, Elementary OS, which is a OS X lookalike built on Ubuntu Linux, is clean, uncluttered, fast and easy to use – just like with Apple. I will leave this on dualboot (with Windows 10) to see what defects and annoyances I might find in the long term. Darktable might be the answer to replace Lightroom completely one day.

Would you adopt a penguin?

I just did by leaving Elementary OS to compete with Windows 10 for my attention. My choice of operating system has been Mac OS X because I get things done. Its intuitive to use and has good set of utilities and professional tools such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. True, Windows has also professional tools and good set of utilities but I felt that the OS got in my way in so many ways. Like why the “open file” dialog doesn’t always have consistent layout and starting point. I am able to tweak the operating system to my needs but I’d much rather focus my abilities in photoediting or coding instead of tinkering with the tools.

While I have met technically challenged persons that are happy using Linux, most people are not yet ready. I bet they are like me, they want to get their things done without a hassle. Installing another operating system to replace the one their laptop currently has is a hassle. Learning to use it… well maybe not that difficult but most Linuxes are not as intuitive as say an iPad. Hand it to a kid and he will know how to use it after 10 minutes. Being discontent with Windows is one thing, doing something about it is completely another. And as long as your local electronics supermarket sells only cheap Windows PCs and more pricey Apple lapdogs there is no real chance for userbase to expand. But if there is one alternative operating system to seriously have a chance in challenging Windows and Mac OS X among common people, it is not anything with the word Linux on it. That leaves Ubuntu and Elementary.

If you’re reading this there’s a chance that you are interested in finding alternatives to Windows and Mac. Give poor Mumble a chance! Try Elementary OS. His heartsong may not match with your current OS but his dancing is awesome!

posted: 15 November 12
under: elementaryos, Tech