My recent reinstall of Ubuntu 21.04 (to fix some driver problems) reminded me there is more to the world than XMonad. I played with Gnome Shell 3 for a day, and it’s all right. I don’t hate it (and I didn’t hate Unity either).
When I first switched from OS X to Ubuntu for my daily development work, one of the things I missed a lot was Divvy. “Window throwing” is the purpose of Divvy (and Spectacle, which I later replaced it with). With a single keyboard shortcut, I can make the foreground window fill the right half of the screen. Or the left half. Or the bottom right quadrant. Or the whole screen. Any rectangle I care to define.
Last summer I switched from OS X to Ubuntu for my day-to-day work. It’s gone well. Here’s a condensed rundown of some of the things I’ve noticed. Things I miss when using OS X: ctrl key on both sides of the keyboard one-key app switching System-wide package management ctrl-alt-T default to bring up a new terminal Things I miss when using Linux: Selecting menu items by typing their first letters Emacs-compatible key bindings in text fields LaunchBar Consistent mic support across applications Full-fledged Exchange integration (still haven’t bothered to get davmail running) Cross-platform bright spots:
In July, I switched from OS X to Ubuntu as my workday environment. For three years my personal MacBook Air had been pulling double duty, personal computer plus workstation at my job (each role with its respective user on the box). When the combined demands for disk space exceeded the 250GB SSD, I took that as a sign that it was time for a change. I work outside my office enough that an external HD wasn’t a practical solution, and a USB key is too slow.
During a quest for things that might make using my spare laptop – an old 800MHz, 256MB thing running Ubuntu – a more zippy experience, I came across “wmii”. It’s a lightweight tiling window manager with a lot of auto-sizing and keyboard control features. I’m really liking it. This laptop has never felt so responsive. Other similar tools include dwm, xmonad, Ion, and ratpoison. Of the lot I’ve only tried dwm, which was cool but a little too minimal (its customization method, by design, is edit-source-and-recompile).
During the same period that I thought I’d be playing a lot with an old Dell laptop running Ubuntu Linux (but haven’t), several notable Apple fans have made, or are seriously and publicly considering making, the jump from OS X to open-source operating systems like Ubuntu. Mark Pilgrim led the way. (He does work for IBM, though he’s gotten remarkably few snide remarks about that in the comments.) Cory Doctorow is talking like he’s about to do it as well.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a review-like essay on six weeks spent using FreeBSD and KDE as my primary desktop system – when I was between PowerBooks. As hinted at in a recent post, I now have a second machine alongside my 15" PowerBook. It’s an old Dell Inspiron 4000 running bleeding-edge Ubuntu 6.06. This includes GNOME 2.14 with the Deskbar – which gets compared to Quicksilver but is more like a hybrid of Spotlight and LaunchBar.