Journey to Linux
Latest update: 2021-04-14
Over the last couple of months, I embarked on a journey to completely move my computer life over to Linux. 🤓
I was rooted knee-deep in the "Apple ecosystem" for more than 20 years and actually couldn't be happier with my current setup:
- 2018 i9 6-Core MacBook Pro
- 2019 Xeon W 12-Core Mac Pro
The reason behind my plan or intention to move to Linux is the simple fact that I realized once more (but this time more clearly) that the direction Apple (and big tech in general) is headed to does not at all match with the values I personally have for humanity and our planet. Ultimately it's about freedom!
I guess it is worth mentioning that Apple is still a company with which I associate many positive things too. The designs and the manufacturing quality of their products are IMHO still second to none. I also still like Apple's "Human Interface Guidelines". In my opinion, there is no other software platform that is so congruent in everyday life and whose user experience is consistently high-quality. Not to mention the really good support via "Apple Stores" and service professionals around the world etc.
Steps so far:
- First I had to prepare my Mac computers for Linux. I had to disable "Secure Boot" and "allow booting from external media" via the "Startup Security Utility" on both my MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro.
- For the transition phase, I bought a fast external SSD and installed the Linux distribution that appealed to me the most onto this SSD. I chose Manjaro Linux because it is developed by a community instead of a corporation and because I like its "rolling distribution approach". As the desktop environment I chose GNOME.
- To install Manjaro on the SSD I used the command-line tool "dd" on macOS to create a bootable Manjaro install USB stick with the previously downloaded Manjaro GNOME ISO. I booted from said install USB stick by holding down the option key on one of my Macs. This engages Apple "boot manager". I choose the USB disk as the boot volume and was then finally able to install Manjaro onto the external SSD.
- With this setup, I am able to boot and use Manjaro on both of my existing Apple computers via the Manjaro SSD.
- I made a list of the apps I use most often on macOS and started to research and test Linux alternatives. Here is a partial list of the most important macOS apps and my Linux alternatives:
- 1Password > 1Password
- Acoustica > no alternative selected so far
- Affinity Designer > Inkscape
- Affinity Photo > GIMP
- Atom > Atom
- Audirvana > Quod Libet
- Bitwig Studio > Bitwig Studio
- Carbon Copy Cloner > rsync
- DaVinci Resolve > DaVinci Resolve
- Firefox > Firefox
- ForkLift > FileZilla
- iA Writer > Apostrophe
- Icon Slate > no alternative selected so far
- IconJar > no alternative selected so far
- IINA > totem
- Karabiner Elements > key-mapper
- Keynote > LibreOffice Impres
- Loopback > JACK
- Meta > Ex Falso
- MindNode > no alternative selected so far
- Moom > gTile
- Numbers > LibreOffice Calc
- Pages > LibreOffice Writer
- Parallels Desktop > Boxes
- Pastebot > GPaste
- Photos > Darktable
- Reeder > NewsFlash
- Screens > Boxes
- Sketch > Figma
- Snagit > Kazam
- Sononym > Sononym
- Thunderbird > Thunderbird
- Tower > GitKraken
- Transmission > Transmission
- Tweetbot > Cawbird
- For many of the macOS apps, I was able to find viable Linux alternatives already.
Some of the publishers (open source and closed source) even follow the honorable approach of strict cross-platform development. However, I can't deny that some of the macOS apps I use, know and love truly are exceptional pieces of software and that it isn't always easy to replace them with something new/else (Affinity's Photo and Designer are good examples for that). At the same time I often was super stunned about the quality of many open source apps I have discovered so far.
- Although the journey overall was super enjoyable and productive, there were also a few obstacles, some of them even insurmountable:
- All of my Universal Audio audio interfaces are incompatible with Linux. Update: I found an awesome solution in the meantime, see "Class compliant audio interface).
- Most of my audio plug-ins are incompatible with Linux. A few honorable exceptions are:
- I am having a blast with Linux so far! It is extremely fast, reliable and for most parts beautiful as well. I already customized many areas of the OS and UI according to my liking. 🤓
- Of course, there where many little issues along the way that didn't make it into this post and made me learn quite a couple of new things. ;)
Still, it seems like I am going to be dual-booting Linux and macOS for the foreseeable future, with the clear aim to shift more and more to Linux.
- Update: In the meantime I totally fell in love with Linux and I am now working almost a 100% with Manjaro. 🤩
- I hope that more publishers will follow a true cross-platform approach in the near future. 💕
- I wish that more users will start to look into Linux as their primary OS and that they will support open source projects with donations and code. 💕
- Also, I hope that companies like Apple will realize that in order for humanity to heal itself and the planet, greed and control mania must be taken out of their business model. In whatever direction those companies might transform themselves, I hope they will follow a concept originating from the hearts of the great people working there. 💕