Linux for the Macbook?

           I have a Macbook Pro, which I enjoy using. Credit where credit is due, it is a good machine. I’m in two minds as to whether I’d get another, but this one ain’t broke so I don’t have to answer the question just yet! I also like OSX, mostly. There are some things I’m not keen on, but like my windows machine before, there are some things I cannot do on Linux, such as Logos Bible software.

On to the question of Linux for the Macbook. Which flavour to go for and why? I cut my teeth on Red Hat 7.1 (which I still have!) and moved to Debian via SimplyMepis. I have tried many others including Ubuntu. For those who are not sure about what I’m talking about there are some websites that go into more detail than I care to here, like Fedora was first on the list so I tried that. It worked well and Fedora 20 is a great improvement over previous versions as this time it felt spritely and the update and package manger were also improved (compared with Fedora 17). But then came “systemd”. This is the new init (basically boot up) system developed by some Red Hat developers to replace the existing aging init system. The problem with systemd is its mission creep. Its slowly becoming the “start” system for everything, and there are some things becoming dependant on it which (in my opinion) shouldn’t be. The Unix philosophy is for lots of small bits to do things exceptionally well, so if one bit falls over or fails it doesn’t take everything else with it. If any part of systemd falls over, it’ll take the whole OS with it. Not good for mission critical systems.

          Unfortunately most of the Linux distros are moving this way, which is a real shame. So if not fedora then what? Of the main Linux flavours it would appear that Debian and Ubuntu offer long term support versions which don’t have systemd, so I’ve gone for Xubuntu LTS (14.04). This will use upstart init system for its lifetime and hopefully by then the mess of systemd will be sorted and Ubuntu might see sense and open source upstart! Even with this I noticed there were “systemd” patches installed to allow apps dependant on systemd to work with upstart. Sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

          Ubuntu and therefore Xubuntu installs easily along side OSX. The only thing to remember is OSX likes to have space between partitions and without these OSX wont upgrade, but it appears the Xubuntu install takes this into account – a nice touch. Once installed it just remains to reconfigure “refit” so Xubuntu can boot. Proprietary drivers are required for the Broadcom wireless connection and Nvidia for the graphics which Xubuntu has you covered – just install and go! Easy.

         And as far as the work I do on the Macbook is concerned, I use mainly Linux and then only OSX when I have too. Its good to have it around. I would love to go fully open source but some of the stuff just isn’t ready yet. I don’t think its too far away now.
Next: to configure Xubuntu for developing Android roms for the Asus TF201.

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