Walt Mankowski on 25 Apr 2014 15:54:22 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Linux for Mac

On Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 04:59:01PM -0400, JP Vossen wrote:
> As lots of you know I know nothing about Apple stuff and dislike them in
> general, so many--especially Walt--will laugh your butts off because I may
> end up using a Mac for work.  :-/

Wow! Are they predicting snow for tonight? :)

> My questions are thus:
> 1. Air or Pro?  I will be driving to and staying in DC a few days a week for
> at least a while.  I do not foresee heavy-duty computing needs, except maybe
> for #3.

I recently bought a new Mac laptop, and I got the Pro because I'll be
using it at work for number crunching.  Two other considerations for
the Pro is that you can get it with a bigger SSD, and it has a much
nicer screen.  Not that the standard screens on the Airs are bad, mind
you, but the retina screens are better.

> 2. I would want it to sit in the server room connected to a 10' VGA cable
> and PS/2 keyboard/mouse with a USB adapter.  How do I make that happen?
> (The monitor is pretty old but does seem to have DVI input. It's square
> though, not the hated wide-screen.)

You should be able to connect up the monitor with a generic VGA- or
DVI-to-mini displayport dongle.  The shape shouldn't matter.  The
keyboard might be a bit more problematic.  You'll need something you
can remap to be an Apple key.  If it has a Windows key, you'll
probably be OK.  If it predates Windows keys (which it might if it's
PS/2) then there's a chance you might have to run out and get a cheap
USB keyboard.

One nice thing is that once you get the monitor, keyboard and mouse
attached, you'll be able to run it with the lid closed if you need the
extra space.

One other consideration is that most of the laptops Apple's currently
shipping do NOT come with an ethernet port.  You'll either need to use
wifi or buy a separate dongle to connect to either a thunderbolt or
USB port.  Check the spec pages carefully.

> 3. How do I make the bloody thing Linux-like?  I know I can get bash at the
> CLI and that's a good start.  What else do I want to know about?
> I know that "Linux like" is ambiguous too.  I'm typing this on Lubuntu
> 12.04, but I use Ubuntu 12.04 + Cinnamon on my main workstation and Ubuntu
> 12.04 Unity on a Mini9.  (I'll get around to 14.4 RSN...)  I like Cinnamon
> the best, but LXDE is working nicely except that I can't re-arrange task bar
> buttons.
> * Gentoo Prefix?
> * How do I get Geany, ROXTerm, probably Unison-GTK working?
> * How do I make the desktop suck less (loaded question, but I've never liked
> the Mac desktop interface at all)?
> There are also the Parallels or Fusion options.  Are there others?  I'm not
> sure I want to go there since a Mac is BSD at the core, the stuff I want
> should Just Run, and you end up a bit split-brained.  But...

I can't really help you with making the UI look more like Linux, but I
can give you some advice on command line tools.  OS X comes with a
full set of tools, but they're the BSD variants of them.  If you want
to install the GNU versions, or something else that doesn't ship with
OS X, then you'll need to install them separately.

There are 3 popular ways to do this -- macports, fink, and homebrew.
Keep in mind that they ALL suck, mainly because you'll now have 2
versions of things like cat and ls, plus all their associated
libraries.  I use fink, which is based Debian's apt.  It sucks, and
historically has lagged behind the other package managers, but at
least it's a familiar, Debian-style suck.  It also handles library
dependencies a lot better than macports.

I've tried macports on a number of occasions, but I've always given up
and gone back to fink.  The nice thing about it is that you can
compile packages with exactly the options you want.  The bad thing is
that I've never managed to wrap my head around how (or if!) it manages
dependencies and updates.  Lots of people love macports, but I always
managed to break it within a few weeks of use.

Homebrew is the new kid on the block.  I've never used it, but it
seems closer to the macports way of doing things.

One other package you'll probably want to install is X11.  Apple
used to ship their own version of X11, but a few releases back they
spun it off as a separate open source package called XQuartz.

On the other hand, lots of popular open source packages like HandBrake
and VLC have prebuilt binaries for OS X, and if you like they'll
automatically tell you when there are new versions available and
update themselves in-place.

Good luck!


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