As the whole “what happens to Unity” thing unfolds I decided to redouble my efforts in trying different distros again. I’m trying everything from trailing edge (latest Debian) to bleeding edge (Solus). As luck would have it it was time for me to refresh one of my development VMs so I decided to jump that one from Mint to Solus to give it a real world spin. My first impressions are that it is a really interesting distro and one I’ll keep playing with but there is one not-so-tiny problem that hopefully they will grow out of.
As much as I’ve never been a fan of Unity I’ve learned not to hate it as much as my host OS (and even in some of my VMs). Sure, my go-to desktops of late are mostly MATE distros or Cinnamon, but Unity hasn’t been completely unacceptable. With Ubuntu’s recent announcement of the demise of Unity and people openly pontificating on if this means Ubuntu is abandoning the desktop or looking to sell to someone like Microsoft who will then kill it on the desktop I started to analyze what this meant to me as a Linux desktop user. Is this the end of the road for that journey and therefore back to Mac or, god forbid, Windows?
Back in November I started trying to mess around with .NET again, with the twist of I refused to become Windows bound to do it. After some time experimenting holidays got in the way, then work got in the way, and as usual life gets in the way of hobbies. Today I needed to work out some standard C# code samples for interacting with REST services I had written in Java. I could have spent two hours installing Visual Studio in the virgin Windows 10 VM on my laptop, or I could fire up a new Linux VM and give cross platform .NET another try.
I’m being impatient, and it’s my own fault. I started that Linux Craptop experiment to see how much mileage I could get out of a decade old laptop running a lean(ish) Linux. That actually became my only home laptop while my 6+ year old (I think) MacBook Air was getting its battery replaced. I was going to “suffer” through it for just the few days and then the MacBook would hold me over for at least another couple of years. At this point however I’m really chomping at the bit to retire that Mac and go Linux full bore.
At the beginning of January I decided to try my hand at using a ten year old laptop running Linux Mint MATE as my daily at home machine. While there is certainly some cruft associated with using such an old machine for the most part the experience was perfectly fine. In fact I’m using it right now to write out this article. I wouldn’t recommend running out and buying one solely for the purpose, but the fact remains that Linux Mint MATE, and probably Ubuntu MATE as well, provide a great average user load experience on underpowered hardware.
I’ve been a huge convert to Linux Mint and Ubuntu for several years now. In the last year I went so far as to be running Linux as my bare metal OS on both my work laptop and home desktop. I’ve never had an update for Mint or Ubuntu get so borked up that the UI refused to function properly…until now.
Over on Slashdot there is an article about an IP saga of sorts between Wix and the makers of WordPress. While the Slashdot title accuses Wix of “stealing” code, not even WordPress’s Matt Mullenweg accused him of that in the original post. What happened is pretty simple. The Wix engineers decided to wrap a WordPress rich text control so it would work well with React Native. The Wix engineers made that project under an MIT license and then dutifully used it in their proprietary iOS application. The WordPress control they wrapped was licensed under GPL, and that is where the problem is.
With the release of the latest MacBook Pro’s Apple has finally returned to some semblance of modernity with their product line in the laptop regime. They have left their desktop line to languish at least for another six months though. That makes my recent purchase of a Hackintosh Rig (that I admittedly still happily run Linux on without even considering the need to go back to OSX) seem like an even better idea. Even with my embrace of Linux I still would have kicked myself if a dream iMac came forward, but thankfully nope! Which brings me back to the latest laptops. They are obviously a welcome upgrade to a laptop line that time forgot. They have some very neat features. They have the usual Apple Tax, in this case about $400 for a comparably priced Dell and about the same dollar price for a much better System 76 laptop. But Apple has far better battery life than either of those two machines ever would.
Is it a great upgrade? Yes. Is it worth the money? Probably/maybe/depends. Is it something I’m dying to buy? No. At this point none of the Apple laptop offerings are drawing me in. My MacBook Air mostly gets the job done, even if it’s starting to show it’s five year age. But the processor isn’t the thing that’s killing me, it’s mostly the memory limit when I try to run VMs. So to spend $1500-$1800 just to fix that problem seems outrageous. At this point I’m going to go with my original plan: play around with my seven year old Dell running Linux and then give a System 76 laptop for a whirl.
I’ve been prepping for potentially jumping from iPhone to Android for my personal phone. I’m getting sick of the quality of iOS and apps going down. I’m getting sick of vendor lock. My problem with vendor lock has a lot to do with a feeling that I’m not in control of my data. Based on what I’ve been reading, and this article on TechCrunch it seems like the problem is becoming far more exacerbated on Android with the Google platform. I could already see it with the latest service offerings that Google has been pitching with the new Pixel. As I played around with the Google apps it seems they were at least as wonky if not more so and on top of that they seem to be far more invasive about how they deal with your data. They also seem to do a lot more of the insipid “opting out” versus “opting in” problem that I see on iOS. While I may be buying into a supposedly more open platform, would I be doing it at the expense of my own data control? Do I need to look further than Android to Ubuntu phones or something? SMH.