I <3 Linux.

... but can the M1 Macbook Pro sway me?


Happy Wednesday!

My first web development opportunity came from a paid internship posted on Craigslist. I was assigned a cubicle in a room full of cubicles, equipped identical 23-inch monitors and brandless comptuers. I fired up my computer and it booted to BIOS. My neighbor leaned over the wall and asked: "So, what dp you run?"

I dutifully and instinctively installed Windows, unfamiliar with any other options. I ran Windows for a few months with the normal issues, while I notice dmy neighbor running automated tasks in terminals, managing hit repositories with feature-packed GUIs, and never needing to shut down his computer. After a few weeks of blue screens, complicated software installs (ahem Python, Meteor) and mandatory updates, I finally decided to ask what my neighbor was running.

He was running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. I had no idea what that was.

I won't bore you with the details of that first install: the fear as I backed up my data, the excitement as Ubuntu installed, the loss of Microsoft Word, the joy when I finally sorted out the wifi drivers ... but over time the customization became natural and I grew to enjoy the liberation from Windows as much as my new workflow.

I was converted.

Since 2015 I have not installed Windows on any of my computers. I am convinced I enjoy Linux more for everything, including web development, content creation, image editing, and even light gaming. I had not considered development on a Mac until my current job provided one for everyday work. This is the new Mac with the "M1 Silicon", which I am told makes it very special.

First impressions on a Mac:

OK, the keyboard - where the hell are the function keys? I can live without the ins, but years of running Linux have instilled habits and custom workflows, many of which involve function keys as hotkeys and modifiers. This will be a minor annoyance to get used to.

I rarely look at the machine itself while working, since it sits on a stand connected to my keyboard and mouse via bluetooth. It took some time to notice the bar above the keys changed as I cycled through programs. They call this the "Touch Bar" and it's actually very cool. When I am in a Zoom meeting, the bar shows buttons to "Share Screen" and "Leave Meeting". When I'm in the Mail app it has buttons to forward mail and compose messages, as well as a search bar that starts a Mail search. I imagine this can be very useful, especially when travelling without an external monitor or keyboard.

So far workflow is similar.

In true corporate fashion, my new teammates provided detailed documentation on setting up my newly issued machine for web development. Many of the procedures are similar to procedures after a Linux install: ssh keys, installing git, node nvm, and setting up an IDE were the same as I've always done. I have access to some new tools, including the Charles Proxy tool, which allows you to monitor web traffic, as well as serve local files to online sites for testing. It works on all platforms, including Linux, so if I like it enough I may buy a license for my Ubuntu machine.

I will follow up with later judgments, but will need more time to evaluate before I decide if the price tag on this beautiful looking laptop ia worth it.


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