First Post from Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa”

Talk about an early holiday gift that got me going – a nice little upgrade to Linux Mint, from 19 to 19.1 “Tessa.” Sorry Tara, I know our relationship was short lived. Hah!

Anyway, some nice features for me and one not-so-nice one was in the works. Upgrading was a cinch, going to the update manager while the computer did the rest. Awesome stuff, the easiest and fastest OS upgrade I’ve ever performed. So with that, what do I think of the new 19.1?

There are some minor annoyances but a huge gain for me. Concerning the minor annoyances, I’m disappointed screensaver support was dropped so now just going to a dimmed desktop background with a clock over it. When I’m using my computer I don’t ever let it idle long enough to go to a screensaver anyway so this isn’t really an issue. Also, I found out really quickly I don’t like the “modern” panel and vastly prefer the smaller, less obtrusive “classic” panel. No big deal, at least they still have it as an option and hopefully will keep it in future releases of Mint. I did, however, have to re-theme everything after my short experiment as your themes and settings (applets, panel buttons, etc.) are reset to default when you switch panel modes.

Concerning the benefits, for one thermoregulation seems a bit better and I think 19.1 more accurately reports and regulates the temperature of the AMD Ryzen/Zen+ processors as I’m concistently running about 2C cooler during light-to-medium tasks.

So that’s all fine and good, but the huge thing for me? Look what is now functional that was not in Mint 19:

webcam

Yep, it appears as though 19.1 added support for the new HP/Chicony FHD IR camera! For HP users who have this camera, this upgrade is worth it just for that.

With that said, since I found myself just not really using Windows at all after going to Mint, I just wound up wiping Windows altogether and claiming that additional 250GB of hard drive back. That was easy enough to do by creating a bootable USB drive to use GParted Live and deleting the Windows partition and giving that back to free space.

With that, I think for me the migration to Linux is now complete after I’ve now also kicked Microsoft out the door.

EDIT 12/23/18: I was able to get my screensaver back by installing the full version of Xscreensaver (rather than just hacks which was the Mint screensaver package prior) Instructions for how to set it up can be found on the Linux Mint Forums. Turn off the default screensaver, follow these set up instructions and you should be in business. Of course, being a Mac-to-Mint convert there’s just something so comforting about the Flurry screensaver (mentioned in a previous post) so I’m glad to have that back.

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And A Happy Ending for My MacBook Pro…

Well turns out my MacBook Pro wasn’t dead at all.

I was able to boot it into recovery mode and wipe the hard drive in preparation to send it off for recycling but my BIL wanted to try to revive it. No problem, can’t hurt right?

After unsuccessfully attempting to install macOS, I got the idea to try converting it to a Mint machine. I still have the bootable flash drive after all.

Well guess what? IT WORKED!!!!

Breathed new life into what I thought was a dead computer. Now the sister and BIL have a working computer they can use as they need. They have a newly refurbished what I’m going to refer to as a “Mintintosh” or “MintBook Pro” – either one works right? A friend also suggested “AppleMint” – that one is also good.

Talk about the ultimate “fuck you” to Apple! I am feeling so evil yet so accomplished right now. Muhahahahaha!!!!!

Re-Creating iLife (and Other Mac Stuff) on Linux

I have to admit, one of the things that initally drew me to Macs back in the day was the iLife creative suite. Some 15 year ago Macs absolutely blew everything else out of the water for artsy/multimedia type stuff with iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. Windows equivalents were ridiculously expensive until Windows 7 was introduced and then the gap narrowed considerably, though I still found Apple’s suite easier to use.

So now that I’ve made the move to Linux I’ve had to try to find alternatives, and boy did I ever succeed in doing just that. I found three programs that gives me pretty much the same functionality as iLife and the transition was very easy to make.

With that, here are the three equivalents I settled on.

  • iPhoto – I can’t speak for any other Linux distribution, but Mint Cinnamon edition comes with an app called Pix built right in. It’s an image viewer that also comes with GIMP built into it for easy editing.
  • GarageBand – LMMS has a very similar interface to GarageBand and the same capabilities. You can use real instrument tracks as well as a synthesized instrument library.
  • iMovie – OpenShot has an interface that is almost identical to iMovie. For Mac users, this is probably the easiest app to make the transition to Linux.

As far as some other stuff, for a music library manager I ultimately settled on Amarok.  I never used iWork much personally, but Linux Mint Cinnamon edition comes with LibreOffice preinstalled, which is what I had been using for an office suite on Mac so that’s no different at all.

On another note, I was able to pretty much completely recreate the “dark” theme from macOS Mojave by downloading and installing the Mint-Y-Yltra Dark theme as well as the Loki theme and the Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” default background (the whole cosmic thing). By implementing the themes as shown in the preferences, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two:

desktop

To totally round out the Mac-clone package, Mint comes with the trademark “Flurry” screen saver* you can downoad the Xscreensaver package to implement the “Flurry” screensaver that’s the default Mac screensaver. That’s kind of the icing on the cake.

Anyway, hope this maybe helps some of you new Linux users who are coming over from Mac OS X/macOS. Of course, your results might vary depending on the distro you’re running but for Mint it was really this easy to almost completely recreate the interface I knew and loved on my Macs for a fraction of the price – this HP Pavilion 15z with quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 2300u processor, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB hard drive and a touchscreen set me back less than $750 including tax and shipping. A 13″ MacBook Pro with an equivalent Intel processor, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB storage and a non-touchscreen would have set me back $2,600 before tax and shipping. Sure, this HP only has a standard 5400 RPM SATA hard drive as opposed a SSD but that’s the only real edge the Mac would have over this machine.

Oh, and this thing actually still has the function keys (instead of that stupid Touch Bar) AND has a 10 key. Mac laptops haven’t had 10 keys since…forever. On some 2007 and earlier MacBook Pros they had an imbedded 10-key that was accessible via the number lock function but that’s completely gone now too.

Anyway, I digress. The point being is try not to fear too much, a simple Google search will show you plenty of alternatives to your beloved Mac apps. Also,  AlternativeTo is a great resource as well.

Happy app hunting!

*Note: As of Mint 19.1, the only built-in screensaver is a dimmed desktop background/blank screen. You can, however, install the full version of Xscreensaver and override your default screensaver by following these directions.

Linux Mint Update

So this is Day 2 of me being live on Linux Mint and let me just say I am already in love!

The operating system is so fast, so smooth and so intutitive that it’s like falling in love with computers all over again. I’ve got everything working now except for my webcam but as I rarely use that anyway I am not too worried about that honestly.

As far as theming, I’m already feeling much more at home as I essentially themed my mint to look like macOS with the background image I used on that and setting up my “quick launch” buttons on the bottom taskbar to mimic the dock – albeit much smaller and much less obtrusive than the macOS dock:

desktop

As far as the features, man I am in love. This thing runs 3D Lift Plan (the web-based software I use for day-to-day lift plans) faster than my work computer that has twice the RAM (this is a 16 GB machine; my Dell work computer running Windows 10 Pro has 32 GB)! How can I ask for more than that? Of course, I also get the stability and security that I loved in macOS with this as it’s built on the same UNIX kernel.

Can’t you tell I’m just totally in love? I hope you can. In my opinion the various distros of Linux are the the future of computing. The freedom, functionality and stability of the UNIX kernel as well as being able to choose the “flavor” of Linux that best suits your needs and fancies just makes it the ideal platform in a lot of respects.

Anyway, time to get back to just enjoying this.

First Post From Mint!

Hi All!

I am back in business. I now have Linux Mint 19 Codename Tara Version Cinnamon installed on my new HP Laptop. Everything is running completely smoothly now (including the WiFi – it was just a matter of finding the correct source code to install the proper driver for the AMD Ryzen chipset).

I can already tell this is going to be an excellent change. The OS is so fast, so responsive and so simple I feel like I’ve been taken back 20 years in time! I’m only 31 but I appreciate beauty in simplicity and function when I see it. This definitely delivers that.

Anyway, I need to get back to work but I figured you all would be interested to know that. All is well.

First Post From macOS Mojave and First Impressions

So this is officially the first post from my computer after it got a nice little upgrade – macOS 10.14 codename “Mojave” was released yesterday and I’ve always been one to stay up to date with the latest and (sometimes not-so) greatest OS versions so I naturally jumped all over it.

So what are some stand-out features for me, the light-to-average user who occasionally does some heavy duty stuff? Well the first thing I noticed after installation was how much faster the boot sequence was. Though not nearly as fast as the new Macs with either solid state drives of PCIe storage, my Mid-2012 13″ MacBook Pro (with aftermarket 320GB SATA hard drive, 2.5 GHz Dual Core i5 and 8 GB RAM) booted up in a reasonable amount of time, compared to High Sierra which I dreaded doing cold boots from as it took forever.

I also noted some very definite performance gains – Apple seems to have lightened the operating system quite a bit. The responsiveness of my computer is much better and I’m not stuck staring at that dreaded pinwheel hardly at all. Looking at my SystemPal, it seems like the “wired” RAM (i.e. the part that is used by the OS’s base operation) stays well below 2 GB constantly:

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 3.38.42 PM

Compare this to the high 2.x to low 3.x range from High Sierra. This probably speaks to a majority of the performance gains.

For other features, Siri seems to be a little more refined and the native Apple apps have been updated to be compatible with what is in my opinion the coolest feature of this iteration, which we will get to in a minute. Before I get there though, I will say I also absolutely love “stacks” – it brings the functionality of stacks/groups that is found in iOS to macOS. It really helps keep clutter down, which is what makes this so nifty.

Now, before I get to the greatest feature of this OS, I think I should first talk about what annoys me. The big annoyance is that Safari still sucks the big one. Safari has always sucked, but it REALLY sucked in High Sierra. Every time I would try to launch it the computer would freeze. I don’t have that problem here but it does still take a big performance hit and it’s slow and clunky as always. As such, I’ll continue to use alternative browsers. I typically use Chrome for everyday use with Firefox for my 3D CAD software as Chrome just doesn’t run it smoothly but Firefox is a CPU hog so it’s not a good option for “light-to-medium” browsing. The other thing is that it still has the lackluster dock of 10.10 on. I miss the 3D Dock that was in OS X 10.9 and earlier. Not a huge deal as I use cDock to theme the dock.

So with that, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! What’s the greatest feature about macOS Mojave? Here it is…

THE NEW DARK THEME!!!!

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 5.39.12 PM

Isn’t that absolutely awesome? It’s so much easier on the eyes and it just looks cool. Dark background on light lettering? It’s a thing of beauty. I absolutely loved this sort of lighting scheme when Google debuted it on YouTube – I now run that in dark mode in all my browsers so its’ good to see Apple incorporate the same look into their OS. This would have been worth the upgrade alone, but of course everything else adds some icing to it.

So would I recommend upgrading? If you’re running High Sierra it’s a no-brainer. High Sierra is to Apple as Vista was to Microsoft – it was absolutely terrible in every way (bloated, slow, ugly, clunky, resource hog, etc.).  For earlier versions of Mac OS X/macOS; probably not a huge jump but the eye candy is quite nice.

Please keep in mind I’m not a tech expert so my words should be taken with a grain of salt, but for me, I quite like this change.