A few thoughts about my experiences switching from Mac to a ThinkPad with Linux the past year. For context, I'm the founder and maker of Wobaka.com and Bootstrap.email. I work with front/backend development, design, marketing and sales every day. I code primarily in Clojure + ClojureScript but I also do some JavaScript, Ruby/Rails, Python and Bash on a regular basis.

I wrote this post for my past and future self. I was looking for something like this last year but couldn't find much.

Past experience

Growing up I used Windows and later on Linux (Slackware!). I started using Macs around 2009. So it's been roughly 10 years straight in Apple land.

Setup

  • ThinkPad T480 (14")
  • Fedora Linux with Gnome, and sometimes i3.
  • Editor: Emacs
  • Terminal: Gnome, and sometimes urxvt
  • Shell: Bash
  • Brower: Firefox, and sometimes Chromium
Neofetch dump
Desktop environment

What's been working great

It's a really solid machine. Especially for development work.

  • More performance for the $.
  • More control over the environment, like /ls/proc/<id>
  • Faster Docker
  • Emacs and programs in general feels snappier
  • Can disable webcam in BIOS when not used
  • Ports: USB-C, USB and SD card reader (for DSLR camera)
  • Great keyboard
  • Maintenance: T480 is not slim and this is for the better. I can replace/upgrade most components by myself.
  • Thermodynamics: There's a proper fan and heatsink on this one. Fan rarely spins loudly.

What hasn't

  • Battery time is not like Macs. ~ 5 hours (after one year)
  • Can't debug issues in Safari without borrowing a Mac
  • Can't do iOS development
  • Need a VM with Windows to sync my Suunto GPS watch
  • Touchpad is not close to Mac
  • Emoji support is not 100%
  • Some video conference tools can be a bit glitchy until you get the setup right

Tools I've found useful

  • Emacs
  • Gnome Terminal
  • Todoist (Homemade Electron wrapper but I believe they're working on Linux release)
  • Peek (GIF recording)
  • Kdenlive (Video editing)
  • GIMP (Photo editing)
  • Darktable (RAW Photo editing)
  • FFMPEG (Converting videos etc)
  • ImageMagick (Converting and resizing images)
  • LibreOffice (Spreadsheets)
  • Bitwarden (Password manager)
  • Evince (PDF reading and annotating)
  • Spotify (Music)
  • Telegram (Messaging)
  • Evolution (Mail, Calendar)
  • Geary (Lightweight mail)
  • Gnome Calendar

In general I think I've found a worthy replacement for every essential tool that I used on my Mac.

Staying with Linux?

Yes. It took a few weeks of tinkering but now I feel at home. Only reason to buy a Mac would be if I needed to work on an iOS/macOS project.

Got questions? I'm on Twitter @drikerf.