The Real Deal when Working with Linux and MacOS

MacOS by day and Linux by night, my experience with the constant switching

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In this post, I want to share my experiences from working with both macOS and Linux and switching between them regularly. My hope is that by the end of the article you will understand what are the benefits that I perceive from using each system, what are the advantages and the disadvantages as well as my conclusion on what’s going to be my OS for the future.


Why both OS?

Perhaps you are wondering why I use both operating systems at the same time, and the answer is quite simple, so I won’t take much time in here. I’ve been using Linux for many many years now on my personal devices. The first time I installed Linux it was by submitting a petition to Canonical to send me a CD of ubuntu so that I could install it, as downloading the OS was not possible back then. But even if all my personal computers have Linux running, in all my jobs (all with corporations) the default has been either Windows or macOS. For the last 5 years, I’ve been always using macOS for work.


Some things are pretty much the same

Let’s start by listing some of the things that would work out the same if I’m doing them either on macOS or Linux and then jump into the more juicy stuff. As you may know, macOS inherit from a Unix like the system and that makes it very similar to Linux in terms of the commands, security, and robustness of the system. I won’t enter in all the details here, but if you are a Linux user, macOS will feel familiar, at least when you open the terminal.

In terms of the apps that I use always, most of them are available in both platforms or I can find a suitable alternative form them, let’s take a look at them:

App Category MacOS Linux
Code Editor Jetbrains Apps Jetbrains Apps
Office Microsoft Office Libre Office
Graphics Editor Gimp Gimp
Terminal iTerm2 Konsole
Video Editor Davinci Resolve Davinci Resolve
Browser Chromium Chromium
Music Spotify Spotify

So for the most part, for what I do on a day to day, except for the office suite, I could use either OS, it won’t matter much as the software I use on each OS is pretty much the same.


What I hate when I switch to macOS

MacOS

MacOS

Keyboard Layout

Since I’m always switching, a major issue for me is the command vs super/windows key placement. For the first minute or two after the switch, I’m super confused as to what’s going on. Though seems minor, is very annoying, I use the same keyboard for both machines, and I can easily switch between them by a key combination, but then after switching the connection, I also need to switch the keyboard layout (I have a key for that), and then mentally I need to adapt to the new key combinations.

Yes, on Linux I can change the key combinations for everything, but that’s not the point, it’s cumbersome to do so as well.

App Store

Though many Apple users love the App Store, for me is just terrible. Sure it looks nice, but most of the apps I need to install are not listed there and I often end up downloading software from the web or using brew to install apps. As to download software from the web, reminds me of my times with Windows, I hate to do it, why do I even have an App Store if I need to do that right? And I’m not talking about super specific software, even basic apps like Gimp, Chrome, Brave Browser, VS Code, Audacity, and others.

Brew is pretty amazing and fills the gap, for the most part, works for me, but not every macOS user out there would use it, or even know about it as it is a command-line tool.

Android Integration

Sure, macOS loves iPhone, and all their services love each other, but I have an Android, so all the great phone integrations are gone for me. Why I miss this when I switch to mac? Well… I use KDE connect on my laptop, and connected to my phone I can receive all my phone notifications on my desktop, I can even reply from there on multiple applications. I can control the PC from the Phone, I can even control the media of either device from the other, I can transfer files wirelessly, the whole thing is amazing, probably it feels the same way as an iPhone and mac working together.

However, I’m left out of choice.

I’m also aware that there are limitations with KDE connect when it comes to the iPhone, but again, those are coming from the Apple side…

Customization

macOS is pretty much a take it or leave it OS. The configuration options and desktop layouts are pretty much set, and you can’t do much about it, and that sucks. I know it is intended to be easy and all that, but I still miss my options. On Linux, I can jump from one desktop environment to another and have a completely different experience, or if I’m on KDE, KDE offers countless options for customization, pretty much everything can be changed. It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes, but I love to have the option.


What I hate when I switch to Linux

KDE Desktop Environment

KDE Desktop Environment

Just kidding, I can’t hate Linux, I love Linux! However, there are a few things that really bother me when I’m using Linux

Stability Issues

Linux is a very stable OS, it is hardly unlikely the OS will crash, however some Linux apps, even those provided by the desktop environments like KDE or Gnome will often have troubles. It’s small things, a random popup saying something crashed and restarted, or black spots on the screen until I drag my app a bit, or for example, at the moment of writing, my clock, which is supposed to be next to the taskbar, just disappeared, space is there, but it’s plain empty, no text.

Those small things that I learned to live with, are problems that Linux should fix if want to be more mainstream.

Battery Life

Perhaps is my hardware, though I’m using a laptop with great ratings among the Linux community, however, the battery on my computer lasts less than half of what the mac does, and it’s annoying. I did everything to fix the battery issues, and I manage to increase the time a lot, however, it’s far from the comparison.

Some apps are just not there

Linux for desktop is nowhere as popular as Windows or macOS, so when some vendors create apps they sometimes forget the Linux users. It is often the case that I want to use particular software, but it would not be available Linux.

Now it’s true that most of the time there are some open-source alternatives, but this is not always the case, or it’s simply not sufficient. A key example is Microsoft Office, even though Libre Office is a very competent suite, my company uses Office, and some files won’t play as nicely when working on them on Libre Office, it is what it is. Another example is Evernote, I love Evernote, I’m a premium user, but when it comes to Linux I’m stuck with their web version (though this is probably changing soon as they want to release a Linux app). But there are many other examples.


Conclusions

Both systems are very similar under the hood, so any Linux user will find something familiar when trying macOS, using macOS from Linux would be easier to do, as probably most of your apps will be available on the other platform. However, that’s not true the other way around, if you are only a Mac user, you will probably need some adaptation period to get used to the Linux apps, as it’s likely many of them would need to be replaced by their open-source alternative.

Linux would feel unstable for a mac user, and macOS would feel too close for a Linux user. Both systems are targeting different users, and if you are a web developer like me, either system would make a great job of increasing your productivity.

The rest is just personal preference, and I prefer Linux. I’m aware of the issues, but the benefits of customization and huge app repositories outweigh them.

Thanks fo reading!

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