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statico (5018)

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Co-author of Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook []

Journal of statico (5018)

Thursday February 24, 2005
09:12 PM

to mac or not to mac, efficiency

[ #23364 ]

Lately, I've been torn. I love the design of the Mac Mini. I'd kill for one and a nice, clean 19" or 20" Dell UltraSharp display. Small footprint, low-noice and low-dust are things I'm looking for, since I'm getting tired of looking at a CRT at home and my heat sync is beginning to get loud. Plus, it'd deliver the speed of a solid desktop machine so that I could be as productive as possible. ...or would it?

A little background: I have a 500 MHz Mac Powerbook G3 (last model before the Titaniums) as my portable and a custom-built 2 GHz x86 box as my desktop running Debian GNU/Linux. At school I use a mix of Mac OS X, Linux (Gnome) and Solaris (Openbox).

As a workaholic, I'm constantly looking to be more efficient at my tasks. Part of this effort involves searching for the best way to work at a computer. For the longest time I thought the Mac was the way to go, with it's slick drag-n-drop and other GUI features. Lately I've been debating this, and threatening to throw Linux on my poor Apple laptop. However, I wondered if this was due to not having a fast mac. Today I put that theory to the test.

I hopped on one of the 1.6 GHz G5s in our lab and logged in. I immediately thought of what I worked the best when using Mac OS X on my laptop. I copied my fonts, my X11 settings, installed rxvt. I installed ShapeShifter to use a flatter-looking theme instead of the bubbly Aqua defaults. I installed Desktop Manager to gain some valuable screen space. I installed all of my Firefox extensions and began checking my email with

Wait a second! Terminals? Minimal themes? Workspaces? Sounds awfully like my typical Gnome/Openbox sessions! Other than, Mike pointed out that I was customizing the Mac to act like a Unix workstation. Hell, other than the sender pictures popping up with Mail Appetizer, I like mutt better anyway.

When I arrived home I did the reverse test: I set up a vnc server on my desktop, connected to it via my laptop with Chicken of the VNC and fullscreened it. Nothing but Openbox, and I'm loving it. In fact, I'm typing this entry on it now. All-keyboard is a beautiful thing --- My right wrist is thanking me for not constantly straining to use the trackpad.

There are more factors to this ongoing decision, but I'll save those for later. Right now I'm enjoying the use of a modern X session on an LCD.

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