Getting familiar with Ubuntu after Mac OS X?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TigerShark, May 9, 2007.

  1. TigerShark macrumors member

    May 2, 2007
    Does anyone have any experience from transitioning to Ubuntu Linux after being a long time Mac user?

    To me, the Ubuntu has a strange appeal so I might get one machine just to play with it for a while. But, I'm afraid it might cause a great deal of frustration to me as I'm very much used to Apple simplicity and plug-and-playness...

    Does anyone have any experience to share?
  2. mags631 Guest

    Mar 6, 2007

    Which desktop environment are you looking to use? I have used KDE and XFCE. KDE, at first, was appealing as it felt more complete and similar to what I was used to on the Mac. However, I ended up being annoyed with it -- inconsistent user interface (not just background patterns, mind you), unfinished tools used to configure it, gimmicky icons -- I really felt like I was driving a souped-up, customized Kia, instead of a BMW.

    I then switched to XFCE -- it is much less feature rich, but given I only needed the Linux partition to do the odd programming task, I needed a shell that did not get in my way visually, like KDE.

    You can install both and switch between, although you then start experiencing package bloat... which is something that most folks don't realize about using Linux. I'm sure someone will argue that I'm wrong or that it is a feature of linux... sigh.

    Good luck!
  3. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    depends on what "appeal" you felt, and what device u need to "plug & play". im sure printers are ok, actually ubuntu supports more printers than OSX, but OSX is doing much better in "plug and play" of webcam and gadgets
  4. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2007
    Like Mags says it depends on the desktop. I use Ubuntu on my home machine, wife uses a Macbook.

    Gnome and KDE are both nice, but aren't in the same league as OS X. Or even Microsoft's to be honest. MS and Apple pay smart UI designers to make life easier for you. (This is debatable sometimes...) Ubuntu is great and it's easy to use, but be prepared to do some digging to get various devices and software working.
  5. TigerShark thread starter macrumors member

    May 2, 2007
    I was planning to get a laptop with Ubuntu on it since my iBook is about to drop the ball soon.

    I need to be able to connect my Ubuntu laptop to my Mac dominated home network, to surf the net and write emails from it. Also I'd need to be able to have a replacement for or Linux versions of Photoshop, Word, Acrobat, iTunes to name a few. Ideally, there should be replacements for iMovie, Illustrator, Cleaner, ImageReady, Sound Studio, Dreamweaver, Toast and - why not? - Acquisition.

    The only things I plug&play into my Mac at this point are my Sony VX2100 video camera, my Canon Ixus camera and my iPod. I also sync my contacts on my cell phone over bluetooth, but I don't want to push things. ;)

    And I was thinking of going the Gnome route... but as a total beginner when it comes to Linux, I'm open to any advice.
  6. Shadow macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Keele, United Kingdom
    Dont go with Linux. In all honesty, if you don't want to get an old iBook or MacBook I would go with Windows. Yes there are viruses, yes there is spyware, yes it is rubbish but for what you want to do, I think Windows (XP or Vista) would be a much better choice than Linux.
  7. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2007

    He's right, Linux isn't the answer for what you're doing. I'd stick with Apple.

    For surfing and email Linux is great. Even for running your MP3 collection, graphics work with GIMP, DVD/CD burning, spreadsheet & doc creation it's fine.

    But when you start talking about Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, stick with a commerical OS - for which commercial software is written.

    If you're a hacker and like to tinker with the most obscure settings and config files then Linux is for you. For instance it took me most of an evening to get my ATI video card to drive two monitors at once as one big desktop. It was extremely painful ... but I love that type of cr^p.

  8. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    But it depends on what you need the laptop for, word processing, surfing the web and getting emails Ubuntu is perfect.

    However if it's more professional content (e.g. Adobe and Macromedia comes to mind) you should aim for either Mac OSX or Windows
  9. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    I've just started to tinker a bit with Ubuntu, and really like the idea of free software. But still, I use my iMac much, much more.

    However, I was very surprised to see that there is a Linux alternative to just about every app you listed above.
    iMovie, there's Kino
    iPhoto, there's f-spot
    Photoshop, there's GIMP
    Illustrator, there's Inkspace
    Acrobat, there's, well the Linux version of Acrobat (ok, I think it's just reader, but oh well)
    Sound Studio, there's a ton of audio programs out there for Linux
    Acquisition, are you kidding me? There's a billion p2p linux programs out there, trust me, you'll find one.

    And there's a ton of other stuff too. Check out this link for a list of applications that comes with Ubuntu Studio,

    And check out this link for a look at Ubuntu Studio. It's not out, but it's a media editing centric version of Ubuntu, which looks like it's going to have a slightly Apple-esque feel to it. Not perfect, not better, not really even close, but there's something slick and familiar looking about it.
  10. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Good post and great links, I'm now thinking of getting back into Linux. I have forgotten how many good applications there are out there for Linux besides the obvious one like GIMP,, Inkspace, etc.
  11. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    I always say to switcher, with new OS, u gotta getting used to new way of doing things. in the world of linux? go get free stuff, great and free of charge, for the commercial apps u can't live without? oh well, if u have to,
    1. wine/crossover
    2. virtualbox and get windows installed in VM.
  12. mason.kramer macrumors 6502


    Apr 16, 2007
    Watertown, MA
    ubuntu is packaged by default with the GNOME desktop enviroment. The KDE environment is called Kubuntu.

    Ubuntu is not as easy to use as OS X or Windows. Linux is getting easier to use, but it is not as easy. On the plus side, you have a few great features available. One is the console (aka command line interface) which is faster and easier than a GUI for many tasks. Another is apt-get, or its gui equivalent called "add programs" in Ubuntu (and Aptitude everywhere else). Add programs is a list of all of the best open source software available for the platform. You click on a program, and the machine instantly downloads, configures, and installs the 'ware.

    The Linux kernel has support for almost every hardware device out there, even very obscure ones. It supports more hardware than OSX, hands down. However Linux does NOT "just work." There will be configuration issues, you will have to read dense and incomplete documentation, and you will probably have to edit configuration files in a text editor and possibly even knit your brow over more than one file full of pseudocode, with only an inadequate how-to guide for support. And you will probably have to type basic commands into a console. However if you give it a little time, and make learning Linux a project, you will come to love the console (well anyway, I have). And once you understand the system, it's very easy to isolate problems and also to instruct your computer to do exactly what you want it to do. Linux really stretches the boundaries of what is possible on personal computers, and I think it's a great system. But make no mistake, at this point, Linux (even Ubuntu) is for POWER USERS ONLY! don't set this up for grannie.
  13. yodermk macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    Long time Linux user here, and have also dabbled in Macs. Most posts here have some truth.

    If you really want to use all those specific programs and be compatible with everyone else, then unfortunately you really need OS X (or Windows). However, there *are* a lot of great open source programs that are pretty powerful.

    For iMovie, better than Kino is Cinelerra. It has somewhat of a learning curve, but make no mistake it is a powerful non-linear video editor.

    For iDVD, there are suites of programs that help you put together DVDs with menus. QDVDAuthor is one "portal" to these programs. Granted, it also takes some learning.

    For iPhoto, there are tons of photo manager programs, not just F-Spot.

    For Acrobat, many programs can create PDF files. can export to them natively, as can Scribus, a pretty good desktop publisher.

    I'm using Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn on my new laptop, and it is great. Most things really were pretty easy to set up. You will certainly need to invest time in learning how Linux works, important files, and the applications you will use (probably different than the ones you use now). But in my opinion, the concept of free/open source software makes this very much worth it.

    Oh, and I think Kubuntu+KDE is a *vastly* better desktop than Windows. I cringe whenever I have to use Windows. Better than OS X ... probably not, but if you add Beryl, you at least get the cool effects.
  14. TigerShark thread starter macrumors member

    May 2, 2007
    hahaha excellent!

    Great info, thanks everyone! I'm not going to make a complete switch from OS X to Linux, in all honesty I don't see myself ever doing that. I love and use OS X for work and fun. I'm happy with it. I'm also waiting for 10.5 to blow us away with its top secret features - how can I switch? ;)

    But I would like to get familiar with Linux - and Ubuntu seems like a good choice primarily because of its friendly community concept. I also think Ubuntu is going to expand into home market a lot more in the near future as people are really getting fed up with Windows...

    I can see myself using an Ubuntu laptop for net and emails and such while anything extra comes as a bonus. At the same time Macs will always be my main computers. Windows... sorry, but I just don't like using Windows. The last version of Windows I found to be good were Win2K, but they just get progressively worse since then.
  15. yodermk macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    Exactly. [K]Ubuntu is really "getting there" for an increasing number of people. Familiarizing yourself with it can only be a good thing.

    Great option for those who want to get away from MS but can't afford a Mac. :)
  16. janey macrumors 603


    Dec 20, 2002
    sunny los angeles
    One word: compiz.

    Expose and Aero may have influenced some Compiz effects, but dear god they are so advanced it makes the former two look like they were by 6 year olds sometimes.

    In terms of UI design though, yes, companies with the money and brainpower to spend obviously win over a volunteer effort :(

    gnome is fine. i actually prefer gnome, while everyone else seems to be kde fanboys, but kde is so disgusting i can't bear it.

    I almost cringed at the first statement...but yeah, it depends on what it's being used for.

    TBH I was surprised when my computer illiterate mom chose to use Ubuntu over Windows (but not over Mac OS X :D ) when given the's not a horrible OS when nothing goes wrong or needs to be maintained.

    NO. Use aptitude and synaptic, not apt-get. well...unless you absolutely have to, but debian has officially moved on to aptitude over apt-get and there's talk about apt-get removal in ubuntu.

    This is why Ubuntu is not a bad distro for a beginner as there are lots of people who have encountered similar problems or are willing to help on ubuntu forums/irc.

    Doubtful. With a bit of hand-holding in the beginning, Ubuntu is not a bad distro when the needs are trivial and very basic. Grannie doesn't need to learn how to use Synaptic when she sees a shortcut for Evolution or Firefox on her desktop and that's all she needs.

    Just a trivial disclaimer. I &^%#ing hate Ubuntu, and I love gentoo. if you have massive amounts of time and are willing to put in LOTS of effort into learning all you could possibly want about Linux, source-based distros like Gentoo and LFS are the way to go.

    Configuring kernels and compiling everything (even gnome and OOo) from scratch are not for the faint-hearted though.
  17. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2006
    this is 10 year old myth. there's millions of people out there using their PCs as fancy typewriters connected to POP servers... if one day someone took Windows from their PCs and replaced it with Ubuntu Linux (calling it Windows Vista Gnome Edition on some stubborn cases ;) ) these users would still be clueless and at least there would be less spam all over the place.

    There just isn't enough reason for Joe User to prefer iLife and Macs over a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed, that's why there's so many spiteful remarks about Linux in this forum.
    "configuration nightmares" "you need the command line to get things done" bah... this is like group therapy for people under Jobs' Reality Distortion Field.
  18. TigerShark thread starter macrumors member

    May 2, 2007
    Great post, thanks! But, sorry, I have to ask - why do you hate Ubuntu?

    Well, I did ask someone how to install the theme engine in Ubuntu and his response was a longish string of cryptic commands... or is there another way?
  19. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2006
    From the looks of it, you want to add a software package to an existing system. If that's what you want, then yes, besides the command line there are GUI tools included on every installation of Ubuntu.
    Most of the times, HOW-TO documents include the command line way of doing things because it is just simpler to copy&paste the commands instead of describing the whole process like "open Synaptic package manager, then search for the string "blabla", then press there... etc."
  20. mason.kramer macrumors 6502


    Apr 16, 2007
    Watertown, MA
    You know, on second thought, the one who said that Grannie can use Linux is probably right. It's the ones that know enough to want to do slightly less common tasks, but not enough to understand the underlying mechanics of the OS, that will get into trouble.

    However, don't listen to anyone who says that Linux just works. They're so wrong. It doesn't. If you don't believe me, it's easy to find out for yourself. If the install goes off without a hitch, you'll be staring at the GNOME desktop with that ugly orange theme. You might notice that your resolution is wrong. Wanna fix that? Going to have to hit the support forums and do a search for your specific hardware configuration. Eventually you're going to have to edit a configuration file to tell your system what monitor you've got and probably install a driver patch to get your video working right. And then you'll have to do something like that for the sound, as well. Oh wait, you want to play MP3s? Gotta go download a package for that. (MP3 is proprietary, it's illegal to bundle it). Oh wait, you use AAC encoding and have M4A files? Sorry! That codec is only available as as source file. Gotta go learn how to makefile now (this is still a console-only operation as far as I know). Wanna important your iTunes library? Sorry, but you're going to have to learn some simple shell scripting to get your music player to import all the sub-directories that iTunes makes (well, I've never used a player that didn't have a problem with checking subdirectories for files. I had to write a shell script that put a symbolic link to each subfolder into my library directory). etc, etc.

    And there is a very high likelihood that you're going to have to use the command line if you want to do anything besides email/authoring text files/playing music. But honestly, the command line rocks. It's really very very efficient for many kinds of tasks. It saves a ton of time. That's why, after ten years of console-bashing, Microsoft is now talking up its new, powerful console system called PowerShell. Gee, way to reinvent the wheel.

    Anyone who recommends Gentoo for a first timer has a tenuous grip on reality. Just my humble opinion, of course.
  21. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2006
    At Slashdot there's a story on Joe Random User trying Ubuntu 7.
    original article:

    AFAIK in the past there was little or no help from hardware manufacturers. These days I think it's not that way, and if you want to run Linux on a laptop, picking a intel CPU and chipset and a graphics chip that is not from ATI will be safe. There are listings of hardware compatibility here:
    which should be reassuring or at least allow for an informed purchase. What applies to laptops can easily apply to desktop motherboards that are all-inclusive. the 3 laptops I purchased in the last 5 years all worked 100% and I didn't even know about that site before.

    some of these issues are related to licensing terms which may or may not apply in the user's jurisdiction. By allowing software components to be added freely, the users can decide if under his/her jurisdiction it is a good idea to use said software or not.

    The reason why I insist on making these comments on a Mac Forum is that there are many items in the "help" section that are a consequence of poor, MS-centric decision making, leading to use of restricted or proprietary formats.

    IMHO from the Mac users' point of view, a personal computing "ecosystem" with a smaller majority of Windows boxes and Windows-only formats will always be easier to live in. The best way to do this is to insist on using open standards, using Linux when possible like refurbishing an old PC as a file server, using it as a secondary desktop, or just experimenting and becoming a better consumer.

    Try and see it the other way around: iPods were made to be used with iTunes, iTunes wasn't made to be used on non-Macs. Even Windows compatibility seems to be bolted-on. If you're happy using iPod as a "USB mass storage" device and you managing your files by hand, you're fine. If you want to use the proprietary features of iPod/iTunes, then you need to follow the instructions (&rules&restrictions) of the manufacturer. users should be thankful that there is a hard way around those, not complain that there isn't an easy way.
  22. mason.kramer macrumors 6502


    Apr 16, 2007
    Watertown, MA
    Here's a rip from the article you linked...

    So basically, I nailed it. However, you are absolutely right when you point out that some of these problems are the result of deliberate actions on the part of microsoft to make interoperability harder. But that isn't the question at hand - it is only - does Linux work out of the box, without finegaling? I am not trying to get down on Linux developers. I am not complaining about iTunes music directories. I am only pointing out the reality that switching is not seamless and not painless.
  23. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2006
    Yes, IF you choose the hardware according to your goal of running Linux without tinkering with it. That's why the Dell-Ubuntu deal is very promising.

    While you try to convey this with fairness, there are some expectations that can't possibly be met. If we're talking about changing a major component of personal computing experience, at some point there has to be compromise.
    With Linux a user can have Unix-like stability and functionality, modern UI, a high degree of hardware compatibility, a massive library of free software, use of open standards and it's free of charge.

    IMHO if it weren't for resistance to change, there would be more reasons to doubt the suitability of Windows and the exclusiveness of Mac hardware than to question the suitability of Linux.
  24. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    Edited for accuracy ;)

    Seriously I have never understood people's fascination with this program and why it keeps getting trotted out as a photoshop alternative. If it was a commercial product no one would buy it.

    Am I missing something?

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