Introducing an iMac into a Linux household

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by davedrowsy, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. davedrowsy macrumors newbie

    davedrowsy

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    #1
    Hello everyone,

    First post here! My wife and I just got an iMac, I believe a 2009 (not able to check right now), and were pretty excited about it. I have some ideas about what I want to do with it, and I was wondering if you guys can show me how. I'm especially interested in any insight from people who use both Linux and Mac computers on the same network. We're both pretty new to Macs, coming from a Linux background. My wife incidentally also just recently got an iPad Mini and a Macbook, which she loves, and I still quite enjoy Linux and run it happily on my Lenovo laptop. We got the iMac because we wanted a good desktop computer with solid specs, and particularly because my wife does a lot of video editing, which of course Macs are great for.

    Here are my questions:

    1) Do you guys have any general tips/tricks for transitioning from Linux to Mac? I've played around on Macs before, but never owned one, so that beautiful machine sitting in our office is kind of foreign to me :)

    2) Is there anything I need to know about networking Linux and Mac computers over our WiFi network? We don't have an Airport router, it's an old Linksys thing that has served us quite well so far. My wife has no problem using it with her iPad and Macbook. I'd like to be able for us to transfer/share files over the network with the iMac, Macbook, iPad mini, my Linux laptop and my Android phone.

    3) I've been using my laptop as a DLNA media server so we can watch movies on our TV using our Xbox 360, and I'd like to transfer that responsibility to the new iMac -- that way I don't have to make sure my laptop is on every time we want to watch something. I'm currently using Plex on my laptop. Does anyone have experience with Plex on an iMac? Does it work when the computer is sleeping / Do I need to change any power settings on the iMac to get it to always be available for streaming? Any other recommendations for DLNA software on a Mac?

    4) I want to keep my music collection on the iMac, but I hate iTunes. Are there any good alternatives? My main concern is not having my media player automatically control the locations and filenames of my mp3 files, or re-encoding them to other formats, etc. I essentially want our iMac to leave my music library alone and just let me view my library and choose songs, without actually changing anything about how it's organized on the hard drive. :) What I'd also like to do is store all of my music on the iMac's hard drive, and then be able to access it using my Linux laptop over the network whenever I want to listen to it and I'm in another room, etc. Is this pretty doable?

    Thanks, looking forward to your insight!
     
  2. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #2
    If you're lazy and don't want to figure all that out, you can just run GTK or Qt programs on OS X via X11 and MacPorts or Homebrew.
     
  3. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #3
    1. Trust me get the book The Missing Manuals for OS X. Trust me when I say this will Make your a Mac intermediate and make a great resource book with some humor mixed in.

    2. On Mac use the BootCamp to install Linux and/or also look at Fusion and/or Parallels so you can run both at the same time.

    3. OS X does NOT have DNLA. OS X has Airplay (IMHO DNLA is a copy of Airplay).

    4. Just decide on your your choice for that function.
     
  4. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2011
    #4
    I've got an iMac and a Linux laptop and haven't had any trouble transferring files over the wifi. This may not be the most elegant way, but I turned on ftp service on the iMac, log in as me from the laptop, then my iMac's drive just appears in a window in the laptop's file manager, and I can shuffle files back and forth. Does what I need it to do.
     
  5. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #5
    This is definitely an option, but why bother running a full-fledged Linux OS when you can run a majority of Linux apps via X11/MacPorts/Homebrew?

    Educate yourself. DLNA (not DNLA) is supported by OS X via third-party software. One being Plex, which the OP mentioned.

    ----------

    To the OP: to save you time searching, here is the link to download X11 for OS X (called XQuartz);

    http://xquartz.macosforge.org/landing/
     
  6. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #6
    I went from Windows to Linux in 1998. In 2005 I went from Linux to OSX when the Mac mini came out and OSX became "affordable" in my point of view.

    At that time I owned several Linux boxes, several Windows boxes (for the rest of the family), several NAS drives (from Buffalo), and a string of troublesome routers from Zyxel, Netgear, Linksys and Dlink. I was also walking around with a Palm Treo and then a Blackberry AND had to dig out my Canon point and shoot camera for special events.

    Fast forward to today. I now have an all Mac household, with the exception of my NAS drives which are Synology. It turns out DSM is Linux. My drives are the cheaper arm-based units so I can't run x86 Linux apps but for me this is not a problem. I now have an Airport Extreme for my router and guest network but I use D-link access points to get wifi to every corner of my home, including the back yard and driveway. All my previous routers got into cat fights with Comcast about once a month and I had to trudge to the basement to reset both the cable modem and the router. I have only had to do this once in the 20+ months I've owned an Airport Extreme. I still have a couple of Linux boxes and I can run Linux or Windows (when I need to) on my Mac inside the freeware Virtualbox. I love the way Photostream gets all my photos from my iPhone 5 automagically to my iPad and my Mac now that my iPhone 5 is my main camera.

    I find terminal in OSX bash shell to be almost identical to Linux. Sure some system config files are moved but so what. I mean /etc is now /private/etc. That's not a lot to trip over IMHO.

    Now to move on to your specific questions...

    1) OSX is curated Linux. No more sudo apt get in terminal to download software. It all shows up automagically in Mavericks. Simply turn on auto updates and you can forgetaboutit.

    2) Apple natively used AFP... Until Mavericks. Now Apple is quite happy with SMB shares even for Time Machine. So it is abundantly easy to share files between Macs and Macs, Macs and Linux boxes and even Macs and Windows boxes. Of course there are still options like nfs and ftp. I wrote a bit of freeware to bring back the plain old ftpd server in OSX that Apple took away back in Lion. This allows ancient peripherals like 8 year old network scanners and cameras to put files directly on your Mac. Of course Synology NAS drives support ftp as well if you don't want to tinker with OSX.

    3) I prefer to run things like media servers from my NAS boxes. Synology DSM includes this option (though it is not turned on by default). If you want to serve stuff from your Mac, I recommend installing and running Plex (freeware).

    4) I refuse to deal with iTunes (other than for OSX and iOS apps). All my music is in mp3 format either ripped from my cd, lp and 78 collection, or purchased from Amazon. I use Amazon cloud player which puts my music on my iThings for offline playback. While not as nice as the native music player on iThings, it's good enough and all my DRM-free stuff is on every device I own whether those devices were made by Apple, Samsung or somebody else. All my movies are in m4v format, ripped from dvd's which are stored (for legal purposes) next to the 78 rpm records and buggy whips in my basement.

    Welcome to "Curated Linux!" :D :apple:
    hope this helps...
     
  7. davedrowsy thread starter macrumors newbie

    davedrowsy

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    #7
    Thanks so much, everyone, for your input! r0k, your advice is particularly helpful, thank you. I'd be happy to hear any additional tips / insight that anyone else has!

    My file manager in Linux supports Samba shares, so it sounds like if I upgrade to Mavericks, it should be simple to share stuff back and forth between my iMac and my Linux laptop.

    I like Plex, so I'll probably just install it on the iMac and see how it works.

    As for an iTunes alternative, it actually turns out that my media player/music library organizer of choice, Clementine, has an OSX version as well! Sweet! I wonder if I can manage my iPod Classic with it, or if I'm stuck having to use Linux for that? This might be a stupid question, but if I plug my iPod Classic into the iMac, will it see that I have no iTunes Library and try to synch it (wipe it clean)? I've always heard that you shouldn't plug your iPod into anyone else's (Mac or Windows) computer with iTunes, unless you want to risk it trying to synch your iPod and deleting everything on it. I could always just stick with using my Linux laptop to manage my iPod, but it would be cool to be able to do it on the iMac too, without having to resort to using iTunes.

    It's really cool that you can run GTK/Qt programs on a Mac -- it's handy to know that I can possibly run any GTK/Qt programs I enjoy on my Linux laptop, on the iMac.

    So much to learn!
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #8
    1. Although they share many similarities, Mac OS X is NOT a Linux variant. (reference: http://scalibq.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/apples-os-x-is-not-linux/ )

    That being said, transitioning should not be a problem.

    2. Networking is networking. Everything follows well established standards and I doubt you will have any issues here either. It doesn't matter if you're using a Linksys router or an Apple AirPort, 802.11b/g/n is 802.11b/g/n.

    3. I experimented with DLNA and my Xbox several years ago and found it to be less than satisfying. The app that I was using was PS3 Media Server. I don't know how much it has advanced since I last tested it, but, again, it left a lot to be desired.

    I ended up setting up a nettop running XBMC (XBMCbuntu flavor) to play content from my NAS and have been extremely pleased with the experience. I have since transitioned to a Raspberry Pi running XBMC (OpenElec) for it's low power usage.

    4. I can't help in regards to iTunes. I just use iTunes as it was designed to be used.

    If you choose to not use iTunes at all, there's no reason why you can't use your iMac as a file server which your laptop can access for music files. It can be easily set up in OS X'es System Preferences.
     
  9. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #9
    Agreed. Sorry if I caused any confusion. OSX is based on NextOS which was on BSD Unix. What I meant was that OSX is Unix and because it is so well curated by Apple, from an end user perspective it is as if it was curated Linux. I find that my Synology DS112J uses 6 watts on standby and 18 watts peak so that's "good enough" for me these days. I'm thinking of resurrecting my old G4 Mac mini to use as a media server. I use "smart TVs" which recognize DLNA but I grow tired of LG and Samsung menus and I would be willing to run iTunes on my G4 mini in order to use AppleTV instead of the awful awful user interface of these smart TVs I have. But it's not a problem I'm in a hurry to solve so I live with Synology DS running DLNA and Plex and I live with LG's (relatively) awful menus.

    I also agree about the router except that there is one bonus for running a Time Capsule as a router. If you have a houseful of Macs like I do, it caches OS updates. This would have been a huge help when my wife's Mac mini crashed some months back as I had to sit through 5 gig of OS updates at a time when Comcast had my so-called 24 Mbit service choked down to 1 Mbps. I guess all my neighbors were home streaming Netflix or something. I own a TC but I don't currently use it as a router. In fact I only use it for TM backups which btw I don't rely on as my only backup.
     
  10. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #10
    I have a Samsung TV that's about 3-4 years old that also supports DLNA but I found the menus extremely laggy and have given up on trying to make use of any of the "smart" features.

    I don't know how well a G4 Mac Mini will be able to play some contents, i.e. high bit rate 1080p videos. My choice to go with a nettop and later with a Raspberry Pi as my HTPCs were due to low power consumption and the brilliance of the XBMC software. As far as I know, the Raspberry Pi TDP is under 5W (it is powered by USB). It also runs silent since it is fanless.

    One of the great features of XBMC is its ability to act as an AirPlay client. That means that, for example, if I have a movie on my iPhone, I can stream it to my TV just by clicking the AirPlay button on my iPhone. It works wonderfully. Also, since you have a Synology (I'm assuming you have your media content stored there), you can just point XBMC to the NAS and it will play directly from there without need for transcoding (XBMC supports just about every Codec you can image, however, the Raspberry Pi version does not support RMVB while the x86 versions of XBMC do).

    At a cost of $35 (a few bucks more if you purchase it with a case and power adaptor) the Raspberry Pi really seems like a no brainer to me. Low power consumption, silent operation, hardware video decoder.

    I neglected to consider Time Machine backups regarding routers. I'm spoiled by having a Time Machine drive in my Mac Pro. Given that davedrowsy has two Macs (iMac and wife's MacBook) plus a laptop running Linux, it may be a better idea to purchase a NAS that can serve as a backup drive for all three. Since Time Machine requires 1.5x the capacity of each Mac's startup drive, a NAS of appropriate capacity would probably be a more affordable alternative to a Time Capsule.
     
  11. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    A bit off topic but...

    The answer to that, at-least when I tried is that it struggles with 720p content let alone 1080p. Well on my Mac mini G4 1.42GHz that is.
    However as a media server it should be fine, assuming that the older version of iTunes works with the AppleTV.

    The Raspberry Pi itself should only be consuming something like 2W, but you are pretty much correct as due to inefficiencies in the 5V adapter (mobile phone charger or other power supply) the total power usage will be something like 4-5W. At-least this is around what I measured with mine.

    Cost wise for the Raspberry Pi, it is cheap until you add on a case, power supply, SD card, mouse and keyboard (can remote manage by SSH so not essential) and/or a remote control (may need an IR receiver or Bluetooth adapter), and WiFi adapter if you need it.

    At that point it may be cheaper and easier to buy a prebuilt media player like a Roku or even an AppleTV, depending on whether you already have the spare parts to go with the Raspberry Pi or not.
     
  12. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #12
    Yes, the costs of a Raspberry Pi can add up a bit, but can still remain very inexpensive. Prior to the Pi, I was using a Atom/Ion based nettop running XBMC as my HTPC so I had a remote (I think I paid $8 for it) and, as you said, SSH works well enough that keyboard/mouse can be avoided entirely. I never even attempted to use Wifi for fear that it would not be fast enough to stream the content from my NAS. I eventually switched from the nettop to Pi primarily based on power consumption. The XBMC UI on the Pi isn't quite as smooth as the nettop and I can't use some of the more advanced skins but I chose to live with the slight compromises.

    I never tried a Roku, so I can't comment on how well it works. When I first began considering an HTPC, the AppleTV didn't support 1080p (newer models do) and was quite limited in terms of codecs, so I didn't give it much thought.
     
  13. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #13
    OS X is still UNIX in its core. I normally use Linux (Elementary Luna) along with OS X on my desk.

    It's all too familiar if you frequently use Terminal. Most of everything is still there in OS X (good thing I don't have to bother with apt-get anymore though), although OS X is closer to FreeBSD.

    And by the way...
    MacPorts's advantages:
    • Officially supported by Apple, so they have the best-maintained build servers providing binary packages
    • Used as the official package manager of the PureDarwin project
    • Most powerful in terms of number of different command-line flags available
    • Most verbose output of the 3 (with the -d flag) (yes, I consider this an advantage of it)
    • Has many useful subcommands that the others don't (check port help for a list and compare)
    • Has the most complete handling of launchd plists; just do port load or port unload to start a port's launchd daemon.

    Homebrew's advantages:
    • Hosted on GitHub, so it's very easy to contribute new formulae to
    • Seeing the most growth of the 3, as it's what all the "cool kids" use nowadays
    • Brew diy makes it easy to use non-Homebrew projects with Homebrew
    • Brew tap makes it easy to add additional sources, something that requires editing .conf files with MacPorts.
     

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