MacBook Pro: Hey, Jewel, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I've never used a Macintosh. I did not appreciate the original Macintosh at all. I felt they were charging a price premium for a system that was not open to hardware or software from other vendors. I chose MS DOS instead, then Windows, then Linux. Perhaps Macintosh is a bad idea whose time has come.

I'm working on a book manuscript about the computing environment of academic research and I get a lot of questions about Macintosh. I have to address this by walking a mile in their shoes. And I am writing it out now so I don't forget.

I came into possession of a MacBook Pro that's about 15 months old. It had another person's finishing touches on it, so I learned how to reformat, partition the drive, and then got a clean install of Mac OSX Mavericks, which was just released 2 days before I got this thing.

Coming from Linux, I was confident I could make this work because Mac is a glossy GUI on top of a Unix system.

First, note the system environment. Run Terminal, here it is:

$ cat env-mavrk-fresh.txt

That's encouraging. Still BASH. Note the PATH is familiar.

I still see trouble, but I'm making this work.

The system has some of the features I've always hated (HATED) about the Mac GUI. It is horrible that the window is disconnected from the menu bar that goes with it. Got 10 windows open? Want to close one? Drag mouse to click the window, then up across everything else to close the thing. Bad design. That's a design for the "one program at a time" era of the early 1990s. Or cell phones. I ahve lots of things open at once and navigating is much worse in a Mac than any other OS. Even Windows. You can't just hit File -> Close, you have to highlight a window. This means that using a Mac requires twice as much clicking as any other OS. Choose a window, then choose form the menu.

Another bad side effect of the design is that you are forbidden from moving a window up so that its top is out of view. Sometimes I need to type while looking at a statistical result that is in the bottom of a window frame and that's impossible on a Mac. In Linux window managers, I notice they are imitating this bad feature, they make it tougher to turn off the "Y constraint" (in compiz, for example).

There are lots of other things that work nicely enough. Here's one that is fun. You can easily put different desktop wallpapers on various workspaces. How to get there is not obvious, but if you Google hard enough, you can make it work.

First, what about X11 support in the Mac these days. Here's what happens.

You find a big X under Utilities

"An application has requested access to X11. Would you like to install X11 now?

X11 is no longer included with OS X. Apple continues to support the development
of X11 on OS X with the open source community. Clicking "Continue" will
take you to an Apple Knowledge Base Article which provides information
about installing X11.

Link points at XQuartz-2.7.4.dmg

Safari doesn't let me specify "ask me everytime" on where to save downloads.

Did some exploring on dmg file format.

Inside Xquartz-2.7.4.dmg, there is a file XQuartz.pkg

pkg is an XAR file

tar xzvf XQuartz-2.7.4.dmg

cd to .pkg file in there, the thing Payload is actually a gz file,
rename as *.gz, then do stupid minuet

gunzip Payload.gz
cpio -iv < Payload to extract it. Should learn to just view file list. Install: Aquamacs-emacs-2.5 From's download page R-3.0.2.pkg gfortran-4.2.3.pkg Verified that opening a *.R file in Aquamacs will activate ESS. Can't figure out lots of other details in the setup. That gfortran page points to other things required to build R packages. Can't figure what to do with all those tar.gz files XCode from Apple store. See the advice page on It is apparent they and the R page are not well coordinated. Each points at the other as the newest thing. See: MacTeX.pkg Lyx-2.0.6+qt4.dmg See Please note that you need to install with Control-click. Otherwise, Mac will reject you because this is not registered with the Mac company. Aquamacs will not start from Terminal. In Aquamacs, run Tools pull down to install command line tools Otherwise necessary to run aquamacs from full path. shows 2 possibles. I choose gimp-2.8.6 ###### Consider Fink installer in future ###### Need VPN access, KU wants Cisco AnyConnect, download at anyconnect-macosx-i386- ## Same issue as linux, no 64 bit client. On Linux I dropped Cisco ## switched to Open Connect. There is no way in hell I'm going to log into and go through the kuanywhere ritual every time I need a file. That's insulting. can be entered in the VPN line, one can log in. Weird, but the first time I run Cicso AnyConnect, it reaches KU and says it needs to install version 3.1.04066. please wait, over and over. Note that the KU RINGS system is incorrectly described in the ku pages. It does not check your computer. It checks your name. I don't mind Safari, actually. But I don't want to use a browser on only one platform. I read that I can transfer Mozilla profiles from my Linux system to this Macintosh. Firefox download: Firefox 24.0.dmg Thunderbird 24.0.1.dmg Those run from the Finder/Applications. So far, 2 most frustrating things about Mac are 1. It is not possible to do X11 style window move and resize. Can't click in middle of window and move with key & mouse combination. That's super inconvenient. 2. Most programs cannot be run from the Terminal without a battle. They are installed and linked to the Finder I don't mind Safari, actually. But I don't want to use a browser on only one platform. I read that I can transfer Mozilla profiles from my Linux system to this Macintosh. Other things are frustrating, it is tedious to get several terminals open side by side. Tough to cycle from one to other. Frustrating to move windows to new desktop Cant open terminal in one desktop if terminal already running in another. Trying to open terminal just snaps to other workspace where it is open. MUST have Truecrypt! Note that hits an install snag if you just double click through, it is like Windows saying the app is unapproved. So double click the package, it reveals a file "TrueCrypt 7.1a.mpkg". That will reject you if you double click. So Control-Single click (or other method of right clicking) and choose open. It will work after that. That's a problem because I don't really want a mac filesystem in a tryecrypt. The only alternative is FAT, which is bad for other reasons. Look for sshfs support Package we are aiming for is sshfs, osxfuse is a pre-cursor osxfuse-2.6.1.dmg SSHFS-2.4.1.dmg In osxfuse, I chose option to turn on the gui interface to osxfuse config and update. We'll see what problems that causes. SSHFS runs into same permissions problem because it is from an uknown developer, so use control-click trick. For Secure FTP, I looked at various. Filezilla is familiar. But I was relly tempted by the Ducky The image viewer Preview in Mac is not great, can't cycle through images quickly. I'm looking for alternatives. Word is that Xee is ok. At least it has fast cycling through images. That is a trial version, may cost me $3.99 to keep using it. Solved one really irritating feature of the Mac. I've found how to create multiple desktops, but I hate this feature. Open a terminal on workspace 1. Go to workspace 2. Click terminal in the dock to open a new one. WHAM. Mac sends you back to workspace 1. In OSX 10.9, Mavericks, there is a setting to change. Click the apple top left, then System Preferences, then Mission Control. I unclicked the 2nd and 3rd buttons. Especially, Unchoose "When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application". I also turned off "Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use." I was really frustrated that workspace 2 was not "staying put". Maybe that will help. Oh, well. That was a good try. It worked for 10 minutes. Now system changed back. The Xee image viewer can't send a program to Gimp to edit, that's crappy. Googling for "GQView for Macintosh" I found this project MacPorts: Http:// I think I'll take the plunge, see what happens. MacPorts-2.2.1-10.9-Mavericks.pkg. I watched that a long time. It's compiling a linux distribution worth of tools. GTK, everything. I tried to install Gimp, it failed on aalib, claimint that malloc.h was missing. Quick google indicates this has been an intermitent problem. One bug report suggests it is necessary to run: $ sudo xcode-select --install I think I did that already, lets try again. After that, aalib compiles, so far as I can tell. It looks to me like Macports is the equivalent of Cygwin or such, which build unix tools on Windows. These things are not native, after installation. But I've not found the equivalent of cygwin.dll or such to glue them with the OS, either. So perhaps they are more like the GNUWin32 tools. Install "caffeine" from App Store (free) Why? I started a long job and then machine turned itself off while it was doing calculations. iTerm2: a terminal program alternative. Supposed to have more Unix-alike select & paste behavior, customizable background images. Installing iTerm: copy to Applications folder. Appears no way to install for one user only? Must be all? No HOME/bin or such? Spectacle: better window manager. That's encouraging ##################################### Aquamacs slow scrolling made me wonder about the "real Emacs" and I was pointed to Vincent Goulet's website Emacs-24.3-modified-3.dmg ################################### RStudio RStudio 0.97.551.dmg ################################### KeePassX password safe KeePassX-0.4.3.dmg Supposed to be compatible with my Linux KeePassX file. ################################## gfxCardStatus for monitoring the graphics card That doesn't seem to install, its an executable you run, from wherever. It indicates this MBP has no discrete graphics card. I'm removing it. Actually, quitting from the "i" applet, removing file should be sufficient.

About pauljohn

Paul E. Johnson is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas. He is an avid Linux User, an adequate system administrator and C programmer, and humility is one of his greatest strengths.
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