Why Leave Apple?

I've used Apple products for 25 years, and continue to do so. Their engineering is some of the best in the world, and their products "just work"... mostly.

But there are legitimate reasons why someone might prefer to run a different computer, or a different operating system. Although I continue to use some Apple products, I elected to make a Linux laptop a bigger part of my life in part because of the following.

Hardware

Macbook Air 13"
Image courtesy Kris Mendoza

In Nov 2016 Apple, after a long wait, updated their outstanding MacBook Pro line-up, and not everybody was happy about it.

If you can't find a current MacBook Pro that works for you, or if the "Apple Tax" just doesn't seem worth it anymore, you might consider running Linux on a PC laptop. That's what I did... and this site tells you how to do it.

Before the switch I was running OS X 10.11.6 (El Capitan) on a MacBook Air 13" with a 1.7GHz i7 processor, 8G RAM, and a 512G SSD. This was a sleek machine, the one that Walt Mossberg calls the best laptop ever built. As of late 2016, this product line has been abandoned.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
Image courtesy Dell

For my new machine, I elected to use a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with a 7th Generation i5-7200U (3MB Cache, up to 3.1 GHz), 8G RAM, and a 256G SSD.[1] Although I'm not a "PC Person" and didn't have a lot of experience choosing a PC laptop, this machine had very good reviews, and I'd seen it used by presenters at a local conference. I tried the keyboard at my local Best Buy and it felt great, so this is what I decided to go with.


1. This Ars Technica review is of the previous version of the laptop, but does a good job of highlighting the quality of this line.

Software

Apple, historically, has made some fantastic software, beautiful and powerful software. Developers, historically, have loved creating products for Apple machine because the end result can be truly magical.

In the past few years, Apple's software experience has suffered for a number of reasons:

Depending on your software needs you may find that working on a Linux machine will provide you with more dependable experience.

You won't find the same level of interconnected, cross-device support that Apple has built into their excellent and profitable ecosystem—the SMS messages I receive on my iPhone won't be visible to me from an equivalent Messages app on the laptop—but you may not want/need that either.

A focal point of my conversion process was identifying Linux programs that would offer an equivalent experience with those I was familiar with on the Mac. How would I use Microsoft Word documents on a Linux machine? What about my PowerPoint presentations? I'd used Apple's Mail.app for years; what would replace Mail on the Linux machine?

At the time I made the transition, I had actually been using Linux part-time and had learned this:

Modern Apple, Windows, and Linux desktop environments provide a surprisingly similar experience, particularly if you spend most of your day in a web browser.

Switching to Linux isn't an option for everybody. If you're developing an app for Apple's iOS, you have to run Xcode on an Apple machine. If your work or play environment demands that you run Windows software, switching to Linux is probably not right for you.[2]

But if you think moving to Linux might be a good fit for you, read through The Recipes. They'll give you some idea of how to make that transition.


2. It is possible to run Windows and even Apple OSes in a virtualized environment on Linux, but that strays into territory that we're going to leave to people with more time on their hands.