I bought a mac-mini today. That’s not what I originally set out to do, but it turned out to be the best match to my requirements.
I started out looking for a replacement for an aging 17 inch CRT. The monitor was acting flaky, losing some color definition until I would jiggle the VGA cable a bit, then it would come back — for a while. I was lusting after more pixels anyway, as the primary use for that desktop is as an adjunct to my laptop to display a few more windows. I bought a 22 inch wide screen LCD.
Widescreen was my downfall. The video chips on the desktop did not understand that aspect ratio. That was the final straw. Despite being several years old and running Windows XP, it had enough CPU and RAM and disk for my needs. More painful was that 10Mb Ethernet and USB 1 limited my throughput. And the CD reader is just a reader. The machine also has many things I no longer need — things like a floppy drive and a modem. But most of all, the machine is hardly “green”. In the summer months in NC on the third floor, the air conditioning struggles enough as is.
The fact that I can now test out applications on the environment that an increasing number of my friends use is a bonus. But first I need to find the command line and ssh.
There is no system-wide package management. Apple Software Update only finds Apple stuff (and a few trusted partners). Most apps will check for updates themselves, which is probably better than futzing with any of the third-party attempts at update management.
Startup scripts are totally different than Linux, and you probably shouldn’t touch them. Everything in /System is considered “off-limits” and may be overwritten without warning during any minor system update or security update. Always check System Preferences first, then search Google for third-party apps or command-line hacks, then edit config files as a last resort.
Open source: there’s a lot of it. All your favorite scripting languages are pre-installed. Install Developer Tools (on the install DVD). OpenSourceMac.org is a good starting point for graphical apps. MacPorts.org has command-line stuff, including libraries.
iTerm is the best terminal emulator. MegaZoomer can make iTerm (and many other apps) work full-screen. (Yes, Mac OS X’s window manager is so limited that you need third-party software for basic stuff like this. Get used to saying that to yourself.) Perian makes QuickTime suck less; Flip4Mac too. Quicksilver is the best launcher on any platform. Chicken of the VNC. Colloquy. Adium. Google Desktop if you like that sort of thing. NeoOffice. SSHKeychain. Tofu. Vine Server. VLC. GraphicConverter (shareware). DashOnOff. Disctop. DoubleCommand. Growl. Definitely Growl. MenuMeters. jwz has ported all of his screensavers to Mac OS X. WinSwitch if you have multiple user accounts. MacVim. Schubert-it PDF Browser Plugin. Firefox 3 with Proto theme. AppleJack. [link] Any game by Ambrosia Software.
Extreme troubleshooting: hold down Command-S during boot to get into console-only single-user mode (for example, to run AppleJack or memtest). [link] has more keyboard shortcuts, but really, if you can boot all the way to the desktop, all you need is Quicksilver.
Avoid iTunes unless you have an iPod or iPhone. Avoid Mail.app (or at least don’t let it store the only copy of your email). iPhoto is pretty nice. I’ve heard the new iMovie is nice too.
I would have bought a Mac Mini a long time ago if only it had dual monitor support (I prefer two monitors to one wide one). Who would have thought I’d ever be so close to satisfied with a computer so short on expansion options!
As it is, I’m planning on picking up an iMac soon.
I’ll echo what others have said about iTerm — much better than Terminal.app. And for email, I use Thunderbird, though I’ve had to compile my own copy to make one little change, without which I wouldn’t be able to stand using it (but the one fix was all it needed for me to be happy).
Welcome to the dark side, the fonts render much better here.
Another +1 for MacPorts, iTerm and MacVim (the one on Google code). Install the developer tools (XCode) to get GCC, some Ruby gems require it, as does MacPorts. I would also recommend getting acquainted with the half-cousin of UNIX that is OS/X. The book I’m reading is A Practical Guide to UNIX for Mac OS/X Users.
Best of luck! I’m in the trial period of switching from Kubuntu to Leopard. While the main apps (iphoto, mail, ical) are nice, I really miss having my Yakuake terminal. I’m currently using Visor, but it is quite weak by comparison (can’t split screen...can’t change width or height). If you find out how to get auto completion for your .ssh/config file please share, as that is another frustration. Oh and don’t expect any kind of decent file explorer that can handle sftp or fish. Konqueror may suck at being a browser, but dang if it isn’t the bestest file explorer ever.
Also, as I now see that Mark Pilgrim did a blog post about this hours ago, and thus realize that the number of comments you’ve received on this is probably in the dozens already: Any chance you could show just a single line underneath the approved comments saying something like "x comments currently held for moderation"? Would at least make me think twice before making yet another redundant comment during the night.
Switched! , Sam Ruby gets a Mac mini. Ask the Magic 8ttp Ball! . You are like a flower You rise and rise to the sun You do not look back at where you came from I wanna be like that #x2014 Martha Wainwright, These Flowers IMG_3302 by mary_lewey...
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