Today’s the day. After a miserable experience trying to handle an interview last night with an old Mac that is apparently drowning in molasses (huge lag issues, computer fans howling while I was running nothing but Zoom), I decided that today was the day I had to do something about it. My first thought was a clean wipe, erasing the drive and reinstalling the system and restoring from my backup, but that was going to take many hours and wasn’t a guarantee that the problems would be repaired. Then I took a hard look at my laptop: keys falling off, blotchy dead spots on the screen that only display green, dinged-up case, and a power cable that’s a frayed fire hazard. If I have to, I could make do with it for some undeterminable time longer before it died outright, but it’s frustratingly ugly and unreliable.
I could just buy a new Mac laptop, but I browsed the Apple store, and yikes, a Macbook Pro would set me back $2500-$3000. Nope. By the way, it’s the first of the month, so on top of paying my mortgage I have to send a good chunk of money to pay off lawyer fees. It’s good to have won that case, but the money I’ve sent off to our lawyer in the last 4 months could have bought me a new computer with all the bells and whistles I could dream of.*
So…making do. My wife has an old Asus laptop we got several years ago for cheap, when her old Mac was fritzing out on her. Again, we tried to save money to get functional. It was a bad idea, because it was a Windows machine, she hated Windows (as should we all), and was so repulsed by the OS that she decided she could make do by using her phone for all of her online interactions. She’s like a teenager that way. The Asus was left to gather dust.
A short while back, as I saw the handwriting on the screen of my Mac, I dusted it off, puked on Windows, and then erased it and installed Linux. I’ve been puttering around with it since, installing software, taking it for a test drive, and have been impressed. It’s an older Windows machine, but it outperforms my antique Mac with a clean install of Pop_OS. I could get used to it. While the hardware is nothing special, I could upgrade it to something shiny and chrome for half the price of a Mac, if ever I manage to crawl out of my financial hole.
But now I’m ready to commit. Farewell, Mac, you’ve served me well for 36 years, but the time has come to jump ship. Now I just need to find replacements for a few tools. Tell me, O Linux Experts, what you recommend as replacements.
Keynote. This is the one that hurts the most. Keynote is kind of the pinnacle of Apple software design philosophy — clean, elegant, powerful. Comparing it to the Windows alternative, Power Point, is one of the key factors that quickly steered me away from considering anything Windows. The Windows design philosophy is to tack a hideous, giant toolbar on everything and fill it with little cryptic icons — see also Microsoft Word. I’m still trying to find Linux presentation software comparable to Keynote. This is important to me, since one of the things I often do is put together presentations.
iMovie. iMovie has limitations, but it is also clean and elegant — I don’t need super-powered video editing software. I might be willing to work with something high-powered, aware that there’d be a bit of a learning curve. I’ve been looking at…KDENlive, I think? But I haven’t buckled down to figure it out.
I gave up on Photoshop long ago when it went to a subscription model, so I’m used to klunky old GIMP. Linux has no shortage of good text editors. I’ve been using Pages, but I guess any cleaner alternative to Word would be good. I may just switch to Google docs — ditto for a spreadsheet, which I don’t use for anything fancier than a gradebook. There is an office suite that comes with Pop_OS, which I might just settle for, since there’s nothing exciting about any of those applications.
I’m guessing now that all the nerds on the internet are going to flood me with suggestions.
*Richard Carrier is such an asshole.