Two weeks ago, I decided to install Linux on my Mac computer, to get some freedom out of my machine. The main reason was, I was kinda upset about not being able to build OpenCV on macOS. Virtual machines were just too cpu intensive and my machine has very small disk space to handle two operating systems at once. Just to try out, (and also to somewhat start my ‘war’ against proprietary software) I took a disk image out of my Mac over a Wi-Fi network I setup on my main computer, then I got some backups of my files and completely erased the disk to install Linux.
I personally don’t like Ubuntu that much. Even though it’s stability is pretty good, I don’t like how it looks. I also want to try new things, so I decided to go with the elementaryOS. It has pretty good user land applications and has really cool looking desktop environment. I knew that I was going to spend a lot of time configuring the new system as I like. After spending a few days, my system was working just fine. The first I had to deal with was a backlight issue. It was working fine whenever I start the computer. But after closing the lid, and opening it again,(after sleep) it was giving zero output under 80% and giving too much light above 80% value. Thankfully this was a known issue and had a 2-3 years old workaround which was shared here. It was easy to setup and use and the issue disappeared immediately. I also thought there was an over-heating issue on my computer so I decided to install a custom Macbook fan controller driver(github). It was somewhat effective, but then my computer was not heating anymore. Don’t know if it was the driver or me not doing cpu-intensive tasks.
Then I tried setting up the touchpad driver. I was looking for a way to implement multi-touch gestures. The main thing I was looking for was the three finger drag, which I was using a lot while using OSX. I tried lib-input gestures, some custom synaptics stuff, but none of them worked on my system. Then I tried using touchegg. After working with synaptics options and configuring touchegg itself, it was working perfectly. But I wasn’t able to make the synaptics options persistent. I tried changing every single configuration file of synaptics, tried removing some other libraries that could have interfered with it. Tried to move the configuration files. Checked out logs. It was indeed reading my configuration files. But none of the options were persistent after a reboot. At some point, I broke the system and was forced to use the installation usb to revert back my changes. After that I decided to live with a computer with no three finger scroll.
After all that drivers stuff, it was time to tweak the system a little bit. Because I use multiple computers, I had almost no difficulties getting used to the Ctrl button instead of the Cmd. But, I have added some shortcuts I used to use on OSX, anyways. Some of them was not working well. Especially the screenshot shortcuts which, I think, are programmed to always use the PrintScreen button, which I don’t have one on my Mac. I also had to configure the Pantheon File Manager which was using only single clicks to open directories. I don’t like that.
I had some issues with the Wi-Fi drivers, as always. The main problem was the hardware itself was not ‘free’. I had to install proprietary software to use it. And the software was not letting me use the device at its full potential. It kept disconnecting me from networks. For this reason, I just bought a cheap usb network card. I used the Mac network card mostly, but I used the other network card, whenever I felt the device was being faulty.
At this point, I thought this is the most stable settings I could get from this system. Ignored the issue where the Apple Logo light was lighting periodically while connected to the charger and the lid was closed. Also ignored the spontaneous system resets while the lid was closed. Firefox was really good at restoring my tabs and I was not keeping windows open a lot.
Today, I was trying to get a bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network) working on my system. Installed a lot of packages and libraries, built and installed some more packages. And at some point, the system just “gave up” and hid the bluetooth icon on top. I tried to get it back by rebooting, but then my user preferences were not loaded properly. Basically, my system was dead for me. And I decided elementaryOS was just not stable enough to keep me using this machine.
I started looking up for another distribution that is easy to use and stable. Looked out for Debian itself, but it was not looking good to handle my ‘non-free’ hardware. Then I decided to give a chance to Mint. Wasted 4 hours for backing up stuff and setup. The setup was pretty smooth. System was looking cool. It handled all my stuff by itself. Installed the proprietary drivers, had good options to handle mouse and stuff. But the interface was looking like it was stuttering. Even after installing the intel graphics drivers, it was not improved a lot. After spending 3-4 days to get the other system to a state I like, it seemed that this was the way it is going. At some point, I know that I’m going to crash the system once more.
At this point, I think this is the end of the war for me. To fight properly against the proprietary software, the hardware must be ‘free’, too. I’ve tried hard to get this working. But at this point, I think I cannot handle another system crash.
I am now, trying to write the image I’ve extracted before, to my Mac. Over the network, it was about to take 18 hours to completely transfer the image. At some point, (after transferring 6.5GB) my computer shut itself down. So, I decided to use a USB stick and transfer it piece by piece. I’ll just have to rely on my calculations about getting the pieces together.
UPDATE: (8 AM) The image I took from the Mac was probably of a partition, it was not the whole disk. I have wasted 4 hours copying over the disk via a 32GB USB stick. What I had to do was copy over the stick once I get an apple partition ready. I’m just out of patience and cannot take another 4 hours of copy paste. So, I’ll just reinstall the system, I guess. (And yes, this was written on 4 AM, lol)
Here goes my experiences of Linux on Mac. Have a nice day.