So far, I’ve only written on my various other blog-like things about my departure from the Apple eco system. Probably about time to write a “proper” blog post about it, but this is not going to be that post.

During the lest few days, I noticed that I became more and more frustrated with my current setup and this brought me back to the original reason why I liked my Apple Macs so much.

The frustration results from a simple truth: Mainstream web development (in my case: Ruby and JavaScript, for the most part) on Windows is terrible. Which is why I usually do all my development on Linux and both of my current work machines (A beefy desktop workstation from SilentMaxx and my Razer Blade Stealth) are running dual boot setups. In general, this is fine, but of course, sometimes it really sucks. I had to do a lot of bookkeeping lately, which I have to do, for technical reasons, on Windows. And, as things go, you can’t always do things en block and so I found myself rebooting a lot.

Now, in 2020, that is not as bad as it used to be, say, 10 years ago, but still, it does suck quite a bit.

And it’s not just bookkeeping. I run a ton of creative software (music, but also graphics) on Windows and while theoretically, I could probably replace all of these with some open source/free software alternative, I really don’t want to. the reason is quite simply that not only do I like the for-money, commercial alternatives better, but also I am not always willing to put in the extra effort to learn a new piece of software when what I have actually works fine.

And here’s where OS X actually was the “best of both worlds” scenario. It has no issues running unixish web development environments and all of the software I was used to ran fine on Macs.

Running two very different operating systems side by side comes with a ton of drawbacks - At least Windows and Linux in general share the keyboard layouts. For some time I was running MacOS and Linux in parallel and that, my friends, simply doesn’t work. On a german Windows/Linux keyboard, the @-sign sits on AltGr-Q, which, keyboard layout wise is essentially the same as Cmd-Q on a Mac keyboard, so you’re involuntarily closing apps on MacOS a lot.

But even between Linux and Windows, keyboard shortcuts are subtly different and that f**ks up your muscle memory on more ways than one, leading to a lot of moments of frustration where only Joy should live.

Additionally, while my Desktop machine has “disk” space in (at least theoretical) abundance, my notebook has only 500 GB of storage which is split somewhat evenly between the two OS’s, wasting quite a lot of space and actually leading to not super uncommon hunts for big files that can be deleted.

Of course, there are good reasons why I abandoned OS X, the main one being a complete lack of trust in the quality of both hard- and software of Macs lately. And I have yet to see a full turnaround even if people in general seem to be relatively happy with their 16” MacBook Pros.

The other big one is cost and that’s somewhat of a two edged sword, because, yes, if quality were better, the big advantage you can buy for that hefty surcharge is the above mentioned “best of both worlds” - on the other hand one thing that Apple does really, really badly is choice and that is exactly what you have in abundance at the other side of the Wintel/Apple divide. My current desktop computer is an absolute marvel of technology, is super quiet, super expandable and cost well below 2k EUR, for which you roughly get 1/3 of a base MacPro.

Now, there’s been slivers of hope. WSL, the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which is a super weird name for “let’s make it possible to run an actual Linux shell on Windows”, is/ was promising, but in its first, super misguided incarnation (misguided as in “let’s create a cleanroom implementation of 90% of the Linux Kernal API”), was/is wayyyyyyy to slow to do meaningful work on it. WSL2 looks as if it could change that and so some of my hope lies on the next major update of Windows 10, realistically probably appearing in April or May this year which will most certainly include WSL2. Together with Windows Terminal, an actually not terrible Terminal application currently available as an early preview, this could solve most of the issues. If it really does, we will see - Right now I can reliably send a ruby process in WSL1 into a state where Windows is unable to terminate the process and the only remaining option is to reboot.

Of course, there are other options, and I’ve been using a few - Running a full blown Linux VM is, given the sheer power of my desktop machine, not a huge issue. Yes, it’s not the same speed as if I were running Linux natively, but it’s still a lot faster than WSL1. But it’s also not an ideal situation with conflicting keyboard shortcuts and lots of confusion where you’re not always quite sure what window set you’re currently shuffling through. Another one would be something like Docker, or, oldschool, oldschool, Vagrant. Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of any of those, but I should probably, for my own good, change that attitude and learn me a bit of Docker, can’t hurt in 2020, I guess.

Where am I going with this? To be frank: Nowhere, really, other than simply complaining about the unsatisfying status quo. Hardware wise, I’m really happy right now with what I have, my desktop machine is absolutely quiet and super powerful, my monitor is awesome (and wasn’t six grand), my laptop probably gets replaced later this year but does its job - My main gripe is with the software situation and the thing is: Apples current offering, judging by the little contact I had with MacOS 10.15 Catalina would probably drive me nuts as well. So my hope lies on Windows 10 2003 or whatever the release is going to be called, because maybe it will, by the power of WSL2, will make it possible to do most of my work on Windows, using Linux. Yeah.