The Linux Experience – Part 1 – Misfortunes with Hackintosh and Ubuntu

Posted on October 7, 2012

One thing that has been constant in all these years I’ve used a PC is my primary operating system – Microsoft Windows. I’ve used all versions of Windows beginning with 95 right through to Windows 8, and I’ve never had any reason to make the move away from it, until now… As I began to delve more into the nitty-gritties of my project (still in its infancy and more on that in later posts), I was able to understand some of the inherent limitations of Windows as a development platform (.NET aside). As productive as I was on Windows, and I was very much so, I felt that I could do certain things a whole lot better on a platform that had a native shell interface, aka Linux or Mac. It was here that my inner instincts as a geek kicked in and I began tinkering with my PC a couple of months ago to make it more development-friendly.

Having never had the inclination to buy or try out a Mac, I was intrigued when I first read about the concept of setting up my very own Hackintosh. I knew my hardware was already powerful enough and could handle the load easily, and it seemed like a fun little diversion, apart from the obvious advantage of having a functioning Mac if it worked. As is always the case with such experiments, I had a lot of trouble getting it up and running. Between the Kernel panics, the compatibility issues and the fact that during one install I lost my main personal partition, it was very much an infuriating process. After about two days of poking through countless threads at TonyMacx86, I was able to get working quite effectively what, for all intents and purposes of general usage, was as good as a Mac.

The first thought that popped into my head when I saw the Mac desktop was, “Well, this looks cool!” After about a couple of weeks of usage, I realized that it was still the one feeling I had. My hackintosh definitely looked cool and certain features of the Mac like the ability to drag-n-drop to install applications definitely made life easier. I also enjoyed that I got shell out of the box, making certain development tasks easier. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I was betraying my core principles. I am a staunch Apple-hater, always have been and always will be, because of their business policies. Apart from those pangs of guilt I felt, I certainly missed having a Taskbar around (old habits die hard, I guess!) and despite popular opinion, I was not digging the Mac dock. In general, I didn’t find myself to be any more productive on a Mac than I was on Windows, and hence dropped the idea of making my primary productivity machine a Hackinstosh.

With the Hackintosh project ending up a failure, I moved right along to the Linux project, with a lot of apprehensions to say the least. To a neophyte, entering the big, bad world of Linux distros can be the most daunting task they’ve ever done in their short geeky existence. And I was no different. Sure, I had read about the Ubuntus, the Mints, the Redhats, and the Fedoras of this world in my day-to-day browsing. But reading about them is one thing and actually fiddling around with them, entirely another. For my first leap into the Linux world, I decided to play it safe and went with the most famous distro, Ubuntu 12.04.

To summarize the experience in one line, “It sucked! Period.” Unity must be the worst desktop interface I have ever used. Right from the mind-blowingly awful Unity bar on the left to the general clumsiness of the entire interface, there wasn’t an aspect of Ubuntu 12.04 that I ended up liking. I couldn’t last more than a few days in it before I moved along to greener pastures. But that’s not to say the Ubuntu experiment ended up being a complete disaster; it did show me some of the powers of using a Linux platform, and it should get some credit for making me the hardcore linux user that I am today. Having said that, Unity is definitely not something I would recommend to people coming from a traditional taskbar interface.

My search for a Linux distribution will continue in Part Two where I will talk about falling in love with the KDE Desktop platform.