Vogon Poetry, Computers and (some) biology

Of ThinkPads and MacBooks

Since 2009 I was a Mac user. I was working with iOS development, and it made sense to have a MacBook for the SDK. I was curious too, because I've been using Linux distros (Debian, then Ubuntu, then Gentoo when Ubuntu was getting too heavy for my old laptop) for some time and was a bit tired of making everything work. Losing control was discomfortable at first, but so many things working out of the box (like sleep and hibernation!) was worth it. And Mac apps were much more polished (oh, Garageband).

When I arrived at INPE I got a Linux workstation, the mighty Papera (all the computers there have Tupi names, Tupi being a language spoken by native indians here in Brazil). And I tested some new things, like using Awesome1 as a window manager, and love it. But it lasted just for some months, because the machines were swapped for some iMacs and Papera was assigned for other person. I missed a tiling manager, but I also found Homebrew2 and it helped a lot setting up a dev environment in OSX (I know macports and fink existed, but writing a Homebrew formula is pretty easy, I even contributed one back), so no big problems in the transition.

But after some time I was getting uneasy. New OSX versions seemed to remove features instead of adding then (sigh, matrix-organized Spaces...). Lack of expansibility on new laptops (despite MacBook Air being an awesome computer) was pushing me back too, because a maxed one would cost way more than I was willing to pay. And I was spending most of my time in SSH sessions to other computers or using web apps, so why not go back to Linux?

At the end of 2012 I bought a used ThinkPad X220 with the dock and everything. When I was younger I always liked the visual, with its black and red look, and the durability (MacBooks are pretty, but they are easy to scratch and bend). And the X220 was cheap and in perfect state, and with a small upgrade when I went to PyCon (ahem, 16 GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD) it is a BEAST now. And all these benefits too:

  • I have Awesome again!

  • Updated packages thanks to pacman (I installed Arch Linux and I'm loving it)

  • When I need a new package it is as easy to write a PKGBUILD file as it was to write a Homebrew formula. I wrote some Debian packages in the past and they worked, but there were so many rules and parts that I don't think I want to write one again. I recognize that a lot of the rules and parts make sense with a project as big as Debian (and Ubuntu and everyone else), but it could be simpler.

  • Sleep works! Hibernation works! Except when it doesn't because your EFI is half full after the kernel wrote some stacktraces and the chip refuses to wake up.

It isn't for those faint of heart, but I'm happy to be back =]