I’ve been Ubuntu’d, have you?

Ubuntu Logo

So I have finally made the full time switch to Ubuntu as OS X just doesn’t cut it for me any longer on this 2008 13″ MacBook Pro

Now I will miss things like the OS X trackpad integration and usability, OS X’s easy Internet Sharing and podcast tools such as LadioCast, CamTwist and Soundflower but I can always boot into OS X when it is needed thanks to rEFIt.

Some notable happiness items since I’ve switched from OS X to Ubuntu

  • Home, End, Page Up, Page Down now all work as they are supposed to (or rather as I’m used to)
  • The ease of window management by alt+dragging windows to move them is just so easy
  • Compiz Fusion plugins such as Wobbly windows and Ring Switcher and GUI tweaks/eye candy that I just can’t seem to get enough of. I don’t usually like eye candy for eye candy sake, but I guess it makes me happy (which I guess is what some people get from using OS X, but sadly I’m not one of them)
  • Compiz Fusion plugins such as scale and zoom that mimic OS X’s Expose and desktop zoom are nice usability features to have along with the Opacity plugin that let’s you make any window transparent. I use this quite a bit: to see text in the browser when I have the command lind / terminal full screen
  • The general speed and responsiveness is such a joy
  • Much faster sleep and wake times
  • Upgrade apps or the OS by just “apt-get upgrade” or “apt-get dist-upgrade” is just so convenient

Now not everything is all fine and dandy and some issues are:

  • Battery life taking a hit. This is probably due to Compiz Fusion effects but also that Linux is not typically good at power management.
  • Trackpad usability has taken a step down from OS X (right clicking with 2 fingers works but is not perfect and touch to click has a slightly longer delay than I would like
  • General lack of application support: no SugarSync / Evernote native clients
  • All in all, I think I’m a happier computer user not having to wait all the time for the operating system to catch up to me and beach balling me all the time. I would highly suggest everybody try Ubuntu, even if it is just for the fun of it (you can burn it to a CD or copy it to a USB drive and boot from there without needing to install it).

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    Quick Mac Tip – Search for Menu Commands in Help Menu

    I encountered this cool tip while watching some Mac Break Work. If you can’t remember where to find an exact menu command in program in OS X

    1. Go to the Help Menu
    2. Type word to search for the command. This will populate a list of possible matched commands

    3. Highlight the particular command and click it to execute it or just hover over it and see the ‘magic’. Not only will it open the menu under which the command is listed under but it will also have a little moving pointer that points you to the command

    This is great for exploring commands and just finding where a particular command has disappeared to in the menus

    Canon CanoScan LiDE 20 on OS X 10.5.8

    In order to get the Canon CanoScan LiDE 20 working in OS X 10.5.8 (and from the comment responses 10.6 Snow Leopard as well)

    1. Go to the Canon CanoScan LiDE 20 product page
    2. Click the “Drivers & Downloads” tab
    3. Select “Mac OS X” from the dropdown menu
    4. Download CanoScan Toolbox Ver. 4.1.3.0X (Direct Download Link)
    5. Download LiDE 20/LiDE 30 Scanner Driver Ver. 7.0.1.1aX (Direct Download Link)
    6. Install the CanoScan Toolbox first
    7. When installing the driver specify the “Plug-Ins” folder in the CanoScan Toolbox installation directory
    8. Open up the “CanoScan Toolbox, click settings and it should detect ScanGear CS 7.0X as the driver and scanning should work without a hitch
    9. The scanner is fully operational including the scanner buttons to scan, copy and email (the button actions can also be customized)

    Update
    Some tips that may help if you’re having installation problems

    Playing Nice with Filesystems

    If you have played around with any 2 of the 3 major operating systems (Windows, OS X and Linux) and start transferring files to and from external hard disk you will probably run into an issue with the type of filesystem you choose for your hard disk. Windows likes NTFS, OS X likes HFS and Linux likes ext. As you can see none of them are the same. Being different is not so much an issue, but being compatible and accessible to all is.

    Based on default system settings:

    • NTFS is readable on all operating systems, but not writable on OS X. Most modern Linux distributions can write to NTFS drives
    • HFS is readable on OS X and modern Linux distributions, and not writable on Windows or Linux
    • ext is only readable on Linux and not writable on Windows or OS X.

    or to put it based on operating system

    • Windows can only read and write to NTFS, nothing else
    • OS X can read and write to HFS and read NTFS
    • Linux can read and write to ext and NTFS and read HFS

    Take note that there is also the older FAT32 filesystem that is fully supported for reading and writing by all operating systems but due to limitations of FAT32, I rather not consider this. Basically the main issues with FAT32 is that the maximum file size is 4GB and the maximum partition size is 32GB (actually Windows can’t format a FAT32 partition greater than 32GB but can read FAT32 partitions of more than 32GB. Use GParted or just filter this Google search to be able to create and format a partition of 32GB). If these are limitations you can deal with, for the sake for interoperability stick with FAT32.

    Now to solve the problem of support for each filesystem in each operating system:

    NTFS:

    • OS X: NTFS-3G + MacFUSE
    • Linux: NTFS-3G
    • I’ve been using NTFS-3G in Linux for many years and haven’t had any problems with it and so far it’s working well with OS X too
    • On another note if the NTFS drive is not unmounted properly or there are some issues with the file system integrity, it is necessary to use Windows scan disk to rectify the problem. Thus this requires a copy of Windows to fix the filesystem.

    ext:

    • Windows: Ext2 Installable File System for Windows
    • OS X: Mac OS X Ext2 filesystem
    • I’ve had issues of only being able to mount an ext2 partition in Linux and it gave a mount error in Windows and OS X and was due to an inode issue as new Linux distributions create the file system with inodes of 256 bytes but Ext2 fs only supports the older version with 128 bytes. And the only solution is to back up the files, and reformat partition with inodes of 128 bytes (-I 128) and restore the files.
    • Filesystem integrity issues should be able to be fixed with “fsck” from a Linux distribution / live CD. The great thing about this is that you can get a Linux distribution for free and this recovery can be done with out any strings attached.

    HFS:

    • Windows: MacDrive (US$50, read and write), Paragon HFS for Windows (read only)
    • Linux: Enabling HFS writing in Ubuntu
    • Note: I have not personally tested these so I cannot give first hand experience of how well it works or what issues can be had with this.
    • I believe that HFS+ journal
    • I would believe any filesystem repairs would have to be done in OS X (similar to NTFS and Windows) and if so this enforces that you have OS X at hand, and in order to have OS X you must have Apple hardware or a Hackintosh either way this is very restrictive.

    So it is pretty easy to get full read and write support of all 3 default file systems on the 3 major OS’s but there are issues. So far I’m inclined to stick with ext2/ext3 just due to the fact that it has no restrictions in terms of filesystem repair. I’ve had many NTFS issues related to damaged filesystems that required Windows and the inconvenience of taking the drive out of my box to find a Windows box was too much.

    A reason for keyboard users to hate Macs

    Have been playing around with a Macbook the past few days as my dear got one for a pretty great deal and I as a very keyboard-centric user am finding it frustrating. When I use any laptop I usually never have an external mouse attached as I feel it breaks my flow and I rather use the touchpad or the Pointing Stick (strange enought I prefer the pointing stick as my fingers never leave the keyboard) despite that I may be slower (but I will use an external mouse for extended works that require a mouse, e.g. graphics editing and gaming). Understandably some keyboard shortcuts are changed to use the Apple command key (or whatever it’s called) but it gets plain annoying. One of the biggest annoyances is here.
    Basically in the file manager application, Finder, when you highlight a file or application and press Enter, thinking it would open or execute the program like it does in Windows and Linux (well from my experience of typical Linux file managers, i.e. Konqueror, Nautilus, Krusader, Xfce File Manager), you are in for a rude awakening. Finder thinks that you want to rename the file. Great, so how do you open the file? Command-O or Command-Down. Like what the heck, why do you need to press 2 keys to open something. Okay maybe it’s to prevent accidentally opening something, but at the expense of having to press 2 keys to open something ALL the time? Please, come on Apple. Other commands like copy and paste use the command key instead of the control (Ctrl) key and since the command key is just left of the space bar it makes your fingers do some unfamiliar gymnastics that you would rather avoid.
    Apparently this guy gave up his Mac Mini over 2 years ago just because of issues like this on a Mac. A good read for anybody going over to the Mac side. I still can’t get over the single mouse button and sometimes for a right like I have to press command click or Ctrl click. Perhaps I was mistaken but I think it was in Finder when I have to press Ctrl-click to bring up the Right click menu but in Word for Mac it was Command-click. Aaaahhh enough of the rant, and back to work I go….