Farewell, Apple. Hello Linux Mint!

How I gave up my MacBook Pro

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Inside of Zimbra's online webmail client is an RSS reader. I used NetNewsWire on Apple; it would take some playing with to transfer the RSS subscriptions to my favorite news sites, including my custom Craigslist feeds for RV parts, NYTimes articles, and the myriad of sites that I track through RSS.

Then there was a mess that had to be cleaned up. There are duplicate photos all over my Mac. Call it user stupidity or whatever you want, but of the 90,000 photos I have, about 75,000 are duplicates. They fill my machine, and they are plentiful. Eventually gThumb would take over the responsibility from iPhoto. The gThumb app is also included with Linux Mint. There are others yet gThumb seems to have at least the initial capability of being able to help me sort out the duplicates. I'll explain how later.

Day three: The base install

There's a download for Windows that installs Linux Mint onto a flash drive; I booted from the flash drive to install Linux Mint. It took about 20 minutes. The updates, however, took a miserably long time. It's important here to both thank the Linux Mint people for a fine distribution, and humbly suggest that they pack their website downloads and mirrors with versions of stuff that are newer than three years old (in some cases).

It took four times as long for the updates as the initial installation because the initial installation's packages were so out of date. But everything updated correctly. Almost. One update for gstream halted everything until I skipped it manually and the rest of things updated correctly. A few days later, the gstream problem was caught and updated. I'm not sure what gstream does. But ostensibly, it works now.

Day four: Apps

I backed up the Mac four times. No, really. Two Apple Time Machine backups were done. Then two manual backups were done onto different media. Why? My income depends on my data and historical docs, mail, and so forth. Plus, I have the space; not many do.

Zimbra came first. I had to do the aforementioned IMAP transfers. When I tried to do them by folder, I got errors. Maybe it was the 15,000+ emails in some folders. I knew I was pushing it. I had to scrape portions of folders, a bit at a time. It took 11 hours, off and on. I have a lot of mail. It's all intact; I sampled each folder. It's all there.

Then there's the trick of associating the IMAP account with another one, and everything proceeded to populate itself as I attended the process occasionally. That took about four hours of clicking stuff occasionally, but no real work was done by me, just attending it. Zimbra is an open source product, but with closed source pieces available, sponsored as a project by VMware.

The docs were restored in to the Documents folder on the Lenovo. Music was transferred, but it's not as important as the rest of the stuff, so re-categorizing it will come later.

The pictures remain, but a sampling says that they ought to arrive correctly, and most of the duplications won't be made through a "do not overwrite" selection in gThumb. Because this is going to take a while, it'll have to be done in the future. The near future.

Day five: Config

Wallpaper. Timezones. Calendar importation. Contacts importation. CalDav is a standard that Apple follows; it worked well. There were various selections to make. Do you want it to behave like a Mac, or like Windows, or like Gnome, or what? I figured it out. There are files I need constantly. I put them where they belong.

It reminded me of moving. Boxes to unpack. Where's my favorite apple peeler? How about the VMs? Did they make it? Do they react to the different hardware? I was amazed: the virtual machines seemed to behave no differently, and in retrospect, they shouldn't behave differently.

Day six: Final evaluation

The Lenovo hardware uses a dual core AMD CPU, and it's known to be slower than the MacBook Pro. I knew that. But the Lenovo is much faster in many respects, including faster boots, suspends (the equivalent of "sleep" on the Mac) that are just as fast, and the file system seems to move quickly although I have only my own anecdotal evidence that it's going more quickly.

What's slower is anything having to do with graphics rendering. Firefox is the new browser in town, and it's not as good as Safari. I don't use Chrome. Firefox seems to become burdened after a point, slowing down, but doesn't flatly crash like Safari. Plug-ins seem to slow Firefox down considerably and I'm not sure why. I'm still investigating it.

Initial WiFi connection to an access point is slower. The Lenovo is plainly more difficult to get wireless connections and get moving. It's not much, but frustratingly discernible.

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