Mac bits that have kept me sane

For many, many years I have been a "Linux on the desktop" hardcore user - using it exclusively for all my work and productive time. When I joined Somo I was given a Macbook Pro as my one and only machine and I've warmed to OS X as a day-to-day operating system. Making the change from my beloved XFCE setup has been pretty painless. I put this down to my toolset being near identical.

  • Sublime 2 - all things text editing and most code is done with this (still have yet to commit to upgrading to ST3).
  • Google Chrome - browser is as browser is; Chrome is my default and preferred for some time now, I really love the developer tools and features (though Firefox has been piquing my interest again for a while)
  • POSIX - I spend so long at the command line that as long as I'm using something POSIX-y and I've got a terminal with Bash (though more on that later), I'm productive.
  • Others such as ssh, PDF viewer, Virtualbox, Lyx

Though the primary applications I use are the exact same, a few utilities and tools that are Mac specific have made the "switch" a lot easier. I am loathe to just say switch as I haven't left Linux behind - it still powers my Thinkpad and netbook.

Software that has made my life easier on OS X includes:

  • Dash - this was one of the first Mac-only bits of software I bought. I don't use it too often but it's very handy to have around for quickly searching across offical documentation as well as a very nifty Stack Overflow intergration. For the sake of £10 it's pretty good.
  • iTerm2 - this is the first thing I installed; I find the default terminal within OS X severly lacking.
  • brew - actually this is the first thing I install on a Mac. brew is as close as I'll get to being back on Arch Linux using pacman. A package manager that you find as standard on Linux is one of those things that you just can't live without if you ever have to go onto Windows or Mac. Win users have the option of Chocolatey.
  • Spectacle app - I miss tiling window managers and just the general maximize/move behavior and control I'd have under XFCE. Spectacle adds a number of shortcuts and tools that make it easy to resize windows to half or a quarter of the display or line them up side by side or "maximize" them to the full width without going "full screen".

The stickers on my Thinkpad cost around 10% of the total cost of it (eBay FTW)

Born out of this sea of change I've also taken the plunge and switched to Zsh. I'm not sure if swaping to a shell released 25 years ago really counts as being cutting edge but I've been tied to the whole-year-older Bash. I'm really not sure why I waited so long; compatibility is very high making porting your .bashrc almost trival and it's completiion and ohmy zsh make it feel far more advanced and productive.