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Science and technology

My story of transitioning from Mac to Linux

There’s rising consciousness within the design neighborhood in regards to the significance of design ethics and the best way proprietary expertise subjugates customers. As a person expertise designer, I imagine expertise must be designed to respect the earth in addition to creators and customers. Using and contributing to Linux is one method to align my design ethics with my apply.

This is why I purchased a ThinkPad and put in the Linux distribution Elementary OS, regardless that macOS is, by far, the most well-liked working system amongst designers. Linux would not have a fantastic status for ease of use, and switching working techniques will be disorienting and irritating. When I advised folks I used to be making the swap, many (particularly designers!) thought I used to be silly. However, after making the swap, I’m completely happy to report that I’ve a design workflow that I actually love and an working system that aligns with my values.

If you’d prefer to see what it is like to change from macOS to Elementary OS, learn on to be taught from my expertise.

Plan for the functions you’ll use

First, make an inventory of the instruments you employ repeatedly. For me, they’re:

  • Sketch: designing
  • Marvel: prototyping
  • Firefox: net browser
  • Tomighty: Pomodoro timer
  • Skitch: taking and annotating screenshots
  • Standard Notes: notetaking
  • Adium, Signal, Slack, Telegram (Does anybody else really feel my ache right here?): messaging
  • iTunes and Spotify: music
  • Sublime Text: writing HTML and CSS, coding
  • Thunderbird: e mail

Next, examine if these applications can be found on Linux. AlternativetTo is an effective useful resource to seek out software program alternate options.

Luckily, I used to be already utilizing a whole lot of free and open supply software program. However, crucial utility for me is Sketch, which is not obtainable on Linux.

I hoped I may swap to an open supply software program software for designing and prototyping. I attempted out Glimpse (a fork of GIMP), Krita, and some different instruments, however none have been secure or had the characteristic set and workflow I needed. I’m keeping track of these tasks and hope to change to one in every of them if the performance meets my wants.

Instead, I selected Figma. Although it’s proprietary, I respect its relative openness, its mission to make design accessible, and its ease of use. Because it is web-based, I can substitute each Sketch and Marvel with Figma. There can also be a local app that I actually like.

Skitch is just obtainable on macOS. So, after some analysis, I landed on KSnip, which is a incredible screenshot software. Because I prefer it a lot, I wrote Annotate screenshots on Linux with Ksnip.

Install and arrange ElementaryOS

After making certain that you’ve Linux-compatible apps for all of your wants, the following step is deciding in your hardware. You may set up Elementary alongside macOS, which might be an effective way to attempt issues out earlier than totally committing.

Instead, I began recent with a brand new ThinkPad. I adopted Elementary’s installation instructions and donated $20 to help the challenge.

The fantastic thing about free software program is its emphasis on customization. Many settings in Elementary are configurable, and you may customise Elementary to match the workflows you already know and love.

The Elementary expertise mirrors macOS in some ways, so that you may be happy with how little it is advisable configure.

Keyboard shortcuts

The very first thing I custom-made was the keyboard shortcuts. There are only some shortcuts that differ between macOS and Elementary. If you do not need to work in opposition to your muscle reminiscence, configure all shortcuts to your liking at System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts.


Elementary comes put in with a couple of actually useful apps, resembling Calendar, Epiphany (an internet browser), Mail, and Music. It’s value making an attempt them out. If one works for you, then that is one much less utility it is advisable fear about putting in.

Transfer your information

After switching to Elementary, I noticed simply how little information I save domestically. Most of my work is saved to a Nextcloud file share hosted by my tech co-op May First. I transferred all the opposite recordsdata I wanted utilizing a USB stick.

Learn Elementary’s design patterns

While it is much like macOS, Elementary has a couple of necessary variations. You may nonetheless try to override them, however you may need to simply get used to them.

Tabbing between functions

On macOS, I perpetually swap between functions with Alt+Tab and the Alt+Arrow keys. On Elementary, you additionally use Alt+Tab to change between apps, however the Alt+Arrow keys will not be supported. If anybody is aware of how you can customise Elementary to do that, please go away a remark as a result of I might like to have that characteristic again.

In macOS, you’ll be able to swap between completely different home windows in the identical utility with Alt+~. This shouldn’t be supported in Elementary. Instead, Alt+Tab cycles via all home windows, whatever the utility it belongs to. You can, nonetheless, swap between completely different home windows by hovering over the applying icon and scrolling. You can read a full list of methods for switching between windows and workspaces on StackExchange.

Get aware of help

Linux, not like Apple, is constructed and maintained by communities. Elementary is supported by Elementary, Inc., however it thrives due to its bigger neighborhood. It has finished a fantastic job of fostering a neighborhood that helps each other out.

It’s inevitable that you’ll get caught or have a query. When you do, you’ll be able to flip to:

When you search out assist, bear in mind to do it from a spot of compassion. We’re used to having transactional—even antagonistic—dynamics with the tech instruments we depend on. With Elementary, you are not speaking with a faceless company however a neighborhood of individuals, a lot of them volunteers, who genuinely need to assist.

Get comfy with the command line

The actuality is that there’ll most likely be instances when doing one thing in Linux requires you to make use of the command line. If your work retains you away from the technical aspect of issues, the instructions you want will most likely be minimal and simple. Still, it is good to get comfy with the fundamentals—upon getting, you could very effectively discover you favor the command line over a GUI strategy. Codecademy is one place you’ll be able to be taught command-line fundamentals.

Learn to put in apps

An incredible characteristic of Elementary is its curated AppCenter. Curated apps are designed with Elementary in thoughts, so they could work smoother than different apps. It makes use of a pay-what-you-want mannequin that strikes a steadiness between supporting app builders and sustaining its free and open spirit. Plus, Elementary simply successfully fundraised for per week dash to enhance safety and the person expertise much more.

However, there might come a time whenever you’ll want to put in apps not discovered within the official retailer. One mistake I made was to start out putting in apps in a wide range of methods (e.g., the apt-get command, Snaptastic, and Flatpak), relatively than choosing one methodology and utilizing it as a lot as attainable. The extra methods you put in apps, the more durable it’s to maintain observe of the way you put in what and which methodology is the right method to run updates.

My suggestion is to stay with AppCenter as a lot as attainable. If you need to enterprise out, I like to recommend Flathub as a result of Elementary adopted Flatpak for its AppCenter.

Contribute again

Elementary is free to obtain, and so are a lot of the apps. You can donate to Elementary (or buy a tee shirt or mug from the store) and the creators of the apps you employ. You may promote these tasks by telling your pals and colleagues about them. You may even supply your abilities to the tasks you admire probably the most.

Since I made the swap, I really feel nice about being additional concerned within the free and open supply software program motion and respect the pace and effectivity with which I can work in Elementary. If you employ Elementary (or attempt it out), please share your expertise within the feedback.

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