Setting Up My Machine – Just the way I like it! – Part 1

One of the hallmarks of Windows is that anything can “run” on it.

One of the hallmarks of OS X is that it works out of the box.

One of the hallmarks of Linux is that a user can configure it anyway they like.

So how is it I like all of them and none of them at the same time?  Well because of their hallmarks of course.  Why wouldn’t I want a machine that can do it all?

The problem is I’m a gamer, so it’s going to be a while before I’m able to ditch Windows entirely.  So what’s a fella to do in the mean time?

  • Dual-boot?  That’s a pain when multi-tasking or trying to accomplish something quickly.
  • Use Windows full time?  Forget that, if you’ve ever tried open source development you’ll see why.
  • Virtualization?  Maybe?
So the first thing I started to look into was how to virtualize OS X (Lion).  Why?  Because I don’t like begin forced to tweak things on my development machine just to get up and running.  I like things to just work.  (I know what all you linux gurus are going to say, however, this is my article and I’ll make any gross generalizations I want.  Anyway, if you stick with me for a little bit longer.  So now you know my first choice but there’s a problem.  Trying to get Lion to run on a non-Mac platform is like trying to install linux years ago, tons of tweaking, hacking, hair pulling, and still only certain things work.  Refer back to my earlier comment of liking things to just work and let’s throw that out of the window.


Next up linux.  It’s been a while since I installed and worked with Linux and honestly most of it was due to just how darn ugly the OS is out of the box.  The fonts are horrid, the alignment issues on windows, frames, buttons, text, etc are horrid.  Just looking at it in screenshots makes me want to puke.  What can I say, I like a UI to first engage me, be easy to look at, then make it easy to do what I want.  Windows looks great!  But then it falls on it’s face when you try and get something done.  Linux suffers from looking bad and confusing you while trying to get stuff done.  I guess that’s what you get when you put a bunch of EXTREMELY bright engineers in a room with no design skills whatsoever and ask them to put a UI to command line.  Furthermore, for some reason they believe the UI should have the power to do everything the command line options present.  If you’re a UI designer for Linux reading this.  Please go to some design courses and learn about usability from the common user perspective.  Think of us once in a while.  As a side note there are lots of “themes” for Linux to make things look pretty.  But then you’re just poor representation of Windows with a Linux backend.  There are other things that need to be addressed in the UI that are much deeper.


So for the the next few days, weeks, months, whatever it takes I intend to come up with a Linux setup that suites my needs.  Who knows maybe at the end of this journey I’ll give the ol’ MacBook a heave-ho. (I doubt it.)

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6 Responses to “Setting Up My Machine – Just the way I like it! – Part 1”

  1. AndyZaft says:

    To be fair, you looked at one window manager and a couple of themes in that. What about the other hundreds of window managers and desktop environments and the combinations of them? Open source and pleasing of the masses comes with too much customizability, then the problem is that you actually have to customize something :) I think you’ll be more happy if you just roll your own, start with the OSX WM code and port it to your liking. See, I solved all your problems :)

  2. Chris Altman says:

    Yeah yeah yeah….

    BTW, friends and family. I work with this guy. I think he just volunteered to help me with this project over the coming weeks.

  3. AndyZaft says:

    Not sure you can be helped 😛

  4. Thorestelph says:

    Linux? WOOO!!! Technology excitement!

    I think I can I think I can

  5. Chris Altman says:

    I was giving it a look today actually. I think it’s got a lot of potential, for a corporate environment to standardize on developer machines. The problem is that I don’t need repeatable deployments for my own local development. Its easy to create restore points at any given time using many virtualization tools. The with bundler it’s extremely easy to get the dev environment back in minutes. It’s all the required tweaking at the beginning to get the environment to work like I want that drives me nuts

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