I’m having thoughts about my computing environment…Deep Thoughts™. I’m (almost) seriously considing Linux on the desktop and iPad Pro/Mini for mobile. WHAT!? I’ll probably get over this in an hour, but right now it’s top of mind and feels reasonable. It’s before 7:00 am so, no, I’ve not been drinking.
Against my better judgement, I spent the first half of yesterday continuing to try Regolith Linux. Honestly, on the big monitor, with a decent mouse and keyboard, I could see a path to Linux full-time when it comes to general computing. This hit home after I’d switched back to my MacBook Pro and after a few minutes thought, “Well, this kind of sucks.” I was referring to window management on macOS, and the fact that there isn’t any. It’s all manual and I noticed that I spend a lot of time micro-manging windows. I immediately missed the Workspaces and i3 setup in Regolith. Didn’t expect that! I started to feel that after a couple more days, I would be able to have windows placed right where I want them, but without actually needing to put them there. That would be cool.
And on Linux I have my beloved Emacs and a decent web browser. I have a nice terminal. I have competent file management. I have control.
What I don’t have is a good way to handle photos. Photo management and editing on Linux is where things start to fall apart. The tools are better than I remember, but they’re no match for Capture One, Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. It’s not even close, really. I like Darktable and Shotwell and Rawtherapee well enough, and they get the job done, but they’re still too janky to live with all the time. In fact, I feel that way about much of Linux; it gets the job done, but there are a lot of rough edges that take the joy out of it. But just imagine if I could sand those smooth.
I woke this morning unable to stop thinking about all this. And wondering. I’m writing this while sitting at the ThinkPad plugged into the big screen and learning and swearing, but feeling pretty good. This is currently classified as an “experiment”.
Spending half my day yesterday installing Regolith Linux on an old ThinkPad was fun, but useless. I should stop wasting my time like that.
For a time, I thought I’d stick with my Mac on the desktop and use Linux for my portable workstation. Linux is fun to tinker with. There are dozens of variations try. It’s got the right philosophy about how things should work and how computing should be. I like having it around, but I don’t like using it so much.
For years I’ve used a desktop Mac and a MacBook. Weary of dealing with maintaining two machines and worrying about sync, configuration, etc., I recently consolidated my computers down to one Mac. It’s so much better having only one machine. I now realize just how much time I’d spent managing everything. It was a lot. Moving to a single-computer setup has been the most productive and satisfying change I’ve made in years.
And yet there I was, installing Regolith because Paul Ford mentioned it on Twitter.
I know no one cares but Regolith on Ubuntu + nord theme is a nice way to do a tiling window manager without plowing through a pile of Arch wiki pages where no one will tell you the default modifier key because you should set that yourself.
That’s all it took. I thought, “Hey, that looks neat, I should throw it on the old ThinkPad!” So I did. And Paul was right. It was nice.
I’m infatuated with tiling window managers, and Regolith takes a neat approach to merging i3 and “regular” Ubuntu. I plugged it into my 32" monitor, where a window manager shines. I thought, “I could learn to live like this.”
But, after a few hours, all of the little inconsistencies begin to show. I start to miss the little quality-of-life touches that I take for granted on macOS. I once again need to concern myself with sync. And oh, the new MacBook Pro M1 Pro Max is a glorious piece of hardware (and software). Unmatched, as far as I know.
One day I may go all-in on Linux. That’s the only way it could work for me. That day is not today, so I need to stop spending too much time thinking it might be.
I’ve been thinking about killing Roon and moving to Apple Music. But I have a lifetime license to Roon, so that’s weird. The trouble is that Roon doesn’t work for me unless it’s also connected to Qobuz, which costs me $15/month.
Currently, I pay for Qobuz, Spotify, and Apple Music. That’s nuts. Qobuz is fine, but it’s no longer the only decent Hi-Res option in town. I’ve never liked Spotify, but I have family that lives there. I have an Apple One family account, so I’m already paying for everyone to have Music.
Apple Music is not a great app and it’s not the smartest streaming service, but I get it with the rest of the Apple One subscription, so that’s where I’m headed.
I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and wean everyone from Spotify. And I’m going to have to wean myself from the wonders of Roon, for streaming, at least. Roon still works great with my local music library.
So, I’m not actually leaving Roon. I’m leaving Qobuz, but the effect will be similar.