I felt like I was in a controlling relationship headed downhill. After two custom laptops returned for defective hardware, I wanted to leave. But leaving didn’t seem so easy after living in the walled garden of Apple all those years.

This blog post is about how to leave your Mac and return to OSS.

Make a New Plan, Stan

There are quite a few nice alternatives to the Mac Air out there. I decided to go with the new Sputnik 3. Some of my reasons:

  • Powerful – New Haswell processor
  • 13.3 inch touch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Ships with Ubuntu 12.04 (64 bit)
  • Nice design (yes looks are important)

It arrived a couple of days before Christmas. The packaging itself was quite nice. Here is a picture next to my 13 inch Mac Air.

The best was that everything just “worked” out of the box. I had no problems configuring Ubuntu and getting the wireless network hooked up. I could close the lid and reopen it and have “instant on” just like the Mac Air. The keyboard is enjoyable to use and nicely backlit. The sleek design and light weight of the laptop is very comparable to the Mac Air.

Hop on the Bus, Gus

It took my about a day to set up all my programs that I use on a daily basis. Here is a overview:

Application Dock/ Organization – Dash

Ubuntu has a dock on the left hand side of the screen, that is very similar to the mac one. You can right click and pin applications to the dock to keep them in there. Clicking into the dash option, you can browse your applications that are installed.

Getting New Apps – Ubuntu Software Center or apt-get

You can install new applications easily by using the Ubuntu Software Center. Browsing the applications and installing them is point and click easy. If you don’t see the one you need or need a more recent version, you can always install via the command line with

sudo apt-get install package-name

Browser – Firefox or Chromium

Ubuntu comes with Firefox and Chromium installed. You can also go with Chrome of course.

Mail – Thunderbird

Ubuntu comes with Thunderbird mail ready to go. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to setup Thunderbird Mail. You simply put in your email and password. Ubuntu keeps a configuration list of commonly used email providers. It automagically figured out the correct domains and ports to use. On the downside, it doesn’t do anything magic with your contacts. So you are on your own there. I also just found out about Geary, which looks pretty sweet.

Password Management – 1 Password Anywhere + Dropbox / LastPass

There is not a linux client for 1Password. I can still use it by using 1PasswordAnywhere. I just have a bookmark to the 1PasswordAnyway link and I haz my logins. I am switching over to LastPass though, so you can edit / add new passwords. There is also an import utility to move stuff over from 1Password.


Emacs just works :) It might be just me, but I think it is happier back on Ubuntu. I did an apt-get to get the 24 version.

Git Client

I went with gitg for a graphical Git client. It seems to have all the things you need.

Terminal – Byobu

Byobu Terminal comes already installed in Ubuntu. I have been taking it for a test drive and really like some of the features of easily adding new tabs, splitting screens and re-attaching to sessions.

Evernote/ Everpad

With Everpad, I can still use all my evernote stuff too.

Presentations – LibreOffice / Reveal.js

I have used Keynote heavily on the Mac. For existing presentations, I can convert them to ppt format and then modify or run in LibreOffice Impress. Most likely with all my new presentations, I will just use a JavaScript framework like reveal.js

Communication – Hipchat / Skype/ Google Hangouts / Campfire

We use Hipchat for messaging at work. Hipchat has a linux client that works just the same. Skype also has a linux client. Of course, Google Hangouts is just fine on the web. I also use Campfire sometimes. There are a couple of linux clients out there, but I haven’t tried them yet. The web version works fine for me right now.


On my mac, I used to plug in my phone and sync to my dropbox. I tried plugging in my phone, but unfortunately, iOS7 put in a security feature to that prevents having the phone connect properly. The solution for me is to just use the phone dropbox app to sync the pictures automatically to my Dropbox.

Get Yourself Free

I don’t expect the road to free of bumps. I have only been using my new laptop for a week. But so far, it has been an enjoyable switch. The hardware is really impressive, and it feels good getting back to OSS.

Best of all, I set myself free.