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The Switch: How Linux Made This Mac Hater Buy a Macbook Air

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I’ve generally hated Macs for years.

It’s not that I didn’t think they were a quality product. I knew that they were, and I understood the appeal. Apple’s marketing has always been really smart, and they’ve created a brand that people clamor for.

But I always felt that they were a bit overpriced. Why pay $1,000 for a computer that you can get for $500?

So I was a Windows man.

And then, you know, Windows Vista happened.

I liked Windows Vista at first. It felt newer and slicker, and it worked well for me. But just a couple months after I went full-time with my freelancing business in spring of 2008, the Vista computer decided to just stop connecting to the internet.

I had computer techs take the laptop home with them to work on it, and they could never determine what happened. They just suggested that I reinstall Windows.

Reinstall the entire operating system. That was their solution.

That wasn’t going to be a sustainable way to run a business! Or a computer, for that matter!

Broke computer, broke guy

I was broke at the time, so I started looking around at Linux. There is where I discovered Ubuntu.

Using the Live CD method, I borrowed my roommate’s laptop to burn a copy of Ubuntu that I could try out on my laptop.

This laptop that couldn’t connect to the internet under Vista immediately connected in Ubuntu. And it just flat-out worked.

So Ubuntu became my new machine. There’s a little bit of a learning curve with Linux, as you could imagine. But I was stunned by how snappy everything felt. Linux was loaded with all the features I needed – but more importantly, none of the features I didn’t need.

The first priority of Ubuntu was to make it usable. The creators didn’t focus so much on eye candy – you could add that later. They wanted a system that would work, and they succeeded.

For years, I used Ubuntu for everything and loved it. I was a Linux flag-waver. When somebody’s computer crapped out on them, I took it home, slapped Ubuntu on it, and gave it back.

But after a few years of using it, I started noticing the little things that just wouldn’t work on Ubuntu.

For example, Netflix never really had Linux support (this is something that’s changed quite a bit since then). For another, I could never have a reliable Evernote app on there, always being forced to use the inferior web app.

I was okay with these concessions because of the money I was saving. I put that money towards a nicer desktop computer that I tricked out with dual monitors. Then I bought my first Chromebook to give me a computer that I could use easily on the road.

But any time something new came out, I had to wonder if it worked on Linux. And if it didn’t – or it kinda did – I had to spend hours hacking together a solution to make it work.

So when my business was rocking and I had some money, I decided I needed to switch back to a mainstream operating system.

Windows was unrecognizable by that point. The tile design and all the goofy flashiness that defined Vista just made me wonder if it was going to work at all.

And Apple had the Mac Mini. At only $500, I could justify that in my brain. Plus, OS X is based on Linux, so I could still enjoy a lot of the same type of functionality I loved with Ubuntu.

So my main machines for the past couple years has been a Mac Mini desktop and a Chromebook for a laptop.

I loved this setup because the Chromebook covered everything I needed on the road, and the Mac gave me compatibility when I needed it, along with a reliable, solid desktop computer experience.

Along came Scrivener

In a quick nutshell, Scrivener is the Rolls Royce of writing apps. It’ll take forever to talk about it here, but basically I can organize and move around my words as I need to. It’s a must for writing books and for writing promotions for my clients.

And it doesn’t work on Chromebooks.

It’s a desktop app, so it works on Mac, Linux, and Windows. Chrome OS is left in the dust.

When I’m traveling for clients or I just need to get out of the house for a few hours, I can’t work on books or promos. That’s a problem.

The solution, I thought, would be to use Chrome’s Remote Desktop feature to tap into my desktop and do my writing over the internet connection. I tested it out and it worked beautifully – the Macbook experience without the Macbook!

But today, while working at the library, the remote desktop solution broke down in a big way.

Suddenly, I didn’t have any access to my desktop computer. And with a slew of business trips this year, combined with a lofty goal of writing six books, not having access is not an option.

Again, I’m not interested in the direction Windows is going anymore.

So I’m writing this on a brand new Macbook Air. And I really do like it.

I’m not happy with the price, and I’m not happy that I am ditching my beloved Chromebook. But in my situation, I didn’t have any other feasible options. That app needed to be supported, and I can’t do it with a Chromebook.

Plus, I can justify the price by getting a dock and selling my Mac Mini. My Macbook will now be my one machine to serve all of my needs, which is pretty cool to me.

I’m still a flag waver for Chromebooks, as I think 90% of the population can use them as their full-time machines.

But for me, I had to make the switch. I’m a Mac guy now.

Ironically, my desire to get away from a mainstream operating system is what drove me back to a mainstream operating system in the first place.

Now I’m back to being able to use installed desktop apps for a lot of things while still on the road, and truthfully, it’s a nice feeling that I didn’t get with the Chromebook.

I won’t wave the flag for Macs nearly as hard as I have for Chrome, but to me, anything is a better option than trying to figure out Windows at this point in my life.

So welcome to the family, MacBook Air. You better be worth it.

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