Joshua Wood

Is Apple forcing developers to switch to Linux?

I have been a developer using primarily open source technologies on Macs for over 12 years. I originally switched from Windows to Mac because I didn’t like how difficult open source development on Windows was or Microsoft’s tight grip on the OS; plus, I just felt like Apple “got me” more at that time. By the time OS X came out I was hooked.

I love macOS for its Unix/BSD-heritage and the power of the operating system. Ideological leanings aside, I still feel like it’s the best desktop operating system ever made. I spend a majority of my time in the terminal (tmux, vim, ssh, etc.) Apple’s developer ecosystem is excellent, and while Apple has always encouraged me to do things “their way”, I never felt forced.

Fast forward to today. Every Apple announcement has somehow bummed me out over the past few years. Every announcement seems to force me deeper into Apple’s product line. I can’t go a single day without being asked to log into something with my Apple ID. iTunes is basically ruined.

Then there’s the hardware. First they took away the ability to upgrade built-in storage and ram. I’m currently plagued by battery issues which I can’t fix without physically sending my laptop to Apple for an expensive replacement. In general the standard solution to broken Apple stuff seems to be “buy new stuff”.

So, I’ve been waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for months with a busted Macbook Pro from 2013 (not that old of a laptop for me) for Apple to announce the next generation so I could buy one. In the meantime, I bought my second Thinkpad and have been running Arch Linux as my primary operating system and loving it more every day.

The buzz today is that tomorrow Apple will announce a fundamental change to a classic computer interface which I happen to really like on their flagship laptop.

Removing part of the keyboard is a deal breaker in my opinion. I don’t care if there are workarounds, like remapping Caps Lock to Esc (mine is already remapped to Ctrl, by the way). To me, this shows that Apple doesn’t give a damn about the developers who rely on their hardware every day to build most of the apps that all of their customers use on that same hardware. At best, they’re so full of hubris that they assume their developer community will enthusiastically jump on-board and rewire their brains. Sadly, I’m sure many of them will, even if it’s for self-preservation.

Lucky for me, my livelihood is not tied to the App Store, and I can jump ship at any time. Most of my colleagues are in the same position.

Anyway, this entire rant was to set up a question: with this redesign, is Apple basically shutting out the computing purists and forcing them towards Linux? Let me explain:

  • If I want a modern laptop to run macOS, I must use a Macbook Pro. They don’t support any other hardware.
  • If I want a normal keyboard, I can’t use a Macbook Pro (assuming rumors are true) aside from buying the previous generation and using that for 4-5 years, at which point I’ll still be left with no options.
  • So basically, if I want normal hardware, I can’t use Apple anymore.
  • Windows is out of the question (although ironically, it may become a better alternative to macOS with Ubuntu on Windows and support for a variety of hardware vendors).
  • Linux/BSD are the only Unix-like alternatives to macOS.

So where does this leave all of us poor jaded Mac purists tomorrow?

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I'm Josh Wood, a tech entrepreneur and software developer. I founded Hint.io and Honeybadger.io. I'm all about building awesome apps! More »