Got my new workstation last week. Ultimately I decided to opt for a Dell notebook system with Linux pre-installed. So that left me only one single option: the XPS 13 Developer Edition, aka Sputnik 3. After having worked with it for a week I can only say I’m very, very happy with it. Unboxing it was a joy in itself, unwrapping the amazingly sleek machine and booting it for the first time. The XPS 13 comes with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS pre-installed which is just fine for me, especially given the fact that everything seems to work flawlessly so far. I haven’t rebooted it for days for example, suspending it works brilliantly and when I open the lid the device wakes up instantly, even after having it closed for days. And even though it has an i7 CPU it can run for hours on a full battery. The touch screen is a nice bonus but I haven’t really made use of it yet, it could be quite cool for live perfomances though. I’ve tested the touch screen with seq24 and it’s quite awesome to be able to trigger sequences by pressing the sequences on your screen.
Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
I did try a fresh install but it would take me a bit too much time to get everything working properly so in the end I opted for sticking with the default install and install the Lubuntu desktop on top of it. And the default install doesn’t get in the way so I’m all set. I’m now looking for a nice keyboard and mouse to pair with the notebook, I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions. I had already ordered a Logitech K290 but I’m sending it back because it has the function keys swapped with the media keys and I just can’t work with that. Switching tty’s with Fn+Ctrl+F[:digit:] is just impossible to do with that keyboard. I could’ve tried swapping the keys but I’ve already filled in the RMA form and repacked the keyboard so it’s going back.
Next up is configuring it for making music. I’m thinking about purchasing a new USB audio interface, preferably USB2.0, that matches well with this machine. Suggestions are very welcome. I’ve looked at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 but a recent thread on LAU raised some doubts. We’ll see, it’s something for later, for now I’m extremely happy with my new work horse.
During the second job interview with my new employer I was asked if I’d like to use a Mac or a Windows PC with the assurance I’d get a Linux workstation after my probation time. Just put me behind a Mac then, that’s closer to Linux than Windows and from what I recalled it comes with a native terminal that does SSH. And what do I need more?
So there I am in front of a big, glossy screen and a tiny keyboard that lacks some familiar keys. My findings so far? Kind of neutral. I’ve got my terminal and I can run SSH from the CLI so I’m happy. There are some quirks that annoy me though (in no particular order):
- No Compose key and I had to jump through quite some hoops to map a key as a Compose key.
- No easy way to map a keyboard shortcut for opening a terminal. I had to resort to something called ‘Automator’ to get it working. And it still doesn’t work the way I want too. When there are no windows open pressing the shortcut doesn’t do anything. When there are open windows it works but why does it open two terminals when pressing the shortcut for the first time? Not a real big deal as I need multiple terminals anyway (I just can’t get used to tabbed terminals).
- I prefer non-glare monitors to glossy ones.
- No Home, End, PageDown and PageUp keys. Not a real big deal either, in fact, it’s a real good incentive to start getting accustomed to Vi(m) shortcuts since I kind of live inside Vim these days. I even bought this, great stuff.
- Can’t get used to the default window management settings. For instance when you minimize a window and Alt+Tab to it the window doesn’t open. So I’m not minimizing any windows anymore since this is really annoying. Haven’t looked into changing this behaviour though, it’s probably something relatively simple.
- Annoying pop-ups from updates and programs that are downloaded from the internet (“blabla” is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?). Especially the latter ones are annoying. Disabling the pop-ups has to be done from a terminal. Wow, so much for a “user-friendly” OS.
- Clicking the close button of an application doesn’t quit it. Cmd+Q does. This is something I won’t get used to either. Actually I don’t want to get used to the Cmd button at all.
- I prefer a panel with a window list on it. I don’t know how other folks do it but this Alt+Tab stuff is counter-efficient in my case.
Are there things I particularly like about Mac OS X or the Mac itself? Actually no, can’t think of anything. Yeah, the keyboard feel is really nice but that pro gets nulled out because of the missing keys, ~ being placed next to the left Shift key and the Fn keys being mapped to the F1/F12 keys. Add to this the meaningless keys with all kinds of arrows on them and this key with a crossed square. No idea what they do. On a software level MacPorts is nice, it allowed me to install some of my favorite tools that I found were missing. Other than that I can’t wait to have my own workstation with Linux on it. The plan is that I get a Dell XPS 15 with a dual monitor setup. Something to look forward to.
And yes, I have to deal with quite some Windows servers now. I’m not going to dedicate a blogpost to my findings on that OS. Just one word. Meh.