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BLOG: Farewell, Apple. Hello Linux Mint!

Tom Henderson | April 18, 2012
That's right, I packed it in. My MacBook Pro is now on the shelf. In a while, it goes on Craigslist -- not because it's been obsoleted by the latest version of Mac OS -- Mountain Lion as mine will work okay (some MacBook Pros will not). Instead, there's a cushy comfort zone that's dangerous for a product reviewer to fall into.

[ Linux Mint 13 gets back to desktop basics ]

Day two: App compatibility

Work production requires something that saves in the Rosetta Stone of document formats, the ubiquitous .DOC file. Microsoft Office on the Mac translated to LibreOffice, which behaves in many ways like Microsoft Office -- especially in the word processing department. Linux Mint includes it.

But Apple Mail is a lifeblood, as Outlook will likely be for Windows users. I already use a Zimbra email server appliance that comes from There's no Microsoft Exchange or Gmail or other mail server in the picture. Zimbra admins can transfer mail and folders from Apple Mail to Zimbra IMAP (a webmail protocol) that in turn, can be used with a Zimbra desktop application. This would be major. I live on email.

Inside of Zimbra's online webmail client is an RSS reader. I used NetNewsWire on Apple; it would take some playing with to transfer the RSS subscriptions to my favorite news sites, including my custom Craigslist feeds for RV parts, NYTimes articles, and the myriad of sites that I track through RSS.

Then there was a mess that had to be cleaned up. There are duplicate photos all over my Mac. Call it user stupidity or whatever you want, but of the 90,000 photos I have, about 75,000 are duplicates. They fill my machine, and they are plentiful. Eventually gThumb would take over the responsibility from iPhoto. The gThumb app is also included with Linux Mint. There are others yet gThumb seems to have at least the initial capability of being able to help me sort out the duplicates. I'll explain how later.

Day three: The base install

There's a download for Windows that installs Linux Mint onto a flash drive; I booted from the flash drive to install Linux Mint. It took about 20 minutes. The updates, however, took a miserably long time. It's important here to both thank the Linux Mint people for a fine distribution, and humbly suggest that they pack their website downloads and mirrors with versions of stuff that are newer than three years old (in some cases).

It took four times as long for the updates as the initial installation because the initial installation's packages were so out of date. But everything updated correctly. Almost. One update for gstream halted everything until I skipped it manually and the rest of things updated correctly. A few days later, the gstream problem was caught and updated. I'm not sure what gstream does. But ostensibly, it works now.

Day four: Apps

I backed up the Mac four times. No, really. Two Apple Time Machine backups were done. Then two manual backups were done onto different media. Why? My income depends on my data and historical docs, mail, and so forth. Plus, I have the space; not many do.


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