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Thread: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    Hello,

    I'm considering buying a computer from Apple. I am trying to make a wise choice and select either the Macbook, the Macbook Air or the Macbook Pro.

    I am an everyday computer user. I surf the Internet, use Office and play a couple of (rather old) games. I use occasionally programs like Google Earth, Skype, Gimp and Stellarium. I want a computer which can help me organize my music, my family pics and videos. Ideally, I'd like to keep it for 5 years.

    So I would like your opinion to help with my choice.

    1. Which will be more compatible with Ubuntu out of the box?
    2. Which is the best 'bang for the buck' in regard to what I want to do?
    3. Is polycarbonate a bad choice compared to aluminium?
    4. Is it easy to change the HDD to an SSD in these models?


    Thanks a lot for your answers!
    Desktop : iMac 21.5" (2011) Core i5 Sandy Bridge - AMD Radeon HD 6750M - 8Gb RAM - OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion
    Laptop : EasyNote TS 44HR (2012) - Core i3 Sandy Bridge - Intel HD3000 - 4Gb RAM - elementary OS 0.2 + Windows 7 Home Premium SP1

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    1,223

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    If that's all you want to do, why Apple? You'll get much more choice and performance for your money with other companies.
    There's no place like ~/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Villenave d'Ornon, France
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    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    Good remark. I've asked myself the question and I would be lying if I did not admit that the Macs sport good looks. Plus OS X is Unix based and I'm quite tired of Windows as my mainstream OS for production (office work and picture archiving). There are equivalent in the Linux world but they suck IMO: OpenOffice and Shotwell don't get close to MS Office and Picasa. So I'm curious about iLife and OS X sleek UI integration.

    Truth be told, Ubuntu is moving in a direction that I don't approve in terms of UI. Gnome 3 uses the screen in a way I don't understand. And even though KDE is great it doesn't look and behave like Gnome 2 does. XFCE gets close but it looks dated. So OS X looks like the next best candidate.

    I know it's rather vain but I think it's important that I'm honest about my comfort zone and what I want to achieve.
    Last edited by the8thstar; April 26th, 2011 at 12:41 AM.
    Desktop : iMac 21.5" (2011) Core i5 Sandy Bridge - AMD Radeon HD 6750M - 8Gb RAM - OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion
    Laptop : EasyNote TS 44HR (2012) - Core i3 Sandy Bridge - Intel HD3000 - 4Gb RAM - elementary OS 0.2 + Windows 7 Home Premium SP1

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    10

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    Bottom line, (my experience: buying Macs in the 80's and early 2000's for school and work), I recommend you buy whatever laptop that has the fastest processor and graphics card in it, since these two items usually aren't upgradeable.

    Get a multibutton mouse with a scroll wheel. Apple may have first designed the mouse but they haven't evolved their designs with current user needs.

    Unless iLife/AppleWorks is now 100% compatible with MS Office, you're going to have to get Office. No not MS Office, I mean LibreOffice, which I personally like better than MS Office or OOo, and it's FREE.

    Buy an ethernet connection dongle.

    Buy a spare battery.

    If you buy a laptop without an optical drive, buy an external optical drive.

    If you plan of filling up your hard drives with multimedia, stick with SATA drives for now. Flash drives cost too much for too little.

    Depending on how much you'll be transporting your laptop, you may want to look into extended warranties.

    If you want to play games - REAL games - you'll need to install Windows, and if you're installing Windows on a Mac, why didn't you just buy a crappy Dell for 1/3 of the price? And when I say Windows, I mean Windows XP, and when I say Windows XP, I mean Windows XP Black that can be *koff* found if you look hard enough.

    If I sound a -little- snarky with my suggestions it's because I think Apple doesn't give you what you pay for and I'd rather have you buy a laptop with better specs AND a printer AND an external storage drive for backup for what you would pay for in an Apple laptop, BUT,... I get it. Same reason why some people buy Porsches instead of Hondas.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
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    3
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    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    I would buy a MacBook Pro. The unibody aluminum models are incredibly durable and both my wife and I had polycarbonate in the past and they were considerably less durable. I use Ubuntu and OS X on my machine and enjoy great performance with both. In my opinion, OS X is far superior to Windows in terms of speed and stability and the service you will get with Apple completely blows the doors off of anything you could hope for with PC manufacturers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Modesto CA
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    54
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    Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    DO NOT BUY A MACBOOK PRO YET IF:

    You are going to solely use it for ubuntu, because they are having several issues with Wireless. Just a heads up.
    Follow me on Twitter!
    Or visit my blog (No Ads)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Japan
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    Xubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    I would also say, if you have the money, go with the MacBook Pro. The built quality is tops. I have Ubuntu 10.10 installed and run same through Parallels 6.0. So far no issues, runs great. I like OS X, so just getting a PC with Windows 7 on was not an option. I have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 installed on my iMac with no issues. I love the fact I can have all three operating systems on a Mac (with OS X being legal, not a hackintosh).

    May God Bless!

    Ed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    381

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    Loooong time mac user!

    Don't get a MacBook, I got one for my wife and the plastic case has cracked, the battery expanded and the screen backlight is about to give up. Not impressed.

    I've had a series of MBPs, excellent build quality, beautiful bits of kit and NOT overpriced if you compare like for like (ie to Lenovo, or Sony Vaio top end machines) and OSX is still, overall, probably the 'best' OS for most consumers.

    Paradoxically, I just sold my last MBP, bought an old G5 Powermac (because you get a lot of machine for your money and it suits my current, rather esoteric requirements) and I'm running Natty on it dual-booting with OSX 10.5

    My next portable will be a Lenovo (x201 or x220) running Natty. Lenovo play well with linux and their build quality is, if anything, superior to Apple, albeit less stylishly done.

    Installing native linux on Apples seems to be a tricky task, but now that the VMs will run accelerated graphics you can run Unity in VMWare Fusion on OSX so you don't need to do a native linux install at all. Run Win7 the same way and you have everything...

    Heck, I think I just persuaded myself to get another one! Damn!!!
    Registered Linux User #407403

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    6

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    Allow me to say that if running Linux is ABSOLUTELY crucial to your work, now is not the time to buy a mac (relating to the newest 2011 models).

    To my knowledge ( and I have been trying repeatedly ) as of yet no linux distro FULLY works on the MBPs.

    Why am I saying this? I work in computational fluid dynamics... our lab relies on CAE Linux to get a large amount of work done. We write many of our own proprietary CFD codes, as well as use a few main stream ones like Fluent/OpenFOAM. However, I have not been able to run CAE Linux (based on ubuntu 10.04) or any other build as my primary OS due to compatibility with the mac.

    Ubuntu will run just fine through parallels ( and if you have a 8gb ram model it runs rather well if you dedicate 8 cores to it ), but in many cases this is not sufficient.

    In summary:
    If you are absolutely dead set on running Ubuntu as your primary OS and you are not willing to put a decent amount of work in to get it working as intended, a 2011 model MBP is probably not for you.

    Now this is only my personal opinion, and there are a few people successfully running 11.04 on late model MBPs. Could I get it working perfectly... probably... but I'd rather spend my time getting my work done then working on getting an OS working properly.

    --------------------------------
    On another note... Bang for the buck:

    Many people mention 'get a pc because its better hardware for your money' or something along those lines. If you want a true i7 in a laptop, your options are really only Lenovo or Apple.

    I have both. In fact, my macbook runs the OpenFOAM dambreak benchmark in parallels FASTER then my comparably built lenovo does with ubuntu as a primary OS. I still havent figured out why this is, but it's a fact. So are MBPs a ripoff for hardware? Absolutely not. I use mine as a desktop replacement.

    --------------------------------
    My final remarks:

    I am an engineer and I have been a linux user since I started my bachelors (Which was many years and a few degrees ago). However I always had to dual boot linux/windows to get use of all the applications necessary for my work. Lately, after realizing how useful OSx can actually be (because it is *NIX) I've have begun to fall in love with Apples. Why is this?

    I use the following things on a daily basis in OSx:
    -OpenMPI w/ F77 & F90 support
    -SSHFS - FUSE - MacFuse - MacFusion (unbelievably useful if you work on clusters)
    -gfortran / g++
    -Mathematica
    -MatLab
    -LaTeX
    -VisIt Visualization (prebuilt for OSx in parallel! yay!)
    -TecPlot
    -Eclipse w/ Photran
    -Microsoft Office 2011 (I swear the mac powerpoint is 10x better than the win variant)
    -iTunes
    -emacs / pico / nano / vi
    -X11

    The following I still use in Ubuntu:
    -OpenFOAM
    -ParaFOAM / ParaView


    ---------------------------------------------------
    Oh and your questions:
    1. A mac is very unfriendly as terms of out of the box compatibility
    2. I personally think the MBP 17' is the best bang for the buck for a true desktop replacement if that's what you're looking for.
    3. Aluminum
    4. Took me less than 15 min to put a Vertex 3 SSD in the main slot, and the stock HDD into the Optibay as a secondary.

    The mac really brings together the mainstream-iness (I made my own word) of a common operating system, with many of the tools you'd typically think you need linux to use.
    I still LOVE ubuntu (w/ the exception of unity) and run it on all my other computers, but at the same time I love how much work I can get done on a single operating system by using a mac!

    Sorry for the length of this, but I just had to get it out there, that these days macs can really be used for scientific computing, while many people think they are just for soccer moms.
    Last edited by itsmrjon; April 29th, 2011 at 07:41 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    381

    Re: Best compatibility with Ubuntu : Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro?

    @itsmrjon - Loved your post! May I ask what config you use for Eclipse/Photran? I assume it's for Fortran development?
    Registered Linux User #407403

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