The Unbearable Lightness of Platforms

I have used Macs exclusively to write code since The venerable PowerPC Mac Pro Tower that I used throughout the early years of my Ph.D. I bought one of the black plastic Macbooks (pre-unibody) to write code while I was at home, and a mac-mini to sit on my desk. These POSIX compliant computers were invaluable for writing C++ code that could be ported to the supercomputers at the lab or the Berkeley clusters. I have bought about at least 8 Macs since, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy one again.

Why? Well it’s really simple. Apple has moved from a philosophy of embracing and enabling power-users to a rent-seeking mode. They have moved from naively supporting state of the art compilers, to requiring you to click nag screens to develop and run FOSS software. From providing perfectly optimized veclib’s with the standard OS distribution, to literally obscuring the complete instruction sets of their custom CPUs and putting hackable microcontrollers in between your keyboard and your main CPU. News.ycombinator is rife with fanboys who might only have to code Javascript who are ready to apologize for anything AAPL might do, bend over backwards and recompile everything for a proprietary chipset, just to have their code run on their favorite, shiny fetish object. I have no desire to be one of these people.

For me a computer is largely a tool to write code. MacOS is no longer the easiest platform to write code on. Linux is. Full stop.

Instead of an M1 MacBook, I picked up an ASUS Rog Zepherus G15. It took a few hours to get everything working in Ubuntu 20, but it wasn’t very difficult. It wakes/sleeps/sounds/wifi’s and has a discrete GPU. I don’t miss the macbook pro at all.