The easy part

I now have completed my migration away from Apple computers (as in general purpose computing devices, I still have and will keep my iPhone for now) – The last step was to get a proper modern monitor for my new desktop machine, as I was running on a 24” old-ish monitor a friend loaned me. I waffled on the monitor decision quite a bit, as I wasn't quite sure what my needs were. I wanted 4k, I wanted 27”, but I didn't want to spend a ton of money and I still wanted a decent monitor with, for example, good viewing angles (which more or less means IPS these days).

In the end I settled on the budget option, that, just by the look and feel and features, doesn't really feel low budget, the AOC U2777PQU. What I like about it is that it has HDMI, DP, DVI and VGA connectors, which makes attaching really old hardware relatively easy. It does do 60Hz via DP as one would expect and works like a charm behind my GTX 1050Ti, as one would expect.

The main issue I have with it right now is that scaling the UI on Linux to make it work with my old eyes but not use the space super inefficiently is currently not super straight forward. If all goes well, Ubuntu 19.04 should actually contain the Gnome version that re-introduces fractional scaling, so I'm hoping for that.

But what I wanted to talk about a little more is something that occurred to me recently: Me moving from the Mac, a platform I've used almost exclusively for the last 12 years or so, back to Windows and Linux, both systems I've used before 2006, was, in many ways, much more uneventful that I thought. Here's a couple of the things I was surprised about:

Keyboard and Mouse.

I almost exclusively used Trackpads after external trackpads became available from Apple. I used the multi finger gestures quite a bit and somehow, going back to a normal mouse wasn't quite the big deal I thought it would. Using the mouse wheel for scrolling feels effortless, and I'm even using the wheel-tilting horizontal scrolling quite a bit. I do struggle a bit more with the keyboard, mainly because most Linux and Windows programs lack the shortcuts that you use on a Mac for the same purpose as one uses Pos1 and End on a Windows keyboard. My problems are, I think, mostly down to me using a compact keyboard that lacks the extra block of keys over the arrow keys and so I have to somehow get used to Pos1 and End on the Number block which is something, I can safely say, I've never done before.

Essential software

I use Evolution for Email on Linux, mostly because of the very nice calendar integration.

I had so many issues with Airmail (and on the Mac that I don't even really miss the much nicer interface. At least in Evolution, search works very well, which is something I always struggled with on my Mac.

I do miss Fantastical, and I would pay serious money for a comparable calendar app on either Linux or Windows.

I use Firefox and Chrome as browsers, I run Spotify to listen to music, I use SublimeText as my editor of choice and I run Tilix, which is actually my favourite thing about the Linux desktop right now.

There's one thing that is a serious pain in the arse and that's Skype on Linux. It's incredibly buggy and I often have to tweak the audio settings using external tools (like the pulse audio volume control) as selecting a soundcard for output in Skype doesn't necessarily mean that Skype will use that output.

Unfortunately I also have to use Microsoft Teams which feels like the unloved child of Slack and Skype – There's not even an official client for that on Linux, and so I use an unoffcial Teams wrapper app that at least makes it possible to quickly set up calls, even though it is very buggy as well.