February 5, 2008

Totally Mac

I’ve now got a shiny new iMac computer on my desk. I bought it a few days ago but have been busy setting up both the computer and the desk to fit in with the new computer. Not having a beige box under the desk means it opened up a better option for aligning things on the desk, which basically meant shifting everything I had on the left to the right and vice versa. I’ve now got enough room to start storing the assorted selection of widgets I’ve built up over the years on the desk itself, which is a time saver whenever I need to get to my Wacom tablet in a hurry. I’ll post the obligatory picture later as I’m typing this up at the lab during lunch.

Loading in all the software has been a real chore. The Mac software I have on CD was fine, but downloading patches from the internet has been a hassle. I’m on a wireless connection to the university, and speeds are slow. This makes downloading a 100MB patch something you need to dedicate an afternoon to, and while you can always multitask with the stuff you’ve already got working you can only really download one of those things at a time.

The other big hassle is open source software under Leopard. Mac OS X is built around a Unix backend which should in theory make Linux based open source apps easier to run, but unfortunately and paradoxically that isn’t the case. Nearly all open source apps use X11 a X server equivalent to run on Mac OS X, and the default version that comes with Leopard is severely borked. There are work arounds, but it took me the better part of a day to get them running.

Then there’s the whole issue with X11 and Spaces, the multi-windowing system in Leopard; they do not like each other. My current work around is to force X11 to run in all windows simultaneously; not the best of fixes, but at least it stops Spaces switching to the screen where I set up X11 all the time.

I’ve finally got it up to the point where Inkscape at least is usable. It’s crashed a few times more than I’d like, but I can get things done as evidenced by the new avatar I’ve loaded up on various forums. As a side effect for my efforts I’m going through some bug fixing for the Inkscape team, or rather I would if I could just get the code to compile (firewalls can put a crimp on auto-installers like MacPorts).

Overall I’m pretty pleased with the new computer, but I’ve got to stop futzing around with the internals and start using it to do things.

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