Switching to OSX, productivity and development tools

Two weeks ago I got a new laptop from work. After extensive hemming and hawing, I went with an Apple MacBook (the black one, cause it looks hotter^Wmore professional). Previous to this I had been running Ubuntu on a Thinkpad T40 bought around the founding of StreamBase. My goal for the change was to have a laptop that would “just work”, and to stop having to administer my personal machine. I was last on a Mac when I was in grad school.

As far as that goal goes, I think the switch has been a rousing success. In non-development activities (eg, web, email, calendar, documents) it has been a significant improvement. The tools I’m finding myself using include:

  • Firefox – Safari just isn’t good enough, and on the Intel processor Firefox is plenty fast
  • Terminal.app – In preference to X11.app and xterm, because it is better integrated with everything else
  • Mail.app (aka Apple Mail) – Because as part of the switch I’m going to stop hacking my mail client and see how the other 90% of the population lives. Thus far, using a less featureful mail client has been a success for spending less time with email thanks to unsubscribing from things.
  • Adium – This is the best graphical IM client I’ve ever seen.
  • iCal – The Apple calendaring tool is adequate, though I think I may end up switching to something with Exchange support, as work moves in that direction.
  • iTunes – Of course, this is a huge improvement over anything on Linux, particularly for synching with my iPod.
  • Microsoft Office – I’d considered other alternatives, but the MacBook came with office preinstalled, and once I had it easily available (instead of in VMware) I couldn’t say no.
  • NetNewsWire Lite - A feed reader that is much better than bloglines. I haven’t done much with the NewsGator integration, which might be interesting. And I haven’t seen a reason to buy the non-lite version.
  • OmniGraffle – This is the best diagramming program I’ve ever used. Vastly better than anything on Linux, and much better than Visio.
  • Parallels Desktop – Much nicer than VMware workstation on Linux. Well polished, and the Coherence feature is pretty hot.
  • Desktop Manager - Free tool to implement virtual desktops. Does everything I want in this space.
  • Quicksilver – This is basically a graphical commandl ine for the mac, accessible from anywhere. It’s very nice. Like screen, you have to try it to learn how much it will change your life.
  • Visor – This is a cute hack that makes a Terminal only a keystroke away at any time. It’s a good complement to Quicksilver.
  • MailActOn – This is a little tool that lets you define keybindings in Mail.app, mostly to refile mail into folders with a few keystrokes.
  • TextMate – This is trying to replace emacs in my life. It’s a more mac-oriented text editor, with a pretty good feature set and good support for my emacs finger macros. But I may end up going back to emacs.
  • Ecto – This is my latest addition. It’s a blogging client that I’m using to write this post. I’m not sure I’m in love with it enough to pay for it, though it is a bit nicer than Performancing, the Firefox plugin I had been using.

That’s about it for productivity tools. On development tools, I haven’t had to install very much:

  • Apple developer tools – This comes on the standard install media, and gets you gcc, autoconf, and all the other things you would expect.
  • SSH Agent – This is a version of the standard ssh-agent which integrates with the account management on OSX, so that you can use the agent from any application/shell in your login.
  • SVK and Subversion – These are special builds for OSX, they seem to work well.
  • Eclipse – Standard Eclipse is available for OSX
  • MacPorts – This is a package system for getting various free tools. I currently only use it to get Cocoa Emacs.

So, that’s the enumeration of tools that I am using. Hopefully this is helpful to people. I may follow up on this with other posts about my experiences on OSX.

I will also shortly make a non-tools post.

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