Ubuntu Mate, Windows 10 and macOS Sierra: A marriage of 3 OSs

Why limit yourself to just one desktop OS?

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The Refresh Windows tool lets Windows 10 users install a recent, pristine copy of the operating system on their PC, eliminating all applications -- including pre-loaded 'crapware' -- but retaining the personal files already on the drive.

I gave myself a little gift recently and revisited Ubuntu Mate by virtue of a transplanted hard disk.

In my case, Mate was a gift that was giving and giving until it wasn’t.

When the eMachines T6528 went belly up due to leaky logic board capacitors, I parted this tank of a tower out, half-heartedly vowing to get back to this low-footprint Linux distribution as soon as I could.

Fast forward several months and with some precious free time on my hands, I was finally able to make good on the promise.

When I removed the hard drives inside the eMachines PC I placed the larger one in a spare Rosewill external USB enclosure I had lying around. I tried to boot from the PC I had hooked it up to at the time with limited success; the Mate desktop came up but with only 1025 x 768 resolution. It pretty much looked not ready for primetime and so I took out a cease and desist order regarding any further investigation.

Windows 10 is the OS that drives all my main production machines. When I’m blogging, I still like the familiarity of the old Power Mac G4 running  Mac OS X Leopard that sleeps until I wake it. But, while it still does everything it always has, Windows 10 pretty much can’t be beat for an all-around operating system that’ll handle anything you throw at it.

Mac user loyalties tested 

I have customers with Macs running OS X El Capitan and not macOS Sierra. Every upgrade of a Mac operating system requires more RAM. The last iMac I serviced was a late 2009 model, whose 1 TB Seagate hard disk had failed. I installed a 6 TB Western Digital replacement.

I recommended more memory in case the customer was interested in eventually upgrading to Sierra. While hard disk replacement in a late 2009 model iMac is moderately difficult, memory upgrades are easy. I maxed out the machine from 8 GB to 16.

Professionals who rely on their Macs, and who update as soon as Apple OS releases are available, do so at their own peril. 

But, last time I checked, Apple has hardly any new Macs on which to run its latest OS. And even the most loyal of Mac users are currently scratching their heads at Apple’s indifference towards Macs. I think the words, “the thrill is gone,” pretty much sums up what Apple leadership and even many Mac loyalists think about Macs, the memory-guzzling macOS Sierra and the dearth of new Macs available to fill the void.

Are your anti-virus definitions current?

While Macs have seemed to peak in terms of relevance, the thing that bothers me most about the rise-to-prominence Windows 10, is what has always bugged me about Microsoft’s OS: It requires malware and virus protection.

Any security software running, no matter how lightweight, steals performance. I do give Microsoft a lot of credit with how well a job it does with Windows 10 on older PCs. But, the fact a user needs to go to extra lengths to secure their machine running Windows has always been a turn off. The Mac by comparison shines with less concerns over security and malware, and more with Cupertino’s inability to bring new Macs to market.

Which brings us back to Ubuntu Mate. Why do geeks periodically return to the Linux fold in some shape, form or manner when Apple and Microsoft are around?

Linux an acquired taste?

The reason is because Microsoft and Apple are still around. Linux is a draw for a lot of reasons. Its market share is minuscule compared to its commercial brethren, but there is a simplicity and simultaneous complexity to it that those who dabble therein will never cease to enjoy.

Another reason that Linux is always worth a try is because many of us have older PCs around. And we just want to run a modern OS without any of the baggage Microsoft and Apple brings.

In my case the install of Ubuntu Mate was perfectly fine except for the display resolution issue. I understand it is not attractive for a novice to have to do some tinkering in order to fix things.

But, it’s the payoff of troubleshooting efficiently that also is appealing to Linux users. There is a sense of control that comes with running a Linux variant that Apple and Microsoft can never touch with their operating systems.

No significant malware concerns, no old machines left behind and no planned obsolescence with respect to security updates. Linux on the desktop is an underdog, probably always will be, but I personally am a fan of this underappreciated OS.

After writing a display resolution script, saving it to my home folder and setting it to run at start up, I’ve got a perfectly functioning, secure, modern OS, featuring up-to-date browsers and a Microsoft-compatible office productivity suite. Heck, it even runs MS Office via Wine. And it’s all working beautifully via the simplicity of an external hard disk enclosure cabled to the PC’s USB 2.0 port (the PC also features Windows 10 on its internal hard disk).

Blissful, peaceful OS co-existence.

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