Bit Cannon

Finding an Alternative to iOS

I've used iPhones since 2008, adding thousands of dollars to Apple's giant pile of cash. Much like my move from macOS to Linux more than 3 years ago, Apple's recent behaviour has prompted me to consider iPhone/iOS alternatives. Join me on this journey into the world of Android and the lack of real choice that smartphones present in 2020.

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Void Linux (musl) on the Huawei MateBook X Pro

I recently returned from a 3-week trip to Broome to escape the awful Melbourne weather. The first week I worked remotely and the latter two were holiday. A week before leaving I acquired a new laptop: a Huawei MateBook X Pro (2018). In the days before heading off I worked to set up the new machine into a state that would allow me to perform all my work duties. I wanted to take the new laptop as it is considerably lighter and smaller than the XPS 15 it's replacing.

To make things even more interesting instead of going for my tried and true Arch Linux setup I wanted to try out Void Linux. Specifically the musl libc variant. This post describes the trial by fire that the laptop and Void Linux received on this trip.

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Visualising Operating System Derivation

After I ordered a new laptop yesterday (Huawei MateBook X Pro (2018)) I started pondering what OS I might run on it. I started looking through the DistroWatch.com Top 100 OSes (by Page Hit Ranking). This table (shown in the right side bar on the homepage) ranks OSes by the number of hits to their DistroWatch.com page in the last 6 months. It's a decent proxy for what's out there and what people are interested in using at moment.

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Announcing Desktop Institute

Since publishing, A Tiling Desktop Environment, I've continued to think about the topic, absorb the comments I received, try out some of the suggestions, and poke around the code bases of some existing window managers and Wayland compositors.

This weekend I set up a new website to document the thinking and research I've been doing. It's called Desktop Institute, and has a fun domain: desktop.institute. Check it out for a more info on what I have planned as well as a roadmap for future posts.

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A Tiling Desktop Environment

I've been thinking about graphical shells recently. One of the great things about open source desktops1 is there is a plethora of choice when it comes to graphical shells. However they seem to fall into two camps:

  1. Full featured desktop environments that stick to the conventional stacking window metaphor.
  2. Narrowly featured window manager based environments that include tools like tiling window managers often optimised for efficient keyboard use.
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Two Years on Linux

This is the sixth post in my series on finding an alternative to Mac OS X. The previous post in the series recapped my first year away from Mac OS and my move to FreeBSD on my desktop computer.

The search for the ideal desktop continues and my preferences evolve as I gain more experience. In this post I summarise where I'm at two years after switching away from Mac OS. This includes leaving FreeBSD on the desktop and switching from GNOME to Awesome. I'll cover the motivation, benefits, and drawbacks to giving up a complete desktop environment for a, "build your own", desktop.

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Windows

At various points in my Finding an Alternative to Mac OS series I've made promises about trying Windows and writing about the experience. This is as close as I'm going to get to that post:

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Stardew Valley on FreeBSD

In, A Year Away From Mac OS, I wrote about my switch to FreeBSD on my desktop computer and noted one of the downsides was losing Stardew Valley:

I initially missed playing the game Stardew Valley on FreeBSD. It was consuming a few hours of my time each week prior to the FreeBSD install. The extra friction of rebooting into Arch to run the game basically stopped me playing, which wasn't entirely a bad thing. There was some recent progress running Stardew Valley on OpenBSD so I could look into porting that work... I have enough side projects as it is though.

Fortunately Mariusz Zaborski (oshogbo) did the porting work and you can now play Stardew Valley (and other games) on FreeBSD. In this post I'll describe the steps I took to get it running.

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Linux on ROCK64

I recently picked up a ROCK64 with 4Gb RAM to test it out as a fanless desktop computer. The ROCK64 is a credit card sized single board computer (SBC) like the Raspberry Pi. It's available with 1, 2, or 4Gb of RAM, and optional eMMC storage in addition to a microSD slot. The ROCK64 is fairly comparable to the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ except it does not have Wi-Fi, can be configured with much more RAM and supports 4K output over HDMI.

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A Year Away From Mac OS

This is the fifth post in my series on finding an alternative to Mac OS X.

A bit over a year ago I wrote about my search for an alternative to Mac OS and switch to Linux. In this post I reflect on how that year went and detail some further adventures into Mac OS alternatives.

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