Using Mint after Apple for small charity

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Jeronimus
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Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by Jeronimus » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:36 pm

I run a not-for-profit web-based publishing charity and use Apple: iPhone8, 2011 Mac Mini (my desktop), a fading 2011 MacBook Air and have inherited a very much better 2010 MacBook Pro. (I replaced all hard drives with SSDs).

(I only got the phone for the reliable battery, to be frank, and am not interested in the entertainment offerings from Apple, or anyone else.)

They work really well together, and I use iCloud and Apple software wherever possible out of preference. Both Numbers and Pages are very good at producing visualised data for reproduction on the web.

I also use Reminders and Notes.

I also use Photoshop Elements for basic editing of pics and Excel for sharing the accounts.

I have no real use for Mail / Calendar / Contacts as they are not integrated. (Mail I use as an archive.)

Instead, I use Google web mail, contacts and calendar (in Safari). We get the full suite as a not-for-profit plus advertising (Google paying digital pennies in good deeds in lieu of analogue pounds in tax).

I want to want to upgrade the desktop and go open source with Linux, building my own desktop and / or buying a NUC or similar as the Mac Mini is very handy in offices with screens and keyboards. 

My motives are not cost: it is a libertarian decision. I am worried about tech monopolies and favour open source (I use WordPress all the time). I have no philosophical issue with paying for software. It is just that, having done so, I should be able to use it as I like without surveillance.

I have no ambition to become more technical than my needs (as I have had to become to use WordPress).

We will continue for the moment to use Google for Gmail, contacts and calendars, but it is my hope to get shot of them at some stage. I feel bad not using Firefox, but we are all using Google (and much of it is so useful, like Google Forms on the websites).

LibreOffice looks great to me.

I need a no-frills photo editor that is simple and fast to crop images and reduce them to 30k or less. Ideally with a shadow box and some nice crop shapes at times. This is Gimp, I guess.

I would quite like Linux versions of Notes and Reminders, sync-ing with other devices.

I reckon one or other of these Macs, and perhaps all, will stagger on for a couple more years.

The idea is that I get competent enough at Linux to transfer everything over to it in time.

Is this idea mistaken, or can Linux now a serious proposition for practical but relatively simple work?
Mint 19.2 Cinnamon. Lenovo ThinkPad T450. Dell Inspiron 6400. Rapid Photo Downloader. Darktable. Gimp. Chrome stuff.

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absque fenestris
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by absque fenestris » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:47 pm

If it works - stay with Apple.
If you want to switch to Linux: You have to learn lot of new things, your applications like Pages, Numbers, the Apple communication stuff and Photoshop Elements for macOS simply won't work.
There are LibreOffice, Scribus and GIMP for macOS. Even in the latest version...

Maybe this would be a first entry into the Linux world.
Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia (Mate) 32-bit - Acer D250 Netbook (Intel Atom N270, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD)
Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa (Mate) 64-bit - MacBook Pro 15" (Intel Core2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD) - with some separation difficulties...

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xenopeek
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by xenopeek » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:01 am

We don't know your specific needs but I don't see why you wouldn't be able to move to Linux. You can use a website like https://alternativeto.net/ to find Linux suggestions for programs you know on macOS to help with prepare for a migration.

When I switched back in 2006 to Linux I kept Windows around for about 6 months, so I could fall back on that if I needed to do something for which I didn't yet have a working solution on Linux. I needed it perhaps the first couple of weeks and the remainder of the 6 month period was me being too lazy to remove Windows :)

Apple does go out of its way to make it hard to use their mobile devices with Linux so that's a thing to look into if you're glued to the iPhone.
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Portreve
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by Portreve » Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:35 pm

Jeronimus wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:36 pm
I have no ambition to become more technical than my needs (as I have had to become to use WordPress).
I'm sorry, I don't wish to be rude, but this attitude must change or you will not do particularly well in the GNU+Linux world. Just telling you that straight up. I hope you take it as encouragement, but if you're discouraged by it, then so be it.

The sheer variety of demographics (of types of users) who have taken up residence in the GNU+Linux community has by this point all but assured that, in general, things are fairly easy and usually intuitive for newcomers. This, however, does not mean things will be served up to you or anyone else on a silver platter, nor that you will be spoon-fed. As in real life, you have to take responsibility for your own ability to function and cope.

That said and out of the way, here's some suggestions I have for you. I don't do web (or any other kind of software-) development, so I cannot comment in that area. However, I am competent to comment in other areas.

Photoshop Elements is a highly automated, considerably dumbed-down version of Photoshop. GIMP is not a replacement for it; however, if you're willing to learn about graphics manipulation, GIMP is your guy. It is very powerful and may even surprise you with helping you do stuff you hadn't considered. Moreover, there are guides on the Internet to help make GIMP's arguably kind of fugly user interface a lot more Photoshop-like.

Scribus (mentioned above) is a fairly decent desktop publishing program. The UI, sadly, is kind of amateur hour, especially if you're used to programs like PageMaker, InDesign, and QuarkXPress. However, it is capable, but requires some amount of time to get used to its many idiosyncrasies.

LibreOffice is not and has never been intended to be anything like Pages. In fact, if you're looking for a Pages replacement, don't bother. You won't find one, not even within the Mac OS X world. LibreOffice, however, works very well and is what I use literally every single day related to my job, where I have to interact with others in my company who use both LibreOffice and various versions of Microsoft Office (typically Office 2007 or newer).

Darktable is a fairly nice photo management and comparison program. It is the libre community's answer to Adobe's Lightroom.

Geeqie is a nice and relatively clean image viewer. You might want to check that out as well.

FocusWriter is a very basic word processing program which is specifically designed to take up your entire screen and block everything else out, the idea being to kill off any other visual distractions to help you focus on writing.

If you actually intend to switch away from Mac OS X, then you realistically should walk away from iCloud, et al, and find some other cloud solution, assuming that's a set of functionality you really need.

For my job, which is a traveling type of job (driving over an area of roughly 200 miles in diameter) I use Google's Drive and office apps, along with their calendar, maps, and navigation functionality, all of which are fantastically well integrated. All of that plays very nicely with GNU+Linux. Arguably, it plays nicer than probably Apple's stuff does with respect to other platforms.

Since you're using Google's products already, if I were you I'd just leverage the rest of their functionality and then have Cinnamon integrate it. That's what I do and it works reasonably well.

I agree with you about software surveillance, and I suspect a great many in the libre licensed software community would as well. Certainly people like Ed Snowden and Richard Stallman would applaud that bit of what you've said. Honestly, I don't trust any code that cannot be reviewed, researched, and audited. Wherever it is humanly possible at this point, I only use libre-licensed open source software. With the exception of fonts (I honestly am not 100% certain of the present legal status of TrueType and OpenType file formats) I only use libre file formats (PNG, FLAC, OGG, etc.) with the exception that I will transcode FLAC into MP3 for compatibility with the head unit in my car. If I had a head unit capable of playing FLAC and/or OGG, I wouldn't maintain any MP3s at all.

The only other matter I would like to point out to you — and this is a perfect example of why you need to be independently savvy and inquisitive — is filesystem formats.

If you need to maintain interoperability with others who are not using GNU+Linux, you are going to need to decide how to handle the matter of data storage. The two most common filesystem formats out there are FAT32 and NTFS. Each has some drawbacks. FAT32 is probably the easiest to deal with, but it has a 2.1GB file size limitation, which can become a real problem with video files (and other things, too, but usually videos are the biggest). Also, it has no journaling or other protections built into it. NTFS does not have the file size limitation problem, but it's also not something which all operating systems can universally write to. For example, Mac OS X users will be able to natively read NTFS partitions, but they would need to install FUSE (file systems in user space) software, in particular OSXFuse, along with the module for NTFS. It's not that it's a big deal, but if you're dealing with someone else who has no ideas about such things, this pebble in the road might as well be a boulder.

It goes without saying that Mac OS X Extended (aka "HFS+") is out of the question because it has limited support in GNU+Linux and no support whatsoever in Windows, and likewise the various libre filesystems out there, in particular EXT3 and EXT4, are completely capable of being 100% supported by anyone who wants to, but neither Apple nor Microsoft have the slightest interest in bothering, so they're basically a dead issue outside of the GNU+Linux world.

There's potentially other ways around this situation (setting up a network fileserver which all desktop systems can then interact with through strictly network file sharing protocols which are universal and ubiquitous) but you also need to have some understanding of setting up such systems.


Anyhow, best of luck and I hope things work out for the best for you.
I'm so down wit' dat', yo, dass ich unter dem Beton bin.

Presently rocking LinuxMint 19.2 Cinnamon.

Remember to mark your fixed problem [SOLVED].

All in all, you're just another brick in the wall.

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absque fenestris
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by absque fenestris » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:45 pm

Portreve wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:35 pm
...
It goes without saying that Mac OS X Extended (aka "HFS+") is out of the question because it has limited support in GNU+Linux and no support whatsoever in Windows, and likewise the various libre filesystems out there, in particular EXT3 and EXT4, are completely capable of being 100% supported by anyone who wants to, but neither Apple nor Microsoft have the slightest interest in bothering, so they're basically a dead issue outside of the GNU+Linux world.
...
On this point I disagree with forum member Portreve: the macOS/OSX file system HFS+ is actually very well supported by all GNU/Linux systems. The GNU/Linux problem with Mac OS data on HFS+ is the user rights.
With root/superuser I can open any Mac data under Linux (as far as they are supported under GNU/Linux...) but not as a normal user.
A workaround is to disable Journaling under macOS/OSX.

Until today I don't know if this setting or FAT is the better choice... :mrgreen:
Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia (Mate) 32-bit - Acer D250 Netbook (Intel Atom N270, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD)
Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa (Mate) 64-bit - MacBook Pro 15" (Intel Core2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD) - with some separation difficulties...

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Portreve
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by Portreve » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:54 pm

absque fenestris wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:45 pm
On this point I disagree with forum member Portreve: the macOS/OSX file system HFS+ is actually very well supported by all GNU/Linux systems. The GNU/Linux problem with Mac OS data on HFS+ is the user rights.
With root/superuser I can open any Mac data under Linux (as far as they are supported under GNU/Linux...) but not as a normal user.
A workaround is to disable Journaling under macOS/OSX.

Until today I don't know if this setting or FAT is the better choice... :mrgreen:
I'm confused. Are you saying Mac OS Extended should be considered as a universally supported file system?
I'm so down wit' dat', yo, dass ich unter dem Beton bin.

Presently rocking LinuxMint 19.2 Cinnamon.

Remember to mark your fixed problem [SOLVED].

All in all, you're just another brick in the wall.

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absque fenestris
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by absque fenestris » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:03 pm

Portreve wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:54 pm
I'm confused. Are you saying Mac OS Extended should be considered as a universally supported file system?
Yes and No. That's exactly the problem: I've been listening music via HFS+ all day long - I also watch movies and so on - no problem at all.
It's the user rights - I copy data between Linux and Mac and can't tell which ones will be locked for the normal user at some point...

It goes even further: hopelessly broken Mac formatted HFS+ hard disks can be repaired with Linux and used again with Mac OS - don't ask me why...
Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia (Mate) 32-bit - Acer D250 Netbook (Intel Atom N270, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD)
Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa (Mate) 64-bit - MacBook Pro 15" (Intel Core2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD) - with some separation difficulties...

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Portreve
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by Portreve » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:41 am

I think you may have missed the point I was making: there is no Apple-produced file system which is now or has ever been universally supported.

Yes, it's true that HFS and HFS+ have been supported to varying degrees by the GNU+Linux community over the years, but Microsoft has never supported them in their mainstream releases of MS-DOS, Windows NT (as far as I am aware) or the current generation Windows releases.

Along the way there have been some 3rd party software solutions for handling HFS in Windows, but to my awareness those solutions have been gone a long time now.

If the only two platforms to be used by the OP are Mac OS X and GNU+Linux, then perhaps Mac OS Extended might be an appropriate solution, but I don't think is or will always be exclusively the case.
I'm so down wit' dat', yo, dass ich unter dem Beton bin.

Presently rocking LinuxMint 19.2 Cinnamon.

Remember to mark your fixed problem [SOLVED].

All in all, you're just another brick in the wall.

Jeronimus
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Re: Using Mint after Apple for small charity

Post by Jeronimus » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:18 am

I have been waiting to give a response, and this is a bit sooner than I would have liked as I am in the midst of a Linux Mint honeymoon. So ...

Many thanks Portreve for your thoughtful and long response.

A technologically competent friend gave me a Dell Inspiron 6400 with Linux Mint earlier in the year. I did not use it beyond casually browsing, because I had my daughter's old MacBook Pro for several months. But she has returned from travels and wanted it back.

It is only then that I got down to using the Dell, which is a bit old, creaky, has a mouse that wanders, no battery and a hard drive not an SSD. But an excellent screen.

I decided to buy an eBay Lenovo T450 (8gb ram; 250 SSD), remove Windows and install Mint. And I am really delighted with it.

My user experience is way better than I was expecting.

Mint was easy to install and update, and I actively enjoy using it.

One of the things I really like - and it is going to sound trite to seasoned users - are the multiple workspaces accessible with hot corners.

I use these all the time on Mac and they are just as good and useful on Linux.

It is early days, but I am writing stuff for the websites (www.leaseholdknowledge.com; www.betterretirementhousing.com) which we are in the process of transforming for mid-October.

I am beginning to learn Gimp, which has quite a few effects and shortcuts similar to Photoshop Elements (which is rather more sophisticated in my experience than is generally appreciated).

I must learn Gimp properly, not least as I use a Canon Eos 5D Mark IV, which is overkill for our website with mugshots, conferences, parliamentary meetings and similar. But very lovely for private stuff.

I am not good in the electronic darkroom, and have been resistant to it. I have Affinity Photo on the Mac, but have not used it seriously: it is too complicated for basic web photo editing, and far slower at it than Photoshop Elements.

With the digital SLR I have tended to shoot JPEG and not edit much, if at all. Which is limiting, I appreciate now.

(My photo background is very much manual B&W film, using a real darkroom etc which I still think is a valid option for big prints for display. But it is a time consuming business, so only for pleasure.) I have done a lot of B&W old print refurbishment of old family pics and my grandfather’s Royal Flying Corps pictures from WW1, in Photoshop Elements.

For work, I need basic competence in Gimp to do quick and possibly automated crops and file size reductions of unexceptional photos.

Once that is sorted, there is nothing to stop me going over completely to Linux.

It is not something I will particularly hurry, as my Mac Mini 2011 still has life in it and I do use iCloud, and would want some cloud storage alternative.

Video is the next big ask, as we now shoot loads of short interviews, clips from the Commons etc I am pretty confident I can do this with Mint.

As a Linux Mint user doing similar stuff, I find John Been’s website is really useful: https://www.reallinuxuser.com/about-the-author/

The essential question for me was: is there an alternative to Mac - with access to the rest of the world’s non-Mac restricted hardware - that is not Windows.

The answer to that seems to be yes.

Sure, I am at present pretty dependent on Chrome and its brilliant apps. Google actually gives us (and numerous UK charities) quite a bit of help: paying digital pennies instead of analogue pounds in tax.

But de-Googling is on the to-do list: I only use Chrome for work, otherwise Firefox and Duck Duck Go.

Of all these monopolising tech giants, I am fondest of Apple: remembering when you could only buy their stuff from a shed in Lewisham and a shop near the Glaxo HQ on the Great West Road. Apple Store palaces in Covent Garden and Regent Street seemed very unlikely in those days.

I will update later, but I am confident that my Linux honeymoon will turn into something long-term.

This is a ramble, but if it encourages others to give Linux and Linux Mint a shot, then all to the good.
Mint 19.2 Cinnamon. Lenovo ThinkPad T450. Dell Inspiron 6400. Rapid Photo Downloader. Darktable. Gimp. Chrome stuff.

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