Monday, August 15, 2016

elementary OS

[Click for a much larger view.]

The screenshot above shows an old (2007) MacBook now running elementary OS, a rather Mac-like variety of Linux.

When I tried starting up this MacBook recently (curiosity, curiosity), I found myself getting nowhere. The hard drive was fine. RAM cards, fine. But my Mac could last only a minute or two before freezing up. I tried reinstalling OS X (why not?). But the problem remained, and remained a mystery.

Time to experiment: I added some RAM (4GB, $30) and installed elementary OS (wiping out OS X in the process). Installation was easy: I downloaded the 1.15GB file, burned it to a DVD, booted the old Mac from its optical drive, and followed the prompts. (The computer is too old to boot from a USB device.) In a couple of hours, I had a new-old spare laptop for basic computing.

If you visit the elementary OS website, you may too quickly conclude that the operating system is for purchase only. Not so: like other varieties of Linux, it’s available at no charge (add the custom price of “0”). Wikipedia’s article about elementary notes that the “Purchase elementary OS” strategy is controversial. If I find myself using elementary OS with any regularity, I’ll be happy to make a contribution. My greatest problem in using elementary OS thus far: forgetting that familiar key combinations (⌘-S, ⌘-T) don’t do what I think they’re going to do.

Invaluable in getting elementary OS to keep its cool, at least on my old MacBook: indicator-cpufreq. Adding it as a startup program makes a world of difference.

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