Thursday, 1 June 2006

MacBook Day 1

I read PlanetPython a lot, and one of the interesting things I've noticed is the number of Mac posts I've seen there over time. Various Python personalities keep getting their latest MacBook (Pro) and talking about their great experiences with them.

Well, I gave in (really did not take much convincing) and joined the crowd. Got myself the lowest end MacBook, the 1.83 GHz model, with the lowest end specs. Then immediately maxed out the RAM to 2G. I figured I could live with the 60G hard drive (I don't actually pack very much) but I might one day need to run the parallels virtualization software and more memory never hurts when you're trying to run multiple OSes at the same time.

Day one has been pretty good. It really didn't take all that long to get up and fully functional on the new system. All OSX systems include a nice utility to migrate your data over, but I lacked a firewire cable so I had to manually scp my home directory from my Powerbook over to the MacBook. After installing all the other apps I used regularly (Colloquy, Adium, Firefox,, darwin ports), everything else just worked like the old Powerbook, just a lot faster. It's nice how OSX puts almost all your user settings into your home directory, making moving everything really easy.

It's funny how the lowest end MacBook beats the crap out of an 8 month old Powerbook, but I guess that's just the power of the new Intel chips. Things are responding much faster now and I believe I can actually use this new system for serious development, rather than ssh'ing to servers to run CPU/IO intensive tasks. We'll see though. Ports is still building the dependencies needed to run my main project applications.

I suppose lots of other people have given their impressions on the MacBook, but my own impressions have all been really positive so far. The screen is much brighter and crisper than the old PB. I like the much larger trackpad and the new keyboard is decent, though it requires a little more force than the old PB. My fingers must have gotten weak.

Heat really doesn't appear to be that much of a problem. I tried running both CPUs at 100% for about 15 minutes and while it got warm, it was usable. In regular usage (darwin ports compiling stuff in one window, me writing in another), it gets a little warmer than the PB, but still usable on bare skin lap. Would be a lot nicer in winter than summer though.

I plan to use the system extensively for development, especially while traveling around Europe later this month. This laptop is going to get a much more intensive workout than the PB. After I found that the PB took up to 3 times longer than my regular desktop to run a full suite of tests on one of my projects, I stopped using it for actual development (was great as an emailing/document generating machine). We'll see how things turn out after darwin ports finishes compiling all the dependencies and I run the full suite of tests for the first time.

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