I have a love hate relationship with my MacBook. I adore the little bugger. I love how everything just works. I like the screen. I like the software. However, I really don't have much love for Apple, the company. I've been getting the itch to edge a little bit more toward the open source side. This should not be surprising since I'm a Linux zealot at heart.
One thing that was a real turnoff for me is that Apple stopped releasing binary installers for standalone Darwin. The PureDarwin project is hoping to pickup where OpenDarwin left off, however, it's obviously tough going. I'll keep my eye on it, but I don't think it'll be production-ready any time soon.
I've given up, to some degree, on VMware and VirtualBox. They're useful, but they're not the sort of thing you want to live in on a day-to-day basis. They're just not fast enough. They're better for occasional use.
I was really intrigued to discover Elive. Some guy took Debian and Enlightenment 17, tweaked it out for a Mac, and then released it as an ISO. Interestingly, he asks, rather forcefully, for a donation before you can download the ISO. I've heard that the system is absolutely beautiful, but since it's mostly a one-man show, it's obviously not perfect.
The documentation for getting Ubuntu to run on a MacBook is definitely not a one-man show. It's amazing how well they've documented everything. Don't get me wrong--it's still a total pain in the rear getting everything working just right, but still--they're to be commended.
In order to dual-boot Linux, you need to install rEFIt, which is basically a bootloader. It installed quite easily for me. You also have to have some room for a Linux partition. In theory, Apple's Disk Utility and BootCamp can both resize your existing partition in order to make room for another operating system. As you might imagine, this doesn't work out so well in practice.
I was immediately impressed when I heard that those tools could resize a partition. I thought to myself, boy, they sure must be smart if they can move files around in the partition in order to make room at the end of it. Unfortunately, I was too right. If you've been using your Mac for a while, Disk Utility will report "no space left on device" when you try to resize the partition, even if you have plenty of space. That's because the drive will be a bit fragmented, and it doesn't know how to move the fragments around. Apparently, this is a super common problem. However, it's not so common that Apple will admit to it in their documentation.
There are three solutions. One is to copy your system to a second disk and then copy it back. This basically defrags the partition. The second is to buy a $100 defrag tool. I'm broke right now, so neither of those are acceptable options. The third is to just wipe your hard drive and start from scratch. Ah, I fondly remember the days in college when I had time to do things like that ;)
I think I'm just stuck. I don't have another 12 hours to mess with this, and I'm short on funds to just "make the problem go away." I have this wonderful machine that I love, but, as a lot of Linux enthusiasts will say, it's like wearing a pair of golden handcuffs.
I love how well suspend works, how well the wireless works, how long my battery lasts (almost 5 hours!), and how nice my screen is (I really don't understand why it's so much nicer than every Dell I've ever owned). However, I think I'd like to find a way to make my Mac even more open source. I'm already running MacPorts, and I use open source alternatives for just about everything. (By the way, I must admit that I paid for VMware Fusion and for The Missing Sync.) Perhaps it's just my OCD talking, but I want more!
So I spent two days trying to make my Mac more open source, and I didn't really get anywhere. Hopefully this blog post is helpful somehow to someone. If any of you out there in the Python world have helpful suggestions, I'm all ears :-D