A tale of too many macs

For someone who really doesn’t like the company or the platform, I’ve had curiously many macs. It started with a Powerbook Pismo which I got secondhand to investigate some problems Krita had with big-endianness (it had a powerpc cpu and ran Debian), during the first Krita kickstarter I got KO GmbH to buy a mac mini so I could work on porting Krita to macOS. That one was horribly slow, so then in 1015 I got a 15″ macbook pro. In 2020 I first got an M1 MacBook pro, to look into making Krita ready for the M1 cpu.  And after that an M1 mac mini for KDE’s binary factory. I haven’t noticed other projects making use of it, though, and it’s a bit unstable.

And then, since I still could get a good trade-in value, I decided to swap the 13″ M1 for a 14″. The 13″‘ screen was always a bit too small for me and I hated the touch bar with a vengeance.

I’ve been using it now for a bit, and here are my impressions…

The out of the box experience was… Trying my patience a lot! First it needed to download and install 6.1 GB of updates before I could even start sending over my user files. That took hours, even over my really fast glass connection..

Then I wanted to transfer my user folder from the old macbook to the new one; I was warned that that would take five hours. In the end, it was “only” two hours. But that worked really well: everything was copied and ready for me.

Only at that point, by now it was early in the evening could I log in. Asnd that didn’t work. I needed to futz with my Apple ID from another Apple device — and that several times. When that was finally sorted, and I don’t remember <i>how</i> I sorted it in the end, macOS insisted on setting up all kind of stuff I’ll never use, like iCloud.

The next day, I could finally setup my development environment, dropbox and other stuff. Dropbox on M1 macOS has a problem: it can no longer install the kernel extension that would automatically download an off-line file, which means… For every file in Dropbox that I want to use, I need to manually make it available off-line. That’s still not sorted.

As for the development environment, installing XCode took, once again, hours. I only use the command-line stuff, the IDE I use for working on Krita is Qt Creator.

So, now I was all set to go and build Krita. At that point it was clear that this laptop is amazingly fast. Compiled C++ files scrolled by at a clip that I only know from C on other computers.

Actually developing, though, is not such a nice experience. The problem is mainly with the keyboard. As far as keyboards go, the actual keys type fine. It hasn’t got a lot of travel, but it’s easy on the nail polish, it feel good — typing text is a lot of fun. It’s got function keys again, which is also nice.


It’s missing so many keys. I know, that’s par for course with Apple, but when using Krita, a missing Insert key means no easy way to create layers. And there’s a lot of inconsistency between applications. In Terminal, you switch tabs with Control-Tab, in Firefox with Option-Command-Left/Right, in Qt Creator with Option-Tab. I haven’t figured out what it is in Kate. Navigating around text is also inconsistent between applications. And that means that I just never get any finger memory down: especially since I also use all other operating systems…

The window manager is also pretty primitive and needs help from an external utility called Rectangle.

And the permissions stuff is crazy. The wacom tablet driver needs permissions to use Accessibility — as does, for some reason Dropbox.

The hardware for the rest is fine… The screen is good, I don’t mind the notch since I run pretty much everything full-screen, all the time. Battery life is good, but not as good as the 13″‘ battery life was.

As for the rest of the hardware, the screen is fine, I don’t mind the notch, because I pretty much always use all applications full-screen, because of how bad window management is compared to KWin, even with Rectangle.

And I have got a cute cover sticker with Kiki on it!

A pretty laptop sticker