Debian On Macbook

LIBERATED AT LAST. No more torment and self-punishment of using Mac OS X. I finally caved and wiped the Apple operating system from my Macbook and installed Debian and KDE 4. Sweet.


For a long time I’ve been reluctant to wipe the Mac OS X. I wouldn’t just give up on Mac OS X that easy. If so many people finds it that great, why did I keep hitting shortcoming after shortcoming and stupidity after stupidity?

If I should list what I like about the Mac OS X, I could list three things: Front-row is a pretty good media center. Mac OS X boots really fast. I like the zebra wallpaper – I kept that.

As for reasons that I don’t like the Mac OS X experience I could list a few. For example: Finder sux bad and is slow as molasses and stupid. The terminal is broken. I hate when CD’s won’t eject. Its frustrating that wireless cannot reconnect after standby. Hate those stupid obscure keyboard shortcuts. Feel back at Window 2000 with software updates that requires rebooting. I loathe those giant updates to iTunes which I rarely used. The multi-workspace concept in Spaces, its borked. The hibernation support is lousy at best. Hate that stupid inefficient application task switcher. And not by fault of Apple, I’m unhappy with the endless row of bad Total Commander/Krusader clones. I’m also irritated on an almost endless row of broken macports and broken fink ports.

It actually required two attempts to get the Macbook up and running. On the first attempt I followed the directions from the Debian Macbook Wiki, which preach that Lilo must be install for a later replacement by Grub. After installing Grub it was no longer possible to boot. On the second attempt I installed Debian like normal, and chose Grub as boot manager. Then it worked. Actually in a few other occasions I got into troubles when following the guides. It seems that the Debian Macbook Wiki is somewhat outdated on certain areas, as some special “jumping though loops” measures are no longer required, but would rather get you into trouble. Installing the 915resolutions package for example, crashed my X, but was in fact not necessary to get the prober resolution anyways. However it provides many valuable informations and links, and generally ease the installation considerable.

Krusader On Mac OS X

HAVING GROWN UP using Norton Commander for DOS, Total Commander on Windows and Midnight Commander and Krusader on Linux, its hard, if not impossible, to do work without a proper Norton Commander clone. This is true, especially on Mac OS. The standard file tools in Mac OS X are useless compared to the mentioned tools. For Mac OS X a range of native alternatives exists like Disk Order, XFolders, Fork Lift and muCommander. None of them are really good though. They all have their own weirdness’ and shortcomings, and generally none comes near the functionality and speed of used offered by Krusader or Total Commander.

I’ve used Midnight commander on Mac OS X, but I prefer Krusader, and thankfully its pretty easy to get Krusader up and running on Mac OS X thanks to the Fink project. If not having installed Fink already, do so by performing the following steps after downloading the source distribution (a binary installer is provided for Mac OS X Tiger).


$ tar xvf fink-0.28.1.tar
$ cd fink-0.28.1
$ ./bootstrap
$ /sw/bin/pathsetup.sh
$ source ./init.sh
$ fink selfupdate

Fink is now installed, configured, updated and ready for use. Installing Krusader and the required dependencies takes only a single command.


$ sudo fink install krusader

Wait for compilation to complete (may take a while). If everything goes well, Krusader should be able to be started from the terminal window.


$ krusader &

Running Krusader I discovered that the Meta/Alt key was not possible to use. This is unfortunate as many keyboard shortcuts in Krusader uses that key. Fixing this requires two setup modifications. In the X11 preferences I deselected all options under the tab ‘input’. This makes sure that X11 won’t override any personal settings made on the keyboard setup. Alas this is exactly what is required for the Meta/Alt key to work. Terminate the X11 session and edit the file ~/.Xmodmap (create it if not existing). Add the following keyboard mappings.

clear Mod1
keycode 66 = Meta_L
add Mod1 = Meta_L
keycode 69 = Mode_switch
add Mod1 = Mode_switch

Now Krusader can be used with working keyboard shortcuts :-) (note that my MacBook has a Danish keyboard, so the above mappings may possible be different if using another keyboard layout).

Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

IT IS EASY to see why people really love their MacBooks. These computers are sleek and run a cool operating system. I also really love my MacBook that I bought at TheCamp 2007, just from the fact that its killing me!

Where feasible I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts instead of mouse navigation, but on Mac OS X there are annoying hurdles.

On a Danish PC keyboard some the often used programming characters are accessed via the AltGr key, e.g. ‘{‘ = AltGr+7, ‘[‘ = AltGr+8, ‘]’ = AltGr+9, ‘}’ = AltGr+0. This is fine as they can all be accessible one handed.

On my MacBook I am running an English Mac OS X with a Danish keyboard and keyboard layout. The PC keyboard and MacBook keyboard differs, so it was no surprise when I could not find those characters. Tried a few combinations, then referred to the manual – no help. The Apple support forum wasn’t really that helpful either (seems that every other link is a sales or marketing page), but did find a poor swede that had some of the same problems that I had. The comments luckily mentioned that the Mac OS X shortcut for ‘[‘ is Command+shift+8.

Going from a one hand operated shortcut to a two handed is not a change for the better, but at least I could now do some programming :-)

Having found the ‘[‘ I was a happy camper as Command+[ is the shortcut for Safari 3 and Finder to do history back actions. No more grapping the mouse for doing trivial back actions I thought… but nooo. It seems that neither Safari nor Finder recognizes the key combination – aaarrgh! I speculate that this is because the true shortcut is Command+[ and what I am pressing is actually Command+shift+[. One could suspect that those programs switch on the actual keys pressed, instead of receiving characters thats been outputted from a localizing filter?

Btw. how do I enter a directory in Finder? Pressing Enter just enables me to rename the directory! WTF! This is surely a sane default action; I’ll much rather rename a directory than look whats inside – NOOOT.

Well, I’ve finally “solved” my Safari and Finder problems. A long time Mac owning friend of mine, told me that back history in Safari could also be done with Command+left-arrow. ZOMG! A secret solution?! Argh, kiss my ass Safari, I’ve installed Firefox. This new shourtcut didn’t work in Finder of course, so I installed Xfolders and then Finder could go fuck it self.

Btw. every time a dialog pops up for an action (e.g. Accept/Cancel) – how the hell do I select the desired action using the keyboard? And why do I even have to ask this question in the first place?

I would characterize the Mac OS X shortcuts as being either, very long, very non-English unfriendly or both. Wouldn’t be surprised if Mac OS X were written in Emacs by non-non-Englishmen ;-)

All this is making just me really Charles Bronson angry of how stupid Mac OS X is. Not just different, but stupid! Arrrrgh. So the lesson is short: “Apple and others – Don’t use special characters for keyboard shortcuts! It’s fubar.”

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