A little rant

I was going to write a blog entry about my new MacBook. After all, I’ve spent a lot of my fine British pounds on it (well, let’s be honest, most of them were Canonical’s fine British pounds but let’s gloss over that) and I agonised about buying it, so it only made sense that I tell you whether or not I like it.

But then something happened that I thought deserved a rant. So, the quick answer to the question “do I like my MacBook Pro” is “yes,” or at least “yes, but the keyboard layout is taking some getting used to.”


Now, let’s be clear about how I’m using the Mac. I said on Twitter the other day that Ubuntu is my OS and OSX is my device driver, and that’s pretty much true. I run Ubuntu in Fusion and it works really, really well (apart from OSX occasionally reacting to keypresses that I don’t expect it to). I switch to OSX when I need to do something that I can’t do in Ubuntu (basically run Lightroom and Photoshop) and the rest of the time I stay in my nice, cosy Ubuntu installation.

Now, I’m not terribly familiar with OSX, so it sometimes takes me a wee while to work out how to do something, or why something’s happening (for example, apps staying open when I’ve closed all the windows seems odd… why would I want Chrome to hang around with no tabs open? Anyway…). However, the sequence of events that happened tonight I just don’t understand. I don’t think there’s too much PEBKAC here (though there’s some); as far as I can tell this is genuine weirdness. Here’s what happened.

I wanted to copy some files from my desktop (now my archive) machine to my Mac (Lightroom catalogues, though that’s irrelevant). I selected the directory called Lightroom from my mounted SMB share of my $HOME on the desktop machine and pasted it into the Pictures folder in Finder. There was already a Lightroom folder there, so OSX gave me a warning about this, with the options to “stop” or “replace.” Now, I should have read the warning, because rather than it being the warning that Gnome (and Windows) gives you (which amounts to “what do you want me to do if I encounter files with the same name?”) the warning was that if I chose “Replace” then the old folder would disappear and the new one would be put in its place.

Point 1: Is it really that hard to merge folders?

Anyway, I blindly clicked “replace” and, as nearly always happens, I realised an instant after I’d done it that it was a bad idea. No matter, I thought, I’ll just restore from my backup (hurrah for Time Machine).

Except that not only had the old folder been removed but the new folder hadn’t replaced it. The folder was just gone.

Point 2: “Replace” should, yanno, replace. Having a replace function that just deletes seems a little perverse, even to me.

Anyway, realising my mistake, I went into Time Machine and found the most recent backup of that directory. I selected the Lightroom folder, selected “Restore Lightroom to…” and then selected the Pictures folder on my Mac.

And then Time Machine proceeded to restore not just the Lightroom folder (and the 700MB of files in it) but also the Pictures folder, and all 15GB of files in that, too. So I ended up with Pictures/Pictures, which was just a copy of Pictures (except that it had the Lighroom folder in it).

Point 3: When I select a folder to restore I expect that exact folder to be restored. Not it’s parent or its siblings or its distant cousins to the nth degree.

So, I dragged the Lightroom folder back into the actual Pictures directory and moved the new, restored, blue-haired stepchild Pictures folder to the trash. OSX challenged me for my password.

Point 4: It’s my damn folder; why challenge for my password?

And with all this finally sorted out, I ran Time Machine again to make sure that my backups where up to date. Whereupon it backed up 700MB and just sat there, spinning at me uselessly. I tried to cancel the backup – no go. Eject the USB drive to which it was backing up – no. No errors, nothing

Point 5: When a used tries to do something the can’t you bloody well better explain it to them.

Finally, realising that all was lost, or at least irritatingly confused, I tried to restart the Mac from the Apple menu. Whereupon it closed the finder and the taskbar and the dock… and sat there, showing me just the desktop background.

Point 6: WTF? gdm doesn’t do this at its most unstable.

Finally, I hard-powered off (yes, I hard-powered off a Mac; anyone who tells you you don’t have to do this occasionally is lying). On reboot, everything seemed fine. Time Machine backed up properly, the disk ejected, and my folders are back to normal.

All the same I’m glad for two things:

  1. I’m running Ubuntu as my main OS; OSX would drive me nuts.
  2. I’m archiving things to an Ubuntu machine. At least that’s reliability I can, well, rely on.

(And let’s be clear; I still prefer this by miles to the equivalent spec Windows machine, but the whole experience has left me scratching my head; I thought OSX was supposed to be saner, better than this.)