Linux Community Not Supporting Retina Macs?

by Peter

MacBook Pro Retina 15 inchI am writing this post on my delicious MacBook Pro Retina (often, oddly, referred to as MBPr online). It’s a great machine. But for me it is more than that: As a developer I think of it as a necessity (did you read that, IRS?) for me to have this beast. It’s one of very few machines for the moment with a graphics card and screen that can deliver 2880-by-1800 resolution. And since I develop and rework sites for customers, including making them “responsive” (adapt to the sizes of the viewports of users), I need to be able to see how the sites look in ultra-high resolution.

But more than that: For me, and many other developers, the MBPr represents the future. To my mind, there will be much, much more retina in the years ahead. Retina everywhere: on smartphones, pods, pads, ultrabooks, notebooks, laptops and desktops as other brands start copying Apple. Of course: retina make things look better, and who doesn’t want or like that?

That makes some kind of sense, doesn’t it? (Still reading, IRS?) I mean, while I can scratch my shoulder in the dark without problems, trying to develop a web site for a resolution you can’t see while developing somehow isn’t quite as easy, and doesn’t sound like an optimal strategy?

Linux distributionsBut here’s what doesn’t make sense to me: It is the end of March 2013. The MBPr was launched commercially in June 2012: three quarters of a year ago. And – believe it or not – it is still basically not supported by the Linux community!

Actually, I am writing this on my MBPr running Ubuntu 13.04 beta; so how can I say this? Well, as it is, you can’t just download and install the latest Linux distro of your choice and have it work nicely on your MBPr out of the box – whether it is Ubuntu, Mint, OpenSuse, Mageia, Fedora or whichever. Making the stable (long-term versions) run nicely is nigh impossible. And even the current (daily builds) will not run without extensive tweaks that enthusiastic individuals have come up with and published on the net (see this too)(Google it!): sub-optimal but somehow working solutions for WiFi, sleep mode, the microphone, and so on and so forth. The tweaks are complicated and basically described by the people who have found them at a level which make them useful only for advanced Linux users and up.

I don’t know why the Linux community doesn’t support the MBPr. It is strange. Perhaps it is a sign that the Linux world still is not ready for the big time as far as the consumer market is concerned (Linux dominates the server marked, but that’s an entirely different business) – you can’t choose not to support popular products, especially ones that are likely to be the first in a new, emerging trend, and still expect to be taken serious as a major player. While it is clear to me that I can’t afford to not pick up the retina-related business I get – I will be doing a retina fix for a bicycling website this week; I cannot for the life of me understand how the Linux community and the commercial actors involved in some of the major distributions can afford to just let business like that pass them by?

Not only is not supporting the MBPr bad commercially, I think it also is a bad move “politically”: A large number of very visible people – bloggers, web designers and developers, as well as people in the media – use the MBPr. Of course they do: It’s sleek, it’s quiet, it’s fast and versatile, and it has the best display ever.

To me, who likes Open Source and Linux, it is sad to witness the lack of adaptability and vision in the Linux community!  A sorry state of affairs indeed!

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment