I've always been a bit of an operating system nut. From the time I first installed linux on a PC almost 15 years ago, I've been experimenting with every OS I can find. My PCs have always dual or triple-booted at least Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD for as long as I can remember.

I suppose then it's a testament to the quality and usability of Apple and MacOS that it's taken me this long to get around to putting linux on my mid-2007 MacBook Pro, then actually using it. I have to say though, I'm very impressed with what Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) and Linux developers in general have accomplished. Amazingly, lots of stuff now works out of the box:

  • The trackpad, including double-tap right-click.
  • Suspend to RAM
  • Video, sound, and CPU frequency scaling.
  • Wireless N, including 5 GHz and WPA2.

I'm used to the polished nature of MacOS, so the Ubuntu driver settings for at least the trackpad feel heavy. Luckily the X11 driver for the trackpad (synaptics) is pretty configurable. I've found the following commands, along with some adjustments to acceleration in the control panel, make the trackpad act in a manner more familiar to an OS X user.

# Increase sensitivity to general motion
xinput set-prop appletouch "Synaptics Finger" 5 35 200

# Adjust the trackpad's edges to the hardware's limits (I prefer two-finger scrolling to edge scrolling)
xinput set-prop appletouch "Synaptics Edges" 0 1215 0 575

The first thing is that by default, moving the pointer around requires a fairly weighty finger. I prefer a light touch, so setting the "Finger" setting's minimum to 5 from its default of 28 makes it accept something much closer to the feather-touch required by Mac OS.

The second thing is that by default, the right edge of the trackpad seems to be disabled. I assume this was for edge-scrolling. That's not for me; I find a two-finger drag to be more natural. This is also easy to fix by setting the "Edges" to what's reported as the maximums by the driver. Now I get full use of the whole trackpad surface. That's important because the trackpads didn't become gigantic until later Macbook models.

Now, if only I could find a way to globally re-map Control-C to Command-C...