[RESPONDED] Newbie looking to use Linux with macOS features

Hi! I’m new here, referred by my son who helped me build a laptop. I’ve used macOS for over a decade now, but they lost me when they started soldering the RAM and making it not upgradable. What kind of crap is that?!

Anyway, I am writing a book (so I currently use scrivener) and I also develop Laravel sites with phpstorm and MySQL. I run a test server on my local machine and can use a lot of resources doing this.

I host on Ubuntu, though, so I’m wondering if anyone has specific recommendations for which OS might fit best:

  • need to use iCloud for syncing for when I work on my iPad or phone. Photos also come through the cloud to my phone and I only pay $2.99 for all the space I need.
  • must run phpstorm
  • need to be able to use scrivener
  • need recommendations on something to format my book and generate an index and table of contents that isn’t Microsoft.
  • graphics and video editing tools

From what I’ve seen it doesn’t look like it’s worth the effort to try to install macOS on it. My son will probably do the installing and setup, but I’m getting excited and also a little anxious about the swap. Much needed swap cause my Mac can’t handle the load.


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@Melanie_Carr ;

The good news ;

both Gnome and KDE(Plasma) have many features regarding Desktop DE that OS-X still hasn’t implemented in nearly 20 years of development. A lot of what Apple touts as ‘features’ have been part of the standard Unix desktop experience for decades.

So pretty much a standard Fedora39 (which uses gnome45 as the base DE) install will get you 90% of the way.

Application wise you’re are going to have to install and try things; Flathub/Software Centre will ‘just work’ . Editing and layout etc is very much personal preference. I used Latex and a text editor for my thesis ; and have found Libreoffice much better than other WYSIWYG editors for handling large multi-part documents, but each app has it’s learning curve.
Other have suggested scribus but i’ve never gotten into it.

Darktable and Digikam have been my 'goto’s for Photo editing (both are Plasma applications, but work fine in Gnome)

I don’t know what phpstorm is - but installing things for development is super simple in linux - and If it’s a php framework I would probably look at using a toolbox container so you can test things in whatever setup you need. Podman desktop is also another tool for development I would encourage you to check out which is a graphical front end to working with containers. - These are both portable so you can move i.e a development container between mac/linux/windows using podman desktop on each to have portability.

Gimp is the Free Raster editing tool of choice; Video editing kdenlive/blender//davinci resolve are all good options - but it comes down to personal preference and learning curve.


Thanks. Yes, phpstorm is an IDE for coding with PHP, and Laravel is a PHP framework. Oh, I’ve used Gimp before! Great! I’m so excited to get the laptop, and finally not have my laptop freeze up. I appreciate the feedback.

I’ll have to keep reading, cause I don’t know what Gnome or KDE are yet.


As the comment above suggested, Gnome or KDE would be a great starting point!

In terms of OS, for beginners I personally recommend Fedora, as its easy to use and hard to break :slight_smile:

Here’s what vanilla Gnome Desktop looks like:

It has a pretty similar aesthetic to MacOS, as well as fluid touchpad gestures, so it’d likely be the easiest transition!
Another cool thing is that it can be customized very easily to look and behave more like MacOS with a great set of community made extensions that are easy to install.

Here is someone’s attempt at making Gnome look like MacOS!

And this is an easy to follow process to make your computer behave more like a Mac as well!

Hope this helps!

P.S I’m sorry I don’t have any recommendations on software, as I personally have never dealt with iCloud.

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That’s awesome. I had been digging a little further and it looked like Ubuntu might be better than Fedora, but I’m open to whatever is as secure as my Mac or better and is not taking precious resources for the operating system instead of the work I’m doing.

Looks are just that. I DO love being able to swipe between desktops, though. Maybe the one feature I really use on my Mac.

Well, other than the default of being able to save any partial or full part of a screen to a picture and save or export to pdf on command.

I’m running Fedora with the default GNOME desktop environment. That’s what GNOME and KDE are, they are “Desktop Environments.” Basically, different flavors of how the OS looks and behaves “out of the box,” so to speak.

On the default GNOME, I can swipe between desktops or “workspaces” and it includes a screenshot/screen recording tool quite similar to the one on Mac OS.

I never used iCloud on my Macbook, but I did a quick Google search and it seems people have guides for getting it working on Linux. No idea how well the “syncing” works.

As an alternative to Word, I’ve been using LibreOffice Writer for a long time. It’s free and included with Fedora (and many other Linux distributions), and it’s also available from most “package managers,” which is sort of like an app store for Linux, but it’s mostly free, open-source software.

How so?

I’m a Linux noob as well. Just thought I’d point that out, so you don’t think I’m some kind of guru, haha.

With that in mind, I wouldn’t say that either Fedora or Ubuntu are “better” than the other. They are just different. I tried Fedora, liked it and never switched. Both have their fans.

Fedora is updated more frequently than Ubuntu LTS, which is one reason it’s recommended for the AMD version of the FW 13. It tends to have more up to date drivers and such without adding anything. But both work and there are many who use and like both.

Ok, now I’m excited! If I can swipe and screen capture, I’m good to go. So you also like Fedora over Ubuntu?

Can I ask why? I’ve only known Ubuntu since that’s what my web server has been using the last 10 years.

What do you think are the advantages?

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I tried Fedora and like it. That’s it, lol. I’ve never actually run Ubuntu. I liked the way Fedora GNOME operated and it did what I needed. So I went that route.

If you aren’t sure which you’d prefer, you can set up a “Live USB” of each operating system and try them out. Basically, you can run them off of a USB stick without installing anything, just to play around and get a feel for them before choosing which to install.

I don’t know how to choose who I reply to. Good to know! As for why I thought that, it seemed that Ubuntu uses packages with one extension and fedora another - and that some software companies don’t produce both of them. If they do, it’s the one Ubuntu uses. I guess I’d say better for me, seeing how I am familiar with Ubuntu server and how to get packages and updates. I like that it has the LTS, but I haven’t seen if one uses less resources than the other.

I must say, I’m considering fedora just from all you’ve said so far, though!

If you want to quote someone, you can just select the text you want to quote and a quote button will appear above the selected text. If you simply want to tag someone in a reply, you can simply put @ in your reply, and a popup with names from the thread will appear and you can choose one, or simply type out their username and it will tag them as who you are replying to. @Melanie_Carr

I’m not sure if one or the other uses more or less resources. Both Fedora and Ubuntu use the GNOME desktop environment by default, though I’ve heard that Ubuntu uses a customized version of it. When you install Fedora you have the option of enabling “third party” software repositories. I think pretty much any software one can use, the other can too, but again, I’m not an expert.

If you have a couple USB sticks, you could put Fedora on one and Ubuntu on the other and try both. Boot one, play around for a bit, check through the optional settings, etc. Get a feel for it. Then shut down, swap USB sticks, boot the other one and see how it compares. Obviously you could do this with one USB stick as well, you’d just have to re-do the USB stick with the other version in order to swap after trying the first one.

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If you set up a stick with ventoy you can drop the installer ISO images on it and try out multiple different systems.

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While not directed at me I will chime in on this. In my experience with both distros (I have been on Fedora exclusively for the last 6 years) Fedora is by default more secure, runs cleanly, has few to zero issues that are not resolved within the first thirty days after a release, upgrades in place flawlessly, adheres to standards, and has a pretty flawless Gnome experience.

Ubuntu likes to introduce technologies designed by Ubuntu, that get dropped every release because no one else wants them upstart, mir, unity, snaps…oh wait they will make you use them, and countless other Ubuntu grown failures. Adds Gnome customizations that are often the source of user issues, issues that don’t exist in a stock Gnome install. Ubuntu also likes to spring monetization surprises on its users (Amazon results in your onboard search), and quite frankly in the five years I ran Ubuntu for some things I never had a nice, quiet, in place upgrade, a flaw shared by every Debian based distro I have ever used or tested.

Package availability is the roughly the same when you don’t count the instance where many Ubuntu packages are split into four or five packages where as the same packages in Fedora would only be two packages. Security is where Fedora shines particularly if you leave SELinux on and in place.

Lastly commonality between distros. When you use pretty much any distro outside of the Debian tree configuration files, and general directory structure are almost identical. You find things where you would expect them…this is not the case with Debian and its derivatives.

That is why Fedora is my go to distro and before that it was Archlinux, but my needs changed and job requirements made SELinux a must so I moved and have not looked back. I have a server with 10 in place upgrades that runs flawlessly, and I plan on upgrading until the hardware kicks it.

Lastly Fedora is very up to date, and when you are dealing with new hardware you want that. You want to be able to update through the growing pains and spend more time working rather than trying to fix your machine.


@nadb you sealed the deal. Sounds to me like Fedora is to Ubuntu what macOS is to Windows. More secure and less glitches along the way. Thanks! Looks like Tuesday may be installation day.

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@nadb One more question. I’m seeing on the jetbrains web site that we can install phpstorm two ways. One with tar.gz file and the other using snapd, which is says keeps it updated. Can I do that on Fedora, so it stays updated?

I generally don’t recommend snaps on any distro except Ubuntu…and even then they are a hot mess. Until recently snapd would force updates without the users knowledge and even now that appears to be the default behavior. The other issue is that it adds block devices to your machine which make it necessary to use additional options when using command line tools just to remove the chaff from the wheat so to speak. In short snaps on any distro are really not worth the pain. They were designed for the server space, and while I won’t use them there either, they behave better there than they do in a workstation environment. Also after a cursory look at the intellij documentation it looks like you can set the update schedule of the toolbox app , whereas snapd just decides it will always update…it is wise to verify an update does not have problems before doing so.

Another option are Flatpaks which are available by default in Fedora. They have there own set of problems but they are usually easily overcome with the use of Flatseal (an app available on flathub.org and you may have to add this to your flatpak repos) which allows you to relax sandboxing rules for the assorted apps. With IDE’s these are usually network related.

Yet another option while you figure all of this out…switching platforms can be hard…you could run MACOS as a virtual machine if needed to ease the transition until you are comfortable with the new setup, and have everything working the way you want it. Of course jumping into the deep water and just working through it has the added motivation of simply needing to get it done so you can work. This has its own merits, but YMMV.

Anyway hope that helps. Let us know how your transition to linux goes and if you need any further assistance.

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It’s on flathub ; so just click to install

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Hi @Melanie_Carr , welcome to the forums :slight_smile:
No idea what scrivener is using, but would you settle for PDF?
also you may want to check on this later on


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@nadb Well, I’m writing you from my new Framework 13 Laptop. I have had some issues with the fingerprint reader not communicating. I tried following the article on that, but it didn’t work. Not a hot topic just yet, but for sure I’ll want that to make using 1Password (which I installed first) use my fingerprint. I used Gnome updater to update things, and gosh - i just LOVE the keys on this thing. So much better than the mac - it’s like the older version’s keys - so nice and clickety! Next up is to install phpstorm and see if I can get hooked up to the iCloud. Scrivener will be after that. This thing is SLICK and fast! I haven’t even used both slots yet. My son will be so proud! My dad is coming over soon to check it out, he was also interested in Linux and getting a new laptop, and he taught me all I know back in the days of DOS. Thanks! You all are so supportive and kind, and put up with my lack of much Linux knowledge so well.