Monday, January 21, 2013

Divorcing Apple - part 4

Divorcing Apple - part 4

The final part, after parts 1, 2 and 3

Which applications I'm missing, and how to do something about it.

Any suggestions, please let me know

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to: run Adobe Photoshop CS2 on Linux / Ubuntu

 Adobe have just solved a tricky issue for me: I'd like to use Mac less, and Linux more. But what about Photoshop? Well after their announcement recently I realised I have a legit CS2 licence, and wondered if I can run CS2 under WINE on Ubuntu. Yes I can, and very easy: result all round.

0. open Terminal (Press Ctrl+Alt+T) and copy the following commands in the Terminal
1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
2. sudo apt-get update
3. sudo apt-get install wine1.5
4. sudo apt-get install winetricks
5. Download CS2 from Adobe, and then just doubleclick the .exe installer, put in serial number as usual, and launch from Applications > WINE > Programs.

Remember you need a proper CS2 licence.

And acknowledged by official Adobe policy as being OK:

"FEBRUARY 08, 2008
Wine offers improved Photoshop-on-Linux support Wine, the open-source compatibility layer for running Windows programs on top of Unix-style operating systems, has been updated to offer improved support of Photoshop CS2.  Using the latest updates (of which another has been posted today), it should be possible to run PSCS2 for Windows on top of Linux."


Monday, January 14, 2013

Divorcing Apple - Part 3

Divorcing Apple - Part 3

You’ll remember from part 1 that I’ve decided I want a divorce from Apple, and I’ve decided to get engaged to Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook.

In part 2 I detailed the actual install, and how it wasn’t that hard, even if you want to dual boot. Single boot would be very very easy.

So after the bake off, and the install, what next? Whats the XPS 13 and Ubuntu 12.04 like to get just right?

When Ubuntu is running to make it more similar to Mac and OSX:

  1. How to view hidden files in ubuntu linux: ctrl-H
  2. Take screenshots like Mac: applications>system tools>system settings>keyboard>shortcuts>screenshot choose your key command
  3. Like Quicklook ie press keyboard to get a preview?: Install Sushi from Software Centre


  1. Add information panels to the menu bar eg: CPU speed, CPU load
  2. EncFS works with Dropbox just great
  3. So does BitCasa
  4. and AeroFS
  5. I can read/write to the NTFS partition, as well, out of the box

Hardware Summary

Compare MacBook Pro 13" (2011 model pre Retina), MacBook Air 11" and Dell XPS 13

Tech Capabilities
MBP: Dual Core CPU with boost to 2.6GHz, 4 GB or 8GB RAM, 128 or 256 GB SSD
MBA: Dual Core CPU with boost to 2.6GHz, 4 GB RAM, 128 or 256 GB SSD
XPS 13: Dual Core CPU with boost to 2.6GHz, 4 GB RAM, 128 or 256 GB SSD

Size & Weight:
MBP12.8"8.94"0.95"4.5 lbs
MBA11.8"7.56"0.68"2.3 lbs
XPS 1312.4"8.1"0.71"3 lbs

MBP: 1280 x 800 (pre Retina)
MBA: 1366 by 768
XPS 13: 1366 by 768

While not 20/20 my vision is pretty good, and these screens are very similar to me.

Battery life:
Apple advertise "up to whatever hours", in reality on my MBP I didn't usually get more than about 4 hours with regular web browsing use. The MBA and the XPS 13 seems similar ie all three in the real world get about 4 hours. Other reports on Apple battery life seem to agree

All three have full size backlit chiclit. I like them, others disagree.

Build quality:
The Apples do have very good build quality with the unibody construction and the Dell is not far behind: even though the bottom case is plastic.

MBP: Gbit ethernet, 2 x USB2, 1 x Firewire 800, SD Card, Mini-DP
MBA: 2 x USB2, Mini-DP (current model replaces a USB2 for a USB3)
XPS 13: 1 x USB2, 1 x USB3, Mini-DP

Price? Here in Australia:
MBP: A$ 1,588.99  comparable model ie 4GB / 128GB (non-Retina, SSD upgrade)
MBA: A$ 1,249.00 comparable model ie 4GB / 128GB
Dell XPS 13: A$1,299.00 comparable model  ie 4GB / 128GB

What does this mean? Well if you were considering buying a Mac Air, the XPS 13 is very similar from a price, hardware and specification aspect. On the XPS 13, the LED even ‘breathes’ when its suspended or hibernating and there is a quick press button for battery charge on the right hand side.

There is only one thing which is definitely better with Apple hardware: the power connector which changes colour when the battery is charged.

Update: on to part 4 to find out which apps you'll need on Linux / Ubuntu to give the same functionality as you get on OSX.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Divorcing Apple - Part 2

Divorcing Apple - Part 2

You’ll remember from part 1 that I’ve decided I want a divorce from Apple, and I’ve decided to get engaged to Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook.

So whats it take to get Ubuntu 12.04 up and running?

In part 2 I detail the actual install. It really wasn’t that hard!

Resizing the partitions.
Would it surprise you to know that most of the problems were caused by Windows? Well first off I want to dual boot. That means finding some space on the SSD HD. So I need Windows Storage Manager. Where is it? Well you need to launch Control Panel and then search for ‘partition’. Right thats really user friendly.

Using the Storage Manager tool means I can resize the main partition without losing data, and if I Defrag before that gets gets me an extra GB or so. But how to Defrag, where is the Defrag tool?. Lucky we have Google to be able to answer such questions. Then I deleted the partition ‘Hibernation Partition’. Windows seems to run OK without it. This gets me about 45GB for Precise Pangolin / Sputnik.

Reading on the Internet suggests that painful though it is to use the built-in Windows tools, when it comes to resizing and partition operations, its for the best.

Before I boot Ubuntu, create a back-up disk, which you can do from the Dell utility. Handily fits onto an 8GB USB stick.

During all this, I was unable to shrink the main NTFS partition as much as I wanted, because the partition tool needs to move files away from the end of the partition, and there was an immovable file near the end.

This file C:\$Extend\$UsnJml:$J:$Data and similar, is kept immovable by some system services. You could always go through and stop what you think are unnecessary services, assuming you can find the Services Cpanel, but that seemed risky to me.

What I did to get past this was:

  1. Install Defraggler from
  2. Reboot into Safe Mode.
  3. Launch Defraggler, find that file - it’ll be near the end of the partition. Click on it and select to defrag it / them. Defraggler will move the file someplace else.
  4. Reboot into normal mode and run Windows Disk Manager to Shrink the partition as desired for the Ubuntu install

NB Defraggler is the only free Defregger I know that works on individual files.

The Install
The only real problem I had was trying to boot the XPS from USB stick. I followed the instructions, it just wouldn’t do it. It just wouldn’t boot from USB, and I tried both USB ports. Eventually I created a DVD of the Sputnik ISO. In the end I went with the Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit ISO so that I’m on the main supported distro.

During installation, the wizard pretty much takes care of things, however there’s one step that needs attention: you’ll need to sort out your partitions. I went with answer 3 from <>:

“... ADD the Unallocated partition and set the SIZES to create swap and Root "/" (ext4) partitions .”

Let the install do its thing, and then after the restart, add the Sputnik PPAs to Synaptic to get the XPS drivers and kernel etc:


Post Install
Finding the answer on the immovable file problem took me a week or so, so I went ahead and installed Ubuntu anyway, figuring I would resize be able to resize Ubuntu after resizing NTFS.

I booted from the LiveCD and started gparted, but I was unable to resize the Extended Partition and therefore the EXT4 inside it, which is where Ubuntu is.

After looking around I found an answer on
You can't resize a partition that is mounted and especially you can't resize the root partition from inside the installation. You need to use Gparted from a live CD or live USB. One little gotcha. The live CD will automatically enable (and lock) any swap partition it finds. If your swap partition is a logical one, the extended partition will be locked as well, and if your Ubuntu root partition is also a logical one, this may limit what you can do. Simply right-click on the swap partition in Gparted and choose "swapoff".

After doing this, did two resize operations, the Extended Partition first and then the EXT4, and now I have plenty of space.

The next, Part 3, I discuss some tips and tricks, and summarise the Apple vs Dell XPS 13 hardware differences.