Mac updates disaster (again) and a return to Windows desktop?

A couple of nights ago I tweeted about my MacBook Pro being a brick after the latest updates were applied. It was totally unresponsive. The only thing that would work is the “Option” key at boot to alter the boot order.

This is not the first time this has happened to me, and not just on this machine. I think in total I’ve had to restore the entire OS from TimeMachine three times. Once on a previous MBP and twice on the latest one. Twice it was after updates and once because it just stopped working and I never found out why.

Being a DBA, backups are my thing, so I have a TimeMachine partition on my NAS, as well as manual backups for some of the important things, which in turn get pushed up to an AWS bucket. For good measure I also have an external drive with some backups on, because it always pays to be prepared. 🙂

Due to past issues I always keep a Mac Recovery USB Drive waiting to go. This is how I recovered from the latest issue. The recovery took 6+ hours, then it took about 30+ minutes to apply the update that started all this fiasco. So I now have a patched and working MBP again, for now…

I also mentioned on Twitter I might be moving back to Windows for my main desktop, possibly even installing it on the MBP. That prompted a few comments, so I figured I would mention my current opinions on the top-3 Operating Systems, from a *desktop perspective*.

macOS

I bought my first MacBook Pro in 2009 and have used one as my travel machine since then. About 2.5 years ago I bought a 15″ retina, which became my home desktop machine, and travel laptop combined. The 2009 13″ MBP is next to my bed, used every day as my Netflix machine. 🙂

I was convinced to give Macs a go because loads of people at conferences kept telling me how good macOS was. It’s over 8 years, but I’m still waiting to fall in love with it. This seems to have happened for other people instantly, but I just don’t see the major appeal.

I still find it annoying how little support there is for Macs from software companies. Most of what I want to do it fine, but every now and then I want to try something and it’s not supported on Mac, or I’ve got to wait a few months for the Mac version to be released. It’s still a Windows world, so I’m still using Windows VMs occasionally.

The only really positive thing I can say is I like the build quality of the case, but after my Staingate issue and a problem with the fan I had in the first few weeks of the latest machine, I’m not sure the build quality is quite what it was when I bought my first MBP.

Linux

I first used Linux in the RedHat 5.1 days (not RHEL), which Wikipedia tells me was 1998. At some point I ditched Windows at home and Red Hat Linux became my main desktop. I can’t remember which exact version I switched to, but I’m thinking Red Hat Linux 8. When Red Hat Linux became Fedora I made that move also. When I started to do presentations I bought a laptop which used Windows Vista, which wasn’t as bad as people made out. Later on I switched to a MacBook Pro, but Fedora was my main desktop OS until about 2.5 years ago. Once again, I can’t remember the exact version, but it was one of the 20’s. Somewhere between Fedora 21 and 23 at a guess. Since moving away from a Linux desktop I have kept up with Fedora for every release, but it’s not been a 100% desktop for me.

I learned a lot by using Linux as my desktop, but I spent a lot of time trying to get round device compatibility issues, or get what felt like part-finished software to work. I was forever having to use Wine or Mono to run additional software because the Linux support didn’t exist, or didn’t really work properly. I was also having to use a Windows VM to run some software I needed for my business. Like I said, great learning experience, but hardly what I would call an efficient use of time for a regular user.

Someone on Twitter asked me what I wanted from a Linux desktop and I said,

“Support for all apps I want to use and devices, without having to do weekend projects to fix problems…”

Jared Still commented,

“Twice I have made serious attempts to use Linux on a laptop. It is just too fiddly; every time something New needs to be done it is a new project. All my Databases run on Linux, I do dev on Linux, but it was just too much trouble for many common tasks.”

I agree. I am a total devotee of Linux on the server, but using Linux on the desktop is not a viable option for me. Been there. Done it for a lot of years. Moved on!

Windows

I wrote my PhD thesis on Microsoft Word using Windows 3.11. At every job I’ve ever had, Windows has been my main desktop OS, so I’ve lived through all the versions since Windows 3.11. Even when I switched to Linux at home, I was using Windows at work, and supporting family members using Windows. My work desktop still uses Windows 7, but as of next week it will be Windows 10. My family used Windows 8.0, then 8.1 and now Windows 10. Like most IT people, I have to support family PCs, so it was me who did the upgrades and I’ve used these versions a lot. I’m doing the last minute checks to this post on my brother’s Windows 10 laptop.

Windows is far from perfect, but if you’ve not been using it regularly for the last few years, I think you might be surprised. I like Windows 10.

Conclusion

I think my next move will be Windows.

I have a long history of all three operating systems, so it’s not like I’m going into this blind. I think I probably have a better grounding in all three than most of the people who are trying to push their preference on me. 🙂

Most of the time I am in a shell or a browser, so I can work OK on all three operating systems without much trouble, but it’s when I want to go off piste the differences start to become evident.

You don’t have to agree with me. My choice does not mean your choice is wrong. Likewise, your choice doesn’t mean my choice is wrong.

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit v16 for Mac

Followers of the blog will know I’ve been a long time user of the editor UltraEdit.

uemac-theme

I got introduced to UltraEdit about 15 years ago. At the time everything else around sucked. I paid my money and was hooked pretty much instantly. At that point it was a Windows-only product. When I later ditched Windows in favour of Linux at home, I went through a succession of crappy editors and was never really happy. I eventually started running UltraEdit on Linux using Wine and it “mostly” worked.

A few years ago I switched from Linux desktops to Mac and went through another succession of crappy editors that everyone told me were amazing. One day I woke up to find UltraEdit had released a Mac and Linux version of their editor. It was lacking features compared to the Windows version, but it worked. I immediately switched and have been there ever since.

I have a multi-platform unlimited upgrades license, which cost me something like $200 a few years ago. I use UltraEdit for Mac on my desktop at home. I use the Windows version when I’m at work. Very occasionally I fire up the Linux version on one of my servers, but that tends not to happen much these days as I just connect to that stuff from my Mac.

Today I’ve upgraded to UltraEdit for Mac v16. It still doesn’t have 100% of the features of the Windows version, but it’s getting close. Happy days!

I know there are a lot of good editors out there (Sublime Text, NotePad++, Atom etc.), but I don’t get on too well with any of them. I’m sure a lot of if comes down to familiarity, but I find myself saying, “If only they could do …” all the time. Aaaahhhh, to be old and set in your ways. 🙂 Anyway, if you like any of those, all power to you. If you are struggling against them, you might want to give UltraEdit a try!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. This is not a sponsored ad. I’m just a fan! 🙂

VirtualBox, Oracle 12c and Macs

Just a quick comment about something I noticed while rebuilding a test VM on my Mac. There is a long lead up to this, so bear with me…

Background

I use VirtualBox on three different host operating systems.

Mac : My main desktop is a Mac, so most of my tests are done using Oracle 12c on Oracle Linux 6 or 7, running under VirtualBox. Most of the VMs I use are quite old, but I keep the DB and OS patched, and you know I religiously update VirtualBox. 🙂 The point is, I rarely do fresh installations on Mac.

Linux : My big(gish) server runs Oracle Linux 6 as the host OS. If I’m doing a RAC installation, I tend to do it on this server as it is fast and has lots of separate spindles. Once again, all the database installations on this machine are done using VirtualBox VMs.

Windows 7 : At work I use Windows 7 for my desktop. I tend to test most things locally, before doing them for real. As a result, I’m often using the Oracle DB, on Oracle Linux 6 or 7, running under VirtualBox.

If you follow the blog, you will know I’ve recently released some new RAC articles. All those were done on an Oracle Linux 6 host, using VirtualBox to fire up the VMs. Everything worked fine. For one of the RAC articles, I connected to work and did a run through on my Windows PC. It worked fine, if a little slow.

So fresh installations of Oracle 12c (12.1.0.2) worked fine on Oracle Linux 7, running under VirtualBox 5.0.4 on both a Linux and Windows host OS.

Getting to the point

The other day I started a rebuild (from scratch) of a test VM on the Mac and I ran into a few problems with the database installation and the DBCA. I added a note about them here. The interesting thing is, I used the same ISO for the Oracle Linux installation, the same zips for the Oracle DB installation and the same version of VirtualBox (5.0.4). The only difference between this and the other installations I’ve done recently is this one was using a Mac as the host. The installation and DBCA issues only happen when the host machine is a MAC.

I did a little Googling around and it seems some other people have noticed this and pointed to the switch from VirtualBox 4 to 5 as when it started. I guess I didn’t see this before as I’ve just been upgrading the existing VMs, not installing new ones.

Just thought it was worth mentioning, as other Mac users may be following my installation articles and thinking they don’t work. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I have no idea why the Mac spin of VirtualBox causes this. I’m just a user. 🙂

PPS. This is not VirtualBox hate. I love it! 🙂

UltraEdit for Linux/Mac v4.0 Release Candidate…

In a previous post I said that UltraEdit moves through beta really quickly. Today I’m rocking UltraEdit v4.0 Release Candidate on Fedora 18… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit for Linux/Mac v4.0 Beta II

Hot on the heels of the recent UltraEdit v19 release for Windows, comes the UltraEdit v4 Beta II release for Linux/Mac.

I’ve just started using it and so far so good. They usually progress through the betas pretty quick. I didn’t have time to install the beta I before this one dropped. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit 3.3 for Mac/Linux…

I’m now rockin’ UltraEdit 3.3 on my MacBook Pro and Linux boxes at home. A previous announcement suggested by this version the Mac and Linux versions would have caught up with the Windows version from a functionality perspective. I’m not sure if that’s true, but they are close enough for me.

The latest Windows versions is 18.20, which I use at work, but home is where the real magic happens. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

 

UltraEdit 3.2 on Mac and Linux…

I’m now rockin’ UltraEdit 3.2 on Mac and Linux…

This is the version that is meant to bring the Mac/Linux version in line with the Windows version as far as functionality is concerned. I’m not sure that is the case, but it’s getting ever closer. It certainly does everything I need it to do now. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Adventures with Dropbox and KeePass…

Thanks to Eddie Awad, I’ve been using 2-step verification on my Google account for a while. Now Jake from The Appslab has scared me into using a password manager and revamping all my passwords…

We use KeePass (on Windows) at work to hold all our passwords, so I figured I’d go with that and see how I get on. Unlike work, I want to use a single store for all my devices, so I finally found a use for my Dropbox account.

Dropbox Installations

If you don’t already have it, you need to install Dropbox on your device(s). For mobiles, that means their respective app stores. For computers (Linux, Mac and Windows), you can get it from the Dropbox website.

Whichever KeePass variant you use, make sure you create the KeePass database file under the DropBox directory on your device, so it is visible from other computers or devices using DropBox.

KeePass Installation on Windows.

Download and unzip/install either KeePass Portable 2.x or KeePassXC Portable. I use the portable version and leave this on my Dropbox as well as the shared KeePass database file.

KeePass Installations on OS X

This section of the post originally included instructions for using the Windows version of KeePass Mono. It was then replaced by KeePassX. The best solution now is to use KeePassXC for Mac. It’s better than the alternatives.

KeePassXC Installations on Linux

This section of the post originally included instructions for using the Windows version of KeePass Mono. It’s been removed as you should now use KeePassXC for Linux. It’s better than the alternatives.

KeePass Installations on Android

For Android devices, I originally used the KeePassDroid app, but I now use KeePass2Android.

  • Install the Dropbox app if you don’t already have it. Connect to your Dropbox account and check you can see the “.kdbx” file in the “KeePass” directory.
  • Install the KeePass2Android app.
  • Open Dropbox, locate the “.kdbx” file and tap it.
  • Once the KeePass2Android app opens.

KeePass Installations on iPad/iPhone

For my iPad I used the MiniKeePass app.

  • Install the MiniKeePass app and open it.
  • Hit the “i” in the bottom-middle of the screen.
  • Click the “Dropbox Import/Export” option and follow the instructions.

It’s not a thrilling app, but it does the job.

So that’s it. I only have to remember my DropBox password and my KeePass password and I can now use unique and ridiculously long passwords for all my other logins…

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit 3.1 for Mac and Linux…

I’ve been using the beta versions of UltraEdit 3.1 for Mac and Linux for a while, but I only noticed today the production version has been released. I normally get email  updates, so I figure this one must have got directed to spam by accident. 🙁

Anyway, I’m now rockin’ the latest version on both platforms. Happy days…

Cheers

Tim…