[OS X TeX] OSX to Linux/Windows: What do you lose?

John McChesney-Young jmccyoung at gmail.com
Sat Jan 22 12:51:40 EST 2011

On Sat, Jan 22, 2011 at 7:16 AM, Theo Moore <tsg.moore at googlemail.com>
wrote in part:

> In am considering making the switch to a dual-boot with Ubuntu and
> Windows. There are two factors that are influencing my decision: (1)
> Macbooks are expensive, (2) Thinkpads are cheap and rugged....
> The one thing that concerns me is font usage. ...
> Can some of you suggest other things I'll have to consider in making
> this switch?

I have a Mac and 2 dual-boot Ubuntu/Win laptops at home (a Thinkpad
T43 and an Acer 1410TZ) and use two Macs at work (the main one an
ancient eMac running 10.3 and for practical purposes unupgradable),
and I sometimes use LaTeX for not-common LaTeX purposes (e.g.,

As far as the hardware goes, from my limited personal experience and
everything I've heard, you're absolutely right about Thinkpads'
reliability. Do keep in mind that Sandy Bridge versions are due out
soon (cf. http://www.thinkpads.com/2011/01/21/leaked-refreshed-sandy-bridge-thinkpad-t420-t520-coming-february/)
although as a result you can get the current gen at good prices (cf.
and at the Lenovo Outlet). In favor of MacBooks is their slightly
lighter weight (5.6 lb for the 15.4" MBP vs. "starting at" 5.89 lb.
for 15" T510) and spectacular battery life. On the other hand, with
Thinkpads you'll gain a TrackPoint and middle mouse button - at least
with the T series and probably some others (note that the smallest
members of the X series entirely lack a touchpad).

There's also the appearance, which may or may not be a factor. I'd
like to think I don't care - and in fact I like the look of Thinkpads
- but my few encounters with MacBook Pros and the Air have convinced
me that Apple does make *very* attractive hardware.

And on the software side, besides the fonts there's the elegant and
easy-to-use (mostly) and trouble-free (mostly) OS X, which includes
wonderful built-in apps like Time Machine and will let you keep
running Photoshop and other non-Linux-ported software; of course for
many applications you can get Windows versions but that might well
erase the price difference. That would also mean that you'd have the
nuisance of dual-booting to get from one to the other, and in Windows
you have to use ... Windows. I've tried hard to like Win7 and readily
admit it's a lot slicker than XP, but I haven't warmed to it.

I haven't had much trouble finding roughly equivalent free Linux
software for *my* purposes, but to judge by the repeated and strident
pleas I keep reading in the Linux blogosphere, many people do find
they miss Adobe CS if they leave an OS that has it. How much you'll
miss the OS X fonts will depend on how particular you are: there are
certainly a great number of free fonts of varying quality out there
which might serve, but if you're in love with, say, Hoefler, again
you're going to be reducing the price gap if you buy an individual

For *TeX proper, you'll lose TeXShop - if you currently use it - and
will have to make do with something else. TeXworks is an excellent
substitute but it's not quite as polished or full-featured; e.g., you
can't (yet) print your PDF output but have to open it in another

I hope this helps.


John McChesney-Young ** Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
JMcCYoung~at~gmail.com ** http://twitter.com/jmccyoung **

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list