'Getting Stuff Done', new Ubuntu 9.04, OS X

I was an early Mac enthusiast (I wrote a successful Mac application in 1984) and long before that I bought a very early Apple II (serial number 71) and I wrote the simple little chess program that Apple gave away on the demo cassette tape for the Apple II. Anyway, I am pretty much into Apple products. During the later "dark ages" before Apple released OS X, I did use Windows NT (and later Windows 2000) and Linux for work and play. During this time, I developed a great 'getting stuff done' strategy: I booted NT for a few customer projects that needed Windows and when I wanted to play - otherwise I booted into a very stripped Linux install that only had what I need installed for work spurts.

After I finish work on my new book for Apress (soon!, probably in the next 2 weeks :-) except for ongoing work for two customers, I want to concentrate on a new business venture that only requires a development setup for Ruby, Rails, and Java. I work almost exclusively on my Mac laptop, using my desktop Mac only video editing (huge amount of disk space and memory) and a local Linux box when I need to test networked applications. BTW, I am writing this on a new Ubuntu 9.04 installation - a nice 6 month upgrade from the last release.

This experiment may not last more than a few months, but I want to have a only small OS X partition on my laptop with fun stuff, and a larger Ubuntu partition with Java, Ruby, IntelliJ, RubyMine, and a minimal set of tools that I need. I tend to work in 2 to 3 hour spurts on both customer projects and my own stuff. I don't like to check email and I have my wife screen my telephone calls during the work spurts. You can quote me on this: multitasking is overrated!

My Mac laptop is a great do-everything system, but I think that having different "fun" and "work" environments helps get more productive work done in less time. As long as I am sharing some personal philosophy on work and life, I find that minimizing the time watching TV also helps make more time for friends and family, sports, enjoying nature, gardening, cooking, reading, etc. As a computer scientist, I am into performance analysis, and as a person, the same kind of performance analysis is good to evaluate the benefit of time spent on various activities.


  1. Mark: your post prompted me to share my working environment with you; it is similar.

    Just about 2-years ago I found a 20-inch iMac + Leopard an excellent workstation for my work.

    I like it because of its stability and great platform for hosting Linux, Ubuntu 64 and MS XP using VirtualBox; earlier I used VMware Fusion.

    Using Leopard Spaces allows me to map Ubuntu and MS XP to a Space each; using Command-key plus arrows offers immediate switch from OS to OS. Network is bridged so each OS obtains an IP from the router. Each OS has 1-GB and the remaining 2gb for Leopard; works very well.

    I use Linux for most of my server applications: Appache.http, MySql, PostGreSQL, GlassFish/Tomcat and MS Windows for Java and Scala development via Eclipse, Netbeans and other tools.

    I wanted my on the road electric pencil to replicate my work configuration. A 13-inch MacBook, configured as I needed is about can$2,000. I was unable to justify it. An Acer Aspire 5100 laptop + MS Vista, can$600, + VirtualBox has proven a good on the road computing appliance. Ubuntu and XP persist across restarts from standby so I can use 3-OSes without having to reboot the host and 2 clients.

    A great find is VirtualBox, unfortunately now part of Oracle as a result of Oracle's acquisition of Sun; I hope remains open source and free of charge for non-commercial deployments. It works as well on the Mac as it does under Vista.


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