Windows PC to Mac Mini – The Single Desktop Quest

Around the same time I started this website, I switched from a Mac to a PC. Over a decade ago, Steve Jobs was back at Apple. He had introduced a fishbowl of a computer – the iMac. With a hockey puck shaped mouse, and limited expansion options, it was clear that Apple was heading in a different direction. The iMac was strictly USB — no ADB ports, no SCSI. That setup rendered about $1000 worth of external hardware obsolete. The iMac didn’t even have a floppy drive. If I had to start over, I figured that I should switch to Windows.

In hindsight, Jobs was right. The world would forget about antiquated hardware. I didn’t dispute that. My problem was the sudden transition. I went from being a huge Mac Fan to an Anti-Mac man. While problem appeared suddenly, the ultimate resolution would be gradual. Over the years, Apple created a new line of hardware. They introduced the iPod, which became the iPhone, which lead to the iTunes App Store.

Yet, my first mobile apps would be for the Android Market. I was still annoyed with Apple, so I figured I’d try mobile development with Google. I liked it. I thought I had found great success, but then I had an issue with AdSense. I wasn’t getting paid for my work. Instantly, Google became more untrustworthy than Apple. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I started iPhone development because I was mad at Google. Plus, Apple was becoming too large to ignore. They really created something wonderful.

To develop iOS apps, a Mac is required. I ultimately settled with a Mac Mini, because it was the cheapest Mac available. I played around with a Macbook Pro, but I didn’t like working from a laptop. Nope, the little gray box would be my gateway through the walled garden of the iTunes App Store.

I didn’t like it at first. For a little while, I hated it. I thought it was a $600 dust collector. I didn’t give up. I learned about GameSalad, which ultimately lead to success. I created three successful apps for the iPad. When my iPhone developer registration needed renewal, I seriously considered if it was worth continuing. Yes, there is success and elegance here. Apple is creating beautiful products. It’s a pleasure to be part of it. More than 10 years later, I have forgiven Apple.

But now, there was a divide on my desk. I would create Apps on the Mac, but I would be using my PC for work. This seemed silly to me. I grew weary of my KMV switch… beep Mac… beep PC… beep Mac… beep PC. Running two desktop computers is tedious – and it was costing me more money.

I went down the list of programs I used. Since iOS development requires a Mac, was there anything I used that required a PC?

  • Adobe Design Premium CS4 – This is available on the Mac. I’m considering a cross-platform upgrade to CS5 or CS6. However, there are open source alternatives and perhaps iWork can replace many of the functions of CS4.
  • AIM – This is available on the Mac. Even if it wasn’t, AIM Express or my cell phone would be a sufficient alternative.
  • Artisteer 2 – This is available on the Mac. I’m planning to uninstall this on the PC and install the Mac version.
  • DAZ Studio – I’ve already moved this over to the Mac. By reinstalling the software, I was able to reorganize my 3D assets.
  • Eclipse – If I decide to return to Android development, this software is available for the Mac. The Android SDK is also available for Intel Macs.
  • FileZilla – My favorite FTP program is also available for Mac.
  • Guild Wars – I don’t play this anymore. If I feel like wasting time with an MMORPG, World of Warcraft is a suitable alternative. I’d rather be making my own online games.
  • Halo – I remember the days of playing Marathon on the Mac. It wouldn’t feel right without Halo. This is going to be tough to find though. It’s an old game.
  • Microsoft Works – I think iWork is a suitable replacement. There are open source alternatives too. There’s a rumor floating around that iWorks might include app creation. I’m waiting to see what’s included in the next version. Even if I get iWorks before that, ePub export could be useful. I wasn’t happy with the way InDesign CS4 handled ePub exporting. Aside from Index creation, I think iWork could be an excellent replacement for Indesign and Microsoft Works.
  • Mozilla Firefox – This was an easy transition. I just backed up my bookmarks on the PC and then I moved them over to the Mac.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird – This was a little harder. I had to find the “Profile” folder on the PC and then move it to the corresponding spot on the Mac. It was frustrating, but it worked.
  • Notepad++ – I haven’t tried it yet, but my preliminary research suggests that gedit is an acceptable replacement.

Virtualization / Emulation is awful. The solution had to be pure Mac. After going through the list, I realized that I could do it. I could shut down my Windows PC. I haven’t gotten all of the software moved over yet, but I’ve already made significant changes. For one, my office is more quite. The Mac Mini is dead silent. My ears are no longer being tormented by the buzzing of little fans. This should result in significant power savings.