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I’ve been using Linux for nearly 30 years. About 15 years ago, I started using MacOS for certain tasks. Once I added MacOS into the mix, I realized that these two operating systems go together like, well, peanut butter and chocolate, rock and roll, or knife and fork. As the years passed, that opinion has only grown stronger — to the point that I can’t imagine myself using one without the other.

Also: I’ve used Linux for 30 years. 5 reasons why I’ll never switch to Windows or MacOS

Why is this? After all, most people use one desktop operating system and that’s it. Of course, anyone working with both a mobile device and a desktop computer uses two different operating systems. Looking at it that way, I use three: Android, Linux, and MacOS. But I don’t generally count Android in this because I find mobile operating systems far too limiting to help me accomplish the things I do. So, let’s set aside the mobile option and focus only on the desktop.

Before I tell you why I believe MacOS is the perfect complement to Linux, I’d be remiss in not mentioning that this could go either way: If MacOS is your primary operating system, you’d do well to enhance that with Linux.  

Regardless… let’s get to it.

1. Similar command line tools

Because I’ve been using Linux for so long, the command line is second nature to me. When I first discovered how similar the MacOS command line was to Linux, it eased much of my concern about using the OS. After all, if something can’t be fixed via a GUI, it can almost always be fixed with a command. And because MacOS ships with SSH installed, I can easily log into my Linux machines and take care of something. 

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For instance, the other evening I was using my MacBook Pro to work on a manuscript. I save those files on an SMB share hosted by my desktop computer. Saving the document was taking far too long, but it was 11 PM and I didn’t want to disturb my sleeping wife by leaving the bedroom and going to my first-floor office. So I opened the MacOS terminal app, secure shell’d into my desktop, and fixed the problem.

I don’t have to think twice about running a command on MacOS because the commands are always similar (or identical) to their Linux counterparts.

2. Similar desktops

Before using MacOS, I was always attracted to Linux desktops that included a dock and a top panel. Sound familiar? It should be — because that’s the MacOS desktop layout. When I move back and forth between Linux and MacOS, there’s very little difference in how I interact with the machine because the desktops can be set up so similarly. This makes for a seamless transition between the two.

Also: The best Linux laptops: Expert tested and reviewed

Don’t worry, though, if your current Linux desktop doesn’t look like your MacOS desktop; you most likely can bring the two more in line with a few additions and/or tweaks. Of course, that doesn’t mean you must do this.

3. Apps, apps, everywhere

Contrary to popular opinion, Linux has a plethora of applications to install. You can install software from the built-in package managers, universal package managers (such as Snap and Flatpak), AppImages, and even containers. On the rare occasion that Linux doesn’t have an app I need, I can always find it for MacOS. Between the two operating systems, I’ve never lacked an app. 

Usually, I have the same apps installed on both operating systems (so I don’t miss a beat). The only difference is that I only use DaVinci Resolve for video editing on MacOS. Although the software is available for Linux, it’s a real challenge to get working, so I limit it to my iMac.

Also: I was a Final Cut Pro diehard until DaVinci Resolve won me over with these 3 features

4. When something goes wrong…

Things only tend to go wrong on MacOS. When they do, I don’t have to panic because Linux has taught me how to troubleshoot problems, and solving those issues on MacOS is often the same as it is on Linux. On some Linux distributions, the Settings app is similar to the System Settings app on MacOS, which means I rarely have to search for the configuration at hand. On top of that, both operating systems place log files in the same place (/var/log), so reading log files is just as easy on both.

5. Each knows its strengths

If there’s one thing about Linux and MacOS that always assures me, it’s this: Each OS knows its strengths and plays to them. For example, Linux falters with video and sound, while MacOS does both incredibly well. On the other hand, Linux is very efficient with multiple workspaces and keyboard navigation, whereas MacOS can be a bit clunky. Between the two of them, I know exactly which OS to use for specific purposes, and doing so helps me work with a level of efficiency I might not be able to accomplish with only one or the other.

Also: 6 features I wish MacOS would copy from Linux

At this point, I can’t imagine working with only Linux or MacOS. Having the two operating systems at my disposal means there’s nothing I can’t achieve.

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