Making a switch .. so long MacBook Pro (for now)

The last few years I have been an heavy Apple product user.  At our house we have Siri running in every room and controlling a vast majority of lights, tvs, etc.  I left Windows back in 2013 while I was working at Enkitec and loved the integration of Linux-BSD with a GUI interface.  Like everyone else, at the time, loved the fact that Apple switched from Motorola chips to Intel chips. This opened a lot of opportunities and made software conversions easy as well.  Enabling consultants to use a platform that was closely related to Linux platforms running in enterprises world wide.

Recently I’ve been using a MacBook Pro 16” on the Intel platform, but it was time for an upgrade.  With this in mind, I initially configured and purchased another MacBook Pro 16” with the M1 processor with 32GB integrated memory plus 1TB HHD.  Why not, give it a try and see if the hype is real and I figured 2 years after the announcement of Apple on Silicon (M1) software would have caught up?  So where is what happened (briefly):

In March, after making the purchase, I get an email from Apple saying that it would be available by the first part of April.  Oh the excitement!  Then in April, got another email saying there is a manufacture delay, new timeline would be early May.  Then in the middle of April, got another email saying timeline would now be 5-7 weeks – end of June.  Excitement turned to frustration!

Reached out to the business team at my local Apple store to see what options were available.  To get the config I wanted, I would have to wait.  But if I was willing to go to a MacBook Pro 14” with M1 Max, 64GB memory and 2TB HHD – I could pick up the same day.  They had that in stock. Went and pick up the 14” .. was excited about truly giving the M1 Max a workout and see what is could do.

After spending a day and half getting items configured and ready (yea, yea, could have migrated OS – i know, but wanted a clean box as well), I started doing some DevOps stuff with Packer (building a new VM for testing and Docker containers).  Here are my thoughts and frustrations on the process:

1. Installing Docker Desktop for the M1 (ARM platform) was a breeze.  As well as installing VMWare Fusion Technical Preview.   Had no problems getting these installed.
2. Installed Homebrew without an issue and was able to pull in Go, Terraform, Packer, and a few other items I liked to use.

After getting everything installed, I started to run my packer builds. Then came the errors and more errors. In doing a bit of research, the errors were due to the underlying Docker containers and VMs also have to support the “aarch64” architecture.  Meaning that any containers that are downloaded for usage have to already be built on “aarch64” (ARM) platform form. Any ISO that is to be used to build VMs also have to be available on “aarch64” platform.  Leaving me to wonder when the software is going to catch up?

Sure there are a lot of software packages that are out and run on the ARM platform that make the M1 attractive; however, I think Apple has gone in a direction that most vendors are not going to follow (at least not immediately). 

Where to go from here and I may be the odd ball here, is that everything the is used today is base on Intel.  So, with no options from Apple on continuing on a MacBook Pro for an upgrade.  I’m going back to the Windows platform. For how long, who knows. After doing an ecosystem review, Windows 11 Pro seems to offer the same functionality as MacOS X did on Intel.  The only thing I’ll be missing is iMessage integration with my iPhone and iPad Prod.  At the end of the day, I can work around this limitation.

Hopefully, the industry will catch up with the ARM (aarch64) architecture for all the items that people in the consultancy space uses.  At the same time, I feel like Apple has taken a step backwards and it will eventually show in the retail space as others attempt to upgrade their hardware and realize that the M1 is limited (for now). 

I’ll leave this for thought; just because the Apple Silicon works for the iPhone and iPad doesn’t mean that it is going to work at the MacBook layer.  Understanding that Apple is moving iOS and Mac OSX toward each other makes sense, but my opinion is they missed the boat with M1 and who uses it .. making the MacBook Pro more of a dumb terminal.  Why not since development is shifting to the cloud!  Only time will tell if I’m wrong, and I hope I am.  For now, I’m going back to Windows!  Wish me luck!


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