6 features I wish MacOS would copy from Linux

With a little help from Linux, MacOS could become an even bigger force.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
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I use both Linux and MacOS. Linux is my primary OS, whereas I use MacOS for video editing and when I'm on my MacBook Pro (because I haven't found a superior Linux laptop). Every time I'm on MacOS, I find myself wishing it had certain capabilities and features found on Linux. After all, MacOS already has some foundation features (such as similar command line tools) borrowed from Linux.

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But there's always more, and I firmly believe that if MacOS would adopt even some of these features, it would become a bigger force than it already is.

Read on… if you dare (because you might see just how good Linux is).

1. Different desktop environments

For me, this is a big one. I also understand just how hard it would be to implement. For one thing, Apple wants its users to work with MacOS in a very particular way. But the MacOS desktop isn't quite as efficient as some you find on Linux. For years, I've wished I could install different desktop environments on MacOS, similar to GNOME, KDE Plasma, Enlightenment, etc. 

Also: Don't like your Linux desktop? Here's how to install an alternative

But, no, Apple has pretty much locked down the desktop and only offers a few configuration options for users. Imagine what MacOS would be like if you could highly customize the desktop to look and behave exactly how you want it. Linux can do that.

2. Better command line package management

Linux has multiple ways you can manage software. There are the GUI package managers (such as Software and Discover) but there's also the command line (with the likes of apt, dnf, pacman, zypper, etc.). MacOS has Homebrew but you have to install it manually and it can be a bit confusing when you have to add cask into the mix. If MacOS had something similar to apt, it would make installing, removing, updating, and purging applications so much easier (at least for those who prefer the command line).

Also: Two tricks that make using the Linux command line a lot easier

3. More flexibility

Similar to number 1, it would be nice if MacOS could be a bit more flexible. The flexibility of Linux is one of its main selling points (along with security and reliability). With Linux, you can change just about anything you want (all the way down to the kernel). MacOS doesn't enjoy nearly that level of flexibility. Imagine what MacOS would be like if you could change anything you wanted. 

Also: The first 5 Linux commands every new user should learn

Yes, that type of flexibility could also make it less stable, so Apple would want to add those options behind something like the Android "developer options" feature, so users knew what they were getting into. One of the biggest reasons why I use Linux is because I can turn any distribution into exactly what I want.

4. Desktop Cube

I remember the days of using Compiz and getting the Desktop Cube to work. It was always one of my favorite methods of switching desktops and apps. On top of that, it looked so cool. Some desktop environments (such as KDE Plasma) have brought back Desktop Cube and I couldn't be happier. Yes, it's just eye candy but I cut my teeth on Linux in the late '90s and early 2000s when the Linux desktop had so much eye candy that you risked suffering from digital diabetes. Also, wobbly windows were a lot of fun.

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5. Middle click paste

Until you've experienced middle-click paste, you have no idea what you're missing. Here's how it works:

  • Highlight some text with your cursor.
  • Place your cursor where you want the pasted text.
  • Click the middle mouse button (or left/right buttons simultaneously).
  • Enjoy the pasted text.

No other operating system enjoys such an efficient means of copying and pasting text. Even better, you could do the standard highlight one bit of text, hit Ctrl-c, highlight another bit of text, and then hit Ctrl-V to paste the first string and middle mouse click to paste the second. 

6. Snap or Flatpak

Linux enjoys several universal package managers but Snap and Flatpak are the leaders of that pack. With these package managers, everything necessary to run the application is contained within, so it doesn't matter what distribution you use, it'll work. If MacOS could adopt a universal package manager, that would not only make app installation even easier but also (maybe) allow the installation of Linux snaps or flatpak packages possible, it would be an absolute game changer. That could also go both ways, with MacOS universal packages capable of being installed on Linux. Imagine what that would be like.

Also: 5 reasons why desktop Linux is finally growing in popularity

Yes, I realize some of the above either aren't possible or would take far too much work to create. But why not dream? If Apple could see how beneficial the above features could be (and make them a reality), MacOS could become an unstoppable force.

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