The MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro 16in which was effectively replaced by my MacBook Air M2 has been sitting in a corner for a while. I had wiped it completely – something that’s a bit of a saga in its own right – and intended to sell it.

The buyer I had in mind wasn’t able to take it as unfortunately, they had some financial mishaps, and I would rather not sell it via eBay or classified. So it has just sat there doing nothing.

I decided to set it up and use it for a while, just to remind myself of what it was like. It’s the last generation of Intel machine, and I bought it not long before the announcement of the M-series chips. Although it was the lowest-end of 16in MacBook Pro, it’s still a pretty good computer and it seemed a shame for it to be doing nothing.

I’m glad I did because it’s reminded me how much I like a big screen laptop. It’s nowhere near as good for either performance or battery life as the Air, but it’s still more than fast enough for everything I need to do. And as I am unlikely to stray far from the house with it I don’t need to worry too much about the battery.

Now I just have to think about a name for it because the default “Ian’s MacBook Pro” seems a little bit soulless.

Installing Brew

Whenever I get a new Mac or resurrect an old one, I start from scratch rather than reinstall from a backup. This lets me work out which applications I actually need. Because I like to try out many applications, I end up with a lot of software on my machines which I don’t actually use much.

The days when this mattered from the perspective of system maintenance are long gone. Most applications are spraying extensions, libraries, or even (lord help us) DLLs all over your system. Even Linux has self-contained application installs now, thanks to technologies like AppImage, Flatpak and Snap.

But it’s still a waste of disk space and feels inelegant, so I set everything up with a clean slate and only install when I like using.

One thing that always gets installed on any Mac is Brew, the package manager, which is the de facto standard for installing Unix apps on an Apple computer. macOS is, of course, based on Unix, but the default set up doesn’t include the kind of software which usually comes as standard – utilities like ffmpeg, for example.

You can install them, though, and Brew makes is easy. It’s a command line tool which works in the same way as a regular Linux package manager, like DNF on Fedora or APT on Debian-derivatives. Once you have installed Brew using a single line of commands, you can type brew install and the name of the software you want, and it will do all the installation you need.

Brew lets you fill the holes which Apple has left. For example, the first thing I install with it is wget, which isn’t part of the standard macOS and which I find very useful. I also add yt-dlp so I can download video from YouTube and other services, as well as get_iplayer to tap into the BBC’s archives.

There’s a lot more you can do with Brew, and if you are used to the command line I recommend it.

Ian Betteridge @ianbetteridge