||Top Ten Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks|
|Subject:||Apple Laptop Keyboards Unsuitable for Unix Users|
Apple laptops are effectively unusable for unix users.
I am a long-time Unix user. That means I need to have the Ctrl key to the left of the A key. This is a genuine need, not merely a want; it is based upon ergonomics. The Ctrl key is heavily used in unix, and it must be easily accessable. It cannot be off in the lower left corner of the keyboard where it is difficult to get at, and where it distorts the position of your left hand such that you can't easily type other keys while holding the Ctrl key down.
Apple desktop keyboards are now all USB. They are all OK. The CapsLock key can be re-mapped into a Ctrl key.
Unfortunately, even in this modern age, all Apple laptops have built-in ADB keyboards. The ADB keyboard is broken-by-design. It is, in general, not possible to remap the CapsLock key into a Ctrl key.
There are some exceptions, but they are horrible kludges. They are horrible kludges because the original design of the ADB keyboard was a horrible kludge. The correct solution would be for Apple to re-design their laptop motherboards to use built-in USB keyboards. This hasn't happened yet. If you run Linux, use Debian's solution. For Mac OS X users, uControl works. There are no solutions (that I know of) for either NetBSD or OpenBSD. Please note once again that the "solutions" above are in fact kludges, because of the original bad design of the ADB keyboard.
Apple is (currently) ignoring Unix users! This is not merely speculation on my part. In an on-going email exchange I am having with an Apple employee (whom I won't name) in their marketing department, the Apple marketing person directly stated to me that Apple was catering to their historic Mac customers, and is purposely ignoring the Unix market. He also claimed that Apple would soon start paying more attention to the Unix market. I won't hold my breath. Apple has been ignoring Unix users for more than 12 years. I expect that trend to continue. (Also note that my Apple contact indicated that Macs would never ship with a 3-button mouse, even though Apple intended to port almost all X-window software and deliver it either on a CD/DVD or installed directly on each Mac's hard drive. How Unix friendly is a 1-button mouse with X programs that often require 3 buttons?)
Apple has now lost two opportunities to sell me hardware. I really wanted an Apple laptop for their superior battery life, and for the PowerPC with Altivec CPU. (The Altivec is vastly superior to the x86 line for DSP.) Because I can't live with the broken-by-design built-in ADB keyboard in all Apple laptops, Sony and IBM sold me laptops instead. If Apple fixes this problem, they will sell me a PowerBook next year; if they don't, I'll still be running OpenBSD on x86 hardware, and wishing I could use a Mac.