M1 Mac First Impressions

OVERKILL

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I thought you could do at least 48gb on a single, maybe 64gb. You can use the same 16gb DIMMs I have in mine. There's some discussion over using more than three DIMMs of that size per CPU being detrimental, which is why I stopped at 96 even though I was deep enough into at that point that it wouldn't have been a huge deal to go to 128gb.

I haven't used Parallels aside from a little bit of time tinkering with/adjusting other set-ups(like the Trashcan I mentioned above). I gravitate toward VMWare since it's a lot more versatile than Parallels. At least per my understanding, Parallels is basically a Windows-only program. My VMWare library currently has functional installs of Snow Leopard, Windows XP, and Windows 7.

At one time, I kept a CentOS VM going to run specific piece of software. That particular software(vNMRj) is meant for RHEL, but since CentOS use to effectively be RHEL without support, it worked without too much effort. Two things happened to change that. The first is that CentOS quit free RHEL and instead in a weird spot of being kind of the "stable" release of Fedora and not the all-kinks-worked-out rock stable RHEL, The second thing is that when Agilent dumped their NMR division, they released the source code to vNMRj, a bunch of former Varian/Agilent engineers started maintaining it as FOOS, and also started releasing a version nicely pre-compiled for macOS. I'm not sure if the macOS version could actually be plugged in and operate an NMR(you still need a bunch of underlying stuff that's not open source to talk to the spectrometer and I'm guessing that's probably still RHEL-only) but it's perfect for all I ever used it for, which was offline dataprocessing.

All of that aside, I'm super happy with VMWare. It's not as "slick" or easy to use as Parallels, but is miles ahead of Virtualbox in ease of use and, like I said, I like the versatility.

Yeah, I used to run VMWare on RHEL and even Fedora (home system). I've not tried an OS beyond Windows in Parallels, so you bring up a good point on potential versatility, I hadn't thought of that when tabling the question.

RHEL is "free" for small business/personal use now eh? There was a recent announcement. I maintain a few RHEL servers, so I'm always getting their newsletters. It's a great server OS, but if I replace MacOS with Linux on this box I'd probably go Fedora.

On the RAM thing, I was just going by Apple's specs:
Which lists a max of 8GB modules (which is what I'm running)

If I can do 16's? If that's the case, that might extend the life of this old rig even further, lol.
 

bunnspecial

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Yeah, I used to run VMWare on RHEL and even Fedora (home system). I've not tried an OS beyond Windows in Parallels, so you bring up a good point on potential versatility, I hadn't thought of that when tabling the question.

RHEL is "free" for small business/personal use now eh? There was a recent announcement. I maintain a few RHEL servers, so I'm always getting their newsletters. It's a great server OS, but if I replace MacOS with Linux on this box I'd probably go Fedora.

On the RAM thing, I was just going by Apple's specs:
Which lists a max of 8GB modules (which is what I'm running)

If I can do 16's? If that's the case, that might extend the life of this old rig even further, lol.

Back in the old days of user upgradeable RAM, Apple usually understated the max possible RAM by about half. I have a couple of thoughts on one-one might have related to the largest common modules available when the computers were new, and the other is that maybe they undersold upgradeability to hopefully drive sales of new computers.

AFAIK, back in the days of laptops with user upgradeable RAM, Apple never endorsed sticks larger than 4gb even though the CPU itself supports 8gb.

There are systems with "hard" limits. As an example, the G4 CPU was never able to address more than 2gb of RAM even though Apple shipped G4 systems where it would have been easy to install 4 or even 8gb of RAM. There were other "artificial" limits like the later iMac G4 topping out at 1.5gb because it only had one user accessible slot even though if you want to venture inside you can go to 2gb.

First hand experience tells me that the 5,1 is perfectly happy with 16gb sticks.
 
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RHEL is "free" for small business/personal use now eh? There was a recent announcement. I maintain a few RHEL servers, so I'm always getting their newsletters. It's a great server OS, but if I replace MacOS with Linux on this box I'd probably go Fedora.
RHEL is no-cost for up to 16 installations now.
CentOS as we knew it goes EOL at the end of 2021 for 8.x and some time in 2024 for 7.x. They've replaced CentOS with CentOS Stream, a rolling release tracking just ahead of RHEL point releases.
 
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In regards to memory, there is what Apple reccomends, and what actually fits...

Mac Pro 5.1 can run 128 GB, but all sticks must be the same.

Lookat Other World Computing or send me a PM, and I will try and find the upgrade options for your Mac...
 

bunnspecial

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Mac Pro 5.1 can run 128 GB, but all sticks must be the same.

First of all, this is incorrect for @OVERKILL since he has a single CPU model. OWC states the max for those at 48gb-since they have 4 slots I'd think they could theoretically go to 64gb, but OWC's compatibility matrix doesn't allow for that combination. If it did, I'm sure they would since they make money by selling you as much as will work(and they do test stuff extensively).

What do you mean by "the same?"

Do you mean same brand? If so, that's ideal for performance but not 100% necessary.

Do you mean UDIMM vs. RDIMMs? If so, yes that's true in general and not specific to the MP 5,1 or to using 16gb modules in the 5,1. I've always run RDIMMs in mine since big ones tend to be less expensive than UDIMMs(RDIMMs are basically limited to servers and workstation-class computers like the Mac Pros or the massive Dell XPS I have that has gotten hand-me-down RAM and CPUs every time I've upgraded my Mac Pro).

I like OWC and have spent money with them, but their stuff doesn't come cheap. I have a hard time paying their prices for 5,1 RAM given the sheer volume of perfectly good server pulls out there. It's registered DDR3 ECC 1333mhz. There again, that's server and workstation memory, not consumer class memory. It was really expensive when it was current. That's not to say it's dirt cheap now, but there's a much smaller market than when these computers for new. I think I paid right around $200 for 6x16gb modules to put in my 5,1 last summer. That's half the price of OWC.
 

OVERKILL

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First of all, this is incorrect for @OVERKILL since he has a single CPU model. OWC states the max for those at 48gb-since they have 4 slots I'd think they could theoretically go to 64gb, but OWC's compatibility matrix doesn't allow for that combination. If it did, I'm sure they would since they make money by selling you as much as will work(and they do test stuff extensively).

What do you mean by "the same?"

Do you mean same brand? If so, that's ideal for performance but not 100% necessary.

Do you mean UDIMM vs. RDIMMs? If so, yes that's true in general and not specific to the MP 5,1 or to using 16gb modules in the 5,1. I've always run RDIMMs in mine since big ones tend to be less expensive than UDIMMs(RDIMMs are basically limited to servers and workstation-class computers like the Mac Pros or the massive Dell XPS I have that has gotten hand-me-down RAM and CPUs every time I've upgraded my Mac Pro).

I like OWC and have spent money with them, but their stuff doesn't come cheap. I have a hard time paying their prices for 5,1 RAM given the sheer volume of perfectly good server pulls out there. It's registered DDR3 ECC 1333mhz. There again, that's server and workstation memory, not consumer class memory. It was really expensive when it was current. That's not to say it's dirt cheap now, but there's a much smaller market than when these computers for new. I think I paid right around $200 for 6x16gb modules to put in my 5,1 last summer. That's half the price of OWC.

Yup, I'm running server pulls right now (CPU was also a server pull), so I'm with you on that. It sounds like 64GB should be doable on this old girl if 128 is doable on the twin CPU system. I'll keep an eye out for 16GB sticks.

I (erroneously) assumed there was a hardware/addressing limit that capped me at 8GB sticks (4GB per side). Remember the old Core2-series stuff that wouldn't address the full capacity of high density sticks? Along those lines. So it's go to hear that's not the case.
 

OVERKILL

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RHEL is no-cost for up to 16 installations now.
CentOS as we knew it goes EOL at the end of 2021 for 8.x and some time in 2024 for 7.x. They've replaced CentOS with CentOS Stream, a rolling release tracking just ahead of RHEL point releases.

Yes, that was my understanding, pretty cool development IMHO, it's a fantastic OS.

Have you tried using it with a GUI? That's the main reason I'd be inclined toward Fedora to replace MacOS, as this system is a desktop and I've only ever used RHEL as a server OS, not a workstation.
 

OVERKILL

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In regards to memory, there is what Apple reccomends, and what actually fits...

Mac Pro 5.1 can run 128 GB, but all sticks must be the same.

Lookat Other World Computing or send me a PM, and I will try and find the upgrade options for your Mac...

I'm familiar with OWC and their insane pricing, lol. This computer is 11 years old, it gets upgrades if they are a value proposition, like its current CPU and GPU. The GPU is an Nvidia reference design card that I flashed to the Mac-compliant firmware, CPU was a server pull I found on kijiji and the RAM is also server pull that I pulled myself from a system I retired. If I come across some 16GB sticks I'll likely give them a shot, given @bunnspecial's experience, but I'm not going to go out of my way in terms of time or expense to bump this old girl to 64GB as she works very well for the current application with the 32GB it has at present.
 

bunnspecial

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Yes, that was my understanding, pretty cool development IMHO, it's a fantastic OS.

Have you tried using it with a GUI? That's the main reason I'd be inclined toward Fedora to replace MacOS, as this system is a desktop and I've only ever used RHEL as a server OS, not a workstation.

I'd missed that, and I'm itching to play with it now!

Our Varian/Agilent NMRs at my last place of employment were run off RHEL workstations. The GUI on them was nothing fancy, but was functional. Not sure what exactly it was. It wasn't the slick/polished look of Ubuntu, but served its purpose fine. Granted you rarely even saw the desktop unless you went looking for it as vNMRj was usually pulled up on them(a lot of folks just thought it was an old/clunky version of Windows despite the fact that some of the troubleshooting posters that you needed at times had you go terminal and use standard BASH commands).
 

OVERKILL

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I'd missed that, and I'm itching to play with it now!

Our Varian/Agilent NMRs at my last place of employment were run off RHEL workstations. The GUI on them was nothing fancy, but was functional. Not sure what exactly it was. It wasn't the slick/polished look of Ubuntu, but served its purpose fine. Granted you rarely even saw the desktop unless you went looking for it as vNMRj was usually pulled up on them(a lot of folks just thought it was an old/clunky version of Windows despite the fact that some of the troubleshooting posters that you needed at times had you go terminal and use standard BASH commands).

XFCE perhaps? I assume you'd recognize Gnome 2.

Looks like I'll be downloading a copy, lol, RHEL long-term support is really nice, assume it is going to play nice with Steam and Windows emulation (which I would assume it would).
 
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Yes, that was my understanding, pretty cool development IMHO, it's a fantastic OS.

Have you tried using it with a GUI? That's the main reason I'd be inclined toward Fedora to replace MacOS, as this system is a desktop and I've only ever used RHEL as a server OS, not a workstation.
I've tried a GUI on CentOS (8, Gnome 3.32) both as a GUI for the server and as a workstation. But if I ever do feel a need to administer a server with a GUI I'll just use Cockpit - Plus, all of the servers I have in various clouds are modest enough that there aren't any GPU's involved.

As a workstation I found the obsolescence of the packages to be too much. I've heard of some who just install a bare-bones OS and then use Flatpaks for applications, though, and that actually sounds promising.

Desktops at home and for friends, family and neighbours are Ubuntu: It's getting ubiquitous enough in desktop and server space that I am starting to see developers issue "Linux" versions of their applications *just* for Ubuntu. Someone has even gotten Ubuntu to run on the new Macs! I have never been sold on Fedora as a daily driver (unlike Facebook, apparently) but it is fun to spin up a VM to see what the next Gnome will look and feel like (F34 - currently Rawhide, featuring an overhauled Gnome 40, for example). Ubuntu's LTS releases strike a nice balance between "stability" and "being current" *for the desktop* from my perspective.
 
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bunnspecial

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XFCE perhaps? I assume you'd recognize Gnome 2.
Had to google it, but that's it!

Not a huge fan of the Gnome GUIs just because I want Linux to be light and slim and I feel like it's just too heavy.

I really should give FreeBSD a try. Between macOS and Irix(the old SGI OS, which I've used) I feel like I should at least have a passing familiarity with it. I don't know and am too lazy to look up now if Solaris is BSD, but if so I have some experience with it also. I actually have a Sun UltraSparc II in storage now with Solaris-it ran one of our NMRs up to 2009(a bit before my time) when they got a 1.5 million grant that bought two new systems(Varian 400mhz with a 72 sample robotic sample changer for teaching use and a 700mhz Varian for the biochem folks) and a new Varian spectrometer console for an older 500mhz Oxford magnet.
 

bunnspecial

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Someone has even gotten Ubuntu to run on the new Macs!

I haven't followed it but I'm not super surprised. Fundamentally, even though it's dressed up as an "Apple Silicone M1" it's still an ARM CPU. There are enough other ARM PCs out there(mostly super low cost netbooks) that I'm guessing Ubuntu for ARM is fairly well maintained.
 

OVERKILL

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Had to google it, but that's it!

Not a huge fan of the Gnome GUIs just because I want Linux to be light and slim and I feel like it's just too heavy.

I really should give FreeBSD a try. Between macOS and Irix(the old SGI OS, which I've used) I feel like I should at least have a passing familiarity with it. I don't know and am too lazy to look up now if Solaris is BSD, but if so I have some experience with it also. I actually have a Sun UltraSparc II in storage now with Solaris-it ran one of our NMRs up to 2009(a bit before my time) when they got a 1.5 million grant that bought two new systems(Varian 400mhz with a 72 sample robotic sample changer for teaching use and a 700mhz Varian for the biochem folks) and a new Varian spectrometer console for an older 500mhz Oxford magnet.
Solaris is Solaris, it is its own *nix variant just like IRIX HP-UX And DEC Alpha Unix.

I used to be big into FreeBSD, ran it as my DD OS for years. I preferred it over Linux, but unfortunately, in terms of support for modern apps and hardware, Linux has a much broader foothold where it is actually a very viable replacement for Windows, even if you game. Steam for example, can leverage a wine-esque environment to play Windows games in Linux, and NVidia and ATI have both had good support over the years. The same can't really be said for any of the *BSD variants.

I'm trying to remember the name, but there was a BSD distribution, based on FreeBSD, but specifically targeted to the desktop and with ease of install. It showed a lot of promise but I think it went obsolete. EDIT: It was PC-BSD! later called "TrueOS", and indeed was abandoned unfortunately.

With Berkeley behind it, FreeBSD isn't going anywhere, so if you did plan on doing a testdrive, that's where I'd start.
 
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I'm trying to remember the name, but there was a BSD distribution, based on FreeBSD, but specifically targeted to the desktop and with ease of install. It showed a lot of promise but I think it went obsolete.
There was PC-BSD, DragonflyBSD and GhostBSD a while back; and more recently TrueOS who just shut down. https://www.truenas.com/trueos-discontinuation/

GhostBSD is still going. It looks like a MATE desktop.
 

OVERKILL

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bunnspecial

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Close to two weeks in, I'm still blown away with this computer. It's honestly the best portable I've ever used.

The jury is still out for me on the touchbar, but I'm happy to have encountered a few applications that make intelligent use of it and it legitimately enhances my experience. One prime example I can think of is Zoom, a program I spend a lot of time using every day. Zoom replicates the control bar in the touch bar, which is handy since it's always there rather than me having to hunt for it. More importantly, in meetings I host, for a while I had the chat box disabled because I simply couldn't monitor it and run the meeting at the same time. The touchbar not only gives me one-touch access to the chat box, but shows me new chat notifications. It's a game changer for me when using Zoom.
 
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Close to two weeks in, I'm still blown away with this computer. It's honestly the best portable I've ever used.

The jury is still out for me on the touchbar, but I'm happy to have encountered a few applications that make intelligent use of it and it legitimately enhances my experience. One prime example I can think of is Zoom, a program I spend a lot of time using every day. Zoom replicates the control bar in the touch bar, which is handy since it's always there rather than me having to hunt for it. More importantly, in meetings I host, for a while I had the chat box disabled because I simply couldn't monitor it and run the meeting at the same time. The touchbar not only gives me one-touch access to the chat box, but shows me new chat notifications. It's a game changer for me when using Zoom.
The Touch Bar is being removed with a redesign of the MacBook Pro
Expected to be released Mid 2021
 
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Most of the talk on this thread is way above my understanding but I’m happy to report we got our new MacBook Air and love it so far.
 
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