Reviews about the new Apple Mac Mini M1 are multiplying like rabbits. Everywhere you look, you’ll get flooded with yet another glowing review about Apple’s latest marvel. This blog post is not a Mac Mini M1 review but rather a timeline of what I am doing with it. The idea is to provide an overview of how valuable the new Mac Mini M1 really is. Time will tell.
I bought my second Mac computer on Saturday, November 28. If you glimpsed over some of my other blog posts, then you know that I’ve recently “upgraded” my late 2009 iMac. Although it is a late 2009 iMac, it runs Catalina amazingly well. Because of that, I was willing to add another Apple device to my setup as long as it’s not an iMac.
So let’s see how it all unfolds.
Apple Mac Mini M1 – Day 1
Saturday, Nov 28
The very first program that I installed was GarageBand but not the instruments and loops. I prefer to use the sounds of my amazing Yamaha Genos arranger keyboard. Over the next week or so, I will make some test recordings and if GarageBand does the job, then I’ll keep it as my main DAW.
If not then I will check out Reaper.
Sunday, Nov 29
I just found an arm64 version of Reaper, installed it and it seems OK. I will play with it some more over the next few days and if it all pans out, then Reaper will be my main DAW running on MacOS Big Sur.
Advantage: On a 4K 32″ monitor, the Reaper UI text is amazingly easy to read.
It would have been nice to use the new Mac Mini for some Python scripting but the more I looked into it, the more I was convinced that Linux is way more suitable for programing then the Apple platform. I’ve also installed Microsoft Visual Studio Code briefly but removed it again. VS Code is great but I don’t need two text editors.
Disadvantage: Python 3 programing is best done on Linux.
YouTube is amazing! I just installed PyCharm Community Edition which seems to work perfectly fine. I will have to do some more testing tomorrow but if nothing changes, then my new Mac Mini M1 became just more valuable than I imagined.
What’s next? Arm processors are new to me so I will have to watch some YouTube videos to learn what others do and adapt the good parts into my workflow. I will update once I install more software.
Apple Mac Mini M1 – Day 2
Sunday, Nov 29
Although the new Apple Mac Mini M1 doesn’t have a dedicated graphics processor, Blender runs amazingly well on it. Sometimes I just need to tweak a material or update some textures and for that, MacOS Big Sur is more than sufficient.
Sadly, on the new silicon M1 chip, GIMP is a no go.
Disadvantage: I would have loved to have Gimp on MacOS Big Sur but it’s not meant to be.
After logging in to iTunes, I was offered to download Pixelmator which I bought back in 2013. By the looks of it, I will keep using Linux for web design for which I prefer to work with Gimp. Still, I have a ton of Pixelmator source files which, thanks to the Mac Mini, I can continue to access for years to come.
Black Friday has gone and Cyber Monday is still to come. That means that I could buy Affinity Photo and Designer at a decent discount. For some reason, I have little to no appetite to add any additional 2D image manipulation tools to my workflow.
Apple Mac Mini M1 – Day 3
Monday, Nov 30
Today will be all about using Safari. Back when the now retired iMac was my daily driver, Safari wasn’t much of use to me. My Linux computers run mostly Firefox so Safari needed a refresher. To not waste precious hard drive space, I have decided to not install any additional web browsers and instead, really get to know Safari. After using it a couple of days, I am slowly warming up to it. The tracking protection is good and although I am not crazy about the way Apple placed the search bar at the top, it is what it is. I’ll manage.
Reinstalling Big Sur
After I felt that I had everything figured out (remember that I haven’t used my old iMac in years), I decided to reinstall MacOS Bir Sur for a fresh start. When I got the Mac Mini M1, I installed Python 3.9 and Visual Studio Code because I wanted to spend more time with my new toy. Things didn’t go as smooth as I had hoped so I decided to erase the Macintosh HD and do a fresh install of Big Sur. Thanks to a Telus Fibre internet connection, installing a fresh copy of Big Sur took about 15 minutes.
No doubt, I will post a lot more about incorporating the Mac Mini M1 with my Linux machines but for now, I want to say that I am glad that I bought it. The biggest gain was Reaper or more specifically, the nice big UI fonts. Big Sur scales nicely and for some reason, Reaper and 4K monitors running on Linux are not yet there. Sure, the setup is usable but my recording sessions often last hours and my eyes are not the best anymore. I really appreciate how well Reaper runs on the new Mac Mini M1 and so do many of my other must-have software applications like Blender.
Most of my time is spent designing websites and there too, the Mac Mini shines. The rest I’ll keep doing in Linux because rendering a big 3D image with an 8 Gig Nvidia GFX card can’t be done on the Mini. That about sums it all up so thank you for reading and as always, if you have comments then feel free to start a conversation about the new Apple Mac Mini. I’ll respond the same day.