OSX is at least real Unix and has a real terminal. About 90% of my development practice is on MBPs, I am one of the few holdouts, but I run Xubuntu on a Dell Precision laptop. The keyboard is awful on MBPs, otherwise I would probably switch and install Linux on there.
I think that it's fair to say at this point that all the niceties of UNIX are present on your Linux machine. Apple has nicer fonts but its GUIs will have roughly the same amount of bothersome inconsistency.
...a few bad blocks does seem to be more than enough to offer stupid amounts of instability in a system.
Indeed it does. SMART is basically a data gathering program, so it won't fix anything. Windows cannot reallocate sectors, nor can it accurately detect the difference between a bad sector and OS corruption issues. The only way to attempt to solve sector issues is to use the manufacturer's tools. If such a tool finds sectors it will attempt to use the internal process that opens up spare sectors. Would I rely on this fix? Not permanently. Bad sectors typically occur because of impact trauma (most likely from the head) or a media defect. Either one of those issues tends to expand over time.
Indeed and the split between HP Inc. and HPE only made it worse. It's faster to search what you're looking for on Google (which often provide a link to what you need on HP's site) than trying to find it by browsing HP's website.Intel's web site is a goddamned marvel of organization compared to HP's.