[linux-elitists] Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?

Andy Bastien lists+linux-elitists@yuggoth.net
Wed Jan 8 17:15:15 PST 2003

We have reason to believe that on Wed Jan 08 Joakim Ziegler wrote:
> Subject: Re: [linux-elitists] Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?
> From: Joakim Ziegler <joakim@avmaria.com>
> To: linux-elitists@zgp.org
> Date: 08 Jan 2003 15:31:41 -0600
> On Wed, 2003-01-08 at 15:19, Michael Bacarella wrote:
> > "After all, it's got all of the benefits of Linux, plus a standardized
> > UI and better applications support!"
> > I'm getting really sick of that question, and it's becoming more common.
> > How do you answer it? My answer:
> > It's a closed source system with open source components. The utility of
> > Linux is in the community that cooperated to develop it. There is no such
> > developer community on MacOS X.  It is proprietary software that picked
> > and choosed open source components because even Apple wasn't stupid enough
> > to try to spend the thousands of man years duplicating what they could
> > get for free today. Them keeping it open source is a convenient marketing
> > tool to appeal to geeks, the company has no real interest in open source.
> Apple's views on open source seem to be deeply confused. On one hand,
> they do stuff like Darwin, and releasing a new browser based on
> Konqueror, on the other hand they have all sorts of patents and crap.
> But yeah, I believe you when you say they don't have a "real interest",
> but then again, very few companies do.

They have as much interest as any company; they like open source as
long as it helps them make money.  The only companies that will
support open source software to the point of letting their support
cause them to lose money are those that have no other options.  Few of
those companies last very long.  Redhat is an obvious exception, but
there is the counter-example of Ximian, who needs to sell closed
source software to support themselves.
But I think Apple honestly does appreciate the value of open source,
that they have contributed much more than they would need to just
present a veneer of supporting open source, and have enough of a
commitment now that it would be very difficult for them to stop their

> My answer to the question about switching to MacOS X is similar to
> yours, plus I usually add something about actually wanting choice when
> buying my hardware, the option of assembling my own system, and so on.

Fair enough, but when was the last time you assembled your own laptop?

> Then there's the unmistakable fact that MacOS X still sort of sucks in
> several ways. Where I work, there are a lot of Macs, mostly for the
> designer and administrative crowd, so I see it up close quite a lot.
> It's slow (despite Apple's claims), even on graphics stuff, which is
> what it's supposed to excel at. Flash movies on web pages run

The interface is certainly slower that Linux on any given hardware,
but that's mostly because it's doing a lot more than Linux.  Let's not
forget how incredibly ugly Linux is by comparison (KDE3 included).
It's a trade off; a well-designed, attractive, but slower interface
compared to an ugly, inconsistent ball of kludges that is somewhat
faster.  (When I have to use a Linux desktop I use WindowMaker if
possible.  It might not have all of the geegaws that Gnome and KDE do,
but at least it isn't constantly getting in my way and doesn't take
several minutes to start up, and that's about the most I expect from a
Linux desktop.)

> ridiculously slowly and choppily, for instance, on my friend's Titanium
> Powerbook, while they work just fine on my cheap Intel laptop running
> GNU/Linux. 

That's not much of a proof.  For all of the information you provide,
the Tibook is a 400 MHz box running several other apps in the
background and the Intel laptop is a 1 Ghz+ P3 doing nothing else.
Here's a specific example: right now I'm using my iBook 700 Mhz G3 to
display two copies of a website ( http://www.enviromission.com ) with
two flash movies on high quality in the background (that's four flash
movies total) in Safari while I'm writing this in Mail.app and my CPU
utilization is about 50% (and, since the iBook automatically throttles
the speed of the CPU, it may actually be running at 400 Mhz...I don't
know what the speed is currently and I don't really care).  Oh, did I
mention the battery in real life usage lasts 3 - 5 hours?  And did I
also mention that I can just close the lid and the laptop goes to
sleep, and when I open it i can start working immediately from where I
left off?  From what I've seen with Linux, you can count yourself
lucky if you can suspend a laptop and bring it back up.

> Then there are the file systems. You can either choose HFS+, which is
> non-journalled, slow, and extremely vulnerable (a Mac shop I know of
> regularly experience that too early unplugging firewire HDs doesn't just
> corrupt the file that was being written at the moment, but actually
> trashes the entire filesystem, to the point where not even third-party
> commercial recovery programs can do anything to fix it), or you can go
> with an ancient version of BSD's UFS, pre-softupdates, which is faster
> than HFS+, but has the extra fun feature that lots of software,
> including Apple's own, refuses to install on partitions formatted with
> it.

HFS+ can be journalled, and is faster than UFS.  Hardly anyone
actually uses UFS on OSX (it's the case sensitivity that screws up old
MacOS apps, unlike those old versions of Quark for Linux which run
just great on the new Linux filesystems).  As far as Firewire drives
being trashed, don't unplug them when the light's on and all you need
to do to unmount one is drag the drive icon over the eject icon on the
dock.  Stupid behavior is stupid behavior on any OS.

> It frequently crashes and locks up. Not as frequent as old versions of
> Windows, but it seems at least on par with Windows XP. I've seen the
> finder "unexpectedly quit", applications that lock up and can't be
> terminated, even with the magic key combination that's supposed to do
> that, and I've seen the entire machine freeze entirely to the point
> where you just have to power cycle it. All this, I've seen personally,
> while happening to be in front of a MacOS X machine, and that's not
> somewhere I am every day.

It should be obvious that this is not typical behavior (and as much as
I detest Windows XP, I'll freely admit that it is also untrue that it
crashes often).  I'd say there's a good chance that your friend has
bad hardware, or that he's done some ill-advised surgery on his OS.  I
have three Macs running OSX.  All of them get used fairly intensively.
In the past six months I've had one crash, and I have never
experienced an application that couldn't be killed.  I also know and
know of many other people who use OSX and I've never heard any
complaints similar to yours or seen any systems that have any such
problems.  (As far as unkillable apps go, I have seen it happen many
times under Linux with filesystems mounted over the network during
network problems...it's euphemistically called an uninterruptible

Having said that, Finder does have it's share of problems.  When it
crashes it does come right back up, and all you lose is a few seconds
of your time while it restarts.  But, of course, we all know that
Nautilus never ever crashes.

> Just to make sure: The non-free nature of the system is what keeps me
> away from it. But the above arguments might be more convincing than
> that, to people who approach the choice of operating systems in a more
> utilitarian manner.

It's perfectly valid to not like OSX because it isn't free.  But I
think you've made the judgment that you don't want to like it and are
looking for excuses to justify that judgment.
I like Linux, and I own at rough count five boxes that all run Debian
(one of which is a PowerMac 9500, btw), I also have a Linux
workstation at work and have done a serious amount of Linux admin
professionally (although all of the servers that I take care of
currently are running Solaris), but after using OSX for some time I
find using a Linux desktop every bit as infuriating as using Windows.
OSX certainly is not perfect, but it's whole lot better on the desktop
than anything else I've ever used and my (admittedly biased) opinion
that anyone who uses it without preconceptions would come to feel the
same way.

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