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Switch (back)

Well, after 12 years I have switched (back) to Macs.

Switch (back)

My first computer was an original 128k Mac, one of the very first ones. My mouse actually had a 5-digit serial number, IIRC. I gave up in 1995 swearing I would never buy another Mac:

  • I bought a Powerbook Duo 210-possibly the worst Mac ever engineered- right when it came out, shortly before Steve Jobs cut the price in half, and then shortly after that discontinued it. And no, he didn’t give me any funny money to go spend in his stores after he did it
  • The various unixes, which is how I made my living at the time, all had reasonable PC-based implementations that were free and open source. Linux was viable, and FreeBSD 2.2 was a really nice, stable OS
  • The Mac just did not have interesting software that I wanted to play with, and I could run systems I could get paid to play with on x86 pc hardware
  • Oh yeah, did I mention the turd of a computer that the Powerbook Duo 210 was?

The Good

So why the switch back? It comes down to things Just Working. I’ve been using various Linux distros, most recently Ubuntu, at home for a while. I will continue to run Ubuntu on my home laptop. But for a computer for the rest of the family to use, and for certain things for me, the Mac is just easier:

  • It is just about as easy to manage software on the Mac as on Ubuntu. I am convinced that the debian apt system (or possibly similar like yum or rpms) are the way to go for maintaining systems. But Apple’s installation system has so far been very easy to work with to get things on here.
  • Most importantly, once software and drivers are installed, the hardware and software Just Works

As a quick example, I installed the iSync plugin for my Nokia N95. I then used the iMac’s bluetooth wizard to connect to the phone, it found it and paired properly (no extra credit, most things do these days), but then iSync popped up and within 10 minutes of starting I had downloaded the plugin, installed it, connected my phone, and synced my phone into iCal and the address book

*Unix-y goodness. I like being able to pop into a shell and do things, and having rsync and friends around is nice

The Bad

So everybody touts the awesome OSX GUI. But here’s the deal, much of it is still the best that 1983 has to offer.

  • The single menu bar at the top of the screen that switches as you change apps has got to go. I have had the computer running less than a day and I’ve already thought I’ve closed an app about 20 times only to remember that closing the last window…closes the last window. It is too hard to get into and out of apps
  • I’m not thrilled about the dock showing both open and available apps. I would prefer one list of open apps and another of apps I frequently use to click on. I know there is a visual indicator of what’s open or not, but my dock is cluttered because I am used to using a strip of icons for apps I start frequently


Overall, I am happy with the switch back, but I think I’m jaded enough not to become too much of an Apple fan boy. There are too many usability nits left in the OS from 20 years ago.

I’m using firefox and thunderbird for mail because at the base of it I want an OS to run my apps on top off, and I like that I have the same apps on Windows, linux, and OSX.

Finally, I am sure I have said something in here to anger Mac, Windows, and Linux/Debian/Ubuntu fans everywhere. Remember, this is my choice. I use all 3 OSes now every day (Windows at work, Ubuntu on my personal machine, and OSX on the family computer). I use what works for me out of each of them, and none of them does exactly what I want for every single thing. Linux→Debian→Ubuntu and OSX each have their strong points, and I like each for what they can do. But each has downsides too. Remember, this is all IMHO, with the emphasis on my and opinion. You are free to have yours, and have them not be the same as mine.

Published on 25/11/2007 at 07:20PM under , . Tags , , , ,

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