The Difference Between Apple and Linux

Mike has ditched Linux for Mac OS X. His blog post and most of the comments are quite measured, which is nice. A lot of Mike’s criticisms are probably quite valid too. However, he is comparing quite different things – a complete solution purchased from Apple with an unsupported and free software install on Apple hardware – call it Apples and oranges if you like.

How Apple works

Apple sells you hardware that they design and specify and they include software for you to run on that hardware. It works, mostly, very well. If it didn’t then they would really be failing – they control everything, know exactly what they need to test with, etc, etc.

How Microsoft works

Microsoft sells you software with basic hardware requirements. They throw in a few drivers for some popular hardware, but mostly your shiny new PC comes with Windows and drivers from the manufacturer already installed. The manufacturer only has to test that their small range of hardware works with Windows and their drivers. Having tried to install a generic Windows XP on a 5 year old laptop I found that I didn’t have:

EDIT: This was a few years ago when XP was still current – I was comparing an XP install that included the latest service packs (i.e. the latest software from Microsoft) with a contemporary Linux distribution.

  • Wireless connectivity
  • Sound
  • Graphics above 600×800 pixels
  • Wired network connection
  • Working modem
  • Suspend or hibernate
  • Working ‘special keys’ (volume, screen dimming)

Vendors who sell you add on hardware for your PC supply it with a little installation CD that makes sure it works with Windows for you.

How Linux works

A very few vendors (NVIDIA, for example) write proprietary drivers that work quite well in all modern distros. Installing them can however be a bit of a pain. Some vendors (AMD, Intel) work with upstreams to get free software drivers included in the kernel (or X.org, Mesa etc). Many vendors ignore Linux entirely and hardware support depends on someone else adding it to the kernel (an interested distributor such as Red Hat, a kernel hacker whose hardware doesn’t work). This works incredibly well, though still not well enough. On that same five year old laptop with Linux:

  • Wireless works out of the box (some distros need firmware download)
  • Sound works
  • Graphics work fine at full resolution and with 3d acceleration
  • Wired network connection works
  • Modem doesn’t work
  • Suspend and hibernate both work
  • Working ‘special keys’ (volume, screen dimming)

Linux has better hardware support than Windows (certainly than XP when that was current, I can’t compare directly to Vista or 7). However, hardware has better support for Windows than for Linux. Apple exist in their own magical little world full of complete control.

Some vendors will sell you Linux-friendly hardware and even pre-install Linux for you. However, these tend to be quite generic boxes – more or less just a homebuild that someone has put together for you. It is unlikely that the software has been extensively tweaked to complement the hardware.

Doing the ‘right thing’

One thing Mike talks about is that his Macbook never loses data when he suspends it and leaves it until the battery runs out because it hibernates instead. Well that’s cool. I don’t know whether that needs some special hardware hook to realise the battery is going to die and transfer the computer state from RAM to the hard drive (if so there’s not much we can do about it) or whether they are just doing something clever like hibernating and suspending at the same time – so that the current state gets copied to the hard drive and RAM when you close the laptop lid and if the battery dies it just comes out of hibernation when you restart. That might be implementable, but hey, Apple probably patented the idea πŸ˜‰

Sexy sells

However, this could definitely be done by a real Linux hardware vendor – a manufacturer who says “Hey, we’re going to take complete control over hardware like Apple does, but we’re going to run Linux on that hardware. And that hardware will be just as sexy as anything Apple has ever made. And if anything doesn’t work quite right, we’ll fix the hardware or we’ll fix Linux”. It requires a vendor to take a bet on Linux, to accept that users might try and put Windows on the machine, but not really care whether that works – in the same way that Apple don’t care whether you can install XP on your Macbook and Sony don’t care if your VAIO will run Linux. Then the vendor could customise their KDE Plasma Desktop to take full advantage of the hardware – knowing that the graphics chip and the drivers for it really did support the features that were being used – and commit fixes for anything that doesn’t work properly. They could tailor the power usage to the hardware and disable unnecessary services and polling.

Then we could compare Apple and KDE (with a customised, tweaked, polished version of Plasma Desktop and the apps) to see who makes the best user experience. Mac users in my workplace are already impressed by my Plasma Desktop, but not by the big, grey, noisy Dell box that powers it, or the ugly Dell keyboard. With Apple, you get the whole package: nice hardware, nice software – working together.

Selling sexy

This is a world for the consumer, where the manufacturer should deliver the whole package and make sure everything works – in the way that your Apple iPhone works (unless you hold it the wrong way…), that your HTC Android phone works, that your Nokia N900 works. The trouble is that Linux desktop hardware vendors tend to go for price competition and in any case it takes serious money to develop something really cool – you need your own manufacturing process rather than taking something off the shelf.

Take Open-PC as an example. The first product looks fine. I could build something similar myself and probably do it cheaper, but I know this has all been set up for me, has been really tested with Linux, has support… For your average consumer who doesn’t want to build their own PC it makes a lot of sense – if I needed a desktop PC right now then I would give it some serious consideration myself. The community involvement is great too. But it has a generic (though nice enough) case and is not really sexy. Fitting it in some really sleek, expensive looking case would add to the price, perhaps by Euro 30 or more, but it would change the selling proposition: this is not just a computer for those of you who want a Linux computer. This is the computer you want to buy, period. Asus got that, with their eee-PC: here’s a use case, here is our solution to that use case and by the way it’s the best one out there (sure it runs Linux, but you don’t need to care about that)

Make some real Linux hardware, better quality and better presented than anything from Apple, with a Linux distro and Plasma Desktop tweaked to work perfectly with the hardware and sell it as the ultimate home computer. It would take money (big, established vendor money) and balls (no one ever got sacked for selling Windows, you might for this) but maybe, just maybe, you could be the next Apple. But free.

23 Responses to “The Difference Between Apple and Linux”

  • Sjors Gielen says:

    Re how MacOS suspends and hibernates: Before it *really* suspends, it writes your RAM to disk. You can see this when you close the lid, even: The white apple on the back of the screen dims because the screen is blanked, the “life” LED comes up to indicate that the computer is really still on; then, about a minute later (after the RAM dump is done), that LED starts dimming and coming up again, indicating that the laptop has really suspended. πŸ™‚

    (It’s really nice how that LED dims and comes up again, almost like the MacBook is breathing in its sleep. :))

  • Anonymous says:

    “whether they are just doing something clever like hibernating and suspending at the same time”

    This is available in GNU/Linux.

    From pm-suspend-hybrid manual page:
    “pm-suspend-hybrid Hybrid-suspend is the process where the system does everything it needs to hibernate, suspends instead of shutting down. This means that your computer can wake up quicker than for normal hibernation if you do not run out of power, and you can resume even if you run out of power. s2both(8) is an hybrid-suspend implementation.”

    • Stu says:

      Ah, that’s interesting, thanks.

      So in principle this seems like the sensible thing to do when suspending due to low battery etc? I wonder how buggy the acpi interfaces provided by the various hardware vendors are and whether this works well in practice.

  • Zanoi says:

    I also wonder when people say that Apple just works while Linux doesn’t, for the very reason you described. Actually it’s quite to the contrary. If you choose a random computer, Linux is much more likely to work on it than Mac OS X. Of course it’s hard to get a hand on a complete and fully supported Linux desktop solution, but that’s a completely different issue than saying MacOS X works and Linux doesn’t.

    I’ve long been hoping for a “complete solution” Linux offering like the one you describe. I really think that it’s *the* way to make money with desktop Linux (if there is any at all). However, just combining a nice looking computer with Linux and then get it to work perfectly together would not necessarily mean that it will work out commercially.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that Apple does not just sell a sleek computer with very user friendly software. Apple sells an image and a status symbol, a “lifestyle” if you will. Apple products are associated with being hip and cool while Linux is associated with being geeky (and that’s probably one of the better of all the associations). Linux has no “premium” image and thus has a hard time competing in price, even if it would match Apple quality wise. In my opinion this is why nobody tries to sell Linux with a premium.

    It might sound counterintuitive, but an innovation being better does not at all mean it will succeed. Whether an innovation spreads in society depends on a lot of factors and it being better is just one of many. So even if one sold the perfect “fully controlled” amazing looking computer with KDE and invested a lot of money in PR, it would by no means necessarily be commercially viable.

    About your Windows XP/Linux comparison, I think that’s comparing apples and oranges πŸ™‚ Windows XP is over 9 years old by now. If you compared it’s driver support to Linux from 2001 Windows XP would win hands down. However, the big difference is that with Linux you are not forced to install a 9 year old kernel just to get a specific look & feel or avoid paying lots of money. You can *always* just install the newest (or rather latest stable) kernel version and thus get all the newest driver support. And I’m sure todays Linux beats Windows XP in driver support.

    • Stu says:

      Well, I agree I think πŸ™‚

      Yep – just making a really nice Linux computer is not enough. It needs to be sold really well and would be very hard for a new vendor to do, even with money. Take Android as an example – that is succeeding not so much because it’s Linux (or not because people know it’s Linux) but because the devices are cool and Google is cool – Google, like Apple, can easily generate hype around anything they do.

      Re Windows versus Linux – well actually that comparison was something I did a few years ago when XP was current and I was installing from an XP disc with SP2 (also current at the time). So it was the most recent operating system from MS versus the most recent Linux distro (SUSE 9.something, I think). Comparing a current Linux distro to XP now would be unfair, as you say.

  • istoff says:

    Hi,

    One of my machine is a hackintosh built on a normal hardware. I used it initially on linux, but tested OSX on it almost 2 years ago. I have run dualboot since then with Kubuntu / Fedora / openSUSE alternating as the 2nd O/S.

    During that time the OSX installation has easily been the most productive and stable for me to use. Most of my linux issues were due to random cups annoyances, nvidia breakages (kubuntu / fedora) and the occasional network card problems on Intel gigabit drivers which almost caused permanent damage due to a firmware bug.

    Much to my initial surprise, I ended up spending more and more time in OSX and when Snow Leopard was released I bought a retail pack of iLife/iWork/Snow and upgraded. I honestly have tried to give up my hack, but I’m not prepared to do it. Living with Linux as my principle desktop on my laptop reminds me of each one’s strengths and frankly, I would have to agree with “Mike” the original poster almost completely, except I find that Linux is more suitable to me for work than OSX.

    My overall opinion is that Linux doesn’t need any specific technology to succeed, rather a predictable reliable platform which doesn’t break / remove functionality during upgrades (my biggest frustration). A while back on Planet Gnome, Mo Duffy of Red Hat articulated the needs of end users and generated some debate. I hope that the awareness raised by those articles will lead to some changes in this regard.

    • Stu says:

      Interesting to hear about running OS X on your own hardware…

      Re not breaking things on upgrade – well there are a couple of options there. One is to not be as bleeding edge as most of the popular distros nowadays. The other is to know exactly what hardware you are updating for so that you can test everything. Some breakage comes from fixing a bug for one set of users that then hits other people using hardware from a different vendor.

  • Diederik says:

    It definitely takes a good business mind to delever this. Not a lets-go-cheap or technology-is-my-marketing person. πŸ™‚ Great opportunities ahead.

    For a moment, I was tempted to buy something from http://zareason.com/ but shipping costs made it impossibl. I do really love their model and enthusiasm. Linux vendors do exist, but much more vendors could step up.

    I’ve just assembled my own PC, and with just little care, Linux just worked. It wasn’t that hard at all. It’s rather an exception then rule when something doesn’t work these days.

    • Stu says:

      Hmm, zareason stuff does look quite nice, the laptops anyway. The desktops much more special than what could be achieved by buying a nice case for a homebuild…

  • fakeap says:

    Great post. I asked Mike few times to explain what distribution he was using, but I get no answer and he was deleting and editing my posts!. I don’t have to touch a text editor to configure my Linux distribution. Reading his post is like reading some Apple advertisements, only rhetoric and no straight and clear answers and examples.

    @Istoff

    I have completely different experience. Linux works out of the box, every piece of my hardware is supported by the Linux kernel (including graphics) and it works excellent. I can’t imagine I could be running OS X, because it doesn’t offer anything interesting compared to Linux with KDE. It feels like a big step backward. Similar experience to running Linux with Gnome, but even worse. πŸ˜‰

    • Stu says:

      Actually Mike does say in a follow up that he’s tried a number of distros and found different issues with all of them. He’s been in and around KDE for a long time which is why I think it’s worth looking seriously at what he says, but I don’t think it can be solved so much by making a better distro that tries to work for everyone, but by making a whole product

  • Fri13 says:

    When it comes to comparisions like this, it is mostly about one point of the view, not about full comparision.

    There are many points what really need to be taken notice first:

    – Is the personal computer a PC or a Mac
    – Is the personal computer build by self or by OEM (or by Apple). (This already brings problems, as Macs are available only from Apple, there are no OEM’s, PC’s you can get from OEM’s or build yourself).
    – Is the comparision of the operating system (Linux vs NT vs XNU)?
    – Is the comparision of the software systems (openSUSE vs Windows 7 vs Mac OS X)?
    – Is the comparision of the hardware (Build by self, compiled by OEM or by software system manufacturer (Apple mainly))?
    – Is the comparision by the OEM vs Self build or software system manufacturers offered installation media or vanilla installation media (Retail Windows 7 disk, retail openSUSE CD image? Mac OS X is always from Apple for Mac’s so…)
    – Is the comparision about Out-Of-The-Box comparision or about possibilities how you can extend or use the personal computer by the time what pass (Like can you on next year buy a new printer or do you need to install printer driver after software system installation or is it working when you just attach it).

    And so on…

    In the end, when people talks about operating systems hardware support, they usually mistake the retail version vs pre-configured installation media. Or they the operating system to the software system (OS + all other software) so they do not even talk about operating systems only (Linux kernel, NT, XNU, HURD etc).

    The bottom point is, that car analogies works very well with computer world.

    As some cars are that you can not even open the engine hood by yourself without loosing the warranty. So you need to drive to the manufactures car care and they takes care of all. You can just sit down and drink coffee while they fix things.

    With older cars, you need to choose the repair place or do it yourself.

    And today many favors for leasing cars, as they do not need to do anything to them than just fill with gasoline. If cars gets broken, you drive it to repair and everything is done for you. If someone crash your car, you get a new one.

    Everytime when somekind comparision is done from this topic, there should be exact information about the hardware, installation media and the environment how the test was done and what was the purpose.

    As someone already mentioned, Linux is best choise when you take a random hardware. As Linux (kernel) is so great operating system that there is simply no hardware what would not be possible get used with it. The problem can come from other software than the linux OS (kernel) like user does not have application programs what would support the new tablet functions, even that Linux OS still reconize them and X.org can pass the inputs to apps.

    Same mistaken is done as well almost everyday that people say that Linux sucks, while they really meant to say that GNOME sucks or that Firefox sucks in Plasma Desktop. And so easily all the comparisions are abused, non-objective and only made by illusions based false believes.

    Using a Mac is like living in the 5 star hotel. You do not need to care about cleaning the street, repair the roof or make your own food. It is expensive but you are served well.

    Living in apartment in city is with littlebit same things, you do not need to care about roof, street or elevators. But you need to make your own food and repair now and then the apartment itself. You need to call to repair man or specific company to take care of some other problems. And bigger changes what affects to whole building, you need to discuss it with the building “board”.
    That is what it is to use PC from OEM.

    But living in the own house, demans that you take care of the yeard (and street), you repair the roof, you paint the house, you fix the pipes, you clear the leafs etc. It takes your time a lot but you get much cheaper price in a month. And if you can not do something, you can always call to any repairman or company to do something for you.
    That is like having a own custom build PC.

    It is not fair or wise at all to compare 5 star hotel and own house by the way how the 5 star hotels are compared to each others. That means it is not wise to whine how there is no chef or limusine rent in the house as it is in 5 star hotel. Or how you are not allowed to fix pipes or roof in the hotel if you want to do so yourself.

    And such unfair comparisions really causes lots of problems as people who does not know all the parts what makes the sum, they just need to believe results from the comparision. And soon you have a flamewars around the web when people is fighting about opinions and not about facts.

    • Stu says:

      Yep πŸ™‚ Of course when you’re living in a five star hotel you can’t really move the furniture around, repaint the room or get things just how you like them.

      On the other hand, everything works perfectly and if something breaks you expect it to be fixed for you quickly.

      I would like to see someone try and build that 5 star hotel with Linux and KDE software. It probably wouldn’t be for me at the moment (I want to paint the walls, move the furniture and even take the covers off the TV to see how it works…) but there are a lot of five star hotel users out there and at the moment their choice is summed up by the word ‘Apple’.

  • ralf says:

    Your Windows XP / Linux driver comparison is a bit unfair though – Windows XP is from 2001, with some service packs the drivers might be from 2004. Did you try installing a Linux distribution from back then on a 5-year-old laptop? I would be surprised if it was any better than Windows XP. Windows 7 on the other hand, the two or three times I installed it, had all the drivers shipped with it, including 3d acceleration.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am using Linux only as my main OS πŸ˜‰ but you compared oranges and, eh, bananas. Linux still runs on way more hardware platforms than windows, but for common PC platforms, Windows 7 – being almost a year old – ships at least as many drivers as the spring versions of the Linux distributions.

    • Stu says:

      XP vs Linux – yes I didn’t make it clear, but this was an experience from several years ago when XP was still current (and I installed from a disc that included the relevant service packs at the time).

      Linux driver support versus Windows 7? I don’t have a clue πŸ™‚

  • istoff says:

    @fakeap

    I have 3 machines I work on. Desktop, Laptop, Server running OSX, Fedora 13 & Fedora 12 respectively.

    Each is perfectly suited to its role in my life. I spend most of my time on the laptop working in Fedora 13. When I’m on the mac I have a FreeNX session, smb shares and also the odd ssh’ed terminal session into the Fedora 12 box. Believe me when I say that the OSX environment has been just as seamless and reliable as Linux. Sometimes more so, even. When I need to print cd labels, it works, even though it has worked in the past on Linux, it normally involves a weird workflow of changing print/page layouts in the apps & also the cups web interface to make it work and still there was an element of prayer involved.

    On the mac, it just works. Every time. I had similar issues with my Logitech G15 keyboard in Gnome where the “m” key didn’t work. Crazy stuff like that which broke during an upgrade. Sound that doesn’t work unless I recompile Alsa from source. ATI breakages from recent Xorg upgrades. It drove me batty. I hate sticking on an old distro once the new releases come out, but it seemed like I was doing a lot of running repairs every time a new release came out and I was NOT happy!

    Note, I still consider myself a linux user first, but I am developing a liking for OSX nonetheless. For the record I generally run crossplatform apps like chrome/ songbird/ lazarus/ openoffice, etc, so I use OSX as a platform to do tasks. I think of it as a base O/S + Window Manager. When I’m busy, it looks like any other linux version with a dock below.

  • Kjetil Kilhavn says:

    Cross-posting (left this at Mike’s site):
    *****************************************
    As a user of Linux for 10 years I agree completely there is a problem with the fiddling. I’m a software developer myself, but not at low level – I work with SAP … would everyone quit boo-ing, please :-).

    However, a couple of years ago an iMac came into our household, and I can’t say I have any desire to move to Mac OS. True enough, it appears that everything “just works” – but as with Windows this is true only if you do things the way Apple (Microsoft) decide you should work.

    There’s a nice video editing application in Mac OS. Sure, nice as long as you have a computer with one user account, or don’t want to share the video files between users. Otherwise an entire, separate, disk has to be dedicated to the video files.

    There’s a nice picture application in Mac OS. As long as you don’t want pictures to be stored on a NAS and available for everyone, that is.

    There’s a decent music player in Mac OS, unless you want to store the music in FLAC format and have it available to the SqueezeBoxes as well.

    I could go on, but I think you see where this is going. Of course, when this is pointed out some people say “but why would you set up two user accounts?” “SqueezeBox, what’s that? Some Linux thing, right? Why don’t you just use an iPod?” To that I can reply: because I like to be able to use the computer the way *I* prefer.

    I am currently trying to find a company who will sell me a laptop with Linux pre-loaded and verified. People living in North America are lucky enough to have Emperor Linux from which they can purchase, but unfortunately Emperor Linux can’t sell Lenovo computers with a setup (i.e. keyboard etc) that is not sold in North America.

    So the way I see it the real problem is not Linux itself, it is the lack of effort from computer retailers to deliver preloaded computers.

    Given the choice between Linux which works as long as I am a bit careful with hardware selection, and Mac OS which locks me in to the Apple way – and actually is even less user-friendly than Windows in this respect – my choice will still be Linux. Windows is not an option since Bill’s software has deleted all my data twice during installation (yes it was a long time ago).

    I’m a KDE user, so you can add to that wonderful applications such as Kontact and Dolphin, the steadily improving local search capabilities that Akonadi provides, the nice desktop applets Plasma has enabled. I’m staying with KDE.

    I have a Nintendo Wii if I want to play computer games – and if you want high-resolution games there’s PlayStation 3 which I believe is still cheaper than any PC powerful enough to play games with similarly advanced high-resolution graphics.

    Ohh, I also purchased the extended 3-year support from Apple, but don’t think I will renew it since they don’t reply to my e-mails. That was the biggest waste of money.

    The iMac box is nice-looking however, no doubt about that.

  • Mike McQuaid says:

    Hi Stu, very interesting and well-written post. My post was intended to be measured as I almost feel bad criticising Linux in the desktop; I worked on it in the past and so many of my friends and coworkers dedicate huge amounts of time striving to make it better. I don’t intend to insult anyone’s work, I simply aim to show how perhaps focus can be aligned to produce the best user experience.

    The comments you saw were measured but, unfortunately, I had to delete about half of them. Seemingly some people cannot have a civil exchange around this topic and resort to name-calling and insults.

    I completely agree that Apple has a big advantage with end-to-end integration and that, as many commenters said on my blog, it’s not a fair comparison as a result.

    The problem is, I don’t really care about it being a fair comparison. I care about it working. If people admit “Desktop Linux on hardware you haven’t bought specifically for it is an inferior experience than OSX or Windows in these ways” then I think it’ll do desktop Linux a lot of good. Another problem is the continuous “oh, you’re using the wrong distribution/software/hardware/forum/IRC channel/bug tracker”. I don’t have to deal with that on OSX or, in 2010, on Windows really any more.

    When Windows or OSX sucks, you get pissed with Microsoft or Apple. However, the Linux community makes it so when Linux sucks, it’s YOUR fault. Linux can do everything you want (as pointed out with pm-suspend-hybrid), you just haven’t configured it right. I’m sick of this, I’m afraid. I want it to be the default, I want it to Just Work and I want a shiny GUI to configure it all.

    I do agree that you need end-to-end focus on sexiness to be able to beat Apple. I think the people who are most likely to do this are already visible: Google with Android or Nokia/Intel with Meego. No-one is going to throw serious money at the Linux desktop any time soon but the mobile operating systems may well become decent desktop ones.

    One last dig before I head, the N900 doesn’t work as a phone. If you enable push IMAP, the battery life is 4 hours. That’s barely a smartphone and it’s something Android and iPhone have supported (and with longer battery life) since the first phones released. It’s cool that it’s free but I’d rather something non-free that works than something free that doesn’t. Unfortunately this pragmatic streak has let me become somewhat alienated in the wider open-source community. I don’t really care though, as I said in my post, I’m now spending more time writing open-source and less time fiddling with hardware.

    • Stu says:

      Hey,

      Thanks – this post started as a comment on your post, but then I realised it was long and had wandered off topic a bit πŸ™‚ It’s unfortunate about the comments on your blog.

      You make a good point about not caring about a fair comparison. The average computer user isn’t going to care either and if we’re losing people like you then there’s a very real problem.

      Personally, I disagree that β€œDesktop Linux on hardware you haven’t bought specifically for it is an inferior experience than OSX or Windows in these ways”. It can be, but not always – you can get lucky πŸ™‚

      For me, the freedom to tweak things in Linux makes it better, but I agree that a lot of people won’t care about that, or ultimately won’t care enough about that.

      It depends on whether we want Linux to be for those people for whom the freedom is important and are willing to get their hands dirty – and have the time for that, or for everyone. Either viewpoint is valid in my opinion, but if it’s the latter then what we have now doesn’t work. And we can’t fix it by just making a better distro, but only by either persuading all hardware vendors to care about Linux (which is catch 22 as they won’t care until we have enough market share which we don’t get until they care) or to start packaging Linux and hardware together and making them work.

      I also agree that in the new(ish) spaces of smartphones where things are being done together there is a real chance of success. Android is doing great. MeeGo might succeed too (I’m not quite sure about its success on phones, but I hope so – there are some things I prefer compared to Android and diversity and competition is good) particularly on netbooks and entertainment devices.

      I’ve never had more than a very quick play with an N900 so I can’t really comment on that πŸ™‚

      • Mike McQuaid says:

        Good point with freedom, I do care about it but (as you said) not enough. I’m glad we agree on almost everything here, it’s always nice to find common ground πŸ™‚

  • There’s another ‘advantage’ that Apple has over Linux which I think needs more thought, since it’s counter-intuitive. This is that a user getting OSX or Linux will, due to the statistics, probably be switching from Windows. If they’re installing Linux on their existing Windows machine (or having someone install it for them) then they will experience their PC, which previously ran their games, Microsoft Office, Generic Windows App 2.0, etc. without issue, is now incapable of doing this. Thus, in their opinion, Linux is not as good as Windows because their PC has lost functionality after it came into contact with Linux.

    With OSX, since Apple force the user to buy a new box, there is no expectation of what it will do. Many users do not think in terms of hardware and software, and thus having a Mac refuse to run their games, (their Windows CD of) Microsoft Office, Generic Windows App 2.0, etc. is easier to accept. They’ve never seen that bit of kit doing those things, so obviously it must work in a different way. For Linux, since it’s the same box it’s expected to work in the same way.

    For this reason, when switching people from Windows to Linux on the same box I tend to migrate their Windows installation to a virtual machine and tell them that if something doesn’t work in Linux then they can click the VM’s icon to do it via Windows. That way they lose little functionality, and it prevents the main problem of dual booting (namely that nobody ever bothers booting Linux).
    OEM Linux installs are the way to solve this issue.

  • gerlos says:

    I’m a gnu/linux user since last century πŸ˜‰ and got a MacBook Pro last year.
    The hardware is really great, nothing more to say. I like the most the touchpad, the screen and the aluminium case. I just miss one more USB port, but I can live without it.

    For the first months I forced myself running only Mac Os X, so I could get used to it. After six months I couldn’t stand the wait any more, and installed Kubuntu on it.

    I felt that Mac Os X was really great, with a lot of nice details that make a pleasure using it, but I found very early that they didn’t that OS for people like me. Maybe i’m one of that edge cases.
    I found a lot of small things that were dead easy out of the box on my gnu/linux box running KDE, on Mac Os X were difficult and I needed a lot of apps just for them.

    So I installed Kubuntu Lucid Lynx, and it worked almost perfectly out of the box. Yes, there are some things that are not so great: battery life is a little shorted, and touchpad doesn’t support all that multi touch gestures (but support is coming in next future) for example, and it takes ten seconds more than Os X to resume. But suspend and resume are working fine.
    Maybe it’s just that I’m too used to KDE4, but I feel that it’s a lot more powerful and comfortable than Mac Os X.

    So I agree with Stuart: if someone was doing cool hardware with gnu/linux just like Apple does with its systems, it would be awesome!
    Not just cool hardware, not just cool software, but also a cool community!

  • fakeap says:

    @Istoff

    “Each is perfectly suited to its role in my life. I spend most of my time on the laptop working in Fedora 13. When I’m on the mac I have a FreeNX session, smb shares and also the odd ssh’ed terminal session into the Fedora 12 box. Believe me when I say that the OSX environment has been just as seamless and reliable as Linux. Sometimes more so, even. When I need to print cd labels, it works, even though it has worked in the past on Linux, it normally involves a weird workflow of changing print/page layouts in the apps & also the cups web interface to make it work and still there was an element of prayer involved.”

    I bet Ubuntu (or better Kubuntu, but it’s known of being a second child compared to Ubuntu) should fix all of such problems for you. πŸ˜‰ I like Fedora, but it’s a more ‘hardcore’ then Ubuntu. Fedora has quite invasive policy when comes to upgrades and things are braking sometimes. However, all of this is going to change and it can become way more friendly Linux distribution.