Feb 09 2006
About 6 months ago, I switched from Linux to OS X on my laptop. I had the feeling of betraying the Linux and open-source community when doing that, but I have to say that I’m pretty happy about the change.
With my PowerBook, things work, without me doing anything:
- If I close the lid, the machine suspends, and when I open it, it’s back.
- If I turn on my airport, it finds the networks very nicely, I click and I’m connected.
- If I plug a USB device in, it usually is immediately usable (e.g. a printer, or a pen tablet).
- If I need to print on the network, I’ll easily find the printer from the print window, click OK, and will be on my way to get your printed sheets.
- If I need some extra piece of open-source software, DarwinPorts usually has it for me.
- It never crashes and I never reboot other than for OS upgrades (and QuickTime upgrades, actually, for some reason).
When I compare this with how long it took me to have my built-in wireless working in my Compaq, ACPI sleep and software suspend which were randomly working at each new version of the kernel, I really can say that my Mac has made my life easier.
And because it’s a Unix machine, it took me only a couple of days to feel at ease with it, and I still read my mail with Mutt and OfflineIMAP, etc.
I’m sure people will say that if you choose the right laptop, things work out of the box, and that Gnome and KDE do all this. The truth is that, in my experience, it’s true to a certain point, but there’s always a point where you need to go and patch your kernel, look for some exotic driver for your modem. I never had a laptop with all its features working under Linux before at least a year of use, which is frustrating when you have a cool new laptop.
Of course, not everything is perfect:
- Palm’s Palm Desktop is actually not as good as JPilot, and I haven’t gotten through the pain to setting jpilot and pilot-link up.
- While it took me about 2 minutes at the back of a cab to be connected to the Internet over Bluetooth using my Sony-Ericsson T610 phone, I still haven’t managed to connect using my Treo 650, despite spending at least a couple of hours on it. I’m frustrated, as now, I’m really expecting things to just work.
- FVWM let me do whatever I wanted, and the OS X interface doesn’t: for example, focusing on a window brings it to the front, but I unhappily got used to that.
- The machine is slow compared to a PC laptop, but I think that the Intel-based Mac laptops will change that.
- DarwinPorts is cool, but is not as cool as Debian’s apt-get, and things have to be compiled from source. Fink uses Debian’s apt-get and binary packages, but is way out of date (e.g. their version of Mutt is 1.3.25).
- I had problems with the hardware after 1.5 months of use.
All in all, though, I’m happy about the switch. I saved a lot of time as things work out of the box. The PowerBook is not perfect, but it does its job pretty well for my use. And I’m of course still running Linux on my desktop which works like a charm.