Operating systems

10 things Linux does better than OS X

OS X is heralded for its friendliness, but according to Jack Wallen, it falls short in many other respects. Find out why he says Linux is superior in everything from flexibility to portability to cost.

OS X is heralded for its friendliness, but according to Jack Wallen, it falls short in many other respects. Find out why he says Linux is superior in everything from flexibility to portability to cost.


It may sound strange, seeing as how OS X is based on a Linux variant and is widely considered to be the most user-friendly operating system available, but Linux does a number of things better than everyone's favorite iOperatingSystem. Before you shun the thought, read on. You might be surprised at your resulting opinion.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Flexibility

If you've used OS X, you know it's user-friendly but not very flexible. In that regard, OS X is very much like Windows: You get what you have and there's not much you can do with it. If you don't like the layout of the desktop, you can move the Dock to either side, you can shrink it, or you can make it auto-hide. You can also add third-party applications and themes the desktop. Outside of that, you're out of luck. Say, for example, you would like to have only the Dock on your desktop (with the taskbar features integrated). You can't do it. That taskbar is as much a part of OS X as the Blue Screen of Death was in Windows 95. Linux is a different story. You don't want the taskbar but you like its features? No problem. Add whatever features to whatever taskbar or panel you want. Linux can pretty much take any configuration you throw at it. And if you still don't like what you have, install a different desktop or window manager and you're good to go.

#2: Open source

One of the biggest issues that Linux users have with OS X is the license. Apple took a BSD kernel to create its own Darwin kernel, released it under the Apple Public Source License (which was accepted by the Free Software Foundation), and then layered on top of that proprietary software to create OS X. At one point, Apple created OpenDarwin, which was a collaborative effort between Apple and the open source community. That project lasted four years before Apple took it down because it felt the effort to create an open source Darwin operating system had failed. In 2007, PureDarwin was created to continue the work that was developed with OpenDarwin. The PureDarwin project has come a long way and can even run Linux-based window managers (such as Enlightenment) on top of it. OS X, however, is still locked tightly together and can't compete with the openness of Linux.

#3: Command line

Although most OS X users would balk at this (saying they have no use for the command line), most power users know the command line is crucial to serious administrative tasks. In this department, OS X falls way short of Linux. With Linux, you can do pretty much everything you need from the command line. With OS X? Good luck. Sure, OS X does have a fairly good set of command-line tools, but for the power admin, it's just not enough. This is one area of OS X that I simply can't figure out. Why didn't Apple just migrate the Linux coreutils over to OS X? There are projects aimed at getting coreutils to compile on OS X, but it would have made more sense to have this by default. The coreutils package is a huge toolkit that contains nearly every basic command you need. OS X had to reinvent that wheel. But this goes beyond the coreutils package. What about installing via command line? What about command-line security? What about starting/stopping services from the command line?

#4: Hardware requirements

I have two Macs in my household. One Mac is an old iBook running at 800 Mhz with a 512 MB of RAM. That machine is slow with OS X running on it. But with Yellow Dog Linux, that little laptop runs much snappier. Same hardware, different OS. The other Mac is a G4 1.2 processor with 1 GB of RAM. I have an equivalent Intel machine running Ubuntu 8.10. The machines do not even compare in performance. The Ubuntu machine is faster on all levels (from boot to application launch). Taking a look at the minimum system requirements for OS X and Ubuntu, you see:

OS X: 876 MHz or faster CPU, 512 MB of RAM, 9 GB of disk space

Ubuntu: 700 MHz x86 processor , 384 MB ofRAM, and 8 GB of disk space

So obviously Linux can run on lesser powered machines by default. And Ubuntu 8.10 is not the most optimized of the Linux distributions. Mandriva Spring 2008 has even fewer requirements (claiming to run on ANY CPU and only 256 MB of RAM).

I have read of benchmarking tests claiming that OS X outperforms Ubuntu 8.10 soundly. But real world results would seem to contradict those claims. I ran a less-than-scientific test with the Mac iBook G4 1.2 and the Ubuntu 8.10 on a 1.2 processor. Both machines had 512 MB of RAM. On the Ubuntu machine (running the Enlightenment window manager), I was able to open up the following applications before the machine began to bog down: Firefox, OpenOffice Writer, OpenOffice Calc, OpenOffice Impress, Scribus, The Gimp, Amarok, GnuCash, Thunderbird, Basket, Audacity, Gqview, and aterm. The OS X machine was a different story. With OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, and iTunes open, the machine started to crawl. There was a noticeable degradation in performance. That's an OS running 14 applications vs an OS running four applications before the OS comes to a crawl. I don't know about you, but I would prefer the ability to run 14 apps.

#5: Security

In the most recent "Pwn 2 Own" competition, both the OS X and the Windows Vista machines were hacked, whereas the Linux machine was not. Of course there are pundits across the globe who will argue this one from all three sides, and finding unbiased results is akin to finding a definitive answer to the age-old TCO argument. But I can say, unequivocally, after 10-plus years of experience with Linux, that I have never had a machine or server compromised in any way. This, of course, is not to say that OS X is unsecure. But Linux simply is better equipped in the area of security. How? Tools. With tools like iptables, fwbuilder, and SELinux, Linux can lock down in many ways, on many levels. So you take a similar kernel but you add to that kernel-level tools to heighten security, and you can quickly see how Linux overpowers OS X in the area of security.

6. Portability

Another area where Linux shines over all other operating systems is in its ability to migrate an installation from hardware to hardware. Linux has an uncanny ability to be able to relocate. I have taken complete hard drives and moved them from one machine to another. So long as the architecture was the same (in other words, not moving from a x86 to an x86_64 machine), the migration always seemed to work with little to no adjusting. OS X, on the other hand, is landlocked to the machine it was installed in. Also, with Linux, you can take certain directories and move them from machine to machine. This works well with the /home directory. Having the ability to migrate your /home directory from one machine to another can make building machines a snap. With OS X, you'll always be reinstalling from scratch.

#7: Cost

This is a big one for many people. First, you have the cost of the operating system alone. Linux is free. Period. OS X is currently selling for $129.00. Next is hardware cost. The cheapest Macbook you can purchase is $999.00. You can purchase a $399.00 laptop that will run Linux like a champ from any given dealer. Add on top of that the cost of the software you will need, and you can run up a fairly large tab. Linux? Nada. You can have an office-ready Linux machine that will tackle most every task you put to it for the cost of the hardware alone. Mac? Not so much. So if you're looking to cut costs (and who isn't, in this economy?), Linux is the way to go.

#8: More available software

This may come as a surprise to you, but Linux has far more software available than OS X. In a completely unscientific test, I did a search for both Linux and OS X on freshmeat.net (an index of UNIX and cross-platform software). Here are the numbers: Linux 11,781 results. OS X 1,477 results. Of course, many would say that it's not a fair search because freshmeat.net is decidedly an open source leaning repository. With that in mind, lets turn to Google and search for OS X Software and Linux Software. The results: OS X 19,100,000 hits. Linux 45,700,000 hits.

One of the things that separates Linux from all other operating systems is that for every task in Linux, there are numerous tools available to undertake it. Let's look at the task of word processing. For Mac, you have Microsoft Office and OpenOffice as the major players, and then you have minor players, like Bean, Nisus, Mellel, and NeoOffice. With Linux, you have the major player OpenOffice, and then you have the minor players Textmaker, Abiword, Hangul, EZ, Kwrite, gedit, nano, vi, emacs, Flwriter, Ted, Siag Office, LaTeX, EditPad Pro, etc. You get the picture. And yes, you can install Linux apps on OS X with Fink. I've done this. It's not a good solution because the software often is prone to crashing or not running at all.

#9: Not so dumbed-down

I have tried to come up with the phrase that is the opposite of "dumbed down," but I've had no luck. So work with me on this one. One thing that Apple did very well with OS X is dumb down the operating system interface to the point where most all tasks are easy for anyone to do. But there are those who do not want that dumbed-down experience. With Linux, you can have a desktop experience on every level. You can have the full-on, dumbed-down experience akin to OS X with either GNOME or KDE. Or you can go to the complete opposite and use the console as your desktop. Or you can experience anything and everything in between the two. With OS X, many power users feel like someone is holding their hand throughout the experience. With Linux, you can let go of that hand from time to time or even chop the hand off and replace it with a hook. When you're using the Apple desktop, OS X is in control. When you use the Linux desktop, you are in control.

#10: Keyboard efficiency

One of my biggest pet peeves with OS X is the fact that there is no normally functioning Delete key. Instead you have to hit fn + Delete to get the delete key to work as it should. This is pretty common practice with the OS X keyboard, which is about as efficient to a hard-core programmer as a salad is tasty. And it's not just the Delete key. The End key doesn't do what you would expect, either. To get to the end of the line, you have to add the fn key to the End key (so fn + End will get you to the end of the line.) Another issue -- mouse buttons. I know this is a fundamental design that makes sense to Apple. But the majority of people like two mouse buttons. And with Linux, you actually get THREE mouse buttons. With those three mouse buttons, you can even do a simple copy and paste function (highlight text with a left mouse button and then click the middle mouse button to paste). The Linux keyboard is just far more efficient than the OS X keyboard.

Other issues?

Those are 10 simple things Linux does better than OS X. Are any of the above deal-breakers? Quite possibly. Do you have an issue with OS X that Linux handles better? If so let us know.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

165 comments
Unkn0wnn
Unkn0wnn


I guess the real issue is trying to figure out who the target audience of this article really is. Clearly if you're a Linux fanboy your going to love it.


Let’s go down the list.


#1 Flexibility


The example makes no sense at all. 


" Say, for example, you would like to have only the Dock on your desktop (with the task bar features integrated). You can't do it.” 


OS X does not have a task bar. Only a Dock and a Menu Bar. I know I know so what but they are quite different. Aside from that who would ever want this?!?! That would look so ugly a dock and menubar smashed together in the same place. For the .00001% of computer users that are dying for this they probably already using linux to begin with. We get it you can really customize Linux if you have enough time or even care enough to go through the hassle of doing it.



#2 Open Source


Completely stupid to bring up. If you care enough about open source your already using linux. If not then you more than likely don’t care about open source. We get it you can configure Linux.


#3 Command Line.


Alright here is where my OS X fanboy will show but it stays true in Windows.


Command line is for people that know what they are doing only.


I’ve worked with Windows Server since 2000 I get the need for command line ( I would say more PowerShell if were being technical). However, for the general public using computers it should be avoided. Windows has gotten WAY better about this in the past few years and OS X for the most part always avoided it.


The examples are weak for linux. I never want to install a program, security (we could argue), and starting/stopping services from command line.


You can’t argue that you can do all this amazing GUI customizations to Linux and then argue command line is the way to go. 



#4 Hardware requirements.


If I'm ever in a situation where my only computer has a 700MHz processor I’ll just use my phone that has a 1.5GHz Quad core. But seriously why does this even matter anymore? If your computer is SO old it can’t run the MINIUM requirements for an out dated OS then it’s time to upgrade. They make laptops with better specs than the example for what $100? (isn?).


I’m counting this as I guess for Linux….but hardly because really…who’s reading this with specs that low.



#5 Security


We’re going to argue the security of an OS that has 1.61% of the Market. vs Windows over all 90.73% and OS X at 7.55% (according to Net Applications on October 2013) I’m sure the people creating and discovering these attacks are interested in the 1.56% of users vs the 90%. 


If you need that much security that linux is claimed to have you must be doing some very important stuff which lets be honest more than likely isn’t the target audience for this type of article. And with a 700MHz processor it’s not like the attack is going to get much done anyway.



#6 Portability


Personally I like starting from scratch. Get rid of everything and if I need it just re-download it. I have never tried to migrate a OS X install mainly due to the nature of Apple products. You just can’t with out a ton of work in the first place. In apple computers your not going to do much upgrading of the hardware due to the way Apple designs it. 


I would say its personal preference but it’s really not. If you care enough about your data it’s backed up somewhere. With that in mind when I build/buy a new computer or Mac I just take what I need as I need it from that back up. Why would you just take everything you had previously and throw it on a new computer? All the stuff that you never use is now just taking up Hard drive space.



#7 Cost


I’ll give it to you that $129 use to be the price for OS X. However, it has dropped to a steady under $50 price tag for quite a while. Considering the upgrade to Mavericks was free makes linux and OS X equal to me.


We can argue about hardware but point is you can’t match the specs of a Macbook Pro for cheaper that runs linux or Windows. (of course I’m talking about theRetina Macbook Pro)


According to the writer of this article we can buy computers off ebay for $20 that have a 700MHz processor 384 MB of RAM and 8GB hdd and well be fine as long as we put linux on it.



#8 More available software


The writer said it himself “ for every task in Linux, there are numerous tools”


So yes theres about 100+ programs/tools/whatever to do the same exact task just with a different name. I love Apple’s App Store because it cuts redundant entries unlike Linux.


But with a 700MHz processor I doubt your going to get much done anyway.


#9 Not so dumbed-down



Remind me why making an OS easy to use is bad? Oh that’s right were stuck in the early 90’s and have to use the command line to do simple tasks we could do with 2 mouse clicks but instead use countless commands.


#10 Keyboard Efficiency


I’m not even going to begin on this one.



I honestly can’t call it a win for Microsoft or Apple They all have their own special thing that makes them different. Linux has a very long way to go.


Just to be clear this is for the average user.


nreith
nreith

This review is completely biaised, but I guess the title should have clued me in to that.


A lot of it is true, but here are a few of the points that are highly skewed:


1) The "unscientific comparison" of available software is barking up the wrong tree. The author is comparing google hits and freshmeat open source projects. Google links to tons of dead pages from obscure and deprecated projects. And open source contains lots of minor programs that have gone silent years ago, awaiting someone to fork them. It's true that there is more "open source" software for linux, because linux is primarily used by programmers and computer scientists, and so a lot of this software is equally geeky and has a very specific purpose, so it's irrelevant to most users. Not to mention the fact that many of these open source linux packages will only work on some specific versions of linux. Can't use .deb debian packages on ubuntu without jumping through hoops, though the .deb extension is the same. Can't use either on Fedora. And even things that work on Fedora won't work on Red Hat Linux and vice versa. You'd have to use ugly CentOS if you want compatibility with RHEL.


If you want to compare software, you should compare the most common version of linux only, such as Ubuntu or Mint Linux's package managers vs. Apple's App Store. That would be a fair and realistic comparison. Besides quantity, Mac software offerings are generally more polished and more regularly updated.


3) When comparing word processor options, this is really an unfair comparison, because all of the major and minor offerings mentioned for mac constitute full-featured word processors, whereas a whole bunch of text editors are thrown in for linux to make it seem like it offers more. If we want that comparison, we could also mention latex with texlive and mactex on mac, texworks, sublime, smultron, bbedit, textmate, byword, eclipse, and a whole host of other text editors for serious coding, for markdown, latex, etc.


Actually, when it comes to serious text editing and word processing, Mac probably greatly outshines linux.


It is also vastly superior in offerings for graphic and web design, music and video recording and editing, and a number of other artistic areas.


3) Keyboard efficiency... Really? The author's pet peeve about the apple keyboard is elevated to the same status as serious issues like security? On an apple keyboard, you can hit fn+delete without leaving the home row. As most linux geeks who use emacs or vim will tell you, that's more efficient than reaching to another part of the keyboard for a "del" key.


------------


My 2 cents:


If you're a normal user, get a windows PC because you can find a machine cheap and it'll just work for the most part, especially with any hardware and peripherals you can throw at it.


If you are an artistic/creative type, or have a bunch of money to burn, buy a mac.


If you like to tinker, write your own code, and troubleshoot, buy a PC and dual boot windows and your favorite flavor of linux. But do tons of research especially if getting a laptop, and be prepared for some headaches and certain essential things like wifi or trackpads or audio that won't work "out of the box" unless you are willing to dig into config files and the command line.


Linux is great for computer scientists, but still has a long way to go (even Ubuntu) before anyone less tech savvy can use it without a steep learning curve.


Illidanek
Illidanek

Linux is for people who want to do more than just browse the internet and write reports on Word. Ubuntu is the most user-friendly OS I have ever used, and I absolutely love it. @garywreaves - I have tonnes of freeware linux applications which are better than their equivalent payware ones, and they are made by professional developers who actually listen to what people say. And if something isn't working for you you have a huge community where you will be helped with any bugs you encounter. Unlike payware where if something goes wrong and it doesn't work for you the developers won't care. And trust me you do not need a PhD in computer science. Some Linux versions are very advanced, but Ubuntu is a fantastically user-friendly and simple OS. Mac is used by people who simply don't understand anything more than changing their wallpaper. Great article - shows just how fast, powerful, usable, easy, efficient, and fun Linux is.

emgub
emgub

The reason Linux uses less RAM is simple. It never really needs more than 2GB of RAM because there aren't more than 2GB worth of applications for Linux that people actually want to use. The author mentions there are 45,700,000 hits for software on Linux. How much of that represents software that's completely horrid and unusable? This essay by a former Computer Science professor is a look into why the vast majority of open source programs are so bad and a waste of your precious time: http://www.lambdassociates.org/blog/the_problems_of_open_source.htm "Free open source is free if your time is worth nothing."

benwal91
benwal91

I say Linux is way better... Clearly owns. When I'm bored with my windows PC, Linux is there for me to play around with.

garywreaves
garywreaves

Linux simply does not work. The extra software that you mentioned sucks. None of it is commercially supported. That means you are on your own. You have to have a PHD in computer science just to do anything. I prefer Apple and all of its beautiful propriety. I don't mind paying money for QUALITY software. Mac OS X 10.6 is amazing and you make it seem as if it is garbage. Linux is garbage. I know, I've tried to run that crap and it just sucks. Linux is at the BOTTOM of the totem pole for a reason.

Ryan_Stormboy
Ryan_Stormboy

Studys have shown that all mac user's have smaller penis's then linux users. Hence the overcompensation.

Gemmz
Gemmz

Hi Everybody, just joined. So I'm new here. As to "Dumbed down" how about "Gizzed Up" as its opposite? Sorry, I'm Dutch. Gemma

thomas.morison
thomas.morison

I'm on a triple boot system - a cheap T42 Thinkpad - capable of booting XP, Ubuntu 8.10 and Mac OSX 10.4.8 (OSX86). ...and what can I say: The Mac partition works best. In fact, I just had to hard reboot Ubuntu as it was over heating, grinding and crawling.

noam
noam

There are multiple inaccuracies in this article....... #3: Command line What about starting/stopping services from the command line? % /sbin/service --list % sudo /sbin/service ssh start (Start SSH service) % sudo serveradmin stop mail (Stop mail service) "What about command-line security?" On OSX you can manage permissions, firewall rules, etc from the command line. #5: Security "This, of course, is not to say that OS X is unsecure. But Linux simply is better equipped in the area of security. How? Tools. With tools like iptables, fwbuilder, and SELinux, Linux can lock down in many ways, on many levels." OSX has ipfw built in, and fwbuilder runs on OSX or there are a variety of alternative tools. SELinux provides mandatory access control - something OSX supports. #8: More available software "One of the things that separates Linux from all other operating systems is that for every task in Linux, there are numerous tools available to undertake it. Let???s look at the task of word processing. For Mac, you have Microsoft Office and OpenOffice as the major players, and then you have minor players, like Bean, Nisus, Mellel, and NeoOffice. With Linux, you have the major player OpenOffice, and then you have the minor players Textmaker, Abiword, Hangul, EZ, Kwrite, gedit, nano, vi, emacs, Flwriter, Ted, Siag Office, LaTeX, EditPad Pro, etc." I think your example worked against you. In your example, linux is missing Microsoft Office - one of the most important software packages available in terms of compatibility. (Unfortunate but true.) On OSX you get a whole variety of open source software like Apache, PHP, MySQL, nmap, vi, etc, but you also get name-brand applications missing on Linux. (Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft, Quicken, etc) #10: Keyboard efficiency "But the majority of people like two mouse buttons." Just enable two-button mouse support in system preferences. "And with Linux, you actually get THREE mouse buttons." Welcome to 2 years ago. Apples wireless Mighty Mouse can operate as 1,2, or 3 buttons. Or you can just pick up most any USB 3-button mouse and plug it in.

mail.dave
mail.dave

You start out by looking terribly ignorant by stating "OS X is based on a Linux variant" - how ridiculous. Before there was linux there was Unix, heard of that one ? Which leads me to suspect the rest of your opinion-piece is based on your own brand of OS religiosity. Terminal: use it all the time. The commands you miss are because you're ignorant of them. networksetup , systemsetup, dscl , even on down to /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport -h I do frequent installs from source after downloading via wget, and do probably half my work in the Terminal/shell/vi etc.

joeaxberg
joeaxberg

The authors opinions are just that, his opinions. Nothing he said swayed me. Mac OSX is a BSD variant, not a linux variant. OSXs history goes back to the NeXT days. I also have here at home a copy of Mac OSX Server 1.0, where you had unix underneath a Mac OS9 style of GUI. Software? So there are open source equivalents to iPhoto, Garageband, iMovie, iDVD, et al? With the same ease of use and level of integration? Install from the command line? On my Macbook Air I have Netbeans, Eclipse, MySQL tools, a mysql server for testing, all sorts of stuff. I can bring up X11 apps from my solaris machines. Out of the box I can serve up webpages with Apache. In my opinion with a Mac you get the best of everything: slick hardware, slick GUI, access to commercial apps if needed (Word, Photoshop, etc), outstanding bundled apps (iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, iDVD), and underneath it all UNIX!!!!

ScarF
ScarF

Hm. I realized that Jack Wallen doesn't deserve all the fuss.

mike_online
mike_online

all wrong...why writing about things you don't know? I've moved hard drives back & forth from all kind of ibook/powerbook with never any pb, the system boots right away. NO NEW INSTALL MEEDED ! Even if that would fail (powerpc to intel mac, or ide to sata!) you can always use a firewire cable & the migration assistant software ! Learn how to use a mac...

todd.ross
todd.ross

OSX is a Ferrari body mated to a '56 Buick chassis... looks great, but works only so-so and has a lot of weird limitations. Me for Linux - esp. with Beryl or Compiz - and XP running inside of VirtualBox for those must have apps like Visio.

PRIMEREBEL
PRIMEREBEL

Personally, I preferred the older Mac OS's like OS 8. I thought they were a lot more user friendly than X is and I stopped being a hard core mac fan shortly after my experience with X. I also think the hardware has gone downhill in terms of quality and reliability. I think their business model has changed and I don't like the direction they're taking. That said, I still like to get my hands on a mac of all types and spend some quality time with it. But I definitely feel that I can do more in many areas with a linux machine. I just wish there were more distros tailored to the PPC architecture.

fungusAmongus
fungusAmongus

are we still fighting the "which OS is better" war?? it's so 20th century... use what works for you and your company.

bemayo
bemayo

There are MANY problems with this article, but number 6 seems the most egregious. Mac OS has included a migration assistant for a very long time now. If you get a new computer, all you do is connect it to the old computer and the migration assistant moves everything over for you with no effort on your part. The last time I got a new computer I used this function, and was actually a bit disappointed because it didn't look like a NEW computer. Everything looked exactly the same as it did on the old computer. I didn't have the "fun" of setting up user accounts, configuring system preferences, et al. Mac OS isn't perfect, but it is definitely BOBW.

cchitty
cchitty

The reverse of Dumbed down is Smartend up

beorn.ours
beorn.ours

I simply cannot believe this article has been published. I m not a troll and not a Mac fanboy. I am since over 12 years in that business and have said pretty harsh things about Mac, but this is embarrassing. Let me lay out my argument point by point: 1. "Linux can pretty much take any configuration you throw at it. And if you still don???t like what you have, install a different desktop or window manager and you???re good to go." I guess the author has never heard that you may have KDE under Mac OS X. 2. Nothing false here, but it is amazing how suddenly an operating system not being Open Source is a deal-breaker. In IT efficiency should be the first goal, and if some software is efficient but is not Open Source, does that mean it has a disadvantage? 3. It's so obvious, I even don't consider commenting on that. 4. "I don???t know about you, but I would prefer the ability to run 14 apps." If I say something like that to my boss I will have to start looking for a new job right away - nobody needs an OS that can run 14 applications simultaneously - you need an OS capable to handle what you need to get the job done. I would not include that point without any hard data. 5. Come on! enough already with that competition! I dare the author or those who won there to hack my Mac workstations at home the way they did it there. 6. "Also, with Linux, you can take certain directories and move them from machine to machine. This works well with the /home directory. Having the ability to migrate your /home directory from one machine to another can make building machines a snap." Tell me that you were joking when you wrote that as a difference between the Mac and Linux, please! 7. "The cheapest Macbook you can purchase is $999.00. You can purchase a $399.00 laptop that will run Linux like a champ from any given dealer." Yeah, and comparing the specs and productivity of those two machines is again too lowly for the author. 8. Ignorance! Sheer ignorance! I don't know where to start, but then again, perhaps I will use as the author did, a Google search as an answer to any answer, so I will take for instance two of those mysterious software titles that do not exist under Mac OS X. Here is what I searched: "vi emacs Mac OS X". Wow, that does not really look like no results to me... 9. Usability. User friendly. That is how I describe that. I would trust an end-user with a Linux machine only if it is in a 'kiosk-mode' 10. I have an Apple keyboard and it has a forward delete and as a matter of fact I use it as much as my beloved Microsoft Natural Keyboard ( Don't laugh. MS hardware, except the X-Box, of course, is one of the best out there). I have as well an Apple Mouse and it has more buttons that my Logitech trackball, so the author has again managed to provide us with a good laugh.

jeremy
jeremy

Good writeup!! I've been using linux (centos) for the past few years. I picked up an old mac awhile back, os x isn't bad but would agree after using linux os x simply does not have all the power features I like having.

SBx
SBx

This is a remarkably bad article. I use Windows on my work laptop, Linux on the servers I administer (Suse and Ubuntu), and OS X on my home laptop, after using Windows and Linux at home for several years. #1 Flexibility Sure, Linux has a more flexible UI than OS X. It also has a more flexible UI than Windows. However, that results in confusion. Gnome works differently to KDE, and again differently to Enlightment, OpenBox, FluxBox, IceWM... On Linux, I prefer KDE. At work, our standard is Gnome - and Nautilus DRIVES ME CRAZY. #2 Open Source As others have said, install Xcode and compile the program you want. #3 Command Line It's different to Linux - but which one? Suse? Ubuntu? Fedora? Debian? They all differ. Solaris is different again, as is AIX. OS X is not the same as Linux? Um, yes, that's true. On Linux, I can't type "net start workstation" with the results I expect, but that doesn't mean Windows is better than Linux. #4 Hardware requirements You compared a 1.2GHz G4 with a 1.2 GHz what? That's like saying "I compared this motor at 2,500 rpm with this other one at 2,500 rpm" Perhaps Ubuntu is faster on the same hardware. I don't know Enlightenment, so can't really comment - but what is your reason for using Enlightenment instead of Gnome or KDE? #5 Security You've never had a Linux server hacked into in 10 years? Nor me. However, the breakins at Debian and other Linux projects show that it's not impossible. iptables has equivalents in OS X, and WaterRoof is apparently a usable configuration UI. I haven't used it yet. #6 Portability OS X runs on the iPhone, PPC and x86-64. Moving machines? Connect your old machine to your new one, and the installer does most of the work. (I've only heard about this, because I'm still on my first Mac). #7 Cost Yes, Linux is cheaper than OS X and the hardware it runs on. True. #8 Software There's a whole bunch of software available for Linux. In my experience, a lot of it is duplicated, with minimal differences (How many media players are there??) The different major desktop environments exist because they can't agree on a programming model! As others have said, if there's an open-source program you want, you can probably get it to compile on OS X. #9 Not so dumbed-down You don't want dumbed-down? Open the terminal and start typing, if that's what you want. (And yes, it has multiple tabs and theming, if you want them). Extra GUI options? Install some extensions. Your argument does have a kernel of truth, though. OS X and the supplied programs are not hyper-configurable, and do not offer every conceivable option. Some things about Apple Mail annoy me slightly, for example, and the Finder takes getting used to. For most users, though, the provided functionality and configurability is good. Have you ever tried to find the right setting in Outlook, Word, OpenOffice, GIMP... ? #10 Keyboard efficiency Switching between OS X, Windows and Linux as I do daily, I sometimes get confused. The lack of symbol markings on the Mac keyboard is annoying, but the symbols are often in sensible places. I've got so used to the Mac's version of home, end, end of line and start of line that Windows and Linux really annoy me at times. Yes, OS X is different, and takes getting used to. Windows and Linux did, too. Am I a Mac Fanboy? I don't think so. I have Suse, Ubuntu and Windows running in VirtualBox VMs on my Mac...

erich
erich

When taking a look at the task of word processing you should have looked longer. nano, vi and emacs are all part of OS X native. As many have pointed out this is just a fluff article obviously written by someone who spent about five minutes outside of his OS and somehow feels qualified to critique.

wbrock
wbrock

The author has clearly not spent much time learning his way around a Mac. Almost every point he makes is either misinformed or dead wrong. I could go on for pages, but I'll limit myself to just one example. "What about starting/stopping services from the command line?" .... Ever heard of launchctl?

spam
spam

Now how's that for an article... There's of course benefits and problems with both OS

zefficace
zefficace

I'm talking about the whole thing, article and comments. Look people, like one of my friends says, whatever floats your boat. Use to love Windows and be mildly curious of Linux. I still think Mac are to expensive for me (cost/benefit ratio). I switched to Linux and love it. But in the end, pick the stuff that suits you best. Nevermind what OS is better, that's always somewhat relative. Depending on what you want your computer to do, one choice will be better than others. An obvious example, a gamer should choose a PC with windows OS. Yes, both OS X and Linux has games, but come on, windows is better for games, hands down. In French the saying "chicane de cl??ture" (more or less meaning fence war) fits this perfectly. Everybody says their side is better. I got bored with windows, switched to Linux, I sure as hell didn't convert if ya catch my drift. Please end the Fence Wars, pick your side and shut up about it.

jokrnoore
jokrnoore

#1: Flexibility You're not an experienced Mac user, are you? Ever heard of APE? Input managers? Terminal? All those combined (and there's much more you can use) can let you alter every aspect you just mentioned. #2: Open source Yes, Linux is as open source as you can get pretty much, but really... who cares? I run tons of open source stuff on my Mac or nowadays through my Mac browser to run open source web apps. While I DO wish Apple would continue to embrace open source more than it does currently. I don't see how this matters to most computer users beyond security and we'll get to that in a minute. #3: Command line The command line is overrated and usually just inflates nerdgos more so than increasing any real productivity. While I'll give you this, Linux is certainly better in this regard than OS X... once again, who cares? Terminal is great for most users needs. You act like everyone that uses a computer is running a web server and/or is a programmer. They are not. I destroy command line crap by using xGestures. It's incredibly faster, more efficient and dramatically helps to avoid repetitive stress injuries from all that moronic, unnecessary typing. Typing repetive commands is so 90's.... and terribly slow. #4: Hardware requirements Yes, but get LInux to do everything that OS X can do and watch it slow down. Also, with the cheap horsepower, incredibly cheap RAM and everything nowadays... who cares? Once again, it seems you are still living in the 90's #5: Security Agreed, except try getting Linux to do everything a Mac with OS X can do and watch LInux have security issues as well. Also, keep in mind... OS X has been around for almost the better part of a DECADE and we still do NOT have any viruses spreading prolifically in the wild despite all the years of countless warnings of "any day now... any day now..." I mean, great... I'll run Linux and be really secure but the drop in overall productivity wouldn't make it even barely worth it. When Mac OS X becomes spyware, malware, trojan, adware, virus-ridden like Windows I'll look closer at Ubuntu, etc. ... any day now... any day now... And, yes, I know why Macs are more secure... it's the open source history behind the architecture and also (what no one ever wants to mention) is the amazing Apple engineers behind Mac OS X. Some people get intimidated and generally bent out of shape when they meet someone who is both good looking and very smart... that's kind of the reaction Apple gets... people who embrace other platforms can't wrap their brains around the idea that the same amazing form, functionality, etc. that goes into Mac design also goes into what's running under the hood. Deal with it. 6. Portability The upgrade process for moving everything from your old Mac to a new Mac isn't difficult at all if you remotely know what you are doing. I've moved stuff from old hardware with Tiger to new hardware with Leopard and it was incredibly painless. Also, I've seen Linux installs completely choke on moves to other hardware, so I gotta call complete BS on this one! #7: Cost Profit. You make more money using a Mac because you are more efficient. ROI #8: More available software Yay... I can run Gimp on Linux and how about Open Office which barely supports PDFs and EPS. Linux really sucks in this department. You can run more amateurish apps? Who cares? #9: Not so dumbed-down Yawn, runs tons of stuff on OS X if you don't like the Finder... Every tried Pathfinder? Quicksilver, etc.??? I get the feeling you really aren't experienced enough with the Mac to be making all these assertions with any kind of authority in your article. FAIL. #10: Keyboard efficiency Ok, now I know you really don't know what you are talking about. Dude, you can buy keyboards for Macs and totally remap everything to whatever you want!! 3 button mouse? I'm using an IBM 3-button with my MacBook Pro right now. No driver at all, it... just... works... Hey, I got my delete key working on my Mac by some miracle, I think I'll use it to help erase this terribly misinformed article from my skull.

ecrist
ecrist

You're a complete idiot. It's very apparent that you've never used OS X for an extended period of time. The command line tools are nearly complete. Most come from FreeBSD's utils, but there are some GNU-based utilities, if I remember correctly. Starting and stopping services via the command line is more than achievable. As far as there being more available software for Linux, that's a bunch of bullshit. Most Linux-branded software out there compiles on my Mac OS X machine without issue. You do need Xcode installed for the compilers a such. Hell, even something with weird drivers like OpenVPN compiles without issue. Your portability argument is just stupid. You can move a hard disk from one Mac to another. Hell, you can move it to any PC, provided it has full EFI support. You say 'dumbed-down,' I say slick. While many advanced functionality is hidden from users, it is there. For example, if you've got the root account enabled (i.e. a password set), you can log directly into a CLI from the login window by clicking 'Other' and typing >console as the username. You'll get a Unix login prompt after the graphical interface has shut down. Logging out of this mode gets you back into graphical mode. Long story short here, you're another Linux fanboi who's just looking to bash something you've little to no knowledge about. Get a clue.

wb8erj
wb8erj

Being a big Ubuntu fan, sadly the only issue I have is there is not a linux version of photoshop. Yes there is Gimp, and yes you can run VMware, then photoshop. That is nice for us geeks. But what about the "everyday" user? I have several friends taht hear me talk about linux, but the showstopper is always photoshop. THEY want photoshop. PLEASE adobe, or someone come up with something that AT LEAST has the look and feel of photoshop. We have openoffice, why not openphotoshop?

Illidanek
Illidanek

Obviously not all of that software is great - how much of the AppStore is good though? And how much do you risk - if you install a freeware app and it's not as good as you want it, you uninstall it, no harm done. Also every app has a rating and reviews - which makes finding great apps a matter of seconds. Read through 5 reviews, know it's ups and downs, and decide whether it's good for you. And the amazing thing is that a lot of the freeware for Linux is better than the equivalent payware. Take eclipse vs Jcreator for example (eclipse is freeware with 10 times the functionality of Jcreator which you pay for) Also, all the apps on Linux have been checked for bugs and viruses - so you get reliable software - which I can't say is true for a lot of payware. Linux has much much more power than Mac and can perform tasks so complex and advanced that a Mac wouldn't dare to dream about trying to do. It just doesn't waste RAM - unlike any other OS.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

As a newcomer to the forums, you should be aware that the truth is to be avoided at all costs. BTW, what's to to the south? :^0 :^0

JCitizen
JCitizen

those laptop 5400 rpm drives take to multi-partitioning. I was running XP and XP x64 on my laptop and it would click and make a lot of noise on that x64 partition. Maybe I should have finished my Linux project on that one.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Did you hackintosh the thinkpad or get your hands on one of the USB dongle bios?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My understanding, which could be wrong, was that osX was based on GNU with a modified BSD kernel resulting in the Darwin distribution. You might want to read the rest of the article and decide for yourself if all the points are wrong just because that first point about lineage may be wrong.

chris
chris

you've missed the point. migration is possible for anything. The way you've described it sounds like lots of work. his point is a)how easy it is and b)how flexible it is. mac hardware limits you. it does.

chris
chris

there are so many users/commentors that obviously can't think for themselves.

chris
chris

Come on ...9. Usability. User friendly. That is how I describe that. I would trust an end-user with a Linux machine only if it is in a 'kiosk-mode'.... You gotta use it a bit first. KDE offers so many great ways of getting things done it trounces Winders. I am not sure about Mac (which one is which even). It works just as easily as anything else

chris
chris

and start by defining the work "Better"

flatpanel
flatpanel

Look, the biggest problem with an article like this isn't so much that it's totally inaccurate, but that people come to a site like this to help them make decisions. When a relatively inexperienced user, or someone wanting to switch from Windows reads something like this, they can be convinced to write-off Macs out of hand, because they assume the advice is coming from an authorative source, when it's actually not. Regarding the games, it should be made clear that current Apple hardware can run Windows games in a window on top of a Mac OS faster than many native Windows machines... And that's just a stop-gap. Now that the underlying architecture is the same for Macs and "PC's" (Personal Computer!), developers are releasing most of them for Mac and Windows systems at the same time. This will increase as Apple sales continue to grow and Windows continues to bloat and fail. This isn't about people being fanboys or trying to 'convert' others, or even about choosing sides. It's about a serious, technical website offering advice that is absolute nonsense. The same would apply if the person was writing that Windows XP is rubbish because you can't use it to print things to a printer. It's false misinformation from a supposed expert. Just because he doesn't know how to set up a printer in Windows doesn't mean it can't be done. What it *does* mean, is that he shouldn't be writing articles about Windows as if he was an authorative source of information. Working in a tabloid might be a better idea - at least there you are *supposed* to fabricate your 'facts'.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Thank god someone else jumped in. I am tired of all the people that bash linux users just because we use Linux. No,I do not own a Mac, yes, I do use Debian. If you have a problem with that, that is your deal, just don't go spouting crap about linux user because they prefer to use thier computer a different way than you do. And, for the love of God, CALM DOWN.

chris
chris

do these friends of your buy photoshop?

thomas.morison
thomas.morison

Hackintosh! But the dongles *DO* interest me. Of course, due to the ThinkPad's age, stats and single core, I only put JaS 10.4.8 on it - which is the most stable version and cruises along nicely.

craftamics
craftamics

Back in the '90s, a company that sold lots of freeware and shareware disks and CDs [Walnut Creek, I think] sold Darwin on disks and CDs. It was based on a variant of BSD that used GNU tools.

WozNotWoz
WozNotWoz

Linux and OS-X are first (or second?)cousins...which means they can legally get married in Kentucky, right? Is crazy Uncle Bill going to be invited? This article was pretty much just an op-ed piece. Poeple may read it and possibly give Linux a try, but in the end, everyone will use whatever works best for them. Even if they have to pay for it or get locked to specific hardware.

beorn.ours
beorn.ours

I meant that a standard end-user finds every OS hard to use and learn. Many IT people have lost their contact to the real-life users. Not all of them are tech savvy kids or geeks. So I prefer a stable OS, a full-screen browser and only let the user have Internet-based apps.

chris
chris

If someone can't read through this and decide for themselves that this is obviously not the definitive place for unbiased info they deserve to be screwed. 5 minutes at TR and I knew it was mostly hot headed opinion with a slick suit. Some technical stuff, but mostly people spouting their viewpoint.

wb8erj
wb8erj

Do my friends buy photoshop? Absolutely!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Cheapbytes.com may still have Darwin available on disk else I'm sure one can still download it. I've been mucking with other OS and haven't got down to it on my todo list though.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

GNU started to rewrite Unix under a free license but they left the OS kernel until last. Linus started the Linux OS kernel first leaving the rest of the OS platform until later. I believe it was a university project based on Minix so that Linus could learn more about how hardware and processors ran software. Since "GNU's Not Unix" needed an OS kernel and "Linux" being just a kernel, needed a user space. The result is GNU/Linux commonly refered to as "Linux" but more accurately refered to by the specific distrubution name of GNU/Linux/otherapps where "Debian Linux" is similar too but not the same thing as "Red Hat Linux"; it's not hundreds of different "Linux's" but hundreds of different though similar OS that happen to use the Linux kernel. If I understand right, Apple took the GNU userspace and dropped what didn't apply to osX, swapped the Linux kernel for there own modified BSD kernel and built the pretty makeup (GUI) on top of that. Maybe osX as the planned child of Darwin which is the unplanned child of GNU and BSD. GNU and BSD both being legal clones of the venerable Unix family. I got currious how accurate I was and went to look. Seems the kernel is XNU though I don't know if that's a BSD core or not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X#History

zefficace
zefficace

that you have to make up your own opinion by trying the stuff. You can't really ask others and say youv'e made the right choice. I've had a mac, but found it didn't make sense for me money wise. I've had windows, a bit irritating for me. Linux, I didn't really like more than windows at first but love it now. Nothing that the "experts" said mattered... only by trying did I really find out anything.

flatpanel
flatpanel

No, you're WRONG!! ...just kidding. "hot headed opinion in a slick suit". Nice phrase. Bring back BeOS, I say (*ducks*)

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