Diatribes - Computer, Economic & Political

This blog is really just for me. If you find something interesting on it, leave me a comment. If you disagree with something, let me know what and why. In this blog I am just putting some of my thoughts for computers, the economy, politics, and other topics in writing.

16 July 2005

Switching to OSX

What about OSX? It is a tight operating system, why not choose it? OSX is a very stable and secure operating system (it is based on BSD). I’ve never seen it lockup. It comes bundled with some of the best software you can find; especially Safari. It is very easy to use and terrifically functional. OSX faces some of the same challenges as does Linux in drawing users as well as a few others. I identified four in my previous article.

First games. Games do not always make it to OSX, and if they do, it is always late. That is a bit of a deterrent. This is less of a barrier than for Linux because real games are actually made for Macs. The good ones usually make it.

Next problem is that of preference. As with Linux this is a considerable barrier to OSX. In fact, because KDE so closely imitates Windows, Linux is probably (orientation wise) easier than OSX to migrate to; if you want your new operating system to look like Windows. Now before I get flamed by a million OS zealots, I am not saying it is better to use a Windows-esqe interface. Nor am I saying OSX is hard to get used to. And I know Windows/KDE similarities are only skin-deep.

Now for the problem that OSX has in the bag. Hardware support. Because OSX only runs on Apple computers, there are never problems with internal hardware. I’ve never had any with external hardware either. I’ve tried external hard drives, DVD drives, USB drives, they all just work. Better than Windows for sure. I’ve never tested a TV-capture card with one, but if works anything like the other hardware I’ve tried I’d be more than satisfied. The one downside is that some of the hardware you have lying around won’t work. I’ve not had success plugging in anything that takes a PCI, UGP or PCI-X slot. But Apple stays on top of new hardware, so you shouldn’t need to anyway.

Lastly, the software availability problem is different than Linux. There are 10 small obscure programs for any one you’ve heard of one in Linux (likewise in Windows). These little guys are always niche-useful but rarely user-friendly. With OSX is it quite the opposite. There are major programs but not so many small ones. For most Windows programs there are good if not great OSX equivalents. Unless you need some specialty software, OSX will have an equivalent that will be quite user-friendly (better than Linux user-friendly).

There is a problem that OSX exclusively though. Hardware is expensive. An average user may not care that it is proprietary (another downside), but the price tag may scare them. If you go cheap with a PC (especially if you build it yourself) you can always get a better price on apples-to-apples hardware. Hardware upgrade costs are equally prohibitive. But with Apple moving to the X86 architecture (RIP PPC, we’ll miss you) this may lessen or disappear altogether.

OSX is a contender for sure. If you aren’t particularly hardened in a Windows mode of computing, and you don’t play a lot of PC games, Macs are terrific. Particularly if you are artsy and hip, Macs are the only way to go. But if you like to fiddle with hardware, add functionality, browse endless lists of programs for the right one, you may want to look elsewhere.


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