Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gibbon takes Leopard

My lovefest for OS X is over. I'm switching back to Linux. It isn't a total loss, but it is a complete burnout for a software developer like me. Some things I liked, some things I hated. . .

What's OK:

- Printing is pretty cool. I really liked that printers were so easy to install. OTOH, Ubuntu's printing stuff is almost as good; the only thing missing might be the icon that shows you what your currently-in-use printer actually looks like. Printers seem to be self-healing in OS X as well, which means that they keep working even when they change IP addresses (something that happens with my printer at home).

- FileVault. Encryption is done well up to a point. They succeeded in making it usable for the masses. Then they halfway-blow it! The screen saver and restart-from-suspend/hibernate do NOT require a password by default. So if you do what most people do and just shut the laptop when you're done using it, all that encryption is useless because your filesystem is always sitting around in plain text. FileVault should require you to password-protect those ways in.

- OmniGraffle. If they made a Linux version, I'd pay for it, and this is coming from someone who actually likes Inkscape already.

- iTunes + iPod is pretty damn awesome. Banshee is quite competitive, but to get the same package that OS X has on Ubuntu you need Banshee and gpodder. I like both of them, but they're not integrated, they don't work well with m4a feeds, so this is a clear Mac win, and no surprise.

- VMWare fusion. I love Unity mode for Windows. I don't really use it enough to keep it around, though. VirtualBox is a more-than-adequate replacement. It lacks snapshots but makes up in overall speed.

- Overall attractiveness. Yep, it's pretty. Ubuntu is about 90% of the way there.

- Um... the hardware? I really like the hardware. I just would rather have something else installed on it. OS X certainly comes with all the necessary MBP drivers, and all that hardware Just Works, so that's good. But it's not as if somebody couldn't do the same with a MBP-targetted Ubuntu distribution.

What's broken:

- Terminal. The tabs are horrible.. they won't display icons, they won't display the label of the terminal settings, they don't even obey the settings of itself. The terminal emulation is frequently broken. Readline is frequently broken. ANSI colors are broken. Terminal, you suck. By all accounts, the alternatives are worse.

- Python. For FUCK's sake Apple, this is an embarrassment. Either get it right or stop putting it on there by default. Why do I have to install MacPorts Python every time to work around missing extensions like _bsddb? Why do I get bus errors running simple things that work in Linux?

- Instant Messaging. Adium is the only decent multi-protocol option, and it doesn't support IRC and hides important options. Adium actually is pretty damn close, but it's not all the way there. XChat on the Mac is pretty crappy, and the other IRC alternatives were slow and worse.

- Graphics software. I refuse to pay for and use Photoshop. Aperture is shipped on Leopard as crippleware, I say no to that guerilla tactic as well. Gimp is a terrific piece of software, but it's unusable on a Mac. Yes, you can run it in X11, and if you tried to, you would know what I mean by "unusable".

- OpenOffice. See previous post. Oh my GOD this is terrible. I refuse to pay for and use standards-raping MS Office, which is NOT an improvement over OpenOffice in functionality or performance anyway, even in the best of cases (running on Windows XP, for example). works beautifully on Linux and on Windows; on OS X it vomits.

- Media playback and use. Linux just wins here. Apple has nothing to offer over, say, VLC, which is why I installed VLC on the Mac. It actually runs a treat there, BTW. Apple's software respects region coding and all that other DRM and related rights-restriction bullshit, and I refuse to play that game. VLC is able to redeem Apple here--I think. It remains to be seen whether I can do something fair-use-y like rip my DVDs to the hard drive and play them with VLC, or use VLC to play out-of-region DVDs, but I'm beyond the point of wanting to give OS X a fair shake on this one.

What changes to the OS X ecosystem would be required to win me back?

- Fix

- Fix Python. This is an absolute dealbreaker for me.

I can put up with the rest of the problems, but those two are insufferable.


Glyph Lefkowitz said...

Yay! Welcome back. ;-).

I'm actually giving MacOS a shot right now again, but the most difficult thing for me is that I interact with about 8 computers on a daily basis. 1 of those can (legitimately) run MacOS, and with a lot of trouble and lawbreaking I can get maybe one other to run it. Putting MacOS in the cloud is a lot less feasible than putting Ubuntu on my desktop.

Anonymous said...

Your alternative for OpenOffice on Mac is "Neo Office" ... I've never used it but it's supposed to be ok

Anonymous said...

Neo Office ( is actually better. Way better.

Janosch said...

You can run GIMP without XServer. Just do a google "gimp quartz".