Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows

I’m not bowled over by the Macintosh.  It’s a great OS with some great tools and like a friend said on Facebook when I first got it, it is Linux with great multi-media.  I love Photo Booth, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD all great software products that work together rather seamlessly. But are they worth double the price of a Dell for the average person. I don’t think so. I think Apple’s future is with the iPhone and maybe their upcoming tablet. They are really a desktop OS and the future belongs to mobile platforms. I think Microsoft has gotten the bugs out of Vista in Windows 7. So far it’s quite easy to operate and doesn’t have all the “yes/no” permission questions of Vista. I got Windows 7 Premium because I wanted to experiment with their multimedia tools too. I bought this Dell Inspiron 1545 because I got a great price. It was a refurb and most of my PCs are Dell refurbs. I save $200-$300 per unit that way. I wanted to install Ubuntu on it from “go” and I also wanted to virtualize Windows 7 and experiment with it. I will use Virtual Box which is really a great product and one that I’ve got almost two years experience with. I bought the machine for the added RAM, more storage and faster processor because I intend to have some more virtual machines running.

One of the things that I’ve discovered in my Mac adventure is that there is no where near the number of great open source applications on the Macintosh side of the house as their is in either Windows or Linux. I missed that. Also, I do some web application development and the tools aren’t there as easily as they are in Ubuntu. I really discovered that over Christmas break when I was building the Eucalyptus “cloud.” Apple has that software on disk that you can load on the Mac, but since its BSD Unix it’s a bit different than Linux and it just makes it more difficult. The other real pain in the butt with a Mac is its real lack of the second button on the mouse even when you are using a touch pad on a laptop. There are keystroke shortcuts you can use, but its just not as easy as with a PC or a Linux desktop. I’m used to cutting, copying and pasting with Cntrl-X, Cntrl-C etc. and with the Mac it’s a bit different. I miss the big screen of the 15 inch and Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular supports virtual desktops. That’s really not supported as well on either Windows or Macintosh.

The other plus with Ubuntu and Linux in general and this is where Linux really kicks both Windows and the Mac is you have the same OS whether mainframe, desktop, laptop or mobile device and it’s just plain stable.  I’ve had no blue screens with Windows 7 and I didn’t with the Mac either. I can run Ubuntu or Linux on darned near anything and have resources to spare. I also think that Apple doesn’t use the fastest DVD/RW drives and the USB ports on the MacBook were noticeably slower than the USB on my nearly three year old Dell Inspiron 6400. Go figure! Not all Linuces are equal to Ubuntu on the desktop. Red Hat is decidedly more server oriented and their development product Fedora (which I used a lot at one time) is not the equal of Ubuntu at present. Ubuntu is more international in it’s flavor which is probably a good thing. Both Dell & IBM are favoring Ubuntu on the desktop and server and much of Amazon’s cloud (EC2) is Ubuntu oriented too.

I really think the future is mobile and Microsoft understands that well and is positioned to support that with mobile devices. Ubuntu and Linux in general is mobile oriented too. Motorola, Google and a host of other vendors are or have developed mobile devices using Linux and Apple Mac while cool is really a desktop OS and although the OS is inexpensive at $29 a copy it is very proprietary after that point. Their real mistake in my opinion is not opening up their platform like Microsoft did with Windows, but that’s because they are desktop or laptop oriented. Apple is a great company and I have always loved their innovative products, but they are pricey too.  Well those are my thoughts. In short you can get two computers for the price of one if you use either Ubuntu or Windows 7. In this day thrift the $1200 Mac has a tough row to hoe. If Microsoft got smart and put Windows on a Unix core the game would be up for Apple.

16 Replies to “Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows”

  1. I’m used to cutting, copying and pasting with Cntrl-X, Cntrl-C etc. and with the Mac it’s a bit different.

    The Cmd key is your friend. Cmd-C to copy, Cmd-V to paste. Cmd-Tab to switch between applications.

  2. The beauty of OS X is not only in the graphical environment’s smooth animation, but the applications you can buy for it, particularly from Apple, are outstanding. Many companies like MS simply don’t truly get the Mac interface and the experience isn’t any better than Windows. Companies that are Mac only, like BeLight, tend to “get it” and the apps are much better. The beauty of the Mac interface lies in its simplicity in function.

    I think that coming from any background where you’ve used something for a long, long time, then only testing something for a short term, you never really appreciate the new product. The same thing happens to Windows users that try Linux and simply don’t understand it or it isn’t enough like Windows. You really have to spend a lot of time getting comfortable to make a fair assessment. IMO, aside from some limitations such as the menu bar on the top of the screen, which is a long way for the mouse to travel on a 27″ screen, the Mac interface is superior in most regards to either Windows or any of the Linux window managers. But, to each his own…

  3. Im sorry but the Ubuntu vs question is a bit of the mark I find.

    As someone who has been interested in tech every since I opened my first 286 computer, I jumped to Linux full time about 18 months ago because lets face it: the Linux desktop wasnt ready 3-4 years ago for mom and pop to use. (Both my retired folks now use Kubuntu 9.10)

    About 2 years ago, we found PCLinuxOS and now all our home computers run it or Mandriva-KDE4.3

    So I we have the transition to free software still fresh in our minds and are now helping friends and family in on it too.

    And let me tell you as simply as I can: Ubuntu sucks!
    Actually not the OS but the Gnome desktop.
    I have yet to find one person in our family (over a dozen people from 8 to 88) and who are or where Windows user who like Ubuntu because it looks foreign to them.
    You can add your taskbar to the top panel in XP but it doesnt matter, the Mac centric interface with top text and
    the look and feel of it (many mentioned that and I think its the GTK) looks foreign.
    My niece got a Dell Mini and called it the most depressing desktop since her Windows 95 days. (she now runs the Mandriva Netbook version)
    I know about the problems KDE had in the switch over but honestly I was just discovering 3.5 on PCLinux2007 so we didnt get into it until 4.2 which I though was ready.
    I would bring my laptop and people just used it instinctively because I made it look like my WinXP partition (games like Chessmaster and Im just getting into Virtuabox now).

    In this roundabout way, I want to say that I believe that the KDE desktop is much easier to transition to for Windows users. Its not scientific but simply personal observations.

    Ive used XCFE on old hardware and even discovered one called E17 which I really like but those are specific cases.
    As Im working my way through my family adding dual boot functions to some and clean sweeps to other computers, I keep offering people the choice but KDE is the overwhelming winner.

    To be totally honest, I think most distros are identical when they use the same desktops. Changing windows managers or color schemes or wallpaper and icon defaults (wow! how progressive) is no big deal and its all a bit redundant to me.

    I think the most important decision you make when switching to Linux isnt the distro, its the desktop.

    Of course, I say that with a whole 2 years Linux experience but because of that reason I am closer to the mentality of the person switcher than the l33t Linux dude who compiles things for fun (im not there yet nor do I intent to.).

    And there is also the question of key apps.
    FF3 (dont care about the browser as much as the add-ons), Thunderbird, OpenOffice and VLC (Skype too but im sticking to FLOSS here) all made the switch to Linux easy since I used the Windows versions but KDE centric apps are also top of class.
    Digikam for my Canon camera is flawless, Gvenview is a useful and smooth as my Win favorite Irfanview, Kopete was a no-brainer because it supported Yahoo webcam 2 years ago when no other did, K3B is the bees knees of CD burning and (my tablet and Brother printer worked right away.), the new Amarok lets me now make the player look how I want and KDEnlive does the job my sons used to do with Windows Movie Maker filming their skateboard jumps.

    As well, Ive found it easier to modify the desktop for older family members who all have one request in common: make it BIG!! (design flow and motif be damned when you cant seem the button or text. the user decides whats best. always. even if it bastardizes your precious ‘flow’.)

    Of course, these are all a questions of taste. Liking one software over an other is a choice like ice cream flavours.
    Is one better than another? Splitting hairs.

    But I think there are visual and habitual cues that are often overlooked by people when helping move someone from Windows to Linux.
    Bottom taskbars are familiar but are claimed by many people to be easier on the eyes than constantly staring upwards (we have a few graphic designers at work that have those screen sunken in the table). My job is to make the transition easier, not to teach them new paradigms. KDE makes that easy.
    Is is the ‘bestest’ desktop?
    That’s not the point.
    Its the one I think makes the transition from Windows the easiest.
    Ive seen too many people be totally put off by a Gnome desktop and dismiss Linux altogether (The Dell Mini example happened to three people I know). So when I see comparisons of OS, I think Linux always gets shortchanged because I know that I and my family wouldnt have changed to LiGNUx had it not been KDE.

    Of course, mileage may vary…

    (I use Macs at work for some video editing so I have a good grasp of all three OS)

  4. To right-click on the Mac trackpad, rest two fingers on the touchpad and click the button (or surface if you’re on a new one)

    Going back to PC for a while, the thing I really missed was the one-button trackpad.

    Twisting your thumb round to access the right button is awkward and painful for me. I’d never advocate a one-button mouse, but a one-button trackpad is superior IMO.

    And by the way, Command-C for copy is a much more ergonomic keyboard shortcut than Ctrl-C. In fact, any keystroke that uses the button next to the space bar is.

    You’re trying to dress up your own experience and habits as something more objective and that’s a bit unfair on the Mac…

  5. People don’t understand.
    It’s not about it looking like XP, Vista, Mac or Linux.
    It’s about ease of use. I didn’t like Linux at first, but now I can’t get away from it. It just makes sense to me now. Windows 7 looks cool, but it still feels the same. Mac also looks great, but not much you can do with it like Linux.

    With Linux you can configure it the way you work. That’s what these other guys don’t get. It’s about the user.
    I want my computer to work the way “I” want it to work not like Steve or Bill wants me to use it.

    Linux don’t be like Windows or Apple!
    Just be Linux!

  6. The real strength of OS X I have found is its consistency. With minor differences, a user going from an old G3 iMac running OS X 10.2 can migrate to a Core 2 Duo MacMini or similar running 10.6 and won’t be completely lost in the desktop. This cannot be said of Windows or Linux of the same vintage, especially if you’re a KDE user (which I am; my primary desktop is a Fedora 12 Dell Precision M65 mobile workstation).

    Speaking of the Precision M65, it is directly comparable with a MacBook Pro of similar specs, and about the same price.

    But I’ve been using a couple of used, and older, Power Mac G4 ‘Mirror Drive Door’ systems (dual 1.42GHz G4’s with 2GB of RAM) for audio production using the amazing Mixbus program by Harrison Consoles, and I have found that the OS X interface is just simply clean, and consistent. And whether it’s running Tiger (10.4) or Leopard (10.5) the interface isn’t radically changed (10.5 adds some nice features, such as the quite useful Time Machine backup syste; backup done right, IMO). And migration is so much easier on a Mac than on Windows or Linux; in most cases you can migrate your data and your applications to a new Mac and not have to reinstall anything.

    Before actually trying it out, I was a skeptic of what Mac OS X could do; but now I find it’s not so bad, even for this KDE 4 on Fedora 12 refugee…..

  7. One Button Mouse? Careful now, its been so many years since Apple shipped any computer with one of those its showing you have a rather aged Mac or might be making some experience up.

    But yes, while Mac has Fink and MacPorts available (you have to install the X11 subsystem if you want to run native X apps) it does not have a central easy-to-use repository as this is the central means of getting software on Linux but on Mac the commercial purchase or download of compressed ISO images in DMG format and mounting them to install is the means to distribute applications. If there was neither of those then it would be easier.

    Unfortunately or Fortunately depending on which side of the coin you reside – Techie or a person who does *not* want to know how all the internals of a computer works, just use it to do work, you may or may not love the decision in the design of the OS X ecosystem.

    Its harder to find the same shareware but there is also a lot of applications that are just GUIs around shell commands which a pure *nix head would toss their nose up at but can do some remarkable things making it as simple as turning on or off a graphical light switch as the only knowledge a user needs to know (Time Machine, Apache Server, etc.)

    I miss the easy-repository and full Python support of Linux so I run Ubuntu on my Mac as much as OS X if I am developing. Otherwise I spend most of my time in OS X when not programming anything. And Windows only gets a boot once a month to play a game but may be deleted as Windows gaming has devolved into a desert of rare new IP and only occasional releases of anything half way decent. Game consoles killed desktop gaming.


  8. “The beauty of OS X is not only in the graphical environment’s smooth animation, but the applications you can buy for it, particularly from Apple, are outstanding. Many companies like MS simply don’t truly get the Mac interface and the experience isn’t any better than Windows. Companies that are Mac only, like BeLight, tend to “get it” and the apps are much better. The beauty of the Mac interface lies in its simplicity in function.”

    You’ve got to be kidding. Those apps are jokes! There are outstanding Linux applications in KDE SC which are free, but what’s more important – they’re much more powerful. The beauty in Linux lives in… everything – you want simplicity it’s already there, you want power tools they’re already there, you want feature rich, wonderful looking apps they’re already there. I found it funny some obvious features (which are common on Linux and on Windows since years) were added with Apple newest system. Like restoring files from trash and more.

  9. I disagree. I think there’s plenty of fantastic free and open source software for the Mac. Of course not quite the breadth of selection of Linux, but on average I find the App qualitiy to be better.

    In Paid Apps, Mac OS X is better than Linux, I’m sure everyone will agree.

  10. WOW, with the power of today’s open source software I find it very hard to believe people are still “buying” desktop software. I began using a Apple IIe over 25 years ago then moved on to an IBM 286 running DOS and was one of the first MS Windows users with 2.11. I started using Linux in the early 90s when it first came out when you had to install Linux then X-windows then motif. I’ve been using MACs on and off through the years. Now ten years ago I could have seen then being this conversation. Apple then had the best OS with X but, you could do much more in MS windows 2000 (still MS best OS IMO). Back then we used Linux too but it was for the server since there where not many apps and it was hard to maintain. But, today with OpenOffice, Lotus Office Symphony, GIMP, MySQL, all the powerfull multi-media choices of software; and the choice of GNOME or KDE (if you like your menu on the bottom like MS). Linux and opensource is the only way to go. We use Ubuntu because of the distro with great support (Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, …) we have found currently Ubuntu to be the only one that just does everything and does it well. Fedora is still great for something like a LAMP server but mutli-media is poor and OpenSUSE is great for many things yet again multi-media is poor. We have become a 100% Ubuntu shop over the last few years and all of are staff is very happy yes even the old Adobe MAC graphic arts folk. We have found opensource software for everything and have found the open source to be with no bugs (some of the high end Adobe programs with big price tags would crash offten if workarrounds where not used. Ubuntu just runs and runs well. Recently, I have been trying Mint out on my own and fell it is probally the best OS out there for a beginner but, for us a good size shop I think we will stick with Ubuntu since we can get support if we ever need to. I would like to see the upgrade process from version to version get better with Ubuntu through during the last upgrade to 9.10 a few CPUs had to be redone with a freash install we run alot of apps and love it when Update Manager just keeps the entire system up to date. As a note PCLinuxOS is a very good OS too there 2007 version we used up until very recently on a few CPUs. That’s what we use now who knows what IT will be like 10 years from now with Twitter, Ruby on Rails, Grails, and Spring giving us new ways to use the computer now a days. I say what ever software you use and enjoy that’s great enjoy and stay with the latest trends if you can it’s just gonna get better. We run many, many apps and have found the opensource apps to be the best. We have found the use off opensource apps to greatly enhance our bottom line and in today’s economy that is a very good thing.

    1. I was using Apple IIe’s in the late mid 80’s myself. I see a strong correlation between that time and the open source movement. People helping people. I agree about Ubuntu and your comments on Fedora and Open Suse. I used to use Fedora a lot but Ubuntu’s got the multi-media hurdle cleared. I prefer it to the Mac or Windows and the Ubuntu has also done a nice job with package maintenance. It’s good on the server side too wit JEOS and Ubuntu Server. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I used to be a Windows user and I think think that Windows is an ok OS. Things that bothered me about Windows was antivirus slowing down my PC and needing to defrag (which was also a pain in the arse). I also hated all the YES/NO dialogs all over the OS, it just seemed unnecessary.

    I switched to Ubuntu about 2 years ago and it takes a bit of getting used to at first but now I love it. No more anti-virus, viruses or needing to defrag. Plus now I don’t need to fund the lifestyle of MS employees. The strengths of Ubuntu are speed, ease of use and the way its my OS, I can do whatever I want with it!

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