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.

New theme

Theme change for the first time since I began blogging on WordPress a few years ago. I liked my old theme, but was ready for something different.  This has been a year of change and I’ve experimented with my life a bit. I followed my heart back to St. Bonaventure University even when the lure of doctoral program at another school beckoned. I would like to get a doctorate at some point and maybe my trip to Bonaventure will eventually produce that. I just love research and finding out new information and applying it. After I overcame my initial worries about keeping up with my classmates in a subject area I had not officially explored.

This spring I’m going to be involved in an internship in special education. It’s an area I know very little about, but its quite fascinating. This fall I took school law and leadership. Initially I liked the leadership course quite a bit more than the law course, but my love of research took me deeper into the law. I discovered that I had a trivial pursuit understanding of such important cases as Brown v. Board of Education.   Going back to school at 56 was also a concern. I was self-conscious about being the old guy in the class. That was quickly allayed by one of my classmates who wrote such a touching response to one of my initial answers that it brought me to tears. Those tears were a blessing and a benediction which provided the acceptance within my own heart that I was doing the right thing.

I also purchased a MacBook Pro because I wanted to be a bit more mainstream. I was afraid that using Ubuntu and Open Office would be frowned upon at the University. I was wrong about that. All of my writing was actually done in Google Docs and OpenOffice.  I learned that I could use open source tools in higher education with no penalty. Bonaventure is a Microsoft oriented school, but many students had a Mac like me and professors are really only concerned if work is done.  Our course was delivered in a hybrid format which featured Moodle, yet another open source application.  My experience has left me looking forward to the spring semester with great anticipation and the knowledge that I can contribute. I feel younger too and energized.

I often found myself on campus working at Friedsam Library. Entering and leaving the library I was greeted by a display of my old friend Thomas Merton. In fact Merton is everywhere in my life, my trips to Mt. Irenaeus, University ministries, walking across campus and looking up at “Merton’s Heart.”  There’s a new theme in my life and it’s really an old theme that’s been restated.

Rebel with Cause

This is a cross posting from my other blog.

James Dean made a name for himself in the 1950’s movie, “Rebel Without a Cause.” In the past almost four years I’ve been determined to show that Linux and in particular Ubuntu Linux is a viable desktop operating system. I’ve proven it to myself time and again but still it remains an outlier in consumer circles. In the last week I’ve rebuilt three Windows computers that had been virtually destroyed by malware. In two of the three cases the individuals let their virus protection lapse, in the third the lady was using a well known anti-virus and security solution and she still was victimized. When I returned the computers to their owners I suggested how they could work to keep their machines from becoming infected again.

Lately, I’ve taken a more active stance promoting both Ubuntu equipped personal computers and Macintosh computers because Windows seems more vulnerable than ever. I can’t think of anything I do other than iTunes and Quicken which couldn’t be accomplished on Ubuntu. I’m able to read blogs, write blogs, send and receive email, participate in social networks, write HTML, and create and update websites. Have I left anything out. That’s a pretty complete listing. In any event I’m able to do all of that from my Dell Inspiron 6400 with Ubuntu 9.04. I am definitely plugging Ubuntu, but for you could do the same with Fedora and OpenSuse, PC Linux OS and the other Linux distros. Ubuntu just happens to be my favorite.

Recently I bought my son a MacBook for his home. Why a MacBook and not Ubuntu? Simply so that he could keep up with the Joneses in his life. All his friends have Macs and I thought what the heck. But, really there is no real difference in operating efficiency on Linux or Macintosh OSX. Both are open source at their core and Unix and Linux are much more secure and stable. I have to admit that the Macintosh GUI is compelling, but I still like using two and three buttons on my mouse or touchpad and that’s not possible with a Mac. In fact that two button dilemma is driving my son a bit batty. He’s used Windows most of his life and those of us who use Windows and Linux know that a mouse has more than one button and nearly all of our keyboard shortcuts are the same.

I am going to keep pushing Linux and Ubuntu in particular because it’s the most stable, least costly and most fun operating system on the planet at this time.


Lately my thoughts have been more and more silence. I’ve had little to write about nor little to share. I’ve been writing about what I’m doing with open source software, but have had very little that I cared to share about on this writing space. The election is boring. I have little hope that the election will bring any real change no matter who is elected. It’s all about corporations these days and not about the will of the people if indeed it ever was.  I’ll be traveling on Friday to St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in North Carolina for a Holy Name Province Peace and Justice Retreat.