[nSLUG] Linux on X86 Powerbooks

George White aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Mon Jun 13 09:45:01 ADT 2005

On Sun, 12 Jun 2005, Stephen Gregory wrote:

> On Sun, Jun 12, 2005 at 08:39:04AM +0000, Vikram Chhatre wrote:
> > mainstream Linux distribution on a apple powerbook (those slick, 
> > lightweight, attractive and yummy notebooks as I call them)
> While the ibook and powerbooks are nice they aren't that light. Apple
> laptops weigh the same as IBM laptops and some Sony laptops are a
> third to half the weight.

My take is that lack of good laptop CPU's and associated chipsets was a
major factor in Apple's move.  Current Powerbooks need more battery,
cooling, etc. than current laptops based on Intel hardware.  At work we
recently replaced a Sony 1.5 kg laptop that died with a 1.5 kg Thinkpad. 
Both have small screens, no removable storage, and small batteries.

IBM recently sold their laptop business to Lenovo, so "IBM laptops" are
older technology. 

> We do know that Linux will run on Mac x86. (it is pretty much a given)
> It is likely that Apple will continue to build good computers with a
> markup for the Apple logo. I suspect that Linux users will be
> attracted to Mac x86. Linux users like technical excellence. Anyone
> who thinks that Macs will be cheaper is mistaken. Apple is a luxury
> brand.

And you are paying for OS X when you buy the system.  The advantage of 
Apple is that you get a controlled hardware environment so everything
works.  No searching for patches to fix glitches in power management and
display drivers.  The disadvantage of Apple is that when it breaks you
have to deal with Apple service, which generally gets high user ratings, 
but leaves you few options if they can't diagnose your problem.  
> I wonder how many linux users who get a Mac will switch to MacOS for
> their workstations. MacOS is pretty good. The unixy bits undearneath
> allow a Linux users to use most of the tools they are used to. The GUI
> on top has its annoyances, but it is no worst then XP, Gnome, KDE, or
> your desktop of choice. But the big advantage to MacOS is that all of
> the hardware will work without messing with the configs.

There is an Apple X11 server, and many unix/linux applications have been
ported to OS X using X11.
> Personally I hope a whole bunch of the whiney annoying Linux users
> become MacOS users and leave the rest of us in peace. :-)

The press reports I've seen haven't mentioned support for f.p. math.  At
one time, f.p. library issues were given as the reason Matlab was not
ported to OS X.  Many numerical analysts liked m68k macs for the Apple
SANE library and flat memory model.  When Apple moved to PPC they switched
to IBM OS/2 and then linux or Windows NT.  

Many educational institutions had good experiences with Apple (and
currently stuggle with AV and spam on Win XP).  If Matlab becomes
available on OS X for Intel, and given the open source Darwin kernel,
Apple could make big gains in education. 

George White <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca> <gnw3 at acm.org>
189 Parklea Dr., Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia  B3Z 2G6


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