[nSLUG] MacOS was: Dell Inspiron 1525N w/ Ubuntu 8.04?

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Thu Aug 14 14:22:00 ADT 2008

On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 11:37 AM, Stephen Gregory <nslug at kernelpanic.ca> wrote:

> MacOS is nice and all, but it is no Linux. And while it has a BSD
> layer it has about as much in common with a modern *nix as Windows
> does.

Years ago we had VMS (vax), Apple OS 6 (m68k+RISC), unix (m68k),
WfWG (i386), and NeXt (m68k).  Everyone found they could log on to a
NeXT and start working, but few people  could cross to the other platforms.
X11 was a major barrier for many people.   It is harder now for Win32
users to navigate on MacOSX, but it still doen't take long for most
people to become comfortable.

BSD has not been standing still.  You can find zfs there, for instance.
We are in the process of retiring SGI systems (not quite modern unix)
and in many ways it is easier to go from Irix64 to MacOSX than to

> I used MacOS both at work and at home for over a year. I have since
> replaced both machines with Ubuntu. Proponents of MacOS claim that it
> "just works." It doesn't. It works no better and no worst then any
> other modern OS. MacOS has a whole host of annoyances just like the
> other operating systems. I found MacOS fine as long as I worked
> exactly the way that Apple envisioned. As soon as I tried to work
> beyond those bounds I ran into frustration. I have long ranted against
> Gnome for being overly restrictive and only supporting the "Gnome
> way." However compared to MacOS, Gnome is far more accomodating for
> the (even only slightly) savvy user. My biggest frustration with MacOS
> was when something didn't work there was next to nothing that I could
> do to figure out what.

Apple does try to present a "simple" view to average users.  My NeXT
came with several feet of manuals.  Much of that content is still available
from the Apple developer's web site, but you have to dig to find it.

Did you use macports?

In my work (remote sensing) CMYK color support (and color management) is
essential for print publication.   Adobe has tried to make CMYK work on Win32,
but it is far from robust -- many bugs the affect Photoshop,
Illustrator, etc. are
in the graphics drivers so you are at the mercy of your graphics card's
developers.   Apple is the only widely available platform that can run a wide
range of native unix X11 apps and also do CMYK artwork.

Gnome is alive and well on MacOSX: <https://trac.macports.org/wiki/GNOME>.

> From a philosophical point of view MacOS is no better then
> Windows. Both companies try very hard to control the user. If anything
> Apple is even more secretive and controlling then Microsoft.

Darwin is hardly a secret,and NeXT+Apple have been major contributors
to gcc.  Sun has OpenSolaris, but they use proprietary compilers.  Sure
Apple is careful about some technology.  For one thing, if you keep it
a secret, it is much harder for the patent mills to go after you.

> There is not a strong communinity of opensource MacOS developers
> despite the availability of Mac/DarwinPorts. While most *nix software
> works it often feels bolted on. The *nix tools and the MacOS
> gui fell like two isolated environments.

They are.  NeXtStep used DPS, which was also available on SGI, Sun, to
support advance typography.  DPS had some very fundamental limitations
because you could easily write PS code that would use arbitrarily huge
resources.  The same issue was also affecting phototypesetters (who need
to pump out N 1000's of pages each night, but one illustration could take
hours to render).  The solution was to use a "flattened" graphics language.
PDF solved two problems (flattening and font management) that were
found to limit the utility of PS and DPS.    Adobe killed DPS, partly
because they felt they could do a better job with a DPDF, but Apple
decided to write their own "DPDF".

> MacOS is not a bad operating system, but it is not Linux. MacOS is
> fine as long as you don't mind limiting yourself to the "Apple Way."
> Linux does a far better job at presenting the full power of a computer
> to the user.

Linux has a long way to go before it can handle advanced print graphics.
MacOSX is a solid unix environment with some unique advantages.  I'm
not sure that linux can provide all the capabilities you get from Apple without
creating too much overhead for people looking to do basic stuff on low-end
hardware.   Attempting to provide more of the Apple capabilities in Vista is
one of the reasons it needs high-end hardware.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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