Ubuntu vs OS X: The deathmatch!
As you may have seen from my recent posts I’m trying out OS X. There is no doubt that for the casual computer users viewpoint OS X kicks Linux’s ass. But I’m a open source computer programmer, and for us things are definitely not as clear cut. Five years ago, they probably would have been, but then Ubuntu arrived. Ubuntu is an operating system I can put my wife on and she will not be any more lost then she is on Windows. That is a big step for Linux and open source: Having an operating system that can compare favorably to the commercial ones.
The gap is also closing. Ubuntu gets easier to use and have more and more “end user” features. I already think Ubuntu is just as good as Windows for a typical user, and of course superiour for a developer like me. OS X seems to get a bit more developer friendly as time goes on too.
And after a week of trying to set up OS X so that it is useable I’ve now arrived at a place where I can use it properly, and I will try it out as my main OS for a week, and then make my decision. So it’s crunch time. This also means that you have one week to convince me either way. So, don ye yon asbestos suits, and let the flamewar begin!
I’ll first start with the things I’ve found so far that are benefits for each system.
- It’s Linux. That means it operates more closly to the typical servers we encounter, and you install software like Apache etc in a similar way.
- Ubuntus package system rocks. Sure, there is macports, but in Ubuntu it’s integrated into the OS, and you update the operating system the same way as you update and install everything else, and you have loads of nifty, free software just a couple of clicks away in the Synaptic UI.
- Keymappings are more consistent. And Alt+normal keys have for me more useful defaults, ie extended latin characters like ð and Ł. The default Mac keyboards have graphical signs like a sign only useful if you happen to be eating an apple and somehow want to display this graphically.
- The most important software for me is the development environment, which in my case is WingIDE. It’s not a native app, as it’s GTK. The same goes for GIMP, which is the main graphical software I use. Yes, they do work on OS X, under X11. But this still is a drawback, it means that are not as integrated as other apps, and have a distinctly unmacky feel to them compared to other software, even multiplatform ones as Firefox and OpenOffice.
- The popping and blinking icons in the dock annoy me. I have to say that I prefer the normal Linux/Windows paradigm of having a little icon in the status bar instead. Adium has one, but it seems to do nothing, and it’s ugly as heck.
Advantage OS X
- There are some really nice software for OS X that doesn’t exist for Linux, like Keynote and OmniGraffle. Sure, they cost money, and there are Linux alternatives but they are usually trickier to use, and not as easy and quick to make really super-nice stuff.
- The integration with mobile phones really rocks. I can sync my phonebook and calendar to my phone over bluetooth. So I get a backup of my addressbook, and as a bonus, it shows up in Skype. I can also add online calendars to iCal and they will end up in my phone too, when I sync them.
- Ukulele. I have been looking for an application that can help me remap my keys under Linux for quite some time. I found some old unsupported one (after having looking for years) that used a deprecated way of remapping keys that I couldn’t get to work consistently (although I didn’t try that hard). Ukulele works fine for OS X. If I stay I will remap the keyboard.
- I do like that the Dock merges the list of running applications and start menu. It takes less space, and is a good idea. I like the list of windows at the bottom of the screen that you have in Windows/Ubuntu too, switching to a specific window is a bit faster that way, but if you have loads of windows running, this is better. I don’t generally, I try to keep the amount of running applications low, but I’ve noticed I’m quite alone in that. So in my case a Dock or Start Menu+Window buttons is a very minimal issue. But from a principal standpoint, I prefer the dock.
OK, that’s the things I’ve come up with so far. Please come with views and more lists of benefits in the comments. Convince me! Is OS X right for me, or should real developers use Ubuntu? Especially apprecieated is comments from fellow Python and Plone developers, but anybody who has used both OS’s are welcome to chip in!