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Ubuntu vs OS X: The deathmatch!

November 10, 2008

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.

Advantage Ubuntu

  • 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!

From → linux, mac, plone, python

  1. Nice post!

    I’ve favored LInux for a long time. But, I switched to OS X in my new job. Here’s why:

    a. I work in a large public company, and MS Exchange and Office are everywhere. Yeah, I know about the Office alternatives, but the most reliable way to be consistent is to use MS software. That means either running Windows in a VM (Gaaaa!) or MS software on something…i.e., a Mac. MS’ Mac Office includes Entourage, which is Outlook run over by a car.

    b. I’ve tended to laptops in recent years. Linux on a laptop ain’t pretty.

    c. I have many things to worry about in my new job. Buying into OS X means getting a ton of software (including OSS applications!) that “just work” in my development environment.

    d. I hate Cygwin on Windows. (Beingalmost the same as something else is worse than not having something at all. “This is identical! Except for these 2 pages of differences….. Gaaaaa!) But OS X has Bash. Mama, I’m home.

    e. Technically, Darwin is OSS, right?



  2. Good points. But a) doesn’t apply to me, I haven’t touched Office since 2001, and OpenOffice has so far handled my office files just fine. I’m not gonna install MS Office under Mac OS X either.
    b) Ubuntu has always worked well on my laptop. It seems to work well on the MacBook 4,1 that I have according to others reports, although configuring up the trackpad so it works well and installing drivers for the microphone and webcam isn’t automatic. But there are docs for that, so that’s OK. Can’t be much worse than actually getting the keyboard to be useable under OS X. 😉
    c) That’s exactly the experience I had with Ubuntu.
    d) Yes, me too. Windows is not an option.

    Thanks for the input!

  3. Bill Goldberg permalink

    I don’t really care what other people use, but I’m at home in Linux.

    I like the terminal and terminal apps like apt, mpd, … too much to ever use something else.

    To only thing I can say to you is that OSX is expensive.

    Unlike most linux distros, you actually have to pay for upgrades!

  4. I didn’t ask you to care. 🙂

    But you have point in that upgrade cost is drawback for OS X.

  5. More things:

    Advantage Ubuntu: Sbackup can backup to network drives, so I can backup my computer easily for free.

    Advantage OS X: Time Machine is really cool, and you can easily get older versions of documents back. If you attach a HD or buy an expensive Time Capsule.

  6. Many things here are a matter of taste. There’s probably no right choice between Ubuntu and OSX. Ubuntu is stunningly good. I’m tempted myself every time I use it.

    That said, OSX on Mac hardware gets close care-free computing. I haven’t encountered a single device that wouldn’t work after simply plugging it in, be it a digital camera, some printer or indeed a phone. And stuff like your iSight Just Works ™, just as well as putting your laptop to sleep by simply closing the lid. Open it up again and it’s back in under 5 seconds. That’s invaluable to someone who commutes from home to the office. It just does the Right Thing ™ for me.

    You mention Time Machine as well, another feature that makes things care-free. I no longer forget to make backups and they don’t take ages either. Certainly they don’t take any of MY time because they’re automatic. I think all this is already worth the occasional upgrade costs of ~€120 every two years or so. And what the heck, it’s a business expense 🙂

    Btw, you can hide the dock and disable dock bouncing. I don’t use the dock much, I just Cmd+Tab through the apps and launch new ones with Spotlight. In fact, I use Spotlight to open a lot of things (documents, calendar items, etc.). It’s yet another one of those care-free features: I no longer have to worry about where I kept that one particular information. Was it in a file and if so, in which folder? Was it in an email? It just doesn’t matter anymore.

    I’m sure much of this can be achieved with Linux, and I’d love to give Ubuntu a try some day. But then it’d have to be on very good hardware, one that’s comparable to the Mac. And then I could buy a Mac too. And why run Linux on a Mac when you can have OSX? Well, I can come up with only two practical reasons:

    1) Compiling open-source software can sometimes be a bit of a pain on OSX. In fact, I have an Ubuntu VM just for that purpose. It rarely need it but it does happen.
    2) The X11 integration could be better. I use Emacs and Mathematica on X11 (they run on a remote machine) on a daily basis and I manage, but the little things sometimes annoy me (e.g. the clipboard that isn’t properly synced between OSX and X11).

  7. Sbackup is automatic too. And I don’t have to buy the horrendously expensive time capsule, it can backup over ssh to another of my machines. But the restore interface isn’t as cool or useable, you don’t get to see previews of the documents to browser through. So it’s very much a question if you thing 300 euros for a time capsule is worth that feature or not.

    I unhid the dock, put it to the right, and I hope this is gonna make the notification bounce less annoying. We’ll see. 🙂

  8. Danny Navarro permalink

    Having used Debian before, I started using Mac OS X 1 year ago for development but I’m going to install Debian again in my next office desktop.

    The main reasons to switch at work:

    – Fink and macports does not have as many packages as Debian repositories. Fink is very slow to compile and macports.
    – The mpkg packages install and set too many things magically, the uninstallers, if provided, is usually not perfect like old Windows. After some time using Leopard I feel like reinstalling it from scratch. I’m really missing apt-get and dpkg.
    – The Mac OS X window manager really sucks and haven’t found a way to customize it. I can do everything with the keyboard in Mac OS X but every time I open a new window I find myself using the mouse to resize and position. It’s a pain for the terminal and MacVim. Window managers in Linux are usually smarter or can be customized.
    – Spaces are not as good as the virtual desktops you have in Linux.
    – No powerful iTunes alternative. I’m using Songbird but it’s not there yet. I got fed up with iTunes.

    The killer applications of Mac OS X for me are Omnifocus and Quicksilver. While for Omnifocus I don’t have a good alternative I can survive with MonkeyGTD and for Quicksilver it seems GnomeDo does what I always do with quicksilver.

    I thought of Keynote and OmniGraffle as a big plus for Mac OS X but after one year I found out that didn’t use them at all. The OS X dock was another advantage in the beginning but ended up hiding it because I only used cmd-tab.

    Overall in Linux I have the feeling I know, or can get to know, what is going on with my system.

    Having said so, I would say both Ubuntu and Mac OS X are almost equally good for me. I will keep using Mac OS X at home for occasional development but for everyday development I’m going back to Linux.

  9. Many interesting points there. I really like the Ubuntu package system as well, as mentioned, and hearing that macports isn’t just not as integrated but simply not as good is not very encouraging.

    I agree that the window management sucks. Yes I know, somebody has some idiotic reason for why you shouldn’t maximize windows. But I usually do want my browser window maximized. Maybe that changes when I buy a big monitor, which I hope to do soon. But my IDE should be maximized anyway. Luckily it does that when I press the zoom button anyway, so it’s OK.

    I usually play music on another computer altogether, so iTunes is no big deal for me. And when sprinting there is usually always somebody with an AirPort, and I have been miffed that there is no Ubuntu software to stream to an AirPort. That said I don’t think there is a really good music player in Ubuntu either. My multimedia machine runs Freevo, which is acceptable as an MMC but needs stupid amounts of configuration.

    It is definitely a close match between Ubuntu and OS X. It’s going to be very hard to make up my mind.

  10. Shane kerns permalink

    Ever considered backwards compatibility? The term “Backwards compatible” is latin to OS X, I don’t think it exists in their dictionary. Even Windoze products try to be backwards compatible. Its very likely that if you try to install a new version of OS X (when it comes out) it probably won’t work as well or won’t work at all on the system you currently have.
    I speak from experience. Apple wants you to pay for everything.

  11. Oh, that sounds worrying. Do you have any more examples?

    I of course know of the problems with Apple switching OS to OS X, but thet type of switch isn’t likely anytime soon, and neither is another processor change. They finally caved in and decided to use what everyone else uses. 🙂 But does programs usually stop working even between OS X upgrades?

    Since some of the reason for OS X is the commercial SW available, that would make it much less appealing.

  12. Neo permalink

    Ubuntu 64 bit is my Personal Jesus. nuff said.

  13. Bob C. permalink

    FOSS!!! Yeah, Linux distros are free as in beer, but they’re also free as in “Freedom”. While MS and Apple are the masters of monopolistic practices, Ubuntu is supported by the most amazing community of geeks the computer world has ever seen. Couple that with the search efficiency of Google, and all software problems are solvable. Well, “most” problems. I use Ubuntu and Debian Lenny, and would never consider using either MS or Apple. Just the thought of using Vista makes me break into a cold sweat, and my knees get weak, and I forget my mother-in-law’s first name. So there’s no choice for me, and GNU/Linux wins by default !! Oh yeah!

  14. Lewis permalink

    I use both Ubuntu and Mac regularly. I use the terminal in OS X to ssh to my home computer and school servers to do software development and work on the servers I manage. But I also use Eclipse, and Safari in OS X to meet rest of my regular computer needs. The hardware is excellent, and it always works. Especially when I watch movies and dvd’s, or load up my Ipod.

  15. CelloFellow permalink

    Dont know if you want to do it this way, but you can develop software using a subset of Macs Cocoa API using GNUStep. GNUStep runs on Windows and Linux, and is an implementation of the OPENSTEP API. Cocoa is built on OPENSTEP. You can use it to develop native Mac apps in Objective C on Linux.

  16. Umm… the backwards compatible thing is bunk. I’ve run Leopard on an old 1GHz G4 PowerBook. Yeah, it was slow, but come on… you’re not going to be running Vista on P2 and you sure wouldn’t want to run KDE4 on one either.

    Software changes, everyone thinks eye candy is cool, and hardware is cheap. Computers are faster now, space is pretty much a non-issue due to high capacity and low cost drives so guess what… *everything* bloats. That’s not unique to OS X. I dare you to benchmark KDE4 to KDE2.

    That being said, I’ve been using OS X on my desktop, full-time, for years (since 10.2 or 10.3, don’t remember which). Paying for upgrades is minor. Apple has done the work, they’re entitled to some reward for it. I would *hope* the same attitude is present to some degree in the OSS world and people reward the folks who put together their OS by buying a boxed copy or making a donation or giving back to some degree.

    The quality of apps on OS X is nice. I’ve been using (and working, daily, on) Linux for almost a decade now. For a server, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s rock-solid and works well. On the desktop, however, I still find I need to monkey with it too much to get things either a) working or b) working right. Doesn’t matter which distro (personally, I’m not at all a fan of Ubuntu finding it less hardware-friendly than some other distros, like Mandriva). When I was younger and was new to Linux, fixing this stuff and learning was fun. Now I’m older, have a family, have more steep work demands, and I just don’t have the time. I need my computer to work, and I need it to work well. I don’t have time to fiddle with it.

    And OS X gives me that. In spades.

    I’ve also never been afraid of spending money. I’ve donated to various projects, I’ve paid for multiple upgrades of vmware and komodo. If something works, works well, and saves me time, then it’s worth spending money on (well, if the price is reasonable). Apple’s pricing is reasonable considering how often they make a release. They’re not gouging… just look at Windows for horrid examples of that.

    I say if you want to use OS X, use it. I do. Want to use Linux? Go for it. I use that too. I run OS X on my primary workstation and one laptop. Mandriva is on the other two laptops and my two servers. pfSense is on my firewall. The VPS I have runs CentOS. Who cares? Use what fits best. If I thought FreeBSD would make a better desktop than OS X, I’d be using it… regardless of cost.

    Cost is in the eye of the beholder. If Linux is free but causes me wasted time because this or that didn’t work, or this kernel flaked out and decided to kill my network card, well.. it’s no longer cheap. My time is expensive.. just ask my clients. $150 or whatever I paid for Tiger is nothing compared to what it saves me in terms of time and sanity. And the money I’ve paid on commercial apps (like Launchbar, VMware Fusion, Komodo, EagleFiler, DayLite, PathFinder, whatever) has all been a worthwhile expense to me because they work, work well, and save me time.

    And, FWIW, I use irssi and mutt. Compiled from source. I have fink installed. It compiles fast. I use screen like a crack addict uses crack. I ssh to my Linux boxen to do administration. I mount NFS shares. I do the same stuff I did on Linux, without the headaches. $150 every two years is peanuts for that.

  17. qingpeng permalink

    I am using OS x.
    I like it!

  18. Anonymous permalink

    OS X is too much bloated. Mail itself is 289 Mb (on my office Mac) WTF !!! For comparison my full Debian install with all development tools is under a Gig.

    Moreover Apple hardware sucks. You cant even upgrade a simple thing like the video card. Their laptops are worse and butt ugly. My Thinkpad (also running Debian) with its solid design, an awesome keyboard/trackpoint is so much better and looks much more elegant.

    Macs are good for people who dont know much about computers.

  19. Thank you, Anonymous Coward, for that unhelpful rant. It can be noted that the MacBook from a hardware point of view totally rocks.

  20. Anonymous permalink

    I wasnt ranting. I have a G5 at work and have been using it since the last 5 years.

    OS X is just okay and that too because it is based on FreeBSD. An OS which Apple actually wrote all by itself was Mac OS and we all know how that ended up being. And dont even get me started on the bloat Quicktime and iTunes are.

    In my last post I pointed out the size of Mail and it is ~289 Mb. Do you really think an email client should be of that size? Tell me one good piece of s/w that came out of Cupertino (Though I would agree that the combination of Adobe’s Photoshop/Illustrator and OS X has been pretty awesome and the Linux alternatives just dont cut it)

    If you like OS X just because it can do tricks like Expose then I have nothing to say. But if you want a dev friendly OS then get a cheap Dell box with the latest NVIDIA card and install Linux alongwith vim/emacs/eclipse etc. You will have access to some neat tools (unlike the broken and rarely updated/patched ones from macports) and will be much more productive.

    I agree that Linux on laptops used to be ugly but things have really changed over the last 3-4 years. Every feature on my Thinkpad works flawlessly with Linux.

    But again if I am buying a desktop/laptop for my parents then I would definitely go with a Mac. Heck I like the mac mini form factor myself and might even get it and then run linux on it.

  21. You didn’t read what I write, did you? Ah well, I guess it’s my own fault, I did ask for flames, I just didn’t think anybody would take it seriously.

  22. bugsbunny permalink

    You can install a Dock in Ubuntu. Try either avant-window-navigator or cairo-dock. Both are found in Universe. Avant-window-navigator (awn) requires a compositing window manager (eg Compiz).

    For remapping the keyboard have you tried keytouch (and keytouch-editor, both in Universe)?

  23. Keytouch claims to be an editor for all the extra keys, like multimedia keys etc. MacBook doesn’t even have any. 😉

  24. Bob Sargent permalink

    I’ve really enjoyed this column of comments/rants. I am of the opinion that I shouldn’t have to pay for good software. I’ve been a linux user for quite a long while now. I’ve only recently started using Ubuntu on my laptops (because it just works… for me) and a couple of gentoo machines that I built to learn how to really work in linux (because it doesn’t just work. 🙂

    I’ve been quite impressed with the looks of the various apple flavors I’ve seen… and I have a boss who wouldn’t use anything BUT a mac. He says it’s the best operating system ever made, and for him that might be the truth.

    For myself, I can see the benefit of all the different systems. I wouldn’t try (anymore) to convince my wife or kids to switch to linux (they’re windoze users) and though I’ve switched in and out of windoze myself a number of times over the years and continue to make my living programming windoze machines, I’ll probably forever stay on linux.

    Just one man’s opinion.

  25. My iMac is in the shops, awaiting a replacement DVD drive. The problem with Macs is that if they go wrong, they’re hellishly difficult to repair.

    In terms of OSs, I think it’s horses for courses. OS X is polished, and so are the apps. There is more “just work”iness to them. Linux apps also seem to waste more desktop space, and appear clunkier. OTOH, in terms of free software, Ubuntu wins. MacPorts kinda gets there, but it’s not in the same league as Ubuntu. Also, Ubuntu has a canonical (forgive the pun) selection of software. You want Python, you got Python. I don’t have to think about which Python I want, or where it’s being installed. Do I want Apple’s version of Python (probably not!), the one from MacPorts, the one from Fink, the one from the Python website, which? Each seems to have its pros and cons. With Ubuntu, it’s not something I have to worry about. In fact, it’s not even something I have to install – it’s available straight off the bat.

  26. James Marhsall permalink

    I’ve used Ubuntu for a long time, and i couldn’t be happier. My friend has a mac, and while i like using it, i wouldn’t pay so much for it. Macs are easier to use, and you can get used to them quickly, but if you spend a few days tinkering with Linux, you’ll get the hang of it. I would rather spend an hour or two getting used to Open Office than spending hundreds on a copy of MS Office 2007. Mac’s are great, and if they were priced the same as PCs, i’d probably be using one. If you’re an artist, get a mac. But you’re not. You’re a programmer. There’s no point paying for an OS that’s designed for people who couldn’t care less about price, and just want easy to use software, and artists. If you really like the look and feel of a mac, just get a theme for Ubuntu, and install a dock. As was mentioned before, Ubuntu has the best community of geeks I’ve ever seen, and they’re all extremely helpful.

  27. Jim permalink

    If you value your time at, say, $20 an hour, then why wouldn’t you spend money on something that’s easier to use?

    If you save 10 hours of your time then that’s $200 of value to you. If you’re not already a geek I’d bet you’d need to invest a lot more than 10 hours of time to use Ubuntu to the same level of proficiency as Windows or OS X.

    That’s the reason most people stick to Windows or OS X — not even because it’s easier to use, per se, but most people have had exposure to those operating systems, know how they work, and don’t need an investment of more time and energy into learning them.

    On the other hand, if you simply derive pleasure from learning and tinkering, that’s altogether a different discussion.

    • This is completely correct, and that’s exactly why I still would recommend OS X to anyone who isn’t a computer geek, or have an innate fear of keyboards. I also recommend Ubuntu to those who are computer geeks, and recommend Windows to masochists and people I don’t like.

  28. Barry permalink

    I am currently using three Apple branded computers ( a black PowerBook 5300ce, a iBook G4, and a white MacBook) , two of these are five years old, the PowerBook and the iBook G4, and I am currently running OS X on all of them. To respond to the myth that you cannot upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS on older hardware, my iBook G4 , through to hacks, is running Mac OS X Leopard absolutely wonderfully. Another reason to use OS X rather than Ubuntu is support. With Ubuntu, your only source of trouble shooting is through their forums, while with Apple, you can go to the nearest Apple Store, and sit down with a fully qualitifed Genius (tech support), and they can run through dianostics and even reinstall the OS right in front of you.

    • Your only source of trouble shooting is through their forums

      This is totally incorrect. There are many other options, including commercial support from Canonical themselves,

      through dianostics and even reinstall the OS right in front of you.

      Oooh, wow. What geniuses… They can reinstall an OS. Oooh!
      [sorry for the sarcasm, but honestly…]

  29. Barry permalink

    My apologies to the incorrect statement about the support of Linux . However, with any Apple product, you get perfect hardware/software integration, and the absence of installing any drivers at all, as they are provided with the OS, weather it be OS 9 or OS X. And to respond to the Genius bar, these people at the afore mentioned Genius bar, are extremely helpful at diagnosing any problem, meaning more involved dianogistics than simply reinstalling the OS. Yet another reason to use the Macintosh OS is Time Machine, which is a far more automated process than in Linux.

  30. Yes, you don’t need to install drivers in OS X as long as you only buy Apple hardware, because Apple ship all their drivers with their OS. Whoo. Perfect integration, indeed. However, I haven’t installed one single driver when I installed Ubuntu on my Macbook. Because they all came with Ubuntu. Thats how things work in Linux, typically. All the drivers are open source, and therefore they just include them all. No need to download and install anything.

    And yes, the tech support are helpful with diagnosing problems, That’s what they are supposed to do. That goes for Linux tech support too, in fact often it is true for the other users that hang on the free support in the forums. I personally have never had any need for Linux tech support, the Ubuntu community is extremely helpful and competent. But fine, I’m a programmer, I’m not really expected to have any use of tech support. 🙂

    In the Ubuntu repository, there is a program called sbackup. It will take backups automatically to another harddisk over the network. Just like Time Machine. It’s exactly as automated.

    So all in all Barry, you are having some excellent arguments for OS X being just as good as Ubuntu. But you have yet to come with one argument that shows that it’s better.

  31. matt permalink

    I’ve used three operating systems over the years. Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu.

    Windows isn’t customizable enough and always needs to be fixed. It does the opposite of “Just Works”.

    OS X is bloated and overrated. It may look nice, but that’s about it.

    Ubuntu is greatly customizable and has thousands of free programs availible in just a few clicks. You can even mod GNOME to look just like OS X and Compiz-Fusion is amazing.

    I know Ubuntu doesn’t work for EVERYONE, but it worked for me right out of the box and I couldn’t be happier.

  32. dillbyrne permalink

    i use ubuntu, and i love it, you can customise literally EVERYTHING, it can do nearly everything that windows and mac can do and its free, sure there might be hardware problems here & there, but who hasnt had windows crash or lag, computers are supposed to run for years they are not designed to crash but its accepted due to microsoft, im sure mac is more efficient due to the fact its unix based ,

    but look at it like this , people are being paid to test mac and windows while the linux user at all levels tests fixes and reports bugs and provides help, you couldn’t fund the cost of that support / testing ect. also lots of those users are professionals in their respective fields in the industry, so they know what they’re talking about. the fact that the code is open source means its going to be thoroughly looked over and over again and again, ask your self how many eyes are looking at the code??,

    also bugs are fixed much quicker in linux os’s over any other os’s, if the linux community was to drive a single os it would destroy the other two… doubt but at the end of the day choice is part of the freedoms afforded by open source!

  33. Malih permalink

    I guess many people have pointed out detailed things here about Ubuntu and OS X, and I agree for programmers and developers alike Ubuntu is a good solid choice. But if you’re in the market for Photoshop or certain features of it, then think OS X. And I agree efficiency of work is number one here, so that should be accounted for.

    I don’t understand the hatred for Windows here, I mean if you already have PC, you can do many different things with Windows, they have lots of software ranging from free to paid ones, they even have Photoshop for Windows (now they don’t have that for Ubuntu, don’t mention GIMP, they’re way too different, and don’t mention OS X here, I was saying ‘if you already have PC’).
    It’s not that I’m a fanboy of Windows or something, but they have software developer support and they have varied range of software to choose from, and of course, these days, WIndows are mostly advantageous for Gamers.

    • Yeah, good for Gamers. Sucks for most everything else. Linux is definitely better as a developer platform. OS X better as a typical office OS. Windows advantage is games, because it has them, because of the size, and enterprise support, because it has it, because of size.

      So, if you must use Windows for some reason, then use it. But it still, as an OS in itself, is the worst of the three.

  34. Michael permalink

    @Vincent Danen

    Something in your post really p*sses me off. I have gone through great troubles and lengths to setup up ubuntu on my latpop, and it works fine,
    really fine.

    I haven’t tried MacOs, but I’m not planning too. open source in general is here to stay, macos might die like windows is now. I think that using ubuntu now, even when its harder, is like investing in the future of computing.

  35. jC Brand permalink

    For me the choice is not only about practical but also about ideological considerations.

    I just can’t understand how someone who truly buys into the idea of Freedom and is passionate about open source can use Windows or Mac.

    For me this is about more than small comforts and having a “sleek” looking laptop, it’s about open source, open standards, community, cooperation and freedom from soulless money driven corporations.

    Apple is Evil.

    There… I said it.

  36. Nuno permalink

    I am with Ubuntu from the first release, I changed from windows because the reasons that everyone knows and I am studing computer systems for 5 years(I am on the last year of masters degree), at beginning I changed to Ubuntu(Linux) because I wanted to learn more, I wanted to really understand how SO works and have a different perspective, I really enjoyed that time because I was one of the few who could really work on Linux and I was also invited to work on my university`s Linux group, I was learning , I could solve problems and I was glad to watch the growing of Ubuntu ever 6 months, even my part-time job(Burger King) had switched from Windows to Ubuntu and also other companies. But now I agree with “Vincent Danen”, my time is starting to get very expensive(in spite of still enjoying to fix my Ubuntu`s problems).

    To give you some examples:
    -My university has an wireless connection(Eduroam) that I must configure every time I want to access it.
    -Since Ubuntu 8.04 I have to reconfigure my wireless card to work
    -I use openoffice to make my presentations and when I open them with M.Office all characters are unaligned.
    -The last time I receive a word file(an important one) and opened with openoffice the images were missing and I had to ask the sender to send me the images in a separate folder(Yes, I checked the configurations).
    -When I use skype I ALWAYS have problems with the video

    Every Linux user had spent a lot of time configuring and reconfiguring something on their system to make things work(sometimes). If you do not mind to do this then It is fine, I used to think that way.

    When I look back and see the time I spent resolving this issues to do something in spite of just do it, it is quite a lot.

    Personally I think time is much more important than money and in the end I do not want to look back and see that I spent 1 year of my life trying to put my internet working or finding a compatible program or put one projector working with my Ubuntu or trying to accomplish the same tasks that iLife provide within the same time.

    You pay Mac OS with your money
    You pay Linux with your time

    Mac OS is better because it allows you to do the same things in a fewer time. Some of you may say that apple computers are for people that do not know very much about computers because they are easy, and why should an operating system be hard? do you like to inspect your car`s engine or always repairing it? or do you prefer that it takes you wherever you want without complain?

    And do not forget that Mac OS is built over the Unix(do you know that Mac OS X is certified by Unix and Linux do not?), so if you like to do things hard core you can do it anyway.

    Now WWDC 2009 is about to start

    See you guys

  37. Mohit permalink


    I am with Linux. I do not use windows for reasons known to everyone (as Nuno said). For me things did not work in past. I used to struggle to get things working in Linux. I remember how i got the X windows system to work on red hat 6 on my computer.

    Now things have changed. I have not had any major problems since Ubuntu 6.06 was released. The LTS versions (supported for three years) of Ubuntu are indeed great. If you need more stability, thing about projects like Centos.

    Microsoft office might be a very good piece of software, but I prefer open office. I have my own way of solving the problems of my presentations not working on other systems since they do not have open office. Thanks to the USB technology. I carry my ubuntu on a 1GB pen drive. Things can be worked around. Over last few years I have not had people sending me unreadable stuff created in M$ software.

    I have taken a lot of benefit from Linux. Now I want to pay back in some way. I want to contribute to Linux.

    I shall also not use apple as I believe in the open source philosophy and even if I would compromise on this, I know that I can spend one hour once in three year to configure my Linux computer and it would run without any problems. I shall not give away my hard earned money to apple(forget M$)

  38. Sid permalink

    > And do not forget that Mac OS is built over the Unix(do you know that Mac OS X is certified by Unix and Linux do not?), so if you like to do things hard core you can do it anyway.

    ehem … linux = linux is not unix …

    More governments are choosing Linux (France, China, Germany for start), NASA prefers Linux … who prefers Mac? Only for pretty looks in Holywood movies.

    I agree with Mohit that Linux hard to install/configure is a thing of the past. I’m using Ubuntu 9.04 … it is very easy to install and configure … more options more freedom

  39. Marius permalink

    How about some 3d modeling in Linux ( like Maya) or how about great programs like Photoshop etc etc that are not available for Linux distros… As the iPhone campaign said “there’s an app for that”! sure that costs money but in the end all costs money. and for that money you get support etc…

    btw did you know that support for Ubuntu Desktop
    – starter support costs £ 34.73 / year
    – advanced support costs £ 72.63 / year
    – professional support costs £ 138.03 / year
    ( link for verifications: )
    so in the end it’s not so cheap after all, but that is for individuals/companies who needs support.

    Mac Books Pros are great laptops. best design I’ve ever seen ( tried dell, HP, Toshiba) great battery life.

  40. Sid permalink

    3d modeling? Try Blender … 3d modeling, 3d animator, 3d renderer, and you can make interactive 3d (3d game) … all for free

    About paid support. I’ve used Ubuntu for few years now, never need paid support. I don’t know anyone who does. Paid support is for corporation and big-ish companies.

    “Mac Books Pros are great laptops. best design I’ve ever seen”

    Agreed. I’m trying to score one on online auction. But most likely will install Ubuntu on it.

  41. Lon Baker permalink

    I am typing this from a brand new 13″ Macbook Pro, which is running Ubuntu 9.10 solely – with no Mac OS X partition.

    Having been a Mac guy since Photoshop was version 1.0 and Apple made the only laser printer, I am what you call a “mac guy”.

    I love their platform, the attention to detail that they currently put into both their software and hardware.

    That said, I spend most of my days writing web apps, working with databases and prototyping new services for my business.

    I bought Apple hardware so that I have the option of using either of the best operating systems on the planet. Linux or Mac OS X.

    I could have paid less for the hardware and gotten a cheap plastic Dell, but then my options would be limited to a great OS (linux) and a crappy one (windows).

    I want the best of both worlds. So I got a mac!

  42. Lon Baker permalink


    If and Ableton Live ran on Ubuntu, I would probably never need to boot Mac OS X again.

    Then again, maybe I will fall out of love with Linux. It happens. 😉

  43. Kyle permalink

    Forget the OS cost. It’s the cost of the hardware that gets me. I bought a XP-based Asus EEE PC ahwile ago and installed Ubuntu, set up CPU scaling, and I get about 2.5-3 hrs of battery out of it. Only cost $250. Cheapest MacBook is $999.

  44. I prefer Mac OS X to Ubuntu, but that’s more related to what I need an operating system to do, rather than OS X being “better” than Ubuntu or anything like that. I’ve used both, and I just feel that OS X does what I want in a way that’s more efficient for me. I feel a lot more comfortable in the Mac’s UI than I do that of Ubuntu, even though I have to say that Ubuntu’s UI is far from *bad*.

    I don’t mind a little bit of tweaking, but I tend to see computers as more of a tool than an end in themselves, and Ubuntu, in its current state, is more geared towards those who feel comfortable poking around under the hood in order to get their computers to do what they want.

    OS X has great compatibility with the apps I use, and is a lot less bloated than Windows is. I do think that Ubuntu is a good pick for devs and other people who need specialised software for servers and programming, like emacs and vi.

    So, I’m a Mac user because it’s most practical for me, but I think that it’s really up to individual users to pick the OS that fits them the best.

  45. Karl Ernst permalink

    Ich arbeitete lange unter Windows, ann unter vielen Linux Distris. Letzendlich (und ja, ich weiß, dass Apple teuer ist) landete ich bei Mac.

    In unsere Familie ist Mac OS X mit Abstand das beliebteste Betriebssystem. Windows ist vollkommen weg. Ich schätze Mac OSX sehr. Und für mich hat es in allen belangen vorteile gegenüber Linux. Das Argument – kostet nix zählt für mich nicht. Ich bin in der Lage und gerne bereit Geld hierfür auszugeben.

    Unter Linux war ich lange bei Suse, etc – hier hat sich für mich klar Ubuntu als meine Lieblingsdistr. entpupt – und auf unseren Netbooks,kommt ausschließlich Ubuntu zum laufen. Klare Sache.

    Weiter so Ubuntu!

  46. eric huang permalink

    i have a macbook pro. i installed ubuntu on it via parallels desktop (its not just for windows you know). i didn’t try yet. i have to,

  47. laranjeiro permalink

    Hi. I have a MacBook with dual boot, osx and ubuntu. For developers try run a python game in linux and in osx and you’ll see the diference. Ubuntu is way faster than osx. I use ubuntu for work and osx for everything else.

  48. Orod permalink

    nice comments. I’ve read all your notes, but they all have been talking about technical issues. I think Ubuntu (Linux in general) has a huge advantage against Mac, which didn’t directly mentioned here. The point is regardless of Mac is good or bad, or its hardware rocks or not, Mac is a trap. As soon as you start using Mac, you’re trapped in that and you can’t get yourself away from that.


  49. GloomBloomBoom permalink

    Why chose just one. Since ubuntu is free, just buy a mac and dual boot. Or go for the cheaper and geekier option and build a hackintosh and dual boot with linux. I always test my os’es in Virtualbox before installing to my hdd. In fact, my desktop pc triple boots leopard, vista and debian(squeeze). I recommend debian over ubuntu beacause it uses half the ram for the same apps.

  50. Akshay Jain permalink

    I have been using windows for all my life (5-6 years till now) and I found it ok. But then I had to use mac, which looked good at first and I had a very hard time using it. I also dual booted my laptop to run Win7 and Ubuntu 10.10 and right now I am fan of Ubuntu, it is just fast. Runs smoothly. Though there have been some glitches but online forum are always there to help. Now I use windows for gaming only, for everything else I use Ubuntu. And I have to use mac, because of XCode.

  51. Ben permalink

    Your comparison of the Mac OSX dock and the bottom bar of the gnome desktop in Ubuntu is interesting.

    As soon as I install Ubuntu, I copy my ‘Admin’ folder – which has scripts for conky, and startups – so I use AWN to run my notifications up the edge of the screen, conky for information, and launch Docky (the Dock) and gnome-do at startup.

    I’m starting to use Synapse now, a very nice app. I prefer a clean desktop with no top or bottom panel, notification area paints (using AWN) with no theme – onto the desktop itself (and is behind – takes no space).

    I would say, however, that if money was no object, I wouldn’t mind throwing a few thousand bucks away for an iMac instead of a few hundred for a cheap HP – but then really my computer doesn’t make me money, so it’s not worth it. It handles what I need – plays movies nicely on the TV while I work on the monitor – and has no issues about upgrading a graphics card, or RAM, or mouse without taking out a loan.

    • With the new Unity interface, the dock functionality is in Ubuntu is very nice and out of the box (although Unity has it’s issues still).

  52. Kensworth Williams permalink

    both are better than windows 🙂

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