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Author Topic: Linux or Mac: Which is the better alternative to Windows?  (Read 9671 times)
zridling
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« on: August 01, 2007, 10:54:05 PM »

Serdar Yegulalp  and Mitch Wagner over at InformationWeek give their respective takes on Ubuntu Linux vs. Mac with Linux vs. Mac: Which Is The Better Alternative To Microsoft Windows? Doesn't go into detail, but a very nice overview of the current state of these two alternatives.


GNU/Linux


OS X

To this day, I could never afford a Mac, so you know my choice is GNU/Linux.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 11:00:55 PM by zridling » Logged

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icekin
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007, 07:08:15 AM »

I use Linux and Windows at the moment. I have used mac extensively at college though I never owned one. I think that Mac is a good alternative for people who want something that works and simple as a calculator to operate. The feature set might be limited, but so are most mac user's needs from what I've noticed. Linux, especially Ubuntu has become easy to use, but I still think it has a while to go. Driver support is still an issue and many widescreen laptops, such as mine are not properly supported.

At any rate, I don't see either of these displacing Windows on desktop anytime soon. While all three operating systems are about equal in capabilities, the wealth of software available for Windows gives it an enormous edge. I will personally never go to an OS which I can't tweak the hell out of (Linux is actually good for that).
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nontroppo
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2007, 04:21:11 PM »

After we evaluated Vista, and after I had fought on and off with Linux, several of our university department have moved Mac-ward bound. With University pricing, workstations are cheaper from Apple than Dell (strange-but-true), and as we have a sitewide Microsoft licence, Bootcamp turns them into dual-boot workhorses easily.

I *love* Apple's superior typography support, system-wide ligatures :-) However I suffer iTunes  Angry. Overall, I spend as much time as possible in OS X, as once the switch-shock wears off, I really like it. The unix base makes tweaking lots of fun and I disagree about feature set icekin - there are lots of settings and advanced technologies in OS X, and the freeware scene is very active[1]. I have Ubuntu on my old laptop, and I had a terrible time failing to get wireless working, and it still doesn't understand widescreen laptop screen resolution without hacking xserver configs. My problem with Apple is lock-in. I now really respect OS X overall and would love to have it run on any hardware. The rest is irrelevant - mouse keyboard, screens - one can use anything, but legally running OS X anywhere isn't possible.

----
[1] I love tweaking, and did so extensively in Windows. I indeed tweak the hell out of my browser. I have not missed anything with OS X, if anything, the technology base (much better systemwide scripting support and automation baked into the core OS, including hooks into the *nix base) makes tweaking endlessly pleasurable.
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2007, 07:48:13 PM »

Er... have to agree with nontroppo about the "tweakability" of OSX (though I'm still running 10.2x!) but need to point out, as icekin does, that the biggest stumbling block is application compatability. Yes, I know I can spend a premiium on an Apple machine (with half the RAM of a PC that costs a fraction...) and run BootCamp or something and have my cake and eat it too, but consider that I'd first have to buy a copy of Windows to make this happen. That's another $100 minimum to be factored into the cost of switching to Mac (well, for me anyway as both my copies of XP are OEM and Win2k is getting a bit long in the tooth). Then there's the PIA factor associated with having to switch back and forth between OS's. No thanks. I like Macs but the premium is too high. I'll stick with Windows and if forced away will look to Linux, where I know I can tweak to my heart's content and download Open Source apps that are good analogues for their Windows shareware counterparts. Also, I know damn well that I can run any Linux distro available on any of the hardware that I already own - wouldn't have to spend a penny on a new computer if I did it. Actually, I'd happily switch today if there were better options for my work specific applications available. My plan is to shove a bigger harddrive into my Win2k machine and dual boot it with Ubuntu and start learning the OS and the software that is available for it.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2007, 04:13:27 AM »

Indeed, I have only used Intel Macs, where Windows support is native. Actually, Parallels and VMWare Fusion have an amazing mode where the guest and host OS windows live in the same space. You can use Word 2007, Mac Photoshop CS3, IE7 as if it was the same OS, weird but useful; you have to see it to believe it! But most Mac apps do what I need anyway (and CS3 works faster on Mac than PC ATM), apart from Matlab, which although Intel compatible in the latest release is quite clunky (it is derived from the Linux version).

Oh, lots of open-source stuff from the *nix world makes it onto OS X, and indeed there are two large repositories of OS *nix utilities available; including most X Apps via Apple's X Server.

Darwin: definitely worth dual-booting Ubuntu, good fun to play with, but boy does linux drain time trying to get everything working ;-)
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Darwin
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2007, 08:50:53 AM »

nontroppo - can you transfer data between a native OSX app and a native Windows app (running in Parallels) in "realtime"?
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2007, 09:03:28 AM »

I think it's strange that none of you think freedom is important.

MacOSX is still a proprietary closed system, while there are (a few) truely Free GNU/Linux distributions out there that do not ship with DRM, closed source drivers, and free software that you can share and edit without worrying about lawyers, or backdoors in mysterious binaries.

That freedom is worth more than me than any feature or ease of use or application/driver availability.

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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2007, 09:27:38 AM »

Gothic: my reason for not even considering going Mac is just that. Not with closed-source OS/ free software, but with the way they handle hardware. I don't like the idea of having to use only apple's hardware/software.
Also, the lack of choice is a problem. ("you get what we give you and there's nothing else")

For me, the perfect world would be windows + linux in something like parallels, so that i could take the best of both worlds.
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Darwin
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2007, 09:50:22 AM »

Yeah, I'm with JoĆ£o on this one... I object to being tied to Apple hardware and am not even considering a new Mac (my sister gave me my current iBook when she wanted to upgrade to a newer system - she bought a PC), just curious about the state of things.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2007, 01:19:02 PM »

Darwin: yes, I can drag-n-drop between desktops, or copy-n-paste text etc. One can set up shared directories or share the entire drive via each OS during VM use transparently. Parallels even allows you to set up universal default apps, so you can get Mac Photoshop to open .psd files but Win IrfanView to open .TIF files for example! Some Mac users have actually complained at how unified the two OSes have become, mostly due to security fears of Windows.

There is little data that is really locked to any OS, i interoperate with my Windows using colleagues without issue. And some applications are just stunning on OS X (I'm looking at you Scrivener), that my work routine has been radically improved.

Gothi[c]: Indeed I partly raised that above. To be honest though, my Macbook is the most beautiful laptop I've owned. I love little details about its design, and given a choice I would aim to buy Mac hardware again. As I said above, for workstation-class machines, Apple have better deals than Dell who we have to buy through at my University, so for us, the benefits far outweigh the negatives (and Mac Pros have a fantastic chassis).

However what exactly do you mean by "freedom"? OS X supports a majority of open-source software, so data is not locked in any way into OS X unless you choose to e.g. buy iTunes songs. The kernel of the OS is open-source, and currently there is none of the horrible DRM system that Vista is built on. So freedom means what in practical terms?

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2007, 01:47:10 PM »

I *think* what Gothic is driving at is the fact OSX can only be run on Apple hardware. That's my primary objection anyway, irrespective how nice their hardware might actually be. I'm sure he's also contrasting an open source OS and close sourced OS's such as Windows and OSX, but have already put enough words into his mouth/this thread  Wink

EDIT: to clarify/add to the above point about Apple hardware - as nice as their hardware is, I'd have difficulty justifying the expense (on the open market) relative to a PC, given that I can get a non-Apple notebook for at least 25% less than the price of an equivalent (when looking at CPU, graphics card, and screensize) Apple NB but that comes with double the RAM and a larger harddrive. So, nice as they are, Apple notebooks are only really compelling if my goal is to run OSX. As I like but do not love OSX, there is little point in buying one as I'd have to upgrade the RAM and the harddrive AND purchase a copy of Windows, which only serves to make the cost of buying an Apple notebook astronomical, rather than merely scandalous!
« Last Edit: August 11, 2007, 01:55:25 PM by Darwin » Logged

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zridling
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2007, 05:56:00 PM »

[nontroppo]: I *love* Apple's superior typography support....
________________________________________________
One of the big negatives I've found to many GNU/Linux distros is font rendering. Red Hat's Fedora 7 looks great; Ubuntu and its variants do not on my systems. Typographers cost a fortune for good reason. I spend 95% of my computer time reading in some fashion — web pages, code, menus, dialogs, etc. — and to see how big a difference this makes, just turn off ClearTweak for a day. Yet, with two of the "licensed" distros I've used like SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, the fonts are just as clear as those in Vista. I figure they pay to license something, even though the fonts are the same.

Gothi[c], for the average user (repeat that three times), I presume they could care less about open source, if they even know what FLOSS is. I figured they say, just give me a reliable system that's reasonably fast and they're happy. The OS should be transparent, but it's not. You, on the other hand, are probably not just looking for FLOSS software, but the best technology, best coding, best managed, etc.

I use my neighbor as an example. He just wants to know, "Can I do this, that, and that?" Yes? Then he's happy, whether it's Apple, Microsoft, or PCLinuxOS. I can't argue with that, although I can ask him questions and offer alternatives.
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2007, 06:33:24 PM »

nontroppo, I agree that OS X may be tweakable with its unix base, but tweaking out of the box for a regular user with no knowledge of the underlying UNIX is still hard. This problem is there on Linux too. On Windows, all you need is a copy of X-Setup Pro and XP Smoker.

The freeware scene for Mac might be active, but it still lacks several decent applications : A flac enabled music player with audioscrobbler support for one. In my opinion, Windows is preferred not because of the OS itself, but the wealth of programs that run on it, most of which are not even written by Microsoft. Mac and Linux might reach this point several years into the future as their user base grows.

Once the need for OS X is gone, there is no point buying a mac, since Windows and Linux can run on generic computers as well.
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f0dder
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2007, 04:08:00 AM »

Quote from: nontroppo
The kernel of the OS is open-source, and currently there is none of the horrible DRM system that Vista is built on. So freedom means what in practical terms?
Hummm, afaik only part of the Kernel is open, and you ned some non-open key in order to have everything working - and apple have gone to great lengths to make sure you can't just dump that key from a working&running system.

And then there's of course all the rest of OSX that isn't open at all.

IMHO OSX is a better/more realistc alternative to windows than linux is, but I'm not sure I'd like to switch from one proprietary system to another; if I was to switch from windows, it'd have to be to something more open. Especially considering that Apple has always tended to be worse at lock-in than Microsoft.
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2007, 05:54:33 AM »


For me, the perfect world would be windows + linux in something like parallels, so that i could take the best of both worlds.

You have VMware et al.
I guess you could run windows and a linux installation on a virtual machine; correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't parallels just a virtual machine?
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2007, 08:14:36 AM »

@urlwolf: Not quite. From what i understand, parallels allows you to run a windows program natively on OSX, on the same desktop. That's a major difference from a virtual machine, which isn't nearly as practical.

Here's a similar example with windows and linux. Too bad i wasn't able to configure it decently Sad
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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2007, 09:19:24 AM »

jgpaiva: parallels is still a virtual machine (but like vmware, it tries executing as much code as it can 'directly', although still in a virtualized environment). That it can run apps so that they look like they're running natively doesn't mean that they are smiley
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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2007, 09:26:26 AM »

My understanding is that Parallels allows you to run both Windows (and any windows apps under it) from within an OSX session and, as nontroppo reports above, move data between OSX and Windows apps.
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« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2007, 02:25:42 PM »

smiley sorry f0dder, probably "natively" shouldn't be in my post.
What i meant was what darwin said in his post. thanks
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« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2007, 04:52:03 PM »

Well, in the sense that Intel's VT technology allows the VM to run natively (no processor emulation and the like) it is partly native. but the reality is that it is a seperate VM and there is some overhead running that way (some 5% of one processor (2.5% overall) for me on average). In real terms Windows feels 'native' fast, and mixing windows and OSX windows together makes it ergonomically native (windows apps appear in the Dock, Mac apps in the Start menu too).

r.e. Freedom: As we've seen with HD DRM, the OS is becoming secondary to the principal battle run by Entertainment Industry Lawyers. If Linux and OS X users will want to watch HD DVDs, they will have to close / secure the data just as Microsoft have been so zealous to do, or just pirate it... I have serious reservations about how zealous Apple will be to drop their pants as Microsoft have done with Vista's DRM.



« Last Edit: August 13, 2007, 04:54:17 PM by nontroppo » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2007, 05:05:03 PM »

Quote
I have serious reservations about how zealous Apple will be to drop their pants as Microsoft have done with Vista's DRM.

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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2007, 05:31:55 PM »

For me, the perfect world would be windows + linux in something like parallels, so that i could take the best of both worlds.

That's what I do now. I run "XPLInux": Linux in a VMWare virtual machine running on XP with a X-server also running on XP so I can run programs on the VM but display them on my Windows desktop.  See this thread for more: "XPLinux" Running Windows XP and Kubuntu on one joint desktop
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2007, 06:19:09 PM »

@nontroppo :

Does Parallels for Mac really allows Windows apps to each run in their OWN windows (not windows  inside a window of a MS Windows desktop...), a bit like if one was using Wine on a Linux box? (that's what I understood from one of your previous post...)

According to your experience, I understand that cpu power consumption is about 5% higher, but how much more RAM (%) does it take to run both XP and OS X + the Parallels layer, all at the same time (vs running OS X alone)?

thanks
« Last Edit: August 13, 2007, 06:21:06 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2007, 06:25:56 PM »

OK. I went there and found pretty much answers to my questions... embarassed :

http://www.vmware.com/com...readID=88993&tstart=0
http://www.vmware.com/com...adID=89161&tstart=120

So, if this can happen for Linux too, I'll be switching sooner than I thought.

Here's a nice video of the VMWare "unity" feature (in VMWare Fusion) -- speaks for itself : http://www.youtube.com/wa...Dparallels%2Dcoherence%2F

VMWare fusion seems like it will surpass parallels in terms of features. Run, parallels, run...

P.S. Edit : and here's a recent review of VMware Fusion
« Last Edit: August 14, 2007, 01:00:08 AM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2007, 06:58:11 AM »

Parallels is much more feature rich than fusion actually - but it uses more CPU/RAM and has an horrifically bad support record and bug fix record. Go to their forums and weep. Actually i'm using VMWare Fusion at the moment for evaluation purposes, I've yet to choose between them.

RAM usage of the VM is good, you ideally need 2GB and assign around 768MB to windows. I regularly run Adobe Illustrator CS3 twice (win AND in Mac simultaneously!) + Matlab (win) + Word (Win) + Excel (win) + Endnote (mac) + Scrivener (mac) + Salamander (win) + Forklift (mac) + Opera (mac) + ITunes (mac) + colloquy (mac) + Terminal (mac) running a secondary external 24" monitor without any slowdowns whatsoever on my Macbook. If I run Photoshop on top of that then I'll start to get some swapping, but it is not awful.
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