Cool Linux

I have a bunch of designers at my job, and they all carry around an apple. No not the fruit, you know the vastly overpriced and over-hyped electronics brand. These guys think they are so cool with there notebooks running extremely expensive designer software. I think this is somewhat of a problem with Linux. While Linux is actually a lot cooler then apple, it’s not perceived by enough people as being cool.

Linux the cool factor, Part I and Part I.

Comments

  1. #1 Abstruse
    March 8, 2009

    My guess is that Linux is perceived to require a level of erudition that renders it “uncool”.

  2. #2 Mark
    March 8, 2009

    I can’t really agree with this at all. First, Compiz still isn’t ready for prime time, not by a long shot. Not when it (still!) doesn’t play nice with OpenGL-accelerated apps on some of the most popular video cards, and not when it can only be used on one Xorg virtual console at a time. And as for the command line interface—yeah, that can be “cool,” but OS X has also been shipping with tcsh and/or bash since day one.

    And lest I get accused of being an Apple fanboy, I’m typing this on my Inspiron 1420N running Debian Lenny. Without Compiz.

  3. #3 Daniel Fischer
    March 8, 2009

    But … the kernel of Linux is encoded in the digits of pi – as we learn from this story exactly 10 years old today. (A printout magically slipped out of a pile of old papers a few days ago, that’s why I have it here and now.)

  4. #4 MH
    March 8, 2009

    Meh, I found Compiz cool for ten minutes, then I turned most of the features off. The only things I find useful are Expo and Window Previews. Fading windows are a nice touch.

    However, Compiz is an example of one of the best things about Linux: the customizability. I loath the philosophy behind the Windows and OSX GUIs; that of “your desktop should look the way we want it to look, and you should drop to your knees and be grateful that we allow you to change the desktop background”. Uniformity makes me think of Storm-troopers.

    It’s not perfect though. For instance, it would be great to be able to customize the Nautilus toolbars in the manner that one can customize the ones in Firefox (or even WinXP). Hopefully that will happen one day.

    As for the CLI. I still shit my pants when I have to deal with that. I habitually look for a GUI solution to tasks I want to complete, even though I know that learning a few commands will allow me to achieve the same result in less time (and with more satisfaction/smugness). Alas, like so many computer users, I have been conditioned by Darth Gates’ evil empire.

    ;-)

  5. #5 Gray Gaffer
    March 8, 2009

    The author you quote has obviously never actually used a MacBook Pro for any length of time. I have both flavors – top of the line Dell and top of the line Apple. The Dell cost more and is flimsy. Also have a Gateway top of line from 3 years ago. It is so flimsy the battrery contacts disconnect when you pick it up, rendering its usefulness as a laptop moot. The place I worked got them for everybody. I went through three or four cases befores giving up – they were all the same.

    So no, not ridiculously overpriced. Just no concessions to cheapskates. And it takes a Lenovo to be really ridiculous – $8K anybody?

    As to coolth, I dunno about that. Don’t know what it means, to be exact. Apart from the GUI customizabiity (and even that is questionably not a Mac thing – not much market call for it actually), pretty much everything of any use in Linux is available for OS X anyway, if not already installed. And what does he mean by “designer software”? There’s a GUI Human User Interface standard in Apple, all apps (should) follow it, so the Apple way is universally available. Familiarity is all that is required. There are no “designer apps” that forge their own way, something that only bring confusion not kudos. Unfortunately that is the norm in Linux – every designer (!) makes up their own GUI methodology, and switching between apps is painful to finger memory.

  6. #6 Jon
    March 8, 2009

    Newsflash: what people perceive as cool is what is cool. This is both a bug and feature of cool. Sorry.

  7. #7 greg
    March 8, 2009

    I’m sitting here looking at a Lenovo and a titanium purchased the same month several years ago. The Lenovo is still running, though the battery had to be replaced once. The titanium suffered one recall, still tried to catch on fire a few times after that, never had a functioning cd/dvd drive, and stopped booting about a year ago. The Lenovo cost 1,200 and the Titanium 2,800.

    Anecdotes are not data, but they do make you wonder.

  8. #8 MH
    March 8, 2009

    GG,

    A MBP is £1400 from the Apple store (£1200 from elsewhere). I’ve just found an Acer with a better spec for £740. Are you really saying that the MBP is worth the extra?

  9. #9 Ambaron O'Coroin
    March 8, 2009

    There is a lot that is cool about Linux. Compiz is not one of them. There is also a lot that distinguishes Linux from Mac OS X. The command-line interface isn’t one of them. Many people have said interesting things about Linux. The author of these blog posts is not one of them.

    Anecdotes are not data, but they do make you wonder.

    Only if you are a lazy thinker (and I’m not suggesting you are).

  10. #10 dave
    March 8, 2009

    MH: “I’ve just found an Acer with a better spec for £740. Are you really saying that the MBP is worth the extra?”

    Buy one of each. Carry them around everywhere you go for a year. See which one survives.
    My last laptop was an Acer that went through two batteries and two motherboards in a year and a half. My current Macbook is getting close to two years old and hasn’t had any problems.
    (Of course, if you’re not planning on taking it with you, you can probably get a Mac Mini for less than the Acer.)

  11. #11 MH
    March 8, 2009

    My last Dell lasted for four years, requiring just one replacement battery (though of course the plural of anecdote is not data).

    Also, do Macs ever break in the first year?

    As for Mac Minis, they start at £500. I can get an HP Desktop for less than £400, with a better specification. Again, what am I getting extra when I buy the Mac?

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    March 8, 2009

    MH, a chance to switch sides in the OS wars and snark at a whole new set of users? Don’t tell me that doesn’t appeal to you.

  13. #13 dave
    March 8, 2009

    MH: “Also, do Macs ever break in the first year?”

    I was warned against buying recently-introduced models; but if you get one that’s been on the market for a few months and had the bugs worked out, they seem to be quite robust.
    Data: I took an informal survey before I bought my Macbook (I asked everybody I could find who had owned a Mac laptop a year before – about 8 people, so not exactly statistically significant, but is more than just a collection of anecdotes). I found one person who had retired a five(?)-year-old iBook and replaced it with a current Macbook and one person who had replaced a stolen Macbook with the then-current model; everybody else was still using the same one they had had for a year or three.

    “Again, what am I getting extra when I buy the Mac?”

    Something that was designed by a perfectionist?
    If you want big numbers at low prices, switching to a Mac won’t add any value, but if you’re planning on keeping it for a while and/or carrying it around a lot (y’know, what laptops are allegedly built for), you’re better off buying good quality hardware instead of relying on getting lucky. If you go that way, Apple is the only company I’ve found that at least attempts to build quality into their entire product line – anything else, you’re looking at a high-spec $2k+ machine if you want something that’s robust enough to carry around every day for a few years.

  14. #14 Andrew
    March 8, 2009

    Dave: Confirmation bias. All current mac owners have not switched from Mac to something else.

  15. #15 MH
    March 8, 2009

    Dave, unless you can give me some hard data on the reliability of Macs compared to non-Macs, all I seem to be getting extra if I choose Apple is an ‘aura’.

    Instead of a MBP, I’ll stick with a non-Mac and a big HDTV.

    Big HDTV > aura

  16. #16 JM
    March 8, 2009

    I carried a linux vaio for about 6 years until I got sick of managing the damn thing and switched to a MacBook Pro

    Linux is great and I use it personally (on my servers and firewall) and professionally but the management overhead is high compared to OS X. Even with aptget or up2date it gets tiresome having to rebuild the packages I’ve come to rely on.

    And OS X has un*x underlying it so when I need to do un*xy stuff my MBP is right there.

    For a personal, portable machine Mac’s are near perfect because you don’t have the hassles. Also, even though I’ve got Parallels I’ve never bothered to install Windows in the VM because I got interrupted during the installation but have never had the need to finish it.

    For server side stuff I don’t go past Linux (unless we’re talking corporate in which case it has gotta be Solaris)

  17. #17 Jeff Darcy
    March 8, 2009

    It’s definitely a social-status thing, not a technical thing. I work at a company built around Linux, selling some of the biggest Linux systems you can buy (as opposed to engaging with a vendor for months to build something custom). We have a lot of seriously technical people, and a few of them are Mac fans. Why? It’s not because the Mac is technically superior, though as someone who has worked on the internals of both relevant OSes I’m inclined to believe that is so. It’s for the same reason that most of these same people try so hard to live in the right neighborhoods, eat at the right restaurants, drink the right wines, and so on. The technical or product-stability or user-interface reasons are irrelevant when the real goal is to have what the other cool kids have. If you go to conferences where the other folks that you’re trying to impress have Macs, you get a Mac.

    Windows is for beer drinkers. Macs are for wine drinkers. Linux is for Mountain Dew drinkers. In the majority of cases it’s more about identifying with an image than anything else.

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