It has been two years since my migration from linux to os x. Today, I’m starting the migration back.
Two years ago I was bit by the Apple bug. I had been using Linux for the ten years previous and always liked it. I was never a zealot about it the way others in the community were, rather I found it to be good for 80-90% of what I do on a daily basis. Plus, I grew to really like using open source. I was able to contribute where I could and hopefully solve someone else’s issue in exchange for all this great software being maintained.
The nagging part in linux is that other 10% — handling of media and unsupported by vendors. None of it is the fault of Linux developers. Indeed, that is why I care so deeply about creative commons and anti-DCMA issues. However, it is still an issue the average Linux user needs to deal with daily.
Then came the MacBook. It did that other 10% beautifully. Apple actually had deals with the media companies and the promise of all of it “just working” was too much to resist. Besides, it is based on BSD and had a bash shell … maybe it really was the best of both worlds.
Problem is, it doesn’t “just work”. No consumer hardware does, especially laptops. Any vendor telling you otherwise is being dishonest. After joining the Mac community, I began hearing whispers about hardware issues. It seems the biggest problem isn’t that the hardware or software fails, it’s proving to Apple that there is an issue.
Coming from a community with open bug tracking software, open code, and at least knowing someone else is having the issue, I found Apple’s process extremely disturbing. Every issue I’ve had it was like Apple trying to pull a Jedi Mind Trick on me – “You have no issue” they would tell me. The customer is forced to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is, in fact, a problem with their perfect hardware and software. Only then, will they admit there is a problem… but not if they’re actually working on it.
It’s maddening. File a bug, it’ll get closed as a duplicate of another bug you can’t see. Hope you were the first to file! Having hardware issues? Prove it for a “genius”. Don’t want to get charged the $200 repair for the video card? You better mention you know about the recall from nvidia.
And that’s my issue. I know no software is perfect. I wish Apple would stop pretending their software is. Give your users more information on their problem, maybe even an ETA on when it will be fixed. Doesn’t it bother anyone else that their “critical security updates” notes just say “various fixes to improve stability” ?
So the new tag-line for Apple is “It just works, until it doesn’t. Then, good luck”
To be fair, Linux has its share of problems. Actually, probably a lot more than Apple. The difference is how the community investigates and fixes the problems. That’s what I’m more interested in. So I’ll take the additional issues as long as I know they’re being worked on. At worst, I could work on it myself.
Today, I begin the migration back to Linux. It won’t be easy. In the past two years, I’ve bought into the Apple products hook, line, and sinker. Thanks to my great company, I currently have in my possession a MacBook, MacBook Pro, AppleTV, and two iPhones.
The reason I have two laptops is the MacBook Pro’s video card keeps dying. Or it wakes from sleep in my bag and melts. I haven’t had the time to go back to the genius bar and get it fixed again.
I’m pretty sure I’m not Apple’s target market, so this shift shouldn’t bother them much. What should bother them is the new MacBook Pros came out and nobody in the office wanted one. That’s a first. It should scare the hell out of them.
Moving forward – the other MacBook will dual boot OS X and Ubuntu. The AppleTV just got boxee installed on it, making that hardware actually useful. And the iPhone? Well, it looks like I’ll have to jailbreak it. It seems linux can wirelessly sync to that piece of hardware.
For my next hardware purchases when all this Apple hardware dies: Dell laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed, blackberry (or google phone) and a popcorn hour box.
For software, there are two things I need to figure out how to replace – Aperture and iChat screen sharing. I think both can be resolved with some research. We’ve really liked the iChat sharing for pair programming at work and I wouldn’t want to lose that feature.
So, I’m off. Something feels right about it. I’ll probably receive some ridicule at the all-Mac office but it’s the right choice for me. I hope other linux refugees realize they aren’t bound to one vendor for their hardware and software soon.