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  1. #1
    How does OS X compare to Linux?
    Hi, all. I'm a lurker and PC-user, who has admired Macs for a long time now and is considering making the switch. It wouldn't be for a while, due to finances, but it's something I'm giving serious thought to.

    The reason I ask the question in the title is because Linux is currently my favorite OS. I'm using Fedora 9 on an old, refurbished IBM Thinkpad, and while Fedora is kind of in a perpetual beta it seems to run very well.

    Lest you get the wrong impression, I don't consider myself a "power user" or even technically inclined. I've picked up a few things since I started using Linux, but no more than you probably did in your first year on a Mac -- just some basic terminology and interface conventions. I don't have any command line scripts, I'm not a software developer, and my name is not in the credits.

    Why do I use Linux? Well, I tried it out in the first place out of moral indignation against Microsoft, but nowadays I just like it better. It feels like it was actually designed for its users, instead of for hardware companies and software vendors. It doesn't keep asking me to activate Windows, register software, enter the CD keys for my games and install a link to buy HP printer supplies. It doesn't keep popping up with a notice that wireless can't find the network. It isn't annoying; it's obedient, clean, and uncluttered. It does what I want it to, and it has really neat shinies to boot.

    Will I like OS X better? Is there anyone here who has used Linux before, and can compare the two OS'es? And can iTunes play Ogg Vorbis files? >.> Also, I use Amarok and BasKet extensively, for music playback and notetaking, and I'd like to know how iTunes and ... a Mac alternative to BasKet, compare.

    Any feedback is welcome, even if you haven't tried Linux. Many thanks!

  2. #2

    cwa107's Avatar
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    I think many of your questions will be answered by Mac57's excellent "Linux to Mac Switcher's Guide". Check it out.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
    I think many of your questions will be answered by Mac57's excellent "Linux to Mac Switcher's Guide". Check it out.
    Ooh, thanks! *reads*

    Like I said, any input's still welcome if anyone wants to to join in.

  4. #4

    PapaNoHair's Avatar
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    I used Linux for 5 years and finally switched over to Mac and I like Mac much better. To me it like a "perfected Linux." But having said that, I realize there are many Linux users who would not like Mac. Main reason I would think is because many of the Linux flavors allow "hands-on" in designing and tweaking your system. I kept heading for Linux flavors that required less of my time in setting up my system and more time in just enjoying the system running. My last one was Linspire which was a snap to install (less then 10 minutes) and easy to maintain/use. Mac is easier then Linspire.

  5. #5

    rianm7's Avatar
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    I used Linux (Ubuntu) before I switched to Mac and many little internal things I find on a Mac are vaguely familiar...most likely due to the UNIX kernel OS X makes use of. The only thing I regret is the ability to link ELF on my Linux laptop, but is not *natively* possible on a Mac. (which *is* possible on a Mac, but with a cross-compiler), as I am a (laughably ) hobby OS developer. One thing that is drastic is, of course, the UI. The Mac UI is very different from other common desktop environments like KDE or GNOME.
    2.2 GHZ 15.4" MBP with NVIDIA GeForce GT 8600 and 2GB RAM

    8GB iPod Touch

  6. #6

    Khris's Avatar
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    I tried Linux (Ubuntu) a few times but always ended up going back to Windows because it never felt very user friendly. I would always have to search for answers on how to accomplish tasks in Linux, and then they were usually long and drawn out.

    I've only recently switched to using a Mac a little over a month ago and am very glad for doing so. The entire OS feels very polished and is easy to get around......a completely different feeling as opposed to Linux.

  7. #7

    Dysfunction's Avatar
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    I'm a former Unix admin who now works in dev. I use OS X on a daily basis now, both at home and at work. Between the various Linux distributions and OS X, as a workstation, I prefer OS X. It's more polished and less of a pain in the butt in general getting things working, yet still has all the advantages for me of Linux. Bash, TCL, Perl, Python, VI, awk, etc etc etc. You know, all the things that makes it efficient. iTunes can not play OGG files out of the box, and I'm not certain you can make it do so, but I believe that VLC can.
    mike
    This machine kills fascists
    Got # ? phear the command line!

  8. #8

    Discerptor's Avatar
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    Everyone here has probably given you a somewhat decent even if vague idea of what to expect. That said, on the subject of OGGs, Xiph.org has a Quicktime plugin that will enable iTunes to play OGGs. It won't make an iPod able to play them, but iTunes will be able to. I've tested and confirmed its capabilities before.

  9. #9


    Member Since
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    I asked that same question of myself as well. There's still some aspects of Linux I feel are technically superior, but on the flip side there's a lot to be said about the polish of OSX. In the end, there's very little I've found on the Mac that's held me back. Apple is pretty sluggish in releasing newer Java JVM's, but I'm doing fine there. Still it'd be nice to work on the bleeding edge sometimes, and Linux obviously offers more flexibility here.

    For general usability, the biggest thing I like about OSX over Linux is the use of real estate in the window manager. There's less wasted space in title bars, window borders, etc. in OSX -- it's ultimately a very small complaint, but worth mention.

    Personally I would rank Linux and OSX about even, in all honesty. It comes down to simple preference.

  10. #10


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murrquan View Post
    It doesn't keep asking me to activate Windows
    "keep asking"... You imply here that Windows "keeps asking" to activate. If that is occurring, something is wrong. Windows asks on install for a key. If you provide it, it activates, and should not ask you again unless you make drastic hardware changes. While I can't say it will never happen, I can say that from 2001 until now, Windows has never asked me to re-enter a key for a hardware change (or randomly). If someone has told you that Windows "keeps asking" for keys and things, that's FUD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Murrquan View Post
    register software, enter the CD keys for my games
    You make it sound like you absolutely *never* need to register with Linux.
    http://support.novell.com/techcenter...ctivation.html

    You also make it sound like Linux games absolutely *never* ask for a cd key.
    http://www.linux-gamers.net/modules/...e=HOWTO+UT2003
    When everything its finished it will pop up an xterm and ask you to enter the CD key twice
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrquan View Post
    and install a link to buy HP printer supplies.
    The HP printers we use at work have no such links. But I can see where this may be useful for a home user that simply does not know where to get such supplies. The toner/ink selection at the local OfficeMax may be overwhelming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Murrquan View Post
    It doesn't keep popping up with a notice that wireless can't find the network.
    You make it sound like Linux has some kind of magical, "bypass any limits of wireless and work on another plane of reality" thing to it. You throw your laptop in your car and drive to Alaska, you'll lose your wireless signal at some point, linux or otherwise. Your statement also implies that other OS's may have problems with holding a signal where Linux does not. My house is full of laptops, all wireless, and running various versions of Windows or my Macbook Pro's OS X. Any wireless problems are more the fault of the wireless router than the laptops or the OS's they run on. I had to switch the thing out of Wireless-N mode because this router will only run in either Wireless-N *or* b/g mode, and other people in the house need b/g. That is not Windows' fault, and Linux would not change that.

    I think if you're in some sort of anti-corporate, anti-profit, anti-"the man" mindset, no commercial OS would work for you.

  11. #11


    Member Since
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    The valiant Windows defender has arrived j/k .. Windows bashing is fun sometimes, but it really isn't a bad operating system (XP anyway, the verdict is still out on Vista). That's not to say it's perfect - there's just so many things we learn to "live with" in Windows, that really aren't "right."

    If you never touch your windows machine, it will indeed only ask you to validate once, provided they don't screw up an upgrade where it will ask you to validate again, and quite possibly fail said validation. We've even had Genuine Advantage fail a perfectly legal XP license, which was fixed by a reboot. You cannot in any way, shape or form say that isn't broken. We're talking about a piece of software flawed to the point where it erroneously chastises you as a common thief.

    A select minority of Linux distributions have an install key (those with packaged non-f/oss software). ALL Windows distributions have an install key, some also have an activation song and dance, AND re-activation when you change hardware, AND the "Genuine Advantage" crap, etc. etc. Pretty easy to see which one will cause fewer headaches there.

    Windows WiFi support leaves much to be desired. There's really no way to sugar coat this - it has problems that most people just deal with (like most of Windows' failings). Take XP - you can connect to a network, have it show "Not Connected" in the status window, the button caption at the bottom show "Disconnect", and have you actually be connected. The opposite is also true - you can have it show connected but it isn't associated with the AP. I get to laugh every time my Fiancée has random disconnects during WPA rekeying, when the status is wrong and she's trying to determine whether or not it's on the network, etc. All the while my Mac is just fine (as was my Linux laptop before it). Before you play fanboy and cry "Your install is broke" (laughable in it's own right, because that's all too common) or "It's junk hardware", it's a clean vendor-provided install of XP on her laptop - and that laptop works fine with Ubuntu on it - which she loved but needs Windows for Photoshop unfortunately.

    We just returned from Los Angeles earlier this week, and we both brought our laptops. For the various WiFi points we encountered, it was *always* faster and easier for me with my Mac, than it was for her with XP, to get connected and working. Sure, it worked for her, but it involved more steps and was more cumbersome to accomplish the same task. Again, we just learn to accept that with Windows - it's not "broken" but it could be done "better."

    If you're not savvy enough to buy toner/ink for your printers, I suppose those links help. For the rest of us, they're annoying -- and typically only packaged with the Windows drivers. Just print, let me take care of the details. One of the biggest benefits of running OSX or Linux is you don't have all this other CRAP installed by the vendor trying to sell you sh!t, or advertise junk, etc.


    Oh ... and with Linux and OSX, you don't have to reboot 100x to accomplish nearly any task or fix a problem

  12. #12

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.SubZero View Post

    (...)

    I think if you're in some sort of anti-corporate, anti-profit, anti-"the man" mindset, no commercial OS would work for you.
    Nitpick much?

    I understood him to be speaking in generalities, considering the context. Please... let's be nice folks - especially to n00bs who are testing the waters and still getting a feel for the Mac user community.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  13. #13

    mac57's Avatar
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    I will weigh in here, as a long time Linux user who switched to Macs.

    First of all, two words: iTunes, Photoshop.

    If you use either of these two programs, you are forced to pick either Windows or Mac. As a Linux user, I was forced to keep a Windows box around just for access to these two programs.

    I'll follow those two words with another word: FreeBSD.

    FreeBSD is a unix variant. Mac OS X is built on top of FreeBSD. When you fire up Terminal.app you get a FreeBSD bash command prompt. You can load and run X Windows. Pick up the excellent DarwinPorts package and you can run pretty much an entire Linux release on top of Mac OS X, right up to using KDE or Gnome if you chose (although if you want THAT much Linux on your Mac, I have to wonder why you are choosing a Mac). I did this, and picked up many of my favorites, such as Abiword, Gnumeric, xfe, mc, xv, etc.

    For me, that was pretty much all I needed to know to make a decision. I *had* to have either Windows or Mac to run iTunes and Photoshop. With Mac, I could run pretty much all of my Linux favorites AND get all that Mac OS X goodness thrown in as well. Then I add to that the awesome designs of the machines themselves (is there ANYTHING cooler than the current iMac, or the MacBook Pro?) and complete "it just works" nature of Mac OS X, and I concluded that it was better than Linux.

    Conclusion turned to action and I have been using Macs now for over two years. I still keep a Linux box around (openSuSE 10.3 for me) but I only tinker on it now. I do just about all my real work on my Mac.
    My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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    My OS': Mac OS X Lion, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Mac OS X Tiger, Mac OS 9.2.2, openSUSE 10.3
    I was on the Mac-Forums honor roll for September 2007

  14. #14


    Member Since
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    I'm Impressed
    I'm very impressed by the level of intelligence in these posts. Usually when a question like this is asked in a forum, you see a lot of FUD and opinionated BS. Not here.

    As a Windows and Linux user, and (very recently) an owner of a used Mac, I find myself nodding my head in response to these answers. Thanks to everyone for your informed and unbiased positions. You are to be commended.
    iMac G3
    600 MHz
    OS 10.3.9

  15. #15

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Yes, there are a lot of very intelligent people here at Mac Forums.

    In the many years I have been working with computers, I have ran every version of Windows from 3.0 and up to Vista, DOS from 3.3 and up. With Linux I think the first Linux I ever installed was Red Hat 2.5 and just after that Slackware (forget the version now). I have always loved Linux but way back then, there was so little support. So much hardware was not supported. But over the years I watched most of those issue get very improved. I have always been a Slackware person but messed a lot with SUSE from V6 and up also. More recently I have been using Ubuntu and Linux has come a long way.

    About 4 or so years ago now I tried OSX 10.2 and fell in love with it's simplicity. It had the robustness of Linux but with such a nice front end. Running OSX to me is like the best of Linux and even more friendly. I also love a lot of the Applications for OSX. It's got to be my favorite OS of all time and keeps getting better.

    I will still always play around with Linux as it's something I have done since the beginning and it's interesting to see it get more mature at time marches on.

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