/ Operating Systems

The Big Apple Switch

Over the past few weeks I have seen numerous blog posts and tweets about users getting fed up with Apple and moving away. At first I was agreeing with them, I myself made the switch in around 2011 when I moved all my machines over to Fedora. The switch went rather smoothly and I never really looked back, that is until recently.

Why the switch

In 2011 I was getting increasingly frustrated with many of OS X's shortcomings. I am not going to give another list of these, as they have been covered quite comprehensively by others. These sentiments have been echoed over twitter and various other social media services and it would just be a waste of my time. The main driver however is university. In 2011 I went back to school and found myself a little tied up in a world where many of the web packages that were in use (which have since been retired) refused to operate properly on OS X. This was a painful transition requiring me to reboot constantly between Windows and Mac and it just wasn't worth the issues. I also ditched the iPhone and moved over briefly to Android, then to Windows Phone 7. I was in a period where I was not very happy with Apple in general.

My background

At this point I would like to point out that I did not grow up in the Apple ecosystem. Growing up we had x86 machines, our first computer had an i486 and was running Windows 3.1. Over time we upgraded but remained in the Windows ecosystem. When I was a teenager and starting to find my way into the IT world I started to experiment with Linux, somewhere that I stayed for most of the early 00's, Windows remained around of course, I was still in high school and needed to use Office, and games were non-existant on Linux (some would argue that was still the case, but compared to those days not so much). I didn't switch to OS X until after the release of the iPhone 3G in 2008, my Apple experiences prior to this were very small. Computers were not overly common in New Zealand, only reaching 47% penetration around the time we moved to Australia, Apple machines were even rarer. The first Mac I saw and used was a Mac classic in the mid 90's at a friend of the families house. I used it once but it was monochrome and reasonably old at this point, so compared to our computer it was very dated.

Other than the iPod Apple products were still not commonly seen around my local community. The next time I saw an Apple computer was when I was doing my network admin certificate when I was 15. The teacher had a G4 Powerbook, and the institute had several powermac's for the graphics design students. When their classroom got upgraded, our teacher managed to hang on to a few of the G4 powermacs, and we got to have fun with OSX Server and Client for a couple of hours over a few weeks. It was not a great experience, loved the OS, loved the feel of the hardware, but had problems coming to terms with none of my traditional software working. It was another few years before I finally made the switch.

A new Apple world

The original iPhone announcement happened, I had a small look, and decided that I was not interested. Right up until about 2 days prior to the iPhone 3G release I was still very resistant to Apple. My charger for my Palm Treo died a few days prior to the Australian release, and that was just the opportunity that Apple needed to change my opinion of them. The buzz surrounding the iPhone was large, so large that I could not avoid seeing what all the fuss is about. After getting the phone home, I jumped onto my laptop and investigated this thing that everyone called jailbreaking. That was it, I was hooked. Hackability far surpassed that of Windows Mobile, where you needed to reflash the whole OS just to make a small change, and a full POSIX subsystem which was mostly like the Linux systems I was using reeled me in. There was just one small problem, Pwnagetool was only for OSX. Fortunately hackintosh images existed (big shoutout to prasys for helping me get my first system running properly) and once up and running on my laptop I could use it.

From this point on I used my hackintosh as my primary machine and got very used to the OS, it completely replaced Linux on my laptop and existed side by side with windows for everything else I may have needed. One sad rum induced accident later I killed the laptop and started my hunt for a new computer. I got my 17" core-duo (mid 2007) iMac cheap on eBay to replace it, and since then I have had at least one mac computer at all times.

As stated above with why I switched there is a very long and complex situation that involved me all but abandoning OSX (it remained installed, but rarely booted). I switched back to Linux, settling on Fedora due to how it works on Mac hardware. Anyone who is considering running Linux on their mac, I highly recommend it. Least issues, smoothest operation, and best hardware support.

The re-switch

A few days ago my gaming machine which was the only machine setup (other than my laptop) for use had a little bit of a mishap, something in the cooling solution has gone pear shaped and the graphics card cuts out after a very short time when the CPU and GPU are being used together. This means games like Kerbal Space Program and X-Plane 10 kill the system in a few minutes. In setting up my iMac back up to take it's place I booted into OSX, normally something I do every few months, to do updates, install the latest OS and then switch back out to Fedora. Because I want to play games, and Linux, at least on this graphics card, is not good at it, I fired up steam and downloaded my favourite games, updated to 10.10.1 and have left it running.

The problems that most people complain about in Yosamite are really not as major as they are made out to be. Seriously take a few moments out of your day to install Linux, use it for a few months, then come back. After your time outside of OSX you will probably find you were whinging about something very minor. The software quality, while clearly lacking QA is nowhere near as bad as that of Linux, and even to some extent that of Windows.

A long time ago, after I switched away from OSX I said I would still buy Apple hardware because quality wise it is miles beyond the rest, today I realise that switching away from OSX was probably the mistake.