Zac Anger's Blog

Switch To Linux! (Part Two)


Tags: linux, operating-systems, mac, apple, os-x, open-source

So, Mac friends, what's up? How's it going? All good with you? Good, good I'm glad. Look. Maybe we should talk.

I know you like your iPro Airpod. And it's very nice, it is. It's shiny and fast and does things, which are really the top requirements for any computing device, I think. But is it really what you want to be using? Look, if it is, that's cool. But have you considered some other options? There's a world outside of Cupertino. A whole, wide, incredible world of technology that presents broadly varied experiences that don't all follow Apple's guidelines on everything.

For example, your computer, your OS, what it's based on... that's Unix, actually. BSD-derived--and POSIX/Single Unix Specification certified. Your kernel is XNU, which stands for 'X is Not Unix.' But it totally is, actually. You're closer than you know to having an open system, but right now you're limited by the Appley-ness of your Apple. If the idea of installing software that doesn't come from the App Store or some other official source is alien to you, that's okay. I'm here to tell you, it's an option. And you don't even need to make a switch all at once. Since OS X has been POSIX-compliant since Leopard, you can actually get a lot of software that's made for other *nix systems running just fine on your Macbook. There are some third-party package mangers out there that come highly recommended (I haven't tried them myself; I haven't owned a Mac since around OS 8). Among them are pkgsrc, MacPorts, Homebrew, and Fink (which, as a Debian user, I'd recommend--Fink uses our dpkg/APT system!).

These things are a start. If you're happy with everything about your system and options now, there's really no need to change, and you could probably have stopped reading this after the first sentence. But if you've ever been a little irked at the limited selection of software available to you, or how everything on every Mac looks exactly the same, or how little actual control you have over your interface, Linux might be a good option for you. This goes for developers as well. I know Macs are big in some development communities, especially with web folks. From what I understand, Ruby conferences are indistinguishable from Apple conventions. Javascript hackers are also especially keen on Macs, though that can cause some issues with Apple Webkit vs The Rest Of The World, etc. Linux might not have the brand power of Apple, but we've got compatibility coming out our ears, and we're nearly swimming in customization options. Instead of, say, using Javascript to install Linux on your Mac, why not give Linux a try... for real? Ubuntu might be a good starting point for you--they're big on unified interfaces and styling, over there, and while it's not Aqua, and they're not too keen on Helvetica (or San Francisco...), it's just as uniform and integrated-feeling as OS X (and probably a bit more fun).

I'm not going to go all out with this one; I could talk for months about the reasons folks should consider Linux (or a BSD), and especially about the reasons NOT to use Apple products, but that's not a topic for here and now.

Thanks so much for reading! If you missed it, check out the first part on my blog, where I talk about Windows a bit. This was as an addition to this post by this guy, who is writing this book; if you're thinking about trying Linux, it's definitely worth checking that out.