Operating Systems

OS X: A Secret Love Affair

Good evening,

I am somewhat of an odd person in the eyes of my peers. I someone who enjoys using OS X for daily tasks in a Windows dominated environment.

Everyone I know uses Windows. Some know what Linux. Some of those know that is more than just for servers. Some also know that Linux is great for embedded devices and all kinds of crazy hardware.

I don’t know anyone who uses OS X outside of work related stuff. And yet a lot of people must know this OS exists given the crazy popularity of Apple and its mobile devices. A good percentage of people who own an iPhone or an iPod or even an iPad must know that their device uses an operating system that is derived from a desktop OS, the OS X.

Where I live the poor adoption rate of OS X is probably related to one thing only: money. You see Apple’s OS X is intrinsically linked to its hardware. And the hardware is expensive. While the OS itself sells for 30$ (I think…) the machines needed to run it go from 500$ to 2000-3000$… A lot more than one would pay for a computer (read “PC”).

If you put all the parts together you can build a pretty decent PC for like 1000$ or less. Or you can buy a laptop with good specs for a little more. So why buy 2000$ and more for a MacBook (Pro, please)? It’s a hard one. I personally have never owned one and will probably not for now as I think this is something I will buy only when I can comfortably afford it and not make great effort for it.

But back to the question: why choose Apple hardware? Simply because the product is not equal to the sum of its parts. Silly, huh? So the price… Steve wanted a premium product, more than just a computer, an appliance, something to just plug and play in your home. I can’t really  honestly justify it by simple math. And I know I can build a good computer, not needing to buy it readily made (see my other post).

And yet OS X has had a hold on me ever since I heard it existed.

But there was also Linux. A great OS that has over the years has brought many user interfaces. And I’ve used it since 1999. But there is a little secret behind it all. The Linux desktop UI was only trying to emulate the OS X UI. And why not? It’s one of the best.

The fact is OS X has inspired every other OS out there. It’s that good. But Linux has lots and lots of options. It’s completely customizable, it’s not locked down in any possible way, being all open source. But still, all the UIs available for it, from Enlightenment, Compiz, Unity, Gnome, KDE… they were all derivative. Some of Windows, but a lot of OS X.

The story is somewhat deeper here. All OSes are actually building their UI on a concept first pioneered at Xerox PARC. A concept that OS X perfected. A design that Windows overcomplicated. A design that Linux filled with many many options.

I love Linux for its versatility, for being able to run it on my Raspberry PIs for being able to easily remote administer a computer via only SSH.

I love Windows for running the latest games and Graphics.

And yet, I have a secret love, one that is not shared by many around me. OS X. It’s a secret affair.

It started with OS X 10.4, Tiger. And then kept going. Windows has let me down twice now with Vista and Windows 8 but OS X has never let me down. Linux has given me some headaches (no drivers for ethernet card, breaking the X server almost randomly…). But not OS X.

I cannot describe the OS X experience to you, it’s pointless. I can only urge you to try it.

I know this reads like a somewhat lunatic geeky love story with no real point. Your take away should be this: try a Mac, try OS X, your life will get more colorful.

This feverish post was partially inspired by this book: Design Crazy by Max Chafkin.

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