Ubuntu: Apple Threat?

By Deane Barker on June 29, 2006

Mark Pilgrim’s list of Ubuntu essentials for ex-Mac users: Kottke says Apple should be scared of this. Joe has used Ubuntu and claims that it’s borderline amazing.

[…] Mark Pilgrim recently switched to Ubuntu Linux after becoming fed up with proprietary Mac file-formats and the increasing use of DRM technologies in the MacOS.

I’ve been a Mac user since 1984, and have a Mac tattooed on my right bicep. I’ve probably personally owned 50 Macs, and I’ve purchased several hundred while working as an IT manager over the years. I’m about to make the same switch, for much the same reasons.

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  1. Apple’s got nothing to worry about. Pilgrim’s arguments are debunked as pure bs by the first dozen or so commenters. He complains of data corruption in iPhoto:

    Ever hear of a backup? Name me one piece of photo software that does not have a proprietary method for storing metadata?

    And he complains about DRM in Apple software — easy enough; don’t buy from iTunes Music Store. iTunes itself is perfectly able to make use of non-proprietary formats. Just buy CD’s and use iTunes (or any of the many other free CD rippers) to get the music onto the Mac.

    He also whines about “how much work it would take to twiddle with the default settings, install third-party software, and hide all the commercial tie-ins so I could pretend I was in control of my own computer.” I’d like to compare the time it took him to set up his fancy Lenovo laptop with what it would’ve taken him to get OS X running to his liking. (I think Apple could make huge points by giving him the hardware to do such a comparison and making the results public.)

    Unbuntu may be borderline amazing, but only for the geeks. As far as Linux has come in recent years it’d never pass the Mom test. It’s not ready for the masses. OS X is. It’s not perfect, but it’s polished well enough that it’ll fill the needs of most anybody who tries it.

    Pilgrim is doing nothing but tilting at windmills.

  2. Unbuntu may be borderline amazing, but only for the geeks. As far as Linux has come in recent years it?d never pass the Mom test. It?s not ready for the masses.

    Sorry, but I’d invite you to go run down a LiveCD of Ubuntu Dapper, Dave. It’s the first Linux distro that I got done installing and thought to myself, “My Mom could have done that”. Hardware detection and automated setup are on-par with Windows, only without having to install any drivers (so maybe even on-par with Mac). On my laptop, screen, wireless, suspend/resume – it all just worked. You can handle all aspects of the system config without resorting to the command line.

  3. I’m a geek, but I’m not really an OS geek — I have enough to worry about with my software, and I just want my OS to work.

    Ubuntu is great software, and it is emphatically not just for geeks. Whoever does their interface polish thinks like a Mac designer — everything is clean and elegant. It all works really well, and someone clearly spent a lot of time thinking about how to make everything integrate as well as possible.

    Installing new software is so ridiculously simple that it’s not even funny. The only hard part is setting up the system to retrieve non-free software (if you want to install some), because you have to tell the system where to find new programs. For free software, and after you set up the repository for non-free software, it’s nothing but easy living.

    Ubuntu isn’t my primary OS yet — I make my living developing in Visual Studio, which makes it impractical to move. But if I can ever get away with making it my primary platform, I will do it in a heartbeat.

  4. Interesting about Unbuntu; I might have to take a shot at that. I’ve been planning on setting up a server of sorts at home, and that might be the ticket. On the desktops I manage at work though, I’ll have to stick with an OS that’ll run apps from Adobe, Quark, et al. Or are you gonna shoot down that assumption also? ;o)

    But I’ll stick with my assertion about Pilgrim tilting at windmills; Unbuntu might be a decent alternative to XP or OS X, but his arguments against OS X don’t hold water.

  5. Ubuntu is my primary desktop since June 2005, and I use it 85% of the time, being 8 hours a day at my office.

    I was the first at the office, and when September comes, I will migrate another user to Ubuntu. If it succeds then the rest will follow :) Except the designers, unfortunally doesn’t exists a real alternative to Photoshop for Linux :(

  6. I am a Mac user. But, I am not so die hard Mac that I would blindly defend Apple without having given something else a look.

    Ubuntu has sparked some interest in Linux. I am impressed by the stuff that comes free with it, as well as the option for picking and choosing different Linux desktop software, such as Gnome or KDE. Until looking into Ubuntu, I didn’t realize Linux allowed for that level of customization. Coool.

    But unfortunately, like many countless others, I am locked into using software that isn’t yet developed for Linux (Abobe/Macromedia for example). I don’t doubt that any Linux OS has advantages over either Windows or Mac. However, I feel that Linux still has a stigma of being a “developers” system, no matter how easy it is to install, use, and keep updated. Until Linux becomes accepted as more “mainstream”, most people are limited to sticking with whatever OS supports the commercial software they need. I truly hope Linux gets beyond that stigma, and software companies start selling a Linux version of their wares. Choice is a wonderful thing, when available.

  7. I have Ubuntu606 on my old machine and XP on my new one. Both are side by side networked (ubuntu recognized my windows work group seamlessly) Using an inexpensive KVM I get to enjoy the best of both worlds with one keyboard and mouse. Mapped hard drives on both computers makes file manipulation in both of them a breeze. Because of the proprietary software I still use XP most of the time, especially for the macromedia studio. However most of my email, browsing, finances, invoicing, downloading, is done in ubuntu. My dad has got a Mac mini, and I’ve gotten to play with it quite a few times. very polished OS indeed, but Ubuntu is very close to it. In fact it ubuntu passed the mom test, when it gave life to my mom’s old PIII. Al she did was email, basic word, and net browsing. She is doing it quite well the same with ubuntu. In fact last week I went to check on his ubuntu installation to see if it was getting outdated, to my surprise everything was patched to the day, even running firefox She told me. ” The little icon on the corner told me there were important updates for my computer, so I clicked on it”

  8. Because of the proprietary software I still use XP most of the time, especially for the macromedia studio.

    I solved this with VMWare Workstation, which works quite well and is snappy enough for Flash Professional and the usual desktop apps, even on my 3-year old laptop. At $189, it’s not free, but it’s much less than a second PC (plus, everything is on one laptop).

  9. Ubuntu is the leader and Linux is the future.. those days are not far away when more people will know that computer does not mean windows. as the Linux grows to maturity which I think it already reached maturity then there will be mass migration of people, fed up with windows crap and high cost of MAC. The only reason people are not using much of the linux is because most of them doesnt even know that this thing exist. It can be properly handled by the good marketing promotions and advertisements. The number one reason, I see many people not being able to use linux is because of 2-3 main proprietary software to be run on windows only. But average user just use computer to do some basic web browsing or some basic works and Linux is fully equipped with all these. I educate everyone to use linux and people who tried are really happy with this. So its just a matter of time when people realize that locking themselves in the crappy Windows or even MAC OS is waste of time and energy. then Linux will be on top. There are some issues with Linux, which will be short out pretty much in short time.

  10. I’m very curious, did you load Ubuntu on your Mac Book? If so, were there any major problems during the installation? Were you able to dual boot with Apple? Looking forward to your comments.


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