Monday, August 13, 2012

From Ubuntu to Mac

For approximately 5 years I used Ubuntu as my base system with windows inside of virtualbox for those rare occasions. I absolutely loved the freedom of Ubuntu and knowing that whatever I wanted to change was simply a textedit away. However, while I managed to solve every problem I ran into with Ubuntu, I got tired of solving problems. Don't misunderstand. If someone asks me to fix their old Windows machine, they are most likely going to get back an Ubuntu machine. But if someone asks me what to buy, my answer these days is Mac.

About 3 years ago this is where I would have stopped reading. I'm not going to change your mind either. But here is my 20 years of technical experience.

Windows is more work than Ubuntu. Not upfront, but later when the system slows down or gets some nasty malware. Windows is also very hard to maintain. Users usually don't maintain it. They let all their software go out of date and eventually have problems or get hacked. Finding new software is risky too. Users become accustomed to downloading and running files off the internet. No matter how many 'Are you really sure?' prompts windows displays, once the user is used to clicking yes, they will continue.

Ubuntu has many improvements in this regard. The system doesn't slow down like Windows. It's interface is easy to use. Finding new software is easy and safer because it comes from one place. This is the hardest part for a Windows user trying Ubuntu. They are used to finding software on the internet and installing it. They try the same thing with Ubuntu and they get confused why nothing works. The same software is usually 1 click away in the 'FREE App Store'. And updating and maintaining the software is all done from one place too. Every little piece of installed software is monitored and maintained with 1 or 2 clicks.

Mac offers many of the features of Ubuntu with regard to the 'App Store'. However with the Mac you usually have to pay for the software. This is the biggest hurdle for Ubuntu users. They want everything for free, and never truly understand the value open source. The Mac hardware and ecosystem has a value on its own. You cannot usually find a better piece of equipment for less. You can get a cheaper laptop, but it will be a cheap laptop with lots of missing bits. I have a Dell laptop which was about half the cost of a MacBook. It has not held up well over the last 2 years. I have re-soldered the power button twice, and the case is separating. The power port is also going out, which is the biggest problem with dell laptops. Windows runs quite slow on it and the thing feels like it was out of date in 6 months. I also have a 2-3 year old MacBook Pro. It cost twice as much but the laptop looks like the day I got it. I've never had to repair it, and nothing has even given me the slightest headache. It was also forward thinking on many areas to a point where it is still a very relavent laptop today. Loaded with the Mac OS, it runs very quickly, opens as many windows and apps as I throw at it, and has features which are still not standard on other laptops, such as a lighted keyboard and aluminum body.

For those of you working with people in the Windows world, Mac again has Ubuntu beat. I was forced to do all my Office work in a Windows VM on Ubuntu. Office for Mac has been flawless and the only thing I use a virtual machine for these days is Visual Studio. The same work in Ubuntu and I had 3 virtual windows machines running at once.

Ubuntu or Linux in general still has them all beat for servers. But in the case of getting work done Mac is the better choice for me.

Inaccuracies above are mostly just omissions for the point of brevity.