Why Mac Users Aren’t the Stiff Necked

A certain Mac-basher implied that Mac users want to make everyone else use Macs. Well, that may be true in his world of beliefs. Actually, it might be entirely true in the US; I don’t know. I have never been outside Europe, so I cannot (and will not) say anything about Mac users in America.

Menagerie of Macs

This, however, is what I do know about Sweden’s computer world:

  • Most technicians prefer Windows, probably because it gives them more “challenge” (you have to fight to install new things).
  • Most economists don’t know much about computers. Actually, all they know is what they’ve learned from the tech department, and we all know what they think.
  • People in general seem to think that just because someone knows more than oneself about a certain subject, that person is automatically correct. This is especially false in a computing environment, since it’s all about what you prefer.

So, economists ask the technicians, “What policy should we have about computers?” There are two kinds of answers to this.

First off, if the technician is like most (and this means “Microsoft-certified”), he will of course advocate Windows – remember, this is what the man uses, and Windows really isn’t compatible with much; heck, sometimes it isn’t even compatible with itself… so he says, “We should also require that everyone use the same platform, to avoid incompatibilities.”

But hang in there. There aren’t only pro-Wintel technicians. Of course there are not that many around, so I can’t possibly claim to have the ultimate knowledge. Anyway, I personally know a Mac-using technician, and he would have said, “The way we work now is fine; everyone gets to use his or her platform of choice.”

This second way of thinking is fully logical: Since the Mac is compatible with Windows (in certain cases, more compatible than Windows itself), he knows that it will work – and will of course say this. So, it is also logical to assume that there are more that would say the same thing.

Now, think about the poor economist. What would be the more economical alternative, status quo or switching over everyone to the same thing, thus possibly getting rebates on large purchases? It’s an obvious choice – except for one thing. Macs Suck Less.

So where is this leading? Mac users may be more prone to advocating their platform of choice – which they aren’t, and which MacKiDo explains much better than I do. Mac users may be stupid; they might even be ugly. But they aren’t that much different from any other people.

Of course, we are rebels. But there are rebels in all camps; the Linux people, for example, are true rebels, and Amiga folks (yes, there are still some of those left) don’t count as less rebellious in my eyes. They have truly stuck with a platform that’s smaller than the Mac. But in a way, we’re all rebels.

My point? We’re not that much different, but at least we have a good, working computer. Compare it to the PC weenies and feel the difference. I just think we need a pro-choice movement in the computer industry.

Have You Ever Tried Linux?

TuxThis may seem off-topic, and it probably is. Well, to those of the Wintel users that have made the switch to Linux, it was rather an act of rebellion. Even so, we Mac users may have a lot to learn just by trying it out.

First of all, Linux is all the power of Mac OS X Server for free – sort of. You see, both are Unix-based, but that’s where the likeness ends for the most part. In comparison to Linux, a rock without a manual is user friendly. (It’s not really that bad, but in certain aspects it really does suck.)

So what’s the big deal with Linux? Well, first of all it’s free. Free. This means you have to pay nothing, zero, zip, zilch. In theory. (There is always a cost associated with downloading 75 megabytes, which is the size of LinuxPPC Lite. Not to mention the 500+ megabytes that makes up the full R5 distribution… it’s also available on CD-ROM, but that will cost you the disc, shipping/handling and a smaller donation towards making it even better.)

Second, Linux is a devil when it comes to speed. Speed is everything with this beast; it makes my half-tired Power Mac 7300/200 suddenly feel more like an up-to-date Sun workstation. It really is that fast, and it shows.

Third, it’s a modern-day operating system. Memory protection, preemptive multitasking, etc., etc. Every buzzword you ever heard about Mac OS X, Linux has it. And it’s been there for quite a while, too.

Fourth, downtime is a virtually unknown term for Linux users. A typical Linux system simply will not crash. It might even be more probable that it halts because of a power outage, than is a crash. We’re talking uptimes of a year and upwards, with no loss of either stability or speed… try doing that with NT, for example. (I usually call NT ‘WinDoesNT’, and that pun is certainly intended.) Or with Mac OS, for that matter. It won’t, unless it is a $995 OS X Server.

So what’s the downside? Well, first of all it won’t run your precious Mac programs. There are some very good (and mostly free) Linux programs out there, like The GIMP (an open-source Photoshop clone), ApplixWare (an office suite), StarOffice (another office suite) et al. You’ll have to find those, though.

Also, it doesn’t have a good, standardized user interface. It’s a real mess, and what’s worse, you can switch out the entire thing. I’m not just talking Kaleidoscope here – I’m talking major confusion. It’s not easy to configure either, for that matter; most is done through hacking text files.

Regardless of the bad points (and trust me, the list could be made longer), Linux is still worth considering. Forget everything about Linux being the complete opposite of Mac OS for a while.

You see, what really made me try out Linux for the first time – and stick with it, even though I don’t use it too often – was the strong sense of community in the Linux world. And the sense of being part of a big family is really there, throughout the system, and it feels familiar.

Hey, maybe that sense of community is what makes the Mac so great.

Related links:

  • http://www.linuxppc.com/ – Linux for the PowerPC
  • http://www.linux.org/ – home of the Linux community

This piece draws heavily on a similar article on MacKiDo, but that’s just because David K. Every is so right about this.

Janko Luin is a student of Computer Science and tired of the school’s Wintel crap. He’ll probably write some more from time to time, whenever inspiration kicks in. Strangely enough, this happens around the same time that the Menagerie of Macs hits his mailbox…

Go to the Menagerie of Macs #4 home page.