Back to My Comfortable Place with OS X

I have been out of the Mac world for a few months. But I am back, where I belong, using a Mac.

After ten years as a dedicated Mac fan, I had decided that, as most of what I do is based online, it didn’t matter what OS I used. As long as it supported the browser I wanted, I could use any OS I liked. I was using a low-end PC and flitted between Windows XP, Puppy Linux, CrunchBang, and Xubuntu, to name but a few.

Back to the Mac

So why did I return to Mac? After all, Firefox is available on just about every platform, version, and distro out there.

The Mac has come a long way since the inception of Mac OS X, and most major software packages are now available for both Windows and Mac. Linux is a different story, but slowly this is happening in the Linux world too. Major software manufacturers are now developing commercial packages for Linux, thanks in part to the rise in popularity of Ubuntu.

Which OS you prefer or need will depending on what software you use. If, like me, you main browse the Web, email, write, and occasionally picture editing, then you can do this on any operating system. Firefox, Thunderbird, AbiWord, and GIMP are available on Mac, Windows, and Linux, so why did I choose to go back to Mac?

Hardware plays a big part. I like the design of Mac hardware: It is stylish and well thought out. I am also partial to IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads for their ruggedness and build quality. If a machine feels ugly, I will hate using it.

Navigating around your system also plays a big part. No matter what OS you use, you will need to dip into the depth of it to install software, find and save files on your hard drive, or access CDs and DVDs. For me, the Finder in OS X is a dream to use; the same cannot be said for Explorer in Windows. Nautilus – the GNOME file manager in Ubuntu – or Thunar, the Xfe file manager in Xubuntu – have more in common with Mac OS X than they do Windows, which I why Ubuntu/Xubuntu would be my second choice of operating system.

Protection also has a part to play. While Mac and Linux are not invincible or completely impenetrable, Windows is a lot more vulnerable and requires a lot more additional software and time to keep it secure from viruses and malware. This just isn’t such a big issue with Mac or Linux.

Consistency

Finally, shortcuts. Everyone uses them. From simple Command-C to copy some text to Command-Q to quit an app to holding down F12 to open your optical drive, these differ from OS to OS – and sometimes even from version to version. After spending ten years using a Mac as my main machine, jumping on a Windows XP machine meant I had to dig to the back of my brain to remember to use the Control key instead of Command and that Alt-F4 closes an app.

Remember, you have to use your computer and its operating system on a daily basis. Something that might start as a small niggle that you think you can ignore will turn into a major annoyance over time. For instance, the way you have to install software in Windows gets me, while the simple “drag to Applications” approach of Mac OS X seems so much simpler.

When decided which OS is for you, or if you are thinking of switching from whatever you are using, remember that it is not always about the software you use. Other contributing factors make our computing experience complete. They make us Mac users, Windows users, or Linux users.

Home Again

This is what drove me back to using a Mac. Sure, I could find everything I needed in Windows or Ubuntu, but the niggles got to me. I missed the simple approach of OS X. I missed the whole “it just works” feel of the Mac.

So here I sit, armed with a 500 MHz G3 iBook, which probably cost me more than a PC of equivalent specifications, but I am happy, as it can run OS X and I am back in my comfortable place.


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