Mac and Linux Side by Side

I am an Apple fan with a itch to scratch called Linux. I’ve tried being without a Mac, and I can’t do it, so I’m left with running Mac and Linux on the same machine.

The past year has been a weird and rocky detour in my computing journey. I have been interested in computers since an early age, and at 16 I got my first Windows machine – and then machine after machine from there on, usually low-end ones and other peoples castoffs.

The turn of the millennium saw me enter the Mac world, and it would be the best 10 years of my life.

Leaving Macs Behind

Call it a blip, call it what you like, but late 2009 saw me leave the Mac world in a venture to try out Linux. I ended up using Windows and Linux on a variety of low-end PCs. I am actually writing this on a ThinkPad 240x– a small 10″ laptop introduced in 2000 – under Linux Mint LXDE while my iBook G3 is repairing disk permissions.

I am glad to say that I returned to the iBook G3.

I severely regret selling my 867 MHz Titanium PowerBook G4 model. It was a little workhorse and ran Leopard very well. However, with my wife firmly attached to the iBook G3, I am awaiting the arrival of a 500 MHz Pismo PowerBook G3 to continue my Mac crusade. I must say that I am very excited. The PowerBook G3 range was one Apple’s best and most reliable.

Over the past few months I have written a number of articles from within my Linux detour, and some of they may be a little contradictive of each other. Even though Linux has come a long way in the past few years and is more user-friendly than ever before, it is still a massive learning curve, even for a veteran computer user like myself.

Yes I do love it, because it is a good OS, because of its nerdiness, and because it is one step further from Microsoft, but for a one-time hard-core Mac devotee, it just doesn’t have the finesse to pull me away from the Mac platform. (As for Windows, we won’t even touch on that. Windows XP might be one of Microsoft’s best versions, but at the end of it all, it’s still Windows – an archaic OS built on out-of-date technology sitting on a terrible file system wrapped in an ugly GUI.)

Does it matter what OS you use? Yes, despite Firefox and most of the everyday software I use – including Audacity, GIMP, AbiWord, and OpenOffice – being available on all three platforms, it’s the general feel of Mac OS X that makes you a Mac user. While Ubuntu is close to Mac in both build and looks, it just isn’t Mac. Small annoyances – or just differences – become large ones.

Find the OS that is right for you, and for me OS X is it.

If you have a PC and don’t want to run Windows, Linux is a serious alternative. Ubuntu on a 700 MHz PC swings along very nicely, and with fantastic hardware support, most things work out of the box.

Back to the Mac

For me, the step back to Mac is a sigh of relief. I can sit back in my comfy zone, back with what I know best.

However, the detour has taught me Linux is not to be sniffed at. It is seriously giving both Windows and Mac a run for its money and has become a significant alternative.

Running Linux on PowerPC hardware is not as straightforward as on Intel hardware, nor is it as supported as one would like, but it is available, and as more and more Mac users with G3 and G4 machines get left behind because newer versions of OS X do not support their hardware, PowerPC Linux is becoming a real alternative.

Apple may have left the PowerPC platform behind, but it is wide open for open source developers to pick up and run with it. For me, a dual-boot system with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and version 8 or 9 of Ubuntu or Xubuntu will do nicely on my forthcoming Pismo PowerBook, giving me the best of both worlds.

Don’t panic. As one of Apple’s dedicated users and a lover of older hardware, I am not about to turn my back on the Mac platform again. I’m not sure why I left initially, but I’m back.

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