What can Mac do that a decent Linux distro can't?

Discussion in 'Switch Stories' started by kerpow, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2004
    Hi, I've always been a Windows user and even support them as my job. Pretty boring stuff but I get a paycheck out of it.

    A decent Windows 2000 pc rarely crashes but it's the patches and security issues that annoy me.

    I've always said that when I can afford and can justify buying a laptop it will be a Mac as the difference in price between a Mac and a good PC is very little and I'm sure the Mac would be better quality.

    However, I've been getting myself quite familiar with Linux recently and have wondered how people would compare OS X with a good distro of linux like Mandrake, SUSE, Slackware etc. (Mac's are build on Free BSD right?)

    I'm sure Linux is slightly more complicated to use but I figured I'm going to have to learn a new OS either way so I don't mind spending a little more time.

    In short, what would make you tilt towards Mac's over Linux?
  2. macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    An awesome place
    It all depends on what you want to do with your machine.

    I have been researching Linux also to build myself a Linux box, but I find it a hassle to find the right parts to make it compatible with all the things I want and the things I want to do. And to install drivers manually? :confused:

    My Powermac came with everything I needed out of the box, I have yet to install a driver and in over two and a half years it has kernel panicked about five times and never while I was doing work. My machine has kernel panicked waking up from sleep, that is it.

    I came from Win ME, so i'm sure you'll understand the frustration I suffered and why I would recommend a Mac to everyone. Windows just has issues, I don't know how to explain it, but let me put it this way. I don't know how to troubleshoot a Mac, never really needed to. I was really good at reformatting and reinstalling Windows. I always wished that System Restore would work too.

    What do you want to do with your system?, that would help others in pointing out other benefits.
  3. macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    for me, iApps does it. iPhoto alone has been worth the "price of admission."
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2002
    Where the air is crisp
    super sleek hardware (from an ID point of view at least), everything works out of the box, iTunes, iPhoto, 'the magic of OSX' (expose etc.). Plus it runs all Adobe progs, Office (if you really need it) and other 'standard' suites that you would miss on Linux...
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2004
    Nothing heavy really.

    Browsing (what is Safari like? is Opera worth buying?)

    Mail - does .Mac Mail have a webmail option so that you can check your mail on any computer - if not I'll stick to my Yahoo account.

    IM - Yahoo and MSN

    Media players (mp3, DVD, AVI/MPEG)

    Web design and photo editing for my personal website.

    Connectivity for my Kodak camera is a must. I also have a Mp3 player - Rio Sport. May upgrade to Mini I-Pod in a year or so if I get a Mac.

    Will put it on a wireless network that needs to share files with my wifes PC laptop.

    Maybe the odd game though I wouldn't expect ANY laptop to be a hard core gaming machine.

    I-Photos's does look good I'll admit. I use Paint Shop Pro most of the time as I'm too stupid to use Photoshop.

    What are the HTML editors like on the Mac. Does Apple make one or do most people use 3rd party products like Frontpage or the editor in Open Office. Dreamweaver, like Photoshop, is overkill for what I want to do.

    Does Open Office even work on Mac's yet. There's no way I'm going to fork out $1000+ on a Mac and then pay $200 for Microsoft Office to crash on it.

    CD burning

    P2P: Kazzaa, Bit Torrent.

    Lots of USB and networking connectivity.

    Remote Desktop stuff, I think VNC is available for Mac's aswell.

    I actually host my own site using IIS. Am willing to learn Apache though. What about databases? Does MySQL run on Mac? PHP?

    Security won't be an issue as I'll buy a wireless router/firewall. Does ad-ware/browser parasites crop up on Mac's? I expect its only IE that is effected.

    Of course, all of the above run well on my PC with the exception of CD burning. Nero sucks, always makes the CPU race to 100%. Most would run on Linux aside from the Kodak camera and the Rio Sport Mp3 player but thats understandable.
  6. macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    An awesome place
    really quick, I'll go through the ones I know:

    Safari is great, but you can always ad others and compare. Download Opera free and try it out.

    .Mac has webmail option, and then some.

    I run iChat for AIM and MSN Messenger to chat with my brother.

    Media Players: Quicktime, WMP9, MPlayer which is also available for Linux.

    Wireless network with PC's. Yeah.

    P2P: Aquisition does fine for me, but there are others.

    OpenOffice run on X11, I have it actually.

    If photoshop is too much try Photoshop elements. Maybe iPhoto is enough for you, and to create your Website with .Mac is incredibly easy.

    CD Burning: iTunes, Roxio Toast.

    Hope this helps, I'm sure somebody else will contribute on the things I left out.

  7. Moderator emeritus


    Oct 5, 2001
    San Diego, CA
    Lots of questions, lots of answers...

    P2P options - http://mac-p2p.com

    Web design - You can get DreamWeaver and GoLive, as well as many other shareware and less well known web design apps for Mac.

    Camera compatibility - http://www.apple.com/iphoto/compatibility/camera.html - Other cameras may need specific software from the manufacturer, but these are supported natively.

    Apache/PHP/MySQL - Apache, PHP and MySQL all run fine on OS X. Apache is pre-installed on all versions of OS X, and you can get some pre-packaged installers for PHP and MySQL from Marc Liyanage's site
  8. macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    I'd answer the questions in two steps. First

    What does Linux do that my Mac can't

    As someone who's been using Linux since Slackware 1.0 I'm going to have to say I haven't found anything yet. Install Fink and you have access to almost every piece of open software you could want. Fink even managed to compile and install GnuCash, something that was always an horrifying struggle under Suse.

    It has the open OS base if you really want to hack, and 99% of linux oriented software will compile out of the box.

    What does the Mac do that Linux can't

    "It just works" is certainly an overused term here, but it does apply. In Linux I really had to be careful what hardware I bought (my last struggle was with 802.11 PCMCIA cards) because you could never entirely guarantee it would work.

    Software integration with my work environment was a struggle because I had to somethow figure out how to interoperate with the MS products at work, and it usually involved a lot of importing/exporting and massaging of data.

    For me there are three things that shine on the Mac, in order of importance:

    1) Commercial software that allows me to seamlessly interoperate with work, if I want to use it

    2) I can buy hardware by looking at the supported list on the back of the box

    3) The interface is a joy to work with.

    So there you have it. From my point of view it:

    Maintains the "fun" aspect of playing with an open unix based system

    Gives me all the free software and development tools I am used to with Linux

    Has a level of integration and commercial support that eliminates the struggle that always dogged me when upgrading my linux system.

    Oh, and has so many people drooling over my beautiful powerbook. There is certainly an elitist feel that you don't get when cramming linux onto some Dell notebook. :D
  9. macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2003
    Fredericton, NB Canada
    Just to emphasize the big ones:

    - Office, photoshop, 15,000 other commercial applications.

    - Almost everything that runs on previous version of MacOS will run in classic mode

    - plug-n-play that actually works

    - a brilliant IDE that will soon support IBMs killer compilers

    - iApps - these are all really nice, well-thought-out, beautifully integrated programs that do what they do brilliantly...most people will only use two or three of them, but there's a good reason people are so effusive about them.

    - Games - sure there are a lot more games for the PC, but the really good games are available for the mac (but usually not Linux...sad but true).

    - Rendezvous - automagic network configuration

    - seamless windows/mac/linux networking

    - a beautiful, well-thought-out, award-winning GUI

    - thoughtfully-designed, quality hardware

    - and, of course, you get almost all the benefits of a Linux system (stable, fast, secure, able to compile and run a vast array of software, etc.)

    There are good reasons people are so passionate about there macs. Get one and find out for yourself.

  10. macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    When I switched I was impressed by how much time I spent working with my computer rather than working ON my computer. It's that whole "it just works" phenomenon. You don't get that in Windows and you certainly don't get it in Linux. Linux gets better all the time but it's still a struggle to use. It takes effort. If you put in the effort and learn how to use it you get a great OS--but it's not for the casual user.

    I don't see the point in a Mac OS vs. Linux debate. You don't have the disgruntled user base that Windows does. Savvy PC users who are trying to get Microsoft-free but want to keep their hardware are perfect candidates for Linux. On the Mac side it's just for the curious.
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2004
    Thanks for all the answers. Nice to get a few testimonials from people who use Mac's and have used other OS's aswell rather than the sales talk I would receive in a Mac shop. Its funny, if you don't own a Mac you generally don't know anything about them. The last time I touched a Mac was OS 7.61

    I'm pretty much convinced, now just got to decide which one to get. Any ideas or should I start a new thread in a different forum?
    iBook or PowerBook? G4 or wait for G5?
  12. macrumors 65816


    Mar 7, 2003
    I guess the iApps and the very consistent and userfriendly gui did it for me :D
  13. macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    the simplicity of it all and the fact that theres a great community to run to when you run into a bug
  14. Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Either will probably do nearly all of what you said you want to do. Depends if you want really portable or you're prepared to compromise that a little for a larger screen.

    The 12" G4 ibook is great value compared to the 12" powerbook. Be prepared to max it up with a bigger hard drive and bung bluetooth in it. You can't retrofit them. Buy extra memory from a third party like crucial. The powerbook has a faster processor though and a superdrive option. The 14" ibooks only have the same 1024x768 screen res as the 12" - just the pixels are bigger.

    The 15" powerbook is a great machine - apparenly the 'white spots' issue has been resolved in new machines. My personal choice would be to get a BTO of the superdrive machine without the superdrive. That way you get a faster processor. Depends if you want to burn DVDs if you keep the superdrive or just have a combo.

    The 17" is great but I view it as more of a desktop replacement. It's not that it's heavy it's just a bit big. It is however the most powerful powerbook - and the most expensive
  15. macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Visby, Sweden
    Concerning chat, you should have a look at Proteus.
    It natively supports AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN and Yahoo! messaging services.


    Dreamweaver is great, but if you need something that is a bit easier you could try Macromedias Contribute 2.
    My 12-year old daughter has no problem running that one.
    It also integrates with the .Mac service - ie iDisk.

    Wireless and sharing files between Mac's and Pc's is very easy.

    Bittorrent, one of the best clients for the windows platform is Azareus.
    And it's available for Mac OS X as well.

    CDburning is built in in a lot of programs.
    For example iTunes and iPhoto.
    Dragon burn is pretty neat.

    Usb, I'm not a mac-owner.
    But I borrowed my brothers PB during the christmas holiday and tried a few things out.
    I unplugged my Logitech keyboard and mouse from my pc.
    Plugged both in while OS X was running.
    No problem at all.

    Browsers, some have mentioned Opera.
    Fine, I like Opera as well.
    There's also Mozilla Firebird.
    Which is free and has a killer "extension" that filters ads and pop-up-windows.
    Both of these browsers can handle mouse gestures as well.

    Opera is a bit more "finished" product, but it doesn't work with my online bank.
    So I use Firebird.
  16. macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    what mac can do but linux can't? well... i use the following software, and have had no reports of linux compatibility so far:

    - protools & tons of other audio software.
    - photoshop.
    - indesign.
    - freehand.

    generally, commercial software. it exists on mac. linux doesn't get software companies attention despite larger market share. linux is free, so linux users assume all linux software should also be free. but there's no such thing as free lunch, sadly.
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2004
    You're about right there. Opensource is free, that is one of the most attractive thing about it. Apache, MySQL, Chillisoft, Open Office etc are all Opensource.

    Do different Mac's come with different software bundles. Do some resellers bundle extra software as incentives. How much extra would I expect to pay for the major software titles?
  18. macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Different Macs do come with slightly different software, but it's not significant. You can find the info on apple.com. The resellers don't add anything. If you get a deal from them they'll throw in some memory or a printer--maybe a discount on some software.

    The cost of software depends on what software you want to use and it's easy to find the answer online. I'm not sure what the "major" titles are. Games are always around $50 and things like Photoshop or Dreamweaver cost the same as their Windows counterparts.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2004
    San Francisco, CA

    Linux is almost free. Distros like mandrake and SuSE hand out free versions... but, some companies such as Xandros charge your for their innovative GUI bundled with their distros, effectively circumventing the GNU liscence and allowing them to get money for the os. Not that its wrong or anything, I personally bought a copy of xandros for my x86 and its worth every penny as the GUI simplifies the often times intimidating linux.
  20. macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2004
    Old Blighty
    Macs all come with pretty well the same software suite. I have seen some resellers add memory or software deals as incentives so it would be worth a quick search around.

    As to the price of titles it depends a lot on whether you are a student. I got a hefty discount on MS Offices and about 70% of my Adobe suite: Photoshop, Go Live (web), In Design (DTP), Acrobat and Illustrator. Also Apple offer about 11% off their hardware for students.

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