Experienced Linux user switching to OS X - Good idea?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by craig1410, May 17, 2007.

  1. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    I'm an IT Consultant who has dabbled with most OS's over the years and am thinking seriously of switching to OS X once the new iMac's are released. I used to use OS/2 (1.3 through Warp) until it died a death and have been using Linux (mainly RedHat and Fedora) for many years as well as Windows when I have to. I am currently learning Ruby and Ruby On Rails which is where a lot of the idea to switch to a Mac has come from. The Mac seems to be the defacto RoR development platform in conjunction with TextMate.

    Anyway, my question is whether you guys think that a long time Linux user such as myself is likely to enjoy the migration to OS X as much as other users or if you think I might feel constrained in some ways. I'm a big fan of open source software but the novelty of constantly tinkering under the hood of my OS has worn off to a large extent. These days I'm more interested in productivity, reliability, quietness and the feeling of quality which certainly comes across at first glance from OS X.

    Will I feel at home in the Mac community and with OS X?

    Advice most welcome!
  2. psychofreak Retired


    May 16, 2006
    OSX is very customisable (although not nearly as much as Linux)...

    You can get a lot of freeware and Open Source software (although sometimes Shareware provides the best option)

    The simplicity of it is great...and after a few initial downloads, there shouldn't be the constant 'Download this codec' as there often is with Linux.

    You can always run both OS's (either dual boot, virtualised or both) if you miss Linux, and you will still have the beauty of the hardware.

    A lot of people use Terminal, but the GUI is great, and there is not much you can do with the command line that you cannot do without it.
  3. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    well if you aren't looking to tinker too much, and are interested in the productivity and stability as you say, then yes i'd say the transition to OS X would work well for you.

    if you can, make your way to an Apple store and play around with OS X a bit to get a feel for it. nothing better than first hand experience.
  4. Winterfell macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2007
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    I've been using Linux for several years now, as well as dabbled with FreeBSD. I manage several RedHat systems at work, and while I've no doubt you probably know more than I do, I'll just say that I haven't a single regret from moving to OS X about two months ago.

    When you say you don't want to feel constrained, I have to ask: more constrained than you would be using Windows? OS X is Unix underneath, and you will find that a lot of your experience using Unix will carry over. Many of the small programs and utilities that you're used to working with will be available (and often times are already included) on OS X.

    Apple has managed to do what the Linux community has been trying to do for years: bring the *nix system to the desktop. And it really is very usable, very fast, very beautiful. I really don't think you'll have many (if any) regrets.
  5. spjonesi macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2006

    I have also used more than a few OS's over the years, including OS/2 and Linux (Redhat 8 and 9, then FC1,2,3 now Ubuntu FF). I will also be going back to school next fall to get another (couple of) bachelors degrees in Computer Science and MIS...I'll do it all on a MacBook Pro. Just because it works for me, doesn't mean you'll love it though. I can safely say I took the plunge feet first with my iBook G4 and didn't know if I would really like it or not. I really enjoy it. It not command line driven like linux, but if you prefer, everything can be executed from the terminal.

    A big plus to the new intel setups is that if you -don't- like it, you can easily run almost any flavor of linux on it without any trouble.

  6. soup4you2 macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2007
    I've been using Unix/Linux for a long time now, and have started using macs about 2/3 years ago.. And I love them. you can still get the nice warm and fuzzy feeling you get from the Terminal CLI. As well as a fantastic GUI with some really nice professional applications. and it's always been 100% reliable to me.

    X11 works pretty well and if there are those opensource applications which you must have, chances are you can get them to run on the mac. There are 3 great ways i know of for dealing with UNIX packages.

    Fink (works much like Debian's apt-get)
    DarwinPorts (much like FreeBSD's ports tree, though very outdated and doesn't contain much)
    Pkgsrc (NetBSD's pkgsrc will run with a little bit of trickery, and i would rule this the best of the 3)

    Now keep in mind my opinion in purely on a desktop/workstation enviroment. for servers i still prefer my UNIX machines. OS X server is nice, but it still has a long way to go.

    And hey, if you discover that OS X just is not your thing and you want to go back to RedHat, thats not a problem since the machines are Intel based. Just reload the OS with RedHat.
  7. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    OSX has more in common with the BSDs such as Solaris than with Linux, but with a couple of additions (e.g. the MacPorts and Fink repositories) you'll feel quite at home. Some major difference are the use of a NetInfo domain for certain functions such as password management and the way services are launched, but once you get your head around those there's a lot of similarities:- BASH shells and their command set, X11 etc.

    One advantage I think the Mac has is that drivers tend to come as pre-compiled and tested binaries, so you don't have to spend your time messing with conf files to get hardware to work.
  8. karichelle macrumors member


    May 26, 2006
    My fiance is a self-professed Linux geek and he loves his Mac Mini running OS X. He can mess around and tinker with it if he wants to, or he can just use the GUI to make things easy, it's his choice, and it "just works" either way.
  9. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    Thanks guys (and gals), that is really quite encouraging and confirms pretty much what I had hoped for. I don't really have any must have apps on Linux that I'm aware of so hopefully I can just use the Mac equivalents of all the usual stuff. This is what I have always done in the past when I have moved platform because I think you should always move forwards cleanly rather than trying to keep in touch with the past. IMO, this is an ethos which Microsoft should have used when developing Windows and something which Apple did put into practice when OS/X was born as I understand it. Backwards compatibility should not be allowed to cripple the future of a piece of software as it clearly has with Windows.

    Oh well, all I need now is for Apple to announce the revamped iMac and perhaps for Leopard to be released and I can go get myself a machine. I would like to see a more powerful graphics chipset in the iMac along with ideally the desktop version of C2D. I would also like to see 2GB of RAM thrown in as standard with the option to upgrade to 4GB to keep it future proofed.

    Anyway, thanks again for your reassurance.
  10. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    Put it this way: all that stuff about "the world's most advanced operating system" is not just marketing hype. Mac OS X is the best consumer operating system in the world bar none.

    It's grown from the solid foundations of NeXTSTEP, which itself was light years ahead of its time. Also (I don't think it has mentioned) but Mac OS X (Leopard) will ship right out of the box with ROR.

    In the interim, check out this guide from Dan Benjamin on installing rails.
  11. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    Yeah I remember seeing the NEXTStep machines in a "special" lab when I was at University (early 1990's) and in those days they were nothing short of magic! I used Mac's back then for Pascal programming lectures and thought they were great. I didn't realise until fairly recently that OS/X was derived from NEXTStep and this is also one of the reasons I am keen to make the switch.

  12. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    I would loved to have used a NeXT machine.

    Very envious, now I can only watch videos and read about it.

    Yes Mac OS X owes a lot to NeXT step, hence many of the class names still begin with the NS prefix. NSWindow, NSObject, NSMenu etc.

    If you are interested there is some interesting writing over at roughly draftedabout the history of the NeXT system and how it relates to Mac OS X.
  13. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    You won't feel constrained in that a Mac will allow you to run more operating systems then you can now. However, some experienced users feel lost switching to a system where they are no longer expert. You may want to buy Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks or one of David Pogue's Missing Manual guides.
  14. Mr.Texor macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2007
    I agree that there are some things that are "missing," but overall, it's an easy transition. Right now.. the only thing I miss, is wget. There are several ways to get it, but, I got used to not having it.. curl.. is doing ok..

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