OS X vs Linux?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by 0092284, Dec 6, 2013.


Mac or Linux?

Poll closed Apr 28, 2014.
  1. MAC

  2. LINUX

  1. 0092284 Suspended

    Oct 8, 2013
    So for the sake of my quesion i ask 2 things:
    1) Leave windows out of this, it's not a free-for-all fight.
    2) Be unbiased. We're at a mac forum, try to not cheer up for mac just because you like it.

    So my question is: Why do you choose Mac over LInux?
    I'm actually doubting if i should change over to Linux, as it seems to be made more for the programmer. (What i like)
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Because the Mac has superior tools. Its much easier to update OSX then it is Linux, it also require a lot less "tweaking" to get it to work.

    Simply put, because apple creates the hardware and software they are able to achieve a high level of integration that linux cannot attain unless you heavily update the system. Sometimes "upgrading" just plain failed and I had to install as new and remember all the tweaks just to get the system working.

    Lack of native device drivers from nvidia also hampered me from fully using it as well

    I've found with Linux that when I update to a new version, it requires a lot of work including re-applying changes to conf files and what not, just to get it to work.

    Finally and most importantly is applications. An operating system's job is to run programs. Lack of programs is a major reason why I don't even consider Linux any longer.

    My applications include Aperture (or LightRoom), Photoshop, iTunes, FileMaker Pro, OmniGraffle, Office, GotoMyPC, RapidWeaver, and TurboTax (getting near tax season).

    While there may be some Linux counterparts to the list of my apps they lack in features or ease of use.
  3. Quackers macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2013
    Manchester, UK
    I managed fine with Ubuntu for some years.
    Obviously a person's normal use patterns are important. If all you do is surf the net and send/receive emails then Ubuntu is fine.
    If you want to play games or have need of particular programs or their features then Ubuntu will not be enough for you.

    I would say, however, that Linux is much better supported than OSX or Windows with regard to Nvidia drivers. They produce them all the time (or did when I used Ubuntu full time). As far as new kernels are concerned (and the updating of Nvidia drivers for those new kernels) it's pretty much automatic nowadays.
    I think Ubuntu has come a long way in recent years and when you bear in mind that it is maintained and updated largely by unpaid developers it's amazingly good.

    I like Ubuntu and I like OSX :)
    I also use Windows 8.1 from time to time :D
  4. matt2053 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2012
    I've said this before and I'll say it again:

    I was an Ubuntu user for a long time. I had never used anything but Windows or Ubuntu (or a few other Linux distros from time to time). I had never used a Mac before.

    Well, I kept hearing over and over about how amazing the MacBook Air was. So I bought one, expecting to probably wipe it and install Ubuntu or Mint or Arch on it. And then I tried OSX.... And it became immediately clear that this was exactly what Ubuntu was trying so hard to be.

    So I stuck with it. Now I love it. I can still use all those mad terminal skillz I learned in my Linux days (although I find them much less necessary now). I spend much less time Googling how to fix ****. And it's generally better in every way. So, yeah, I'm now a convert!
  5. nilk macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2007
    I love Linux, and have used it in some form since shortly after it came into existence (and used various flavors of UNIX before that). These days I mainly use Linux on servers, mostly command-line only, and use OS X as my primary desktop OS. I've used Linux on the desktop plenty in the past, but don't do much of that anymore (very occasionally use Ubuntu on my ARM ChromeBook, that's about it).

    It actually took me a while to prefer OS X, and initially I preferred Linux. Some of that was not knowing OS X well enough, some was not finding the right 3rd party tools to make things more comfortable (e.g. ShiftIt, Butler), and some of that was the OS X developer ecosystem improved dramatically over the years that followed the switch to Intel (e.g. Homebrew coming into existence to replace MacPorts and Fink). Also, OS X 10.5 added great features, and the updates since have been gravy.

    Why do I prefer OS X? Well, to begin with, I can do all the UNIX-type tasks that I can do in Linux. But that's not enough to pull me away from Linux. As a hobby, I record music, do music production, and do the occasional video editing. For music, I used GarageBand, then Logic, and now Ableton Live (and Native Instruments Komplete). For video editing, I used iMovie, Final Cut Pro 6/7, and now Final Cut Pro X. Though there are options in both of these areas on Linux, I don't think they are as good, though that could change in the coming years (maybe Bitwig Studio will finally get released and plugin developers will give some attention to Linux; and maybe Lightworks for Linux, currently beta, is a good option for video editing). I also use Aperture for photos, though I could live something else.

    For work (I'm a developer), OS X also benefits from it's larger desktop market share, and thus gets commercial support in ways that Linux doesn't. Examples: A while back I did Flex development, and Adobe dropped support for the Linux version of Flex Builder. GotoMeeting doesn't have a Linux version of the full client, and I doubt you can get to work with WINE. I occasionally use the OS X version of Microsoft Office. I also occasionally play around with iOS development. That said, for most development tasks, I would be fine with Linux, and I run a Windows VM for a few things anyway, so I could use Windows versions of things not available for Linux, though it wouldn't be as convenient as Mac native versions.

    There is also the "just works" factor, especially when it comes to laptops and power management, and Mac hardware is fantastic. I'm currently using a 15" Retina MacBook Pro at work, and it is a fantastic developer machine: light, portable, powerful, and the way OS X handles the Retina display is great (scaling options, etc). Also, I run 4 displays off this machine when I'm at my desk (laptop display + 3 externals), and connecting/disconnecting external monitors is flawless. Thunderbolt saves me from having to connect some of my cables every time.

    I know you said leave Windows out of it, but it is a factor in my case: for my home/personal use, I would be running both a Windows and Linux machine for what I need (virtual machines wouldn't really do the job for either OS) -- I actually used to do that with a KVM to switch between two machines; instead I can just use OS X for all my personal use needs; I don't have Windows installed at home at all. For work, I require Windows, and for my work-related tasks (which includes Visual Studio), Windows runs perfectly well in a virtual machine (and is actually easier to manage that way). BTW, I haven't tried it myself, but I've always heard OS X doesn't run well in a VM (so Linux as host, OS X in a VM is not practical).

    Ideally, I wish the open source option was the better fit for me, and someday I may return to Linux, but for now OS X is the better option for me. YMMV.
  6. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    You know that under the hood MacOSX is Darwin, a flavor of BSD:

    Unix not Linux but still... open Terminal.app sometime and you'll see.

    You can also easily install VirtualBox (free) and download Ubuntu 64bit, runs just fine on my MBP.
  7. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008
    I actually made the switch from Mac (System Software) to Linux to OSX.

    I started out in the early 90s with Linux, Slackware being my distro of choice. Yes, there are some personal tweaks I made, but therein lies the beauty of that OS; I don't need to take the entire kernel, all of the drivers compiled into it, all networking options, all supported filesystems, bus support, and have a huge bloated kernel that has to manage all of the memory for having that support available. I can take what I want and not use the rest.

    Most of the applications I had were either natively available, or I compiled them. Since they were FOSS, that made their purchase rather cheap (free): GIMP provided an alternative to Photoshop, Open/LibreOffice for MS Office, GnuCash for Quicken, and VLC.

    What soured me on Linux (and "soured" is too harsh of a word, as there is nothing wrong with it, just personal preference) is that after nearly 20 years of it, as well as being a Linux Sysadmin, I just got tired of maintaining servers for work, then having to come home and maintain my personal machines as well. Macs had come a hell of a long way since System Software 6 (where I really got into them in 1991) and had all of the support I really wanted, without having to maintain the programs I liked. So I built a Hackintosh to get back used to it. I love it so much that I'm looking at either a Mac mini or iMac for my next purchase, and am not going to get another desktop again. If the hardware improves enough, I may even forgo that and get a newer MBA and just connect it to my monitor and be done.

    But coming from a Linux world, applications and support of those applications is what did it for me. With Linux, you have to be weary of which software distribution you want. Ubuntu is too newbie-ish and they can't seem to keep things together. RedHat is too commercial and expensive, with dependency hell and bloated binaries; CentOS is the same as Redhat, except free..

    Slackware just works, and is the oldest supported distro out there. For me, Linux and Slackware as the distro of choice just worked; OSX just works better.

  8. cs02rm0 macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2013
    I like Apple hardware, but if I want a proper Unix derivative it has to be Linux.
  9. ElectricSheep macrumors 6502


    Feb 18, 2004
    Wilmington, DE
    MacOS X is far more a "Unix derivative" than Linux. In fact, Linux (or more appropriately GNU/Linux)—while Unix-like—is not a derivative of Unix at all.
  10. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    Ah good old Slackware! I was a minimalist back in the day, had I think it was called FluxBox env running with Slackware. Back when I was more of a geek my buddies and I would compare the oldest/slowest system we could get X running on LOL. I had Slack running on an old P2 box in my garage with 120mg hd and don't remember how much ram but pretty weak. Super stable and was just a junker I could surf the web while in the garage.. this was way back when mind you.
  11. cs02rm0 macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2013
    Far more... I don't agree. Far less usually. GNU/Linux, well, maybe if you think RMS is a reasonable person. Not derivative?

    It really is.
  12. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    OS X vs Linux eh?

    OS X. I need Microsoft Office and various other applications.
  13. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    What is your definition of 'proper Unix derivative'?

    Well to be nit-picky MacOSX is not a Unix derivative because it *is* Unix.

  14. deluxeshredder macrumors 6502a

    Nov 30, 2013
    I choose OS X over Linux because:
    - it can properly install on every working and officially compatible system;
    - it can show the boot splash properly, without verbose/debug text creeping;
    - it has quality drivers preinstalled (proprietary Linux drivers are beyond horrendous);
    - it never crashed in 1,5 years of my usage (desktop Linux is about as stable as Windows 9x/ME in my experience);
    - it has a UI that is a pleasure to work with;
    - it has great office and creativity software;
    - it has been beautifully evolving for more than 12 years (desktop Linux development community seems to be only interested in breaking APIs and experimenting with questionable UI concepts);
    - it almost always reboots successfuly after software updates.
  15. ChristianVirtual, Dec 7, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013

    ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    I prefer OS X for anything with user interaction. Video, raw file processing, Pixelmator, XCode, .... I also used many years KDE under Linux but stopped that one; too clumsy in many ways.

    For server I still prefer Linux and FreeBSD. Also because I can easy install as virtual machines on ESXi.
    For my folding stuff I use exclusive Ubuntu.

    They work all nice together. For me it's not "vs"; it's about "&"
  16. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I moved from Gentoo with KDE to OS X seven years ago. The former was becoming quite a hassle to update, with broken emerges becoming quite a pain.
    My first impressions of the mac, was that for once I actually enjoyed using a computer. What I missed, and still miss to some degree:

    1. System and app-wide repositories and update management (now partially replaced by the App Store)
    2. Tabbed file explorer (now available in Finder)
    3. The Fish protocol. KDE did such a great job at integrating networking throughout the entire desktop. fish:// just works, it doesn't lag or hang, doesn't drop out, and is there in any file explorer or save dialogue. As a developer, I really missed this.
  17. chris.k macrumors member

    May 22, 2013
    And to parrot everyone else:

    OSX on the Desktop GUI
    Linux on the server, w/no GUI (all you need is SSH :)

    Best of both worlds.
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I wanted to say "and then the flying spaghetti monster created Debian" but it technically precedes Ubuntu. Thanks for ruining my joke setup:mad:. I have no idea why that seems funny right now, but it does. I think the only reason I would ever want to admin linux servers would be for the excuse to grow a beard.

    To answer the OP's question, I was working in an industry that predominantly ran on Macs aside from a couple specific pieces of software. This was during the PowerPC era.
  19. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    I use OSX because:
    - It requires little to no maintenance.
    - It's tightly integrated with the hardware on a Mac (power management is very good).
    - The applications both third party and first party tend to be polished and work well.
    - Applications tend to work together well and/or be integrated with the desktop environment nicely (e.g. iPhoto images available from inside other applications).
    - Good support for commercial software.
    - Software stability (although Linux is very stable when running, over the years I've experienced quite a few issues with updates breaking things, e.g. unable to boot due to kernel panic caused by a change to the way it handles a built in SD card reader.)

    I use Linux because:
    - Its generally a lot easier to install and keep uptodate various libraries for programming, as well as other applications.
    - I can set it up however I want, for example I can run a very minimal install as a server, set it up with a lightweight tiling window manager for use on old computer, or setup a full desktop environment or Gnome or KDE on a newer machine.
    - I like the openness, for example with Arch I can set it up how I want (yes this can take a long time to do) and have a better grasp of how the different pieces of software make up the installation.
    - It runs on a wide variety of hardware (albeit it can be problematic on some).

    In the end I use both but I tend towards OSX for desktop use (I run Linux in vm's for specific programming tasks) and Linux for server and embedded use.
    Though I have used Linux as my primary desktop OS for a few years.

    My preferred Linux distributions are Fedora (Fedora 20 was just pushed back until the 17th :() and Arch, though I run Raspbian on my Raspberry Pi.
  20. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    I have also same opinion. My switch to OSX was driven with my disappointment on using Linux as the desktop / end user clients. I want beautiful and user friendly system just like windows but with the stability of Unix system. I found that combination in OSX.

    Some Linux distributors, like Linux Mint tried to fill that gaps, but I saw its still far from OSX.
  21. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    I pick OSx becuse there are many apps that work on it and it is delivered to the user as a working system.

    Very difficult to get Linux working if you are not tech savy. I did it once, but it was a pain to keep going - not enough apps, very fragmented supprt.

    They are decent systems, but Linux is not for the novice who just goes into a store and buys a computer. I don't even know offhand where you could just walk into a store, buy a Linux machine, then go home and have it work.
  22. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    And for the open source, X11, command line utilities OSX gives you MacPorts:

    I do prefer apt-get, pip is nicer but only for Python. Mac port's syntax in my opinion is not as intuitive as apt.
  23. MattInOz macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    Follow-up Question(s).
    What software has the most productive value to you?

    If both platforms offer competitive options to replace that software then either is good for you.
  24. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    Well, you have to be kidding.

    OS X is far superior to Linux, any distribution of Linux.

    OS X is a great operating system, very integrated with the hardware it works on, very easy to use, very ergonomic and stable, and a joy to use. The user experience is just great and everything works out of the box. Plus, it has plenty of quality software to choose from.

    Linux, on the other hand, is not half as polished as OS X. It may be stable and easy to use, but it feels unpolished. The user experience is not half as good. OS X is professionally designed to bring a good user experience. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on development of OS X to bring a polished user experience. That doesn't happen with Linux. There are plenty of distributions, and all of them, or nearly all of them, look amateur.

    In addition, there is a lack of software for Linux. Most of them are open source, very amateur. The best web browser is Firefox, which has seen better days. And the best office suite is LibreOffice/OpenOffice, which is a deal breaker. And these are the best software available.


    Microsoft Office. No doubt about it.

    The best operating system supporting this software is Windows, and this is the reason why I keep tied to Windows. But it's also available on the Mac.

    If Linux had a worthy competitor (i.e., if LibreOffice/OpenOffice was as good as and as compatible as Microsoft Office), I would still prefer OS X. Linux is not ready for the desktop, and it will never be. There's a value in proprietary software, and open source will never be able to compete with things such as capitalism, private property and real money.
  25. satcomer, Dec 9, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013

    satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    1. You never downloaded the FREE OS X Developer Tools called X-Code.

    2. Easy VPN with the cheap shareware (less than Ten US Dollars) software from GreenWorldSoft. Here is the video of the software.

    You also could just use /Applications/Utilities/Terminal code
    man networksetup
    to learn to do it manually over a network.

    3. PixelMator for pictures.

    I love Macupdate and the Mac App Store (not so much because no trials).

    Like other users I was tired of update and having to update my machine over and over again.

    If you really want to see what I speaking about look at the Mac Mini because despite it's cheap price is plenty fast enough for a great many things.

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