What's the point of Linux (on a Mac)

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by HLdan, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. HLdan macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    ModNote™: The present thread is a fork originally removed from this thread. --mkrishnan

    May I ask anyone willing to answer, what's the point of Linux? There isn't any real software for it and the Mac OS is not only as stable and secure it has thousands of pieces of software developed for it so what's the point of people wanting Linux?
  2. raremage macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2005
    Orlando, Florida
    That's really like asking people to flame you. Could be less harsh here but on other boards...hoo, watch out.

    Now, if the question is what is the point over OSX - that's a better question in my opinion. Both are based on a UNIX kernel so I don't see the appeal, other than to be able to say you did.
  3. thesdx macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2007
    That's totally untrue. Linux has a huge amount of software, most of it free and open source. Linux is not just one single OS. It's a kernel that's used in tons of Linux distros. There are Linux distros for every purpose; networking, system diagnostics, desktop use, security, etc. Linux can even run on phones, game consoles, PDA's, and computers made 15 years ago. I was a Linux user before I switched to the Mac. Infact, I still have a Linux laptop that I use regularly. Linux is the 2nd best OS out there, obviously with OS X as #1.
  4. HLdan thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 22, 2007
    Okay, the answer was appreciated. I am uneducated about Linux however since there is no MS Office for it, Photoshop or much that I have seen the Adobe world I couldn't figure out why people wanted to use it especially for home use?

    Raremage I didn't need that rude answer I wasn't trying to flame, I just wanted some understanding. How could it be a flame on a Mac forum when we are talking about Linux?
  5. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Some people might actually prefer Linux over OS X. Imagine that.

    Well, with OS X you are basically stuck with Aqua, and some people might not like it that much. There are also all those licensing-restrictions in OS X that Linux does not have. And Linux does have loads of apps that might _in theory_ be available for OS X, but which simp0ly run better on Linux.

    Now, I'm a Mac-user and I like OS X. But before I used Macs, I used Linux. And I can easily see myself using Linux in the future as well. The two systems complement each other nicely, and they can co-exist great. The question isn't "why run Linux when you have OS X?". It's more like "why not run Linux as well?". There's no harm in running it, so why not? It's not like we have to stop using OS X, if we decide to use Linux as well. Many of us use Windows and OS X, and people consider that to be normal.

    EDIT: Oooops, didn't see the request for not talking about merits of Linux vs. OS X. If mods feel like moving relevant comments elsewhere, go ahead :)
  6. slooksterPSV macrumors 68040


    Apr 17, 2004
    What's the poing of people wanting Linux?
    - File servers
    - Print servers
    - Servers in General
    - Free software
    - Free Operating System
    - Stable OS
    - Constantly updated distro's
    - Tons of Software available and usually free or open source
    - OpenSource
    - Usability
    - Advancement in Unix based OSes
    - Development of software
    etc. etc. etc.

    I'm going to make this old PC I have in here a Web Server and a File Server so I can access my documents anywhere I want. All I'll need to do is type in http://[i]ip_address[/i] or http://[i]www.mysite.___[/i]
    It has a lot of uses and has become one of the next pioneers in software development. If gaming were to be more openly available on Linux tons of people would start using it more in my opinion.
  7. ctt1wbw macrumors 68000


    Jan 17, 2008
    Seaford VA
    Yeah, but.. but... Linux is pointless because it doesn't have Office. :rolleyes:

    Don't worry, bongoloser. I'm not trolling. I've been using Linux for about 4 or 5 years, about 5 distros on several laptops. I know what I say.
  8. shadowmatt macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2005
    All those points also apply to OSX. Including the opensource community. While the next big OSX upgrade wont be free, it will be cheep and worth it.
  9. jmmGPL macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2008
    Linux vs. Mac

    In response to the question what is the point of Linux.

    First off Linux is a kernel and in its entire name is often referred to as GNU/Linux to give notice to GNU who is responsible for most common utilities, GRUB, and the gcc compiler. OsX would be compared to a distro in the Linux community such as Ubuntu. Many different distros are based on Linux from openwrt, a common Linux distro that can run inside embedded systems allowing everyday users to create complex routers, to Ubuntu, one of the first distros targeted at the desktop market. With that said osX runs a UNIX based kernel and has a BASH shell (as does Ubuntu) so they are very similar at the guts of the system.

    As far as Linux not having SOFTWARE you are correct, but the reason it does not have software is because it is a OPERATING system. A computer runs in two modes normal and privileged mode. SOFTWARE can only run in user space and LINUX can only run in privileged mode. The point of an Operating System is to control the hardware for the software. Maybe that is why when you download the code for the Linux Kernel you do not get any software(just a thought).

    Yet, most distros come with a Package manager, Ubuntu has Synaptic. From there you can get thousands of different software that are pre-compiled to run on that specific disto. As for not having office and photoshop, try Open Office for office and GIMP of photoshop, but free and work pretty well.

    Now the reason someone would want to put Linux on a piece of hardware is because you can put Linux on any piece of hardware. Since Linux comes with the source it is possible to run it on almost any hardware(proprietary hardware can be difficult without knowledge of now the drivers work. many people find it fun to try and put linux on strange, small and unusual hardware because it can be fun to mess around with the iner workings of the system.

    Probably should read a little more about a topic before making a foolish statement.
  10. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
  11. Yaris macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2007
    I meant helpful when running Linux. Someone said you couldn't install Photoshop earlier.
  12. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    Linux has a major advantage over OS X in some cases because (a) it's free and (b) you can run it on almost any kind of hardware.

    OS X and the Mac you need to use it both cost money, and in the case of the latter, is quite expensive. For those who can afford it, that may not be a big deal, but for some people a Mac is quite a luxury. And if you can't afford a Mac and still want a better, more stable OS than Windows, what options do you have? Linux!

    As a home desktop experience, I would still prefer using OS X any day over Linux since I feel it's much more complete and less of a "work-in-progess" than Linux feels like sometimes. As stable as Linux is, my Macs is a little more stable--although that's probably a hardware issue, since I've only used Linux on Dell Inspirons that didn't exactly have the best hardware....

    I'm sure lots of people like Linux for the customization it offers that OS X doesn't, but for me that's a pretty moot point, because I like the UI Apple came up with. I can't really imagine anything any better, and I've tried my share of Linux distros and skins, etc. GNOME and KDE are great, but I like Aqua much more. And though Linux has made great strides is usability in the last few years--i.e., you don't have to be a complete nerd to use it anymore--it can still be a pain to set up sometimes, especially if you have obscure hardware, as was my case. I never have driver issues with a Mac, but it can sometimes take me forever to get Linux to recognize a wireless card (given good hardware, this isn't always an issue, of course).

    Linux is still a great operating system, but I still find it to be a slightly less usable version of OS X--but free, which is great. For anyone who can afford a Mac, I strongly recommend that over Linux, but for someone who can't (or just doesn't want to) pay for an OS, Linux is truly wonderful option.

    One thing I think Linux suffers from is the mentality of thinking that most people really care about complete freedom and open-source alternatives over usability and having something that "just works." I understand the reasoning behind this mentality, but the fact that Ubuntu doesn't support formats like mp3 out-of-the-box because it's proprietary is still a slight annoyance, when those are the kind of formats most people are using and will be unwilling to switch for a long time. This isn't to say that that kind of thinking is wrong, it's just not in tune with most users. Many people--myself included--will prefer to pay the money and sacrifice some little freedoms for the usability and convenience something like OS X offers over most Linux distros.

    But Linux definitely still has a point. It's still important. With the disappointment of Vista and many Windows users seeking alternatives, I'd say it's more important now than ever before. As a personal opinion, I still find OS X easier and more enjoyable to use, but I keep an Ubuntu VM on my system, and I still have a Dell with Ubuntu on it.

    Oh: also, as a personal opinion... who needs MS Office when Linux has OpenOffice.org? The real question is what's the point of Linux when it can't run iWork? ;)
  13. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    the point of linux?

    1. give poor people who can't afford a mac or windows a chance

    2. give various developers a chance to be inspired and to inspire

    3. give old hardwares a chance when newest windows force people to update hardwares, and mac asks people to abandon old hardwares altogether.

    4. give numerous freewares to people so they don't need to pay to do some office work, make some semi-professional work, editing some videos, enjoy some 3D desktops, having some fun.

    5. generate ideas, developing libraries so apple or M$ can copy.

    6. Building the environment of openess.
  14. martychang macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    Until you get into Linux you won't know how much of a pain closed source can be... In Linux there aren't really any license agreements, and it's free. Software isn't something you buy, it's a module you add to your computer for additional functionality. You buy the computer, and that's it. Just the way it should be.

    Here's how the software situation is in my experience: you have it or you don't(and you have most things). If you have it, it's free and JUST as good as something you pay $150+ for(i.e. open office) I can't comment on GIMP vs. Photoshop, but I know a lot of GIMP lovers. Can anyone name one function that they use all the time on Microsoft Office that Open Office or AbiWord doesn't have? Most people I know don't even use serious functions, they just do basic spreadsheets and basic typed documents with simple formatting. VLC and MPlayer are top notch media players which originated on Linux and became cross platform(and all I use on my Mac under Leopard).

    To me, license agreements are a very big thing on the OS, and likewise it's very big that Linux doesn't have one. If I have a Linux disc I can use it an infinite number of times on an infinite number of computers. If I have a Windows disc, it only "legally" works on one. If I just want to run a Windows virtual machine for one Windows app, I must buy a full Windows License. This is just flat out wrong. And, it's the same for OS X(though it's harder to notice, since it only officially runs on actual Macs anyway).

    Drivers are also far better on Linux, it doesn't always support the thing that came out yesterday, but if it has ever supported it it will continue to do so for eternity, far less than I can say about Windows or Mac OS X. What's more, the support will increase in quality over time, with frequent updates. Look what happens when you try to install Windows XP on a Vista laptop, you have to find all the drivers yourself. On Linux, on the same laptop, everything else will most likely work out of the box, other than the Wireless, which is usually just a Vista driver download and installing it in Ndiswrapper. If it's an Intel wireless chipset, or you're using a distro that ships lots of proprietary drivers, it might even work out of the box.

    On Linux, you can choose the interface. If you like the Mac's interface that's great, I don't think it's bad, but I can always think of something that could be better whenever I look at an interface. On Linux I'm free to make it better, I can install a different interface, and the more robust ones allow you to customize and rearrange bars, buttons, menus and just about everything in between. There are many Dock-like applications available for Linux if you like those too. I can even choose to use a pure command-line interface, the only one of the big three OSes that lets me do this.

    It's the fastest OS, the Mac has somewhat of a lag time starting apps for the first time since boot, Windows is laggy in general if you're running background processes(anti-virus, spyware, helper applets, etc.), Linux is utterly smooth even on modest hardware, with smooth anti-aliased fonts and slick theming. Other than Firefox with lots of extensions, I've never seen something take a delay to start on Linux, you just click and there it is.

    And of course, the server. Once again, it's the fastest OS there is, licensing is even more complex for server OSes, and Linux once again involves none of that mumbo-jumbo. There isn't even a real distinction between a server Linux and a desktop Linux, other than what packages a distro ships with.

    Possibly the most important thing to me, it's SIMPLE. Not Mac simple, which isn't really simple, that's "easy to understand for the non-technical user." "Simple" is generally the opposite of that, simple means there's not a whole lot going on in total, and it's easy to know all the directories and files in the system off the top of your head. It's simple at the level of implementation, rather than the level at which it is used by an end-user. It's so easy to get things done with Linux once you're acquainted with it, because it's logical, all the config files are here, all the logs are here, all the user stuff is here, all the programs are here, etc. etc. You know what something is just by looking at it's name and where it is in the directory structure. Nothing is hidden from you in Microsoft or Apple only areas.

    I like my Macbook, but I'm not sure if I'll get another Mac for when I upgrade my Desktop. Linux works perfectly for me and my family's needs, without anywhere near as much fuss as Windows, or the relative expense of a Mac. Not paying for software and not pirating is a Good Thing.

    In summary:
    1. Free
    2. Works just as well for 99% of what people use computers for
    3. Freely distributable, no licensing worries
    4. Everything is laid bare, you can truly understand it
    5. Simple implementation
    6. Fast fast fast
    7. Generally secure
    8. Easy to add applications and remove them(and once again, free)
    9. Less driver worries overall(it just seems like there's more, because it doesn't ship on computers)
    10. Doesn't break unless you break it
    11. A server you don't have to pay crazy licensing for(No CALs)
  15. jmmGPL macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2008
    Formats out of the box on Ubuntu

    " I understand the reasoning behind this mentality, but the fact that Ubuntu doesn't support formats like mp3 out-of-the-box because it's proprietary is still a slight annoyance, when those are the kind of formats most people are using and will be unwilling to switch for a long time. This isn't to say that that kind of thinking is wrong, it's just not in tune with most users. Many people--myself included--will prefer to pay the money and sacrifice some little freedoms for the usability and convenience something like OS X offers over most Linux distros."

    Ubuntu doesn't have MP3 and non-free codacs "out-of-the-box" due to legal issues, yet in 7.10 it is as simple as enabling the "Universe (community-maintained, i.e. not officially supported software) and Multiverse (software that is "not free")" and installing "sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras". Now you have almost-out-of-the-box multimedia.

    Also, another priceless application in FFmpeg for sound and video editing,as long as you do not mind the command prompt its capabilities are endless and script writing friendly.
  16. n00basaur macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2007
  17. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    well, consider mac osx does not support xvid, divx out of box, while unbuntu will automatically download the codec and play them.

    Also i think we discussed about linux, we should also realize there are linux distroes who are for retail and include every codecs out of box, and still pretty cheap.
  18. bstreiff macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2008
    Austin, TX, USA
    Some software only works on Linux and not OS X. (Imagine that!)

    My research project utilizes a compiler framework that was developed several years ago as part of the thesis of a graduate student in my department (who has since graduated). Said framework has a multitude of errors when trying to compile it with GCC 4.x, which leaves me with two options: Either try to fix all of the problems (some of which I don't understand, and I don't want to break anything in the code), or use GCC 3.x (which doesn't work on Intel Macs.)

    Fortunately, I have access to a couple Linux boxes that I can ssh into and work on; otherwise, I'd have Ubuntu on my Macbook.

    Additionally, just because you need to have Photoshop and MS Office doesn't mean that everyone does; I, for one, haven't used MS Office in years; I write up documents in LaTeX. I'll concede that Photoshop is much more powerful than the GIMP, but the latter is more than sufficient if you just need to crop and resize photos.
  19. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    I realize this, although Perian is a fairly small download compared to ubuntu-restricted-extras, if I remember (keeping in mind that I have a rather slow internet connection...). But then I mentioned this as a fairly minor annoyance rather than any kind of real flaw.

    I have an Ubuntu VM on my MacBook, but it's incompatible with most of my media until I get around to doing sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras and downloading VLC. But I'm just lazy :D

    My first experience with Linux was actually subpar, as it was putting Ubuntu on an old Dell Inspiron, that XP was feeling quite sluggish on (very...very...sluggish). Strangely enough for Linux, it hasn't been the most stable thing, but a restart usually fixes everything. I swear it's a hardware issue, though. I'm not sure what it is, but I must have ****ed that machine up.
  20. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    understand. Commercial DVD playback is where linux's problem is, users need to download extra lib, which, for a linux n00b, is quite difficult.

    Linux develop is a very fast pace. I think as of now, its a very healthy and competitive OS, it has some aspects that are not better than windows/osx (e.g. native commercial apps like M$ Office, Adobe series), it also has some aspects that are much better than those two as well (advanced 3D UI, many free and powerful apps of doing everything).

    Linux is definitely NOT inferior than OSX/Windows for normal users now, as some people want to make ppl believe. That is my opinion. :)
  21. mogzieee macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I don't even get linux.... why? What is actually so great about it?
  22. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    mmmmm... read little bit from above posts?

    then read a little bit on wikipedia?

    better yet, try a little bit? (you can try liveCD which will not affect your current system at all)

    Then welcome post back and lets discuss.
  23. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    Good thing I haven't tried playing commercial DVDs on my Linux machine yet. Not that it'd be beyond me, but doesn't sound too fun. Okay...maybe. But not when I don't have to. Well, yeah.

    And I definitely agree that it's not inferior at all. All three have different advantages and disadvantages. I think OS X is probably the easiest of all to get up and running out-of-the-box for a normal user, considering Apple's tight software-hardware integration. And I think OS X is probably an easier switch from Windows for most users who have to set up their own computer. But once set up, Linux is really just as easy and intuitive these days. After a few head-achey hours getting Ubuntu to recognize a Broadcom wireless card, I gave my Linux box to a computer-illiterate friend whose computer died, and she has yet to have a problem yet that restarting won't fix (and I bet those would be gone if that thing had decent hardware...). I've heard similar stories from people setting up Linux for their parents/grandparents/friends/etc.

    Really? Really? What clevin said. Did you read any of those posts at all?
  24. slooksterPSV macrumors 68040


    Apr 17, 2004
    With Linux you can get Restricted drivers so you can play DVD's; I've done this cause where my hardware is built to play DVD's (when I had my iBook) I feel I had the right to download and install those restricted drivers. DVD's should be free to play on any computer, not just specific to the user, now as for who can watch the DVD that depends on who purchased and is renting the DVD.

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