The Seven Year Itch

By Rob Scovell, in , posted: 23-Jun-2007 16:47

Seven years ago, I was first told about Mac OS X. Just as I very clearly remember where I was when 9-11 happened (packing up my house in Scotland to move here) and when Diana died (in a nondescript kitchen), I remember clearly being told about this new Mac OS that ran on BSD Unix. I had to have it ... I liked BSD, I was irritated by Linux desktops at the time, and I worked with Solaris, which had, shall we say, a regrettable desktop. Windows NT was off my radar, although it was probably better than I gave it credit for at the time.

Since 2001, I've been working almost exclusively in OS X, BSD and Solaris. Very happily and comfortably.

Since then there have been some maturings in the non-OS X world. Ubuntu has been floating vaguely in my consciousness for a couple of years and I even installed it on a friend's new PC a year ago, simply because I could set him up with a locked-down system that would do what he wanted and wouldn't result in him constantly pestering me for support. After some annoying wrangles with printers at the start, it has been largely problem-free and my plan proved to be correct.

Recently, I started working with a guy who likes Ubuntu. To cut a complicated story short, I have ended up with a respectably powerful Ubuntu PC in my office. I started fiddling about with the desktop and looking at the various Gnome apps. Hmmm ... very impressive. Linux really has grown up (in the Desktop/UI department) and I vaguely starting wondering if I could live with Ubuntu instead of OS X ...

And then today I saw a Vaio L in a showroom sitting next to an iMac and the iMac looked clunky. I never thought an iMac would look clunky! The Vaio L was running Vista, and the Vista eye candy is far superior to Windows XP. iCandy is important to me -- even when I'm digging around in the guts of a SIP server, I like to do it in an aesthetically satisfying terminal screen. So I even caught myself wondering if I could live with a Vista desktop ... albeit definitely with a BSD variant chugging away in VMWare for my development stuff.

What's happening here?

We're witnessing the maturing of a desktop/UI paradigm shift that was pioneered by Apple when they brought out OS X. With Vista, Windows has caught up to a large extent (so Apple had better have the next UI paradign shift up its sleeve!). That much is probably obvious. Ubuntu (or more accurately, Gnome) has more or less caught up in many ways with Windows (pre-Vista) (from a UI perspective and ignoring the major advantages under the hood of Linux over Windows). What is interesting is that OS X and Apple products have remained the preserve of a minority of users who see themselves as something of an elite ... but the new products on the market both ape and improve on what Apple has done ... and those products are in the mainstream Microsoft PC market.

***EDIT: I stand corrected ... look at Beryl and this video. Also check out this article.

It reminds me of the hare and the tortoise. Except in this case, it's the Tiger, the Penguin and a large tribe of tortoises. The majestic, noble Tiger has settled down to rest awhile, while an army of tortoises tiptoes by, with a barely visible Penguin waddling along behind.

Finally, after this rush of geek-lust has died down, I am still wedded to Mac OS X. But this is the first time in seven years that my eyes have strayed and pondered other options ...

Other related posts:
Eclipse on Windows 7 for Development
Google Desktop for Mac ... a Health Warning!

Permalink to The Seven Year Itch | Add a comment (8 comments) | Main Index

Comment by juha, on 23-Jun-2007 23:09

Lady Di died in a nondescript kitchen? Have you told Mohammed Al-Fayed yet?

Author's note by robscovell, on 23-Jun-2007 23:22

Strange. I thought everyone knew about the kitchen. I guess you must be thinking of a different Diana ... and who's this Mohammed guy anyway?

Comment by Anish D, on 24-Jun-2007 06:39

The article is interesting. The author missed beryl probably. I had somewhat same perceptions regarding ubuntu until yesterday. But after installing beryl, the usability of ubuntu improved much. Furthermore, the eyecandy, i can surely tell, is atleast a hundred times better than vista, when combined with emerald themes. i am really a fan of ubuntu and beryl now...and spending less and less time with windows now...

Comment by Mike, on 24-Jun-2007 12:39

Linux is waaaay ahead of Vista with Beryl, Compiz, and CompComm. Just look at this:

This stuff works great on hardware years old too.

Author's note by robscovell, on 24-Jun-2007 13:24

I am very glad to stand corrected on this! Nice ... very nice ...

Thanks for that link, Mike.


Comment by taniwha, on 25-Jun-2007 09:19

both those events -- i was sleeping ahhh.. to be in GMT+13.

Comment by Tampa Tom, on 25-Jun-2007 10:19

> 19-inch 1680 x 1050 or 15.4-inch 1280 x 800 LCD display. The line comes with a range of processor options, including a Core Duo T2300 at 1.66GHz or a Celeron M 420 at 1.6GHz. Sony also throws in a dual-layer burner, 200GB drive <

How can you compare an iMac to that?? Looking at a middle 20:' display model you find:

A 2.16 ghz Intel Core 2 Duo

a Gig or Ram

ATI Radeon X1600/128MB VRAM

Dual layer Burner

250 GB Drive and MORE (bluetooth, etc.)

ALL for only $1499 USD compared to $1855 for the top of the line Viao

New iMacs will be out VERY soon.

Author's note by robscovell, on 25-Jun-2007 15:41

Hi Tom,

I'm focussing on iCandy here rather than what's under the hood. Both are important to me.

However, I am increasingly finding that for what I do from day to day, the minimum spec for being able to do it is way below the minimum spec available in showrooms.

I'm not that into multimedia, apart from occasional image editing, so differences in spec between the products on offer don't matter that much to me.

Robustness, reliability and security are very important to me. OS X does well on those three. I am not sure you can say that of Vista.

I've thought about this more over the last few days, and OS X still seems to be best option. Would be nice to be able to install it on a Vaio L, though!

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