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Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Canaries in the Mac OS X and Red Hat Coal Mines?

O'Reilly editor Brian Sawyer pointed to an interesting observation over at "If I were Apple, I'd be worried about this. Two lifelong Mac fans are switching away from Macs to PCs running Ubuntu Linux: first it was Mark Pilgrim and now Cory Doctorow. Nerds are a small demographic, but they can also be the canary in the coal mine with stuff like this." Here's Mark's post. And here's Cory's. And it looks like Paul Bausch might not be far behind. Good timing for Ubuntu Hacks, although we might also want to take a leaf from David Pogue's book, and do a Switching to Ubuntu as well :-) Brian Jepson added to the editors' list thread: "I've been hearing these rumblings as well, but I don't know what to make of them. One of my friends just told me that all this switching away buzz has convinced him to decide against switching to Mac OS X, and he's going to move from Windows to Ubuntu instead."

But never mind Apple looking over its shoulder. How about Red Hat? Interest in Ubuntu is remarkably high. Take a look at the O'Reilly Research - Yahoo! Buzz Market:


Ubuntu garners nearly 30% of Linux searches on Yahoo! vs only about 14% for Red Hat, and only about 2% for Fedora, and the prediction market shows a stock price of $16.15 for Ubuntu, $10.97 for Red Hat, and $8 for Fedora.

(For more background on the buzz market, see the about page. (There's also an IEEE paper describing the Yahoo! buzz market's methodology, but it's a pdf behind a member firewall.) Briefly, though, Yahoo!'s goal with the game is to see whether a futures market can predict search volume, and O'Reilly's is to see whether search volume can predict broader tech trends. Participants buy and sell stocks corresponding to a basket of search terms, which are then ranked against the actual percentage of search volume in the related stocks in that specific market. The graph above has three parts. The top part shows the stock price trend, the middle block shows absolute spikes in search volume, and the bottom shows the percentage trend in search volume. There is also an invidividual page for each stock in the market, which allows you to buy and sell that stock, but also contains a link showing the search terms that are aggregated to make up that stock.)

P.S. The reason the graphs start about June 11 is that we recently did a refresh, introducing new markets on that date.

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Comments: 152

Mandeep Shergill   [06.30.06 09:16 AM]

As much as I love Ubuntu, I don't think we can expect any real migrations from OSX-land in the future.

Let's not get carried away guys.

Tim O'Reilly   [06.30.06 09:38 AM]

We're not getting carried away, just stirring the pot :-) In the same editors' list discussion, Mike Loukides wrote: "I don't know. At the Rails conference, the laptop census was easily 90%
apple, and I'd say that Windows had a solid majority among the rest. You see the same thing at JavaOne, except more Windows (probably 70% apple, 20% win, 10% linux)."

JesterXL   [06.30.06 10:34 AM]

The most important requirement for any OS: Can it run Counterstrike?

If so, I'll install it!

Swashbuckler   [06.30.06 10:47 AM]

We're not getting carried away, just stirring the pot :-)

That sounds like something Dvorak would say, like when he hypothesized that Apple would dump OSX for Windows.

Tim O'Reilly   [06.30.06 11:20 AM]

Ugh. The Dvorak comparison is hopefully not apt. I do think that there's real buzz around Ubuntu. I'm not saying that just to be controversial. The part that was pot-stirring was the :-)'d comment about needing to write a switching from the Mac to Ubuntu book. And I gave it a :-) for a reason. But as Samuel Delaney once wrote, "Tone of voice: an insufficient vehicle for irony." How much more true online!

Gerald Buckley   [06.30.06 11:58 AM]

You forgot to mention Tim Bray is mulling the switch too. You know, all this stuff is really novel interest. In late 2004 Jeremy Zawadony was kicking Ubuntu around... went with OS X anyway and subsequently went with... Windows (gasp!).

So, at the end of the day... we'll settle down with the tool that suits us or get fed up with it and find one that suits us better.

What I like about you guys (and btw your Safari service is AWESOME!) is that you track this stuff like a spider in her web. Super cool that you share as much of that intel as you do!

Tony Vance   [06.30.06 12:00 PM]

Tim, I think your radar sense is on to something again. However, I'd like to offer myself as a counter example in that I am moving from Ubuntu to OS X this weekend when I purchase a MacBook.

Ubuntu has impressed me as the most polished and feature-rich Linux distro I've used so far (among SUSE, Fedora, Debian, and Mandriva). I love that it improves on the robust Debian distro, offering fast development releases and an emphasis on usability. Ubuntu has improved a great deal in just its first two years of existence, and I fully expect alpha geeks and savvy tech users to adopt Ubuntu in favor of Mac OS X in the future. However, there still several limitations to Ubuntu and Linux in general that are prompting me to move to OS X.

First, I find that Linux still requires a large degree of administration to work properly. I use several applications that require a kernel recompile every time a new version of the Linux kernel is released. I like the freedom of compiling my own kernel, the necessity of compiling the kernel in order to use the applications I need can be very frustrating.

Second, Linux lags behind Mac OS X and Windows in multimedia. Great strides have been made in recent years, but managing multimedia content is still difficult. Video editing and DVD authoring are especially salient sore points. Aside from the newly released Picasa for Linux, even managing photo albums is not as simple as it should be. Further, although Linux is so far DRM-free, this also means that Linux are shutout from online media content vendors such as iTunes and other music download services, and Warner Bros, Vongo, and others' new movie download services.

Third, although software integration has improved, the large majority of software for Linux continues to feel disjointed and fragmentary when taken as a whole. Most applications don't interoperate well with others. Simple things like dragging an image from a web page to an office document don't work. As a result, the Linux desktop is a patchwork of powerful individual applications that never quite coordinate well enough to provide a satisfying user experience.

Fourth, neither Gnome nor KDE are as usable or as graphically appealing as Mac OS X or even Windows. I recognize that UI aesthetics and usability are not important for everyone, but I along with others note that the Linux UI is in many ways inferior to that of Windows XP, much less Vista or Mac OS X. Yes, XGL is becoming widely available, but XGL strikes me as a 3D-rendering novelty without good underlying usability justification.

I could list more complaints and others could doubtlessly add their own Linux quibbles as well. In sum, although I expect Ubuntu in time to become the power user's distro of choice, Mac OS X still remains an unparalleled combination of UNIX and polished user experience.

chromatic   [06.30.06 12:46 PM]

"UI aesthetics and usability are not important for everyone"?

I switched back to Linux from Mac OS X because Linux better met my sense of aesthetics and usability. Don't confuse your sense of taste with a universal directive for How A Computer Should Look.

Kevin Farnham   [06.30.06 02:17 PM]

My article "Creating a Dual-Boot Windows XP and Ubuntu Laptop" talks about my current favorite system configuration (for my laptop, anyway):

Ubuntu's pretty nice, in my opinion. But I have to admit that I haven't yet explored Apple products. I may do so soon, since I may buy a Mac laptop for my daughter when we send her off to college. I wouldn't consider sending her off with an Ubuntu laptop -- not yet, anyway.

Pat   [06.30.06 10:44 PM]

I recall being at OSCON four years ago and noticing that about 1/3 of the attendees had Powerbooks or iBooks. Every year since then the numbers increased until it was probably something like 60 to 70% last year. As was noted, recent conferences like RailsConf have something close to 90% Mac ownership. Now that the numbers have gotten so high above 50%, there was bound to be a backlash. Geeks tend not to be comfortable with the whole 'in' crowd thing, afterall. So the backlash seems to be driven, in part, by the need to be different and, ironically, in many of the current programming communities being different means having a Linux laptop instead of a MacBook. Perhaps Apple is not becoming a victim of it's own success among geeks...

Swashbuckler   [07.01.06 07:05 AM]

I noticed something similar at ETech earlier this year. At least 50% of the attendees were using Macs. My manager said that last year's OSCON was the same way.

Dr. J. Waldenstein   [07.01.06 04:51 PM]

I would think that a switch away from Mac by one open source zealot and one insignificant author of really bad science fiction novels would only improve Apple's reputation amongst those of us who choose our computer platforms for rational reasons.

Buxton Pyland   [07.02.06 01:45 AM]

I came about this close (imagine my thumb and index finger really, really close to each other 8) to switching to Debian PowerPC. But there was one critical thing I needed; a Citrix client. I normally use the client for Java, but there's no JRE for Debian PowerPC that I've found (No, Kaffe and GCJ just don't cut it). I was going to put WinXP on an old PC I had for just running the Citrix client, but the CD-ROM drive went on the fritz during installation. If I believed in a god, I would think he was trying to tell me something. 8)

Anyhow, I guess I'll stick with OSX for now, at least until the PowerBook finally breaks. It has enough *nix in it to scratch that particular itch without getting summarily infected. Once in a great while, I'll login with ">console" and get a plain text screen just to get it out of my system. I wonder if Mark, Cory, etc. tried that since it seems their respective beefs are primarily software rather than hardware related.

Antonio Rodriguez   [07.02.06 07:28 AM]


I think you're on to something, and where the desktop (fixed workstation) market is concerned, I think you're right (servers are already owned by linux for all but the biggest Apple zealots).

However, without a really well integrated HW/SW combo for laptops, Ubuntu doesn't stand a chance. Power management is still the big sore thumb sticking out. And of course, we'd also need a great HW maker which is hard to imagine give how proprietary VAIOs are and how much Lenovo has screwed up the Thinkpads.

Richard Earney   [07.03.06 01:08 PM]

Of course the really tech-savvy run Mac OS X on their MacBook Pro with a Parallels install of Ubuntu - offering the best of both worlds ;-))

Jeff Flowers   [07.03.06 01:57 PM]

Personally speaking, if I was going to switch back to Linux, it would be to get away from what I feel is the biggest problem with OS X and XP: bloat and lack of control. I would run something like Gentoo, Debian, or Arch; distributions that try to be a good Unix instead of striving to recreate OS X or XP.

As for Mark, I find his main reason for leaving the Mac platform to be a bit false. Ensuring that your data will last means keeping data in open formats, not necessarily that your entire operating system must be free.

Joshua   [07.03.06 02:20 PM]

I agree with Dr. J. These are hardly the people that would be leading some kind of charge, as if there ever will be. They may have an online reputation but to the rest of the word they are nobodies. And if we're just talking about the geek world, there are still plenty of Apple geeks out there.

Ask yourself this, why does MP feel the need to tell everyone he knows he's switching when he knows for a fact it's going to cause a stir? Last week I bought a different brand of bagels at the store, but I didn't feel the need to tell the world about it.

Mr. Abuse   [07.03.06 02:41 PM]

As far as canaries in mines go, I have a Mac that broke about 6 months ago. Based on what I'm reading lately, I'm thinking of just building an Ubuntu box, at least until the MacIntel desktops come out and I can afford one of those.

Whether or not this translates into a "mass migration" is, of course, an entirely different question. But picking Linux over Apple (while within my technical abilities) has never been a serious possibility for me until now.

Moritz   [07.03.06 02:56 PM]

The Graphics at ar a little bit hard to read.
Could you take distinct symbols and larger axis labels?

web design uk   [07.03.06 03:02 PM]

If I were Apple I'd be worried too

tsunami   [07.03.06 03:04 PM]

I changed from linux to OSX. I know a big bunch of people that have done so. OSX is way too easy to maintain compared to linux. These so-called hc-applers doesn't turn my head back to linux

Robin 'Roblimo' Miller   [07.03.06 03:08 PM]

I have no plans to switch to Ubuntu.

(That's because I already use it -- but if I didn't I *would* switch!)

blackrim   [07.03.06 03:10 PM]

I swtiched to Ubuntu. Hardward freedom and better OSS support.

Matthew   [07.03.06 03:11 PM]

Any sensible person knew this was coming. Ever since Apple starting becoming healthy and competitive in the last eight or nine years, the clock was ticking. Even though Macs and OS X still have a tiny market share, the high profile success of iPods made the the loss of guys like Pilgrim and Doctorow a forgone conclusion.

I like both of them very much, but like most smart guys they do a lot of public posing. Granted they are posing for a relatively small group of people who actually know who they are. Nonetheless they are concerned, very concerned, with the opinions of the cabal of geeks they cater to.

Simply put, Apple is too popular and successful now for guys like Doctorow and Pilgrim to associate with. Just as the vast majority of PC users pick Windows *because* everyone else uses it, Pilgrim and Doctorow, and other intellectuals alike, avoid it for the very same reason. Just like the guy in high school who dresses in all black and dyes their hair purple, guys like Cory and Mark often define themselves by their opposition to the mainstream, not by any reason or logic.

Apple, with the iPod and, lately, the MacBook, has become one of the popular kids.

And Cory Doctorow and Mark Pilgrim have gone off in search of the chain-smoking goth click.

mark   [07.03.06 03:15 PM]

I recently started using Ubuntu "Dapper Drake", and I have been extremely impressed with it ever since. Those who say that Ubuntu provides no real threat either haven't tried it, or dismiss it because it's Linux (no games, etc.). If your hardware is compatible with Ubuntu out of the box, the installation is just as easy, if not easier, than Windows (even for non-technical people). Plus, the Gnome interface is clean and fast, and installation of programs is as simple as checking a box and waiting for it to install. Could plenty of people migrate to Ubuntu? Sure. Will they? Only time will tell.

It really depends on what you use your computer for. If you do music related things, go Windows or Mac. If you're big into photoshop, again, Windows or Mac (although Gimp isn't too bad). If you're a gamer, you might as well stick with Windows, unless all you play is solitare... in that case Ubuntu is *better* for games. But if you're one of the many other people, Ubuntu is a viable and attractive option.

slyturtle   [07.03.06 03:15 PM]

I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Pilgrim decided to switch back. (Then I again, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't.) He's a long time mac user, and the thing about mac users is they tend to want things to be just so. My experience with Linux is that it ain't bad. Very solid, and getting better. But not quite ways that, especially to a mac user, can really get under your skin.

I think the more likely outcome is a drive for open source alternatives to Apple-supplied applications, and a parallel drive to shame Apple into opening up their storage formats more.

Max   [07.03.06 03:15 PM]

Much as I like Ubuntu and Gentoo, I like OS X more :)

Ubuntu is a great distro for beginners, and I will always remember it as the only distro that had wireless and Direct Rendering enabled.

Memory leak problems with Gnome and such on AMD 64 don't make me very happy though, and Ubuntu package repository seems a bit unstable at times =(

I also tend to prefer Solaris 10 for server work, and OS X as a client but YMMV, and Ubuntu is a kick ass Linux Distro!

Trigo   [07.03.06 03:17 PM]

I don't think that this news has any relevance in the real world, as much as I'd like to believe the contrary, especially when we take into account that it's Ubuntu these people are talking about. As much as everybody loves the whole Ubuntu concept, and despite all the buzz, it's still an inferior desktop OS, from an end-user standpoint, when compared to SUSE for instance. It needs a lot of tinkering to be really usable for tasks that a XP or OSX user would take for granted - not that other distros don't, but Ubuntu has always required a bit more. In the end, Linux in its various forms is improving but there's still a long way to go before it reaches OSX. I'm a linux enthusiast but I need to go the extra mile to get everything in 'working order (DVD & general multimedia support, wireless etc.) BTW I've abandoned Macs for PCs thanks to positive experiences with Ubuntu and SUSE, but the real reason is that Apple asks about $4,500 for an iMac in Brazil (yes you read that right, four thousand and five hundred dollars). I decided to buy a Dell laptop and build my own desktop and travel to Argetina and Chile with the money instead. Linux allowed me that. :-)

anjan bacchu   [07.03.06 03:18 PM]

hi tim,

as Antonio said "However, without a really well integrated HW/SW combo for laptops, Ubuntu doesn't stand a chance. Power management is still the big sore thumb sticking out. And of course, we'd also need a great HW maker which is hard to imagine give how proprietary VAIOs are and how much Lenovo has screwed up the Thinkpads."

Michael Dell has said that DELL does NOT intend to pre-package/install lots of linux distros. I'm thinking that in 6 months, DELL will start experimenting with Ubuntu -- especially the server version. That should give them enough experience to start working on the Desktop version -- which means that most Laptops from DELL could probably have full support for Ubuntu in about a year ?



qwijibo   [07.03.06 03:41 PM]

I've gone the other direction too - added a macbook pro running OSX to my collective of machines.

My main machine will always be linux (not intending to buy a mac desktop anytime soon), but OSX just suffers from less of the little annoyances than linux does - none of which are big on their own, but they do accumulate.

Having said that, the reason I waited until the intel machines to try OSX was so I could run ubuntu on it if OSX sucked.

Michael Gracie   [07.03.06 03:41 PM]

Uh, Tim would be "stirring the pot" to get Apple to re-open the kernel, eh?

Anonymous   [07.03.06 03:47 PM]

In response to "which means that most Laptops from DELL could probably have full support for Ubuntu in about a year ?"

Hopefully you are right especially because of all the recent releases of laptop systems from Dell that use the expresscard technology that Ubuntu barely supports, if at all.

ErkTrek   [07.03.06 03:53 PM]

conundrum: Cool, trendy style versus geek cred
and "Mini-Me" evil corporation versus "Humanity to others".

Wizard Jobs seems like he's asking us to "pay no attention
to the man behind the curtain" except maybe he's really
the wicked witch of the West bearing high markups,
proprietary offerings and things DRM.

For the IngSoc drones at a Two Minute Hate this may in fact
be a good thing. Thinking different is tough.

FredB   [07.03.06 03:58 PM]

mark wrote:

"It really depends on what you use your computer for. If you do music related things, go Windows or Mac. If you're big into photoshop, again, Windows or Mac (although Gimp isn't too bad).(...)"

I think it's weird that people, specially geeks, claim they use their computer only for a few things. I mean: who doesn't listen to music, sometimes edit or record a track, have pictures and want to edit some of them, sometimes have to make a small video, code or heavy text-editing, etc. I'll stop here, to each his own. A computer have to allow me to do everything I think of, and even things I never thought I could do. And I want the basic conf. to be easy to do, I rather spend my time doing things.

That's what OS X is to me. From Photoshop, ProTools, iMovie, FinalCut, Logic, iDVD, etc. to bash, ruby, web dev., TextMate, etc. All well integrated in one OS. No Linux distro I tried allowed me to do as much.

In response to the article, check this Rui Carmo's post

Roger   [07.03.06 04:04 PM]

I've a Ubuntu box. It controls my X10 devices. Other than that it just sits there. Photoshop runs just fine on my G5 PowerMac; not on my Ubuntu box. And no, I'm not interested in Gimp as an alternative. Ubuntu also doesn't run Adobe Lightroom.

Ubuntu doesn't recognize my wireless card so a WRT54G with DD WRT in client mode substitues.

Ubuntu's not bad but it's not OS X by a long shot. Many of my old gripes about Linux as a desktop resurfaced when I installed it. The major difference being they were easier to overcome. Still, it ain't OS X.

The nerds are welcome to it.

Anonymous   [07.03.06 04:09 PM]

I use Ubuntu on a Dell Latitude D610. It took four weeks and seemingly endless trials to get a kernel that ran stable on this machine. Despite serious attempts, sound still does not function all the time. OpenOffice (which I'm sometimes forced to use) is slow, buggy, and instable. The only multimedia application that works is mplayer on the command line.

Apart from this, Ubuntu is a decent distribution.

I'm what people call a linux geek. I've been using linux since kernel 2.0.16 or so, I've installed Debian here and there, and I know my way around problems.

But my next computer will be a Mac. I just don't want the mess any more. I want a system that works without me spending nights on configuration and bug fixing.

Even if not everything is perfect: With Mac, there at least won't be five different sound systems that interfere with each other.

Vance Dubberly   [07.03.06 04:21 PM]

I switched from 0S 9 to Yellow Dog back in the day, does that count? Then OS X came out and I switched right back. Ubuntu is a far cry from Yellow Dog, but it's also a far cry from OS X. I simply can not think of a single reason to bother with it on a desktop Mac. Now on the server... that's a whole other story.

Anonymous   [07.03.06 04:30 PM]

When bbedit does an Ubuntu version I 2 may switch!

ouspensky   [07.03.06 04:35 PM]

Ubuntu rocks... OSX rocks...

but I see them as different things... I'm a musician so:

OSX allows me to use a Motu 828 MKII firewire audiointerface ... I can use LogicAudio... Ableton Live... MaxMSP... It's my favorite music machine.

Ubuntu is my favorite computer desktop.

see what I mean ?


Paul   [07.03.06 04:49 PM]

I like Ubuntnu and am using it at work. The only thing I don't like about it are the modifications they've made from stock GNOME. This is one of the reasons why I originally switched from Mandrake to Fedora, and then to Ubuntu. I want to use a stock desktop environment without any vendor-specific modifications. This was the case about a year ago but I don't like the recent changes in 6.06. The new icon theme is pretty good though. I guess I can compile from source (which is what I used to do) but then I can't use the awesome package management system.

Anonymous   [07.03.06 05:09 PM]

I have 7 computers at home, and three of them are Macs: An Intel Mini, a dual G4, and a PowerBook. I clearly don't hate Apple, but I'm certainly no fan-boy either.

Although I like the look of the hardware and its small footprint, the mini is fairly mediocre as a media center, and I honestly regret the purchase most days. I am awaiting a Linux distro that can run on the hardware at this point, as my previous media center was a Linux machine and it rocked until the day the motherboard died.

My G4 is my music workstation. There is really no substitute for Logic Pro, but I must admit that the system is not very useful to me for any other purpose.

The Powerbook was initially going to be a portable music notepad, but it ended up being far too underpowered for the task -- even with an external firewire sound system and external drives. I more-or-less gave the system to my wife who is a graphic designer. She's just as comfortable on Linux as on any other OS. She (like me) misses Amarok on our media system.

What it comes down to for me is this: for specific tasks like music or graphic design, there's no beating Mac OS X. For general purpose computing (web browsing/design, listening to music, email, programming, system administration), Linux (and especially Ubuntu/Kubuntu) is so much more usable for me.

lnx   [07.03.06 05:10 PM]

I work on both Mac OS-X and Linux and I have to admit that usability-wise I think that KDE is much better than OS-X.
3 things that drive me nuts about the Mac:
- you can't resize a window by dragging any edge or corner (you have to go to the tiny thing in the bottom right corner)
- the finder can't sort directories separately from files and you can't type in the path name
- raise on click and click to focus are not customisable

Anonymous   [07.03.06 05:20 PM]

Why choose? For years now, I've used a Powerbook with OS X and a dual-monitor dual-CPU x86 desktop machine with Mandriva Linux.

Both run much of the same open source software (Emacs, Apache, PHP, bash, perl, Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, Audacity, etc.) and easily network together with Samba and ssh/scp.

They work well together. I tend to do photos, music, video, etc. on the Mac using iLife. Photoshop is nice on the Mac, but I also use GIMP too, on either one. I tend to do web development on Linux, although I sometimes use Dreamweaver on the Mac (mostly I use Xemacs). But there's no hard and fast rule, it is whatever I feel like and is convenient.

I do tend to try to pick applications, where possible, that run on both Linux and Mac, so I can choose when/where to use them.

If you want a cool Linux desktop, check out e-live (, a very cool Linux distro using Debian with the cutting-edge version of the Enlightenment window manager. The "live" in the name refers to the "live CD" approach - but you can also install it from the CD. I think I'll switch to that (I already run Enlightenmment instead of KDE, GNOME, etc.) next. Ubuntu didn't impress me.

Jon   [07.03.06 05:26 PM]

Am i the only person who noticed that on the chart above nowhere mentions anything about MAC OS X? The buzz about Mac is incredibly high. No time soon is Ubuntu going to surpass Mac. Apple has released a new version of X with the exception of this year. Every day more and more people make the switch to Mac noticing how much better that they are then windows and other operating systems. I have tried Ubuntu, Solaris and multiple other types of UNIX and LINUX and i cant find anything that beats MAC. And plus with apple making it's own hardware they are one of a kind. Plus as mentioned earlier nerds don't like being with a crowd and like to use something different.

Yarou   [07.03.06 05:42 PM]

More like noobuntu.
Ubuntu doesn't even come with a compiler afaik.
Switching from OSX Tiger to Ubuntu isn't a smart choice.
After all, OSX is a BSD-based OS, and imho BSD > Linux.

Christopher Williams   [07.03.06 05:53 PM]

MP's problem has little to do with OS X. He states that he wants to be able to view his content in 50 years which he claims Apple will not allow him to do. However, if one reads his previous article concerning long term storage, one will notice that his problem is not file formats or closed-source software, but that he is a data pack-rat who thinks that going to a completely open OS will solve all of his problems.

As long as he is unwilling to pick and choose which data to keep and which to part from (does he really think that being able to view what star rating he gave a song 20 years ago will help him?), no OS can solve his problems. He is on the path to living in a technological cave, constantly making sure that years worth of worthless data (in addition to the unquestionable mountains of good data) are backed up, and then again remotely, and that all of his formats are properly viewable, etc. He is far more concerned with preserving data rather than in producing it.

FOSS is great in theory, but the entire platform lacks the cohesiveness to be usable by any more than those who are geekier than thou. All Linux distros, including the much hailed Ubuntu, are little more than an utter mess when looked at as a whole.

Richard   [07.03.06 05:54 PM]

I've used Linux for about, um, 8+ years (IIRC). Debian mostly. I've tried RedHat, and (what was) Mandrake. Currently run SuSe on a server at work but definitely prefer Debian on servers (it is The One True Way ;-) ).

Generally though I've hated Linux on the desktop (or my laptop). Basically I have very little patience for (what I consider) to be very simple things not working (like my sound card). Yes it would help if a great many manufacturers weren't dorks, if more people wrote drivers instead of the bazillion ICQ clients in existence, such is life.

So I've used Windows (and OS/2, MacOS (classic & OSX), even OS/400) and despite all the vitriol I have for MS and the headaches Windows has given me, it has by and large done the job. Recently 2 mates of mine bought a MacBook each. I was tempted, sorely. (Now I truly understand why that logo has a bite out of it, Steve Jobs you sired a comely wench...)

Then I tried Ubuntu 5.5, nice, installed ok, pretty much everything worked. Dapper came out and I tried it, then blew away my Windows install. It just friggin worked! Out of the box! Everything installed and set up fine - on a laptop! I did have to compile the driver for the WiFi card myself but goddamn if the documentation on the Ubuntu Wiki wasn't easy to find, clear, concise, accurate and helpful, it was *easy* - I mean dead easy, so easy you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

I know this was about Apple, but damn if this isn't the single best desktop Linux distro ever - it is the one that finally got Windows out of my house (my flatmate just started using it too). A mate of mine saw it this evening and now HE wants it installed (and he knows nada about this sort of thing).

I haven't missed a single Windows app, (well, ok, I miss WinAmp, but that's it, honest).

Tim O'Reilly   [07.03.06 06:08 PM]

Jon --

You were asking for a graph that shows Mac OS X vs. Linux. (I had introduced the graph to talk about Ubuntu vs. Red Hat and Fedora.) There is a general category in the O'Reilly Research/Yahoo! Buzz Game for operating systems, which shows Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux etc., but it's not at the level of detail that would show Ubuntu.

(Sorry, Moritz, that the graphs aren't any bigger. However, I don't have the source data handy to regenerate them (see, it does matter!); I'm just clipping the graphs from the Yahoo! Buzz Game site.)

Brett   [07.03.06 06:19 PM]

I'm a "multiplatform" user. Haven't seen mention of many of those here. Anyway, I've got a Linux server /desktop at home -- acting as a Web/File/Media server, as well as a desktop. I have a ThinkPad T41 running XP. It's soon to be ebay'ed because I bought a MacBook Pro shortly after BootCamp was announced. Funnily, I haven't put BootCamp on the MBP as I found Parallels (think VMWare) and it runs Windows XP for the extremely small sliver of things I can't do on my MBP. Those include running Visio for work, and recently streaming the World Cup football matches from ESPN 360.

As a long time Linux and Windows user, I have to say that I really love OS X. Fantastic desktop. Lot's of mainstream apps. X11 and BSD under the hood. Open source at your fingertips. It's an OS powerful enough for an old Linux hand, but simple enough on the surface that I'd feel good putting one on my mother's desk and driving 1500 miles away. I can't say either of those two things for Ubuntu or Windows, and can't forsee being able to do so for several years.

Tim O'Reilly   [07.03.06 06:22 PM]

FWIW, the point of this entry was not to say which operating system is "best." That's a personal decision. The point was twofold:

1. When some long-time Mac diehards switch to something else, it's worth paying attention. And I know these guys. Despite the cynical comments that the Mac is now too popular for people who just want to be cool, I don't think that's a factor at all. In both cases, it's a combination of frustration with some of Apple's policies and the fact that the alternatives are getting better. They don't have to be as good as Mac OS X to be good enough if the perceived negatives are high enough to encourage the switch.

I'm not suggesting that there is a major wave of departures -- just a few early warning signs. Mac OS X is clearly the laptop OS of choice at O'Reilly conferences, and as some have noted, it's a super choice for those who want both desktop apps and a familiar UNIX development environment. (It's still my personal choice.)

2. Whether Ubuntu is a threat to Mac OS X or not, it should certainly be on the radar of the Linux vendors.

There's another point that I didn't make in the original post that I will make now: all of the debate about which operating system will "win" or "is better" is largely irrelevant in the long term. The fundamental platform is changing. The internet, not the device, is the platform, and "software above the level of a single device" is the new norm.

All of the new killer apps (almost all of which are internet apps, from Google to eBay to Skype), and they are largely agnostic as to what operating system you happen to be running.

It's a very competitive industry again, and everything is up for grabs. In an unsettled market like this, anything can happen, and companies need to be alert to competition from unexpected directions.

Abel Cheung   [07.03.06 06:35 PM]

Indeed when comparing to other Linux distributions, Ubuntu enjoys far more attention then others; however, this article astonishes me much that the analysis is based on a game!

I have had personal experience with that yahoo buzz game. At the earlier days it is enjoyable, however later this virtual market is growing full of cheaters who create thousands of fake accounts and artificially inflate certain markets so they rise and drop several hunderd percents of price within, say, 30 minutes. And this game is used as a supporting evidence! Ha!

Aaron Huslage   [07.03.06 06:52 PM]

I agree that this is an interesting metric to look at, but I'm a little concerned as to why these people are switching platforms. They seem to be focueed on an overall strategy of lock-in that I don't believe Apple has ever espoused. All of these people have complained about DRM and file format issues which are universal to the industry. I am tempted to say: "You can run, but you can't hide," but I don't think it's that simple.

There is a tendency for we geek types to oversimplify and generalize to substantiate our points. I feel like this might be part of the reasoning behind these folks switching to Ubuntu. Linux has come a long way, but it is subject to the same market forces that MacOS and Windows are. There is no vacuum here where somehow Linux gets out scott free.

I will personally stick with OSX and will remain happy. Cory and the others will switch to Ubuntu and undoubtedly find a brief solace from the issues that they say they are worried about. These things are all fine.

As for the Radar, I think Tim's point is valid and deserves notice within O'Reilly for their future activities. Apple has nothing to lose at this point. And from what I know of Apple they do notice this kind of stuff. I also know that Ubuntu has been on the radar at several Linux vendors for quite a while as a potential competitor in the desktop space.

Tim O'Reilly   [07.03.06 07:02 PM] -- The more interesting part of the buzz game to me is the bottom third of the graph. That shows the actual search volume on Yahoo! While people might game "the game", gaming the Yahoo! search volume is a very different proposition.

Of course, the Yahoo! search population is very different from Google, in our experience. It skews more consumer, while Google skews more technical.

And as noted in the post, we aren't yet prepared to say that search volume actually predicts trends. The point of the game is to watch this data over time, and only if it does turn out to be predictive, to take the data more seriously.

We're still in the early stages of learning how to let the internet tell us stories about what we collectively are thinking. It's a new frontier for opinion research.

Charles Follymacher   [07.03.06 07:08 PM]

I do think this is the beginning of a serious trend (and I say this not only because I was thinking of it myself ;). I suspect many a geek moved to OS X a few years ago b/c linux-as-desktop simply wasn't ready yet. Too much hassle for the payoff; sometimes there is a balance to be walked between adhering to ideals and productivity/practicality and lots of geeks decided OS X was the better compromise: unix underpinnings with a UI you couldn't laugh at.

I abandoned my own two-year experiment with Linux about a year before Ubuntu came to the fore. At this point, it (linux/gnome/ubuntu) is now ready for prime time, for most geeks' uses.

Over the next two, three years things will stratify into three clear groups: windows for the masses, os x for candy-minded graphic/web designers and linux for the properly oss-wired code monkey.

The trend is beginning, but it's not something Apple needs to fear b/c the geek market is no longer (if it ever really was) its target market. It was ever the average consumer who is ignorant of (and couldn't care less about) the unix underside. So the drift is limited. Microsoft should be concerned before Apple.

As for mathew's comment earlier, it only shows your ignorance/youth. It is more than the counterculture aspect -- these two guys were with apple when its popularity was well higher than it is today.

Charles Follymacher   [07.03.06 07:11 PM]

p.s. I'm pretty sure I'll be trading in my ibook for a SUSE-certified thinkpad before fall.

Mister Snuggles   [07.03.06 08:09 PM]

Cory Doctorow is a jackass.
Only the 2% of Mac users who are total asshats will move over to Linux. Most Mac users don't use Mac because they're asshat geeks, they use it because they're designers and Mac is a superior OS to Microsoft.

This is retarded speculation, basically designed to try to fuck over Apple. Thanks dudes. Way to go.

Terry Thiel   [07.03.06 08:15 PM]

Lets get real. Anyone who read their switching stories can see they dying to go Linux/Open Source anyway. The silly complaints about Apple "locking up" their day are the giveaway. Your average user does not yet want to mess around with admining their personal machine including long time Unix weenies like me. They sure don't want to do apt get for their apps. There are just too many advatnages to the Apple hardware/OS combination and the very high quality of Mac software. There is nothing magical about Ubuntu btw. Great OS for sure but not any better than existing Linux offerings other than the catchy name. I'm quite sure Apple has nothing to worry about.

me   [07.03.06 08:31 PM]

"As for mathew's comment earlier, it only shows your ignorance/youth."

That was a really dumb thing to say.

haggus   [07.03.06 09:26 PM]

You could compare Linux to Harley-Davidsons before the 80s. They were great signs of freedom and rebellion, but you spent four hours working on them for every hour riding them. Finally, Harley looked at the Japanese bikes and realized people in general want something reliable and nice to look at. They changed(as Apple did?), and by the 90s were the bike to have. Meanwhile Linux is looking like Triumph bikes!

thomas lackner   [07.03.06 09:47 PM]

Those of you who are arguing about the "common man" switching to Ubuntu are missing the point. When powerful, very public members of the Internet community begin to switch to Linux, it signals that Apple has finally jumped the shark with their ridiculous bifurcated attitude toward open source. Eventually it will trickle down to the masses.

The height of hypocrisy is to publically espouse an open architecture for the software that runs the Internet and our lives, and then to pay through the nose for the privilege of being a victim of Apple's DRM and lock in. I wonder how many of the people who are defending Apple in this thread would also defend Microsoft's efforts to keep their Office data file formats baroque or closed. Both Apple and Microsoft are relics of the last century.

MacMusicGuy   [07.03.06 09:56 PM]

I realize alpha geeks aren't big on thrift, but no one has mentioned cost. I would think it matters to some people.

Here's my story. I can blame my Linux experimentation on Second Life. I use an old redhat server via CLI at work, but my home machine was a G3 iMac. (I replace computers every 5 to 7 years). Then I discovered SL at the beginning of 2006. My G3 wasn't going to run it. My options were

1) Buy a mini for $500. Hope SL ran on the barely fast enough processor and ATI card. If it didn't there was no way around it.

2) Build a linux box. SL was getting ready to release an alpha client. For the cost of a mini, I could assemble a system that clearly met the SL spec. If it didn't work, I could fall back to XP.

Even though I had never assembled a PC before, I went out and bought components. I ended up with Ubuntu since I had some install cd's sitting around from a previous episode of "I'm going to try installing this on an old machine."

SL worked and I upgraded to dapper this month, The Linux box is now my machine and the old iMac is now my wife's (we had shared). To be fair, I probably use the linux box because the processor is much faster than the G3, but I love the software choices.

Not that Linux is perfect. I put an AMD 64 bit build on the machine, which means I can't get a Flash player. My other complaint is for Steve Jobs. Despite several attempts at a workaround, I cannot get my Linux machine to talk to my iPods.

Pakk99   [07.03.06 10:23 PM]

Hey, if they want to switch, thats fine by me. I read both of their blog posts, and pretty much found their arguments unconvincing at best. How much of an idiot do you have to be to believe that ANY content created today will still be "usable in 50 years"? And your "fair use" rights are limited by law, not by Apple. And do we want to talk about the quality of OSS versus Apple's product line? I mean, really? Firefox is clunky, and doesn't render half as nicely as Safari or Webkit. Camino is cool, but buggy. Thunderbird is slow-running, bloated, and sports a ton of corruption problems. Sunbird isn't reliable. VLC doesn't have half the feature set of Quicktime Pro, and offers some pretty ugly playback.

And lets not get into Linux. I work in both OS's...I'm a filmmaker and graphic designer. What person is stupid enough to compare Linux's range of professional apps with Apples library? Cinelerra vs. Final Cut Pro? Jahshaka vs. Shake? Audacity or Ardour vs. Logic? S5 vs. Keynote? And let's not forget Apple's 3rd party developers...GIMP vs. Photoshop? Inkscape vs. Illustrator? Scribus vs. In Design? Nvu vs. GoLive or Dreamweaver? OpenOffice vs. MS Office? And I could go on and on. pay for your software on a Mac, but you're paying for 10 times as much functionality, stability, and reliability. Linux and the OSS community make great apps with some serious drawbacks for anyone who uses a computer as a tool in a non-computer field. In order to match Apple's functionality in Linux, you need to drop significantly more money on top-shelf, commercial-grade apps, like Avid.

Finally, lets talk about elegance. Some people complain about the inconsistencies in Apple's inteface design, but at least its only cosmetic. The inconsistencies in design organization across Linux apps is a nightmare. The controls always feel clunky and inelegant. The themes are a joke staright out of 1995. And I could go on.

I gave Linux a go, but I was no where near as productive as I am in OSX, and the results of my work were significantly compromised by using less-than-adequate OSS tools in Linux.

Maybe someday that will chnage. We'll just have to wait and see.

Anonymous   [07.03.06 10:48 PM]

Cory Doctorow is a jackdaw, always attracted by bright shiny objects.

James Ryan   [07.03.06 10:57 PM]

I switched from OS X to Ubuntu weeks ago and have not looked back. Even on the same hardware, Ubuntu is faster, surprisingly easier to use in many ways, and I have found the Linux community to be far more helpful and friendly than the Mac community Just reading some of the idiotic reactions on the various boards reinforces the biggest problem with Apple is that like the old Amiga it has become more of a cult than an actual product worth using any longer.

Roland   [07.03.06 11:27 PM]

I dont see any real advantage (exept maybe playing World of Warcraft) of MacosX to Unix (i prefere Gentoo but thats a detail) and im switched nearly completly. But this is more due to the fact that apple switched their CPU to the FUD based x86 stuff. With this switch they lost me as a Customer and as this fact i also have to switch the OS, and there the onloy choice existing is Linux. Unfortunatly its now getting quite expensive to circumvent the x86 Monopolised (and so uninnovative and futureless) Market.

Yikes   [07.03.06 11:30 PM]

The funniest thing about this is reading all the Mac users gripping on every site carrying this. Lash out, worried Mac snobs, keep lashing out. These people obviously feel threatened enough that it's causing them to blow a gear and start trying to belittle the messengers with things like "I don't write about buying bagels, why should these guys write about switching OS's?" or "no one knows who these guys are anyway." Uh, apparently YOU do. My guess is if MP, CD, et al were switching to rather than from Macs you'd be the first in line with the "attaboys."

Pakk99   [07.03.06 11:34 PM]

James Ryan, good luck. I tried the switch, and it simply didn't take. In fact, I took a serious speed hit when it came to high-level photo-processes and video and audio rendering. I also found that ALSA is a load of garbage as the underpining of an audio system, and that most of the Linux codecs weren't on par with their Mac and Windows counterparts. I aslo was increasingly frustrated by the rudimentary nature of many libraries we take for granted (a la Flash, mpeg4, Quicktime, Real, etc.) While we're on the subject, library management on Ubuntu is a ryal pain in the ass. For example, Cinelerra and Cinepaint both require the same version of openexr on the PPC, but they each require a different iteration of the library, and the libararies are in conflict. So, you have to choose your tool, becasue they won't co-exist on one box.

Finally, none of the "professional" deisgn apps conform to the formats used in the pirnting industry, and the CMYK definitions are actually approximations since very few OSS development teams can afford to pay Pantone for the library. That translates into bad color reproduction. Even those apps that deliver PDFs are poluted with artifacts on press. If all you do is cruise the web, send emails, and take a few photos here and there, you'll do fine with Linux. Unless you're in web development (not to be confused with web design), because then Linux is one hell of a platform.

Otherwise...I'll take a pass. The quality of my work is too important to me.

daGUY   [07.03.06 11:38 PM]

I think people are reading a bit too much into this OS X to Ubuntu switching. Sure, a couple of prominent, long-time Mac users are moving to Linux, which is interesting. But how many more people are moving from Windows to Mac every DAY? I don't hear anyone saying "a couple of prominent life-long Windows users have switched to Mac...should MS be paying attention because Windows might be doomed?"

I'm exaggerating, of course, but you get my point. Mac to Linux switching is less common, so it gets more press attention. Apple claims that 50% of its customers today are Windows users buying their first Mac. I imagine since that's a much more common thing, it's not reported on as widely.

Chris_B   [07.04.06 12:36 AM]

Canary in a coal mine indeed. If Cory Doctorow does something I can feel safe about doing the opposite. For all his talk of freedom he just comes off like a spoiled elite.

No problems sticking with OSX for me. Going back to Linux on a laptop, or for any client side work besides network and server admin would be like chopping off 6 of my fingers and one thumb. I like having stable printing, fonts and clipboard, much less apps that dont get in my way and let me do what I want to. Oh, and drivers. I like drivers.

Rick   [07.04.06 12:46 AM]

Hilarious, all this publicity about people switching from Mac to Ubuntu all of a sudden. I've been using Ubuntu (and before that Gentoo) on my Macs (iBooks and Powerbooks) for a few years now. Dual boot, but I hardly ever use OSX. Used the get funny looks (if not outright accusations of herecy) at conferences and meetings from the same kind of people that are now making lots of noise about switching.

Actually been thinking about switching to OSX because my current (webdevelopment) job requires a lot of multimedia support...

Whatever the future may hold, my next computer will a) be an Apple and b) run Linux, unless those should become mutually exclusive.

Of course, one of the main reasons I will continue to buy Apple is that when I need hardware-support that isn't in Linux, I don't have to boot f***ing Windows...

Phil Armstrong   [07.04.06 01:01 AM]

You always seem to get the following pattern in these kind of 'switcher' stories:

Switcher:"I've switched from OSA to OSB because of reasons X,Y and Z"
OSA user:"But OSB can't do T,U or V well enough for my work! I don't want to switch to OSB!"

The OSA user is of course completely missing the point: The switcher has their own personal preference terrain, for which they've decided OSB is the better match.

The switcher is *not* suggesting that his terrain is the same as everyone else's, nor that OSB is automatically a better match for other people's preference terrains. Even so, OSA users seem to feel threatened anyway, and rush to justify their choice of OSA.

Charles Follymacher   [07.04.06 01:30 AM]

Phil: bingo.

It's a question, really, of how many people OSB-types represent.

Kevin Ford   [07.04.06 01:37 AM]

I've always used Linux but it's still as much of a tweakers and fiddlers OS as ever. I wouldn't dream of trying to use it when I actually need to get something done.

Great to mess about with though.

Charles Follymacher   [07.04.06 01:58 AM]

"me" said:

"As for mathew's comment earlier, it only shows your ignorance/youth."

That was a really dumb thing to say.

why? It's true, the Mac has been way more popular than it is today. Macintosh market share peaked at 12% in 1993 [arstechnica article]. better ax someone, son.

Evil Al   [07.04.06 02:56 AM]

Wow, we've finally found two humans who are swithing *away* from the Mac. Let's use thousands of column inches writing about them!

Bernhard   [07.04.06 03:07 AM]

I really like Ubuntu but I think about buying a Mac because I have to do DVD Authoring (which is not very convenient with dvdauthor etc) and multitrack-recording/sequencing.
The biggest problem for me and the only reason for me to use MS Windows is that there is no convenient audio stack for LINUX. JACK is far too complicated, especially when running USB or FIREWIRE interfaces.
I own a AUDIOPHILE USB interface and it works fine with ESD or alsa, but I gave up on running JACKD with it.
There are great sequencers like Rosegarden or Ardour, but they depend on JACK.
If theres a convenient way to use more audio/video editing applications Ill finally switch to LINUX.

Jim   [07.04.06 04:53 AM]

Who cares? Really.

It was about time Doctorow ate his own dog food anyway. Inbetween big upping all his mates no one give a fuck about.

Steven   [07.04.06 07:05 AM]

I prefer MacOS because I use Mathematica, the superior computer algebra system, and this does not run well in Linux, or Windows.

me   [07.04.06 07:34 AM]

Canary in a coal mine? Puh-lease. Nobody cares. For those few who do it will be forgotten by next week. As far as alpha nerds go I feel safe doing the complete opposite.

Raven Zachary   [07.04.06 08:46 AM]

Ubuntu has great potential as a desktop operating system, but open source projects have been notoriously bad at attracting usability and design talent. Apple can afford to put these folks on the payroll and thus continues to have the upperhand on its operating system experience for consumers. I don't expect Ubuntu to have nearly as good of a desktop experience for years to come.

I am running Mac OS X on a MacBook Pro with Ubuntu, Fedora, and Windows running in Parallels, when needed.

Danni Coy   [07.04.06 09:01 AM]

I am amazed at the cluelesness of a lot of the people posting in here. The reasons for shifting are real, rational and important to some people. They are realisations that have come out of hard won experience. It has little to do with the products and a lot to do with the way apple works as a business.

I see a lot of people jumping up and down because linux does not not have highend graphics and multimedia software (well actually it has got quite a bit of highend gear - its the middle ground that is sorely lacking). The thing is if you don't need these sorts of tools or don't have 1000s of dollars to spend on them then this is kind of irrelevant.

Openess is important. Its just not today important or next week important. You however would be a fool to ignore it all together.

In the short term I don't think it will be so much of a loss for Apple as it is an endorsement for Ubuntu. The medium to long term is much more uncertain however.

Pakk99   [07.04.06 10:28 AM]

Danni Coy, are you suggesting that our reasons for staying with Apple are any less rational or important than yours for switching to Ubuntu? I couldn't care less about other people's perceptions of Apple's corporate behaviour. I don't switch to Ubuntu because my computer is a tool, not a toy, and I need an OS and software that works. Apple works. Linux doesn't, unless you're willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars. If someone else wants to tinker-around with lesser tools, they can be my guest. I've got work to do...and a picnic to get ready for. So, happy 4th.

anonymous coward   [07.04.06 11:56 AM]

Two people do not a movement make.

Bill Childers   [07.04.06 12:05 PM]

Hey Tim; if you think the the market will bear a "Switching to Ubuntu" book, I'd be happy to help out. Working on Ubuntu Hacks was a total blast. :) I switched off of OS X to Ubuntu (mostly, anyway, I still have a couple of OS X boxes around) when Warty Warthog released, and I haven't looked back. OS X isn't bad, but the options Ubuntu and Linux provide me I just can't get anywhere else. I'm at the point where I can do everything under Ubuntu that I did under OS X.

Yes, it's Linux, so it does require some messing around at the command line to get everything working just so. Like all good things, though, it's worth the effort.

J.S.T. Katz   [07.04.06 12:44 PM]

google trends I what I like to use for these types of comparisons, I can't wait until it "graduates"

Tim O'Reilly   [07.04.06 01:52 PM]

Here's another google trend certain to inflame the discussion:

Ord   [07.04.06 04:51 PM]

While hardly a star blogger, I've also switched from OSX to Ubuntu. My reasons were simple, I simply fell in love with it after installing it on my G5.

As a result I chose not to buy a MacBook as I'd planned, and bought with a laptop with Ubuntu preinstalled (from

Apple has a bit to learn from Ubuntu:

Systemwide upgrades - Every application, right down to the kernel at the click of a button.

Virtual desktops out-of-the-box

A real Uninstaller. OSX has so many duplicate system files all over the place.

Cost free upgrades!!!!

Ubuntu is faster on the same hardware.

Unless you're a Photoshop junkie, there's really little reason to hold onto a Mac these days (and even then Crossover Office will run it apparently).

Even my iPod works fine with Ubuntu. I'm not a very tech-savvy user, I just want my damn computer all to myself ;)

Bye Apple!

/me waves

BB   [07.04.06 05:05 PM]

I was a UNIX guy before moving to Windows and now I am thinking of moving to Ubuntu as well. (I was thinking of doing this before reading your post btw).


adamsj   [07.04.06 05:14 PM]

So, if OS X is steady, and Windows XP and Linux are trending down, I'm wondering what's filling in the empty space. Does it just mean that people are getting used to XP and Linux and don't need to search on them? Or is VMS making a comeback?

It'd be nice to see what (if anything identifiable) caused the peaks, particularly the one at the start of the fourth quarter of 2005. The time points that are shown don't seem to have much to do with the trend lines (with the possible exception of F).

It's hard to interpret this without more detail on what sorts of searches we're seeing.

don williams   [07.04.06 05:25 PM]

WOW, two or three nerds have left OSX for Ubunctu! Yep, that certainly explains why MacBook sales have skyrocketed so high recently.

Now, if Apple is lucky, maybe two or three more nerds will leave and Mac sales will increase all the more then the projected 39% increase recently posted?

Please: post more articles like the above; I can always use a good laugh!

S Leonard   [07.04.06 05:26 PM]

I am a musician a with experience setting up and using Windows, OSX and Linux machines.

I have noticed a few of the "if you use it for music, stick to Windows or Mac" type comments here and I thought I would share my experience.

Setting up OSX for music is a no brainer. Everything just works.

Setting up XP requires inserting this CD, removing it, inserting that CD, rebooting, updating that, etc, etc.
XP is painful, and even once it is set up, I have found I get lower latency from the ubuntu kernel than from XP using the same hardware (MAudio Delta44, Edirol UM-2). I have heard similar reports about MythTV versus Windows Media Center, and I think it may have something to do with Windows enabling too many useless services by default, but I really couldn't be bothered finding out.

Ubuntu did require some work to get real time audio going. I think I copied about ten lines from a web page to a terminal and hit enter. To install software, rather than buy and insert CDs, I checked boxes in the package manager and pressed "apply" to download and install. Having previously tried debian and hacked at it for hours/days, I am amazed at how easily and well everything works.

The Mac option is really nice until you look at the price tag. To buy all the software I need for quality realtime audio mixing/processing costs thousands. That's on top of the over-inflated mac hardware/OS combo.

Ubuntu is a different mind set from either mac or windows for audio production, but it's no longer a nerd only domain and everything I have tried to do so far is as easy if not easier than windows or mac. Add to this the fact that there is a studio version of ubuntu in the works....

So if you use it for music, stick to Ubuntu or OSX, the latter only if you have deep pockets.

As for games, I'll be trying out some opengl windows games with wine next....

Danni Coy   [07.04.06 05:48 PM]

Pak99 -- Not at all your reasons for staying with apple are perfectly reasonable and rational. There are tools that are available or work better on Mac and that is a fine reason to stay with the platform if you really need those tools. That is a whats best for today decision and sometimes we need to make those.

If like the gentleman who are switching you didn't have any pressing need for the tools that are only available or work so much better on a Mac would you see the situation differently?

Danni Coy   [07.04.06 06:25 PM]

S Leonard:

Have you tried Freewheeling (ubuntu)? It is a hell of an application once you figure it out, especially in a live setting.

My take on Linux Audio - (I do do audio work under linux)...
Midi is not really up to an acceptable standard Rosegarden is close but needs track automation.

Loop compositors (like soundtrack on Mac) are not really stable or mature enough to be useful (so far I have looked at LMMS and wired)

Ardour is a very decent multi-tracker and well beyond toy status. No midi is a killer for a lot of musitions (especially those who haven't figured out how jack works ;) )

Hydrogen is pretty much as good a drum machine as one could ask for.

There are at least a few nice softsynths.

Jack I believe will be a killer app if a few of the rough edges can be smoothed out. Easy to use Session saving and reloading is essential. Also I would like to see the syncronisation between jack enabled apps to be more comprehensive.

Patchage is a really good manager for wiring jack apps together - especially when your setup starts to get a little more complicated.

JackRack lets you stick effects pretty much anywhere in your jack wiring. Creox is also quite good but not as flexible.

and finally FMIT (really nice instrument tuner) rounds out the utilities.

Is it worth the effort - depends on what you are doing and whether you are going to focus on what you can do or can't do.

I use it to record multiple inputs with effects and quite involved looping live. (I am currently using a presonus firebox).

GP   [07.04.06 06:42 PM]

To the user who claimed that Mathematica does not work as well in Linux as it does in OS X: hogwash! Mathematica works just as well in Linux and Windows, as it does in OS X. I have used Mathematica on all three platforms. In fact, the linux kernel arguably provides better performance than either Windows or OS X. You may prefer the look of OS X's window manager, but the underlying functionality is the same. For OS X users who doubt the performance advantage of linux here is a link: His measurements have been much argued about but they appear valid.

Chris_B   [07.04.06 07:11 PM]

One other thing about Doctorow, as an Apple shareholder I think he is exactly the wrong kind of customer I'd ever want as an advocate. He bitches far too much. Personally he is the reason I wouldnt give to the EFF in the past. Now that he's no longer an employee, my wallet has opened.

I also do pro audio production. I've looked at what linux has to offer, it just doesnt compare with whats on the market for Windows or OSX. Danni Coy spelled it out well, but until linux has something as good as Logic and works with my Mackie Control seamlessly, I'm not going to bother wasting any more time with it.

PS I've been using linux for servers since 95, I have no problems with it for that, but it aint the workstation for me.

Rob Frohne   [07.04.06 08:14 PM]

I too am swapping from OS X to Ubuntu, but I can't say it is totally easy. The reasons for me have to do with Apple's move away from open source when they moved to Intel. Though it hasn't been easy, it is getting easier with each new release of Ubuntu, and each move of Apple away from open source.

Anthony Krol   [07.04.06 09:22 PM]

"Geeks" switching to Ubuntu? Who cares who uses what. Your computer does what it does for you, for your needs. If I drive a BMW to work every day, and my coworker drives thier Honda, we still get there. It seems to me that for every step that Apple gets ahead, there is someone that wants to take a bite out of them, put it in an article in a paper or on a website. I think that Mac users should be a little bit more open about why they have stuck with the company so long, and talk about the good things they do, like being devoted to environmental awarenessl the why and how they continue to innovate., A company that started in a garage, and is basically the beginning of personal computing as we know it should deserve a little credit these days. Apple is a company focused on customer service in thier retail stores, they offer a service where you can learn anything from how to move a mouse (for those retirees, to learning how to use Shake or any of the consumer or Pro applications that the company makes) for $99 bucks a year called ProCare. They want to make things easier for the general public to use thier computers. Why would Apple be concerned with a few people that want to make things harder on themselves like the person that posted before me.

LilBambi   [07.04.06 10:01 PM]

Wow, this is very interesting indeed. Seems many folks may be making the move, or considering the move, from their previous main OS to Linux.

As an avid Windows user since Windows 3.1x (and a Linux user as well), I have recently moved 98% of my computing to Linux (dual boot with XP Pro) since the WGA Notification Tool fiasco.

Hamad Bunji   [07.04.06 10:05 PM]

I'm another counter-example to this supposed "trend." I recently switched from Linux to OS X. I had been using Linux since the 1990's and was at one time a very big booster of it. My only regret now is that I did not make the switch earlier. I have no plans to use Linux again in the near future.

I can say that I've also seen quite a few tech people in the academic world make the same switch. In my view, OS X is a really compelling choice for a lot of the people who use Linux.

Danni Coy   [07.05.06 12:02 AM]

Chris B...
Looks as if support for Mackie surfaces is coming to ardour - real soon now (mid summer 2006). I guess it comes down to how badly you need midi and how you make music.

I have used logic and it is a very nice program (I am not that happy that Apple bought out emagic however - I was a Logic/win32 user).

Like I said before - the killer Linux Audio app for me is Freewheeling, Its a completely different way of making music to any other software I have used (very simular to a hardware looping pedal). With the right hardware it is very rewarding indeed.

Danni Coy   [07.05.06 12:08 AM]

on above comment - I am not suggesting you switch... You obviously already have a good setup.

Rog   [07.05.06 01:58 AM]

Does nobody actually pay attention to reality? I see so many posts that act like the Mac market is growing when in reality the marketshare has been shrinking. Sure, the iPod is a great success and Apple has a greater spotlight, but that hasn't been translating to Mac sales.

Then there's the other crowd that talks like OS X is still something new and wow'ing people. Some kinda fantasy land for delusional geeks and egocentric editors if you ask me.

Brian O'Reilly   [07.05.06 04:09 AM]

As grandpaw said: "Tool for the job, son"... which is fine when you're talking about a #6 robertson, or a multimeter, but in this rapidly lengthening discourse, we're talking about complex systems whose principal purpose is the flexible manipulation of information. Knowledge is power... yeah? Therefore, in large part why everybody is getting so heated up is because in our monkeybrains, we realise that this is a social question, and we're treating it like Roe Vs. Wade. Time to call out the lizard in everybody!

Many of the comments to this post that rail on the entire situation seem to try to trivialise the principal issue of freedom in all of this. I dual boot ubuntu and OS X, because that suits me, and because OS X for a bunch of relatively arcane low level reasons doesn't suit my needs as a developer of Unix-style software. Many of the people who rail on the proposition that the choice of ubuntu can be a correct technical decision, openly mock it because they fear that the choice is also an ethical one.

Comments like pakk99's:"What person is stupid enough to compare Linux's range of professional apps with Apples library? Cinelerra vs. Final Cut Pro? Jahshaka vs. Shake? Audacity or Ardour vs. Logic? S5 vs. Keynote? And let's not forget Apple's 3rd party developers...GIMP vs. Photoshop? Inkscape vs. Illustrator? Scribus vs. In Design? Nvu vs. GoLive or Dreamweaver? OpenOffice vs. MS Office?" and 'How much of an idiot do you have to be to believe that ANY content created today will still be "usable in 50 years"?' really illustrate this point because they're so far out at the emotional reactionary edge of it.

The argument about Linux and commercial applications is the eternal shibboleth in this debate. On the one side we have the incensed projecting themselves as the "realist" arguing that there just isn't enough commercial choice of application in the linux ecology, and on the other side we have the enraged reactionary penguinista combining their wondertwin powers to form a pail of frozen shit.

The true answer to the questions of hardware integration (wifi anyone) and multimedia compatibility (patents, closed and proprietary 'standards' ((flash, sorensen, blah blah blah))) are wedges used by corporations with a lot of money to make sure that the playing field isn't only uneven, but terrain equivalent to sending the OSS guys into the mountains with no ropes. *of course* linux lags microsoft and apple when it comes to MS and Apple proprietary federally protected DMCA-style codecs. Of course system integration between the operating system and the hardware in the average laptop or video accelerated desktop is going to lag behind apple when information about the hardware inside that computer is locked up by companies who are effectively putting an embargo on the development of free systems. The radios inside 802.11g wifi cards are a good example of this, as described in great depressing detail by Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD fame. Whether we like it or not, this whole discussion is actually a discussion of ethics, because it's really a discussion of who has the right to write, in this case, operating systems and application programs. Generic tools of information processing.

It's a shame that software development is still arcane enough that the suggestion that the enraged start filling in the blanks in the Free/Open software ecology for everybody's good are met with more mockery and disdain. I also wish that this debate remained a debate of the real actual objective issues brought up by mark pilgrim and cory doctorow. ie. as computers infiltrate deeper and deeper into the intellectual substrate of society, it's a good thing when everybody has equal access to the product of those computers, irrespective of political/economic ideology or the profit motive of a handful of ludicrously powerful corporations who are really only answerable to the bottom line. Discuss.

That's the crux of the issue. Stupid people like the folks at the gutenburg project expect data saved out today to be accessible in fifty years. Stupid people like the Librarians at every research library in the world expect this. Stupid people like you and me who write out our last will and testament in a word processor expect that document to be ammendable in twenty-five years, and readable in fifty.

I think a lot of the people on both sides of this issue are behaving like fan-boys, and I think the primary characteristic of that fandom is a failure to see the elephant in the room. Stop arguing around it, and be honest about what's really at stake.

Joe average   [07.05.06 06:08 AM]

Lost in the noise, no doubt.

But I'm pondering when the Open Source ubuntu fanboys will realise that their operating system is not "free" as in "freedom" but only free as in price. Binary firmware, nvidia drivers.. cmon kids, shuttleworth is going to roll ya.

Pakk99   [07.05.06 06:12 AM]

Brian, slapping a coat of free software on top of hardware that is still manufactured by a relatively small group of large, profit-motivated, computers-engineering companies, is not going to bring equal access of information to the masses. Even if companies like Apple and Microsoft vanished from the face of the Earth along with their OSs, we would still be unable to achieve the kind of computing egalitarianism you seek. I'm afraid you are trying to tackle a problem that is tied up more with issues of poverty and politics, than it is with choice of OS or document standards.

Don't get me wrong, I am not discounting the desire to retreive in 50 years data stored today. Perhaps my previous wording was too harsh, but I just do not believe it possible to develop a file type that can withstand that kind of timeline. Actually, I think it a pipe dream. There's an old saying that illustrates my point.

You can't put new wine in old wine skins.

We have no idea what computing technology will look like in fifty years, nor we do have any grasp of what form the information that we need to store will take. We may be able to work out a framework for data storage, but that framework is likely to be an archaic and inefficient method in fifty years. Can you imagine limited cell phones to morse code transmissions, so as not to "outdate" old telegraph messages? What would be the point? Short of freezing software development, I sincerely doubt that the Guttenberg Project will prove a success in fifty years. Hell, we may not even use computers as we now know them currently.

And quite frankly, if the OSS community wishes to develop such a file type (like the Open Document format), it does not require an open source OS to achieve that end.

In the meantime, I'm more committed to the quality and funtionality of the applications available to my work, than I am to longevity of the file type or to some utopian view of data management. I apologize for sounding like a fanboy in earlier posts, but most computer users do not have the luxury of trading philosphy for practiality when choosing a computer platform.

Anonymous   [07.05.06 06:35 AM]

There have been a couple really well thought out posts in this thread. I don't want to rehash all of the fine points that were already made, but I will state a few of the obvious ones.

1. A percentage of individuals switch platforms all the time. This is hardly newsworthy. I don't mean any personal disrespect to either Mark or Corey, but their switching has absolutely no impact on anything or anyone. (other than people wasting time in forums like this)

2. Ubuntu, like most forms of Linux have many great features. Idealists are often drawn to this platform. FOSS is great in concept.

3. That said, no "power user" (which is different from geek) would switch from Mac OS X to Linux. The Linux equivalents to most Mac commercial applications are a joke. Likewise, anyone who switches is doing so out of some emotional issue rather than a practical one. A computer is a tool, not a religion. If you look at the programs Mark plans to use with Ubuntu, you'll realize his actual computer needs are quite simple. Though he may be a nerd, he's not a power user.

4. It would seem the way to get attention these days is to post a blog and make a big deal out of every thing you do. Again, people switch platforms all the time, but unless you have a blog that screams for attention, nobody will notice or care. So, the formula for popularity is to create a blog, write about something controversial, then sit back and relax as your ego is stroked when others such as O'Reilly take notice and write about it.


Brad Carter   [07.05.06 07:29 AM]

Here's my problem with Linux. Make application install drag and drop like most of them on the Mac. VLC Player is the perfect example. Right click on the application in OS X and choose View Package Contents. Look at all the dependancies tucked away in the application. Why can't Linux adopt this approach? I know there's arguments like someone would have to update 10 copies of a library, etc but that doesn't bother me.

I've very good with XP, Mac and Ubuntu but I still get very frustrated with installing apps on Ubuntu. With that said, at my work place they're anti-Mac so I always pick Ubuntu over XP if I'm doing some kind of project that requires a program that lives on both the platforms. GPS Feed, GPD Drive, GPSD, Darwin Streaming Server, etc....

Frank De Graeve   [07.05.06 07:39 AM]

We reviewed Ubuntu on the systemtrash show. And as a true Mac adept I have this answer:

show me one Linux distro that has the same ease of use and tight software integration (read iLife) with basic functionality that suits the needs of the mainstream user (mail, pictures, music, movies, web, wordprocessing) and I'll switch. And yes, I believe that mail, pictures, music, movies, web and wordprocessing is about all the mainstream user truely uses.

oooooohh, didn't find one? too bad.

I get it that some guys want the linux stuff for whatever reason, but I truely don't think that the reason is ease of use.

Todd Lockhart   [07.05.06 08:38 AM]

I am amazed at the sheer quantity of comments this has generated, and that MOST of those comments are not pure knee-jerk, evangilistic BS.

I agree that the primary issue here is personal preference, and that's just rocky ground at best - because we're all smart enough to create arguments to support whatever it is we decide is "best."

Neither Mark's nor Cory's arguments offer anything that anybody didn't already know about OS X and hadn't already made his/her mind up about.

There are no earth-shattering discoveries. Mark just finally admitted to himself that his soul demands that everything he uses be completely open source and free, including his OS. Cory seems to be feeling the same angst, but in a far less succinct way (his commentary reads more like some water cooler tirade about sticking to "the Man" - a little lacking in substance and overly dramatic, but the same basic substance as Mark's complaint).

My thought processes tend to run pretty far left, but as much as socialist computing (i.e. open source) appeals to me, I don't feel that same pang when it comes to the operating system. I've done Linux, it's cool... but I like not having to deal with my operating system when I don't feel like it, and OS X gives me that option pretty much unconditionally. I think that's what most people REALLY like about OS X... everything else is either gravy, or gets in the way - depending on your style and objective ;)

Whether Ubuntu will displace OS X in the geek community, who knows... depends upon the preferences and senses of moral obligation of the individual geeks. Certain decisions I've made certainly hang heavy on my soul... but using OS X isn't one of them :) YMMV

Billy K   [07.05.06 08:41 AM]

As a lifelong Apple (not necessarily Mac) user, I was finally prodded into giving a Linux flavor a try by downloading an Ubuntu disk image. I would like to convert one of my old G3 iMacs to a Linux machine for tinkering, but I do not have the time for troubleshooting.

Sadly, the Ubuntu disk wouldn't finish booting on my 600Mhz G3. Lesson for this Mac-user: even the most "user-friendly" Linux has a long way to go.

(P.S. their launch screens are nice, though.)

joe c   [07.05.06 08:49 AM]

It's my experience that when you go looking primarily for the cheapest set up you can, you wish invariably comes true.

I would consider Ubuntu if it was some server that I was going to stick in a closet but for every day desktop stuff? Sorry, I need to treat myself to the most pleasant experience I can, and that's OS X, baby. But if you're more nerd/geek (I mean that in the positive way) than aesthete, I can see going Ubuntu.

Tim O'Reilly   [07.05.06 10:51 AM]

Todd -- what do you expect re. the flood of comments? This story was slashdotted!

It's great to see the passion on both sides, though. People really love these OSes! Both Apple and Ubuntu should be happy to have customers who feel so strongly about their products.

Chris M   [07.05.06 11:58 AM]

To increase the nerd/geek index even more, I feel compelled to point out that the phrase "tone of voice: an insufficient vehicle for irony" is not from Samuel R. Delany, but from Roger Zelazny's short story "A Rose for Ecclesiastes."

Glad to see someone else likes Delany and Zelazny, and remembers when they were "New Wave" SF or something like that.

Tom Farrell   [07.05.06 01:27 PM]

I installed Ubuntu on my ibook, but switched back to OSX as I do not see any way to use a modem with it. It seems to assume you are on a network (no spot for dial-up number,dns,etc.)

heavyboots   [07.05.06 01:52 PM]

So far, my OSen preferences go OS X > Linux > Windows (for desktop use anyway). IIRC, Cory is planning to switch due to DRM constraints, but there aren't really any that I know of. There are DRM *defaults* (ie, iTunes default encoding), but unless you're silly enough to frequent the iTunes Store there's very little lock-in built into OS X. It doesn't require activation. Mail is stored as POP boxes. iTunes is perfectly willing to let mp3 be the default format. Safari will bow out gracefully. Heck, you can even replace the Finder with PathFinder if you're brave!

However, it is true that Apple's products command a premium price still and as Cory mentioned, you can build a pretty incredible Ubuntu box for the price of a Mac laptop--and currently it may be more reliable since it seems like Apple failed on quality control pretty hugely with the Intel laptops. (heat & noise issues)

There is some pro apps that still aren't around on Ubuntu though. Adobe Creative Suite is the biggie for me and major games are not far behind (you can't play many games on the Mac, but at least you can play Civ, Quake, Doom, UT2k4, COD etc). Well, you can play 2k4, but I don't think you can play any of the others?

Dan   [07.05.06 02:09 PM]

I don't know what people here are trying to prove. Are we talking about mainstream users or nerds? If we're talking about a nerd's system of choice, that's obviously preference.

If we're talking about mainstream users, the problem that Linux will always have is that mainstream users, in a large number of situations, expect to be able to run certain apps. iTunes and Windows media player are good examples. I use a G5 and I have VLC. It's a good piece of software. The interface isn't very good though so I wouldn't be comfortable putting it on my cousin's PC. The other problem is mainstream users don't want to even have to consider worrying about compatibility. It's not an accident they equate Windows with a Windows PC. As far as they're concerned, they use a PC so they're compatible. It's great to have Open Office, but as long as it isn't named Microsoft Office, they'll always be worried about compatibility. Another example is that I have Firefox on my mother's PC and she loves not having all the pop-ups, but she'll always have a subconsious need for IE to be available because she knows that IE is "compatible".

The only operating system that can beat Windows is Windows but it seems like that might be starting to happen. It's great that the Mac has iChat and iPhoto etc, but what matters is that 1) It's supported (regardless of how good or bad the support is) by a major corporation and 2) it runs Microsoft Office and works with their iPod. That provides them with the psychological security they need to consider an iMac.

Tim O'Reilly   [07.05.06 02:16 PM]

Chris M -- Thanks for the correct attribution on that quote. Two writers, both of enormous promise, who ended up not quite living up to it, at least for me. (I once had a dream about Delaney, not long after he wrote Triton, in which I met him in a house where the walls of the rooms moved with you whenever you walked around. I was trying to point out to him that when the world was that labile, you could never get out of your house. And that's how I came to feel about his later books... As for Zelazny, he tried to go commercial, and while later his stuff was popular, it was mostly forgettable.)

Nonetheless, Delaney's Empire Star and Zelazny's Lord of Light are two of my all-time favorite science fiction novels. I loved the "simplex-complex-multiplex" continuum in Empire Star. And Lord of Light was so gloriously preposterous, and intelligently literate, with such wonderful characters recreating the Hindu pantheon, that it was impossible not to love.

Sigivald   [07.05.06 03:58 PM]

Thomas Lackner: The problem with that theory is that the "common man" doesn't care about Open Source; nor do they give a flying copulation about Cory Doctorow or "the Internet Community" (who?).

(Hell, I don't care about Cory Doctorow, and I'm an SF fan and a long-term linux geek.)

DRM? The only DRM any common man might care about in OSX is in ITMS, and... nobody's making him buy songs there. Going to Ubuntu won't affect that, since he won't be buying them there either even if he wanted to.

(Unrelatedly, I've never found the headaches of Linux-as-a-desktop to be worth dealing with, and I've been using Linux constantly since the current kernel was 1.2.8.

Linux's great strengths are as a server or embedded OS, not as a desktop, though the fault there is really X, rather than the OS itself.

Doing volunteer support for Linux, online, I've found that Ubuntu simply seems to make it easier for people who won't RTFM to get screwed in slightly more subtle ways they still won't comprehend.

How good it is for the clueful user, I'm not sure, as the clueful types don't seem to flock to it; but I can't say that's because Ubuntu's bad or if it's because Ubuntu is aimed at the clueless as a clue-not-needed solution, and thus the clueful automatically avoid it. Beats me.)

Chris_B   [07.05.06 06:50 PM]

I just realized what sticks in my craw about the noisy "freedom geeks": looks to me like they are trying to impose a peasant tyrany upon everyone in the name of their ideals.

I say peasant in that the needs of the computing peasant are very different than that of the actual professional. The peasant will be satisfied with document processing, email, web surfing and other minor standardized tasks. The professional will require specialized tools which are almost entirely proprietary in nature. Of course exceptions exist, professionals whose focus is on computers themselves have developed and made available non proprietary tools aimed at their own kind.

My own concern is that a such a peasant tyrany can only result in a kind of Lysenkoist computing pseudo-science where the grand soviet of freedom decides what is good and allowed.

adamsj   [07.05.06 08:02 PM]


Delany isn't dead yet. That said, Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones (one of the stories of my life) is as right-now urgent as a 1970 story could be. Think of the Singers as DRM'd media even criminals respect. Among other things.

Brian   [07.06.06 03:12 AM]

Yeah, I am going to trade my PowerBook for a crappy PC running some high maintenance OS. Doc and MP are both free to do as they please, but don't pretend they are going to make an impact on users or Apple.

And Jason Kottke is another moron for thinking that 2 bloggers are going to worry Apple. Please, Jason. Take your head out of your ass. There is more to the world than blogging and bloggers don't make that much of a dent in the universe. Remember the 2004 elections?

adamsj   [07.06.06 07:37 AM]

Which reminds me--you read Stevens.

adamsj   [07.06.06 02:50 PM]

An odd fact:

In over a hundred replies, lots of people have talked about OS X, but not one person other than Tim has mentioned Red Hat.

Chris_B   [07.06.06 10:05 PM]

adamsj: I'm gonna guess you have not used a Red Hat distro as a desktop...

colin   [07.07.06 03:58 AM]

As a Mac user of over 10 years I'd jump ship immediately if there was anything better, and I believe that, contrary to some over-the-top anti-mac comments posted here, many other mac users would too. We're not religious fanatics, but sensible people in the main, and are happy to adopt better tools if they come along.
The reasons for my not doing so, despite the appeal of Ubuntu in particular, are twofold. Firstly, the apps that most Mac users use are simply not available for Linux, and their equivalent open source alternatives can't yet cut the mustard - I'm talking Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc. The second reason is that Linux, even Ubuntu, is simply still too geeky for most Mac users who just want to get the job done and can't be bothered faffing around trying to work out how to install and configure things.
Face it, this stuff still isn't friendly enough on Linux for most 'normal' users. If this situation changes, and finding, installing and using apps on Linux becomes easier, then Mac 'fanboy' though I may be, I'll be in the Ubuntu queue faster than a greased ferret.

robert   [07.07.06 09:56 AM]

"pay through the nose for the privilege of being a victim of Apple's DRM and lock in."

This is pure hyperbole! This kind of talk and the casual use of "mac zealots" has got to stop.

Where are you "locked in" to Apple's iTunes Music Store DRM? Where!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

IF you do not like the iTMS DRM you are not forced to buy tunes from them. You can still buy a CD and move your songs to your iPod if you like (which is what I do).

And the notion that you "pay through the nose" for Apple kit is ridiculous too. It's easy to say a Lenovo is cheaper than a MacBook but I tried and couldn't make it significantly cheaper...

This pricing problem hasn't been a major issue in a long time. Apple's simplified product line is falling victim to the increased interest which has created demand for more configurations and flexibility but price is not a major concern until you start to configure another box down.

And everyone, just stop with the "fanboy" and the "zealot" crap -- it doesn't do you any good and really only serves to show your extreme bias more than anything else.

Karl Orange   [07.07.06 03:29 PM]

Dear Tim,
I have been a *nix user since '92. Started with linux and only last week got to Mac OS X.

There are several differences between what you want and what you need on any of these operating systems.

I have tasted the freedom from any *nix command line (being it from xterm, or something similar), but I am getting tired of having to customize every single aspect of a linux system just to get a grip of it.

On the other side, it's the micro$oft operating system, which is the most widely used system in the world, but that doesn't mean it's the best, or does it?

Now, from the Mac OS X, I have found an equilibrium -if so- between a *nix system and the usability -if so- of Windows. It works, it's simple and gives great multimedia features, which you can expect from a linux system, and those you can pay on a windows system.

I am starting to like this Mac OS, but that's me, some more people does not understand the meaning of kernel, they only want to open up a box and set up their computers... voil... ten minutes later you can connect to the internet without hassles.



WolfBane   [07.08.06 04:09 PM]

in response to the person who complained that they tried to install Ubuntu on their G3 and it crashed.

It says right on the home page of Ubuntu that it supports G4 and G5

Nowhere does it say that it supports G3.

Travis B. Hartwell   [07.09.06 11:30 AM]

At my last job, I had 3 computers at my desk: my development workstation, my personal laptop (a Apple Powerbook G3 Pismo running Debian), and a Mac Mini. Which never got used? The Mac Mini. My reasons were much the same as Mark Pilgrim stated: the lack of open formats in those applications that are a huge part of the productivity appeal of OS X. If I made an outline in Omni Outliner pro, I couldn't edit it anywhere but in Omni Outliner Pro. iTunes would lock me into its file formats.

But people complain "if all/most of the FOSS that Mark wants is available under OS X, why switch?" Though this might not be his exact reasoning, I tend to think of it as one of my friends asked me early on in my Linux usage. I was using KDE. He was, and is, adamantly against desktop environments, and he wanted me to justify my use. Why did I use KDE? What applications was I running? What did it give me that another DE or plain window manager didn't? I wasn't using any of the KDE apps. I was using Netscape for all of my browsing, mutt for mail, Emacs for my development environment, etc. Why was I running KDE? I realized there was no point and I switched off of it.

Because of that idea and question, I made a switch to Gnome about a couple years or so later and have been using Gnome everywhere since. I was using a gtk based browser. I would occasionally want to use Nautilus for file management. I really can't remember the other specific programs I was using heavily at the time, but it made sense. "I'm already loading most of the libraries, why don't I just load the whole desktop and get the full benefits?"

That's been a long way of saying if most of the reasons you were using OS X (certain productive and powerful applications) no longer were viable for you, why use OS X?

It is also a way of saying use whatever meets your needs and goals. Windows, OS X, Linux, whatever. You may not share my ideal of Free Software, but it shouldn't matter to you if that is one of my criteria and motivations for not using OS X.

Scott   [07.09.06 05:00 PM]

I've run several different flavors of Linux over the years. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Overall though, Ubuntu by far my favorite.

I prefer debs to rpms and I love the Synaptic GUI. But unlike Debian, you get an up-to date Stable distro every 6 months (thanks for the contributions, Debian ;-) ).

However, no Linux distro matches Windows or Mac OS X for ease of use. Ubuntu is the best of the �free� Linux distros in this area, by far.

I go though phases. I'll spend weeks in a particular Linux distro (I often run several) without touching anything else. Then other times I'll alternate.

Sometimes when alternating, I'll be using Windows XP as well.

Speaking of Windows, I installed the Public Beta 2 of Vista. I was very impressed with the tweaks and the shiny GUI. But (not unlike Linux) it's got a way to go to get to be usable by the average consumer (mostly due to bugs though).

Linux isn't usable by the average consumer, either (Linspire might be the exception to threat rule)..

OS X and Windows users don't have to go to much trouble to play mp3, wma or m4p files. They just �work�.

Want to run PVR software on your computer? You could spend hours trying to configure MythTV or you should just buy a good program, install it and voila!

I'm the type of person who pays for hardware upgrade installations, so spending hours configuring something that can be done more easily in OS X or Windows doesn't really appeal to me.

As a result, I'm on a Windows (XP) kick right now. I'm in to my �I like the 'just works' thing� phase. I'm sure I'll get bored with Windows and be back to Linux before too long. That's just the way I am.

But the bottom line is, Linux has a long way to go before it will adapt the mass-acceptance that Mac OS X has (let alone Windows).

The geek in me still loves Linux, though.

David C.   [07.10.06 07:19 AM]

Did anybody here (including you, O'Reilly) actually read Mark Pilgrim's article?

He makes it very clear why he's switching. It's not because of Apple's quality. It's not because of Apple's UI. It's not because necessary apps are missing. It's not because of gaming.

He switched because he has decided (for reasons that I consider mostly religious) to use only open-source software based on open file formats.

This isn't some foreshadowing of a mass exodus from the platform. Most users couldn't care less about these sort of things (which is why Microsoft Office is the most popular program.)

And, as should be obvious to everybody, there is no way that Apple (or Microsoft, or any other commercial software company) is going to give away the source code to their flagship products, not even if a few high-profile bloggers decide to stop using Macs.

Tim O'Reilly   [07.10.06 09:19 AM]

David C --

I did read the article, and I think that the concern about open file formats is precisely a canary in the coal mine. Watch the news, and you'll realize that there's more and more of a sense that lock in by file format or data aggregation is more of a concern than lock in by software API. So just as there is an open source software movement, there is an open data movement. It is growing in strength, and over the next couple of years will become a significant factor, just as open source software did.

Fergus   [07.10.06 02:32 PM]

Is Ubuntu on a ThinkPad (the configuration Mark and Cory are both considering) less proprietary than OS X on Mactel?

It's not clear, but it very well may be more proprietary, once you take hardware into account.

The ThinkPad is IBM's baby. As of January 10, 2006, IBM was, again, the top patent holder in the US, with 2,941, new U.S. patents, more than any other company for the thirteenth consecutive year. I imagine a few of those cover the ThinkPad.

IBM has, according to its licensing program docs, "about 26,000 patents in the United States and over 40,000 patents worldwide for inventions in areas of primary technology focus for all IBM customers."

Don't forget the hardware when considering whether something is free.

chris smolyk   [07.10.06 06:25 PM]

I recalling a few years back when the celebrity author, Douglas Rushkoff announced he was switching to WinTel....and a few months later he came crawling back, eating big-time crow, explaining that he'd come to take Apple for granted....and turned out to be soooo wrong about Windows. Literally aplogizing and begging forgiveness of the Apple users who had looked up to him.
I also emailed N. Negropronte to see how he liked the switch
to Windows....his reply was uncharacteristically terse:
"Still using Windows."
Sounded like he was gritting his teeth.
Anyway, I think if Rushkoff was half as smart as he is clever he'd've made the switch in private.
But some want the with Pilgrim and Doctorow, as far as I can tell.


Chris_B   [07.10.06 08:20 PM]

Tim I think you have had one too many cups of KoolAid on this one. "Open" file formats for pedestrian tasks are as old as the hills. Consider the plain text file, its attractive sister RTF and its ugly cousin HTML. How about CSV? TEX? SMF? Nowadays weve even got newfangled file formats like OGG, OGV, SVG, etc.

I still see this as spoiled brats whining rather than as a harbinger. If "freedom" was the real issue, pedestrian users can always export to a portable data format.

If the complaints are in regards to digital music or video file formats, interaction with portable devices etc., then I have even less time for these people. Those things are related to luxury devices and that makes the issues "luxury problems".

Lee   [07.24.06 12:22 PM]

Red Hat has nothing to worry about. Ubuntu will never be widely accepted for servers, while Red Hat has a whole mass deployment infrastructure that's even suit-safe.

Simon   [07.26.06 08:28 PM]

I'm a die hard Apple - OS X user. I wouldn't really "switch" to using Linux full time (although I might put it on in the future when OS X support for PPC machines is dead). I am thinking about putting Ubuntu on a machine that is a hand me down from a friend. Mostly the reason for that is because I'm not really a big Windows fan. I will put Windows on the machine just to play games (Day of Defeat), but to actually use as a machine I will put Ubuntu on it. I've actually got Mandriva on it right now, but after looking at Ubuntu and reading some of the Mandriva forums and seeing the reported lackluster updates on that one, I'll probably wipe the machine and install Ubuntu. I'm going to also put Ubuntu on a hand me down machine my sister is giving to her 5 year old son (this is my evil plan to get him converted before he knows better). So the thing about this discussion is is that most OS X users probably won't switch but are more likely to use Linux on a secondary machine than they are Windows.

Morelos Barros   [07.27.06 07:09 AM]

I love Ubuntu and I am willing ot see it take off into mainstream. BUT as a graphic designer I have one word: Adobe.

Most of the folks that use a Mac are creative people. There are a bunch of creative apps out there but until Adobe supports Ubuntu or any other distro, I won't move.

If I could have InDesign running natively under Ubuntu, I'm all for the Linux switch.

fioricet   [08.31.06 07:06 AM]

Speaking of Windows, I installed the Public Beta 2 of Vista. I was very impressed with the tweaks and the shiny GUI. But (not unlike Linux) it's got a way to go to get to be usable by the average consumer (mostly due to bugs though).

Linux isn't usable by the average consumer, either (Linspire might be the exception to threat rule)..

OS X and Windows users don't have to go to much trouble to play mp3, wma or m4p files. They just �work�.

Olexandr   [09.14.06 01:07 AM]

Firstly, I am an win xp user. Secondly, I've wanted for the last 2 years to install linux on my laptop but I am afraid.

I am afraid of losing data, I am afraid of not being able to boot windows again. I am afraid of many things.

Heard that Ubuntu is the nicest thing right now, but I am very afraid of migrating to Linux. Therefore Vista will be the next solution for me, I guess.

Samantha   [09.24.06 03:38 PM]

When you see all of those Apple laptops at various conventions it should not be assumedd that they are all running OS X. Mine dual boots Ubuntu. For much of my non-work time and usually when at conferences I am running Ubuntu. With the new MacIntel laptops many may also be runnig Linux under Parallels.

discord   [09.30.06 05:12 PM]

ubuntu kicks ass! works great on my new laptop.Best of all I can do alot of things much faster in linux than in windows or a mac.

Derrick   [10.18.06 11:21 PM]

I currently use Ubuntu, Mac OS X, and Windows, all at the same time. I have found that Windows, in general, makes absolutely no efforts to interface with the other two, and likes to do things as different as possible.

OSX, however, integrates almost perfectly with Linux, using the same shell and everything. I have both Ubuntu and OSX installed on my main computer, and boot into whichever one I feel like using (though I must admit that I usually boot into OSX). I am constantly impressed by OSX's ability to integrate with the Linux world, and even improve on it in most cases. However, I definitely like the low-level feel of Linux. It feels like it gives you the bare bones, leaving out all of the "user friendly" interface, which is more often than not a hinderance.

This is probably the main reason why I do not like windows. I use it sometimes, just because you have to in some cases. It's interface is designed entirely with the thought that computer users are stupid and need some intricate user interface to do things, making random, unnecessary steps that you have to go through in order to accomplish some routine task. The only thing Windows is good for, in my opinion, is all of the applications that have been written for it, and that just because it is more prevalent.

Mac OS X is by far the best user-friendly interface for an operating system, in my opinion. It basically creates a gui frontend for performing the command-line scripts that would otherwise be used. And it does this in a way that makes it simple, but powerful for anyone to use. In addition to all of this, it gives you an X11 shell in case if the gui isn't good enough for you. Unlike windows, it gives you access to the underlying shell. It assumes that it might not have been created perfectly, and that there will still be some things that people find a command-line to be useful for.

Windows gives you no such option. It would rather flatter itself into thinking that it's operating system is flawless and has no need of interfacing with a powerful underlying shell, because it's what the majority of the computing world uses anyway, and so they should all conform to its perfectness.

Ubuntu is a very useful OS for me, because it gives you the full access of a Linux distribution. Wherever Mac OS X falls short of providing the power to do something, Ubuntu gives it. Mainly, I like to use Ubuntu to do my programming, though. It seems like linux was made for programmers. There are tons of programming environments available for Linux, and a myriad of libraries and so forth.

I'd have to say that the main thing I like about Linux is that it is far more efficient than windows will ever be, and as such, it is the only logical alternative to be installed on an x86 system. I have a number of old computers that ran fairly slow with Windows when I first got them, and as time went on, they just got slower and slower. About a year ago, they reached the point where it was basically impossible to do anything. Opening any window of any sort, especially semi cpu-intensive ones, took at least 5 minutes. The computer couldn't even process mouse events fast enough to make usable. I backed up the hard drive, erased it, and installed Ubuntu. Now it runs faster than my brand new computers which run Windows. It is definitely a better OS to use on x86 architecture, simply because it is more efficient than the alternative.

On Mac, Linux has some drawbacks, being that a number of different applications and libraries and such are not available, which limits its usability.

Overall, I'd say that OSX is the best operating system all around, but that Ubuntu is the best option on PC, leaving windows as the nonconformist oddball which is only still in existance because of its background as the most widely used operating system. I say we should start some kind of a program to educate people about computers so that everyone will see how dumb windows is.

Bonegang   [11.02.06 12:31 PM]

OS X on the desktop, Linux on the server (just the CLI, please, CentOS single-server-cd) that's the way I've run it for years.

My desktop is easy to use and my servers go on & on & on...

I'm forced to admin Win2k3 at work, but hey, the most reliable box is that linux box in the corner running Nagios, and everyone envies the MacBook....

just my 2 euro's worth

wwt   [11.07.06 09:11 AM]

I went from OS X (10.2) to Linux and never looked back.

yo   [12.15.06 04:43 AM]

I would choose Mac OS if it would be cheaper. Linux is gaining larger and larger places in the market. Mac is for people with lot of money to spent, because let's face it, the Apple products are expensive. Linux is free, so ...

Jonas   [01.12.07 03:23 AM]

One can make an analogy with restaurants:

Windows: the McDonalds of OSs: ubiquitous, no-frills, fills you up, but is crappy, mass-produced food. Sure, they'll have all sorts of new themes, salads, Asian specials and whatnot, but it's basically all the same - junk food.

Mac OS: an avant-garde, sleekly designed celebrity-chef kind of place, with great service and delicious food. However, there's a set menu, and you have no choices whatsoever. In fact, the waiter gets very snooty if you dare ask for even a minor change to any of the items, and every second time you visit you're sent packing from the restaurant with no food (the restaurant equivalent of the spinning beach ball of death).

Linux: a cooking competition where you can sample everyones food, and the quality ranges from pretty awful to absolutely amazing. however, there is no set menu, so you have to rely on your own senses and the advice of others to know what to choose.

Mac OS X is elegant and mostly well designed, but the hype surrounding it I find tiresome. People speak of open source zealots, but in my experience the Mac fanboy club is considerably more zealous and religiously devoted to their OS. Linux used to be a real pain, but as far as I'm concerned Ubuntu has addressed practically all issues - hardware support is flawless, auto-detection of external drives, displays etc works beautifully, and the UI is well designed and *customisable*, unlike OS X. Some people find the Apple philosophy of designing the OS with the lowest common denominator (the dummy user) in mind admirable; perhaps it is, but for a professional developer it is supremely annoying not to be able to customise things as you like. (The fact that there is a cottage industry describing OS X tweaks by obscure and totally non-transparent command-line settings to do customisations not in the interface doesn't change this fact - the whole point of OS X is to be easy and GUI-based, right?)

But what I find most annoying with OS X is how unstable and sluggish it is. I run Matlab and other scientific applications on a G4 Powerbook (running 10.3.9) bought in 2004 and Ubuntu on a Pentium 3 from 2001 (!) - guess which one runs faster (Ubuntu, by about 2x using Matlab benchmarking). Matlab rarely crashes on the Linux box, but does so regularly on the Mac - in fact, the spinning beach ball is a daily occurrence, although usually I just need to do a force quit. Ubuntu crashes too, but much less often and is way more responsive overall, despite running on much older and slower hardware.

The hype about the OS X GUI being the ultimate desktop is also misguided. File menus in OS X are incredibly badly designed - the filtering design which displays all files in a folder, albeit with inactive shading, forces you to scroll through endless lists, and it doesn't sort folders and files separately. Since I use file menus about 100+ times daily, I find this aspect of OS X to be a major PITA, and the snazzy window borders and (admittedly useful) shading just don't make up for it. As a developer, the straightjacket of OS X is annoying - sure I can install all my favourite Unix tools, but customising them to work around all the OS X quirks and poor X support is just more effort than its worth.

I'll be running OS X on my Powerbook till it dies, because installing Ubuntu on it isn't worth the effort, but given that I get twice as much performance for the money with Linux as with Mac, for me it is Linux all the way from now on. There will for sure be issues with hardware compatibility but open source is making such headway in this domain I am confident those issues will be resolved soon enough.

Apple is fantastically gifted in design and marketing, but in my experience OS X doesn't deliver what it promises for the price, given the competition from the current crop of high-performance Linux desktops.

air jordan   [04.26.07 05:19 AM]

I would choose Mac OS if it would be cheaper. Linux is gaining larger and larger places in the market. Mac is for people with lot of money to spent, because let's face it, the Apple products are expensive. Linux is free, so

Brad Schneider   [04.30.07 12:25 PM]

Keep in mind that all of those developers who switched were not coming to OSX directly from windows, but rather from Linux, or frustrated attempts to live with Linux. They are not going to be willing to dive back in to Linux just because there is (yet another) distro on the block. Personally, my experience using Linux and OSX are night and day, with the former being peppered with frustration and the latter being thoroughly enjoyable and (gasp) productive. If Linux works fer you, great, but I see a lot more Apple hardware in my future. Ubuntu falls into my 'too little too late' box for now. I wish them every success, since professionally I expect to see more and more Linux since that is the fashion right now in IT operations.

Tomas Erdman   [06.16.07 11:52 AM]

I'm a geek (not a power geek, but a geek), but I'm also real world. I haven't actually used Ubuntu yet, but the reason OS X isn't going away anytime soon is one simple fact: Apple makes it easy. I've seen way too many people walk in a store, pick up a Mac, take it home, hook everything they own to it only to have it all up and running instantly, while still looking reasonably cool, for them not to continue to be successful.

I agree they aren't perfect, and the lack of free 3rd party support is painful, but Apple just plain knows what they are doing.

Tim Osborn   [09.30.07 01:16 PM]

I've been a Mac Software Developer since 1984 more-or-less. I installed VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Pro as I recently took a job that is Windows based and I would like to use my sweet MacBook iron to best effect. With no immediate access to a Windows XP install, I installed an Ubuntu virtual machine as a test of VMWare. WOW... Immediately I see that Ubuntu is special. This is a game changing OS that I discovered in a very tangential way. I love it when that happens.

PS... VMWare has to be given some credit for making this so easy and approachable.

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