Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mac Vs. Linux, My opinion

First this blog does reflect my opinion, and my opinion only. I am not trying to start any flame wars. This is an opinion formed from using all 3 major operating systems on my desk for the last year. I originally started the experiment to find, for the purposes of my workspace which OS could do which things best and to capitalize on the advantages of each and then measure which would bring the best user experience and the most proficient tools for completion of work.

I have previous experience in a tech support environment and felt that I was the unique person in the company to asses these points. With no IT Department that assesses new and interesting ways to do things and only worried about the broken stuff we already have, I decided to sacrifice my work flow and productivity to try and test the operating systems and tools available.

You will notice from the list in the subject of the blog that windows was not even in the contention. My reason for that is we are a 24x7 shop, but we do not receive 24x7 internal support and have no extra hardware around so reliability is paramount. With any user doing even innocent activity on the machine being able to be infected, rendered useless and then possibility impacting the network attached to the rest of the office provided already an intolerable situation which I preferred to avoid. The only reason I still used it on my desk was for compatibility of other departments in the company, but I have started a campaign that we need to do our work and not look pretty, so windows would not be considered.

This leaves us with a mac vs. linux situation. I'm partial to both for certain things, but I'm not such a fanboy of either to feel it would compromise my objectivity for the testing I was doing. I have to say that that with almost all of our tools being completely web-based, comaptiblity has become less and less an issue for my team. For example, where firefox is supported, it is instantly supported on all operating systems.


So I think that my conclusion would be a mac dual booting with linux or with enough ram to virtualize without performance degredation. I think the native linux OS behaviour brings some improvements to efficiency (i.e. copy and paste) while the mac brings graphics and a user interface that even the most novice can manage. With the dual boot or virtualized linux inside the back you could have the best of both. And who's to say, if you were already virtualizing linux then you could virtualize M$ if you needed to for any last hold outs to proprietary software formats.

I have really condensed a year's worth of experience here. I have also taken the "average" user far more into account considering the nature of the employees who will use the systems. But I feel that it would actually cover the complete spectrum and could easily be the one-size-fits-all solution which although is far more expensive would be a prodductive system for anyone you sat in front of it.



vex said...
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vex said...

I've been going back and forth between the operating systems myself. I have a 2007 MacBook, Dell E6400 running Ubuntu with KDE, and Windows 7 on a desktop. 7 is nice, and works, and is what has been deployed in one of the computer labs here, however I can accomplish everything I use Windows 7 for on MacOS X, or Linux at the same productivity level. I am a tad bit biased being that I've been a fan of Linux since the early days when it was really just a pain to use, but I'm partial to OS X as well. The interface, although seemingly juvenile at times is still impressive, and the integration of the Mac GUI with Unix makes it a very tempting choice. I'm pretty torn between the two though (Mac, and Linux). Without getting into superficial things such as computer aesthetics. I really think it is a tie between the two as there are things that each does better than the other. Keeping things at a purely functional level, and not getting into ethical issues such as open source I lean more to the Mac. It seems I can compile most Linux programs I use (sometimes with a bit of work), and anything I would use that require Windows seems to have a native Mac version. I have VirtualBox installed for the few times I want to boot up an old Dos game (Star Trek 25th Anniversary lol), but it really seems I can run most of what I need as a native application to the OS without vitalization. I keep the Linux laptop around through just because I like to tinker (a good backup too when the battery in my MacBook went out. I would have been chained to the wall if it wasn't for my Linux laptop). I think what so many people miss is that there isn't any need for a flame war. Whatever is most functional in your life is what you should use. All OS have problems; use what works. When it comes down to it all the flames on forums spouting off this, and that about various systems isn't really helpful to people like us who are truly researching, and conducting tests for what may be most functional. Although condensed as you mention in your last paragraph your blog post has been more informative than half of what is out on there searching through Google. It's rare to read a "OS A vs. OS B" post that isn't a completely biased flame that "helps" you decide which OS to look into based on "OS Z sucks and every1 who uses OS Z is lame."