My review of Mac OS X


I’ll describe here my experience with Mac OS X as my main OS after 5 days (installed it on Sun 11 Feb 2007). I’ll keep this post updated with my latest discoveries.. Don’t blame me if I’m complaining about something while I’m just missing the point, drop a comment if so, I’d love to have feedback from Mac users.

Pros :

It just works, insert the DVD, install, you’re done and it takes like 15 minutes (and not the usual 39 minutes (whether you have a P3 or a Dual Core 2..) like a well known operating system).

File previewer just seems to open everything.

Java virtual machine and flash plugin come pre-installed.

Installing an application could hardly be easier, just drag and drop into your Applications folder, that is definitely nice.

Users and rights management is good, it’ll prompt for admin credentials when you’re trying to do something that requires admin privileges.

Polished interface. Fonts are nice. Always need to add the extra Windows fonts under Ubuntu.

Synching my cell phones (Sony Ericsson T610 and K700i) using Bluetooth is a breeze. Sending SMS from the Adress Book makes it for me too (not sure how Windows handles Bluetooth as of today, but I can remember it was quite terrible 1 or 2 years ago.. never really tested BT under Linux so I can’t tell)

SSHKeychain (third party software) is as good as gnome keychain.

Reading/printing files from a Windows/Samba share works perfectly ! Unlike Nautilus under Ubuntu (and maybe other distro).

Printer management works nicely, just like under Linux and unlike Windows.

UNIX-based ! Spending a lot of time in the terminal.

No codec headaches (haven’t tested divx so far) unlike under Linux. I use Mega Codec Pack under Windows, does a good job.

The software update system is clean, just like under Ubuntu. And unlike Windows Update..

Easy to set up applications to start when opening a session (right click on icon in dock and select “Open at login”)

So far, I have found everything I need in the open source softwares offering (Cyberduck, Nvu, SSHKeychain, etc.)

Cons :

Full screen anyone ? I may be stuck in my Windows/Linux bias but what is wrong with fullscreening a window ? Or there’s a hidden key combination to achieve that ?

Resizing a window only from the lower right corner ? That makes a lot of mouse moves when you just want the window to be larger on the screen.

I have a hard time figuring out the point with the “application switcher”.. It just doesn’t switch anything at all. The app gets switched within the Finder but you still need to click on the dock icon for the window to unminimize. Need to install a third party software (Witch) to improve that behavior. Also, I would have hoped from exposé to temporily unminimize windows.

What’s the point with the system never closing applications, I know that’s a Windows/Linux bias again but if I click on the upper left corner red cross, I want to close the app, not minimize it, I’d click on the yellow button for that. Thus, you always need to play with the key combo command+w or command+q to close things down quickly (or right click on the dock, then close).

Connecting by SSH through a terminal and editing files with VI just sucks. Many keys won’t work (like ^ or $ or delete is acting as backspace) while it does fine under Linux, Putty or SecureCRT.

Despite being properly configured, the default SSH client won’t forward my SSH key !! Fixed : using iTerm ( now and it works. Edit again : iTerm won’t let me use arrow keys under vi. I have the feeling they just want my work not to get done. Getting seriously pissed now. Fix : have to issue “export TERM=dtterm” to fix the arrow keys issue.. Apple and friends just don’t want people to use VI i guess. Still wondering how I can get back to the beginning of the line (achieved by pressing ^ under vi) on a Mac, though.

Belgian Mac keyboards do not have the “|” and "" key.. you have to use some weird key combinations in order to get these. As a linux admin, the pipe key would have been welcomed.

Mail can’t save in memory self-signed SSL certificates, unlike Thunderbird. Would have appreciated using Mail with the address book synchronized with my cell phone.

No native virtual desktops

Adobe CS2 running slow from tests I’ve read… need to wait for CS3.

Truecrypt ( not yet released for OS X.

OpenOffice requires X11.. Prefer NeoOffice.

My feeling :

When you work on several machines and several OSes on each machine (couting 4 machines each having at least 2 OS installed in my case), you don’t have the time or are just not willing to spend hours on tweaking your systems. For that, Mac OS X is a great OS. Basically, you install the OS, drag-drop your favorite softwares in your applications folder, set up your dock and you’re getting to work. Reading wmv files is also a dmg file away. That is ideal when you need to get things done. I’m personally done with tweaking my system for a whole week before I consider it fits my needs (that also explains my move from Fedora to Ubuntu).

Windows XP (haven’t tested vista and not willing to) requires a lot of work to get applications installed (next, next, next, install, ok, reboot…) + the need of the firewall/antivirus combo. Linux is getting easier every day and Ubuntu has pretty much everything in store thanks to Universe and Multiverse repositories. Fedora lacks that official third party repository thing, the community has to rely on unofficial repositories sometimes offering broken stuff.

I don’t own a Mac computer. Mac computers are overpriced piece of hardware ! The black MacBook is tagged at €1519 (around $1950) here (MacBook 13" Black 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 1GB 120GB SuperDrive). Black color is an option and it costs €150 (!), while the material used seems to be different from the white model though.

Todo :

Trying parallels and compare to VMware Trying Final Cut Pro Trying Photoshop/Illustrator

Would I switch from a PC to a Mac ?

Yes, but not before Mac OS X 10.5 and Adobe CS3 are released. But still, €1519 is still a bit expensive for a 13" laptop to my taste (yeak, I like the black MacBook :))

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