Mac, Windows, Linux--which when why?

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Now that OS's can float around the hardware world, and Vista is finally out, I guess it's time to ask the question. Which is better at what, generally? I know a lot of contributors here also use Windows and Linux. Does anyone think Windows is now superior to OS X? Does one OS do something far better than the others? thanks

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coius's picture
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well....

I *WAS* going to say that windows is better when it comes to office integration with peripherals, but Vista threw that out the window when half the stuff it says it is supposed to support, doesn't get supported at all.

I wish mac could still do serial. all this USB-> Serial is ****. it doesn't work like it should, and half the apps you need to work with devices, don't, because OS X doesn't have a lot of the old devices supported in it.

but Vista made that all null anyways, Vista just doesn't work. period

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catmistake's picture
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the coius rules

First, a little due praise. I'm impressed with how you dove into Vista with high hopes and an open mind, and you aren't holding back on your impressions of it. We have Microsoft guys all over here, and they act like there is just no alternative nor should there be. You make it pretty clear that Vista offers little over XP SP2 in the average user space (other than eye candy, which I have to say is delicious). And I missed your firewire foot work until just now... thanks for keeping it in your sig.

HC, the best arguments I've heard about what is "good" about Windows is that you use it when the job calls for it. But the whole thing is insidious. Large groups (companies, universities, goverments) that already have an existing legacy in Windows have little hope. All the users are used to Outlook mail and calendaring. They can interact in the Exchange environment without having to learn or change (at least until forced to upgrade to Vista for lack of support).

Once Entourage (for Mac) achieves feature parity with Outlook (promised this year) then some users will have an out. For the time being, Mac users in the Exchange calendaring environment have to put up with, among other things, no access to Public Folders, no auto-notices unless they create a rule local to their client, and hit or miss invite acceptance (why doesn't OpenOffice have an email client??!!). The Windows business environment works... but not well, IMO. I have collegues that I respect that disagree with me, and make a pretty good case (funny how things always work just great for the Microsoft Engineers).

I guess the point is, if you already have a Windows environment, you have to really consider staying that way simply because, by design, its so difficult to abandon, even if it is obvious how much time is wasted on non-business tasks, like updating and virus scanning, not to mention workaround techniques when the updates break stuff.

Leopard Server promises an iCal server... this may be the Exchange killer. Once Exchange has a big competitor, I think it will just once and for all die. OK, I hope... but Exchange is probably here to stay for a good while. (I've been hearing good things about Google Calendar, but I wonder if its possible to replace Exchange with google mail and calendar in a large scale business environment, and retain privacy/security) - (also, worth noting, Evolution, the default mail/calendar client in Ubuntu worked great with Exchange up until the last Exchange update, when M$ broke it) - (also, Thunderbird2 is working on Exchange interaction, works somewhat well for mail, but the Sunbird calendar add-on was pretty yucky even when it did work prior to the M$ update.)

The other reason for Windows is for gaming. But I can't really speak to that. Plenty others here can.

OS X is all about the desktop and individual user luxury. Its about enjoying the way we work. But at some cost.

Linux desktop is the free escape from the oppressive, monochrome, self-perpetuting replace-windows-with-windows cycle. I think, not being a coder mind you, it is a fine dev platform. Is it ready for the desktop of the average user? Debatable, but Ubuntu comes pretty close. I can't wait to see what/if Dell does to make it even better.

The best thing about Linux has always been its price. Beyond that, it only has disadvantages in the server space (compared to BSDs that don't distribute broken software). But who wouldn't put up with non-compliant, non-standardized software when the price is just right? Proprietary server software is expensive. Linux is free.

Then again... NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD are all free, too. Though I'm sure there's desktops out there running these, its definately not the focus. NetBSD is for portability (but its pretty secure). FreeBSD is for stability and performance. OpenBSD is for security (understatement). Its server software. Whatever servers you need, one of these three can do the job better and longer than Linux.

I don't want to sound like I'm trashing linux... its pretty neat. Its just that it has some fundamental problems. One of which is that it tries to do everything (with some success).

Quote:

Does one OS do something far better than the others?

Definately. OS X does desktop much better than Windows, but at a premium. Windows does Exchange better, but like with diminishing returns, eventually it slows to a crawl and needs wiped and reinstalled. Linux fills your pockets by not requiring you to empty them (penny saved/penny earned theory), but at the cost of having to take the time to learn about all the little things we take for granted.


(ubuntu just looks good, works pretty good too... here it is running on my tp A22m remotely through my mac with !M (NoMachine's) nxclient in X11)

---edit
I got a couple nice treatments to a /. post, speaks to the "problems" with linux:
one
two

and sort of a rebuttal to the second there from a friend of mine:

Quote:

The thing here is this: 99.9% of sysadmins out there look for a system that
they:

  1. understand how it works, generally, not on the kernel level, not even on a device level, just basically how it hangs together
  2. can get the services they need to run on it, with a minimum of effort
  3. know how to turn off the services they don't need
  4. is adequate to the work load, not totally, absolutely the supreme level of synergy between the task and the OS, just adequate -- and clean to configure.
I found that posters comments less illuminating about linux than about the posters own hangups. He made a number of statements proclaiming to be reasons to prefer one OS over another, but really, they had no substance, they were conjecture at worst, at best, they were like a guy who is talking about how much better one car is at accelerating from 120 mph to 150 mph -- the reality is, you spend all of your time going 65 mph, and in fact, he probably does too. Here again, I would bet my entire sack that 99.999999999% of all people writing code for Linux/other OSs (much less simply administering them) see almost no real difference in performance related specifically to OS, the differences will be in hardware. And this idea that all Linux users are somehow rabid evangelists, crusaders, or ideologues is once again silly to me. He makes it seem like there is some problem with Linux itself because some people want to make a desktop out of it, so what? The fact of the matter is, if you get enough people working on a single project, there are bound to be some crusaders, wack-jobs, tinkerers, losers, and some genuinely talented coders.

In terms of job security/potential, I would reccomend you do either 1) the mac route - OSX would do what you need, you are talking directory services here, 50 machines, this is a pretty small workload, or 2) the linux route - it's arguably (in its many distros) most widely used *nix type OS in the world. There are a jillion jobs out there who want linux experience. Beyond all of that, the most important thing is that you are using a system (whichever you choose) that gives you access to the common tools of the trade: the scripting languages, and the basic services. Learn how these things work, develop a library of your own scripts to automate common tasks, this is what gives a person job portability, as well as makes them a superb administrator, not their allegiance to their dream OS. Sh!+, if you really want job security, learn ADS really, really well. (although that might be a little too uncool).

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Joined: Apr 22 2004
Posts: 379
Depends on the task and the hardware...

I'll agree that Windows is good if you play games. Heck, I play may fair share of them. Linux has some good ones too but you have to be willing to look a bit to find them. One I've been playing lately is World of Padman, a FPS that uses the Quake3 engine. It works with Windows and Linux very well.

I write programs as a day job and use Windows there since our programs interface with Peachtree and QuickBooks.

So far I haven't seen anything in Vista that makes me want to jump out and grab a copy. It took me long enough to upgrade to XP Home at home. Smile

When I'm doing normal internet stuff (browsing, mail, etc) it doesn't matter what OS I'm using to do it. Whether it's XP on my main machine, 98SE on my ancient NEC laptop, Tiger on my B/W G3 or Linux on whatever machine I've cobbled together it works OK.

When I have spare time (hah!) I've been slowly learning PHP/MySQL on Linux. Bluefish and Screem are pretty good web editors and the price is right! I haven't delved too much on the server side of things on Linux but am willing to try.

Eudimorphodon's picture
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BSD... FEH!

catmistake wrote:

(...) Beyond that, it only has disadvantages in the server space (compared to BSDs that don't distribute broken software). (...)

snip

(...) Whatever servers you need, one of these three can do the job better and longer than Linux. (...)

Pointless to chime in and all, but I just sort of have to growl at this "BSDs are better servers then Linux" bulls... bullhockey. Over seven years I've worked for two companies that have had BSD bigots in high places (aka, founders) shoving it down the throats of IT and, well, feh. If you actually believe that no BSD organization has ever distributed "broken" software I'd like a hit off of what you're smoking before you hop back on your pink unicorn and ride off into the cotton candy sunset.

Comparing Linux to BSD I'll grant that the BSD bigots can score some technical points in code design. Linux has this habit of having new features integrated *quickly* and thus sometimes sloppily. But, well, somehow it works, and having those features beats making excuses for things like the company's servers taking an hour to come up after a power outage because the OS shoved down your throat still doesn't have a journaling filesystem.

I guess what annoys me the most is how OS X, because Apple stole its userland from FreeBSD, spawned a whole new group of BSD bigots who have *no bloody idea* what they're talking about when they rip on Linux. They just like it 'cause Apple does! ;^b

(And of course Apple likes it because they can use it without giving back to the community, not for technical reasons. Go them.)

Anyway. Rant off.

--Peace

catmistake's picture
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Re: BSD... FEH!

Quote:

--Peace

Amen.
I have a tendency to parrot opinions when I don't have the facts myself, so long as the opinions seem reasonable. 2 years ago, though, I thought linux was a bloody mess (IMO), server or desktop. But my recent experiences with ubuntu have shown me otherwise... major and exciting progress!

Anyway, HC, I'm just happy I didn't kill your thread with that marathon post up there. I'm rarely so loquacious... but there are times I have trouble holding back, as in this case.

Quote:

Pointless to chime in and all

no... it isn't. You're a giant here, regardless of your actual size.

catmistake's picture
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roaming directory & syncing

Here's a good question... just because I like Google, but Google doesn't like me...

Can Ubuntu (or another flavor, or even a free variety of BSD) replace (transparently, if possible) OS X Server for the purposes of roaming directories and syncing laptops and desktops (specifically for OS X client machines)?

OS X Server

Quote:

Network and Portable Home Directories
You can also use Workgroup Manager to provide network-based home directories, so users can access their own personalized desktop, applications and files from any computer on the network — or use them to back up their work. With Mac OS X Server v10.4, PowerBook and iBook users can now enjoy synchronized versions of home directory folders locally and on the network. When a user goes offline, her home directory goes with her, so she can continue to work just as if she would back at the office. When she reconnects to the network, Mac OS X automatically syncs up selected content in her local home directory with the one on the server.

This is the functionality I need... and if I (er, someone helps me so I) can do it for free I can save my department a cool grand, possibly as much as $5000 (if we would opt to use an XServe).

Pretty big ask... so I say "please please please!" ... lead me to the howto!

---edit
its been suggested on the ubuntu forum that what I want is stateless... but... I don't see how stateless will do what I want... incremental syncing/roaming user directories. Stateless appears to be an implentation of netboot, which is all good, but I don't necessarly need netboot. Maybe someday... for now I'm fine with a local client OS.

Eudimorphodon's picture
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Posts: 1203
Re: roaming directory & syncing

catmistake wrote:

Here's a good question... just because I like Google, but Google doesn't like me...

Can Ubuntu (or another flavor, or even a free variety of BSD) replace (transparently, if possible) OS X Server for the purposes of roaming directories and syncing laptops and desktops (specifically for OS X client machines)?

Courtesy Google:

Portable Home Directories without Open Directory

Reading through the whole thread it looks like with a *little* schema hacking you should be able to do this with OpenLDAP or any other LDAP server.

For the record, Open Directory *is* (a slightly hacked) OpenLDAP. I have this suspicion you could probably rip off the schema definition files with minimal effort.

--Peace

Edit: Another good resource for the LDAP hacking part of this:

Link

catmistake's picture
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LDAP

I heard this was possible with LDAP, but I couldn't conceive how. All the implementations of LDAP that I'd seen were just... annoying directory navigating through a browser.

Just checked your links... holy çr@π!! (laughing as though insane). That's exactly it! (more insane laughter).

xièxie schön danke gracias amo!!!

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Posts: 1434
Basic comparison

Here's a Linux guy who compared the three systems more than a year ago:

http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/56437/index.html

OS X seems to gain his highest marks. It's just a comparison of the basics. You guys go into comparisons in much greater depth beyond my comprehension, but that's fine. That's what AF is all about.

How long is it going to be before the masses start to abandon the worm-eaten, full-of-holes Windows ship in significant numbers? Anyone want to guess in years when Windows will be realized by the majority as a second-rate system? Is Dell's meager dabblings with pre-installing Linux on a paltry few of its desktops the actual first glimmers of mutiny? Well, one thing refreshing to read was Michael Dell's statement more than a year ago, "Microsoft has not talked to us about Linux. If they did, I wouldn't care. It's none of their business." The word "business" having a couple of telling connotations.

whatthehellswithwindows's picture
Joined: Feb 27 2006
Posts: 67
I use NetBSD, Linux, OS X, OS

I use NetBSD, Linux, OS X, OS 9.1, and Winblows daily. My Favorite of them all? OS X. What do I use OS X for? All of my general computing. What do I use linux for? Texhing myself how to use different servers, apps, and learning some programming languages. What do I use NetBSD for? older, slower machines. NetBSD can run on something linux crawls on like a midget with broken legs. Windows? Games. Its my horribl;e addiction. CS:S, I LOVE YOU!. Anyways, My NetBSD and OS X boxen are pretty well tied up w/ uptime. <3. NetBSD is totally anti-bewb tho. Dont go to their channel on freenode, you'll be sorry. PM me, I'm nicer Tongue.

Lets go Deeper.

Linux is my dev enviroment; Not much else. It is close to being a Viable Desktop Option, BUt DAMN! Gnome and KDE have gotten WAY too bloated. So, I wouldnt quit euse it yet.

OS X is my home. There is nothing more reliving then to See "OS X is starting up" When I turn on the computer, because I know it will startup, and when it is started up, I can click the Safari button on the dock and it will work.

Ah, NetBSD. My Love/Hate relationship. It can be a total bpain some times, but once its configured, its like the energizer bunny. it keeps running and running and running.

Windows. Lets just say, I hate it. and I wont touch Vista. I keep windows cause I invested quite a bit of $$ into alot of games I love playing. anmd there are no Unix ports, and there are no mac ports.

My take on it all.

//wthww

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