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Return of the Mac 1499

Posted by Zonk
from the it-went-away? dept.
Ben Gutierrez writes "Paul Graham has posted a new essay on the Return of the Mac which begins with: 'All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs.' Tim O'Reilly said some similar things in Watching Alpha Geeks . From the article: "My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple's low point in the mid 1990s. They're about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get."
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Return of the Mac

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  • OS-X based on BSD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:57PM (#12078724) Homepage Journal
    I always throught basing OS-X on BSD was a good move. Sounds more attractive to me than the old MacOS, especially from someone with a long background in c.

    That said... BSD is dy^H^Hthriving.

  • unix laptop = key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jabella (91754) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:57PM (#12078725) Journal
    Since around 1993 I've been messing with Unix. SCO, Slackware (1.0-ish), RedHat (pre 4.0...on Sparc!), Caldera, Irix, SunOS, etc.... both in userland, on the desktop, on my own servers, and a professional sysadmin.

    I've got a mac now. The first of my life, from someone who wasn't ever a mac guy (and was probably more 'anti-mac' than most.) My g/f has one too -- more than once I was like 'just open a terminal and do....'

    The fact that she doesn't need to know what the terminal.app is? That's the best part..... I get what I need, she gets what she needs.
    • What amazes me most (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bonch (38532) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:33PM (#12079373)
      What amazes me most is how short of a time it took for OS X to get put together. Most everyone agrees that the first release was more of a public beta, but even X.0 was an amazingly mature product for something completely new that had been started mere years earlier. I heard a report that as many as 10,000 engineers had worked on OS X at some point in the course of its development years.

      I'm sure it didn't hurt to have NextStep to build off of.
      • by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:19PM (#12080470) Homepage Journal
        What amazes me most is how short of a time it took for OS X to get put together.

        What really made MacOS X work is that Apple already had a very secure decently sized niche market for Macs. That is, there was a guaranteed devoted userbase that:

        (1) Hardware manufacturers bother to write and include drivers.
        (2) Software companies bother to release OS X versions of their applications.

        That means that "things just work" - hardware works, and there is enough software, all built for the specific platform, that it all plays together nicely.

        Imagine, for a minute, that there was a Linux distributor (Call them X) that standardised on a fixed platform (say GNOME for example), and had enough guaranteed userbase that Adobe wrote a version of the Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) for GNOME, Microsoft released MS Office for GNOME, and lots of other serious software companies also wrote GNOME versions of their commercial applications. All of a sudden distribution X would be a viable platform that had all the software you need, and it all works seamlessly together inside GNOME. Presuming you also have hardware coming with distribution X drivers, dsitribution X would be quite reasonable competition for OS X - it would certainly have the "it just works" factor.

        You can redo the whole gedanken experiment with KDE if you like, you'll get similar results.

        What made OS X really work was the guaranteed userbase and the fact that it could run old mac software to ensure a smooth transition of that userbase and an immediate supply of software. Honestly, if a small startup company wrote a brand new OS that was as good as OS X but lacked the userbase, and hecne software and hardware support, it would just potter along and probably eventually die or get bought out (see BeOS, NeXTStep etc.)

        Jedidiah.
        • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @06:50PM (#12082805)
          Presuming you also have hardware coming with distribution X drivers, dsitribution X would be quite reasonable competition for OS X - it would certainly have the "it just works" factor.

          GNOME is great, but it certainly does not 'just work', and it's not lack of hardware support, or lack of Photoshop and Office, that are the reason for this.

          When people say, 'it just works', they aren't referring solely to the hardware (although that is part of it), but the software (OS) as well. How do you set up the firewall in GNOME? How do you format and partition a hard drive? How do you integrate your digital camera with your screensaver? These are just a few random examples--all possible under GNOME, but not even remotely as well designed as under OS X.

          I'm guessing you aren't very familiar with Mac OS X. GNOME is great, and I use it daily, but it's not just lack of hardware vendors' and application vendors' support that's keeping it from 'just working'.
    • Re:unix laptop = key (Score:5, Interesting)

      by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:18PM (#12080445)
      > I've got a mac now. The first of my life, from someone who wasn't ever a mac guy (and was probably more 'anti-mac' than most.)

      Me 2. I couldn't agree more.

      Three of my good friends who are power users (they used to run Linux on the desktop and server) have all switched over to Macs. Apple has one thing that Linux lacks -- consistency. But that's the advantage of "commercial" software.

      For power users:
      Pre OS X felt like such a straight-jacket. I used to ridicule the "menu bar at the top" GUI. Now that I've done some dev on it, the whole Mac experience is just more consistent, then the half-baked Windows UI. Apple really has taken the best from Next, Mac, and Windows. Is it perfect? No, but for the most part, things seem to "just work." Ever try coping multiple files totaling over 1+ Gig across on a Windows Box with some of the files already there? Where is the "No to all" button? It's all the "little" UI touches that Windows misses. It all adds up.

      For developers:
      XCode - doc markup, version control, and a half decent IDE "free" on the 4th OS CD. This is a great way to "win" Window's developers. Microsoft learnt this long ago -- without developers, your OS is going no where.

      My next PC is going to be a Mac.

      The 17" PowerBooks are sweet -- the next revision should have great 3D performance. The current ones have "good" 3D performance. Gaming is the only real reason to stay away from Macs.

      --
      XCode tip - trying to add a file that doesn't show up in the file dialog? (Stupid Mac File Dialog :)
      Press '/' and you can type in any path you wan to add any lib(s) you want.
      • Re:unix laptop = key (Score:5, Informative)

        by jeremy f (48588) <jmf_24@hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @05:16PM (#12081511) Homepage
        I used to ridicule the "menu bar at the top" GUI

        Hopefully you don't anymore -- hell, I used to myself. If you do, take a look at Fitts' Law [wikipedia.org], from which can be concluded that such a design is actually best for users.

        If you want to see this in action, try moving your mouse to any point on the center of your screen as quickly as possible, and see how much you overshoot or undershoot. Also, count the number of corrections you have to make -- using the mouse normally, I overshoot targets at least two or three times. If I'm really slow and deliberate, I can get there on the first try.

        What does this mean then? Apple's "menu at the top" allows you to select commands without worrying about Fitts' law. It's impossible to overshoot a target at the edge of a screen; despite how far you use your mouse, your pointer shouldn't extend beyond the top boundry of the screen. Which means it's quite easier to hit the menus in an Apple environment than it is in a menu-under-the-application-title-bar environment such as MS Windows (as well as KDE and Gnome).
        • by snorklewacker (836663) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @05:51PM (#12082020)
          Yes, yes, fitt's law is all nice and good and that ... but top menus makes the foreground application modal. Everyone who's used the wrong app's menu when using a mac in school, raise your hand. If you wish to access the menu of an application that's not foreground, you have to focus it then head to the top. God forbid you're a focus-follows-mouse user (which admittedly is a small poweruser niche).

          Maybe the answer is to simply support both, and have app-specific menus appear and disappear when you activate a "show menu" window decoration, or tap the alt key or something, and just remember the setting. I hate to say "make it a preference", as it's a copout for design, but this really does seem to demand one.

          There's also more radical notions like pie menus, but they have their own problems..
  • by stlhawkeye (868951) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:57PM (#12078726) Homepage Journal
    In other news, open source fanatics dislike Microsoft.
  • Funny... (Score:4, Funny)

    by neonstz (79215) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:57PM (#12078741) Homepage
    ...as this is the first time I read slashdot on my new Mac Mini.
    • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by g00z (81380) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:01PM (#12080048) Homepage
      Obligitory "Me to".

      The mac mini HAS to be as serious turning point. Finally, you can buy an economy mac without paying for redundant hardware you most likely have (monitor, ram, hard drives). It's as close as you can get to being able to buy a PPC motherboard, G4 CPU, copy of OSX, and do with it as you please. I got my mini last week and was pretty much able to take all of my old PC hardware and shuffle it over to the mini thanks to a USB 2.0 HD enclosure, spare ram, exisiting monitor and USB mouse.

      I've been one of those fence riders for a long while about buying a mac, but damnit, now there is no reason not to. If you were like me and liked Linux for the *NIX'ness, but also wanted mainstream apps like Photoshop, etc with a GUI that beats the snot out of Windows, get one of these mini's. It's the best of both worlds. You can be a geek with a crapload of terminals open and still be chic.
  • by xTK-421x (531992) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#12078746) Homepage
    I would switch if games didn't come out until a year after the PC version does.
    • by rokzy (687636) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:03PM (#12078832)
      just do what I do - get a console and save hundreds on CPU and GPU upgrades.

      as strange as it may sound, I bought my Mac to do work.
    • by javaxman (705658) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:21PM (#12079178) Journal
      I would switch if games didn't come out until a year after the PC version does.

      Right. Games are key for you. For these MIT geeks? I remember my college days, and if I wasn't in class, writing code, writing papers, reading, doing problem sets, eating or sleeping, I was decompressing ( partying, playing foosball, hiking, playing music, anything NOT near a video screen ). If you have time to worry about playing Halo2 or Doom3 or whatever the -very- second it comes out, you're actually -not- the guys they're talking about in this article, as much as you might like to be.

      The games aren't key for me, either, even years out of college. I'm more interested in writing my own 3D OpenGL code than shooting an endless series of monsters someone else created. Occasionaly, I do want to do some gaming, but I generally find UT2k or even ( gasp! ) some of my old PS2 games like GTA Vice City fill that need just fine, even though I've played them through many a time... I understand your mentality, but you have to realize, it's just you and a relatively small group of your peers who feel the need to be on the cutting edge of high-performance video gaming. *Most* people are willing to wait, and the *true* tech geeks don't really have the time to spend on games that you do. If they do have that time, they eventually decide they'd rather create their own game engines.

      Also, why not have a Mac, too? I haven't used it in ages, since I can't think of a good reason to do so, but I do have my PC sitting in my shop. Real geeks collect computer hardware just to check it out, and don't get rid of it until they're either out of space. A Mac laptop might make sense for a guy like you, if you have a use for a computer on the go, since gaming on a laptop kinda sucks anyway... but then, if you have no desire to work on anything but your WinXP box, don't know *nix, and don't need a mobile machine, maybe you shouldn't bother with anything different, if gaming is your #1 use for a computer. The guys they're talking about here, though? Gaming is not the #1 concern for them. It's not even number 2 or 3...

  • Of course. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Patrick Mannion (782290) <patrick.mannion@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#12078749) Homepage Journal
    It's UNIX-based! What hacker doesn't want something that uses UNIX. Besides... Linux is sooooooo 90s.
  • by qw(name) (718245) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#12078753) Journal

    Last year's Usenix conference was full of Powerbooks. Most of the top dogs in the industry. That prompted me to buy a PowerMac. It's the best computing decision I've ever made.
    • by sg3000 (87992) * <sg_public@NoSpam.mac.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:09PM (#12078968)
      > Last year's Usenix conference was full of Powerbooks.

      This is an example of Principle of Similarity and Principle of Social Proof including "The Number of Sources" Effect.

      > Most of the top dogs in the industry.

      This is an example of influence using authority, including High Status

      > That prompted me to buy a PowerMac.
      Aha! The requested target action!

      > It's the best computing decision I've ever made.
      Principle of Consistency

      p.s., I'm not mocking you. I just noticed a bunch of statements that match the midterm I have Thursday night. Thus, this post counts as "studying"

      p.p.s., I love my PowerBook

      p.p.p.s., Please note, reading the above post qualifies you to place out of a graduate level Consumer Behavior marketing class.
      • by lux55 (532736) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:28PM (#12079293) Homepage Journal
        Some of these are also the names of standard logical fallacies, which it appears your Consumer Behaviour class is teaching you to exploit. These include:

        - Appeal to authority: Most of the top dogs...
        - Appeal to popularity: Last year's conference was full of...

        A logic course would teach you the same thing, minus the exploiting part. For that you'd need a course in rhetorical persuasion, or marketing by more popular terminology (ie. your course). It's interesting how long this stuff has been around, yet how fresh it can sound when presented with the psychology/marketing spin. :)

        For more fallacy fun, see:

        http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
        • by sg3000 (87992) * <sg_public@NoSpam.mac.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:02PM (#12080088)
          > Some of these are also the names of standard logical fallacies,
          > which it appears your Consumer Behaviour class is teaching
          > you to exploit.

          You're correct except for fact you misspelled "behavior"[1]

          > A logic course would teach you the same thing, minus the
          > exploiting part.

          I look a logic class as an undergrad -- in Electrical Engineering, that was the idea of a "fun" elective -- and you're absolutely correct.

          Basically if everyone who ever had to purchase anything registered for a logics class, passed it, and retained enough information to recognize a logical fallacy, advertisements as we know it would cease. Plus, no one would vote Republican[2]. Short of that, everyone should take a consumer behavior class. It was very enlightening.

          Basically Advertising is the reason why Capitalism in practice doesn't work as well as you'd think it would in theory [3].

          Thanks for reading this post [4]

          -----
          Rabid-Moderators' friend
          [1] Note, this is flamebait to people outside the U.S.

          [2] Another flamebait, albeit "kidding on the square"

          [3] Not flamebait since MBAs are automatically allowed to say things like this and not be accused of being socialists

          [4] Moderators should mod this as overrated since it's clearly pandering to moderators by mentioning moderation at all[5]

          [5] See [4] above
        • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:04PM (#12080130) Journal
          Remarkable.

          "Marketing Principle" = "Logical Fallacy".

          It makes a strange and liberating kind of sense.

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#12078754) Journal
    What's your point? I don't like Dell laptops... IBM sold their laptop division to some no-name, can't be yet trusted for quality company over seas... what's that leave us? Yes, Powerbooks... they're great hardware... I'm not a Mac lover... but I have had to work on PPC hardware, and I do like the power it has over similiar x86 based laptops... and OSX is a nice unix environment with a pretty shell... now if the powerbooks still had OS9 on them, there would be no way I would buy one...

    That's the seller, an OS that's stable and powerful, on hardware that's powerful... Less to do with it being Apple, more to do with being better than Dell and HP and the rest of the crap out there.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#12078756) Homepage
    Self-righteous Apple fanboys in one corner.

    Foaming-at-the-mouth Linux zealots in another.

    This could get ugly, folks. I'm sure the *BSD crowd would chime in too, except that a judge recently orderd the feeding tube to be removed.
    • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:25PM (#12079239) Journal
      Im confused , im sitting with a mac running OS X on my left , an old IMac running
      FreeBSD compiling a kernel to my right And behind me I have an x86 laptop running a Dist-upgrade to an install of Debian (unstable)... Its sitting on my sparc server running solaris 8 ...
      So what corner do I go to
      Ive been running around in circles for half and hour now!!
  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:59PM (#12078761) Homepage Journal
    at least at my university, it seems as if apple have changed their image. No longer for graphic designers - it's for people who wanna 'get stuff done' with their computers

    Also, their laptops are pretty much class dominant, and compare favourably on price with the high-end thinkpads in the powerbook range.
    • Re:well (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The boojum (70419) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:23PM (#12079205)
      Yes, I've noticed this too. I've just gone back to grad school in CS. It's interesting to me to hear how many of the profs and students love their Macs and how those who'd got Intel based machines wished they'd gotten a Mac. I used to think that raw processor clock rate was everything, but I've seen the Macs run circles around Intel machines with half-again as much clock rate. And this on CPU and numerically intensive tasks. And the folks who are using the Macs are hard-core alpha-geek types too. I've also heard very good things about the dev tools from them.

      When it came time to pick a machine for myself for the lab, I ended up going with the Mac -- and I'm someone who's never had a Mac before. Part of my motivation was the "getting stuff done". I don't care if it doesn't play games like my home Wintel box. I need good Unix/X compatibility for when I deal with the big iron. And I don't want to have to futz with dozens of /etc files like in Linux either. I'm there to study, do research and write some code and go home. From this point of view, the Mac wins.

      But I'll admit that the design and prettiness of the environment doesn't hurt. If I'm going to be spending hours every day looking at the screen, it might as well look good. (No badly aliased, bitmapped text in Emacs windows, thank you.)
  • by Eminence (225397) <akbrandt&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:59PM (#12078768) Homepage
    'All the rich hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs.' :)

    But it's true - all my friends form Unix/Linux years who can afford it buy Macs. Especially Powerbooks.

  • great hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bad_outlook (868902) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:59PM (#12078770) Homepage
    I have an iBook, and love it, however I run Linux on it, Gentoo before, Ubuntu currently. All funcitions are supported, it's a perfect match in my opinion. Ppl that gripe "why would you run Linux instead of OSX, OSX is BSD!" just don't understand the diff, and that's fine, OSX is a fine OS for most, but for me Linux is the only way to go to have complete freedom.

    bo
    • Re:great hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

      Why get an iBook, then? Linux also runs on x86-based systems, and that's where most of the development is focused. Sure, most of the more widely-used programs are easily ported to the PPC, but you're still limiting yourself. Really, are there any advantages to running Linux on a PPC compared to an equivalently-priced x86 system?
      • Re:great hardware (Score:5, Informative)

        by Soko (17987) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:34PM (#12079400) Homepage
        The Linux PPC devs have a narrower set of hardware to support - you know pretty well what's in a iBook. The same cannot be said for x86 systems. I have a year old Dell D800 that still has a bit of trouble regarding ACPI events.

        As well, iBooks aren't too terribly over priced, they are normally very well constructed - IOW it's a nice notebook. The icing on the cake is Mac on Linux [maconlinux.org] - where you quite literally get to have your cake and eat it too.

        Soko
  • Expose (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ghetto_D (670850) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:00PM (#12078793)
    I'm sure we'll see a sharp decline in the number of ingenious hacks out there as these developers spend their days holding shift and watching expose in slow motion.
  • by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:01PM (#12078803)
    Our new site, ycombinator.com, is (we hope) visited mostly by hackers. The proportions of OSes are: Windows 59.8%, Macintosh 16.9%, FreeBSD 11%, and Linux 10.3%. The Mac number is a big change from what it would have been five years ago.

    That statement would defintely hold more water if they actually had numbers from five years ago to compare to. Even though their site didn't exist five years ago, maybe check out a similar site that DID exist way back then...

  • Anecdotal evidence: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oostevo (736441) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:03PM (#12078843) Homepage
    Here's some more anecdotal evidence (that doesn't have a statistically significant sample size, I know, I know):

    I'm at university, and I know a lot of computer scientists (particularly of the theoretical sort) and scientists of various other disciplines around here that love OS X. Just like using a functional language like Lisp versus using assembly, using OS X takes some of the responsibility for mundane, largely unnecessary tasks out of your hands and frees you to do the computing work that you need to do.

    Sure someone well versed in systems or operating system design would be able to get more out of Linux if they took the time to optimize it, but most "hardcore hackers" I know around here sure don't have that sort of time.

  • by PornMaster (749461) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:03PM (#12078844) Homepage
    I haven't seen people making the server switch... only using Macs as fileservers for Mac-heavy networks. I'm not aware of any large businesses using them, nor popular websites outside of Apple.

    Obviously there are some clusters of them that make the news all the time. I'm not trying to troll, just wondering if there's a future for Xserve beyond niche markets.
    • at work (University research lab), we set up 3 xserves in conjunction with some disk arrays to give us 15 TB of whoop-ass raid storage. We've only had em' up for a couple of weeks, but so far so good. The colleague of mine who pushed for it does have a mac, so the seemless management from the mac I'm sure played a big role. -K
    • Service (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      I can get an on-site service contract for IBM gear here no problem but Apple (Siemens) will only show up if you're within 100 miles of ~ 10 major US cities.

      That's a deal breaker for local businesses, even those who use Mac desktops.

      Too bad - Tiger Server is nearly what I turn Linux boxes into but you have to run your business on hardware you can support.
    • Obviously there are some clusters of them that make the news all the time. I'm not trying to troll, just wondering if there's a future for Xserve beyond niche markets.

      There was a /. thread discussing this a few days ago on a Mac related topic, I forget which. The person posting the root message was complaining that Apple has no direct sales mechanism in place for corporate environments. If you want to buy XServes for your org, you need to do it through their website like everyone else. Also, support contr

      • by Twid (67847) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @09:08PM (#12084275) Homepage
        I'm a pre-sales SE for Apple Enterprise Sales (USA). If you fill out this form:

        http://programs.apple.com/contactme/xserve/ [apple.com]

        and mark that you are a business, I guarantee that someone from Apple direct sales will call you.

        We've got a large, growing enterprise direct sales organization that's ready to work with big customers. I'm ex-Novell, and my co-workers are ex-Oracle, ex-NetApp, and generally ex-big enterprise companies. In fact, I can only think of one guy in our group who is "old" Apple. We send him all the OS9 questions. :)
    • by solios (53048) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:01PM (#12080065) Homepage
      Went from OS X server on a crotchety old blue G3 (upgraded to a g4/500 w/ a gig of ram) and a pile of firewire hard drives to debian on a cheapass x86 box with a 1tb SATA RAID. The box runs netatalk 2 and doesn't need to do anything else. Works perfectly.... and the PC and drives (with a stupid amount of ram, gigeth, etc) cost less than a base XServe.

      I've been using macs daily since '98, and with the move to OS X, file sharing went from ACLs to unix permissions and suddenly there was no essential difference between using linux and using macos to the end user.... Since X came out and netatalk got useable, I've never had a compelling reason to use OS X on the server - but then, a server is (ime) a thing you set up once, lock up, and leave sitting in a rack until hardware dies. It probably helps that I'm a lot more comfortable with debian on the command line- it's easier to update and maintain a debian system without having to be at the box, in my experience.

      But my job has no call for Serious Computers. So, YMMV.
    • We do (Score:5, Informative)

      by FredFnord (635797) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @11:48PM (#12085520)
      We're a small business -- less than 100 employees in all, but we have to run a number of servers, some for customers but most for various different employee functions.

      We found that the Macs were great for a couple of things: one, they have hot-swappable IDE (older models) and SATA (newer models) hard drives, which is great for backups... set up a mirrored array and then just pop one of the drives out and pop a blank one in, then carry the first one off-site. Or, in another case, when it's the dedicated backup server, we have four IDE drives in there, each one with a different backup from a different day of the week, and then we pop Saturday's one out once a month so we have a monthly offsite. Dell et al had the same thing with SCSI, which costs twice as much. (This was a couple years back, I'm sure Dell is getting to SATA by this time... right?)

      Also, we have a server that we were concerned about going down for more than an hour or so, but it's not a big problem if it's down for an hour. We can't really afford redundant servers for EVERYTHING.

      So we got the next best thing: we have it set up on an xServe, but all the software, incloding the OS, is on an external firewire hardware RAID box. The xServe started acting up one day (turned out to be a bad power outlet on the power manager, of all things) and I walked in, unplugged it, carried it into our test lab, plugged it into our iMac, and rebooted. Sha-zaam... the iMac is now the server. And it would have worked with any Mac made in the last, oh, five years or so. Well, any Mac with firewire or USB2 that had 256 megs of RAM or more. If necessary, I could have extracted one of the drives from the FW RAID and put it into any of the Macs that didn't have firewire, in an extra 10 minutes or so.

      And that server, from soup to nuts, took less than a day to set up.

      There really are some things you can do with the xServes that have significant advantages. Sometimes it's just doing things a little easier... sometimes it's doing things you never even thought of. Like a thoroughly portable server. (Heck, I could take that hard drive down to our colo site, attach it to our backup server down there, switch over the IP address, switch the IP address in our DNS, and we'd be up and running in under an hour, even if our HQ were without connectivity or power for days. Of course, I could do that with our main corporate file server, too, but that's just because we happen to have a machine down at the colo site that is the exact same model.)

      -fred
  • The ONE (Score:3, Informative)

    by HogGeek (456673) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:05PM (#12078889)
    I've found (finally) the one computer that can do everything I need. I work in a MS environment, and being able to use MS Office is a godsend. I also administer multiple flavors of UN*X, and have found the tools I need either already installed, or easily compiled.


    I used to have 3 or 4 computers to be able to do everthing I needed, and now I have "The ONE"

  • old news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adpowers (153922) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:07PM (#12078911)
    I noticed this trend (geeks switching to OS X) a few years ago. Most of the alpha geeks at Seattle Wireless were using iBooks around 2002. At that point, I knew Apple had a bright future ahead. Not only have I switched my main computer to a 12" PowerBook, but I also invested in AAPL stock. Now most of my roommates have iPods, more than half have PowerBooks, and the rest want a PowerBook. Many of my friends are switching, and it will be only a matter of time before lots of the general population does as well.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:09PM (#12078969) Homepage
    The hardware is beautiful. It's well thought out, well laid out, lasts forever (battery wise and durability) and *gets girls to come over to your table look at it*. The alternative, at least for laptops, is IBM... at twice the price.

    Now they even have a working scroll implimentation (which was a crippling omission, my NEC had a scroll stub for ~3 years before Apple thought of something).

    And yes, your brand new very pretty computer will work well with Linux just fine, so there seems to be little downside at all*.

    *Apart from lack of 3D card support, and for some reason Apple use crappy propriatery 802.11g cards with no Linux drivers. Mystifying.
  • True at CodeCon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:14PM (#12079050)
    I was at CodeCon this year and almost everybody had Mac laptops.

    However, I disagree that this portends a wave of Mac specific software. Hackers are using these computers to write cross platform software that will run on the whole range of free Unix systems, the BSDs, and Linux. They're not writing in Objective C or putting in Mac specific code, because they know that limits their audience to the few percent who have Macs.

    They get the benefit of a good looking, easy to use development platform while developing code that can run anywhere (except Windows). It's the best of both worlds.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:15PM (#12079074)

    I work at a development house that makes network security products. Three years ago there were a couple people with powerbooks running OS X. Today it is about half of the company. Last week a senior developer was talking to me about our latest hire. He's an experienced, professional coder. It had taken him a week to get the thinkpad we gave him up and running the Linux distro of his choice and configured to work with all our servers and testbeds. Thats 40-60 hours of work gone. How many powerbooks could we have bought him with a corresponding amount of cash. He was considering mandating powerbooks for all new hires unless they had a good reason to use something else.

    OS X is making some huge inroads into the computer security field. It has certainly gained a huge amount of penetration here in just 3 years. Even some of the the managers have switched after looking over a developer's shoulder for a bit. You'd never guess Apple had a 5% market share from a walk around this office.

  • by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot@@@jgc...org> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:21PM (#12079172) Homepage Journal
    So, I was a die hard Windows user, been that way since 3.0 (3.11 and 2k were my favorite releases), but 18 months ago I switched to Linux (first SuSE and more recently FC3). And now I'm thinking of a PowerBook.

    Leaving Windows wasn't a problem, but sticking with Linux is. Sure it's very fast on my machine, and I have all the familiar Unix tools from the GNU chain, but so much doesn't work right. Linux on the desktop is close to a joke. I've tried both GNOME and KDE and neither is bug free (cf. Win2K which was very, very stable), and there are so many hardware incompatibilities that it's a pain.

    Ultimately, I want to support F/OSS, but I may have to switch because it's a productivity drain for me to discover that gnome-panel has crashed something and now Evolution can't open the File dialog. Ugh. Or figure out why gaim's icon disappears in the tray some of the time, or have gdesklets eat the CPU for no apparent reason, or...

    John.
  • by f0rt0r (636600) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:28PM (#12079289)
    Where I work, we have one hard core Mac user. He convinced 6 people to try out Mac's. It was a mix of mini-Mac's and powerbooks, and only one kept it more than a month before taking it back. Personnally, I haven't tried one out yet as running Linux with Fluxbox as the WM just rocks, plus the whole OSS ( GPL ) philosophy is something I don't want to compromise on ( assuming I would be running OS X, and not Linux on the Mac ).

    These guys ( and gal ) are all security engineers with CISSP/etc certs whose job is to protect the company's assets ( which are 90% digital, billions a year ), so I would say they're pretty l337, too.

    Anyhow, I didn't want there to be some rosy picture of everyone switching to Mac's when that is not the case I think it is a strong trend just like Java applets, dot coms, and other fads once were, but how long will it last?

    On the other hand, I haven't seen anyone who was unhappy with their iPod or miniPod.

  • Fink has been key (Score:4, Informative)

    by dgerman (78602) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:36PM (#12079427) Homepage
    Nobody has mentioned fink (http://fink.sourceforge.net). They are a "Linux" distribution to run on top of OS X. I quoted "Linux" because they have almost everything but the kernel (it uses the OS X kernel). Fink was the reason I decided it was time to use OS X as a Free/OPen source friendly laptop. None of the two authors even mentioned it!

    Fink uses a packaging system similar to Debian, and it includes most of the apps people use under Linux. Many of them require X11, which is now distributed with OS X 10.3

  • Mach vs Darwin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toonerh (518351) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:02PM (#12080095)
    Linus doesn't like Mach, he says it is inheritly slower than "his" kernel. I think he is probably right, but not by an amount that really matters. Apple has been focusing on "micro-locking" critical sections in Mach for Tiger (and I assume even more for the next rev). This trend started as FreeBSD 5 tried to catch up with Linux 2.6, enough though the FreeBSD 5 kernel is unrelated to Mach. Why are they doing this? They are preparing for the day when there will be n cores, for n = 4, 6, 8... I remember an statement (was it Minsky?) that an n-way multiprocessor sysstem has performance of order n/log n. This does not have to be true in the future, and even if it is - we still win.

    Also Apple has IOKit and "prebinding" which remove the need to keep multiple old copies of the *nix libraries for every binary you don't want to rebuild with every new release, and every device driver as well. Even Windows has this to some extent, this was an esssential feature for the non-hacker to use MacOS X, and damn nice convenience for hackers, too!
  • by crovira (10242) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:42PM (#12080914) Homepage
    your academic and corporate environments.

    They are raking it in doing their own stuff for their own reasons and doing such a great job of it that everything and everybody else looks, well, a little green at the gills in comparison.

    Tha fact that it works for you and what you need is entirely imaterial to Jobs.

    Now if only Gates would cotton on to the fact that Apple's starting to eat his lunch by NOT even trying to compete with Microsoft but by putting out by putting out great stuff that's really usable.

    I'm sure that "How Apple Won The War By Not Fighting It" will make great reading in my dotage.
  • by Naum (166466) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @05:34PM (#12081763) Homepage Journal
    ...personally, I made the OS X switch in 2003, and it was my first ever exposure to Apple's world, and my days had been spent in Linux/UNIX, PC and MVS realms... ...I even liked running Linux on the desktop, but spent a lot of time tinkering to get stuff to work, and frequently simple stuff that just works on Mac/Win platforms is a chore on Linux (USB back a few years ago, wireless, syncing other hardware...).

    However, my powerbook purchase brought the joy of computing back into my life. I frequently read the comments of those who decry the overpriced Mac when compared to constructing your own box (which I used to do - and I still believe that a Mac is equivalently priced with Dell/Gateway/IBM hardware, when all things are factored in properly) and while true on one level, it misses the mark on the total picture. That is depending on your interests and usage desires:

    • Time spent on system administration tasks is time not spent on other activities. Time is a non-renewable resource and I'd rather spend it writing software, using software (i.e., playing a game or other activity) than fiddling with the system to figure out why things arn't working or what's gunked up the box. I never see this factored into "cost" metrics -- that is, if you figure conservatively, your time at $20 per hour (maybe more, maybe less, I'm just gauging on median 40K salary), each additional 10 hours you spend a month administering your Win box is $200 per month difference. Which means in the span of 3-6 months, the Mac OS X will prove its cost superiority.

    • It really is the best of both worlds -- the shiny, eye friendly Aqua GUI plus having a full fledged *nix/BSD system at your disposal. Running MySQL/Apache/Perl/Python/PHP all on a local box where I can have my own testbed sandbox before presenting to clients. Yes, Win platform is capable of doing same thing, but to me, it's a kludge, and again, back to that time thing, where I waste time setting it all up and then dealing with the discrepancies between that environment and the *nix environments where the software will eventually run. And running PuTTy or Exceed is a weak substitute for an anti-aliased terminal window, custom setup. The one major thing that bugged me about OS X, that I missed from running Linux, was the virtual desktops, until I discovered this gem [sourceforge.net].

    • I realize there are specialized software needs that may not be met with OS X, but for most, the available software plus the F/OSS normally primarily in the domain of Linux OS is available to run on Mac OS X. And I don't even run Fink anymore, I just have a few X11 apps (Gimp, and a few others...) that I compiled and built and placed them within the X11 environment.

    Life got a lot simpler when I replaced my wife's Win XP box with an iMac. No more weekly degunk sessions, antivirus, malware consternation and constant admonitions for her to be vigilant about keeping her machine clean were necessary. And she took to it like a charm -- things were unfamiliar (and still sometimes she stumbles on a Win -> Mac how-to-do question) but she is enthralled with it now and spends more time on email/web browsing than she ever did on the Win box. The iLife/iPod deal is just gravy and really we've experienced firsthand on how much more hassle-free life became after the Mac switch.

    So, I'm not swayed by saving a couple hundred dollars. Just like I wouldn't buy a Kia or a Yugo, I'm not going to opt for a bargain basement PC over a quality machine like a Mac. No, it's not perfect and presents its own set of flaws, but at this juncture, it seems to be the product of greater quality for me.

Porsche: there simply is no substitute. -- Risky Business

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