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HardOCP Spends 30 Days With MacOSX 708

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-going-on-several-thousands-of-days-with-xp dept.
boyko.at.netqos writes "Hardocp.com has published "30 days with MacOSX" — with the same author from "30 days with Linux" and "30 days with Vista" doing the evaluation. Ultimately he likes the stability and security but other concerns keep him from recommending it. From the article: 'The hardware lock-in and lack of quality freeware makes owning and maintaining a Macintosh an expensive endeavor ... Mac OS X has some amazing capabilities, but you spend a lot of money. Indeed, it seems the preferred method for solving Mac computer problems is to buy your way out of it. Slow computer? Buy a new one. Want to convert a file? Buy a utility. Want to do simple tasks? Buy a commercial program. Peripherals don't work? Buy replacements.'"
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HardOCP Spends 30 Days With MacOSX

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  • NeoOffice needs X11? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jonny_eh (765306) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:32AM (#19397317)
    "While AbiWord and NeoOffice are both available through X11, neither had the full functionality that we needed, not to mention that we had a hell of a time getting them to work at all."

    If I'm not mistaken, NeoOffice is a native Mac app that is as easy to install as any other, and integrates just fine with the OS. Is the author think of openoffice.org?
  • Indeed, it seems the preferred method for solving Mac computer problems is to buy your way out of it.

    Not just preferred, but official.

    Let me tell you all (again) the story of my Blue and White G3, Revision 1.

    This particular hardware has a CMD IDE chip. Apple screwed up implementing it. Various people claim that it is a problem with the chip, but the identical chip is used in oodles of other hardware (including early UltraSparc workstations) and it works fine there. So Apple blew it. What did they blow? If you use UDMA transfer modes with it, most devices will experience data corruption. The problem occurs most when the CPU is heavily loaded (if you have one of these systems, a bit of testing will bear this out) but it can happen any time. And it's easy to load the CPU (even if just for a moment, which is long enough) when it's a ~300MHz G3.

    Apple published a TIL (TechInfo Library) document on the subject. Their solution? Either purchase an add-in IDE host adapter, which for the mac at the time cost something like five times as much as for the PC, or purchase software like FWB Toolkit to disable UDMA transfer modes on the disk. That's right; Apple's solution is to spend money to make your computer slower. No logic board replacements were proffered.

    That isn't the worst of it, though! When Apple rolled the TIL into their new Knowledge Base (KB) the article was deleted. I used to have the TIL document # noted down and actually searched for that, and could not find it. The information on this problem is available on lowendmac.com, by the way... The point here is that Apple not only treated their customers like shit by selling them flawed hardware, then knowing and admitting they were flawed, and suggesting a ridiculous solution (spend more money) but they then later attempted to bury the evidence of the incident by eliminating the best reference to it on the web.

    If this is the kind of company you want to patronize, that's your business. But Apple has never been shy about making users spend money, even when it's Apple's fuckup that you're working around.

  • by e4g4 (533831) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:43AM (#19397569)
    Yeah, the freeware point was the one that seemed to me to be the most ridiculous. I've found the average quality of free- and donation-ware on mac os x is *much* higher than on windows, and very often, the first tool I download for a job does it very well. On windows (assuming I have a task for which I have not yet found a good freeware tool) finding the right tool can involve trying dozens of different solutions before I find one that works as advertised.

    And one further point - the *only* machine that it's a pain to install RAM in is the mini - every other machine (Apple TV excluded) is a piece of cake.
  • by microbox (704317) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:44AM (#19397579)
    My girlfriend uses Windows, which I also use at work. I've got OS X 10.4 at home on an aging PPC mac mini. Frequently I'm asked "can I do that on my machine", and my response is... you have to buy a program. Everything on my mac, I got for free (except little snitch), and there's _lots_ of quality freeware and shareware out there. And then there's fink.

    Indeed, it seems the preferred method for solving Mac computer problems is to buy your way out of it. Slow computer? Buy a new one. Want to convert a file? Buy a utility. Want to do simple tasks? Buy a commercial program. Peripherals don't work? Buy replacements.

    I couldn't agree less.
  • by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:44AM (#19397587)
    SecretRabbit: Not sure he's heard of MacPorts:... nor Fink... nor version tracker.

    SecretRabbit, not only have I heard of MacPorts and Fink, but each one of them gets a seperate page in a 13 page, 14,000 word article.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:45AM (#19397601) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, and ultimately you end up running the X server a lot, which is a bit of a memory hog on top of the already memory hoggy OSX. Worse, stuff like printing and even copy and paste can be hit and miss depending on what toolkit the application originally used and how well it was ported. Even more annoying is how some free applications suddenly become not-free when they are ported, often becoming crippleware.
  • by br14n420 (1111329) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:49AM (#19397689)
    As someone who switched over to OSX for work reasons late last year, I agree.

    I'm not very big on the "THIS OS RULEZ!" way of thinking, but after using wmaker and xp all these years, the logical interface of darwin really helps with productivity. Since I was being a butt about them supplying my laptop needs, I, of course, did not factor in any additional software costs over the $1299ish basic macbook price.

    Shortly after the macbook arrived, I had the same impression that I'd have to go get a whole new suite of apps for big money. Then after some reading, I installed dev tools from the DVD, followed a quick guide to get x11 starting on boot and it was pretty much done. Apt has 90% of the software I need. Can't beat that, except with 91%!

    So here I am, six months later and still have not spent a dime on my mac's software. I use firefox to browse, thuderbird for email, neo office for my spreadsheets and documents, gimp for photo editing, and the rest is pretty much the stuff that comes pre-installed from the factory: iPhoto, photo booth, iTunes, etc.

    I know you didn't mention this, but it's something I do see a lot -- even years after it was deemed untrue: Lots of folks consider macs useful only in creative positions. It's actually 'better' than Windows for engineering/support in my opinion, only because of the apt access to openssh client/server, and the ability to run X apps from remote hosts straight out of the box (and cleaner than cygwin).

    On a completely different topic, the folks over at HardOCP don't really seem to be "power users" or whatever "hard hittin`" term they use to goose up their reader's egos about how much they are on the "inside" of the PC scene. It really seems to amount to a bunch of gamers who really like to talk about very small numbers differences compared between two games on opposing video cards, and not really the more complete, user who is years beyond the enthusiasm of new game titles, and more into using systems as tools. Not as badges of epeen. :)

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:53AM (#19397769)
    I did find mountains of free, open source software. It's just that the free software that I did find for the most common tasks - word processing and graphics editing, were buggy and too unstable to be used - even compared to their counterparts on other OSes. There is some good quality freeware out there, like Transmission and Colloquy, and I mention them - but BitTorrent and IRC aren't what I need to get my work done.
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:03PM (#19398007) Journal
    By using your logic, *BSD doesn't have any quality freeware, nor does Linux, nor does...

    Also, just b/c something is /mentioned/ does NOT mean that it was given a chance, nor was it properly researched, nor...

    Tell me, how sound is this?
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:04PM (#19398013)
    I've swapped out the battery on a third generation iPod.

    I will agree with you that it's no more difficult but the truth is when I swapped out the battery, I was left with an iPod that had a deformed case. There seemed to be no way around that, and I didn't want the same thing to happen to the MacMini.
  • by triplecoil (823470) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:25PM (#19398457)
    Check out Smultron [sourceforge.net].
  • by nixNscratches (957550) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:33PM (#19398595)

    I use: Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows (2k3,xp,vista) on a daily basis. Each has their strong points.

    • In direct comparison to "white box" commodity PC hardware that you build yourself, Macs are more expensive.
    • In direct comparison to brand name premanufactured computers with identical specs (processor, RAM, storage, I/O, display etc) Macs are competitive.

    The biggest Mac Gotcha is that their "Real" Warranty (Applecare) is an optional add-on. This is to keep the prices competitive. Dell does the same thing. However it's not really optional because if your logic board dies on the 368th day after you bought it, you're out a whole lot of money to get it replaced.

    That's really it. That's the one big drawback to Macs at this point.

    Macs can actually run MORE software than a comparable Windows machine because they can run anything a standard PC can run (in a VM like Parallels or VM Fusion, via WINE, Crossover Office, Boot Camp) plus any specialized Mac Apps that you desire (Logic Pro Audio and Final Cut Studio HD come to mind).

    In terms of free software, most everything "just compiles" If you don't want to compile, use Fink for "Debian Style" package management. Installing Support for X is actually very easy. You go back to your OS CD and do an optional install of just X windows. No conf files, no fiddling. It "just works", with multiple video cards, multiple monitors, with whatever.

    Macs are generally fast, reliable and come with the only Unix desktop implementation that my mother can use without asking me for help. I'd say that's an accomplishment. Shockingly, they're not for everyone. Just like Linux isn't, just like Windows isn't.

    Use what makes you productive and creative. Use what you like and what makes you happy. Over the life of a computer, a few hundred dollars spent or saved is probably a whole lot less important than the experience you have when you use it on a day to day basis.

  • Why informative? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by br14n420 (1111329) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:39PM (#19398703)
    Yeah, and ultimately you end up running the X server a lot, which is a bit of a memory hog on top of the already memory hoggy OSX.

    I use osx, x11, xp (parallels), firefox, thunderbird, itunes, etc all day long on 1GB w/ a 2GHz MB. The last time I saw the pin-wheel was during bootup sometime last week.

    BUT.. if we want to complain, Linux and Windows is always still there for the taking. I, personally, just think it is nice to have so many tools available in such a newbie OS without needing a credit card. Mind you, this is getting outside the realm of what the OP was driving home:

    The guys over at HardOCP are just being the idiots they can't help but be. Whatever opinion is 'cool' in the gaming community, at any given moment, will be what they blindly repeat and get all opinionated over, and instantly dislike anything that doesn't "fit" with the "scene".

    Things the author missed that were so painfully stupid are all over the article. Just like the whole deal with Windows having ready access to openoffice. If these chaps knew anything about this free software they need and support, then they should know there's a branch named Neo Office which works just dandy with OSX. Just like how the author could not find a "wordpad-like" program.. TextEdit anyone? It's Wordpad on steroids, and it's built into the operating system. Don't get me started on the simple things missed, like Dashboard and Spotlight. Spotlight should have been the first thing he clicked on when unable to find things.

    Don't trust these articles for anything, really. The only reason Linux didn't get a complete thumbs down is due to it being "cool" in the "scene" (note above), ever since Carmack did some fps dev under Linux back in the day. So, regardless of how little he understood, how much trouble things were to get done, Linux had to have a good review or else he would not fit in with his gamer buddies. That's the impression I get when OSX gets knocked for having some of the exact same tools, with same level of knowledge needed to make them work in either OS.

  • Re:what's that smell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gb506 (738638) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:13PM (#19399439) Homepage
    Evidently the tard hadn't heard of versiontracker, where literally thousands of OSX compatible freeware, shareware, and commercial apps are categorized, searchable, and waiting to be downloaded. And NeoOffice is NOT an X11 app, the fool.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:17PM (#19399527)
    Pure nonesense. I went through a similar IDE host adapter problem and the solution was to pay $49 for a PC formatted Maxtor? adaptor and download a little utility that flashed the rom to make it work with OS 9. Of course I COULD have taken my Mac to an authorized dealer and paid $100 just to drop it off to them, then paid $129 for a similar ide adapter, but I chose to go to OfficeMax and spend $49 and about 10 minutes of my own time to fix it.

    Or how about this gem (albeit anecdotal, still 100% true)...

    I somehow convinced Apple's help line guy over the phone to dispatch a repairman, who came to my house and swapped out the dead hard drive....in my Motorola Starmax clone...seriously. Apple didn't scream or holler one bit, chalking up the problem to a recent OS 8 upgrade, and not bad hardware from Sea Quest or Motorola.

    Or the time my 2nd generation iPod died 14 months into its lifespan (not battery related)...Apple honored the 12 month warrantee by not only sending me a new (refurbished) iPod, they also sent me all the return materials I needed with postage. It took a day for the box, and about 4 days for my replacement iPod to show up.

    I don't blame Apple for charging more, nor do I expect them to charge less than the competition. If I can't do it myself, I'll pay Apple to do it, otherwise I'll do it myself for much cheaper. 15 Macs later, I've had one IDE adapter problem and one recalled motherboard from a mid 90s Performa all-in-one that didn't even have the flaw that other machines were having. Apple not only replaced the motherboard for free, they upgraded the 66mhz cpu to something around 100 for free.

    So to answer your question, yes, this is the kind of company I will continue to patronize.

  • by Kamots (321174) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#19399847)
    The majority of the time if you're interested in doing a CPU upgrade you're wanting/needing to upgrade your MB as well as there's a new chipset out, or a new interface to another component (think IDE->SATA, PCI->AGP->PCIE, SDRAM->DDR->DDR2->DDR3, etc, etc), and if you're wanting to keep your upgrade path open, you'll need to support the new standards. I didn't guess right with PCIE, thought it'd take longer to become the de-facto standard, and I've gotten myself stuck with an expensive upgrade as my mb only supports agp and I'm on my video card part of my upgrade cycle.

    For the first time in years I've gotten myself in the situation I'd be in every couple of years if I went the mac hardware route... where to get a significant performance boost I'll need to buy what amounts to a new computer instead of simply a minor upgrade of the video card, or the mb/proc, or whatever. In 10 years of this, I never wound up upgrading the proc without upgrading the motherboard. It just isn't cost effective, by the time you're back to that part of your cycle, there's new tech out that you're going to want to have support for for future upgrades (or a new socket requires you to upgrade if you're going to upgrade your proc)

    With a mac, you've got maybe one cost-effective, meaningful upgrade before you really need to upgrade the mb because there's new tech out that it doesn't support.

    Also... look at his target audience. Who reads HardOCP?

    "very few people replace their motherboards these days"

    Those people :P (and we're not as few as you think! There's a whole segment of mbs made and marketed directly for/at us!)
  • by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:36PM (#19399869)
    Yeah, that's an annoying conclusion. I almost never upgrade any of my computers anymore aside from RAM and hard drives, something that's pretty easy to do on Macs and most laptops (PC or Mac). My home PC, which I use to play games mainly, is running some older ASUS board with an Athlon 2400+ (as in the K7 core). I bumped it up to a gig of RAM and put in a GeForce 7600GS a couple months ago, but that's hardly some monster update.

    To make the machine modern (PCIe, SATA, etc.) the whole machine has got to get replaced. The case is about the only thing I could keep. With all the CPU socket changes, a motherboard rarely survives more than one or two MINOR upgrades anymore.

    In a Mac I can upgrade easily: CPU, video card, RAM, hard drive and optical drives. Oh yeah, and on the laptops at least, the wireless is really easy to upgrade as well.

    So what if I can't upgrade the motherboard? Even in the PC world with a new socket coming out all the time, it's just about the same. This argument was much more valid a few years ago. Upgrading was also a much different realm when everything was on a PCI card. But now? My motherboard costs $60 - $120 (even more sometimes) and has everything but video and if I'm not a gamer... everything on it! New motherboard practically = new machine.

    And when my machine gets slow? For everything but gaming and video (neither of which are things I do a lot of) how fast does your machine even need to be any more? The ONLY reason I'm not still using my G4 PowerBook is virtualization. That's it. Having quick access to IE6 and IE7 on my work machine is just too convenient to pass up. But, really, that's all.

    All in all, the article was weak. Never trust a gaming centric site to give a decent review to anything but Windows based machines with the latest in "penis grade" hardware (like $500 video cards). For those of us who do work on your computers, many understand the relative strengths of Windows, Linux, OS X and whatever else appeals to our needs. Not everyone needs a $2,500 and a video card that requires its own power supply.
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:46PM (#19400075)

    I think that - although biassed and with some suspect statements (NeoOffice requires X11 and is impossible to install? WTF??) there is a grain of truth in what he says. OSX is not the worlds greatest platform if your main requirment is GUI-based Open Source.

    I certainly share the impression that there is less native free (beer) ware than Windows - and that although most of the FOSS stalwarts have been ported they do often rely on X11. This is rather second-best, Since the Unique Selling Point of OSX over Linux/FreeBSD is its GUI, many of the advantages of which disappear under X11, this does rather defeat the object. There's quite a lot of reasonably priced shareware though, and I get the impression that things are stepping up a bit post-Intel.

    So, basically, if you want a totally free ride, use Linux or FreeBSD - its no great revelation that OSX is aimed mainly at people who are either going to use iLife + (maybe) Office or shell out $$$HOW MUCH!? for professional creativity gear.

    I've been using OSX for web development (targetting Linux servers) using Eclipse, PHP PostgreSQL and its largely great - proper unix filesystem (unlike Windows - what's ths point of living if you don't have symlinks?) better/more responsive GUI than Gnome/KDE, easy testing on Firefox & Safari & fire up parallels for testing on (multiple versions) of IE. However - I've had a few issues with the PostgreSQL/MySQL GUI tools not being up to snuff on the Mac.

    PS - last time I looked there were multiple sources for Apple-compatible RAM - which isn't so much non-standard as not-the-cheapest (e.g. SODIMS instead of regular sticks). Crucial and Kingston will even arrange - for far less than Apple's price - for the traditional seventeen virgins to journey to the summit of Mount Fuji laden with gold and crushed lotus blossums and obtain from the ancient and venerable hermit therein the rare and valuable FB-DIMM chips coveted by the Mac Pro.

  • by Altus (1034) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:24PM (#19400781) Homepage

    The thing is, if you are upgrading your motherboard and your video card and your processor and maybe buying new ram (or even new hard drives to match your mother boards new built in controller) at what point are you pretty much just replacing the whole system. Sure its nice to keep that DVD burner around but how much are you really saving? And if you were on a Mac Pro you could buy a new one that didn't have the high end optical drive, or the largest hard drive available, and just put your old ones in your new computer.

    Sure, its not the same, you cant build your own mac and Im not going to claim that you can, but I think the difference here is not as great as the article makes it out to be. And for the vast majority of users its practically no difference at all.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:47PM (#19401159)

    ...there is a grain of truth in what he says. OSX is not the worlds greatest platform if your main requirment is GUI-based Open Source.

    If that had been the author's premise, to evaluate the state of GUI open source on different platforms, I might agree. I do not, however, think many people would consider that to eb a very interesting or useful study. Most people don't care about GUI versus CLI as much as they care about what works easily for their needs, which varies by audience. Also, most people don't care about open versus closed source nearly as much as they care about freeware versus payware.

    I certainly share the impression that there is less native free (beer) ware than Windows...

    "Native" is a pretty subjective term. I am always shocked when looking for freeware, how little there is for Windows in many cases. More than once I've ended up downloading freeware for OS X because all the programs I could find for Window cost money. If you want to assert that for general uses there are more free options for a given task, if you;re using Windows, you need to support that argument. The author made that argument, but did not support it with anything other than his opinion.

    This is rather second-best, Since the Unique Selling Point of OSX over Linux/FreeBSD is its GUI...

    I'd disagree with this. I'd say that integration and a well tested environment is the main selling point. How many times have you heard the phrase "it just works" with reference to OS X. The fact that I can open up a mac laptop, have it auto-discover both wireless and a usable printer, with no driver installation or configuration on my part, is one of the biggest wins in my mind... and that has nothing to do with the GUI. I'd say the OS X GUI is technologically on par with Linux, just better tested and more smoothly integrated with the rest of the system.

    So, basically, if you want a totally free ride, use Linux or FreeBSD...

    TANSTAAFL. Anyway, in general I agree that if you want a totally free ride you should be using Linux on the desktop.

    ...its no great revelation that OSX is aimed mainly at people who are either going to use iLife + (maybe) Office or shell out $$$HOW MUCH!? for professional creativity gear.

    That may have been the case in the past, but that is not what I see today. I work in the security industry and OS X has positively taken the desktop/laptop space in this industry by storm. Go find a hardcore BSD or Linux or Solaris geek developing really cool server software and the chances are they're doing it from a terminal window in OS X on a MacBook.

  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:24PM (#19401735)
    Look, I'm usually the type to be accused of being a Mac fanboy more often than a critic, but the reviewer is right about this. You can argue all you want that upgradeability isn't, or shouldn't be, important, but this guy's writing for HardOCP, and we all know perfectly well that this guy and most of his audience are probably among those who upgrade and swap components all the time. Clearly upgradablity is important to him. And he gives a great example of where this IS important right in his review- the Mac Mini comes with an unconscionably low amount of RAM for OSX, and it's a huge PITA to upgrade compared to nearly any similarly priced PC. Yes, the Mini is little and cute and built like a laptop, which would make it hard to give it 4 easily acessible RAM slots like many similarly priced PC's have, but the fact that it's a relative PITA to upgrade stands, regardless of there being good reasons behind it.

    Yes, the Mac Pro towers are some of the most gorgeous, easily upgradeable computers available anywhere- he admits this, but they start at $2,500. What this guy's asking for is what Apple used to sell from the release of the Beige G3 tower in 1998 until the release of the G5 tower in June 2003- an easily user-upgradeable machine for something around $1000.

    Some of us like computers and mess around with them and, as he said, like to pop in new components to relieve bottle necks with some frequency, rather than always replacing the whole thing at one go. I had one of those G3 towers, and I bought it as a 266 mhz G3 with 32 MB RAM and a 4 GB HD, and I sold it 6 years later as a 533 Mhz G4 with 768 MB memory and over 100GB of HD space. Along the way it stepped up from a CD-ROM to a CR-R, it gained USB 2 and firewire ports through a PCI-card, and it went from single monitor support to much faster 3 monitor support with a Radeon 7000 PCI card. That machine cost about $1,000 new, maybe $1,200. Now, while the price of PC's has fallen dramatically since 1998, the price of the cheapest upgradable Mac has doubled. I still think the Mac Pros are a great deal- if you price something similar at Dell, you'll pay $1,000+ more. But regardless of whether they're a good price for what you get, they cost an arm and a leg. Minis, and more particularly iMacs, are great machines, but they offer extremely limited ability to upgrade compared to PC competitors. Apple has abandoned the market segment for people who like the flexible tower form factor but don't want to pay an arm and a leg, a segment that's very well catered to by nearly every other PC manufacturer.
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:58PM (#19403219) Journal
    Why can't you admit that he only gave a pathetic attempt at making MacPorts work?

    He concludes that "11 functionality is poor and the learning curve is very steep." which is rather a joke. If he would have expended time enough for just a couple emails to MacPorts mailing list (this IS an OSS project after all), then his experience would have been a hell of a lot better.

    I mean seriously, he's on IRC checking things out, but can't send an email to MacPorts?!?! He's able to tell "it looked like the problem was with user permissions" but apparently can't figure out when he does a "port search all" he should add in a "|more"?!?!

    Quite frankly, reading what he did and didn't do at various points in his experience, IMO his "experience" was more about self-sabotage than giving things an honest try.

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