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Apple Businesses Software Linux

Recommend Apple, Lose Your Job? 997

rocketjam writes "While examining whether outsourcing tech work to India is really cost-effective, Robert X. Cringely takes a look at the old conspiracy theory that IT doesn't recommend Apple solutions because they need less support, thus endangering IT professionals' job security." Cringely argues: "Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job."
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Recommend Apple, Lose Your Job?

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  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:48PM (#6708553) Journal
    I don't see why he has a hard time grasping why Linux is adopted more than Macs in large organizations. Linux is far cheaper (x86 hardware, clusters and scales cheap), is more flexible, can run all of those fancy open source middleware products (without much manipulation), and most off all Linux can be used as a file server/firewall/application server/web server/email server/DNS server/database server/all of the above at once without costing you nearly as much as an X-Serve.

    And for years to come, you can always just add more RAM or upgrade the CPU(s) in the Linux box. "Upgrade time" for the Mac means buying a whole new X-Serve. Once the hardware for the Linux box becomes too impractical to upgrade, it's flexibility will allow you to use it in some other fashion, like a thrid tier firewall or as a database server for some small intranet need, or just the box that runs your help desk ticket system.

    I thought this was obvious.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:52PM (#6708586)
      The XServe, although not an x86 machine, can do everything you just said an x86 Linux box can do. Heck, if it becomes impractical to upgrade and you don't want OS X on it anymore, you can - well - install Linux on the thing.
      • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @08:09PM (#6709224) Homepage Journal
        It's REALLY funny where he claims it takes as may admins to run X-number of Linux boxes, as it does the same number of Winders machines.

        Who sold you that one, Bob? Did a bridge come with it?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:46PM (#6709782)
          The better question is who sold you on that BS that it takes a smaller number of admins to maintain a Linux network?

          I am one of two admins where I work and we have a network of about 15 Windows servers, 2 HP N-Class systems, 275+ desktops and all the associated network equipment. We have absolutely no problems handling everything. The important thing to know, however, is that the primary reason that there are even two of us is for redundancy. My employer is willing to pay for the peace of mind that comes from not having to call the admin back from vacation early because something happened. Someone is always onsite. Neither I nor my partner have had any problems maintaining the entire network with the other gone.
      • by sceptre1067 ( 197404 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:18PM (#6709669) Journal
        Just to be anal...

        The Xserve only has one power supply... in a similar price range Compaqs and Dells come with redundent power supplies.

        I realize this is a minor thing, but from the initial research we did at my company (a less then 100 person firm), we just didn't get the feeling that Apple really knew how to deal with the corporate market (e.g. redundency, dependability, interoperability, snapshots of drives, etc). More like they were counting on the 'cool' factor that makes them a good desktop machine, but not server.

        Now on the flip side the group who designed thier RAID box does seem to understand...

        • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @01:10AM (#6710581)
          every single one of my athalons (18) has had the power supply replaced twice. half of my p3 blades (150) have had their disk replaced. my 90 supermicor xeons are doing quite well thank you. my desk top linux Pcs have ahd various disk failures.

          my xserves have never failed. redundancy doesn't mean shit if the product isn;t good to begin with. I got lucky with super micro and in fact the latest 2000 cpu cluster at my company is super micro too. but frankly the other copanies on paper were actually better.

          the only reason I dont buy more apple xserves is that as long as I can get lucjy the linux boxes are cheaper. but if I had to pay anybody the same as an apple i'd rather have an apple since I know it will work. you can have your redundant power supplies.

          the key if finding a good vendor and sticky with them.

    • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:54PM (#6708598) Homepage Journal
      Linux can be used as a file server/firewall/application server/web server/email server/DNS server/database server/all of the above at once without costing you nearly as much as an X-Serve.
      You can do all of that with an iMac, if you wish.
      And for years to come, you can always just add more RAM or upgrade the CPU(s) in the Linux box. "Upgrade time" for the Mac means buying a whole new X-Serve.
      See, there's what the article is talking about: FUD. You can add RAM to an X-Serve. Somewhere down the road you can probably upgrade the CPU, also. There are CPU upgrades available for every single other Mac ever made, so it's quite likely that when the time comes that the original X-Serve CPU can't keep up, an upgrade will be available.

      • by CoyoteGuy ( 524946 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:00PM (#6708653)
        Linux can be used as a file server/firewall/application server/web server/email server/DNS server/database server/all of the above at once without costing you nearly as much as an X-Serve.

        You can do all of that with an iMac, if you wish.

        Care to give a url of a nice iMac web server to slashdot, and we'll see what OS is superior? :P
        • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @10:50PM (#6710062) Homepage Journal
          Care to give a url of a nice iMac web server to slashdot, and we'll see what OS is superior?

          Here [] you go, as requested, an iMac server. This one happens to be an older G3 iMac running OS X, so......Do your worst, but know that all IP's are logged. :-)

          This little iMac get about 30k hits/day and is rock solid. One of the best $600 I ever spent.

      • by nettdata ( 88196 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:13PM (#6708756) Homepage
        On top of that, have you ever worked on an XServe? It's a DREAM to deal with!

        The thing is incredible, the way that it comes apart, and the ease with which you can change components is sooooo nice.

        If I had to deal with upgrading/swapping components as part of my job, I'd LOVE to have a rack of XServes.

        Not saying that other boxes aren't as easy/nice, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

      • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:41PM (#6708970) Journal
        Let us be realistic for a moment. How often is one going to do anything to a rackmount other than add ram and perhaps add more/larger drives? Rackmounts are kidna meant to live on the rack until they outlive their usefulness. Besides that, do you really think its a good idea to upgrade the CPU in a 1U rackmount unit? Lets consider. A rackmount unit really has to worry about airflow and cooling, A hotter CPU may cause unreliable performance. And speaking of unreliable. You dont buy a rackmount system to putz around with it. Often they are mission critical units. You wanna upgrade a cpu on a mission critical mail server for fun?

        Assuming the OEM even makes a model that has a faster CPU and you can stick in yours, why didnt you buy the faster one anyway? By the time you woudl get around to 'upgrading' your rackmount the net gen technology would have already rolled out the door.
      • But even if you totally omit the cost of hardware (not unreasonable, as it is maintenance that really costs), the XServe isn't any easier to maintain than Linux is. I find OSX to be much harder to work with, from an administration perspective.

        It's a better DESKTOP than Linux (not a ton better, but better) -- but as a SERVER it's not as good. The hybrid OS it's running will run most open source stuff (thanks, fink guys!) but getting that stuff working is often a royal PITA, *harder* than it is on Linux.

        • by gozar ( 39392 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:03PM (#6709602) Homepage
          On top of that, I don't particularly trust it. From a security perspective, I'm not at all sure about the quality of the design. Consider: the nidump utility dumps out *encrypted passwords* to ANY user on the box, even 'nobody'. In other words, OSX doesn't even have the equivalent of shadow passwords! That is just so overwhelmingly boneheaded that I wouldn't trust it with my critical data.

          Open Directory on OS X server is very flexible, and you can choose to store your user lists in Password Server, Kerberos, or Active Directory []. Then you don't have to worry about people getting your encrypted passwords.

          Don't confuse OS X client capabilities with what's available in OS X Server.

        • by koehn ( 575405 ) * on Friday August 15, 2003 @10:28PM (#6709968)
          Okay, first:
          The password hashes are HASHES. Not encrypted. There's no way to get the original back, no matter how much CPU you have. Agreed that it's still not a great idea to let anyone at them, and I have to admit I was stunned that you could do it. I'll have to see if they use a different salt on each machine though, it adds a small measure of protection (if the passwords aren't simple). Download a copy of john and see how long it takes. My imac (running Linux) has been working on guessing a password to match my pw hash for more than ten days. The users on my system who used insecure p/ws were cracked in minutes.

          Now you wanna talk security holes: by default, any DHCP server can send a URL of an LDAP server to OSX, and it'll authenticate users from that LDAP server. Yuck.

          Second, you state that "OSX is much harder to work with," but don't explain how. Personally, I've found it much easier to learn than Linux was: I've never felt the need to compile my own OSX kernel, but I've had to do that repeatedly to Linux over the years. The distributed directory stuff in Jaguar rocks, and it integrates with LDAP, AD, whatever (and all of the above, simultaneously). See the macdevcenter at O'Reilly.

          Agreed about Cringely: he's an idiot, IMHO. Can you name ANY profession that would recommend a change in their workplace that would remove themselves from being qualified to work there? Sheesh!
    • Mod parent down (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is more trollish than insightful. The XServe is exatly like any other rackmountable machine. The only difference is it has a different type of CPU and can run OS X. Nothing's keeping you from upgrading anything in the XServe either.

      Heck, it even runs Linux. The parent is simply spouting old anti-Apple rhetoric.
    • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:59PM (#6709148) Homepage
      Linux is far cheaper

      And the hardware it runs on is essentially free. An IT department can take any extra PC and put it on the net as a Linux server. Let's say all the folks in Department E got shiny new computers to replace their old 300 MHz boxes. Those old 300 MHz boxes can have new life as a server.

      So why is Linux also used for enterprise servers, where the XServe would work just fine? I suspect it is because most companies already have a preferred vendor. All the shiny new boxes in Department E came from Dell, and the enterprise servers did too. Unless the business is an Apple shop, already getting computers from Apple, buying an XServe means buying from multiple vendors. And maybe the desktops and the enterprise servers were all bought at once, in a package deal that saved some extra money.

      All this is obvious. I moderate Cringely's latest column (-1, Troll).

    • No, it's not too complicated. The whole point of his article (and he mentions the low cost of Linux), is that the Macs take far less HUMAN overhead. Last I checked, even $1000 more for a Mac is nothing compared to what you pay for an IT professional ($50,000 +?). Im not saying it's a one-to-one savings, but when you throw in all the human costs, it starts to go up. Macs use less power, and that is multiplicative with the number of machines you have. More employees (IT professionals) have salary, benefi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:50PM (#6708562)
    ..somebody in India starves because of lack of tech support calls.

    Please. Think of the Indians. Buy PC.
  • by REden ( 174677 ) * on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:50PM (#6708568)
    as I mentioned in a response to Bob.

    It's an issue of comfort.

    Everyone is comfortable with windows, even if they don't like it.

    Many admins are comfortable with Linux/Unix. It's what has gotten the job done for years.

    I have used lots of different operating systems, CPM/TRSDOS/OS-2/VMS/Unix/Windows but have
    NEVER used a Mac, so I'm not comfortable recommending it. I expect it to be very different
    from the CLI world I'm used to.

    In order for me to get comfortable, I'd have to play with it. If MacOS ran on PC hardware,
    I would consider setting up a partition to boot it, but that's not the case. It's expensive
    to learn, and I have no incentive.

    • Tutorial. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SamTheButcher ( 574069 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:04PM (#6708680) Journal
      Ok, here you go.
      1. Go to your nearest Apple store.
      2. Go to whichever computer looks the most like a PC (to assuage your discomfort level). Don't worry, few look like a PC.
      3. Use the mouse and go down to the dock, usually located at the bottom of the screen.
      4. Click on the Finder icon.
      5. Click on the Applications icon at the top of the window that opens.
      6. Open the Utilities folder within that window.
      7. Double click on Terminal.

      End tutorial. Should all be familiar from there.

      Sort of facetious, but, well, not really. Try it. Take a half hour out of your time. If it's not that easy, well, then you now know you're making the right decisions instead of wondering "if".

    • I havne't used a mac in years, but when someone asks what computer to buy I recomend a mac. For my own protection. I don't use windows, but I get many questions on Windows. I have no idea how to deal with a windows machine that is described over the phone as having given a dialog box that mentioned registery corruption. With a Mac I'm comfortable that I won't get a call like that. Those details are taken care of, so when something bad happens they can normally deal with the problem. (and it doesn't h

  • Makes an assumption (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:51PM (#6708578)
    This argument makes the assumption that IT is ever properly staffed in the first place. IT people almost universally want to lessen their workload so it falls more in line with their actual [underfunded] workload capacity!
    • by rmarll ( 161697 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:40PM (#6709760) Journal
      This argument makes the assumption that IT is ever properly staffed in the first place. IT people almost universally want to lessen their workload so it falls more in line with their actual [underfunded] workload capacity!

      I think that was the point of the article. It's about the CIO not the staff. Headcount is king, and from what I've seen, it really is. If you need more IT to keep up all the time, you just keep getting all these people under you.

      Resume-- Mangaged a 350 head IT department for bigass corporation...

      is much more impressive than

      Resume-- Managed a 5 person IT department for bigass corporation....
  • by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) * <> on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:52PM (#6708585) Homepage Journal
    Used to work as a contractor for a major pizza company that used to be in Kansas. They were an entire Macintosh place, had systems for about 700 - 1000 users I think it was.

    Then a large soda company bought them and felt that 'they all needed to be the same' even though the Microsoft Offices the platforms ran worked together.

    So, we went from the two of us supporting 700 - 1000 users to 18 people.

    And the user populace was not happy. The standard rebuild time of a machine went from 'when they got new ones' to once a week. We had device driver issues, and SLAs of getting machines back up and running in two hours so we ended up just ghosting machines over and over to clear up whatever went wrong.

    • by Hungus ( 585181 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:21PM (#6708828) Journal
      I used to work for that same company .. but in a restaurant I have a similar story to that myself right down the road from where the company you used to work for is now, there lies a building of unspeakable evil wherein I worked with my current roomate for several years. The two of us did teh entire Mac phone in support for the nation within the first 90 days of sale and the paid support afterwards we had one mac to work off of between us and had to enter our calls in on the PCs. Well there were 2 of us and about 80 PC techs but here is the really interesting thing He and I averages 70-80 calls a day each the other side was lucky to handle 1/3 of that each. Nationally there were about the same number of trouble calls per machine ... but our calls to much less time.
    • Hey, I used to work for a company where we had about 200 PC users and 30 Mac users. The Mac users were self-supporting (they had to be--the IT dept had no Mac support resources), yet I still found myself helping out down in the Mac area on occasion. For PC support, we had: Me. We had a help-desk, but most of the help desk was dedicated to supporting our in-house order-entry and order-fulfillment applications. We had a phone admin/sysadmin responsible for Novell, I helped out some on Novell and Unix, an

  • by kippy ( 416183 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#6708591)
    I'm an applications admin. ClearCase and ClearQuest specifically. I also support a host of other engineering applications. Most of those apps were never and probably will never be ported to the Mac and I'm willing to bet that other engineering shops are in the same boat.

    Sure, I figure that Macs might have a place in a business or accounting context but not for engineering. Anyone got a counter-example?
    • by laird ( 2705 ) < minus math_god> on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:04PM (#6708675) Journal
      It depends on the kind of engineering you're doing. There's a shortage of CAD packages for the Mac, for example, but with MacOS X, most of the major UNIX engineering packages have been ported to MacOS X -- the vendors see it as a dramatically easier way to get to the non-UNIX desktop market than doing an NT port. Some examples:

      You can find a good catalog of Mac app's at A quick search turned up ArchiCAD, CADintosh, DesignWorks (circuit design/schematics), MacSchema, PowerCADD, VectorWorks, B2Spice (circuit emulator), ... you get the idea. Probably not as wide a range as for Wintel, but they've certainly got their fans (i.e. people using them to make a living).
    • Sure, I figure that Macs might have a place in a business or accounting context but not for engineering.


      I am an engineer []. I've worked [] on many [] engineering [] studies [] over the past few years. I run a engineering company now. The number of times I've had to use a propriety CAD package I can count on my right hand.

      Thanks to all of the open source packages out there, there are plenty of engineerng apps [] available for Mac OS X.

  • Doesn't make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eap ( 91469 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#6708592) Journal
    Every IT dept I've ever encountered was overburdened to start with. I can't imagine they would not want a break so they could attend to more important things than Windows crashes. Not only that, but the techs _hate_ dealing with this stuff.

    Imagine how much money you could save your organization if you had the time to verify all backups and replace old, failure prone disk drives before they crash.

    There is always more to do in IT.
  • by ansible ( 9585 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:56PM (#6708617) Journal

    I'm sure things have improved tremendously, but in the previous decade, Apple computers were a severe pain in the posterior to support in a large enviroment.

    There's a lot of things about Appletalk that didn't scale well at all. I wasn't a member of the Mac support team, but oh, the stories I could tell... Oh, the hacks that were needed to get them onto the regular TCP/IP network...

    If sysadmins aren't installing Macs now, maybe that's why. Maybe they are just afraid.

    So how easy are they to integrate into a large network these days?

    • by macrealist ( 673411 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @08:05PM (#6709205) Journal
      Ten years ago, nothing beat appletalk from a user's prespective. Finding printers was easy and straight forward, as was finding servers. It was easy to share your work with others. And at the time, there was (and still really is no) equivilent in the Windows or Unix worlds.

      I've heard administrators horror stories of dealing with apple talk, but they don't seem to much worse than other horror stories. And even if they were the cause of a little more pain, isn't that the price of providing a good network solution to the users.

      At my former company, when it was time to move away from appletalk, the network adminstrators jumped as fast as they could to replace it. But they didn't have horror stories of having to patch thousands of users computers, or bringing down entire networks as reasons for their JOY of seeing appletalk go away. Instead, it was that appletalk "slowed down the network".

      So, we got a new network where we had to remember the IP address of any printer we wanted to use and any server we needed to access, and to share our work we had to tell everyone our IP address and hope that they wrote it down or you'd be telling them again, and again, and again... We went from a user centric network to a faster IT centric network.

      Although I am a big Mac fan, I don't agree with Cringley on this issue. There are other reasons that Macs are being used in most businesses besides IT looking out for their own jobs. And most seem to be outlined here by /. users (preceived costs, lack of apps, unfamilarity, high cost of experiment, vendor lock, ...).

      But whenever I think about the lose of AppleTalk, and now see it being blamed for Apple's shortcomings, I really wonder who IT thinks they work for. Always thought the user, but maybe not...
  • Human Nature... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:56PM (#6708618)
    Self Interest is human nature. Are you REALLY going campaign for a product that will possibly help you meet your own economic demise?? Chances are no, especially if they clientel (sp?) are easily swayed and lack knowledge.
  • by OmniVector ( 569062 ) <s[ ]my homepage ['ee ' in gap]> on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:58PM (#6708633) Homepage
    I went absolutely nuts updating machines in my workplace for the MS Blaster worm. Take a look of one of my user's desktop [] for an example of why.

    I have to say: updating these machines is a completely and utter waste of my time and skills but it definatly keeps me employed. My boss is so apathetic that he never wants to make changes. I've offered on several occasions of virus outbreaks in the company to switch everyone to mozilla mail so we'd stop getting those Lookout (Outlook) viruses. But no!

    I swear if i ever own my own company, everyone will Linux dummy terminals or iMacs, etc -- something ease to remotely update and maintain.
  • by notque ( 636838 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:58PM (#6708636) Homepage Journal
    But if I was looking at the exact same comperable solutions, and I knew 1 would benefit the IT department vs. hurting the IT department's job security, I go with the one that is going to secure jobs to my hardworking co-workers (and I) ... The CEO makes more than all of us combined, We lost our coffee machine.. it's fair!
  • True enough. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:58PM (#6708642) Homepage
    This is totally true. Take a look at small offices that don't have or can't afford an IT department and you'll see they normally use Macs. Why? Because if you have a company with 12 people running Macs you don't need an IT department. Look at Vice Magazine for an example of what I'm talking about. I'm moving into the realm of home business and you know I'll be making the switch. Then again, I'm in graphic arts and all the labs at my school are Mac labs.
  • Bad Conclusions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dasein ( 6110 ) * <tedc@codeb i g . com> on Friday August 15, 2003 @06:59PM (#6708646) Homepage Journal
    First, I think Cringely is great. I mean who else would let us buy video tape of them having a nervous breakdown?

    However, I think he's *WAY* off base here as to why Linux is being adopted faster than Apple. If I need a 64-way Linux machine, I can get it []. If I need a cluster I can get it (off the shelf) []. If I want some funky hardware bit, I can get that as well.

    My reason for not choosing Apple is vendor lock-in. If I can keep something that allows me to pick and choose parts from a wide variety of sources, I can build solutions that fit the need.

    The one place where he might have a point is on the desktop, but I don't see a lot of Linux migration on the desktop. It's still Windows. People want Office even though they hate it.
    • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#6709024)
      It goes like this for Linux:

      Me to boss: "There's this thing I want to do that will make me work more efficiently if I had a Linux box around."

      Boss to me: "We don't have a budget for any new equipment or software."

      Me to boss: "No problem, I'll download a distro for free, burn a few CDs, and install it on that old beige box that we don't use anymore."

      Boss to me: "Sure, knock yourself out."

      And it goes like this for Apple:

      Me to boss: "There's this thing I want to do that will make me work more efficiently if I had a Macintosh to work on."

      Boss to me: "We don't have a budget for any new equipment or software."

      Me to boss: "Nevermind then."
  • by 71thumper ( 107491 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:05PM (#6708691)
    Cringely's close, but off the mark.

    1) Pricing: Mac's are significantly more money. And if you thought the Microsoft OS costs were bad, looks at Apple's. OS X launched in 2001, and, if you were a 10.0 buyer, while 10.1 was a free upgrade, 10.2 wasn't, and 10.3 is coming fast! And from the end user perspective, these have all been largely mandatory upgrades -- many apps now won't work unless you are running 10.2, for example.

    2) Usability. While there are a lot of things that work smoothly under OS X, there are still some issues, ESPECIALLY with Windows interoperability -- and any company of size is going to have a significant overlap. So you'd have to train IT folks (or hire new ones), and still have some userland issues.

    Another serious concern for IT has been how quickly Apple has outdated machines. Didn't we just see today that a number of machines aren't going to have proper functionality? Again, this is on fairly new machinery! Concerns have to be that Apple is quickly going to invalidate the G3 and G4 (over the next 24-30 months).

    Those are my thoughts as a fairly PHB who started using OS X on a TiBook back in 2001.

    • by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:54PM (#6709081)
      1) Pricing: Mac's are significantly more money.

      Dell Optiplex GX270: Celeron 2.00GHz, 256MB, 80GB HDD, combo drive, 17" monitor, USB WiFi adapter, v.92 modem, XP Pro: $1,352 after $50 rebate.

      Apple eMac: G4 1.00GHz, 256MB, 80GB HDD, DVD-R/CD-RW, 17" flat CRT monitor, Airport Extreme, v.92 modem, OS X 10.2: $1,398.

      I guess it depends on your definition of "significantly."

      And if you thought the Microsoft OS costs were bad, looks at Apple's. OS X launched in 2001, and, if you were a 10.0 buyer, while 10.1 was a free upgrade, 10.2 wasn't, and 10.3 is coming fast! And from the end user perspective, these have all been largely mandatory upgrades -- many apps now won't work unless you are running 10.2, for example.

      Windows ME and Windows 2000 were released very close together, if not at the same time, yet you were expected to pay again to go from one to the other. Every machine sold until the release of 10.2 still could run OS 9, and there are plenty of applications available there.

      2) Usability. While there are a lot of things that work smoothly under OS X, there are still some issues, ESPECIALLY with Windows interoperability -- and any company of size is going to have a significant overlap. So you'd have to train IT folks (or hire new ones), and still have some userland issues.

      Actually, I've found OS X to be easier to integrate into a Windows network than even Windows 95/98. People at my company who come from OS 9 and Windows alike find it very easy to log on to servers use printers. If your users don't like it, OS X can be scripted onto servers just as easily as any other workstation.

      The biggest plus is that you don't have to join a domain to access its resources. I had a Powerbook on a Windows-only network for 6 months. Not only was I able to log on to all of the Windows servers, I could administer them with Microsoft's terminal services client for the Mac, and still work through Outlook. Nobody had any idea that there was a Mac on the network--it was that compatible.

      Another serious concern for IT has been how quickly Apple has outdated machines. Didn't we just see today that a number of machines aren't going to have proper functionality? Again, this is on fairly new machinery!

      The people in my office who are still working away at their Beige G3's would probably disagree. I seem to remember the jump from the 286 to 386 to 486 caused the same issues (and complaints.) My 2000-vintage Pismo Powerbook was the machine I mentioned above. Not only was it able to be quite productive in a Windows-only environment, it has plenty of speed for what most people need it for.

      Concerns have to be that Apple is quickly going to invalidate the G3 and G4 (over the next 24-30 months).

      Why's that? I seriously doubt that they would shut out machines that are selling even now so soon. In fact, with the G5 becoming the new "high end" processor, it's likely that the G4 will become the new "low end." I expect eventual phase-out of the G3's because of new Altivec-ready applications released down the road, but those who need those applications will upgrade, and those who don't can continue to work with 10.2, or even OS 9.

    • by MasonMcD ( 104041 ) <masonmcd AT mac DOT com> on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:07PM (#6709618) Homepage
      1) Pricing: Mac's are significantly more money. And if you thought the Microsoft OS costs were bad, looks at Apple's. OS X launched in 2001, and, if you were a 10.0 buyer, while 10.1 was a free upgrade, 10.2 wasn't, and 10.3 is coming fast! And from the end user perspective, these have all been largely mandatory upgrades -- many apps now won't work unless you are running 10.2, for example.

      Now, your other points might be valid (though there are several companies that specialize in mac upgrades), but an unlimited license for OSX Server is what? $1000? Even at 10 times that, it pays for any hardware disparity with commodity PC parts with any significant installation.

      How much is a 5000 seat WinXP contract? How many IT to support that, and how much do they make?
  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:08PM (#6708713) Homepage
    At my company we use a variety of boxes throughout, Windows, Linux, Mac. We do this for a variety of reasons, among with is which systems the people using them like, what our customer needs are for development purposes, and so on. So from a real-world experience here are some points:
    • Macs are not that expensive. What you get with a Mac makes up for slightly higher prices. They give you what you need without having to tack on lots of "extras."
    • Macs can do everything you need. We use a mixed environment transparently. There is nothing I cannot do with a Mac that I want to do, nor am I prevented from interacting with Windows boxes or Linux boxes. It just works. Transparently.
    • Macs don't waste your time. Every security update from Microsoft means the Windows guys are running around updating. The Mac guys just sit there and keep working. The Windows guys keep updating their virus software. The Mac guys just sit there and keep working. And although some people report problems with Apple hardware, and I respect those opinions since any hardware can go wrong, our uptime has been great.
    As for the Linux guys, heh, they love Linux and take care of their boxes without any questions or issues coming up. Patch needed? They do it on their own time. Uptime? Forever. Problems? Nil.

    In short, don't believe those who say that you can't do things with Macs, or it causes problems interacting on the network, or the usual FUD. Although I'm sure there are specific instances where problems might occur on the edges, my real-world experience has shown that the Mac and Linux boxes are the ones that just work in my company. Any problems we have are with the Windows side. I can well believe that you need more IT staff to keep the Windows boxes going. There is very little you need to do to keep the alternatives going, and they interact just fine.

    So if you love Window boxes, good for you. But if you hear the FUD about Macs not working well with others, I'm here to tell you that it's just not so.

    • Group reply (Score:3, Interesting)

      Whoa! Lots of comments on my post. Lemme try to respond in one group post. But first, to the moderator who rated my post as "Flamebait," please re-read the mod rules. My post was just a description of my personal experience, on-topic, and to the point. If you disagreed with my experience, or had your own experience that contradicted mine, comment on it. Don't mark my post as "Flamebait" when it wasn't. That's not to be used just because you have a personal prejudice. Now to the comments: We do not h
  • Cringely accuracy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:08PM (#6708716)
    Hopefully this was a one time slip, and not representative of his overall performance:

    A very good friend of mine (one of Microsoft's major customers at the time) recommended to Redmond precisely the e-mail safeguards that would have made this week's problem impossible.

    Unless I'm mistaken, msblast (or whatever you want to call it) doesn't spread by e-mail. Is he confusing 'e-mail' with 'the Internet', or did he not do his homework.
  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:09PM (#6708722) Homepage
    I dont think the vast majority of tech support places do this. Ive been working in various industries as tech support and have always recommended what I thought was best for the customer, whatever I would recommend for my mother or would buy myself. To some, especially in the graphics industry I always recommend the macs, even if theyre using linux. For many others who wouldnt take the headache of linux configuration and smaller software base, I recommend windows 2000.

    Some people in college where I worked as tech support did ask about buying a mac. I told them its very robust and they'll love its working, but they'll have issues with software and had better go with IBM or Dell. They took my advice. I similarly have a few Dells at home and no Mac yet.
  • by morven2 ( 5718 ) * on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:15PM (#6708777)
    Don't kid yourself. Technology choice is rarely, in any organisation, done for purely altruistic 'what's good for the company?' reasons.

    Instead, the technology chosen is one of two choices:

    1) What people are comfortable with. A lot of people want an easy, safe, predictable decision.

    2) Resume fodder. What do the decision-makers want to add to their resumes? What's missing?

    Analyse the average IT department's choices and one of those two is almost always the cause. Let's face it, most of us would also be guilty of these; picking what we're used to and what we think would be fun or useful to learn.
  • I think we all know that until a second button makes it onto the Mac mouse, they will never achieve corporate recognition. x86 platforms are up to 3 sometimes even 4(!) buttons. Forget the color, its the buttons that matter!
  • by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:19PM (#6708809)
    Cringely argues: "Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job."

    This person obviously sees only part of the bigger picture. Supporting the hardware/software is part of the total cost of ownership. If a company deems it a better deal to purchase PCs over cost of support issues, then they'll be picked. Not to mention, most users have a PC at home. Why burden them with learning a different platform at the office?

    Bottom line, you can go buy a new PC motherboard, sound card, video card, etc for a few bucks. Replacing Apple parts are a bit more expensive and harder to come by.

    If Apple had wanted a larger share of the office market, they should have been there to compete for it all these years. Nothing against them, but they focused almost entirely on the home user market and photoshop crowd for the past ten years, leaving PCs for the miscellanious work. You don't get your hardware stocked in offices by being innovative, you do it by being consistent and monopolistic.( :( )

    This isn't a blanket assumption that PCs are the better answer for all office situations, but those are the reasons none of my shops have been Apple shops.

    Please don't get all zealoty and mod happy, just an honest opinion from an honest joe who's set up more office networks than most. My karma is still recovering from the last time I posted to a Mac thread. ;)
  • couple of things.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hooya ( 518216 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:19PM (#6708816) Homepage
    first, i'd have to play with mac in non-critical settings to be familiar with the platform to form my own opinion and figure out the gotchas. now that's going to cost me around $1500. lotta money for playing around. (vs. $300-$400 for a system that'll run windows or linux etc.)

    second, once i did bring up using macs instead of wintel for regular users. my boss scoffed at the idea. lesson here is: it's not up to me.

    the reason i was successful with linux is i got the 'throwaway machines' after the office went thru a hardware upgrade. i then proceeded to wipe those machines clean, installed linux and has since been running file servers, print servers etc. so eventually i was able to convince buying hardware specifically for running linux. can't do that with a mac (start out with throw-away machines, that is) i even got a mosix cluster of older computers that they were ready to toss out.

    so maybe there's more to the CLI than just pure nerd testosterone. evolutionary adoption? vs. the disruptive adoption that a mac would require.
  • by Sevn ( 12012 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6708837) Homepage Journal
    Whatever the conventional wisdom or the Microsoft marketing message, Macs aren't dramatically more expensive to buy and on a Total Cost of Ownership basis they are probably cheaper.

    Cool! Where are the numbers to support that? Probably isn't going to cut it.

    Then a little later....

    I am not claiming that every organization should throw out its PCs and replace them with Macs, but the numbers are pretty clear

    You mean, those numbers that you didn't include? How are they clear? Once again, Probably isn't cutting it here.

    Macs reduce IT head count while Linux probably increases IT head count, simple as that.


    There's that probably word again! Ok, so it's obvious he's a Mac user. I'd probably take him a lot more seriously if there were a lot less probablies and a lot more proof and information. I'm PROBABLY going to stick with Linux for my IT needs for now.
    • by tychay ( 641178 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:05PM (#6709612) Homepage

      Hard to believe the parent was modded as "insightful".

      Cool! Where are the numbers to support [Mac Total Cost of Ownership lower than Windows]? Probably isn't going to cut it. [More uncontrolled ranting...]

      Sad, people never learned to search the internet before pressing the flame button. There [] are [] a [] lot [] of [] studies [] that [] support [] Cringley's [] statement [] etc. [], and you'd be hard pressed to find a single study in the reverse!

      BTW, I've seen studies supporting Linux as having a good TCO vs. Windows NT. I've never seen a study comparing Linux vs Mac TCO on desktop, and there are only a few studies comparing Linux vs Mac TCO in servers (the Mac usually comes out on top, but the studies are recent and may have bias).

  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6708844)

    Know the whole world knows! All of us IT types are really all sitting around in a room filled with exotic dancers, pool tables, video games, and food. We don't really do anything. And it all gets so boring that we go LOOKING for systems to give us more work to do!

    In reality, 99% of the IT people that I know would practically sell their left arm to have systems which required less of their time.

  • Absolutely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sbwoodside ( 134679 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:32PM (#6708915) Homepage
    IT is like a priesthood. Only the priests understand the computers, so they have this absolute control over the decisions that upper managements makes. You think that the president has any clue what to do about IT? Hah.

    So, yeah, IT people like Windows because it keeps them in a job. And Microsoft feeds right into this. Ever noticed how there's ALWAYS a workaround in Windows/Office/whatever? There's almost always some way to get the software to do what you want, even if it means hours of registry hacking or whatever. Microsoft probably makes sure that every bug in their database is resolved to at least "Workaround exists" status and then they ship it.

    Linux is also happy for IT depts because it's infinitely configurable.

    Apple, on the other hand, makes systems that are designed to NOT NEED ADMINSTRATORS. Thus, it follows that no system administrator will ever buy one.

    THat's why apple doesn't have much chance of breaking into the corporate market, frankly.

  • Another take on it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sleeper ( 7713 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:34PM (#6708933)

    I think regarding OS X it is too soon to call. From what I see it is a very nice OS and those boxes are sweet to (albeit more expensive). In my opinion you should give at least 3 years for any changes to happen. And again like with Linux those changes will happen from ground up. Offer any CIO right now the option to switch to OS X and he will tell you that you are nutts. And he will tell you a lot of reasons. And I bet that half of those reasons will be bogus. But this is how things are in the real world. If on another hand you will tell you your sysadmin that you would like to have Mac in your office (and if he is reasonable guy, which is almost always true ;) ) I don't think he will object as long as your boss is Ok with it.

    In my opinion Apple still feels a backlash from the years of MacOS 7.x. Which was a dog. I know that for sure because at my graduate school for some reason a lot of people liked Macs and for some strange reason I became a "support guy". Those were the days when your Mac crashed several times a day. And that was also a time when major fallout happen on a sofware vendors side. A lot of companies droped their support for Macs.

    Another "perception"/legacy problem that came from those days (and I think that might still affect IT guys) was that Mac OS for a guy with unix or Windows background looked like a debilitating mess. Those days Apple was clearly behind in design and features (just remember TCP/IP implementation) plus they always targeted "creative" people. So for those "creative" people to be able to manage thier computer Apple came up with set of "metahpors" that were, to say the least, very unnatural for IT guys. So you had system extentions, control panels, prefernces and God knows what else. Every other program you install always would add something in your system folder. Then you had to get a programm that would hunt down conflicts between those extentions. Then you had to install "crush" analyzer that would freez your box even more often. And so on ad nauseum. So if you follow the logic of the article Mac OS was suppposed to be IT's bread and butter. In reality IT guys were running away from it like from leper.

    Personally I am not Mac fanatic. But I think Apple has a good chance with it's current line of software and hardware if they combine that with more aggressive pricing they'll do great.

  • by JRHelgeson ( 576325 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:40PM (#6708969) Homepage Journal
    I know, this goes against everything /. stands for but I read the article and now I'm posting.

    Is it me or is Cringely a bloomin idiot? He starts off talking about outsourcing then Apple, then back to India. He states that using more Macs in the office would decrease TCO without giving any numbers or any statements to back up that opinion. And it isn't even his opinion! He got the idea from a reader, no less!

    Macs reduce IT head count while Linux probably increases IT head count, simple as that.
    I didn't come up with this very smart idea, it came from a reader.

    Whomever gave this guy a pulpit needs to be shot. This guy obviously uses a Mac.

  • by jabber01 ( 225154 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @07:48PM (#6709026)
    Cringely just discovered the problem with outsourcing your IT competence. Someone pat that genius on the back.

    Of course IT seeks to remain relevant, just like any other department. Most internal money is spent on make-work that just reminds everyone of everyone else's role. Hell, half the feature creep and spec shifting is just management's way of reminding everyone that the middle-managers exist. After all, their sole purpose is making life easier for the workers, but if they did that successfully, like security experts, they would appear completely redundant.

    It's a wise CE/IO who keeps IT in-house, thereby tieing their livelihood to the success and well-being of the company. Outsourced IT is like paying a pharmacological company for drugs for a terminal patient. They'll help keep you alive to profit from your problems, but they won't want to make you better since then you might not need them.
  • by Alan ( 347 ) <<gro.seifu> <ta> <xeretcra>> on Friday August 15, 2003 @08:03PM (#6709190) Homepage
    Cost I'm willing to bet is more the case than some grand conspiracy by the IT world. Sure they cost less to support, and increase productivity, but when the initial outlay is more than a compatible x86 box, the people in charge of budgets start screaming. No one thinks about the saved cost in the future, it's all about now.

    IE: Should I spend $3k (CND) to buy a swanky new apple powerbook (or more for a new g5?), or should I spend $1000 and upgrade my current x86 system to be a pretty kick ass gaming box, which can also act as a high powered linux server? Pretty easy choice if you see my bank account.

    Sure in a year or so I'll want to upgrade again, or I'll have a MB or DIMM or hard drive go and will have to buy a new part, but that's ok. Because the cost is down the road, and therefor, doesn't exist.

    Note: the last sentance was intended to be sarcasic or ironic, depending on your view.
  • FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @09:50PM (#6709796) Homepage
    This is all BS. Tech people recommend what they know. What most of them know is what they learned in the six weeks it took them to get their MCSE. QED.

    Technical professionals won't recommend Apple or linux because they recognize that the best tool for the job is one that employees understand.

  • B.S. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gleam_mn ( 226101 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @10:06PM (#6709858) Homepage
    From the article:

    Now, I think differently. Now, I think Macs threaten the livelihood of IT staffs. If you recommend purchasing a computer that requires only half the support of the machine it is replacing, aren't you putting your job in danger? Exactly.

    Normally I agree with Cringely but this time I'm just going to have to call B.S.

    I'm a sysadmin for a small bank (about 175 workstations spread out of 17 rural locations) and the reason our IT Staff here doesn't look at MAC (or linux for that matter) is that virtually none of the necessary banking software is put out for mac (or linux). And it's not like we're running some obscure banking core software... we're an ITI/Unisys mainframe shop.

    Furthermore, no other sysadmin that I've ever talked to has had the attitude of "lets choose something that's difficult to use for job security"... that's just crap. Most of the IT shops I know are, if anything, understaffed and have plenty of job security because of it. We're not about to go looking for more work for ourselves... if anything it's just the opposite.

    I use what the industry allows me to use, not what makes my job more secure...
  • by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @10:45PM (#6710047)
    Apple laptops are sneaking into our company the hard way. We are a Microsoft-only shop (by contract, I think) and so we don't get to even install Mozilla Firebird, even though we seem to spend half of our time online getting rid of popups.

    However, among the about 20 people in my sub-department, there are three with an Apple laptop for home use. One was always a Mac fan, the other took a good look on what as on the market, and the third talked to a bunch of people (including me) which laptop would be the least hassle. We all said: You don't want to have to fool around? Go get an Apple. Note that I've been a Linux person for ten years know, but I like my friends and intend to keep them. Linux on the laptop sucks, not because of Linux, but becaue of the laptop makers.

    Anyway, we now have a small but critical mass of people who are getting everybody else interested, and keep bugging our tech people if they can get their Macs linked up to the rest of the system so they can do work from home on a real computer (company policy seems to say "no"). Also, they flash their iBooks around as Apple users are wont to do, and yes, those things are seriously cool. The design makes other laptops look like they were designed in the Soviet Union.

    Buy an Apple desktop machine? Hell, no. I can get a far better deal with off-the-shelf x86 parts and SuSE. Buy a laptop from Apple? Yes, I'd switch, and I think most people in our department would, too. But official use? I don't see the inertia being broken. There is truth in the statement that nobody ever got fired for using Microsoft.

  • by DAQ42 ( 210845 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @11:05PM (#6710138)
    To all those who denegrate Apple.

    Feel free to express your opinions about Sun, SGI, or any other System V Unix. Wait, let's throw in BeOS, OS/2, OS/2 Warp, xBSD, or GNU HURD. Oh, wait, you've never used those platforms? Oh, well I guess you are an expert then.

    As for those that have used the current Mac platform and like to spew vitriol for it, whooptie freakin doo, you are apparently clueless enough not to be able to learn something _different_. It's called adapting, humans are supposed to be one of the best of breed in that realm, but it's not happening for you. I guess Darwin didn't think about you with his theory of evolution. Oh, wait, he did, it's called WEAK!

    Yes, Apple has issues. The OS has some things that work really well, others that need work. I can say the same thing for Solaris, Windows, HURD, xBSD, and most definitely Linux. Got any other nuggets of wisdom to drop on us?

    Crigley is meerly making a statement about things that he notices. He notices that there are companies using Macs successfully and asks the question, "Why can't other companies do the same and be successful? Maybe because they don't want to be."

    You know why Apple has such poor support, or fewer applications, or any of the things that Windows or other platforms has that Apple does not? Because of a smaller user base, smaller funding, and smaller demand. It's that simple. If they had even double the userbase, they'd have twice as many applications, twice as many features, and maybe even quadruple the support options. The reason they suck is that they _are_ small. Deal with it. Sun, in all it's glory, is small. Everything is small compared to Microsoft. Linux is tiny. HURD doesn't even show up on the map.

    Feel free to correct me with conjecture and commentary about how you _know_ Windows is better because the majority uses it. The majority thought the world was flat in 1400. Does that mean the majority was right? Oh. Sorry, you didn't pay attention in geography because you were too busy being cool. Well, in that case, feel free to walk off the edge of the world...
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday August 15, 2003 @11:52PM (#6710317) Homepage Journal
    "Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job."

    Kinda like McDonalds recommends their own food, EB Games pushes their special magazines and BestBuy recommend a warrenty/the items that give them the most profit and kickbacks.

    I guess this is another one of those WELCOME TO CAPITALISM!!! WHERE YA BEEN!?!? moments...
  • by asecurityjunkie ( 698713 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @12:51AM (#6710517)
    Ok, I have tried to read as may of the moderately rated posts as possible. What I have found was (sorry about the length):

    -Many of the negative comments are based on issues / biases that have been resolved for several years. (Pre Mac OS 10.2 at least, most pre Mac OS 10.1)

    -There was a post that complained about the difficulty of using Mac OS 10.2 Server. I personally find it extremely easy to use and manage. Mac OS 10.3 Server is making advances on that including adding the ability to act as a primary domain controller thanks to the inclusion of Samba 3. For the poster that did not like the management apps they have been completely rewritten as well as being able to be managed via the command line. On the documentation side yes it is a little light. That too is supposed to change in 10.3 Server. For more information on 10.3 Server go to for information on the currently shipping 10.2 server Oh and one more thing. Mac OS 10.2 Server received Product of the year from () that has to be worth something right?

    -Cost. While Linux and BSD systems cannot be beat for cost. The amount of dedicated support and liability that they have can be. Microsoft on the other hand can be beaten in the per user license realm. Both in desktop OS and server OS Apple's Macintosh licensing fees are reasonable and flexible. The general single user licenses are free with purchase of a machine and $129 standalone. Apple can be flexible on this with large or educational purchases. The server version of their OS is even better priced $499 for a 10-user license and $999 for and unlimited user license. They also provide a plethora (sorry you never get to use that word enough) of support options all reasonably priced.

    -Reliability and Stability. The one thing I absolutely love about Mac OS X is the stability it offers. This is part due to the OS and part hardware. The key thing here is that Apple controls them both. I don't have to worry about the hardware I'm running being compatible with the OS and vice versa. Apple has already done that for me. The result uptime. Which at the end of the day is worth the extra dollar for me. For instance the PowerBook, which I am writing this on, has had uptimes on the order of 80 days (I just put it to sleep when traveling.) The only time I have to reboot is when an update requires it.

    -Major OS releases. When Apple releases a new version of its OS for example the to-be-released before the end of the year Mac OS 10.3 and Mac OS 10.3 Server add several new features and improvements not just "bug fixes." And the nice thing about the releases is that Apple takes feedback about its products and if the demand is high enough put it into its next release () for the client version and () for server. I want to see that from a major commercial OS.

    -Open Source. Mac OS X is built on open standards, and open source. You can download and tweak Darwin, upload changes. The same features that you get with all open source projects. The exception to this is the GUI interface. Most other commercial operating systems do not give you this ability. Also check out Fink a package manager (based on the Debian package manager) for ported open source projects.

    -Security. Mac OS X abandoned telnet in favor of the more secure SSH in 10.1. Apple has a quick response time to up coming security threats and releases an update to fix them (). Apple provides easy and efficient methods of applying the updates via "Software Update". The OS ships in a secure fashion with all incoming ports closed. There is a good paper on securing Mac OS X available at () There are A/V solutions from all of the main companies (Symantec, Sophos, Virex.) Tripwire has been ported for host based IDS. You can run snort, nmap, nessus, etc.

    -Expandability and performance. The Power Mac G5 can handle up to 8GB of Ram. Show me a desktop PC that can handle that much memory. The G5 processor has a half speed front side bus so the Dual 2Ghz has two 1Ghz FS

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.