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Jamie Zawinski Switches to Mac OS X 1074

iskander writes "After a disappointing experience with sound, Jamie Zawinski has finally given up on desktop Linux and switched to Mac OS X. The future of apps like xscreensaver and Gronk is now ``highly ambiguous''. He has already ditched a free/open platform before, but he seems a lot angrier this time. Indeed, twisted by the Dark Side of the Source, young Zawinski has become."
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Jamie Zawinski Switches to Mac OS X

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  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:04AM (#12794407) Homepage
    Okay, he has a preference. Why is this important?

    Desktop developers can finally integrate xscreensaver into the Freedesktop framework without pissing him off?

  • Motivation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mistersooreams ( 811324 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:04AM (#12794416) Homepage

    This seems to me more like a desperate cry for attention in which Zawinski says he is switching platform in the hope that the Linux mob will cry "Don't leave us Jamie!" and he can then return in a blaze of glory. I really appreciate everything that he has done for OSS, and I hope others do too, but I can't condone something like this. Mod me troll you like, but he seems frighteningly cynical.

  • Re:Motivation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:22AM (#12794517) Journal
    Who is this fellow anyway? I've never heard about him before, so why should I care what some random blogger is writing?

    jwz is responsible for many significant *NIX applications [].

  • by Al Dimond ( 792444 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:32AM (#12794569) Journal
    Certainly that's the case for a modern desktop operating system.

    To be honest, I'm still waiting for a feature from BeOS to hit the "modern desktop operating system" scene: volume bars in the mixer for each different program that's using sound. So if I want to listen to music and play a game with obnoxious sound that can't be disabled (this happens with Java and Flash games mostly), I don't have to listen to the obnoxious sound.

    I could probably create a user account, not put it in the "sound" group, and run all such games under that user, and it wouldn't have permission to access the sound device...
  • Funny thing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ATMosby ( 746034 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:33AM (#12794575) Journal
    Some of the same reasons that I'm switching away from Linux to OSX. Don't have the time to fight those battles anymore. *Don't* want to fight those battles anymore
  • Re:Dark Side (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caino59 ( 313096 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:40AM (#12794638) Homepage
    Maybe try Ubuntu.

    Seriously - all the problems you complain about work flawlessly on every system I have tried.

    Power management, wireless, sound, suspend and hibernate modes, detected widescreen res, everything.

    Sure you have to install some stuff to get things like real medai - but you gotta do that on windows too!

    (not to mention - most people use other media players instead of winamp, so I dont see installing stuff as a big deal - lets me put on what i want)

    Seriously, try it if you haven't already. I've been using it for about a year and have been EXTREMELY satisfied.
  • Re:Fix Setup! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:53AM (#12794746) Homepage
    Yeah, this is a great comment. On the one hand, you have Linux advocates and distribution channels shouting that Linux is ready for the desktop and they have installers that do everything for you and it supports X, Y, and Z hardware right out of the box.

    However, when someone has a problem, it seems like the solution is always the same: if you spent as much time coding a solution as you did bitching about it, it'd be fixed right now. To me as an end-user, that seems like a cop-out. To me as a programmer, that seems like the coders don't want to be bothered with trivial bugs, but want to code new and exciting, but mostly broken, tidbits of software. Neither are good for the community.

    Guess what, the average person is still going to have to call tech support to install their video games. That's just the way it is. There is no way that everyone in the world is going to become an ace at computers. That's why mature video game companies invest in a) better installers and b) tech support. If Linux really cares about the global domination aspect, maybe their community can change its PoV a little about these less technical users that are coming in and HELPFULLY pointing out serious impediments to that goal.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:58AM (#12794786) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot used to be a OS advocacy site for Linux. Now, Slashdot is an OS advocacy site for Apple. Of course you should care.
  • Sigh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:08AM (#12794857) Homepage
    How this qualifies as an important piece of news, I don't know. I'm assuming it's a "comedy" piece because he said "Dear Slashdot: please don't post about this. Screw you guys." on one of the linked pages.

    However, I myself have had problems with sound in linux, yes, but considering that (as someone who had only ever played about with TCP/IP in Linux and had never touched X or the Linux desktop until a few months ago) I have now switched from Windows to a Linux desktop and got sound working in all apps installed within a few days of switching. That was about four months ago and I still don't use Windows.

    I had worked out everything he had worked out in less than two days of having a linux desktop. There are things that should be simpler (cups, sound, etc.) but none of them hindered me for very long and, once properly set up, work much better than my previous OS's incarnations. Yes, it's a pain having to "set things up", but it's hardly worth such a strop.

    We all know arts, esd, etc. are a pain in the ass and, yes, we are all waiting for ALSA to "just work". Now that it's in the kernel, we finally have a standardised, working, maintained sound system that supports mixing on EVERY LINUX MACHINE. This should be the turning point.

    If a program that plays sound doesn't have an ALSA-compatible option by now, it's not being maintained properly. If it does, it will just work with ALSA and any plugins you might use, e.g. dmix.

    As soon as 2.6 distros become the standard, we can work on getting EVERY app to use the same damn sound systems.

    I saw his entry on wikipedia and if he's such a great programmer who has made contributions to such important projects as, gosh, XScreensaver, it makes me wonder why the hell he:

    a) didn't know this already (not a single XScreensaver that uses sound?).

    b) can't work it out for himself.

    c) throws a major strop because it's not point-and-click.

    It occurs that he's just missed the point. You don't have a Linux desktop to say "I've got a Linux desktop". You don't have one to beat every other desktop into the ground with your technical superiority (real or percieved). You don't have one to complain that it's not like Windows. You don't have one to play iTunes (as he seems to value this as an important feature).

    My desktop is Linux because it works, it's fast enough, it does what I want, it doesn't restrict me in any way, it's free, it's Free, it doesn't blue-screen, crash, corrupt and die every few months/years, I can leave it running overnight and not worry about if it'll crash before it finishes it's downloads, I can access it remotely (a good thing when you're working behind restrictive child-safe proxies all the time), and I can do things without wizards, dogs and paperclips jumping up to "help me find a file".

    I can't help feeling that any decent programmer would have been able to overcome the same little roadhumps on the way without so much as a sigh. They might even have bothered to fix the troublesome programs themselves.
  • by Guillaume Laurent ( 155210 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:11AM (#12794876) Homepage
    Just about 8 out of 10 user support questions we get on rosegarden [] are actually sound setup problems. This isn't just a hardware support issue, the "final packaging" step on things like Alsa and JACK just isn't there. Yes, distribs should probably do it, but currently none does. No normal user can configure sound on linux as it is, beyond the basic 'play a .wav file'.
  • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by earthbound kid ( 859282 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:25AM (#12794959) Homepage
    Yes, everything you said about Linux is true. The problem is that OS X also "doesn't blue-screen, crash, corrupt and die every few months/years, I can leave it running overnight and not worry about if it'll crash before it finishes it's downloads, I can access it remotely (a good thing when you're working behind restrictive child-safe proxies all the time), and I can do things without wizards, dogs and paperclips jumping up to 'help me find a file'." Oh, and also the sound just works out of the box.

    Linux is going to have to get better if it's going to compete with OS X. Competing against Windows isn't that hard. Linux is basically at par with it in most areas. The real problem for Linux is that it has to be not just as good as Windows, but better than Windows and its other competitors. And right now, other competitor #1 is OS X, and OS X just 'stole' a Linux developer by being easier to set up sound cards.

    Is it a little thing? Yes, and that's exactly the problem: In OS X, the little things, just work!
  • by sqrammi ( 535861 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:23PM (#12795334)
    I'm just wondering if he ever tried Gentoo Linux before he gave up Linux altogether. Gentoo has some distinct advantages over other Linux distributions. I myself have been frustrated with some of the shortcomings of other binary Linux distributions, but have grown to love Gentoo because:
    • I never have to upgrade from one version to another. I'm always up to date! This is completely different from every other operating system out there. Whether it's Windows upgrading from XP to Longhorn, MacOS upgrading from 10.3 to 10.4, or Fedora upgrading from FC3 to FC4, most every OS out there requires a major upgrade every now and then. Gentoo does not.
    • You have complete control over your programs. Don't like how a specific program works? Well, you can easily change the source and compile required libraries. Dependencies and required versions of libraries can be a nightmare in some distributions.
    • Generally, everything just works. In my experience, I agree that it has absolutely been a chore to get some things working in Linux. Most of the time I don't mind it, but with Gentoo Linux I have definitely had to meddle with the system LESS than ever before. I have less programs crashing, even when I'm running all of the latest stuff.
    I don't think I would have ever switched away from Linux, but Gentoo has certainly given Linux a new light that many Linux users just have not seen yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:26PM (#12795360)
    and with OS X there's no choice, since you're locked into both Apple hardware and software.


    None of the additional hardware I've purchased for my Mac was made by Apple. None.

    I've also purchased no Apple software apart from what came with the OS.

    At this point I've purchased so many third-party parts and peripherals that I've spent more on non-Apple hardware for my OS X system than on the system itself. That's not true of software though, because most of my massive assortment of non-Apple software was free.
  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dalroth ( 85450 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:27PM (#12795364) Homepage Journal
    Just because it works for you doesn't mean it works for everybody and that is exactly the problem. Linux developers get things working just well enough, that if you have the right hardware, and the right amount of tinkering things will work for you. Hell, you may even be one of the lucky few who have the exact same setup as the original devs and don't have to tinker at all.

    Unforutnately, for the rest of us, I have better things to do with my time that mess around with asoundrc files. All I want is for every freakin program to properly output over my SPDIF channel. Is that really too much to ask for? Apparently it is, and I've almost switched back to windows on numerous occasions because of this.

    In fact, the ONLY thing keeping me on Linux right now is MythTV. If it wasn't for MythTV, all my servers would probably be OSX by now and my Media box would be Windows.

  • ALSA must die. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:35PM (#12795798)
    Network Audio System (NAS) was around for a while before these other audio projects sprung up. Just as every Linux distribution uses the fully standard X windows as a networked video server, every Linux distribution should have used, from the outset, the existing fully networked audio server, NAS.

    How all these Linux distros and desktops got themselves into so many fragmented half baked audio schemes is beyond me.

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cosminn ( 889926 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:50PM (#12795891) Homepage
    In OS X, the little things, just work!
    yea right...i got a Mac Mini with Tiger on it (I think it came out about 1 week before). Before I wipe it out completely and put Gentoo on it I say 'ok, let's give it a try and see the 'amazing' Tiger' ... boot it up, go through the wizard thingie (Mac and no wizards..yea rite), and finally get in Tiger....I go do the updates, 11 at number...while at update 6 I decide to open a terminal (guess that was a no-no that I should've been aware of) and ... the machine had the little multi-color ball rotating, terminal didn't open, and the update seemed to have frozen...i rebooted it and could never get back in...the OS just never finished much for stability.. the Mac Mini now is very happy with Gentoo and sound, xine/mplayer etc... so, just like Mr. Zawinski was very pissed off at his Linux box, I was at the MacOSX...I guess we each had to do what we had to do...


    P.S. And when the heck is Apple going to actually make their machines (which have great hw, don't get me wrong) with a freakin' eject button for the CD...i should not spend time on Google searching on how to eject a freaking CD...cause holding the right click at boot for like 5 seconds or whatever it was that ejected it is not user-intuitive!
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @02:30PM (#12796143)
    There are tons of solutions to the problem, but they all miss the boat because they're done at the wrong level, and hence they're not transparent. The last thing we need are more sound demons. (I use NAS and it works fine, but it's the wrong solution too.)

    All sound drivers without exception should work like they do currently on FIRST OPEN, but on second and subsequent opens they should automatically hook in a mixer and mix all inputs together.

    The code to do it already exists, but it's just not being structured sensibly as above. It's no surprise that newbies find the one-at-a-time behaviour unhelpful, because it is. This is a multi-user O/S fer crissakes, single-open in sound drivers is just dumb!
  • by ElGuapoGolf ( 600734 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @03:36PM (#12796572) Homepage

    I just made the switch from Linux to OSX, and after a few weeks, I went screaming back to Linux.

    The apple folks who like to talk about usability and the "it just works" shit should be severely beaten. For the prosecution I present:

    - The dock. What a hideous piece of crap this is. My trash can is on the dock. So are my running applications. So are my non-running applications. But not all of my non-running applications. To get to those, I have to go into the applications folder, which has a nice alias on the desktop that Apple didn't create. Those useful programs that you only use once in a blue moon? Go dig for them... go dig.

    - Driver support. I have a cheapo webcam that came with an Earthlink subscription years ago. I plug it into linux and it works. I plug it into my Mac and it does nothing. No drivers available.

    - Quicktime. It plays 8 seconds of video and stops. Every time. MPlayer for OSX handles the same files fine.

    - Sleep. It does it whether or not I want it to. Downloading a big file, it'll go to sleep. How the hell does one stop that? Other than that, sleep works great. Or not.

    - Virtual Desktops. Man, I never thought I'd miss them so much. And even the very good replacement I found, Desktop Manger, has flaws. If I leave the adium buddy list open on one desktop, go to another desktop, and mouse over the where the buddy list is on the non-visible desktop, I see tool tips. Among other bugs, that's the most annoying.

    - Java apps. Either swallow the menubar for the active window or don't. Don't do it in some cases and not in others. Get your act together. I know I can code to specifically do that, but I shouldn't have to. Write once, run anywhere and all that.

    I could go on and on. But I won't. Btw, Jamie, a $30 dollar sound blaster live will let you play multiple sound streams with no mixing required.

  • by biendamon ( 723952 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @04:47PM (#12797098)
    Actually, Slashdot is a news site. Specifically, news for nerds and stuff that matters.

    Frankly, I can understand his beef with sound on Linux. There's no mucking about with "sound servers" on other mainstream operating systems. ALSA is a good attempt to fix that problem, but it's not quite there yet.
  • I did the same (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @07:50PM (#12798195)
    I run a 1000 node Linux HPC at my company for research purposes we have had a lot of the scientists running Linux on the desktop for roughly 250 Linux desktops. After feeling the same pain...i.e. having to tweak every little last thing and lack of any real good desktop management platform out there ( tried nsh, suse, redhat, novell, sun mgm apps ) nothing worked well. Switched them all the G5's as of May and life has been so much easier since. Gotta say at this point I had linux on the desktop.
  • Re:To the naysayers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:40PM (#12798461) Homepage Journal
    Hell, I've been using Unix/Linux/BSD for only 10 years, don't have a family, and I agree with you 100% :D

    If you want to play sysadmin and cut your teeth on the "unix way" go ahead. Its a great learning tool.

    As you say, if you've got more important things to do, like oh, lets say *get some work done*, OS/X would definately be the way to go.

    If Ubuntu doesn't work as a decent hassle free Desktop for me over the next few months, I'm jumping ship to MacOS myself (for desktop, my servers will remain bsd/linux as appropriate) :)


  • by Emetophobe ( 878584 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:05AM (#12800551)
    Nice "pretty" screensavers are nice and all, but it serves little to no purpose, unless you normally sit at your computer and stare at a blank monitor. I think 99% of the time, the screensaver activates because the user walked away from their computer temporarly, or is occupied with something else. So why is important what screensaver you use, since you won't be there to look at it anyway?

    Now if people made screensavers that displays useful information, not just graphics, thats a different story. Say on a webserver box, you have a screensaver that shows the server load and various other statistics, that would be cool.
  • by Paradox ( 13555 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @11:01AM (#12802733) Homepage Journal
    Yes, there's still issues with Linux audio. But whining and running off to another OS isn't going to fix them.
    Linux Foul! No mentioning Linux Sound. -5 to your advocacy score. Consume!

    Dude, ALSA has been "not quite there yet" since like 2001. I left to go to the mac scene myself because I was sick of sound and video issues.This sound thing? It bugs everyone. Everyone everywhere.

    At what point do we go, "Gee, this linux sound problem is becoming a major headache?" And why is everyone's response, "Well, then help out!" What kind of lame response is that?

    Given the complexity of sound drivers, that's equivalent to, "If you don't like it, leave." And that's what people are doing, you know. Go to a technical conference like OSCON, Rubyconf, Codecon, or heck, even Linuxworld. You see a heck of a lot of luminescent Apples.

    Forgive me, but I missed the clause in the Linux social contract where I'm responsible for developing core parts of the desktop system. There are lots of people who could be writing interesting application software, but are hampered by the numerous technical foibles of Linux--or even worse, working on said foibles to the exclusion of good applications.

  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <`moc.sice' `ta' `drazila'> on Monday June 13, 2005 @04:51PM (#12806360) Homepage
    Not everybody can afford multiple boxes.

    This stuff should be part of everybody's default distro installation, and that would solve the problem. However, nobody's stepping forward to buy the licenses.

    Another way to do this is put together an automatic download/install package that could be run via point-and-click, say a script telling an automated installer, and that's probably the best answer for the free distros.

    The difficult part is finding out what has to be installed, and that literally took me weeks of research. (about 3,IIRC) I did this for publication so the rest of us wouldn't have to.

    The tedious part is simply installing a bunch of packages. But... by and large, it's on the order of:
    yum install mplayer - y at the prompt
    (lather, rinse, repeat until you get to a package that actually has to be manually installed

    Probably an hour or two if you've got broadband, and one or two of the packages takes a long time at somewhere around 90% CPU load to fix the dependencies, so go out for coffee when that happens.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson