Wednesday, March 30, 2005

In good company

Found via a story yesterday on Slashdot, an essay by Paul Graham entitled "Return of the Mac":

All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs. My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple's low point in the mid 1990s. They're about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get.

The reason, of course, is OS X. Powerbooks are beautifully designed and run FreeBSD. What more do you need to know?
Graham's article does a good job of describing why I went with an iBook when I needed a new laptop back in December. You get a wonderful, seamless GUI but you also get the power of UNIX. To top it off, you have a plethora of commercial applications, and all of this runs on some very nice hardware.

I've found that most of the time I spend on a computer at home I'm using the Apple. It's partly the fact that as a laptop with a wireless connection I'm not limited to any specific location in the house, and it's partly the fact that the box is just a joy to use.

For most home users it is my not-so-humble opinion that a Mac is now a better choice than a Windows PC, as long as you don't have any hard-core gamers in the house. You get an easy to use, very solid, and secure OS, good hardware, and you don't need to be concerned with viruses and spyware. A coworker of mine has a PC repair shop that he runs on the side and tells me that about 65% of his work is cleaning up infected PCs. As long as the applications you need are available on Mac OS, why bother with the aggravation of Windows? And as much of a Linux fan that I am, there are still some rough edges -- printing in particular -- that make it trail behind OS-X for the majority of home users.


Susan said...

So, Dave, why *don't* Macs get viruses and worms, etc. Is it impossible, or has no one bothered? If you have a Mac, do you then not need things like Norton at all?

Dave Markowitz said...

Mac OS-X is a Unix OS. As such, regular users are limited in their access to core system functions. In contrast, Windows (even the NT family, including 2000 and XP) have big, gaping holes called Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, which is tied into the OS core. (IE for Mac isn't tied into the OS like that.) IE and OE really compromise the whole system architecture, facilitating infections by viruses and spyware.

The only worms that Mac users need to worry about at this point are MS Office macro viruses. If you run Office for the Mac then an antivirus program is a good idea. Since I don't have Office on my system I feel comfortable without an AV program.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

This discussion rages on:

I have seen a few on the net say that they are buying Mac's but at least half of them are buying Apple hardware to run Linux on. Personally, I don't have a single friend that is jumping in the Apple bandwagon. I think there is one argument that isn't brought up by the people arguing is that the average age of the Apple buyer is quite high which brings up the argument of cost again. Who wants to buy Apple hardware if the cost is so high?

I would love to get myself a mini and run Linux on it. Because I run Linux, I am not really tied to any specific hardware platform. But lets be fair here. The mini is based on ancient hardware (in computer lifespan time). If I was to be interested to buy the mini for $499 then I would want the faster CPU, at least 512 meg memory standard, A 7200 rpm harddisk (yes, those are found in 2.5" format now) and a gigabit ethernet. But both you and I know that it will never happen with Apple. You are paying too much for the name.

/David T