Does Ubuntu Capture the “Mac Vision And Spirit” Better Than Mac OS X?


A week ago, on April 29, Linux distro Canonical released Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) in Desktop, Server and Netbook editions. It featured a new look that some rate more attractive and up-to-date than Snow Leopard’s (s aapl). “Lucid Lynx’s” new graphics card drivers and other consumer-oriented innovations front a Linux-based operating system package containing all the essential productivity applications you need, all for free: a web browser, office suite, media apps, instant messaging and much more, and is being pitched as an open-source alternative to Windows and Office or Mac OS X and the iApps. Ubuntu’s core applications are all free and open source.

The Register’s Gavin Clarke reported last week that with Lucid Lynx, Canonical is hoping to entice Mac and Windows users to switch, quoting the company’s COO and blogger Matt Asay asserting that changes in the consumer-oriented Ubuntu 10.04 LTS edition will cause “Apple fanbois” to reconsider their love for Steve Jobs, while “milk-fed Windows users” will be less inclined to run screaming to their retailer to return their Ubuntu PCs.

Given Apple’s increasingly evident distractedness from Mac OS development as it concentrates more and more on the mobile space with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, some are also suggesting that Ubuntu captures the traditional “Mac” spirit and vision better than the actual Mac OS does these days.

In an April 28 essay anticipating the imminent Ubuntu 10.04 release, ServerWatch’s Paul Rubens said that Apple is fading from relevance in the computing space as it focuses more and more on phones, web tablets and other consumer gadgets, and that if you’re an old-style Apple fan (by which he means a fan of real Apple Mac computers, not so much the new Apples-R-Us toys and games company), there’s no need to fret because while Apple may not “get” it anymore, it seems Canonical does. He asserts that during the past 12 months Ubuntu has evolved into something that’s powerful, easy to use, and far more stylish than Snow Leopard, which he thinks is not really that surprising when you consider that Apple is far too busy with its iPhone OS to bother much with updating OS X. Rubens says that Ubuntu is innovative, forward-looking, stylish and fun, and rapidly becoming everything that OS X might’ve been had Apple not decided to turn its back on it and become fixated with iPhone OS — “except for being overpriced and closed.”

The concept of desktop Linux possibly better capturing the early-days essence of Mac culture isn’t entirely new. A decade ago I reported on another user-friendly Linux GUI project by a startup called Eazel. The Eazel team was spearheaded by a who’s who of Macintosh alumni. Staffers included Mike Boich — former head of Macintosh evangelism for Apple Computer; Andy Hertzfeld — lead programmer for original Mac OS development in the early ’80s who wrote much of the code that became the iconic Macintosh GUI; Susan Kare who did the graphic design for the original Mac OS Finder icons; Darin Adler who had been technical lead for System 7 development at Apple; and Bud Tribble — first software architect on the Macintosh project and manager of the original Macintosh software team. Mac people all from way back. Arguably, that bunch had a more purebred Macintosh “pedigree” than the folks who were developing OS X at the time.

I suggested back in 2000 that there was a case to be made that the thinking behind Eazel may well be truer to the original Mac essence than OS X itself. I wondered whether OS X would retain enough distinct classic Mac-ness, that je ne sais quois that made the Mac a Mac for many of us veteran users, to sustain the dogged loyalty that had characterized the Mac community through thick and thin for 16 years up to that point? Or would it be so NeXT like, or much, much worse, Windows-like, that hitherto Mac loyalists might be tempted to stray into other pastures? As it turned out, the Eazel project eventually withered on the vine, as it were, and we Mac OS fans adapted to OS X, which turned out to be a very decent computing environment, but lately there are rumblings that Apple is losing interest in the Mac OS with its focus shifting primarily to the mobile space.

Indeed, in his April 29 philippic against Adobe Flash (s adbe), Steve Jobs appeared to refer to “the PC era” in the past tense, “implying that the computer and mouse paradigm is passé, with the mobile era being about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards (notwithstanding that ironically the iPhone OS environment is anything but ‘open’).”

Not so with Ubuntu, which is committed to traditional desktop and laptop computing, and where the ‘free’ in ‘free software’ is used primarily in reference to freedom, and not to price — although the company says it’s committed to not charging for Ubuntu, and that the most important thing about Ubuntu is that it confers rights of software freedom on the people who install and use it, freedoms that will enable the Ubuntu community to grow, continue to share its collective experience and expertise to improve Ubuntu and make it suitable for use in new countries and new industries.

What do you think? Does Canonical with Ubuntu have a realistic shot at convincing significant numbers of Mac OS and Windows users to switch?



Well, on a site like this it’s obvious that most of the commenters aren’t going to agree…
But I actually do agree with a lot of this. Compare the latest version of the Mac OS to the Mac OS of 5 years ago- there’s not much of a difference actually; compare the Linux of today with the Linux of 5 years ago- the difference is HUGE. Apple really seem to be happy with how the Mac OS is, and have stopped innovating in this domain. As a result, it’s hard to say now which of the 3 major operating system is better from a purely practical point of view- each has its advantages and disadvantages, there’s no clear winner. 10 years ago when I played with Windows and Linux I went back home to the Mac OS; 3 years ago I played again with Linux and decided to switch, and I don’t regret it. At first I missed some of the apps I had on the Mac; now it’s the other way around- when I’m using a Mac, I miss some of my favorite Linux apps. iTunes? I wouldn’t use it even if there was a native Linux version- there are so many great (and better, imo) alternatives on Linux.
And that’s the main point of Linux: choice, and freedom. On Linux, it’s really YOUR computer. Don’t like the default apps? use others. don’t like the default appearance (I actually can’t stand the new default Ubuntu theme)? change it. curious to know what’s planned in the next version of your favorite app or part of the OS, or have a great idea about how to make it better? join the forum or mailing list and discuss this with the developers. and so on.
With Linux, you’re not buying a product- you’re actively involved in making your computer what you want it to be. You’re in charge of your computer. For some people this is a scary thing- and Linux isn’t for everyone; but for some, this is the way to work. So there will always be a place for the Mac OS, and there will always be a place for Linux. If you’re happy with your Mac OS- great, keep using it. But if you’re not happy with what Apple has been doing recently and you want to really ‘think different’ (remember the days when that was a good slogan for Apple?), then you should give Linux a try.

Charles Moore

Hi Folks;

Thanks for all the interesting and thought-provoking comment.

For the record, I’m running Snow Leopard 10.6.3, and I love the Mac OS. I just wish I felt convinced that Apple still loves it.

What I’m really getting at, though is what I referred to as the “original Mac essence” and the “traditional ‘Mac’ spirit and vision” – more of a je ne sais quoi attribute or community vibe than a point by point, or even general comparison of the two operating systems. One analogy would be the way British sports car owners back in the ’50s and ’60s would flash their headlights and wave when encountering another MG (I owned a ’57 MGA and a ’67 MGB) or Triumph TRs on the highway. The Mac ambience was something like that way back in the ’80s and ’90s old days.

Not so much now, although I’m still a Mac fanboy. I do think the Lucid Lynx UI is drop-dead gorgeous,though.



Ubuntu is another product of the Google World Group. The media will try to promote it but OSX is much better in any aspect.


I think it is the other way around. Google used the underpinnings from Ubuntu and slapped their useless adware Chromium OS on top of it […correct me if I’m wrong].


OSX’s blue scrollbars and buttons are plain fugly. Kids and average users may find it attractive but I always hated it. Windows 7’s Aero interface is IMO, the best UI design made for desktops. Dear fanbois, I am not an Apple hater or anything and I like Apple’s hardware, but their software simply sucks. Even Steve Jobs admit that running flash plugin could crash OSX. Ubuntu should keep away from imitating Apple if they want to go mainstream.

William Carr

“Even Steve Jobs admit that running flash plugin could crash OSX. ”

Technically, running Flash tends to crash Safari.

Which is because Flash is a POS. Adobe has been infested by pro-Windows engineers for about ten years: working on either OS/X or Linux is beneath them.

I read one report that said Flash support for the Mac at Adobe HQ is ONE guy, part-time.

It shows.

If Adobe had spent the time to perfect Flash and evolve it faster, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have had to give it thumbs down.

After all, it would be a LOT simpler to put in a Click-To-Flash functionality. That would preserve battery life and mollify Adobe.

They could put scrolling text ads in place of the blank plugin icon to attract business.

But Flash is buggy, and unreliable without major hand-holding.

And Apple just can’t be bothered to clean up Adobe’s mess.

Raffael Erhart

If Ubuntu would really look nearly as good as MacOS X I would happily adapt it.


I love Ubuntu. I tried and tried to become an Ubuntu guy before buying my first Mac last year. Until itunes runs on it natively and they develop something like uMovie and uDVD, you know apps that just work, I’ll keep my iMac.


Mac Vision And Spirit? – Ok if you long for the old days, pre OS X you’ll be all right with Ubuntu 10. First impressions just scream System 9, but the pure crappyness of the preinstalled software is really not up to Mac OS 9 standards (check out the ridiculous PiTiVi Video Editor).
This is OS 9, even down to the doubleclick-titlebar-to-roll-up action. What ruins the old days, gray-box Macintosh feeling is that you can see the ugly Linux underpinnings shining trough.

Vision and Spirit — please, give me strength…


Sorry, I think I was totally wrong, this is not Mac OS 9, this is Windows 98 with some OS 9 features — who on earth would flip from OS X to this? Even from Windows 7 to this?

Scott Rose

Um, yeah, let me answer that question as soon as I check out Ubuntu Linux at my neighborhood Linux Retail Store, call the toll-free LinuxCare number for technical support, and get my mom up & running on her all-in-one Linux machine right out of the box in 10 minutes that just works.

Dominic Amann

I got my mother in law up and running with a one-cd 25 minute install of Ubuntu on her hosed Windows XP HP laptop. It has been running for over a year now, and I have only had to touch a couple of times since – once to get her Zen music player working with it, and once because she needed to set up e-mail due to an ISP change.

That sure beat the twice a month servicing for viruses and malware that Windows was causing.


My parents can use a mac and not get overly confused. Installing stuff, managing stuff, and working with apps is relatively easy. Ubuntu is still not quite to that point yet, but more importantly, Ubuntu is not as cohesive an experience as OS X and iLife provide. On a Mac, stuff just works. On Linux, and Windows to a large extent, you have to know more than you want to in order to get stuff to work (if it even can).

There is no comparison because Ubuntu, like every linux, is still a collection of divergent pieces of software, and it shows.

Thomas Traub

I’d be glad to switch to an open source OS, but as long as I am required to dig into that tech speak, or configure stuff to get the machine going, no thanks. I have no interest at all to play with OS, I want to get my work done and every distraction is annoying.

Comparing OSX to Ubuntu is ridiculous – unfortunately.

It really seems that coherent and elegant solutions require one strong will with an outstanding endurance.

It’s a shame that Apple has no real concurrence and that most users settle for that poor Windows.


Hi Thomas. Well “digging into tech stuff” is really thing of the past. For other distros yeah, maybe. But Ubuntu has gone a long way and put in a huge effort so their users could start using everything out of the box.

Additionally you can run Ubuntu from CD or USB drive without installing. Try it, play around… and if something is not working… well :D there’s always alternative for you!


iTunes sucks, just a fat, clumsy and slow application. Switching to Ubuntu would be great just for getting rid of it

PD: oh, I also think Ubuntu is a GREAT OS, I hope my MacBook still works for a couple of years more, but then I will seriously consider switching, ’cause OS X keeps getting worse and worse every day, SL is way worse than Leopard, and yes OS X does hang.

PD: I was going to link to some Mac OS X hang pics, but Safari was unable to upload them to Flickr and my Mac ran out of RAM. Yeah Mac OS X sucks too

Rob Oakes

@Marin: You picked the wrong two Mac OS X attributes to pimp. Sorry, but Ubuntu is both more stable and fast than Mac.It requires less system resources than Snow Leopard and has a much larger compatible hardware pool. It boots faster and runs longer without application lock-ups or crashes. And whether or not it delivers is also a personal call.

I run a mixed lab of Mac OS and Linux (scientific visualization stuff). Sorry, but Mac doesn’t deliver. Its Unix underpinnings are just different enough that software quite often refuses to compile or install. Moreover, getting a full open stack properly setup and configured is a huge pain. And Apple doesn’t play very nicely with cross-platform development; Qt, for example, has been broken for nearly a year and there is no real date for when it is supposed to be working.

Linux, in contrast, just works. I can download my whole stack from a package manager and things get configured automatically. And since our servers run Linux, it integrates better into the environment.

Glad that Mac works for you, but it doesn’t work for me. Saying that Ubuntu will “never” arrive is simply wrong. For some of us, it already has.

Jon Buys

Trying to shoehorn a Mac into a Unix environment is frustrating, to say the least. There was a great article written a few years ago, “What is Mac OS X”, where it talks about the underpinnings and how the OS differs from it’s BSD roots. I’m not surprised in the least that the Macs are difficult in your situation, I simply don’t think thats what they are designed for anymore.

Here’s the site I was referencing:


“Trying to shoehorn a Mac into a Unix environment is frustrating …”

Are you serious? OS-X is one of the very few certified actual Unix operating systems. It is Unix, whereas Linux is “Unix-like,” and not actually based on Unix at all.

I know you didn’t actually mention Linux in your post, but the saying you are trying to “fit” OS-X into a Unix environment when it’s actually Unix, is just weird.

Rob Oakes

@Gazoobee: Ever tried it? It doesn’t matter if Mac is a certified “Unix”, it doesn’t work very well. My environment includes both Linux servers and several HP Unix and Solaris boxes. Mac doesn’t get along with any of them very well. It’s Samba config has problems, the way that 32/64 bit has been implemented in Snow Leopard screws everything up, and the tendency for system updates to wipe out installed software and break things is very frustrating. Other Unix systems simply do not have problems.

I agree with the original statement: “Trying to shoehorn a Mac into a Unix environment is frustrating, to say the least.”


Well, as someone who has switched from the Mac to Ubuntu about 2 years ago, I can certainly say that I now feel the same kind of enjoyment of using my computer as I did with the Mac in the 1990s. Once you get used to using different applications etc, you start seeing that the real difference between the 2 operating systems is that the Mac OS is closed, and Linux is open. My wife still uses a Mac; I would probably never go back.


Ubuntu won’t be a threat to core of mac content creators until a linux os can support hardware from the likes of motu, metric halo, or AVID.. can run software that takes advantage of said hardware, and offers the kind of usability that os x delivers..

maybe in a strict personal, mainstream, email, word processing, pictures, and basic media playback sense, it can compete… think of it this way, both are great athletes and performers in their specific roles.. and they might practice or work out at the same gym.. but linux can’t fill an arena, or a stadium like os x can… and neither have what it takes to snag top honors in the enterprise world from microsoft. but be real.. aside from their seemingly *nix like origins.. they are unrelated os’s, [Linux = jack of all trades, master of none, OS X specific software for specific hardware] and to pretend that linux can even play ball in the same arena as osx is ludicrous.


Apple are quite evidently winding down their operations for MacOSX in favour of their more profitable iPhoneOS.

Um, this is not evident to me at all. Apple is clearly pushing aggressively into mobile computing, yes, but the premise of this article — that they are “ignoring” their desktop OS — does not follow as a result. What, I wonder, do believers in this premise expect from Apple that they’re not getting? What would OS X look like if Apple weren’t “ignoring” it? In what ways have updates to the OS fallen egregiously behind? Is Apple no longer making money selling desktops and laptops?

Evan Lecklider

I think you’re on to something. Ubuntu continues to grow and innovate, introducing things like the “Me Menu” that cooks social networking right into the OS via the excellent Gwibber and the (couldn’t-have-come-soon-enough) abandonment of the brown look really made me take another look.

For me, the real roadblock between dropping my Mac and going full time Ubuntu is the quality of software coming out of 3rd party developers. With applications like Transmit, TextMate, Things, Tweetie, Notational Velocity, iStat Menus and Aperture (to name a few) I can’t imagine switching to Ubuntu full time (which I have in the past and come back to my Mac) because I can’t get the same experience on Ubuntu. It’s not because these apps look better (though they do), they work better too. They do what they do so well it’s creepy and I can’t find anything like that on Ubuntu that also takes the GUI into account (I’m looking at you Vim).

P.S. If you can point me to an honest-to-god TextMate alternative for Ubuntu I’ll be your friend forever. And no, Gedit won’t cut it though it’s really close with Gmate (


Am using Geany. Excellent editor based on Scintila. You can really adapt it to your needs.

OS X coder

Code::Blocks and Monkey Studio rock. Infact, I use them on OS X instead of TextMate.

I’ve tried the TextMate demo, and while it’s all that, these two are more than plenty for what I need.

NetBeans isn’t bad either, but it wastes far more memory than I’d like.

Daniel Harper

I think some people are missing the point, Apple are quite evidently winding down their operations for MacOSX in favour of their more profitable iPhoneOS.

This unfortunately means us OSX fans will soon have to decide between Linux and Windows should we wish to remain in the traditional computer world as we know it, because in a few years time Apple will abandon it.


“This unfortunately means us OSX fans will soon have to decide between Linux and Windows should we wish to remain in the traditional computer world as we know it, because in a few years time Apple will abandon it.”

A bit of a drama queen here, aren’t you, Daniel?

First, since no one has mentioned it yet, let’s get something straight. In order to create software that runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you MUST USE A MAC. That’s right. You can’t develop using Windows nor Linux nor any other system. Want an iPhone app? You need to be using XCode. And XCode only runs on Mac OS X. So how exactly do you propose that “in a few years time Apple will abandon it”?

While iPod Touches, iPhones, and iPads are wonderful, multi-touch devices that are great for CONSUMPTION of data, none makes for an even remotely usable development platform. Even hooking up a bluetooth or USB keyboard to an iPad isn’t going to make it a great piece of kit for doing software development.

And even if the time does come in another 5-10 years when iPads are powerful enough to be a developer’s kit by connecting a keyboard and mouse to it, isn’t it just a form of OS X once again running on a slightly odd-looking laptop in that case?

Since I started working with computers more than 30 years ago, all the talk and hype about graphical languages, building programs by simply snapping objects together like Lego blocks, and doing all these ooh-aaah kinds of software development simply hasn’t happened. Sure, we have frameworks out the tuckus. We now write software for GUIs vs. CLIs. We have IDEs and we work in pre-emptive multitasking, multiprocessing environments. Our editors do code completion and intellisense, etc. The steps for doing actual compilation, execution, and debugging are a little easier.

But when the dust settles and you look at what it takes to actually write software, it’s still just a person sitting in front of a keyboard banging away on keys writing words into an editor. We have never escaped that 3rd generation language development yet. We’ve made things a little more “shiny”, but honestly, software development isn’t THAT different from what it was 20 years ago, with the one exception being tools like Interface Builder which do, at least, make the initial creation of GUI screens much easier than having to code them by hand.

Sorry, but that Star Trek universe is still a good ways off.

And in the real world, even if Apple’s intention is, for the moment, to focus on the consumer electronics end of things with their smartphones, portable music/video players, and tablet machines, the only way those devices continue to gain market share is if they offer software/apps that people want. And those programs will inevitably require using a Mac running Mac OS X and using XCode.

I do understand the sentiment felt by the Mac developer (and user) community, which is feeling a bit slighted this year with WWDC focusing on iPhone/iPad development and not even offering an Apple Design Award category for Mac software. Heck, there’s not even an IT track for those who support Mac environments in schools/enterprises!

And they have every reason to feel a bit slighted. But Apple is anything but a stupid company. Right now they’re ramping up their usual marketing machine to sell their latest/greatest device. That’s just business.

However, in the end, Apple needs Mac OS X to continue succeeding, because there is a symbiotic relationship between their products. (And let’s be honest: iPhone OS and iPad OS are nothing but modified versions of Mac OS X.) My guess: this time next year you’ll once again see focus returned to OS X as 10.7 comes closer to release. It may be that Apple has to start splitting WWDC into two separate conferences: one for Mac devs and another for iPhone/iPod/iPad devs. But I don’t honestly see OS X going away any time soon.

And as for this article, while I will say that Ubuntu 10.04 is the slickest version of Ubuntu Linux I’ve setup (and I’ve got two boxes running it already at work), it’s still Linux.

I’m sorry, but Linux and Mac OS X just occupy very different spaces in the operating system universe. With Linux it’s hard not to hit that underbelly where you have to use the Terminal or do some CLI work. By contrast, with Mac OS X, most average Mac users never have to see the UNIX underpinnings. (Heck, I’d venture most typical Mac users don’t even realize it’s there.) But for those like me who LIKE to, we have access to all the great things that UNIX provides when we want it, and all the fun of the lickable UI when we don’t. It’s the best of both worlds.

And last but not least, from a programming point of view, the Linux folks still need to make doing true GUI software development on Linux as easy as using XCode and Interface Builder on Mac OS X, or using Visual Studio/VisualBasic/etc. on Windows if that’s your thing. Not sure if they’re there yet.

Jon Buys

I’m not sure I could disagree with you more. For Linux, as far as it goes, Ubuntu is a great desktop. However, it is not nearly in the same class as OS X. I wrote about my problems with Ubuntu on my blog a couple years ago: and I still dual boot my work laptop. I won’t go so far as to say that the two systems will never be equals, but a Mac is more than the OS, as you well know. It’s the combination of the OS and the bundled applications tightly bonded with the hardware, as well as an amazing developer community who care more deeply about their products than any group of programmers I’ve ever met.

I understand where you are coming from. However, if Ubuntu is ever going to compete with the Mac, Canonical needs to start building their own hardware and completely controlling the development process of Linux. Which probably isn’t going to happen.


there you said it. The main difference is that MacOSX is build to support a specific range of hardware. There is no guessing of what will happen if one has this really old card that wants to use, or will my 15 year old PC will be able to run a linux kernel…
With MacOSX there is a solid way of getting things done that starts from specific hardware to an OS written to support only this hardware and so on.
Try to install MacOSX to a standart PC and see what you’ll get. UNIX mayhem :)


So basically what you are saying is that Canonical need to go into PC manufacture and drop linux to develop a proprietary OS?

Or to put it another way, Canonical should copy Apple’s business model?


Jon Buys

It’s worked pretty well for Apple so far :)

Also, I’m not saying they should drop Linux, I’m saying they should take control of the development process. And yea, “anyone serious about software should build their own hardware”.

William Carr

No. Just pick a good configuration and build for that.

Anybody who wants a zero-stress experience will know to buy PC X, with video card Y, and Z type of RAM.

Everybody else can mix and match to their heart’s content.

Even Microsoft would profit immensely by doing this. If they bought up a reputable hardware maker and tuned Windows just to those models, they could improve Windows performance and warp the PC industry into following their hardware specs.

Come to think of it, don’t tell Ballmer about this. He wouldn’t read theappleblog, would he?

Will @ OS X Daily

Most average users in the real world don’t have time to babysit an operating system, which is what you have to do if you are running Linux as a desktop OS. It doesn’t matter what window manager you are running or how pretty the GUI is, some of the most mundane tasks inevitably don’t work. You’ll be forced to read MAN pages and google around for the most obscure answers to questions you shouldn’t even be having to ask (try hooking up a digital camera and just downloading pictures, or installing a scanner/printer/fax combo and having everything work, for instance).

Linux is an amazing server platform and certainly has its strengths, but it’s not as a desktop OS for the average computer user.


I’m a perfectly average computer user with no special knowledge and I have been exclusively using various Linux distros for the last 4 years. In that time I have never had to look at a single MAN page and all of my peripherals such as scanner/printer/fax and web cams have just worked straight away. I’ve never had any problem downloading photographs and never had to google any information regarding how to do anything with the OS. Your comment seems to come from at best out dated knowledge and at worst pure ignorance. I suggest you try Ubuntu 10.4 before you carry on making such misinformed statements.


I am a rather average computer user as well and decided to try out 9.10. After needing to sift through the internet to figure out how to install an application and what happens after it is installed I gave it a resounding “NO THANK YOU” and never bothered with it again.

I think it’s humorous that people try to make the argument that Ubuntu is fine for average computer users. If i made my parents use this they would disown me.

William Carr

I think you under-rate yourself. If you’ve been using Linux for four years you aren’t average.

Don’t get me wrong: the Enemy of my Enemy is my friend.

I look forward to the day when Linux is so bulletproof that NOBODY needs to know how to compile anything: on that day, I hope Linux chokes the life out of Windows.

But it’s not there yet.


@clearzero: That’s specious reasoning. Just because you have to learn how to do something doesn’t mean it’s hard, it simply means that it’s outside of your usual frame of reference. I once spent half an hour trying to figure out how to uninstall a program on OSX, couldn’t find Add/Remove Programs anywhere…I came from a Windows environment and didn’t dream you could just drop an app in the trash. Does that mean OSX is harder to use? Of course it doesn’t, it’s actually much easier.

Package management on Ubuntu is worlds easier than Windows or OSX. You open the install program, you search for the program name or a set of keywords, and you click Install. It’s a hell of a lot easier than having to poke around on the Web looking for an installer program, and it’s a more consistent experience than exes versus zips on Windows and StuffIt versus dmg on OSX.

Now, if you actually find yourself wanting to install something that’s not in the repos, yeah, that can be tricky. But I haven’t had to do that in ages.


Ubuntu is still far from Mac OS X and Canonical is dreaming if they think is not. I have a special distaste for its typographical render engine. To me, most text feels wrong in Ubuntu, like in all linux.


Oooh, that’s soo nice… Did you know that default text rendering is subpixel smoothing? And do you know who owns that patent? Oooh… yes it’s Apple… so stop bsing and get some facts straight!

Raffael Erhart

The font rendering in Linux IS horrible. Have a look yourself.


No. And your understanding of the “Mac Vision and Spirit” is, at best, misguided.


I personally love Ubuntu. I’ve put a number of friends on it as their first machine and it’s awesome. The latest update just makes it even better.

For me the only issue is that I can’t run the latest versions of Adobe software on it. As a professional designer unfortunately Adobe is the standard for sharing files. I’ve tried GIMP and Inkscape and while they are nice they just don’t cut the mustard compared to Photoshop. I’d also agree that photoshop is a pig that has way too many features now.


“The latest update just makes it even better”. Really? Do you mean the Ubuntu 9.10 with new default theme?

How in god’s name is Ubuntu 10.04 any better than the previous version? Ubuntu 10.04 = Ubuntu 9.10 + new theme + ‘Mac OS X’-like icons.


I think you’re correct. I have U9 and U10.04 installed on my MacBook Pro [in Paralells 5]. In a side-by-side comparison there is nothing new, except for theme and some useless freeware.


Seriously, somebody who thinks thinks that Ubuntu is anything like Snow Leopard, not only in appereance but ESPECIALLY in ease of use should seriously consider an asylum.


I’ve felt this way about Ubuntu since the early days. Just visit the Ubuntu forums and you discover with refreshing realization that the people using Ubuntu are some of the nicest and even minded people you’ll meet in this “OS war” and it’s often infectious. Same deal with the community help documents. There’s no assumption that you’re an expert. And there’s no dumbing down of things. The Ubuntu community accepts you as you are and has you covered. That Mac feeling and humor that I first got from early subscriptions to MacAddict is definitely apparent with Ubuntu. And fun too. The various awareness campaigns are fun and interesting. Heck, I made an Ubuntu poster to celebrate it.

I’m using Mac OS X 10.6.x now, but I would not have any issue using Ubuntu again. In fact I have VirtualBox with Ubuntu installed (along with many other OSes to be well rounded). Plus I know how to set up an Ubuntu box to the point that I would not end up wanting.

I think to purely rate Ubuntu against the mainstream OSes on statistics alone sadly ignores what Ubuntu is about at its core and at the core of its community. And people taking the time to bash Ubuntu is unfortunate. A lot of it stems from ignorance of what you can do in Ubuntu and unfortunately a lazy attitude about it.

Patrick Santana

I would say that Ubuntu is a good OS. I like to use it.
You really could do this comparison with Windows OS, but regards to Mac OSX, it is really a joke.

I use both system, but Ubuntu is still far from away Mac OSX.

I see ubuntu server as a very good alternative for mac osx server. But desktop version. Ha ha ha ha ha


“except for being overpriced and closed”
Are you serious about that?? This is certainly not describing Mac OS X. There is almost nothing that I can have on Ubuntu that I can’t get for SL…
This being said, if I were a Windows user, I would definitely consider switching. Probably to Mac OS though… :)

Josh Pigford

That “except for being overpriced and closed” was a quote from the Paul Rubens article mentioned earlier…hence it being in quotes. :)


It’s an interesting question to ask, but the answer is a rather easy and quick “no.” OS-X has always had a dock for instance and Ubuntu has a task bar. How can it be “closer to the essence” (which you never define BTW), when it doesn’t have a dock?

Also, dig in beyond the thin surface layer and you run smack into full on Linux confusion and ugliness almost immediately. Also about as far from the original “essence” as you can get.


cough He’s a writer from Low End Mac. OS X is the devil (until it’s a 4 year old version), Classic is king, and apparently IMAP can’t cache.

Michael Koby

Have you dug in beyond the “thin surface layer” of your precious OSX? Guess what “you run smack into”? Yep, that’d be UNIX (or a BSD derivative at least). So me thinks that someone should know what they’re talking about before they get all comment happy.


In all fairness, if you stray outside (the admittedly nice) package managers, Linux software installation and control is a bit of a nightmare for average users.

Rob Oakes

@D: That is a fair critique, but the very same thing can be said for Mac OS X. At least with Linux, the package managers generally have most every open source utility imaginable, even the very obscure ones.

On Mac, this is not true. If it’s not in MacPorts, you are generally screwed. And even then, you usually have to compile the whole stack (including dependencies). It’s time consuming and nightmarish, and the reason why I dropped OS X from any computer I actually have to work on.

Marin Todorov

Well, to say Ubuntu is more relevant or better at user experience is just ludicrous.
I have Ubuntu at work, mac at home – definitely can talk about it and believe me, Ubuntu is never going to be as stable & fast as my mac, even if my Ubuntu is 4core, 4gb ram etc. etc. it just does NOT deliver :)

Nessa Arwen

Have you even used UBUNTU??? or just commenting for the sake of it. Notice the version mentioned?

Or do you simply not know enough about linux to get it working?

As far as stable goes, no matter what you do, you can’t get the stabilty of linux. Mac crashes, on boot itself it it must, windows … do we even want to go there… linux no matter what you are free to fix it yourself…

And do backup your great comment with some examples… that we all understand (time for instance).

I know for a fact ubuntu boots in a max of 10 secs… and no I don’t have a new fanged pc… just a dual core and 2 Gb ram….


Well, I’ve been a Linux user since 1998, used so many distros, Slack, Red Hat, Mandriva, Gentoo, Debian, you name it…
The last 4 years used Ubuntu as my primary desktop.
Six months ago I made the switch to OS X, and I tell you, Ubuntu is nowhere near. While it was fun to hack the system, I enjoyed to deal with every single X issue, application install, wireless driver, sound driver, missing gnome menus, and the list goes on and on…
But I reached a point in my life that those things aren’t fun anymore, I want my computer to just works, and Ubuntu wasn’t helping. To say that linux boots in 10 secs and other OS’es crash on booting is just a lie, I had quite my share of kernel panics under every single distro I used. Funny enough, it was precisely boot time issues that made me do the final switch to OS X.
I have all my Unix needs and a consistent UI. Sleep mode just works, wireless just works. And most of the time, I don’t need to fix things myself, that’s is not a feature… If you have to stop your work to mess with source code unrelated to what you were doing, than that’s not something desirable. For the vast majority of people, this alone is one reason to abandon the OS, even so if we’re talking about a desktop system.

Jon Buys

@Bob Well said… as a *nix user for the past ten years myself, I know exactly how you feel. The Mac OS switch to Unix is is what brought me over to the Mac in the first place.

The beauty of a Mac, and I can still pop open a terminal and fire up vi when I want.



“Or do you simply not know enough about linux to get it working?”

is the exact reason why no one outside tech blogs cares about linux: If I want to drive to the supermarkt, I put my key in my car and drive – I don’t need to change a cam belt first or calibrate the transmission.

Funny that this comment is made in this thread since “simply working” is the essence of OS X


FYI: I ran a datacenter for huge e-commerce site. One of the top 5. For the last two years, I do iPhone apps.

I would use Linux for servers. Period.
When I needed extra-heavy-duty I/O (like a SAN database) I went to SUN Enterprise servers.

Windows for an environment like that? R U kidding?
Apple? Not there for this type of environment.

Ubuntu for all Intel based laptops. Works like a charm. If users are having trouble with Ubuntu and their laptops, it is their System Administrator’s fault!

The trick to having a perfect Ubuntu experience across the enterprise is: Hardware Uniformity.

Don’t mess around with weird hardware crap. Stick to a hardware configuration that works and have your SA’s work out any kinks.

Your users should never-ever have to complain about Ubuntu. NEVER!!!

I am using mostly MACS at home. I write iPhone apps and it is a necessity. However, my mother-in-law, who is an older lady, uses Ubuntu (on a HP laptop) and she loves it.

I see no big difference between a MAC and a Ubuntu machine. A MAC is nothing more than Ubuntu running for a specific target machine.

That’s why MACS work so well. They don’t have to worry about a thousand different configurations.

Windows an a laptop? R U crazy?

Windows is only for hard core apps that refuse to run on Linux or MAC. Those apps are getting fewer and fewer.

If you need to run Windows, then just buy a machine and do it. Stuff like VMware and Parallels just don’t cut it as far as performance goes.

Thank you for listening.

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