[Gllug] OT: Mac OS X for a linux user

Matthew Joseph Smith indigojo_uk at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Sep 6 19:22:57 UTC 2006

Jack Bertram wrote:
> I am vaguely considering moving off my current two-home machine setup (1
> Linux for everyday; 1 Windows for Microsoft Office/Money) to a single
> iMac 24" - basically to save space.  I'd migrate all my email to my
> linux hosted server.
> Has anyone used OS X in anger?  Is it sufficiently linux-like that I'd
> be at home with it?  Does running CrossoverMac work well?  Can you run
> the normal X or Gnome programs that I'm familiar with on the desktop
> without fiddling too much?
> As a veteran CLI user, it's a slightly scary prospect moving to Mac but
> it might be worth it for the gorgeous screen and the lack of boxes under
> the table...
> j

I've been using Mac OS X (Panther then Tiger) since April 2004.  I got a 
Mac precisely because it was a Unix-like OS, like Linux, but had proper 
commercial applications like MS Office.  (At the time, I was a student 
and could get Office for the reduced rate.)

There is a system called Fink which lets you download and install X11 
apps although the versions are not always up to date (for example, there 
are no KDE binaries for Tiger, although the sources for 3.5.4 are in the 
"unstable" repository).  The KDE project are to migrate KDE 4 to use the 
Carbon version of Qt but version 4 is a few months away.  Other major 
apps are available for OS X - Thunderbird, which I use, is very capable, 
but Firefox is buggy (it has a tendency to spontaneously load pages 
while you're in the middle of filling in a web form, such as a blog 
entry page).  There is another Mozilla browser called Camino, which is 
much better (this is my normal browser).

It's really Unix under the hood; it uses GCC and you can use the 
Terminal to do normal Unix tasks.  The user interface is Apple's own and 
is not generally Linux-like although you can configure KDE to be 
Mac-like to some extent (eg by putting the menu bar at the top of the 
screen).  The Mac deals with removable media very efficiently and has a 
system of disk images, whereby a file can be mounted as a filesystem in 
itself (generally used to install software).  The latest version (Tiger) 
has a system of "widgets" roughly similar to SuperKaramba (which I use 
rarely, but it has useful features like a unit converter) and a desktop 
search tool called Spotlight (which I don't use much either; frankly I 
don't think it's all it's cracked up to be).

If it's MS Office you're after, I recommend getting a late G4 or G5 Mac. 
  The current version of Office is PowerPC only and runs in an emulator 
on the new Intel Macs.  The Universal version is not due for a few 
months yet.  An important difference is that the Mac software culture is 
very much shareware-oriented; as Linux users we're used to having 
open-source software on tap, but that's not the case in the Mac world. 
What open-source software there is is mostly console and X11 stuff.

I have to say, I find some aspects of the Mac frustrating but I think 
the purchase I made was worth it.  I like having the stablity of Unix 
and some of the everyday applications Windows users take for granted.

Hope you find this helpful,

Matt Smith



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