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The Real Reason

Entry 721, on 2008-03-17 at 20:21:37 (Rating 2, Computers)

I recently read a blog which discussed why people use Linux and the conclusion was that they use Linux because its fun. I'm sure that is true for a group of people who enjoy the particular benefits that Linux gives them, but all of the key points also apply to Mac OS X in my opinion.

One part of the fun mentioned was that Linux gives you complete control. Of course, that isn't true (nothing gives you complete control), but it probably gives more control than other systems because there is no secret programming code and a there is a wide choice of Linux "flavours", standard utilities, and graphical interfaces. Of course, this exposes its greatest weakness as well because there are too many different versions and not enough standardisation. There is always an appropriate balance between freedom and standardisation and I believe Mac OS X strikes that balance better than Linux.

The next part of the fun is that Linux isn't widely used. I agree with this because its not fun to be doing the same thing as everyone else. I have blogged before about the superiority of the Mac. I don't think I would feel that way if I was using the same OS as the other 90% of computer users. But again there is a balance where an OS needs a certain market share to make it a serious target for developers and again I think Mac OS X is in a better position here because it has hit a high enough share but Linux hasn't.

The final part of the fun is that Linux is free. They say they mean free in the context of "free speech" here but I'm not sure if I follow exactly what that means for an OS. Its something to do with having access to the source code but that is only useful for a tiny fraction of users who have the time and skill to understand and modify the code. I would rather keep the programs and OS standard and predictable and create new functionality using shell scripts and Applescript, create web sites and databases using PHP and MySQL, and maybe write small programs using Cocoa than just make a few mods to an existing program.

On a Mac I think I have the best of both worlds. I use open source software like Apache, PHP and MySQL a lot but I don't want to mess around with the code of my graphics program (for example) so I'm happy to use Photoshop just the way it is to process graphics. I want to use the shell to write scripts but I don't need to modify the operating system itself. its all about appropriate balance and just because I could modify some code doesn't mean I should.

I admire Linux greatly and I feel much more positive about Linux users than Windows users because they haven't taken the easy, safe root. but I think they are kidding themselves if they expect most people to believe Linux is fun because maybe they are right and it is fun, but not as much fun as a Mac!

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Comment 1 (1325) by Anonymous on 2008-03-22 at 18:11:00:

You Mac and Linux fan boys just don't get it. Why do you think everybody uses Windows PCs? Is it because they are deluded idiots who don't know any better? You would like to think that's true! But it isn't - its because Windows has the most games and the most other programs. If you can ever get that for Mac or Linux I'll think about switching OK!

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Comment 2 (1333) by OJB on 2008-03-23 at 11:14:47:

I'm sure some Windows users are "deluded idiots who don't know any better" but many have perfectly fair reasons to use Windows. Here's some fair reasons: its what they are used to, the initial cost is less than Mac, a required program only works on Windows, their workplace only supports Windows, there are more games for Windows than Mac or Linux.

I personally don't think any of these reasons is sufficient to make me want to use Windows because they can all be overcome easily (especially now that Windows programs run fine on Mac) but that's just my evaluation after balancing the good and bad points of each platform.

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