vendredi 27 juillet 2012

Why I quit Apple OS X

Hi all folks, in this post I'm talking about my progressive stop using Apple OS X.

Remarks: The content below talks about my personal experience. A software developer spends time to develop, write Bash script. I'm not a gamer (except games like Zork or MSX games), not a designer. Now, I program in JVM languages (Groovy, Clojure) and make Web development (PHP, Grails, CSS3, HTML). 

EDIT: I edit my text to be accurate about my memory management problem. It seems it wonders some people, I met the problem with my iMac with 3GB. The problem was less obvious with my laptop has 4GB.

The Happy Days

First, there a summary of my "Apple" life. All began like a dreams for me, I was a Linux user (since the end of my studies in 1998). I'm a developer and my favorite tools are the command-line, emacs and more and more good IDE like IntelliJ (before Eclipse and Netbeans).  
But I was bored by a lot of configuration problems. The biggest problem was to be able to use a DSL modem. I spent a too many times to configure module, kernel, edit configuration files. I'm not a system hacker system, only a good developer and I like programming, not configuration for programming.
So, in 2003 I saw an ad about OS X Panther and I said "Yes!". It seems a simple OS with bash shell (very important for me), with a lot of open source products inside.
Thus, I bought my first iBook G4 laptop with OS X Panther. I was very happy, the printer worked directly, no problem with DSL modem and I could spend all my time to program. The happiness. The sole exception was Java, on a Power PC architecture, the Java implementation was very slow. But, at this moment, I developed in Python, C and I discovered Objective-C and Cocoa (an excellent framework).
Later, in 2006, I ordered my iMac and a white MacBook laptop (currently, I'm writing with this iMac and I use regularly the same laptop :)). Both was on Tiger, again the OS was fine, responsive and this time the Java implementation was good enough (thanks the Intel choice).

The Disillusion

When Leopard was out, I bought it and it didn't seem so great. I felt my computers made heavy. And I noticed the memory of my computers started being limited. So, I upgraded my iMac with 3Gb (the max memory capacity for it) and 4Gb for my laptop. But I continued boasting OS X to my friends and some of them bought Apple computers.
I bought an iPhone and an iPad and I was happy by the simplicity of their interactions with OS X. 
But Apple started "forcing" user to adopt frequently updates. I know the term "forcing" is a little strong because you don't have knife against your neck. But, I was developer, more and more in Java for my job and I wanted to have the last release, I had to update my OS. 
When I installed Snow Leopard on my iMac, I was really disappointed. My hard disk frequently swapped and I spent more time to look at the color wheel and wait for my computer. With whatever IDE, I had these issues and I had no more pleasure to code with OS X. I talked about the problems on forums, bringing up the memory manager problem and each time, people respond me "The memory manger of Apple is the best. Upgrade your memory. You can't, so change your computer with the latest". But I was at max on my computers! And since when, I need 8Gb to develop programs ? And if I wrote again the Apple's memory manager was bad, I was shutdown in flames. No criticizing the master! 
I told to myself: "God, why with 3Gb or 4Gb on an Intel core 2 duo computer, I can't continue developing like before". Even my friends, who bought Apple computers thanks to me, was became full Apple compliant in their computers, phones and thoughts too. They didn't understand why I wouldn't to buy new computers. How can I say ? ... They cost some money and my current computer works pretty well. Ah, it's not enough?! 

Back Home

I forgot Linux for my personal use (I used and using again it for my job inside a virtual machine on Windows). I don't know why, may be I wouldn't spend time again for configuration. But I was happy no more with OS X (and sorry, but I can't use Windows. I'm too Unix lover for that). 
And one day (last year, 2011), I was watching the Big Bang Theory TV show and Sheldon talked about Ubuntu. It was like a hammer hit on my head. "Yeah, why don't try install Ubuntu on my macs?".
I downloaded the ISO file, burn the CD and .... go! No problem with the installation, the WiFi works well. Some adjustments was needed on my laptop (only configure settings for the touch pad, but I found quickly and easily it). My printer (a WiFi Epson PX720WD) works perfectly after downloading and installing the drivers. 
And the most important, for me, my computers are fast, responsive and I develop with intelliJ in Clojure, Groovy, C with pleasure. I can have the latest JVM version without change OS or computer :)
Futhermore, I can use my iPhone and iPad easily. I put my video and podcast on them directly from Ubuntu. 


I rarely return on OS X with my computers. The last time was to update the OS of my iPhone and iPad.
And I'm not in a hurry to use the last version of OS X when I read to use iCloud, you must update to Lion (and if you computer can't, then change it), by default (now, by what in the future?), you must install application from the MacAppStore, the application auto-termination, the new file system with Mountain Lion, the SSD use masks the memory management problem. Apple wants to transform your computer into a big iPad. I can't be happy, me a simple developer, with this logic. 

Now, I feel fine again :) Free, quiet, making development, discover new languages, new programming and software architecture concepts with old computers that work pretty well :). And when your computer isn't the fastest, you optimize and you are surprised when you see your program run on a server with the latest technologies.

I don't say Linux (or Ubuntu) is better than OS X. All operating system have pros and cons. It's a way-of-life choice, I don't want to buy new things just to have new things. And, the most important, I don't want my choices are controlled by a company.

10 commentaires:

  1. You have some really good points. I have a Macbook released in 2008 and I really feel that it is getting slower and slower. To be honest, I almost bought a brand new Macbook Pro a few days ago before I noticed that I ran out of savings. My macbook although it is slow, it is still working fine, and is still faster than newer cheap Windows machines. Once it gets too slow, I will take your advice and install Ubuntu on it.

  2. I used Fedora Core exclusively from 2000 till about 2006 when Apple started to support intel.

    I agree with a lot of your thoughts. I dont notice any speed problems on my macs. I do mainly JavaScript development. If I were still developing for the JVM waiting for apple to release a new Java version would kill me. I like to live on the cutting edge :)

    I worry about where apple is taking OSX it seems to be getting close to IOS with every new release. I installed mountain lion last night and its even closer than lion was. Apple also seems to want to hide the file system from users. You can see hints of this by the lack of "save as". Yes you can get save as back in mountain lion. But by them removing that option it seems like they are going in the wrong direction. I refuse to use iCloud its too much of a blackbox and I cant trust it. And also facebook integration is coming.. Why the hell is facebook integrated into my OS!?

    If apple continues down this path I could see many developers jumping ship on OSX. If they dumb it down too much it will be useless for development work. Unless you live in xCode :)

  3. It might just be me, but I hate the way Apple is going with Lion, and now Mountain Lion. A Macbook is NOT an iPad, it's a Macbook. I don't want to have to be forced to used useless 'innovations' which just hog RAM and are no better than Expose and Spaces on Snow Leopard. I'm still using Snow Leopard and will likely never update.

  4. I too am baffled by the number of "only apple" people. The past couple years they've done nothing innovative except show the world how they can use all their load of money to buy an army of lawyers to sue every android competitor they can on every continent. I wish apple would go back to making good products and stop these sad incremental updates while focusing on suing year round.

    That said, I could never get used to OSX. It's too clunky for me. I use ubuntu exclusively for development..I run VMWare Player with Ubuntu on my Windows box to develop and it's smooth.. much better than just a couple of years ago when mouse lag and screen updates were a bit slow inside of VMs. My main box is an Ubuntu machine with KVM instances to run all my simulated java servers, and it's incredible how fast it is to develop in.

    Maybe more of those apple zombies will wake up and realize they are paying 3x as much for 1/3 as much and switch back to a more productive cost effective environment.

  5. I totally agree with roher4 and Kevin. I have a MacbookPro and iMac, purchased Lion. In total I've installed Lion 2 times, and after less than 3 hours I have to go thorugh the pain again and install Snow Leopard, which to me seems the most stable OSX.

    I honestly think OSX is going in the wrong direction making the OS like IOS and I may stop using Apple products in the not so far future. I don't like how they manage things, and I don't like things being so closed.

    And really, I doubt I purchase another Apple Desktop or Laptop computer again, one of the reasons is that they're becoming more and more expensive and with less options (such as fixed RAM).

    I can see myself using Linux back again as in the old days.

    If it wasn't for Photoshop, I would be running Ubuntu a long time ago.

  6. I do have to agree with you that OSX's memory usage is really out of control. But I have a MacBook Air now, and the SSD might be "masking" the memory management issues, it does so very well. Especially since Mission Control came out, using multiple virtual desktops has never feel so natural. It's gonna be really hard for me to even think about switching to another OS.

    Though one thing that REALLY bothers me is pacage management. Third-party .pkg's like to install to /usr/local, Homebrew wants to take over /usr/local and chmod 777 on it (WTF), MacPorts has to recompile all dependancies from scratch, then choke on LLVM and Clang (I guess you can say Apple "embraces and extends" gcc). No having a standard packaging system really makes things complicated.

    One time I had a problem with a package from MacPorts not working, turns out it was some older libs in /usr/local installed by a pkg. Pkg Installer really need to have an option to show you the whole install log so I know what's going on. This packaging madness is gonna drive me nuts someday I'm sure.

  7. It's true that the SSD masks the memory management problem. It's regrettable Apple corrects this issue by the hardware and not by changing this management. It's like stick a patch.

    About the package management, I agree with you. On OS X, no one is efficient enough. For me, one of the best is the Debian package manager.

  8. Nice post.
    I switched to Linux from Windows XP back in 2005 on my personal laptop.
    Back then the learning tasks and the need for configuration and terminal made be quite tired and in 2006/2007 I highly considered switching to OSX, however as I'm quite FROSS orientated the licensing model was a big issue for me and I decided to stick with Linux and learning the OS.

    Today I'm happy for my decision. The way Apple goes today with more and more lock down and switching Open Source technology with own proprietary jam is very not my cup of tea.
    I mainly use Ubuntu and really ever have to use the terminal although I use it daily because I've been very familiar with it over the years.
    My main tasks are sysadmin related and here I find a native Linux distro with a good package manager very competent. Don't want to use half baked package manage solutions to get my *NIX software and libs.

  9. hi...Im student from Informatics engineering nice article,
    thanks for sharing :)