Ubuntu or Mac? Your thoughts please…

by oneafrikan on April 3, 2007

After this weekends Blue Screen of Death problems (BSOD) I was totally ready to go to the Apple store in Central London and just buy a MacBook Pro. Totally. Why buy another PC machine that will run Vista when everyone knows Vista is no-where near ready for stable production use / primetime? For that matter, why buy a PC machine now with XP on it, when you can get OSX or Ubuntu on it?

I’ve been a Windows user for 12 years now so know it intimatley, and have used every flavour of Windows since ’95, but I’m just not feeling it anymore. Granted, the BSOD problems on Sunday are hardware related, so I can’t blame the BSOD on Windows, and granted I’ve not had a BSOD since my laptop died last year, so I’m not getting them often and therefore have no reason to complain.

But that said, I am in the market for a change of scenery.

I’ve almost weaned myself from Outlook (we use Google Mail for Domains to run our business email, and all my other email is handled with Gmail and Yahoo! Mail – I still find the Gmail interface kludgy though), and most of the other apps that I use I can use on a Mac or Linux (Zend Studio, Navicat, Mindjet MindManager) and/or I can find alternatives that work just as well.

I’ve also shifted most of my stuff from desktop apps, or to local files on my local machine, to online services or files stored online (Basecamp being a good example, Newsgator another). So I’m not that reliant on Windows anymore.

So I guess I’m trying to figure out what the next step is – do I go Mac (MacBook Pro, MacBook?) possibly mitigating by selling my Thinkpad T42p, or do I just carry on using my Thinkpad PC and put Ubuntu on it?
If I was feeling flush, I could even get a Mac and then keep the Thinkpad as a spare/backup/dev machine with Ubuntu on it, and getting the best of both worlds in the process…

Demian reckons that I’ll go Mac and never go back, becoming a massive Mac evangelist in the process. Ido thinks that I should just do it – he’s gone from Windows to Mac and is loving it. Ryan swears by the Mac, and Ryan has recently moved to Mac too…

I love the ideals, progress and freeness ;-) of Ubuntu, but I also have to balance that with work, software and project needs (not just development/coding needs), so I would like to ideally just go Ubuntu… But then I also see firsthand the joy that OSX brings and see every day what you get with it, and how tight it all is…

So, I’m curious as to your thoughts? What would you do?
Would you go Mac, Ubuntu, or stay with Windows? If you went Mac, would you go Macbook Pro, or would you just go Macbook?


Well, 2 weeks after my warranty on an HP nx(something) expired, the screen went blank, well almost, I can almost use it, if i twist the screen with one hand… and try type/work the mouse of the other…

… so I had decided last year, that I am moving to mac, completely, as soon as I can afford it… laptop, desktop, everything… I think, I have more faith in the hardware architecture of the mac, than I do pc…

but to be honest, I need a computer that can handle UI Design and Development/Programming… so I think a mac is a dope mix,,, plus it has that little app called, ‘terminal’,,,

I think I will be able to do more stuff on mac, because it is somehow based on an linux/unix platform right? so I would easily (i think i think) mimic what the ‘remote’ server has or does… shortening the development->test->deploy lifecyle (especially when maintaining/updating an online app)…

… oh macbook pro (something about (screen) size matters)

by lebogang nkoane on April 3, 2007 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

Yup, all right – basically it runs on Unix (I could be wrong, but it’s something like Darwin on Unix…), so you’re able to create a closer dev environment for your server then you would on Windows… and yes, the hardware architecture is probably amongst the best (but Macbook pro’s do have a rep for overheating…).

On another note, I saw your comment that you made regards the job in London, but for some reason it is now gone (out of the db too…), so what gives? Did you delete the comment? Or did I somehow do it amongst the comment spam I get?


by Gareth Knight on April 3, 2007 at 11:28 pm. Reply #

I got moved or did i reply on soapbox

I am not sure how it got there… but i am sure i replied here…

by lebogang nkoane on April 4, 2007 at 12:14 am. Reply #

Ahhh.. that’s where it is… ;-)

by Gareth Knight on April 4, 2007 at 12:36 am. Reply #

I have only just negotiated a similar form of the same question and have installed Ubuntu on one of my pcs. in the same room — 3 pcs now : Vista, XP and Ubuntu….so the game is in play.

It was pretty straightforward and very cheap — like, eh, free!

So I suggest you send away for the free Ubuntu CD from Holland and live boot your computer to see what gives. You can continue to use it that way or install it as a dual boot or whatever taskes your fancy.

My one disappointment has been that I cannot install the latest version of Firefox — as I’m limited for the moment to 1.5. But other than that I am overwhelmed by what is available in way of programs and assistance from the Unbuntu/Linux community.

Have I paid a price? Yes I have in that I know I cannot use SonicStage — Sony mini disc software(as I’m a poscater who records on HiMD– but then it has only been this last 12 months that Sony has made SonicStage Apple friendly.

The REAL advantage is, I feel, that I have stepped off the upgrade bandwagon that is orchestrated by Microsoft . In the world so dominated by Web 2.0 platforms — I think it’s time we downgraded the role of our desk tops and got webified properly.

Thats’ the key context, i think , that reduces the demands you want to make of your operating system. so you have more leeway.

And I’m a Web 2.0 junkie.

[See my link connection for my Ubuntu experience thus far…]

by Dave Riley on April 4, 2007 at 6:50 am. Reply #

Get a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Both are excellent laptops. And don’t skimp on memory (2GB).

Buy yourself a copy of Parallels. Then you can run those Windows apps you occasionally need AND you can create linux virtual machines that replicate your server environment.

It’s hard to beat…

by John Hornbaker on April 4, 2007 at 9:30 am. Reply #

@John: Yea, that’s what Demian says will work best, so will probably end up doing that…

@Dave: agreed with you about the web services thing totally – am trying to get off desktop apps and reduce my reliance on them.

by Gareth Knight on April 4, 2007 at 10:01 am. Reply #

Hi Gareth,

This is Gaelen and I work at Mindjet, makers of MindManager. I saw you’re a MindManager 6 Mac customer and thought you may be interested in some free training on the product. Enjoy and thanks for your support.

Training Webinar:


by Gaelen O'Connell on April 4, 2007 at 7:03 pm. Reply #

Thanks Gaelen!! ;-)

by Gareth Knight on April 5, 2007 at 12:18 am. Reply #

I run ubuntu on a thinkpad for my main machine, and I and love it. Wireless networking works without a hitch, and I have crossovers for word, excel, and IE (when I need to check cross-browser compatibility).

For the two things I need windows for — Visual Studio 2005 and Visio — I have VMware (free) running.
(mono’s great and all, but Visual Studio can’t be beat).

I’ve used OSX a good bit, and I could never get comfortable with the way it manages applications — I don’t like the way it manages apps minimized to the task bar (why don’t minimized apps show in the apple tab options ?); I personally just never liked the feel of the mac UI.

For sheer coolness:

by jk on April 5, 2007 at 6:03 pm. Reply #

@Jeff: Thanks dude. So what do you use to manage mail, calendar, feeds, what multimedia stuff do you use, are they better than the Windows options, how do they compare to the mac options? Lots of questions, but feedback would be cool…

I’ve also not really gotten used to the way the Mac handles applications, but think I could learn to. I really like the *look* of the Mac, but have not worked with it enough to understand what it’s like day to day…

Anyways – any more thoughts would be awesome!

by Gareth Knight on April 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm. Reply #

@Gaelen: do you guys have a linux version of Mindjet in the pipeline at all?

by Gareth Knight on April 6, 2007 at 3:51 pm. Reply #

Life is like an if / else statement:

If (Thinkpad T42p still alive [I love you baby]) {
carry on using;
install Ubuntu Linux with Beryl (http://ubuntu.beryl-project.org/);
} elseif (Thinkpad T42p dies / lost / stolen [Hope not!]) {
get MacBook Pro;
install Parallels;

??? ;-)

by Gareth Knight on April 6, 2007 at 6:45 pm. Reply #


Just wanted to throw in a comment on this issue. I bought a MacBook a couple of months ago and I must say I am very pleased with the hardware and the possibilities.

I study computer science and have been using quite a few operating systems throughout the years: Microsoft products from ’92 to 2003 since that I have been using Linux mostly Ubuntu – and lastly I’ve used MacOS X – I Descided to get to know the operating system and have not regret it, though I sometimes wish my self back to some Linux distro. In fact I’m planning on doing a triple boot (dual without Windows XP) in near future.

I will say that it took some time getting used to the way things are in MacOS, but I’m accualy getting used to the way applications are installed, and the way the UI is combined with the mouse (with one button) accually facilitates great and unirritating switches from using the keyboar to using the mouse – it is simply an extension (that is on the lab – with “external” mouse and keyboard it is almost like everything else). Though I can’t get used to the way that Ctrl, alt and [Apple] is swithced around compared to Windows and Linux with regards to text editing (e.g. manouvering a word foward is issued by using “alt arrow-forward” and sometimes it is [apple] arrow – kinda lame).

But the great thing about a MacBook is that you have the choise to do whatever you like. It comes with MacOS ready and running and I think it is a great package…

But don’t get scared away from MacOS by people saying “I don’t like the UI” because if there is something Macintosh have used time and money on, it is the way they abstract away from the components beneath to bring a spacy intuitivness environment to the user (it is different from that of microsoft to be sure). And the issue of not closing the applications on the crosses in the corners is accualy quite okay – since you will resources enough to have a of stuff running in the back without feeling it at all (and then they opens faster next time) – and sometimes it is because they have different views so in fact you are only closing one view… it fas to be felt ;-)

Hope that gave you a better idea of what to buy :-) – just waving Steve (Jobs) over to ask if this reply is okay… :-D

by joakim on April 9, 2007 at 12:34 pm. Reply #

Just a small follow up. i See there is a guide to install Ubuntu with parallels from MacOS great! :)


by joakim on April 9, 2007 at 12:43 pm. Reply #

As a brand spanking new Ubuntu user running edgy eft on an Ibm R31 (1.13ghz PIII)

I’m kind of biased towards Ubuntu… IMHO if people actually knew just how cool Linux was there would be no windows users… At least not by choice…

Anyways, I just thought I’d add my 2 cents. And please don’t forget to consider what Ubuntu stands for, the underlying philosophy alone is exceptional, even before one considers the OS itself. Thanks.

by Andrew Roberts on April 12, 2007 at 7:36 pm. Reply #

@joakim: thanks dude, i hear ya… the Mac is indeed a compelling option! ;-)

@Andrew: the underlying philosophy is what I’m also really interested in… and which would probably push me over the edge when compared to a Mac… that and I wouldn’t have to buy new hardware…

by Gareth Knight on April 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm. Reply #

I will have to join the ubuntu crowd on this one, if you decide it isn’t for you, than you can go out and get a macbook. Both are really nice. I think that the fact that you are asking the question this way means that ubuntu is a possibility for you and I think you should go for it. You will be better off in the long run. The community and the help is really there. Unlike any other flavor of linux, you can google “ubuntu program problem” and find help every time, and the people are nice.

by Eric Klemm on April 15, 2007 at 5:40 pm. Reply #

Hey Eric, thanks dude, think you’ve kinda said it just there…

by Gareth Knight on April 15, 2007 at 9:51 pm. Reply #

Hey there,

I’ve been with a big computer company in the UK for the last 11 years and I have used them all, ms, cisco, mac, unix, linux etc.

Our company mainly uses MS simply because the boss likes it (lame). There are one or two macs around in admin and sales, which have stress free from maintainance and are so simple to use if you have the concept of saving and how a PC or Mac uses its hardware.

I, myself, use ubuntu at home and dual boot at work. It enables me to combine the best of all three worlds (win, mac, linux) into one simple OS. Great FREE software and the best community in the world!!! As a novice to lnux and ubuntu, I found overwhelmed by it all but with the help of the ubuntu community, I seem to be really settled and now manage all our (company) web apps and web design through Ubuntu. It is so easy to use.

If you have the money buy a mac especially for its amazing performance (just like ubuntus’)

I truly believe Windows is going to start a very slow roll down hill and a new era of linux/mac desktop with web 2.0 taking over from the rubbish that MS delivers or fails to

by markIT on May 15, 2007 at 11:57 am. Reply #

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