David Pollack founded Visi.Pro, Cloud Computing for the Rest of Us along with the Visi Language open source project. David founded the Lift Web Framework and continuously contributes to Lift. David has posted 39 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Why I'm Slowly Migrating Away from Apple

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I was a user of NextStep. Not just a user, but a lover. I loved the power of NextStep to create apps. I built Mesa for NextStep… imagine an OS so powerful that a single guy could create a competitive spreadsheet in just 9 months.

NextStep became OS X. I flirted with OS X over the years including a Cube purchased in 2001. But I was not overly impressed with OS X.

In 2011, I bought a MacBook Pro. It was worlds better than any other laptop in terms of hardware quality and features for the price. I came to know OS X and get along with it reasonably well.

I bought an Air later in 2011, then a pile of iPads and finally, a year ago, I bought an iPhone… switching from a Nexus One Android phone to an iPhone.

Apple is not getting better

For me, OS X and iOS have been a mixed bag. Yes, Apple hardware has been generally better.

But Apple software is not always better.

OS X has a slow filesystem. It’s just slow. Even on SSD, it’s slower to delete huge swaths of files (e.g., a rebuild of Lift) than to delete the same files from a Linux box with spinning media.

OS X has lots of problems with memory utilization. 8GB of memory is not enough on a laptop where I’m doing web development.

iOS is weak in terms of mail clients and calendar clients (iOS still doesn’t get time zones correctly which sucks big-time when I travel.)

And Apple seems to be moving towards a sealed device, walled garden approach to software and hardware.

The latest releases of Apple hardware and software have not been inspiring. The iPad 3 is too heavy and warm. But there’s an iPad 4 that’s heavier. Siri is worthless. The maps thing is a huge failure. The latest Retina Macs get the balance just a little wrong (e.g., soldered memory). The latest Java/Oracle spat. No iOS 6 for first generation iPads.

Back to Linux

I recently purchased a new desktop machine. It’s a fast i7 box running Ubuntu.

I am really happy with the way Ubuntu handles software distribution (it’s just a ton easier to load open source onto the Ubuntu box than a Mac.)

Ubuntu has a much faster file system and a lot more choices about file systems and drive management (e.g., LVM).

Most of the software I write is deployed in the cloud on Linux boxes, so it’s better to write on what I’m going to deploy on.

Ubuntu with Unity is an interesting experience.

Android hardware is getting cheaper and better. While I know I’m going to be stranded with any Android device I buy (6 months max for OS upgrades), the same seems to be true of Apple. And the Android devices are cheaper than Apple devices.

So, when it’s time for a new phone, I’ll get an unlocked Nexus and go back to T-Mobile (Verizon service is getting worse and worse… my guess is that they’re moving all their capacity to LTE thus stranding me with wicked slow 3G and increasingly poor audio quality).

Now, if I could only find a laptop that’s as light as an Air, has capacity for 16GB of RAM, and a reasonably high resolution screen (min 1440x900).

Published at DZone with permission of its author, David Pollak. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Robert Brown replied on Mon, 2012/11/19 - 12:10pm in response to: Bob Smith

iOS 6 is supported in name only on the 3GS.  NONE of the major features of the upgrade will work.  Many don't work on the iPhone 4 or the iPAD 2.  (keeping the iPAD straight is going to be a nightmare too since they dropped any way to determine a version).  


Mike Lynch replied on Tue, 2012/11/20 - 1:30am

OK, I think most of us would agree, drop bsd for linux, release OS11 as linux with all the nice apple stuff on top, change the fiiesystem and memory management (linux kernel and ext filesystem) and have it able to run commercial software (MS office & Adobe everything) and were all happy?  I know I would be!

Bob Smith replied on Tue, 2012/11/20 - 8:36am in response to: Mike Lynch

Riiight... because that makes sooooo much sense.

1) Apple would have to contribute any changes under the GPL.  Since Apple's business model relies on OS features that its competitors don't have, there's no way they're going to do this.

2) They're moving away from the GPL overall, as evidenced by their replacement of gcc with clang/LLVM.

3) For all intents and purposes, moving OS X from FreeBSD to Linux would be a total rewrite.   You're drastically underestimating the effort involved.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Tue, 2012/11/20 - 10:28am in response to: Bob Smith

1) You can make software layers that shields you from the license. Only works for some things. Didn't work for their WebKit web/html renderer. WebKit is used by Safari, Google Chrome, and just about every mobile now. WebKit came from KHTML, that's from some of the KDE boys on Linux. And yes, because that was open source, Apple had to open source WebKit as well. The KHTML boys deserve a lot more kudos than they have IMO. But that's another whole story. Anyway, I largely agree with you on this point.

2) "Move away". What does that mean? Just GCC? GCC has always produced crappy code IMO. Although Java has an advantage by being able to compile to machine code at runtime and has information available that GCC doesn't at compile time, if GCC wasn't so bad, then it wouldn't be losing benchmarks to Java so easily. If I found a better compiler, I'd switch too.
As for WebKit, I don't think they *can* move away from GPL. It's not like they can magically drum up another web renderer, without stealing, at this point.

3) I don't think anyone would contemplate "switching to Linux". It's too late now obviously. Agreed.

michael wolfe replied on Tue, 2012/11/20 - 7:48pm in response to: Mike P(Okidoky)

 essentially Apple is all about control. they want to control their OS and Hardware. with them nothing is free and everything is closed. eventually Apple with go the way of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). they made great hardware but their OS (VMS,etc) was closed source as were most of their software products. when  you use Apple products you have to buy into the idea that there products are closed/controlled by the company.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Tue, 2012/11/20 - 8:34pm in response to: michael wolfe

However though, there is still the notion of open source libraries that people can share. Some of the licenses are LGPL (or like) making it easier to adopt.

And all this comes back to the beauty of Java. Instead of relying on OS provided APIs, when you build on top of Java APIs, you become platform agnostic.

Also, Oracle publishes a JVM for ARM processors too now, and Linux on mobiles and pdas aren't that far off. I'm smelling full PCs armed with full Linux and full Java not too far down the line.

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