OSX vs OpenSuSE
[music | Leaether Strip - What If (Beats on classic mix)]
The Amarok discussion usually comes as a result of a wider discussion/flamewar about the "little things" that bug the shit out of me a year after dropping SuSE for OSX as my home desktop. I used Linux as my desktop for about 8 years, and before that for more "traditional" server type applications. I've had a Linux desktop since Redhat 4.1, but it didn't replace Windows completely until about 1999. That gives me a different perspective on how a computer Should Just Work. My definition of that is skewed by things like uptime and standards compliance. I have no idea what the Standard Uptime is for a Windows desktop machine. My Windows desktops have always stayed up for months and months, because they do nothing except run Outlook and specialty business software that I couldn't get to work under Wine.
So from that perspective, OSX is not particularly stable. The only time I ever rebooted my linux machines was when either the power went out or I was upgrading SuSE. Aside from that, they Just Worked. I don't count things like upgrading KDE as a reboot, because it was just an X11 restart, ctrl-alt-backspace, new DE starts, no reboot. Leopard is more stable for me than Tiger was, especially in terms of returning from standby on the laptop. However in terms of applications "beachballing" and having to force-quit things, well that kind of thing rarely happened to me in SuSE. I'd probably kill Firefox every couple of weeks because something screws up or its footprint was too huge. I have to force-quit Safari every day or two (no SIMBL or other wackiness anymore until I figure out why this is).
Here's a quick list with some detail about what really bugs me, and what I really like in OSX:
- X11 support blows - This is not just in Leopard, which is obviously completely fucked to the point that Apple's own X11 lead suggests downgrading, but apps tended to lock up even under Tiger, though it was much more useful. It was usually when using the scroll-wheel in an application, or in Amarok's case it would just have "Bad Days". Sometimes Amarok would have multi-week uptimes, and sometimes it would just die several times in the span of an hour. Pan had the same issue with the scrollwheel, so it wasn't some meathead KDE vs. GNOME thing. Now I just run X11 apps in a SuSE VM.
- Multi-Head support blows - Spaces is just about completely useless to me. There are several UI flaws as well as fundamental architectural (religious) difference here.
- Spit-n-Polish - window manager should never force you to another desktop just because an event happens over there. If VMWare puts the VM in Standby mode, there's no reason to flip me to that Space and away from code I'm typing. Likewise with apps that have multiple windows open (I'm looking at you Finder). If I have 8 finder windows open, with one of those windows being on Space 2 and all the rest on space 1, and just left click the Finder icon in the dock, it will flip to Space 2 to the single finder instance. That's annoying. It should default to a copy in my current "Space" unless I specify one on a different desktop. Also, there should be some indicator in the context menu to indicate which finder is in which "Space" so you can tell at a glance what goes where.
- Religious - I want true-multihead. This is a hard concept to explain to someone who doesn't use X11 based systems. My last work machine had 3 monitors, and each monitor ran its own X11. This had the disadvantage that I couldn't drag a window from one monitor to the others, but had the massive advantage that when I switched virtual desktops ("Spaces") on one monitor, it didn't flip all 3. That allowed me to have 5 or 6 fullscreen RDP (MS Remote Desktop) sessions running on monitor 0, and flip between them at will without losing my console or browser, or email on monitors 1 and 2. So if I got an email that required me to go to some server somewhere and fix something, I could flip monitors and look at the server while still referencing the mail. OSX supports nothing like this. Pinning an app so it is available across all Spaces is like trying to squish a mosquito with a 12 gauge.
- Ad-Hoc file protocol support - In KDE and Konqueror, you only have to put "smb://fileshare" in the URL bar to go to a samba share, or "fish://location" to use ssh as a remote filesystem. Fish in particular is incredibly cool, you can have icon previews and everything.
- Finder in general - As most people, I hate the Finder. I've not found a decent free replacement for it, and that makes me sad. Konqueror is a decent free replacement, however X11 support is bad enough that it's pretty much useless. Anything that looks promising costs dough, which I'm not willing to spend.
- Greedy developers - This isn't an Apple problem, but the community is a totally different animal, and I'm still not used to it. I don't get why I should spend $15 to be able to map my Fn key over to my Enter key on my Macbook, all I know is that it annoys me that I can't do it out of the box. Where is there a mixer that will allow me to knock down the bass or bring it up without reaching down and turning down my subwoofer.
- Network Share Support - This is a common one. There are a couple ways to add network paths automatically. You can use automount, but it seems they tend to disappear at odd times. Another way is to create the share using "Finder -> Go -> Connect to server", then drag the icon created by that into your Login Items in the Users control panel. The problem with this second way is that it attaches the share at login time, not at boot time, which is no good.
- Filesystem Case Insensitivity - I know you can format your drive to be case-sensitive. I also know that when you do that, many apps break completely. Note to Apple: If a feature will break every single application for your largest single ISV (Adobe), then you don't get to count it as a feature anymore.
- Highlight = Copy and Middle Click = Paste - This issue was highlighted to me in editing this document. Another peeve is "no window shading unless I want to pay $15 for it". I do understand why auto-raise/auto-focus can't work, and have grown accustomed to it not being around. In Leopard they seem to have made one stride, which is mouse focus follows mouse. They could easily extend that to keyboard focus without screwing up the way the application menus work, hint hint Apple.
There's quite a bit more to think about when switching from Linux to OSX. I have to say that overall my experience has been hugely positive, here are pluses:
- Mail.app - Evolution is good, and possibly the fastest still at searching against a mailbox with a lot of mails in it (>100,000 items), but Mail.app is working great.
- iPhoto - I use about 4% of iPhoto, but I like it as well as digiKam.
- Software support - Yep, I'm praising apple on supporting more software than Linux. Go figure.
- Redneck contact list synching - This used to be impossible without buying a .Mac account, which seems like it really isn't worth it. Now you can sync multiple machines using a Yahoo account as a middleman. I suspect this is because of the iPhone, otherwise they'd still be making everyone pay. I know you can use LDAP, but that's why too much of a pain in the ass for my contact list.
- Coverflow for image directories - I've said before that Coverflow is a useless and stupid idea, but that only really applies to iTunes. I like it just fine for skimming directories full of photos in a big hurry. Mainly because icon-views in the Finder are SO flawed that it's the only real solution.
There's a lot of other nit-picky stuff, not that this whole list isn't pretty petty. I think I just like the ability to fix things in Linux. If something doesn't work, I (the user) own the problem and there are a million and 9 ways to do so. I feel that a lot of things could be included (such as the KDE model) where advanced users have way more options available, but you keep things hidden and simple from my mom. I also don't want to discourage anyone from getting a Mac. If I were running Vista or XP I'm sure I'd be completely bald right now, both from ripping out my hair and stress induced alopecia. I'm not mentioning things like stupid Spotlight being less accurate and slower than a well done find command, for instance, because for most everyone, it works great.
I also like the idea of their hardware, I've had two hardware issues, one due to buying the very first of something (MacBook heatsink recall) and one drive that died in my Mac Pro, which I can't pin on Apple. Both were done relatively quickly, however dealing with reservations and the Genius Bar made me want to stab someone repeatedly. The mighty mouse is a wonderful thing, when the stupid ball works properly, oh, and if you don't have to drag something from one monitor to another, thus requiring you to pick the mouse up and reposition it because you ran out of runway, then you drop whatever you were dragging. It's one of those neat-but-irrepairably-useless things that Apple seems to make a lot of. I know that X11 will be fixed, and that KDE4 and thus Amarok and Konqueror are going to be native RSN, which should put the chip temporarily back in my shoulder and calm my nerves slightly.