Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apple Macintosh and Intel

Plenty of people have weighed in on the implications of Apple switching to Intel processors for their Macintosh computers. I figure I'll add my two cents...

I think there has been some inaccurate prophesizing over what this change means to Linux and other alternative operating systems. Some editorials on osnews.com (here, and here) along with Dvorak's recent post and an eWeek opinion piece all seem to believe that Linux is in trouble.

This is what they're missing, the Mac is not computer hardware and it's not an operating system, it's a complete computer system. Why do you think Microsoft is still developing their "standard" products like MS Office for the Intel-powered Macs? Because they understand that Apple is selling a different product.

To understand why Linux isn't in trouble, we have to do some stereotyping. Who uses Linux anyways?
Anyone that is going to actually use Linux as a desktop OS is either a geek, or has been convinced by a geek that it's the way to go (and said geek provides tech support). This means that Linux users have the ability to manage their OS, directly or indirectly.

Now, what sort of machines does Linux usually run on? Intel/AMD x86 is the most popular, and almost any hodpodge arrangement of a computer will be supported by Linux. So, along comes Apple with their new Intel-based Macs - why would current or future Linux users care? A Macintosh is still a Macintosh, it's a marriage of hardware and software. If you want a Mac, you buy a Mac computer and it comes with the Mac OS. Sure, you will likely be able to install MS Windows or Linux, but again, so what?

The two most important things that Linux has going for it are its price (free as in beer) and killer hardware support.
Mac OS is completely opposite: it ain't free, and it's hardware support sucks. The Mac OS is meant to run on Mac hardware, and that's that. MS Windows emulates being free by being the default OS installed on most mainstream computers and it also has killer hardware support. For those that aren't interested in purchasing an integrated computing solution, the best known choice is MS Windows, the second is Linux.

Many of those editorials did get one thing right, Microsoft is vulnerable until Longhorn is released, now is the time for Linux to gain some users.


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9:18 PM  

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