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October 19th, 2006

OS Zealotry

I am tired of OS zealots. So, here’s a brief message to each of you:

Mac Zealots: Yes, your OS is nice. But its not the savior of the universe. It works well, but has its annoyances like any other OS (this parody sums it up nicely). And Apple? I’m an Apple guy from way, way back. But their weirdo AAC and DRM are enough to turn me away.

Here’s the thing: I have a Mac. And I like it. I used it exclusively for a month when my main PC broke down. But it wasn’t any sort of mind-altering experience. I was able to most of what I wanted to do and most of it didn’t take me longer than on a PC (nothing was faster, though). So the next time someone says, “Well, if everyone had Macs, ____ would just work!” I’m going to punch you in the nose. Stop being obnoxious. Use your Mac and shut your piehole.

Windows Zealots: Listen, Windows is generally fine. I use it and love how I have the choice between more than just a couple of mail applicatons. But you’re kidding yourselves if you think that any combination of Windows clients/servers/ASP/.NET/IIS is going to be anything but a headache once you start going outside of the basic configuration. Windows’ errors are rarely helpful and the UI is pretty messy out of the box. There are days when Windows will crash on me because I insert a CD and I begin to understand why people switch to Macs.

So, use your PC and shut your piehole.

*nix Zealots: Oddly, even though I don’t use any *nix variant as much as I use my PC (or even my Mac), I feel the most solidarity with these folks. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on the command line and can appreciate the power and speed of a system when there’s no GUI getting in the way or sucking up processor cycles. That said, I’m also really looking forward to installing Ubuntu or whatever the next Linux flavor of the month is.

However, for anyone that things that the world will switch to *nix, you’re kidding yourselves. I don’t think there are many of you out there… I think most *nix geeks understand that their OS is important and drives the majority of servers (fact check me, someone?) on the web, but they know that their mom and dad aren’t going to be installing BSD anytime soon. *nix folks tend to know their role, so they don’t really need to shut their piehole.

To summarize: Use your computer. Enjoy it. Revel in your OS all you want, in private. But the public OS zealotry (and to some degree, OS thrashing) is getting really tiresome.

Posted in Technology

Paul October 19, 2006, 2:24 pm

But… but… I need to have outside validation that my choice was the best choice! Otherwise, how can I be sure that I’m right?!

Terry M. October 19, 2006, 7:40 pm

I spent years in the various OS advocacy newsgroups during college. I don’t even remember what side I was on. Every single community – technical or not – has its own little ‘issue’ which decisively divides it. Ultimately it is just like debating any political or religious issue. Everyone has already made up their mind, and you will never change anybody’s opinion, largely because people are coming from totally different viewpoints. However, it is amazingly easy to get caught up very personally in the passion of the debate, and I think that is what drives people to participate. My opinion is .. anybody who who has the energy to get so worked up over what the best OS is, probably doesn’t have more important things in life to excite them or preoccupy them – which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Merle October 20, 2006, 11:01 pm


I’ve been using OSX for almost seven months now on my “primary” home computer, and it’s.. okay. Different. Doesn’t seem as prone to virus attacks I *guess* (although my happy Win95 box has been safe and secure for almost a decade now). Things still crash, funky things still happen. It is just different.

And *nix is great if you are a coder and are doing command line things. The sheer power of piping things from one process to another at a very low level cannot be understated. If you are not a coder, or you are using an X-based GUI.. well, you’re just back to “different”.

Marcus Mackey January 5, 2007, 10:29 pm

I think ultimately, it comes down to a person’s interfacing with the system and how it affects them. Some of them can take it almost spiritual. It’s like the Ford vs. Chevy vs. Chrysler fans… or those that prefer Honda to Toyota to Nissan to Mitsubishi, etc. PS One/PS2/PS3 to XBox/XBox360 to Game Cube/Wii. There are people that develop a fanhood of something, and become passionate because of their fanhood.

I don’t have a problem with that at all. I’d rather see people be passionate about something like this rather than devote time to other and decisively more inane or heinous activities. Besides… it makes the computer experience fun in some ways. Granted, having some fanboy trying to crawl up your butt while you’re trying to get work done is something I can see as frustrating, so I understand where you’re coming from.

With that said… there’s a big difference between an advocate, and a fanboy or zealot mentality. If you’re going to take up the cause for a system… a true advocate learns to speak of the positives of their platform, address the shortcomings, and hope that their platform fixes the shortcomings. No harm, no foul. It’s usually done without the mindless “Your system 5ux0r5!” banter, and usually discussed much more eloquently.

It’s the advocates and fanboys that hide behind the badge without having a clue to the alternatives, much less any formal way to argue the benefits of their platform vs. the negatives of their platform vs. other platforms.

There’s things I wish the Mac could do that my Windows box does. ::gasp:: I can tell you that in comparing Spring-loaded folders vs. Cut/Copy/Paste in Windows, the excess mousing around and targeting is maddening on the Mac and is one thing I’ve been chastising Apple for years on now. I do understand the desktop metaphor arguments that the Mac users’ have used to explain why Cut/Copy/Paste isn’t as elegant… and I find them flat wrong. Okay, yeah… it’s a desktop metaphor, but last I checked… no actual real ::knocking on wood:: desktop has windows floating around over it, much less windows with close boxes. They don’t have an abstraction layer with widgets, a Dashboard if you will… there’s no real-world surreal alternative to Exposé unless you are hitting the Meth a bit hard.

In short order… I don’t care if it ties itself to some old user interface guidelines that are outdated and stupid or should’ve never been written at all. A lot of the foundations for how the Mac UI was to be conceived have been broken over the years on numerous levels, to the point that the late (R.I.P.) Jef Raskin was as much a combatant to the Mac UI later on as he was a primary founder of the original Mac UI to begin with (and later, the Canon Cat ). I know that’s a bit hard for some Mac user’s to handle, but it’s the truth. Not that I’d consider Jef the lone and sole purveyor of interface wisdom as some of his later ideas seem more convuluted and fussy than the Mac UI IMHO. I just happen to think that, while a Mac fan and advocate… they’re not the only game in town anymore, and in many ways that’s a great thing. It keeps all sides honest and gives them something to learn from.

The reality is… I just want to be able to move files without giving myself carpal tunnel. If I wanted to play basketball with my files… I’d crumple up the paper version and use a waste paper basket. If I wanted a moving target for this, I’d get a buddy to move the basket around. None of this is an aid to productivity in any way, shape, or form. Give me cut/copy/paste in Leopard’s Finder (which needs a major overhaul anyhow). Pleeeeeeeeeease and thank you?!?

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