Post by Martha Adams
I notice news about Apple being a world's most valuable brand. How
does that happen and how long will it last? I personally have *zero*
Apple hardware/software anywhere in my working directories, and I
can't see that any of that is particularly useful. I've been a Slacker
using twm for the past couple of decades and if Slackware continues to
fade, I think Arch or one of the BSDs are the best options for me.
But I think there's a useful lesson in here somewhere. Microsoft and
Apple. How do those closed OSs get to occupy any prominent site in
the popular mind?
I know I'm replying a bit late...
Does what you use Slackware for depend upon a lot of other people also
using it? In other words, does a distro's popularity really matter for
I know a number of people that have been users of Slackware for years
and they just like it. I think they should keep using it until it no
longer works for them or they no longer like it for some reason.
If you do switch, you will surely find some things you like and some
things that annoy you with your new distro. The grass is never
completely greener on the other side of the fence. :-)
I personally use one of the Debian-based distros. I used Slackware
back when you used a handful (7?) of floppy disks to install it, but
first Red Hat's RPM package management led me to move to it and then
not long after that Debian's package management and way of doing things
really struck my fancy. (I started out with unix on SunOS and Solaris,
so that probably influenced how comfortable I felt with various Linux
I used to be more willing or even thrilled to do a lot of configuration
and modification of the OS. These days I prize stability and ease of use
- in terms of not having to fiddle around with the OS too much. I prefer
to just use my computers. If a distro has default settings and a way of
doing things that I can live with, I'm ok with just going with that.
What I'm leading up to is that I've tried Arch and there are things that
I really like about it. There are some really clever people working on
it, their documentation and wiki are superb, and people in the Arch
community were very helpful when I had questions.
However, I found Arch to be a bit too close to upstream and the
"bleeding edge" of new versions of software. I had to be more careful
when applying updates, and I had to fix things more often than I like.
I've also used FreeBSD and OpenBSD. (I did use NetBSD SPARC years ago
too, but I've had more experience with FreeBSD and OpenBSD.)
I think I'd probably recommend FreeBSD at first because I think it might
be a bit easier to start out. But both it and OpenBSD are very fine OSes
and their user communities are great.
The last time I tried FreeBSD, the drivers for Nvidia graphics cards
were much better than those for AMD ones. So hardware support may be
something you want to look into before making a switch. If you have
brand new hardware, Linux may be a better bet in terms of supporting it
than the BSDs, but that might not be an issue if you choose your
Kind of like years ago with Linux. You sometimes had to pick which
hardware to buy with Linux in mind because some was better supported
Ok - Apple. Different people value different things. There seem to be
many people that do value what Apple has to offer. I guess if some
people like the, for instance, iPhone, and consider it to be a
worthwhile purchase, who are we to say they're wrong?
Apple's prices are high, and you give up some freedoms to use their
products. On the other hand, they seem to make their money from selling
products and not from selling your data. Maybe it's better to pay up
front with a higher purchase price than to get a product with a lower
purchase price that collects your data (like a Chromebook). Microsoft
makes money from selling ads (like with Bing), so I think it's likely that
users of Windows are having their data used in some way.
Google definitely makes money off of your data, so you can bet that
Android is a data collection tool.
What compromises are we willing to make? Do we use Gmail? Or do we use
some other e-mail provider (that may or may not be harvesting our data)?
If we run our own mail server, are we able to ensure that none of the
mail servers between us and the people we correspond with are harvesting
our data? About the only way to stop that is by always using encryption
like PGP/GPG, but I find that there are always people that I want to or
need to communicate with that can't or won't use encryption.
Even encrypted e-mail will still allow others to gather data about who
we're e-mailing and when, and possibly who our ISP is, where in the
world we are, etc.
So hopefully we make informed decisions. What works for me may or may
not work for you. We make our choices and then get on with our
My employer chose to provide us with Macs to work with. They didn't want
to use Windows for various reasons. The apps and services we use were an
important factor in choosing an OS or platform. App support was good on
Windows, the Mac, and Chromebook. It was less good on Linux and would
have required some workarounds or even switching apps in some cases. (If
you have people who are skilled in using, for instance, some Adobe
content creation apps, it may be very difficult to switch to a platform
those apps don't support natively.)
The Chromebook was found to be too limiting for developers and some
other people that do specialized work.
As I said, they didn't want to do Windows.
So the Mac has the apps we need, there are good tools available to
manage a fleet of Macs, and the Mac is flexible enough that it can meet
I was kind of miffed at first. I wanted to continue to use a laptop with
my Linux distro of choice on it. I had figured out how to do everything
I needed to do with Linux. But we needed to start being compliant with
things like PCI, and the company was bigger and it was no longer really
possible for one person to have one brand of laptop with their favorite
distro on it while other people used other distros, and yet other people
So I started using a Mac every day. I found that I was able to be quite
productive on it, and there are even some things I really like about
it. I adjusted pretty quickly, and you know, it's one hell of a lot
better than at previous workplaces where I had to use Windows.
I still like Linux better, and that's what I typically use at home, but
I can be ok with the Mac too.
Do I have concerns with the "walled garden" and the proprietary software
and hardware of Apple products? Yes, I do. But I like my job more than I
dislike those things. Perhaps I could get a similar job with a company
that doesn't use Macs, but then I bet I'd have to use Windows
instead. My skills and career path won't really let me avoid all
proprietary software and hardware.