Macs & MacOS: Greener Grass?
Linux and Windows can be installed interchangeably on PCs, leading consumers to find what works best for them. The constant unknown about MacOS brings a certain appeal to it - like standing outside an exclusive club, wondering what’s inside.
"Articles comparing Linux, Mac and Windows are all over the internet - They assert high level details - but lack detail and grit. This article attempts to cover some of that"
Steve Jobs describing the MacOS Kernel "Darwin" as "Linux-like", Macworld San Francisco 2000-The Mac OS X Introduction.
Mac advantages over Linux & Windows
- Mac doesn’t use the (very old) and insecure X11, and instead has its own fork called XQuartz*
- MacOS mostly works out of the box
- Near perfect hardware integration
- Apple ecosystem support (Xcode, iOS app integration)
- Lightning fast swap space
* Most Linux desktops are moving towards Wayland
This article is by no means exclusive.
- No proper integration for alternative desktop environments
- The best you can do is run them in a (buggy) full screen application
- Aqua (default MacOS DE) has extremely limited scripting
No Hardware accelerated virtualization on ARM chipsThis has since been added in a software update
- Limited third party hardware support (spotty support for headsets with extra buttons, custom mice)
- No Keyboard-only navigation of the desktop
- Handles can also be slow and prevent usage of other apps
- No Clear focus on which apps are controlling input
- Cannot change default File Manager
- No baked in volume mixer
- Cursor is jittery or can have miniature spazzes when computer lags
- Inconsistent DPI in UI elements (notice the middle button)
- Buffered input on laggy programs doesn’t enter when lag clears
- Not all MacOS text input popup fields support arrow keys/modifier keys/delete key for navigating text
- Fullscreen apps and integrated popup windows work horribly together
- Resizing panels in official apps does not rebuild hidden text
Anecdotally, this author’s new Macbook Pro came with a broken caps lock key. Apple wanted $150 and 3 weeks to fix it.
"While KDE is "Simple by default, powerful when needed", MacOS is "Simple by default" and stops there."
- There’s no way to consistently bring a running, Ctrl^W’ed app into focus based on its minimized state
- Alt tab shows it, but won’t bring it to front
- Clicking it in tray creates a new instance
- No way to minimize a single instance of a program with the keyboard
- Global hotkeys can't be customized in a way that is consistent across different apps
- Global hotkeys have low priority, giving slow Macs different order of operations than new ones
- Updates require reboot
- No way to give apps special permissions without quitting and reopening
- MacOS only has basic GNU versions of common commands -
grephave different default arguments, and
cpis missing arguments like
- Part of this has to do with Apple’s hatred of free software licenses
- Apps deployed on MacOS require paying Apple a yearly license unless you want users to jump through hoops
- Scrolling through
git diffand other CLI apps can trigger an irritating, non cancelable backlog of MacOS’ boop sounds
- The Mac store does not allow Free & Open Source GPL software
- No decent screenshot tool that supports uploading to Imgur
- There are defunct ones and paid versions of free Linux ones
- Toxic software backwards compatibility
- So bad Windows got the nerve to say theirs was good
- Abandoned 32-bit library support and stopped Wine from running
- Apps tend to be more expensive
If you're using MacOS, see our Essential Apps list
- No way to open the Emoji picker from Launchpad or Spotlight
- App specific whether dragging files between apps on different monitors will work
- No way to have consistent audio output when on high CPU usage
What does this mean for developers using Mac?
By using a Mac, your efficiency is capped by your wallet and what Apple allows. If you like forced microbreaks and workflow (or audio) stutters, MacOS just might be for you.