Macs & MacOS: Greener Grass?

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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.

written by 단서방 (Danseobang)  2021-05-15 - last edited 2021-06-01. © CC BY

"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"

Danseobang

Steve Jobs on Darwin is Linux-like.png
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)

* Most Linux desktops are moving towards Wayland

Mac Issues

This article is by no means exclusive.

Customization

  • 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 chips
  • 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

Quality

  • 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

Anecdotally, this author’s new Macbook Pro came with a broken caps lock key. Apple wanted $150 and 3 weeks to fix it.

Efficiency

"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
  • MacOS requires rebooting to update
  • No way to give apps special permissions without quitting and reopening

Developer Experience

  • MacOS only has basic GNU versions of common commands - find and grep have different default arguments, and cp is missing arguments like —parents altogether
    • 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 diff and other CLI apps can trigger an irritating, non cancelable backlog of MacOS’ boop sounds

Apps

  • 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

Consistency

  • 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.

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Anonymous (80e52aceae)

9 days ago
Score 0

Mac (Mac Book Air / Pro) hardware really differs from generation to generation.

I've MacBook Pro 2012 which clearly is indisputable winner in terms of viability and robustness.

Due to my little son's stress/pen testing engagements, it sank several times in unfriendly substances like milk, yogurt, acidic juices etc. Tap water was so common alien agent used by my son as a part of his test suite that TBH I would not even take one into account).

This Air used to be rinsed in vodka afterwards, which is almost as stupid idea as not rinsing/cleaning it at all as an outcome in "normal" situation would be just the same; but still a bit smarter though: every time it was a source of barely noticeable hope for me that the machine again would overcome ultimately devastating impact, consolidating its previous triumph)

And every time the hope was justified!

So despite thick layer of sediments / oxidative damage it now works near perfectly. Except for the keyboard which was totally ruined except for a few keys still working (thankfully, Power button is among them), so it's controlled solely via vnc.

Ah, there is no bottom lid because it was ditched hell knows when and why

Being Mobile Core i7 (2012) it's still descent machine for most basic tasks, even software compilation, etc.

And I love this fucking veteran.

Never ever have I seen such an unstoppable laptop (and computer in general) which would survive multiple absolutely deadly impacts.


The pity however is about the quality has unexpectedly fallen below any acceptable bar with recent MacBook Pros (touch bar).

This is just garbage, indeed
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