Macintosh and Mac OS X

What to say? Mac is my OS only since September 16, 2005. I used to hack a linux box, before. Red Hat 9A and a brand new Fedora Core 4 on the same PC. More, I had 5 GB dedicated to a licensed Windows 98 1st edition and another 5 GB dedicated to ForthOS, an operating system based on forth. Wonderful. 4 OSes on the same machine, all oiled and well kept, running with no problems.

But I was not satisfied.

Probably I was a Mac user without knowing it. After I bought my Mac (an eMac G4 1.42 Superdrive with 1 GB of RAM - I know: a CRT is outdated, but I'm an old CRT user, who works usually and professionally on a 19" CRT LG Flatron 995FT Plus), things changed. Here's my computer:

My eMac from a close view
1. manual photo, f 8.0, 2" exposure, focal length 4.70

my "place"
2. auto photo, flash, f 2,9, 1/60" exposure, focal length 4.70

Photo n° 1 is a close down-up shot, the second displays my workplace.
In the background you see my CD case, where more than
1000 CDs are stored (part of them are in the far right).
And yes: I don't use an Apple mouse...

I was surprised that anything worked at the first touch. No added libraries, no procedures for installing, no hassling during program uninstalling, easy pdfs, easy device managing (no added drivers), a lot of software preinstalled and a lot available on the Net... I couldn't figure it out, since I was used to relay on trying and trying, before making something work: this could result quite amusing in the first days, but then... a mess.

Now, with my eMac, I can concentrate on my job. No configurations at all. ADSL? It started quite all alone. Organizing and downloading  my photos? iPhoto takes care of it all. Mailing and surfing? Apple Mail and Safari are the best (notice that I was a Thunderbird and Firefox user addict, and I still think that they are quite the best in the world, but now they're #2). Programs I was used to? gforth compiled with no source modification, gprolog (installed through darwinports). X11 programs I could need in the future? Mac OS X is a UNIX system, and it doesn't lack any X11 libraries. What about forthOS? Did I lose it? Probably. You cannot have everything (I cheat: Mac OS X has a Forth system basing its booting, called OpenFirmware. Start the computer pressing Apple-O-F, and you're on a living Forth OS!).

The place you see in the above photographs is where I create my software. Where I listen to my music. Where I surf and read mail and where I spend my spare time. Sometimes, I play with my daughter. She likes to see colors (some screensaver or some special image, or the iTunes visual effects or the Tuxracer challenge).

I think I'll teach her using Mac as her first computer and forth as the first programming language before any other thing.

Now, why Linux and Windows could not be enough? I think for these reasons:
  1. Windows is definitely a bad & good OS. There's no Windows that won't crash (don't believe those who say that XP is safe and robust. I use it 8 hours a day at work, and it crashes the same; less than Win98, ok, but it crashes), but you can do your job. And probably, the chronic lack of built-in drivers for quite anything is another point against it. But it's got a good installation routine for programs (if programmers behave well and don't put libraries and files all around the place), and XP has bettered the desktop customization. Another point is that quite anything you can find on the market (software or hardware) is "done for Windows".
    Of course, if you need some security, Windows is... well... a ruin, quite plain to crack. A frequently updated antivirus and some kind of firewall should be a must, but wait: you must be aware that you'll probably never be safe.

  2. Linux is another thing. Lately, it has become so easy to be used even from unexperienced people, well interfaced with graphics (Gnome and KDE are now a reality). It's really powerful and robust. It's hard to crack and, that's the best, you decide the level of security. But wait: what linux are we talking about? linux is a word that describes the kernel, but the whole enviroment is hidden behind dozens of distributions, which are not that compatible. Do you want to install a Debian package upon a Red Hat machine? You're welcome. I could never do it. Probably it's my fault, I had not the right tools. And, to report other experiences: have you ever tried to install a program (through configure/make/make install) only to be reported that some library is missing? Or that a given library is out of date? It happened to me not dozens but hundreds of times.
    Anyway, the fact that, say, I could painlessly surf Internet was enough. The fact that I could even scarelessly download any rubbish that infests mails was enough.
Going back in time, I recall that I discovered Mac OS X in September 2003 (Jaguar times). It appeared straight away, though only on paper, that it was another thing. Installation is easier than that with Windows. It's UNIX, so you have the same security and robustness of linux. It's beautiful, more beautiful than any other environment I've seen. It's a well-conceived OS, in which everything seems to work. And Mac computers are beautiful, more beautiful than any other computer (even my peasant-level eMac with no G5 and no LCD monitor is more attractive than a common PC).
In September 2005 (two years later) I bought my eMac, and I was able to realize that things above were no chatters. Probably, I'll meet some problems in the future (it's in the nature of things), but I guess less than before... posteri l'ardua sentenza...