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Ovid (2709)

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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Wednesday August 20, 2008
10:14 AM

iPhone: The Last Straw?

[ #37236 ]

(Note: what follows is why I am tired of Apple. It may not apply to you, so don't grumble at me for it :)

I think for my next laptop, I may just go back to Linux. Apple is really disappointing me.

Before I worked for Kineticode, I had a Sony Vaio running (I think) Debian with the delightfully minimalistic Fluxbox window manager. It wasn't perfect, as I had Linux experts give up trying to get my wireless working and Alsa was just a pain and configuring X was ...

Well, you get the picture. Then David Wheeler, my boss at Kineticode, handed me an iBook. Prior to that my only exposure to Macs had been a girlfriend's Mac which ran System 7. I was dubious about the iBook, but I quickly came to love it. It had the ease of use of Windows but all of the power of Linux (well, all of the power that I needed, that is). It wasn't perfect, but I was pretty happy with it. Sure, lots of things needed X, but hey, I quickly installed that and most of my complaints were gone -- I'm easy to please. Of course, when Fluxbox was segfaulting, I went to the source, fixed the problem and recompiled and I can't do that with Macs, but hey, it's a small price, right?

When I went to buy a new laptop, I upgraded to a MacBook, bought extra RAM and the extended warranty. The first problem I noticed was no WiFi connectivity. This, apparently, was a common problem for MacBooks. It was several months of software updates from Apple before they sorted this mess out and this annoyed the heck out of me because the one thing you don't screw up is people's connectivity.

Of course, this is not the first time Apple's neglected this. Anyone remember the Titanium PowerBook G4 whose metal case looked sexy as hell and killed Wifi connectivity? Don't screw this up, Apple, just don't.

Recently I wanted to install Gimp, which means I need X, which means I need my install disks, which means I need to figure out how to eject the CD currently in my MacBook. Not only is "non-ejecting" CDs a common problem for the new MacBooks, but Apple removed the manual eject hole that older laptops had. This problem would be much less severe if they hadn't done something so stupid. I still need to get to the Apple store and get this fixed, but I'm afraid they'll take my laptop for days on end. I'm an addict, damn it!

So I have iTunes, too. I decided it would be nice to get the album cover art. Turns out I need an Apple Store account. Grumble. OK.

Then it turns out that I need to enter payment information to receive my free cover art!!! What the hell? Apple? Why are you forcing me to fork over financial information if I want this free cover art?

And ignoring the DRM issues (oh, and there are plenty of them), let's talk about connectivity again. You see, I recently went out and bought an "i". You probably know it by another name, but my brother Greg insists upon calling it an "i" because the damned thing has no phone. Well, that's not entirely true. It has great reception, so long as I turn off 3G, but 3G IS THE REASON I BOUGHT THE PHONE!!! I waited months to buy this thing only to find out that I can't use the feature I waited for! Apple, we're talking connectivity here. The one thing you don't screw up is people's connectivity. You can have all sorts of glitches elsewhere, but DO NOT CUT OFF PEOPLE'S FEEDS! I can forgive a hell of a lot, but don't do this to me.

This, and a number of other reasons, is why I think I want to bite the Linux bullet again. Ubuntu is a dream, it's easy to install, its wireless works, and I don't have idiotic DRM issues. Of course, getting Compiz back also makes me drool.

Apple, it was fun while it lasted, but if you can't communicate, this relationship has to end.

(And while we're at it, how many times do I have to try to post this without a "connected failed" error?)

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  • I don't think you're the only one. I never made the switch to Apple myself, but over the last year or so I've seen a lot of Apple switchers going back to Linux. This was particularly apparent at YAPC::Europe last week.

    I'm interested to know why this is. Certainly it has a lot to do with the kinds of issues that you mention. But I also think that Linux support on the laptop has come on a long way in the five or six years since most people switched to Apple.

    • Well, my reasons my seem petty to many people, but at the end of the day, Apple has, on several occasions, left me high and dry and there's nothing I can do about this. If these were minor glitches in software I could choose alternatives for (such as when Safari kept crashing after an update), then it wouldn't be such a big deal. When I hit a single point of failure, though, I get kind of grumpy, particularly when it's something I have no possibility of fixing myself.

  • Ubuntu is a dream, it's easy to install, its wireless works, and I don't have idiotic DRM issues.

    I loved Ubuntu on my desktop. I am having an issue with hibernate/sleep mode on my laptop - closing it locks it up. (This is not unique to Ubuntu, however - SuSE did the same thing as well.) Note that I only recently got it installed & haven't had time to wade through potential fixes. Which is, as you say, the beauty of it - I can find & apply fixes myself. :)

    Most everything else "just works". And boy howdy, is it ever fast.

    Links: [] []

  • The main way I've avoided several of the nastier bumps in the last few years is to stay on the far late end of the earlier adopters. Unless it's security, I hold off on updates and I try to wait for at least a few months after the release of any new Apple products. They seem to get things straightened out eventually.

    No question that their track record over the last 6 months has been terrible. It almost seems they've hit some sort of wall with too much going on. MobileMe and this latest iPhone update are
    • The main way I've avoided several of the nastier bumps in the last few years is to stay on the far late end of the earlier adopters.

      Right, that's why complaints like this, while valid, boggle me when they conclude with "and so I am switching to Linux." Early adopters with Linux have MUCH more pain, and when things break there's often NOTHING you can do unless you know how to hack drivers.

      OK, so a few years ago I was angry at DirecTV's service so I switched back to cable.

      Read that again.

      Yeah, I was an idiot.

      DirecTV service sucks in oh-so-many ways, but at least it's not cable.

      This is my feeling about Mac (at its worst) vs. Linux on the

      • Early adopters with Linux have MUCH more pain, and when things break there's often NOTHING you can do unless you know how to hack drivers.

        I upgraded my kernel from a system update the other day, and suspend and hibernate stopped working. I made one small change to my bootloader configuration file to use the previous kernel, and everything works again. (The sequence of events is short enough to post in a forum or nopaste into an IRC channel to help anyone else do the same).

        Is that even possible with Mac

        • Is that even possible with Mac OS X? Can you roll back portions of system updates?

          If you can patch a kernel yourself, then yeah. Not recommended though. :-)

        • As far as I know, you can't roll back portions of Mac OS X system updates. Frankly, as an admitted early adopter, I am quite tolerant of most bugs. That's the price I pay. What I am not tolerant of is bugs impacting core features which cripple usability. For many people, such as myself, internet connectivity is a feature which must not fail on a laptop or PC. For a phone, being able to use it as a phone is the one feature which must not fail. For Linux, I would probably be more tolerant of core featur

      • And here I thought that the value of buying commercial is precisely that you can adopt relatively early without too much pain. I have had remarkably little pain with Linux running on hardware that is two or three generations behind the market.

  • Yes, Ubuntu does work great on laptops. I have a Thinkpad X61s and everything works (wireless, graphics, suspend, etc).

    The key with Linux is to do your research before buying a system, and that goes triply for laptops. There's a combination of laptop makers who want to support Linux and hardcore hackers who like certain laptops that's made Lenovo Thinkpads and Dells the best bet, from what I can tell.

    No doubt other models will work too, but you have to do research and make sure you get the model with the ri
    • Yep - using an R61i here, and everything just works.

      It's been a couple of years since I last owned a Linux laptop, and the difference in the user experience is incredible. I really would recommend Linux to non-hackers now (my criterion was always "never even need to be aware that XF86Config exists").