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March 24, 2011 9:38 AM   Subscribe

OS X is X today! Meanwhile, Bertrand Serlet, father of OS X, is leaving apple.
posted by Artw (123 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kinda thin, innit?

I just want to say that as a 2004 convert, I would hate to imagine computing without OS X. ugh.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:44 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I only jumped on board with Snow Leopard. That pinstripe background on everything would drive me insane in minutes.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:45 AM on March 24, 2011


"..but at this point, I want to focus less on products and more on science,” said Serlet

I can't help but wonder if that's because Lion appears mainly to just streamline look and feel of OS X across platforms, and will no doubt drive sales of the Magic Trackpad.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on March 24, 2011


Thanks, Steve & company.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on March 24, 2011


Ten years ago, NeXT became relevant again.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


posted by entropicamericana:
I just want to say that as a 2004 convert, I would hate to imagine computing without OS X. ugh.


I like to imagine a world were we run a multi-user BeOS and all of our applications absolutely fly on our quad-processor ARM based machines. We enjoyed it up to when Sun bought us. Then Scott McNealy and Jean-Louis Gassée decided that the high-right strategy and servers were the best strategy for profit. Shortly after Linux appeared on the scene in force and between it and Microsoft, they quickly proceeded to eat our lunch.

I'm now typing this on a teletext in protest of using their inferior products.
posted by bionic.junkie at 9:59 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's probably not a single piece of technology that impacts my daily life more than the Mac OS X and its spinoffs. I spend a huge portion of my waking hours using it to work, play, and create. True, if I weren't using OS X I'd be using something else—but it would be different.

Thanks, Mr. Serlet.
posted by pts at 10:01 AM on March 24, 2011


I'm thankful for OSX because otherwise the computer castoffs my wife gets from her dad would be very difficult to incorporate into my all-Linux network.
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well there's that damn spinning beachball. But other than that it's pretty solid work. Hard to believe it's 10 years already.
posted by GuyZero at 10:03 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


When does RedBox ship for Windows?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:05 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


John Siracusa's made niche for himself with well-informed, madly-detailed, highly-readable OS X system reviews for Ars Technica -- for example, the Snow Leopard review is longer than some published technical guides, and that was for a minor OS release.

He's been writing one for every OS X point version plus the pre-10.0 betas, and if you have a couple weeks to kill you can learn a hell of a lot by skimming them.
posted by ardgedee at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


OS X is great and all, but 10 years later it STILL isn't as zippy or responsive as a well-tuned OS 9. That's ten years of quietly fuming at the spinning beach ball when all I wanted to do was copy a bunch of files or calculate the size of a folder full of items.

GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!
posted by Aquaman at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's probably not a single piece of technology that impacts my daily life more than the Mac OS X and its spinoffs

That would be FreeBSD - at the core of OS X and the core part of the AT&T Uverse product.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never loved an operating system until OS X (detested the old Mac OS) but it was instant love the first time I sat down with it. Thanks!
posted by Wolfdog at 10:10 AM on March 24, 2011


That would be FreeBSD - at the core of OS X

"Core of OSX" is giving it a bit much credit, the core is a hybrid of FreeBSD, the XNU kernel, and various NeXT/Apple bits.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 10:11 AM on March 24, 2011


Darwin which is a BSD decedent is the core of OS X, not FreeBSD.
posted by octothorpe at 10:12 AM on March 24, 2011


Having signed on with Apple in 1985 I can only say it's be a long, tough, but ultimately rewarding experience. After a long day at work on my Windows PC I still look forward to going home and booting up my iMac.
posted by tommasz at 10:15 AM on March 24, 2011


the core part of the AT&T Uverse product.

Which part of U-Verse is that? Certainly not my set top box with the Windows CE copyrights all over it. U-verse is basically a Microsoft product, end to end AFAIK.
posted by GuyZero at 10:18 AM on March 24, 2011


Darwin which is a BSD decedent

Netcraft, is that you? :-)
posted by Malor at 10:18 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm going to give an "Amen" to Aquaman and his love for the Classic MacOS. I will differ with him a bit and say I think 8.6 is the holy grail of the Classic releases and is pure heavenly butter when add the AMICO and Wapp Pro extensions.
posted by bionic.junkie at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2011


when add = when you add
posted by bionic.junkie at 10:22 AM on March 24, 2011


I think 8.6 is the holy grail of the Classic releases

Cuz it works with the 20th Anniversary Mac?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Classic MacOS

/pours out a 40 for Hypercard, which was not welcome in the new world.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2011 [27 favorites]


Was I the only person installing the early versions on a machine to see if it was production ready?

"Nope, public beta won't work. Nope, Cheetah isn't cutting it, neither is Puma. Hmmm, Jaguar kinda works if I don't need X, Y and Z. Oh shit, Panther's is it, so long Classic OS!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


OS X is great and all, but 10 years later it STILL isn't as zippy or responsive as a well-tuned OS 9. That's ten years of quietly fuming at the spinning beach ball when all I wanted to do was copy a bunch of files or calculate the size of a folder full of items.

Man, if the occasional spinning beach ball is what I have to accept for an OS that I can trust to run my computer for weeks at a time without a major crash...

I'll take it.

Remember Conflict Catcher? Remember those days? Do you really want to go back to swapping out extensions in an effort to single out whichever one was making your system dangerously unstable? Ugh. I have plenty of Mac OS nostalgia, but I'll take my current system any day of the week.

Now, if you wanna talk about Newton nostalgia...
posted by pts at 10:36 AM on March 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


Now, if you wanna talk about Newton nostalgia...

That'll be included in the "Steve Jobs has died" thread due anytime under News you can Blue, stuff that's Blue here on Blue .

A betting pool will then be started on when the Newton tech will be made available post Jobs.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:42 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up using Macintosh computers (for real, I wrote my first HyperCard stack when I was seven). I used Macs because that's what my parents presented me with; the PC world was unfamiliar to me. Even so, I was a child-acolyte for Apple through the grimmest of the company's grim years, and this because of familiarity rather than the platform's inherent superiority — though at the time I had a list of talking points I found personally convincing.

Now that I'm an adult, I've gotten acquainted with Windows and various flavors of *nix. I can look back at Systems 6 and 7, and OS 8 and 9, and realize I was anything but objective. They sucked. Occasionally I'll boot them up in SheepShaver and find myself wringing my hands at just how unusable they were. Maybe I'm not being fair; all OSes have improved since the '90s and the PC offerings weren't much better back then. The improvements over the years have been slow and incremental, and I guess I take them for granted. Even looking back at OS X 10.0 I'm amazed at what a kludgy beast it was, but every revolution has to start somewhere.

OS X was revolutionary. I think on some level we can thank Mr. Serlet not just for reinventing the Mac, but for pointing out the way for Microsoft, Canonical, every modern web interface, and every modern mobile/tablet platform (OS X paved the way for iOS, and then Android and the others followed suit). Not that Apple is wholly responsible, but OS X provided a particularly mighty butterfly flap that rippled through the whole industry. Without it, as others have said upthread, we'd still have progressed but that progress would look very... different. Everyone reading this, no matter what platforms s/he is using, is to some degree only there because of the efforts of Mr. Serlet's team.

Not many products keep the same version number for a full decade. I'm curious what Apple will call the next iteration (Mac OS XI doesn't have the same ring to it) but excited for whatever it'll bring to the table. When Apple innovates, even the Apple-haters benefit.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:44 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


/pours out a 40 for Hypercard, which was not welcome in the new world.

TOO SOON.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


/pours out a 40 for Hypercard, which was not welcome in the new world.

Hypercard ruined Object Oriented Programming for me.

That's an object? Seriously?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:50 AM on March 24, 2011


That's an object?

Its a KIND of object.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Apple innovates, even the Apple-haters benefit.

Errr, its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on.

Next thing will be gushing about how the mighty Steve had hand coded things with punchcards.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be clear: Hypercard had actual (as far as I'm concerned) object oriented programing. You wanted a button to do something, you edited the button. Etc.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:58 AM on March 24, 2011


Errr, its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on.

Ah yes, what was I thinking? Apple clearly did nothing new at all here.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:58 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Errr, its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on.

Which is sort of like describing English as German with French bolted on. It's defensibly true, but not really a help.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:59 AM on March 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


Next thing will be gushing about how the mighty Steve had hand coded things with punchcards.

Of course not.

He did it with his mind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on March 24, 2011


> its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on.

And Linux is Unix with Richard Stallman bolted on. I'm not sure what you're getting at with this sort of argument, since all modern OSes are derivative of the designs from other companies and organizations, legitimately, backhandedly, or underhandedly.
posted by ardgedee at 11:04 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


rough ashlar: "Errr, its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on. "

*Stands up and stares intently at rough ashlar*
*CLAP*...*CLAP*...*CLAP*...
posted by charred husk at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please do not bold Richard Stallman to things, no matter how tempting it is.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wil Shipley wrote an excellent post with some background on Bernard and his replacement, Craig Federighi...
posted by drmanhattan at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, as a recent adopter, I've gotta say I love my shiny Unix with what Xerox bolted on. And with the latest VMWare Fusion, you can go nuts with all kinds of OSes. If you really want to blow your mind, you can hit the Unity mode, and all your open Windows apps magically transfer to the Dock for virtually native operation.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


John Siracusa's made niche for himself with well-informed, madly-detailed, highly-readable OS X system reviews for Ars Technica -- for example, the Snow Leopard review is longer than some published technical guides, and that was for a minor OS release.

If you're going to talk about Siracusa and OS X/Apple, be sure to include his new podcast where he does nothing but critique Apple. Its not as painful and boring as it sounds, its quite good actually.
posted by SirOmega at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please do not bold Richard Stallman to things, no matter how tempting it is.

Yeah, I can see that leading to structural failure pretty rapidly. He's not a small man. His beard alone has enough mass to cause atomic clocks in its vicinity to run slow.
posted by killdevil at 11:15 AM on March 24, 2011


You would never have convinced me 10 years ago that the cutting-edge platform for mobile development would be Objective-C. Never.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:17 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do loves me OS X, but I really wish my 10.6 iMac would stop crashing late at night...when no one is using it.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:23 AM on March 24, 2011


You would never have convinced me 10 years ago that the cutting-edge platform for mobile development would be Objective-C. Never.

I'd agree, but the frameworks have changed a great deal since then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty much just 1s and 0s on a disk. Try innovating Apple!
posted by Ad hominem at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


the core part of the AT&T Uverse product

As GuyZero says, nope. I worked on Microsoft IPTV / Mediaroom for 5 years, which is the core of U-Verse. As with most Microsoft things, it's Windows all the way down.

(Maybe the telephony stack or something has some FreeBSD in it, sure. But the TV part and the backend are all Windows)


On topic, I have a well documented dislike for Apple, but the competition for the other OS's is still a good thing. Apple has a fundamentally different vision of computing than the rest of the industry, a model which I hope won't take over (and probably never will on the "computer" side, since it seems like the days of everyone having a full-fledged computer are on the wane anyways) but is worth exploring. Happy birthday OSX!
posted by wildcrdj at 11:29 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


So basically it's been ten years since the last moderately-innovative thing happened in consumer desktop operating systems. Well, that's kind of depressing.
posted by enn at 11:33 AM on March 24, 2011


f you're going to talk about Siracusa and OS X/Apple, be sure to include his new podcast where he does nothing but critique Apple. Its not as painful and boring as it sounds, its quite good actually.

Wow, there's something about Siracusa's voice that makes me want to fucking scream. This is torture. Like a 45-year-old Kermit the Frog who is an Apple fanboy.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:36 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to Mr. Serlet for making the best platform even better. Can't wait to see what happens over the next ten years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:36 AM on March 24, 2011


I developed a really intense dislike for MacOS in the late 90s with OS 8 and 9 (sorry!), and basically forgot that Apple existed until I looked to replace a 5-year-old XP machine in 2006. Apple had just gone to Intel, so I tried out OS X and, lo and behold, it worked! And came with GarageBand! So I bought an iMac, which I'm still using and, in fact, on which I was still running Tiger until about 6 months ago.

It's a bit pokey on big audio projects, so it's probably time to replace it (although it seems that hardware ages much more slowly now than it used to), and it'll certainly be another Mac (I'm a bit tied to Logic at the moment). Truth be told, though, I'm not really much of an "Apple" fan, but the hardware is good, and I dig the OS.

Which is not to say that Windows 7 isn't pretty good (it is), but where it would be without the legitimate threat of a really good Mac OS, I wouldn't hazard a guess.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:46 AM on March 24, 2011


Hypercard was one of the original driving inspirations behind integrating Javascript with HTML; this ought to look a little familiar:

<textarea onmousedown="do_something()" ... >
posted by Rhomboid at 11:49 AM on March 24, 2011


Do you really want to go back to swapping out extensions in an effort to single out whichever one was making your system dangerously unstable?

Honestly I think OS X is getting there. I had to go through my kernel extensions this morning, to try and figure out why the damn thing kept locking up. (It's a SATA card driver, I think, but the crashlog keeps pointing to a scanner driver. Ugh.)

Yes, OS X brought a lot of much-needed architectural improvements to the platform, but a big part of its stability was its complete lack of backwards-compatibility except through a sandbox. Most of the dangerously unstable software for OS 9 — which tended to be hardware drivers and system utilities — just wouldn't run anymore.

But as we're getting towards the far side of the decade mark on OS X, some of the same cruft is starting to build up. I don't think Apple has done as good a job in the last few years about providing hardware drivers as they did originally (since at the outset, no hardware manufacturers were going to do it), and that means vendors have been writing them ... and hardware vendors' drivers are almost universally shitty. It's like a law of nature or something.

I fully expect the platform to become less and less stable, on average, over time until the next big reboot that breaks backwards-compatibility completely and takes us back to a state where the only hardware that works is stuff where the drivers are included in the OS.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:50 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


pts: Remember Conflict Catcher? Remember those days? Do you really want to go back to swapping out extensions in an effort to single out whichever one was making your system dangerously unstable?

Now, if you wanna talk about Newton nostalgia...


My first thought was about how I used to chant, "Please find it! Please find it!" when I'd run Conflict Catcher.

Nostalgia? I still have my MP2000! I'm sometimes tempted to get a dial-up connection just so I can send an email that says Sent From My Newton.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2011


So, Serlet is leaving to focus on SCIENCE.

D'ya think, WiReD, that maybe, just maybe, you could DEIGN to ask him A COUPLE OF FREAKING QUESTIONS about WHAT THE HELL HE'S GOING TO BE DOING?

... and they say journalism is dead...
posted by lodurr at 11:58 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


... as for OS X versus Classic: complaining about what OS X might be missing now versus Classic is a bit like being nostalgic for the Edsel because you could shift your Edsel into drive by pressing a button.

I started with Panther. It crashed at least once a week, sometimes more often. Tiger hardly ever crashed. Leopard crashed once or twice a month. Haven't been using Snow Leopard long enough to say anything yet, but it looks pretty good so far.
posted by lodurr at 12:00 PM on March 24, 2011


Please do not bold Richard Stallman to things

He doesn't do well when in italics. The blink tag - when you don't see him, that is because he's transported deep into Washington State - Redmond I believe.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, Serlet is leaving to focus on SCIENCE.

D'ya think, WiReD, that maybe, just maybe, you could DEIGN to ask him A COUPLE OF FREAKING QUESTIONS about WHAT THE HELL HE'S GOING TO BE DOING?


Things like mind-control, teleportation, astral projection, invisibility, genetic mutation, re-animation...
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on March 24, 2011


(although it seems that hardware ages much more slowly now than it used to)

Dude, these new quad-cores? Just do it.
posted by lodurr at 12:04 PM on March 24, 2011


Errr, its Unix. With what Xerox did bolted on.

A closer analogy would be "FreeBSD with a lobotomy".
posted by kafziel at 12:08 PM on March 24, 2011


Don't think we'll have to worry about MAC OS ELEVENTY breaking backward compatibility, seeing as how my low-end "family" Mac can also run Windows, Classic Mac, and pretty much every console ever. I'm sure they'll figure SOMETHING out.

And yay for OS X. It keeps the " look and feel" of the old OSs except better, and bigger, and more stable, and with a command line. In ten, twenty years we'll probably be in some sort of situation where there are multiple, more open hardware platform standards, and what we think of as the OS will have withered to something closer to a graphical environment. But I'll still probably be dropping money every year or two for OS X-13.

Also, Microsoft's biggest innovation lately has been releasing an OS that's not a painful daily struggle to use. I am pretty OK with Windows 7, dunno how it is for more IT/tech types but this art/games user likes it, especially the sweet Resume gimmick that Apple is wisely stealing for 10.7.

In conclusion, Apple needs to bring back Clarus the dogcow. Also Crystal Quest, how has nobody remade that?
posted by jtron at 12:10 PM on March 24, 2011


Dude, these new quad-cores? Just do it.

Oh yeah, definitely. I'm mostly waiting on the new iMacs (and Lion) to see if I should just get a MacBook Pro (because I really, really don't want a 27" all-in-one).
posted by uncleozzy at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2011


Bertrand story.

Years ago, I interviewed for a gig on the iChat team. During the lunch portion of the interview, a casual chat between a manager and me, Bertrand sat down at the next table. Quickly, he became part of the conversation.

Bertrand Serlet is now effectively part of my interview. Now is definitely the wrong time to screw up.

He listened as I described something that bothered me about iChat, which as the manager with whom I was interviewing explained, turned out to be a limitation of the AOL IM system. Bertrand then turned to the two of us and wondered aloud if it would be possible to model the user's behavior in that situation to predict what was about to happen, adjust iChat accordingly, and avoid the problem entirely without making it evident to the user that anything was different behind the scenes.

His awesome hair will be missed.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also Crystal Quest, how has nobody remade that?
Crystal Quest has indeed been remade for iOS and XBOX in recent years. And it is in fact one of the greatest things ever.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:21 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just realized that he holds a doctorate, so thanks to Dr. Serlet.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on March 24, 2011


So as much as I admire people with engineering and science PhDs, we have more than a few around here and nobody calls them "Dr". Maybe in Germany.
posted by GuyZero at 12:26 PM on March 24, 2011


Germans with PHds are super big on that, it's a bit weird.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on March 24, 2011


He listened as I described something that bothered me about iChat, which as the manager with whom I was interviewing explained, turned out to be a limitation of the AOL IM system. Bertrand then turned to the two of us and wondered aloud if it would be possible to model the user's behavior in that situation to predict what was about to happen, adjust iChat accordingly, and avoid the problem entirely without making it evident to the user that anything was different behind the scenes.

Now I'm really curious what y'all were talking about, having once upon a time worked pretty heavily on TiK after AOL abandoned it. (Man, that brings up some nostalgia. I wonder if I can even understand the code now. Only place I ever used Tcl/Tk.)
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2011


> I am pretty OK with Windows 7, dunno how it is for more IT/tech types

It's been pretty decent so far on a corporate network. No spyware outbreaks (yet), ease of integration with Windows servers, users seem to like the cleaner looks. The main problems I've come across is knee jerk reactions by smaller software vendors who whine about supporting it rather than taking a few minutes to learn how adjust UAC and compatibility settings. The built-in backup feature is 100x better than Windows XP, and can replace disk imaging servers if need be. All in all, much improved over XP on the corporate network.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2011


Windows 7 seems to be as universally liked as Vista was hated. I got a new development machine that had it recently, and was going to be scraping it in favour of WS2008, but I kind of like it and see no reason to get rid of it.

One thing that's been a big surprise is that I really like the changes to the taskbar, which cribs heavily from the OS X Dock - something I've always hated. All the extra little touches they've put in seem to make the concept work for me in a way it didn't on Mac - I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple copying some of them.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on March 24, 2011


That's Herr Doktor Zero to all of you then.
posted by GuyZero at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think OS X has earned the right to take a few things back from Windows. One thing I wish OS X would take from Windows 7 is the ability to drag a window to the top of the screen to maximize it. It was annoying at first, but then I started to do it almost instinctually, which seems like a sign of good (useful) design.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The visual cues it gives you that it's about to do that are one of the many things that make the (at first some what silly seeming) aero borders and animations actually very cool.
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear god I hate the changes to the taskbar from Vista to Windows 7. If they cribbed from the Dock, they cribbed badly. It's information-opaque in exactly the same way as the Dock, but with the disadvantage of breaking an existing interaction paradigm. (I.e., I've always had to right-click on the dock icon to find out what windows it represented, and it always had the paradigm of looking nearly the same when the app is running [and consuming resources] as it does when it's not. At least with the Dock I've been able to configure it so that the "running" state is a little more obvious than it used to be -- and than it is in Windows 7.)

People keep telling me what an improvement 7 is over Vista. Aside from the changes to the taskbar -- and maybe that's what they mean -- I can't see much of a difference. (Maybe the wireless connection works a little better. Actually, I think it probably does work a lot better, because I can't remember having to screw with it in my Windows 7 machine, and I'm always having to screw with it in Vista. So there's that.) It's incremental stuff, from a user experience perspective. Maybe I need to use it more, I guess.
posted by lodurr at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011


I'm sort of relieved and happy that Win 7 has been a success. I'm hopeful that IE 9 will be as well.

I ♥ all my various Apple stuff but I don't to see MS become irrelevant.
posted by device55 at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011


ardgedee: "And Linux is Unix with Richard Stallman bolted on."

Oh, how I wish I could see RMS bolted onto something.
posted by chairface at 1:25 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So OS X is an operating system. Pretty obvious, right? With Windows or Linux etc., they are nominally supposed to work on any hardware. But if OS X is always limited to Apple hardware, how can you ever divorce user experience from the entire hardware-software stack? I mean, OS X is not suspended somewhere in aether, functioning in a disembodied realm of theory.

I was happy on my various Powerbooks and iBooks and the PPC architecture. But ever since moving to Intel, I've had nothing but problems. And so you start telling me "it's the hardware!", only trying to disentangle where the hardware fails, where OS X, and where various driver-related interfaces, well... it's Apple hardware/software and they own the entire stack. MSFT's excuse is that it's hard to control for the endless variety of random combinations of third party hardware. Apple has no such excuse.

Look, I've been using Apple computers since the 80's. I didn't even get on Windows until 3.1. And then used both until I mostly abandoned Windows by 2006 (I still have a couple of win laptops I very occasionally boot into). But I like the idea of OS X more than the reality as in hardware+software. It's supposed to "just work". It doesn't. And I'm tired of hunting for the causes.

I bought the top of the line i7 27" iMac early 2010, and put in 8GB of RAM. It worked well enough for 4 months, and since then, it's been one frustrating problem after another - the kind that's intermittent and hard to pin down, where when you do something, you never know from one time to the next how it will behave... in other words, it's like Windows. These days, when someone tells me how great OS X is, and how bad "Windoze" is, I just sit quietly or change the subject.

I get the spinning wheel quite frequently with the stupidest things - trying to launch dictionary, or some random app, which used to be blazing fast, now bounces 20 times in the dock. Trying to save anything - random txt file or pdf, well get ready for 20 seconds of the spinning rainbow. But then suddenly it might not exhibit the problem for a few hours. Since a few months it's been extremely flaky about mounting external volumes. I have a few external hard drives plugged in, and they'll be spontaneously kicked off. Now it's gotten worse, in that I sometimes can't get a usb card reader recognized - it'll be telling me that the data on the card is corrupted... only when I plug it into my ancient iBook running 10.4.11, it reads/writes just fine. Finally, after multiple tries, it recognizes the card and no problem. Repairing permissions and rebooting doesn't help. Today was the last straw, I have an external drive with extremely important data in RAID1. My iMac kicked off the drive at night, and this morning will simply not mount or recognize the drive.

Maybe the OS X hard drive is going bad on my iMac. Who knows. What I do know, is that it's been a miserable experience. To which someone will say, "gee, I have no such problems"... exactly like in Windows. Random behavior. FWIW, anecdotes and all, I have two friends who also have endless problems with OS X since the Intel transition. And damn, if WinXP has not been faster than OS X up to and including 10.4.11, in my experience (I can't compare SL to Win7 because I don't have enough experience with Win7).

So we can talk all day about what a miracle OS X is, but to a user, it's hard if not impossible to disentangle the whole hardware/software stack - a stack Apple owns lock stock and barrel. Frankly, it doesn't even make sense to talk about OS X divorced from the hardware when discussing user experience. And that experience is miserable for many.
posted by VikingSword at 1:28 PM on March 24, 2011


lodurr - I suspect there's another different posts worth of material there.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on March 24, 2011


> Windows 7 seems to be as universally liked as Vista was hated.

...shoots nervous sideways glance at winsxs folder, which seems to be turning into the Borg.
posted by jfuller at 1:34 PM on March 24, 2011


artw, maybe, but I think it would be boring as hell for most people and contentious for the rest of them. If somebody else wants to create it, I'll....really, really try to stay away, because I don't need the agitta.

why do I keep saying "agitta" lately?
posted by lodurr at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2011


I remember the transition period from MacOS 9 to OS X during college; since my campus was primary an Apple one, the computer labs had a year or two where they had computers running both. I definitely liked 10.0 and 10.1 okay, but my memory was that 10.2 Jaguar was really one that got things mostly right. I do, recall, when I was doing helpdesk support I was able to hardlock the eMac running 10.2 (I think) by pulling out a USB stick drive without unmounting it first. Consistently.

Anyway, I ended up drawing my one and only comic anyone has ever seen, while I was at the helpdesk (I've since lost it). Based on people not knowing to say "Oh Ess Eks" or "Oh Ess Ten". And the west coast/CA thing of pronouncing Jaguar as "jag-wire".

Tangentially, I think this thread has enough pointless RMS bashing. I know that he's not the most likeable guy, but OS X does owe him a sizable debt since they used a lot of GNU software, especially in its early days. And I'm not sure what he directly has to do with OS X's anniversary.
posted by skynxnex at 1:37 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


VikingSword, I think there may actually be something wrong with your hard drive. A co-worker recently started experiencing that kind of flakiness, took it into the Apple Store, and their scan (which you may be able to do at home - I don't know what the tool is called) found that it was indeed the hard drive. They then replaced it.
posted by ignignokt at 1:40 PM on March 24, 2011


ignignokt, as soon as it's practical, I'm going to have a tech come out and take a look at it. The reason I have not done so as yet, is because of the intermittent nature of these issues. It's like the time I took my car to the mechanic, and he could not reproduce the problem. A week later the fuel pump collapsed. That made it two visits to the mechanic instead of one. Frustrating. I'm waiting for something to collapse more clearly before I call in the troops.
posted by VikingSword at 1:45 PM on March 24, 2011


VikingSword, we do much more vanilla stuff here, I think, and there's a big gap between my experience time frames with significant sets of Mac hardware. (In the mid-90s I admin'd a buttload of OS 8 / OS 9 workstations. I came back to Macs with the first gen Mini, and got a used PowerBook soon after. Which would still work well, BTW, if I could stand how slow it seems now.)

Anyway, my small, token experience (I also was triage guy for about 4 PowerBooks & other assorted PPC Macs c. 2006) is that the PPC hardware was a little more robust all around. We had four MacBook Pros, video failed on 3 of them, hard drives died on 2, and CD drive went on 2.

It reminds me of getting a shipment of about 30 Macs c. 1996 with (I think) 500MB Quantum Fireballs in them. About a quarter of the hard drives failed before we got all the systems up and running in the labs. (To be fair, we had Quantum Fireballs in the raft of Dells we bought at the same time, and several of those failed, too. But not as many.) My feeling about Macs in the past was that there were models that were likely to be lemons, and others that were likely to be solid. The 12" PowerBook of the vintage I had was a tank; the 15" models we had here were pretty darn good. OTOH, my first gen Mini was pretty crash-happy.
posted by lodurr at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2011


Yeah Macs seem to have alot of hard drive issues. The hard drives in both my Mac Minis are broken.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:50 PM on March 24, 2011


if I take that proposition seriously, it really irritates me in that mudane mystery of life kind of way. I mean, it's all basically the same electronics, right? why would it fail more often on a mac than on a windows machine?
posted by lodurr at 1:52 PM on March 24, 2011


why would it fail more often on a mac than on a windows machine?

Possibly because for a long time, there was a symbiotic relationship between hardware makers and MSFT. Intel developed their hardware with windows in mind (wintel). Peripheral makers too. Nobody paid attention to Apple, and it was mostly up to Apple to make all that external stuff work. Meanwhile MSFT worked hand in glove with hardware people.
posted by VikingSword at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2011


Viking, that sounds like a hardware problem. My first guess would be flaky memory; my second would be failing hard drive.

Typically, OS X is pretty good. It's not quite as solid as Win7, but by and large it's pretty reliable. I get a bug where multiple sleep/wake cycles while using both the WiFi and a Bluetooth network dongle eventually results in hard locks when accessing fileshares over WiFi, but that's been the only thing that's really bothered me.

With Apple's total focus shift toward the walled garden mentality, however, I've lost most interest in OS X. Not only has development on the desktop largely stalled, I suspect any further development won't really be for my benefit. So I plan to use the laptop until it dies, and then just stop using their products completely. The engineering on their laptops is really, really good, but I just don't trust them as a company anymore.

Fortunately, Win7 is quite good. The UI isn't as well thought-through, you have to dig further to find settings you want, and there's lots of neat little shortcuts that just aren't there (like typing accented letters, which is really easy on OS X), but it's way better than XP. And it's really fast, much faster than OS X on the same hardware. And it seems highly reliable. I use a virtual machine to run Linux to get access to the bash command line and scripting languages, and with the 16 gigs in this machine (which cost like $200), I can leave it running all the time with no visible performance impact.

I really liked it for a long time... I think my first OS X box was on 10.2. But it's stalled out, Windows has gotten tolerably close in the UI department, and the other technical and mindset advantages have pushed me away from the platform with no particular regret.

It seems very weird to want to use Microsoft products because I feel less abused by the company.
posted by Malor at 2:20 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems very weird to want to use Microsoft products because I feel less abused by the company.

Especially since your complaints about Apple and OS X are nearly all non-reality based.

Also, stalled development? lol
posted by entropicamericana at 2:31 PM on March 24, 2011


a symbiotic relationship between hardware makers and MSFT

USB is notorious for this; the de-facto market standard for USB devices is "works with Windows", but the market standard for Windows is "works with your hardware".

So the Windows USB stack and class drivers are full of quirks and workarounds for the various ways in which cheap USB devices don't quite meet the spec; and so USB devices don't have to implement 100% to spec in order to work with Windows. And so every other USB host stack has to struggle to deal with all these not-quite-to-spec devices.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:34 PM on March 24, 2011


entropicamericana, I don't get it -- you're saying that because Vista was a botched development cycle and/or release in general Malor can't feel like OS X is no longer improving in the way they would like? Or that their suspicion that the next revision of OS X won't be any great leap forward can be refuted by you linking to a promo advertisement for Lion? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

I'm happy as a clam with OS X myself, but there's no doubt when I look at Windows 7 it's come along in leaps and bounds from the last time I was in the Windows world. That's a great thing -- I like to see Apple get pushed, and if they just dither around the edges or do nudge ever-closer to that walled-garden nonsense, I'm happy there's OS alternatives out there that will no longer make me want to gouge out my eyes.
posted by modernnomad at 2:46 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I probably have a hardware problem. I'm not ready to give up on OS X, but I'm starting to get restless. I hope Apple really doesn't drop the ball on OS X development and starts catching up with pro apps, because I'm getting really, really worried. FCP is getting long in the tooth and being outpaced by CS5. I use FCP and I need them to step up to the plate. I understand that Apple may see their future as a consumer gadget and ecosystem company, but at that point, they abandon their pro users, not the other way around. And this is not theoretical talk - please remember the outright admission about what held Leopard back - they officially admitted that they pulled engineers off from developing OS X 10.5 and threw them at the iPhone, and that caused a substantial delay. So it is not without precedent for them to neglect OS X in favor of the gadget du jour. If OS X and the pro apps start being treated like red-headed stepchildren, well, it's sayonara Apple, for me. Steve Jobs promised that the next FCP is going to really be the shizz. I'm waiting to see what Lion brings and the next FCS; I'm slowly thinking about moving on to Windows. Frankly, the thing that's really holding me back, is what Steve said way back when about MSFT "they just have no taste". Aesthetics matter to me. They may not to any number of techies, but they do to me. And Apple reigns supreme here. Ultimately, however, I want to get work done, and if I can't, then the prettiest laptop and GUI in the world doesn't help me. Ugh.
posted by VikingSword at 2:58 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


i think it's kind of ironic that vendors like Adobe seem to be preferencing Windows at the same time that the Mac is making stronger inroads than almost anybody has thought likely in many years. (And at the same time, Microsoft seems to be taking it more seriously as a platform to run their software on than they have in years.)

That said, both Firefox and Chrome for the Mac are at best second-class citizens relative to their Windows brethren. It gets annoying. The browser Just Works much better at home on Windows than at work on the Mac. Though I suppose it has more or less been ever thus.
posted by lodurr at 3:03 PM on March 24, 2011


Chrome works better on Macs? Odd. Not in my experience.

Also, the GOOG execs pretty much all use Macs and Chrome, so I'm pretty sure that Mac Chrome gets sufficient dev resources.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on March 24, 2011


Chrome seems to me to work about the same for Windows as it does for Mac, extensions and all.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:12 PM on March 24, 2011


Also, what's fun is to run the Chrome OS as a VM on Snow Leopard. Redundancy!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:14 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A solid *nix with minimal system administration/config futzing. Commercial desktop apps. I was sold within hours of playing with the beta.

I miss the responsiveness of classic, I would have been happy to get something as snappy and capable as Be, I might ditch for Ubuntu or Windows 7 if Apple gets too big for their britches. But OS X has been great.
posted by weston at 3:15 PM on March 24, 2011


Nothing works better on mac that isn't written by Apple. I'm not sure that I buy that it's all due to a vast conspiracy.
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on March 24, 2011


Artw, you should see the monthly "Vast Conspiracy" meetings here in Mountain View. Parking is HELL.
posted by GuyZero at 3:32 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it true the guys from Adobe actually have horns and cloven feet?
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on March 24, 2011


No, but their office is in "downtown" San Jose, so I'm assuming most of them did something wrong to get banished to that hell on Earth.
posted by GuyZero at 3:38 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gizmodo speculates: "It's weird that Serlet is departing right now, in the middle of Lion's development, the first major update to their desktop OS after Snow Leopard.... The iOSification of the desktop operating system in Lion and the importance of iOS itself may have played a part too."
posted by homunculus at 4:03 PM on March 24, 2011


How Mac OS X Came To Be
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


What I'm saying, from my point of view, he was an absolute bitch to work for.

And in 2003 after working with OS X for a few years, I was laid off. As I left, Bertrand was hounding me to fix a bug in a system I was only peripherally related to. I was pretty bitter about Bertrand for a few years. Called him a few names. But I eventually calmed down.

And then, when I started hearing about Snow Leopard, I realized that this was what Bertrand had been aiming at all along: the release where the system -- not the user features -- really got what it needed. I suspect he had to win a big argument with Steve Jobs to get to that point. And he got there. Snow Leopard's under-the-hood features, such as Grand Central Dispatch, were huge leaps forward in operating system and application frameworks technology. I gained a great deal of respect for Bertrand at that point.

With hindsight, I can look back at a relatively young man with brilliant technical insight and very little experience managing a group larger than the one at NeXT, clambering upward through the thicket of Apple/NeXT intrigues and of half-baked visions for Apple -- a company he knew very little about -- to find his way to do something really significant for OS technology at Apple.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:15 PM on March 24, 2011


Gizmodo speculates

Speculation may not be warranted, as his departure was planned for some time, by some accounts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 PM on March 24, 2011


How Mac OS X Came To Be

A good read, probably worth its own post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:26 PM on March 24, 2011


Gizmodo will spin anything to be anti-apple, if they can. They're very upset with Apple because of the time Gizmodo purchased stolen apple goods and broke them.

Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:30 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another lifelong Mac user (ok, initially Apple IIgs which was technically not a "Mac"), although I did go through a mac-hate phase during early OS X with its subpar OS 9 compatibility and the annual paid updates where the OS seemed no different, but the software still required the latest OS X version.

Having also used Windows a lot too and looking at the progression of the two OSs side by side, I think Apple consistently delivers more original, more usable and better executed changes. I'm sure OS X and Windows both copy each others' ideas a lot, but if they existed in separate universes, I get the feeling OS X would still be pretty similar to its current state while Windows would be a lot less user friendly.
posted by p3t3 at 6:25 PM on March 24, 2011


Chrome works better on Macs?

If you're responding to me, I was saying exactly the opposite. Chrome gets to be a pig on a Mac, in my experience, and the updates seem to run behind a bit.
posted by lodurr at 6:29 PM on March 24, 2011


i think it's kind of ironic that vendors like Adobe seem to be preferencing Windows

For all their dominance of phones and ipods, Mac OS is still less than 10% of the PC market. It probably makes sense for Adobe et al spend their money chasing Windows users.
posted by markr at 7:48 PM on March 24, 2011


i think it's kind of ironic that vendors like Adobe seem to be preferencing Windows

Why is it ironic ? Jobs and Adobe have been squabbling for quite a while.

Even at that, Apple has demonstrated that it has no real commitment to business computing - they killed off the Xraid, and now the Xserve. There are other examples. Point is, any attentive sysadmin has got to be wondering when Apple will finally throw in the towel on desktop machines as general use computers and focus solely on Mobile Appliances.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:31 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think we have a difference of opinion on the meaning of the word 'ironic.' For me, it's sufficient that Adobe apps were for years one of the main reasons people used Macs, and that the Mac as a platform is growing much faster than most people predicted. ("Folks, the Mac as a platform is dead," as Dvorak once trumpeted, but it goes beyond merely staying alive.)

I'm well aware that Adobe and Apple have been in a battle of corporate egos for something like 20 years, now. And while Jobs is a convenient face for it on the Apple side, it's really a question of cultural conflict between two exceedingly arrogant corporate cultures. Appleism irritates me, but even when I don't like their stuff or the strings they attach to it, their stuff works much better than Adobe's, and they at least sometimes accept the idea that they ought to do what people want them to. Adobe, not so much. The Macrodobe merger has done no favors for web & design professionals. Not that most of us ever thought it would, but it would have been nice (as unrealistic as the idea is) to have been proved wrong on just that one thing.
posted by lodurr at 7:02 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, Big Steve has a garage full of coders who've been working on an in house Photoshop killer for like five, ten years, right?

Because how could he not?
PS Marklar
posted by jtron at 8:49 AM on March 25, 2011


I'll believe it when I see it.

And in any case, it would probably suck. Since I started using Macs in 1988, I've seen precisely one Apple-created application (Keynote*) that I thought was genuinely competitive with 3rd party alternatives, barring some form of lock-in.

--
*I'd classify that as ironic, too, since it's an area that so, so desperately needs a hero on a white horse.
posted by lodurr at 11:22 AM on March 25, 2011


Since I started using Macs in 1988, I've seen precisely one Apple-created application (Keynote*) that I thought was genuinely competitive with 3rd party alternatives, barring some form of lock-in.

Final Cut Pro. You might prefer something from Avid, but FCP is definitely competitive.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:30 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeh, i guess that gets some love. i don't do video, but since you mention it i rarely hear anyone mention any other video editing software by name. (And to be fair, Claris Works did suck less than almost any other Works package I've checked out.)
posted by lodurr at 1:27 PM on March 25, 2011


Since I started using Macs in 1988, I've seen precisely one Apple-created application (Keynote*) that I thought was genuinely competitive with 3rd party alternatives, barring some form of lock-in.

Final Cut Pro, Aperture, iPhoto, Logic Studio, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iTunes.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 12:56 AM on March 26, 2011


I hope the rumors of the next Final Cut being severely dumbed down are false. Am I gonna have to rock FCP7 until my mac mini finally burns out?

Also, DVD Studio 4 is a pleasure to use.

I like their office applications enough but they're not worth the money to me in a world with Open/Libre/NeoOffice. Not even whatever you pay in town.
posted by jtron at 6:31 AM on March 26, 2011


My personal and professional opinion is that iPhoto, Pages, Numbers and iTunes are really nasty and should only be used if there's no other alternative.
posted by lodurr at 9:57 AM on March 26, 2011


... Keynote, though, is worth paying for the whole package to get, if you need to do serious presentations and don't need them to be portable to random windows-using client x.
posted by lodurr at 9:58 AM on March 26, 2011


What's a good alternative to iPhoto? Windows doesn't ship with anything near as good as iPhoto. And if you say Photoshop, you're comparing apples to oranges.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 2:22 PM on March 27, 2011


Alright, you've got me: Everything that does the fairly dubious thing that iPhoto does, does it at least equally badly.
posted by lodurr at 5:19 PM on March 27, 2011


Windows has photoshop elements, which is most decidedly not Photoshop. Well, it's got an organizer and a mostly-there version of the image editor.
posted by GuyZero at 9:08 PM on March 27, 2011


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