“Regular readers of this column already know there is no lost love between me and GUIs. In fact, I rarely use them; I do most of my work from the regular console, using a variety of tools to do all the things I’d ever need from a GUI: Multiple terminal sessions (screen, Linux virtual terminals, Emacs, vim) and a good e-mail client (nothing beats pine).” Read the article at Byte.
Flirting With Mac OS X
2002-09-26 macOS 43 Comments
As seen on slashdot:
“I bought a TI Book G400 to try OS 10.2 but didn’t like it. I guess that’s because of my linux background — I prefer KDE and all its copycat-win95 UI inferiority. I like having to code in x86 Assembler just to get my DVD’s to play. Seriously, anybody not willing to do that doesn’t deserve life”
“I played with OS 10.3 for a day or two, then I formatted my drive and installed Mozilla.”
“I prefer Emacs over Aqua.”
…and a good e-mail client (nothing beats pine)
OS X is not the holy grail of computing. Apple is not making computers for the good of humanity. Steve Jobs is not the second coming of Jesus. Soon you will realize too that Aqua is dog-slow, pinstripes and shadow are annoying and Apple is selling you crippled hardware (iBooks not doing >1024×768 by software limitation).
Apples running OS X are good solid workhorses, but not exciting.
In the past 12 years I have not been more content with a computer. When your work needs are taken care of by apple works, gnu tools, and 4.334 hours of battery life and an OS that does not get in your way, Apple is the pinnacle of computer design.
Until I set up my ibook I did not think I would be able to switch, I am just amazed that I could 95% switch from PC, and hopefully the games I wish to play will make it to mac eventually.
I am simply amazed by my contentment with jaguar on my ibook, tried a new distro every month on my high end pc, got interested in atheos/syllable, and finally found a home with Apple. Its a strange revelation to think that I had hated macs since I can remember and end up being a mac user now (all of 2 weeks).
I suspect Ill get tired of OS X after a while, but I can always tinker with linux on my desktop since I dont use it anymore. Its really a shame I cant game or watch many divx movies on my ibook, but I do get more work done.
> (nothing beats pine)
Mutt beats pine any day, and also it’s really Free, pine is not even Open Source(go read the license..)
And of course there is acme in Plan9…
More on topic, OSX looks very good, I’m seriously thinking about getting a PowerBook when the next version is released.
And if in the end Apple releases a Power4 based mac I’ll be the first to want one.
and end up being a mac user now (all of 2 weeks)
Everyhing you spend $1500+ on is all nice and shiny for the first couple of weeks… There will be a moment when you notice too that OS X is just another OS that has its own annoyances like all the others.
These columnists just kill me. It’s a good article, but this guy had tried the pre-pre-pre- public beta and hadn’t ever seen OS X since then – and he writes a computer column? I’m so used to us here, who try everything we can get our hands on.
It iIwas going to buy a PowerBook or iBook, I would wait until the new models come out. There is a lot of talk that Apple is going to be changing screen configurations and, hopefully, have more resolutions (and faster processors!!)
stew, after all the talk, hype and spin, people who buy Apple do so simply because they like them better – that’s all it comes down to.
(iBooks not doing >1024×768 by software limitation)
Have you ever seen an LCD screen not doing it’s max res? I feel I need say no more.
ibooks are not allowed to mirror to a screen higher than 1024X768, or to extend onto another monitor. The hardware is able to, the software limits it.
Frankly I don’t really understand. My main and sole problem with Mac’s is the terrible servicability issue with them and the iBook is so flimsey… But otherwise, they make a nifty machine. I’ve seen them and worked with them all and they have their place. Yea, I’d get borded with it in a while but thats about like I’m board with my FreeBSD box and my Linux boxes so they get reloaded from time to time… just to be different…
I have 2 boxen that do not change. One is running PC with Win98 and 2 pro audio cards, and a TV/Video card. It’s sole purpose is music production and editing. The other box is a BeOS 5.03 box. Has Opera on it for really really SAFE browsing, and quite a few games and other tools. Soothes the savage programmer in me… <grin> They don’t change… Why… They work and get done, what I got them for in the first place…
The others are just “toys”…
As a owner of an iBook with OSX 10.2, a dual boot windows/mandrake box for gaming and everyday home use and a strait redhat box for a server, I have a few things to say in response to Stew above. I have owned and used my iBook for some time now, and although it certainly isn’t perfect, and Steve Jobs CERTAINLY isn’t the second comming of christ, it is deffinatly my favorite OS among them. I would pay ANY price to get OSX on my PC honestly, I really would. What you need to do is, not just try it, but USE it. When I really want to get down to business, I grab my iBook. No computer has EVER givin me fewer frustrations. This is the perfect computer for someone like me that spends all day fixing PC problems and doesn’t want to spend all his free time doing the same. If my PCs have problems, especially the windows partiton, I just reformat and reinstall, problem solved. The really important stuff, the system that has to stay functioning, is the iBook. It does. It is. It just works.
When you want to tweak around and enjoy the computer, you want a PC, but when you are done with that and ready to get to work, you want a tool, an applience, somthing that doesn’t only work because you constantly tweak and monitor and work around its problem areas, but instead somthing that works simply because you hit the power button. Thats a Mac with OS X.
Oh, and Mr. Kline… my iBook is FAR from flimsy. It may seem so at first because of the lid latch, but I assure you it is the most robust laptop I have ever come in contact with.
There will be a moment when you notice too that OS X is just another OS that has its own annoyances like all the others.
I’ve already bitched a great deal about my annoyances with OS X.
I think the nice thing about OS X is it’s a lot less krufty underneath than any other GUI environment out there.
I’m out buying car insurance and the salesman has a problem with his printer and complains about Windows. I told him that I didn’t run windows much any more. He asked me what I ran and I told him Linux… he said “Yeah that Mac is really nice”?? He proceeded to tell me how much he loved Aqua and Macs but that they cost too much. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he didn’t know what he was talking about! hehe
The author missed a few things in his review.
1) MacOSX 10.2 comes with gcc 3.1. He must be reviewing an older version.
2) There is no need to manually install emacs, ssh, make, and so on, they are all part of the standard OSX installation.
3) Almost all of the open-source Linux software is available for MacOSX from fink at http://fink.sourceforge.net/. This is all packaged, with dependencies and everything, some in binary form for quick installation, all in source form. For example, just this past weekend I installed xfree86 and g77 on my 4-year old powerbook.
Jeff, what flimsiness and serviceability problems are referrig to?
What you need to do is, not just try it, but USE it.
I have my iBook for a year now, use it almost daily and wrote some software for OS X. Believe me, when I bitch about it, I do from experience.
Regular readers of this column already know there is no lost love between me and GUIs. In fact, I rarely use them; I do most of my work from the regular console…
I thought there must be something wrong here; I regularly visit this website, and to hear that Eugenia doesn’t like GUIs was strange. I had to read the article to realise that the intro was a quote from the article not Eugenia abandoning the GUI.
Stew, have you ever heard of a “straw man” argument? It’s where you try to rebut points nobody is making.
Your straw man arguments are:
(1) OS X is not the holy grail of computing.
I’m happy with the best OS. I don’t need the most perfect OS that can exist. I guess I kinda figure that’s not available right now, so why should I want that?
(2) Apple is not making computers for the good of humanity. Steve Jobs is not the second coming of Jesus.
Who argued this?
Your other “arguments” are internally inconsistent — you want one thing of Apple, but then another contradictory thing at the same time:
” Soon you will realize too that Aqua is dog-slow, pinstripes and shadow are annoying and Apple is selling you crippled hardware (iBooks not doing >1024×768 by software limitation). Apples running OS X are good solid workhorses, but not exciting.”
Aqua is obviously doing a lot and challenging G3 hardware. That’s because it’s an advance, which is exciting. What’s not “exciting” is the same old graphics as in OS 9 or windows. What do you want, exciting and cutting edge (with the transition difficulties that entails) or no problems and boring? You want both? Sounds like you want a “miracle” of Apple. But I though Steve Jobs was not the second coming of Jesus?
Someone said something about Apple 17″ flatscreens. All my graphic coarses this year use them with G 4’s. I love them, bright and pleasing to my eyes. Sure beat the older Apple monitors in high school.
I think you just pointed out the massive problem apple faces. No one uses them, no one knows anything about them. They are a none-exsisting thing to most. And apple hasn’t done much to change this. Their switch commercials make people hate apple more, and make apple users look like idiots. Their not doing well at getting out that they do exsist still and what their product is. But what you going to do, guess us Windows users are suck not being able to get our digital camera to work and having to use 10 software vendors for it, and will never be able to edit video. But hey I managed to find my programs guess how I did it, I clicked on this “start” button thing, that only button on the screen and they put the programs under programs, thats was so confusing.
guess what the target audience of those apple switch commercials have sub 1gighz systems and have filled them up with crap software attempting to do what they want to.
Apple doesnt need to advertise to people who know about computers, they will either scoff at the slower system or appreciate the elegance.
The 90% of the market that does not know how to use windows properly, or buy a computer which doesnt suck, or download the right driver off the net because of inane windows 9x driver problems which made their eqquipment not work properly are who apple is going for.
Apple has 4% of the market but is selling over 10% of the desktop systems each year, doesnt that show that alot of windows users arent getting new pcs?
Aqua is obviously doing a lot and challenging G3 hardware. That’s because it’s an advance, which is exciting. What’s not “exciting” is the same old graphics as in OS 9 or windows. What do you want, exciting and cutting edge (with the transition difficulties that entails) or no problems and boring?
Aqua is boring. It is neither innovative nor is it anything new and it is far from exciting. It is just another “pretty” pixmap skin for just another WIMP interface.
But I do not expect someone using the nick “appleforever” to have an unbiased view on Aqua anyway.
Stew, if you find Aqua boring it’s entirely your opinion. You don’t like pinstripes? Fine. The question of whether or not an interface is “exciting” is highly subjective. What is undeniably exciting are the muscles that this “pixmap skin” is layered over. Quartz is a huge technological advance in drawing technology. Quartz Extreme is even more impressive. A vector based interface does require more processing power than a bitmapped one but when you get can get that processing power from the otherwise idling video card, you end up with drawing technologies that can easily produce eye candy like shadows and transparency but also truly useful features such as those offered by Apple’s Universal Access. Not that those things are impossible without something like Quartz, but Quartz does it better/easier and (with the right video card) faster.
For one, it allows infinite scaling of objects, so that icon sizes in finder windows and the dock smoothly adjust, so that thumbnails in iPhoto instantly and smoothly adjust from tiny to editing size, so that the very good zooming in OS X is possible (for the vision impaired).
Also, it allows offloading of compositing to the graphics card, which in my experience helps overall system performance a lot.
It seems pretty obvious Quartz and QE are a step forward, and people not “biased” toward apple have said so on this board (such as rajan).
When you have to resort to calling me biased (rather than providing facts to support your “argument”, it indicates you have no argument.
Also, when you take issue with EVERY thing Apple tries to do to advance things, claiming that obvious advances really arent’t, they are just “boring”, who is the “biased” one? you
Look, if you know a lot about computers (typical person on this board), the annoyances of windows are not fatal. So there’s a few extra steps required, a few more “things you have to know” It’s not a big problem.
And the advantages of windows (building a box, hardware choice, more games and specialized software) are not outweighed by the negatives (which aren’t really negative to these computer types at all).
But guess what, that doesnt describe a whole lot of people who use computers. Many of them have enough money and can afford to pay a little more for apple, don’t want to play games and don’t own a lot of software that runs only on windows. they buy a mac and it comes with everything they want to do out of the box with no hassles. Is it any wonder lots of people choose apple? One out of ten. NO, it makes perferct sense.
Some of you are half-right about QE. Some of you know nothing at all.
Mac OS X isn’t “vector” based. Everything is a pixmap, basically, and the graphics card simply does the compositing.
Is that a leap forward? Hell yeah. Will Windows catch up? In a few years, sure. Is it slightly more complicated than I’ve stated above? Duh, of course so.
But Quartz Extreme has next to nothing to do with resizing photos in iPhoto. It has to do with transparent terminal windows or DVD movies continuing to play while you minimize them into the dock (and other compositing things).
Evan: There are no problems watching DivX movies on OSX.
Check out http://www.divx.com
But hey I managed to find my programs guess how I did it, I clicked on this “start” button thing, that only button on the screen and they put the programs under programs, thats was so confusing.
And you can hide your Start menu by accidentally resizing it to 0 size, and drive a newbie to suicide when she can’t reboot her way to a “good” Windows. Even if she knew Ctrl-Alt-Deliver.
You have to look at these things with new eyes. You may think that companies have engineered people to understand bad default design decisions, but they haven’t yet. At one hotel I know, one of my friends had to show them how to drag the taskmenu off the right side of the screen. They accidentally dragged it there, but couldn’t figure out how to drag it back! Idiots, you may say? Maybe, but idiots with money who buy machines that work.
What i can not understand is why they don’t just start selling it for all platforms?
It might not be a perfect os, but it looks to me like it could really sell without the hardware too ..
Your question is a good one. I think there is two reasons Apple does not sell the OS separately to run on generic x86 hardware.
First, Apple believes (and I for one think they are absolutely correct) that the one advantage they have that Microsoft cannot copy is they produce, in Steve’s words, “the whole widget.” This allows for a degree of hardware/OS/application/net services integration that is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the wintel world at this point in time. Also, it allows Apple to go forward more quickly in implementing exciting new technologies — in a working way — where those technologies require hardware and software to implement (e.g., wireless networking, home video editing). Note, Apple does not always “invent” these things, they just are able to put them on the Mac platform quicker (in a true functioning way, without lots of hassles) than is possible in the PC wintel world, where as many as four companies have to coordinate (e.g., MS, Dell, 3d party application producer, peripheral hardware manufacturer (e.g., digicam).
Apple would have to give up that advantage, and go head-to-head as an OS vender with Microsoft — a company with 38 billion in cash in the bank! and a massive head start in terms of the number of people already devoted to the platform (because that is what they are used to and own a lot of apps already they don’t want to repurchase). I think you can see this would be a very risky move.
Second, there is the piracy issue. Would Apple make any money from selling the OS alone to run on x86 hardware? As it is, there is built-in copy protection for Apple on the Mac platform because you have to buy the hardware to run the OS. Look at the trouble MS has gotten into with Activation (and just wait till Palladium). Apple avoids this – another advantage they don’t want to give up.
People have exhaustively hashed over the question of whether Apple should sell OS X for PCs. But here’s one more reason why Apple shouldn’t that I don’t think has been mentioned before: I don’t think it would sell, because too many PC users have a deep-seated bias against Apple and any of its products. I have seen people turn red in the face at the mere mention of Macintosh. If you mention Apple’s superior ease-of-use, as in the Switch ads, people take that as a personal attack on their computer skills. On this board, Stew seems to think that saying anything nice about OS X is tantamount to Jobs-olatry. People who will put up with any amount of flakiness from Windows or Linux become hypercritical about trivia like drop shadows and one-button mice. On top of the bias, you have a whole generation of young computer users who have grown up on Windows PCs, like, perhaps, Brad who posted above, who find any other system baffling and irritating. (Incidentally, Brad, if you work in publishing, like I do, or in a few other professional ghettos, it’s quite the opposite; everyone uses a Mac and people are only peripherally aware of Windows.)
I certainly would like to see Apple regain some market share, and right now Apple’s products are the best they’ve ever been. But Apple is going to have to combat a lot of prejudice before its products get judged on their merits.
First of all – I called Aqua boring. If you can’t tell the difference between Aqua and Quartz, then – whatever.
Aqua is maybe nice looking but from a usability standpoint it is no improvement Platinum. Until today, ignoring Fitt’s Law, Apple has not managed to use the screen corners correctly – you have to rely on 3rd party hacks to “repair” the MacOS X UI.
But as you had to draw Quartz into it, I’ll bite.
Quartz is a huge technological advance in drawing technology.
It’s DisplayPostscript reinvented. We had that in the 80s, and it ran on 33MHz 68030s.
So what’s so great about Quartz that I would not see elswhere? Transparent windows? Scaling images? Nothing that GDI+ wouldn’t do as well.
Quartz Extreme is even more impressive.
Accelerating graphics through graphics hardware? How impressive…
Even (ab)using OpenGL for 2D is nothing new, Blender is drawing its whole UI in OpenGL for years now, and PicassoGL could rotate windows at any angle.
I see this response all the time – identify something Apple implements first and well on the mac, and then it’s “Oh, Apple didn’t invent that, it existed before.” You know, Apple didn’t “innovate” with the GUI, because they copied the whole thing lock, stock and barrel based on one visit by Steve Jobs to Zerox’s research lab. Like it didn’t take any work or creativity to get it on a real computer people could afford and actually BUY.
The fact is windows does not have a quartz-like graphics system, linux does not (although I am sure someone is working on it, good for them). But as usual Apple implements it first. How many times does this pattern have to repeat before PC people like see a shrink for “denial” therapy?
Will you finally show me what’s impressive about Quartz or not? I don’t care if you want to think in categories and want to put me in a “jealous Windows user” drawer or a “everything was better in OS 9” box – you don’t know me, we have never met in person, so forget it.
The best way to prove me wrong is to impress me – it’s as simple as that. My OS X.2 computer is right in front of me, tell me what I have to do in order to be impressed by Quarz and I’ll shut up.
Well, I think people including myself have already identified what is good about Quartz and Quartz extreme. But for me:
A big part is simply aesthetics. Everything just looks better, and that is the product of a lot of small things (including shadows). The icons just look awesome and I love the way they shrink and expand so smoothly without any loss in quality. It’s just not as jarring on the eyes as the icons in OS 9 and Windows.
There is also a performance advantage. I have a B&W G3 that I upgraded recently to a G4 600 with a Radeon 7000. QE is not supposed to run on PCI macs, but there’s a hack that I use. I do notice that with the compositing (or whatever) offloaded to the graphics card, it seems to free up the processor for other things better, especially for music production (I use Logic to run software synths). Everything just works faster and smoother with QE enabled, that’s my experience. Also, I do not play many games so I like using the horsepower in that graphics card for everyday use.
I also like how I can set the desktop background to change every 5 seconds (or other intervals). I run two monitors off the Radeon, a 21″ Sun CRT and a 17″ apple CRT. The Apple I have set to switch among different photos every minute. It’s just kinda nice, what can I say?
Somebody asserted that the awesome scaling of thumbnails in iPhoto has “next to nothing to do” with Quartz. I am not sure that’s true. I think somebody needs to support that better, because it seems like the whole system just scales things really easy (because the graphics are defined mathematically like in Illustrator rather than bitmaps as in Photoshop? I am not an expert here)
Stew, you asked to be impressed so I’ll snag that opp.
Over at ArsTechnica, the reviewer for 10.2 did a little graphics test of Quartz Extreme which included a movie playing at a frame rate of 24fps and proceeded to place transparent windows on top of the movie to see if the movie would start to glitch, this is a quote from the review:
“In Jaguar with Quartz Extreme enabled, the GPU really flexes its muscles. I actually kept adding transparent windows until I hit 25 and got bored. The framerate never dropped at all. Impressive!”
He even wiggled the windows to see if that could trip-up the movie, but no.
Though a minor example, it shows how QE is doing things that would be quite difficult on other OS environments (save SGI). Try it for yourself and be impressed. =)
I don’t offer this as a combatant, but as someone who, perhaps, by a small stroke of luck, could persuade you to see that there does exists even a small shred of good technology in what Apple is doing with 10.2.
>>And you can hide your Start menu by accidentally resizing it to 0 size<<
and how the heck do you do this?
Your taskbar thing happened to me once when i was knew, and it was touchy on getting it back. If it just happened it could baffle someone. I knew what i did but it still was trouble. I do look at things from a newbie perspective. I was one to once and didn’t have anyone show me how to do anything. I had exposure to macs and windows machines at the same time. Windows is way more for newbies than mac. The menus and such guide a person through everything. No searching for things.
anyways, lets not get down this path today.
Macs are better for newbies because they just open the box, plug things in and they can edit digital photos, home movies, plug in an iPod. It all works for most basic (and even many advanced) tasks without installing any software, drivers, 1394 PCI boards, etc. And if there is a problem, you call one company rather than four (MS, Dell, 3 party app producer and 3 party peripheral producer (e.g., digicam). You can go to an Apple store and ask for help, or even attend a free class.
Also, the control panels in XP are horrendous. Too many layers and tabs. That’s why MS had to put in those Wizards (they are a crutch, but half the time they don’t do what you wanted to do in the first place).
The start menu is too difficult to navigate with those cascading menus (one slip of the mouse and you have to start over). The dock is real easy and adding things is a cinch.
You can pull a new windows machine out and do the same thing. The biggest expception may be software, but windows does come with some, albeit basic. You can edit video and photos with just the base install. If they did put good stuff in there they would be in more legal trouble. Also I doubt any proplem would involve calling 4 companies, you would call the company you have the problem with. Still it’s not like to many people call when the need help. They ask freinds or maybe go online, if experainced enough to do so. Most things come with plenty of help info.
The controls panels are not that bad in windows. Finding things is vastly simpler than on Macs. Far as cascading windows. It’s no big deal if you slip and have to start over, thats a big who cares. The same thing can happen with a mac. At least there is a common place to start and go looking for things. MS starts with 1 option and works up through them slowly so it’s easy to find things. This is instead of starting with many options across the top of the screen which are not very informative as to what lies within.
Still when it comes to those switch commercials they are horrible. they make wrong and unsupported claims. Make those who use windows feel like crap, and those who use macs look like idiots, I would be amazed if they have improved sales sence all i have witnessed people do when the see them is make fun of apple, or decide they would never buy a mac.
because the graphics are defined mathematically like in Illustrator rather than bitmaps as in Photoshop? I am not an expert here
Obviously you are not. How would you convert on-the-fly a bitmap image (e.g. JPEG) to a vector drawing without even the slightest simplification and distortion in image structure ? That’s just plain stupid.
As someone said before, Quartz is not a vector-based UI. It just uses some of the graphics cards capabilities for speeding up UI rendering, but still with bitmap images. Which other UIs already do (Windows, etc.) but not to the same extent (usually they just do window copies & blits, not resizes nor translucency).
By the way, as for vector UIs, Gnome can use vector icons in SVG format : e.g. http://jimmac.musichall.cz/screenshots/gorilla-mime-types.jpeg
go ahead and ridicule me for admitting I do not know how Quartz scales things so awesomely. It looks and works great, bottom line.
YOu could explain how it works, if you know.
YOu could explain how it works, if you know.