I’ve been thinking a lot about my PC lately. Since the new iMac G5 came out I’ve been eying them closely. I think that I’m officially a switcher now. I’ve been using Linux for many years now. I’m considered a Guru by almost everybody I know. Linux makes an ok desktop for someone like me, but even for Mike some things about it are prohibitavely complex. I hooked him up with an intellimouse yesterday and I had to set up the scrollwheel for him. For Lonny, I’ve had to do just about everything for him. Simply installing the drivers for his printer and network card are such a complex task each one took me days of research to find the bugs and work them out. This isn’t to say that Linux hasn’t matured. Certainly it has. And I know that none of these problems are problems with Linux. They’re problems with vendor hardware support, X11, CUPS, KDE and GNOME. Linux has matured a great deal while I’ve been using it. These other projects have not.
Linux has not recieved the vendor hardware support that everyone’s been promising. Setting up hardware sensors all but impossible and breaks with every revision of the Linux kernel, even on hardware purchased from IBM, the biggest supporter of Linux. Although Mac OS X uses CUPS and HP is behind it, you still can’t get printers or printer drivers set up very easy unless it’s a PostScript printer. The only advancement I’ve seen in X in the past 5 years is letting non-root users access video acceleration. Welcome to 1995 gentlemen. Both KDE and GNOME have made huge advancements since I first used them, but the programs are still bloated and crash prone. Now it’s nice that I don’t have to reboot just because Nautilus eats it, but I’ve seen programs that reliably crash just by selecting text, and it remains that way for months. The GTK and QT toolkits are clunky and ackward. The focus of objects is irregular. In iTunes if I hit the space bar no matter what I’m doing it will toggle play/pause. In RhythmBox the player controls have to have the keyboard focus or nothing (or something undesirable) will happen. Neither GNOME nor KDE are getting any better. I used to think they’ll be ready for primetime, ready for Granny “once they fix this and that”. Years have past and those things still aren’t fixed. Meanwhile I learn to live with those deficiencies as new ones get added. And let’s not even think about trying to get 3d acceleration working, or listening to streaming media with RealPlayer.
Let’s just get this out in the open. X makes an embarrasing desktop no matter what you’re running on it. The reason I’ve put up with the crappy desktop that runs on Linux is for the Linux that lives underneath. It really is all about UNIX. It’s not about free software. And now that there’s an easy to use desktop with the UNIX I love underneath, what need is there to run Linux on my desktop?
Ok, enough ranting about my disappointment with Linux lately. I’ve been using Mac OS X for 5 months now. The state of the art on the desktop lies squarely in the hands of Steve Jobs. These are all the reasons I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my PC (remember, this article is titled “My PC”) and replacing it with an iMac G5. The amazing thing I’ve discovered about my PC is that it’s basically retained it’s value. The CPU retails for about $10 less today than it did a year ago when I bought it. Most every component of the system is considered top of the line (or very close to it) even after a year. So I need somebody to sell my computer to.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.