The screenshots didn't lie. The Mac was clearly king.
Now as a DOS user growing up, then a Linux user in college (I call this conversion "enlightenment"), then a FreeBSD user, then mostly back to Linux and Solaris after working in the industry a while, Macs had never been on my scope--at all. In fact, in the typical way one fears that which one does not know, I'd even been somewhat anti-Mac all this time, though I couldn't really tell you why. But after 9 years of using Linux, Free/Net/OpenBSD with X Windows, TWM, E, Gnome, KDE, even WindowMaker for a brief stint, and whatever else, even I, one who normally doesn't go out of his way to look for change, saw this new, interesting, and powerful and beautiful technology and decided it could in fact be something very interesting.
It has, in fact turned out to be very cool, interesting, and refreshing. There's a lot of stuff going on in Mac OS X. But basically here are the highlights, from someone used to Linux and BSD:
- Web browsing is absolutely gorgeous, it's the best looking web surfing experience you've ever had. Other than the occasional annoyance of a site that doesn't work right (see negatives), everything looks absolutely spectacular. I never realized how much I'd appreciate this until I had it.
- Multimedia works out of the box. Videos (Windows media, Quicktimes, etc) on websites just work. No more messing around with Xine or CodeWeavers plugins to get basic videos to work. My digital camera just plugged in and worked, and with iPhoto I actually now have a decent photo library.
- The userland utilities (ls, find, chmod, etc) and networking stack were basically ripped verbatim from FreeBSD. This was very comforting since it is already very familiar.
- So many packaged applications that all work beautifully together, iPhoto, Mail, Safari, make sending scaled photos to friends a two click job, make burning a DVD as simple as drag and drop, etc, etc.
- Anything you used on Linux is probably ported to OS X, and X11 apps work great with Apple's X11 display server (e.g. Gimp, Evolution, Emacs). The only problem with this is I tend to dislike running most Linux apps since they look so terrible compared to everything else on my desktop :-).
- I still have trouble getting used to the fact that Home and End take you to the beginning and end of a document, not the line. Between working on a Mac at home, and Linux and Solaris machines at work I often find myself hitting the wrong keys for the first few minutes of every session.
- Occassionally web sites do not render correctly, in either IE or Safari.
- Being used to "focus follows mouse", and available keybindings for raising/lowering windows, having to use the mouse more often than I'd like is still a bit of a minor annoyance.
- For as rock-solid a core OS as OS X should have, I still feel like I end up rebooting the machine more often than I'd like due to lockups or software upgrades. For example, to upgrade Quicktime 6.1 to 6.1.1 requires a reboot.
- Because of the zillions of zany effects going on, the machine seems slow at times (933MHz G4).
- And I can't make a downside list without mentioning the price. Yowzers. Did I mention it's the best web surfing experience ever? :-)