Let’s begin saying that I’m not an occasional Mac user. I bought my first Mac in 2007 and user it almost every day of my life to every kind of task: from music processing to programming. I don’t claim to be the best programmer in the world (I’m not), but I’m a graduated Computer Science guy, so both hardware and especially software are my bread and butter. This story, as said, began in 2007, when I got my first MacBook: back in those days, Apple computers shipped with Tiger or Panther, two great OS. My computer was blazing fast, responsive and lean. I was still happy with Leopard, even though I noticed a small performance deficit respect to its old brothers. I bought a MacBook Pro late in 2009, currently equipped with a Core 2 Duo, an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M and 8 GB of RAM.
Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, Mac OS X bloated release after release. The point is that Apple is also a hardware seller, so they ship a product that is usually intended to run well on the latest hardware, without worrying too much about older hardware. I experienced the same behavior with my iPhone 3G: it was blazing fast just released, pretty slow after each update of iOS. I’m not criticing Apple behaviour, I understand that market is governed by rules, but these rules begin to cripple my “Mac OS faith”.
The upgrade to Moutain Lion was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only was the system slower than before, but I don’t subscribe with some choices that have been made about the direction Mac Os X points toward. They want to blur the line between a Desktop and a mobile system, but this is not suitable for developer’s needs. A developer don’t want the dust to be hidden under the carpet, but want to have the freedom to bend the system to his needs. Two small but meaninful examples of this “blurring” trend:
During the transition from Snow Leopard to Lion, Apple automatically hid the ~/Library directory. This was a nuisance for me, because I used to fiddle with files in it a lot, so I had to re-enable it with a command-line option or use the Finder option Go to folder.
In Mountain Lion, by default, is not possible to open software downloaded from a source that is not the Apple Store. Obviously, you can re-enable the intended behavior using System Preferences, but why on earth is that the default option?
In my opinion, these are only two small example the shows a worring trend. Some people denigrate Windows or Ubuntu for hiding the dust under the carpet (ofter these system are addressed as systems for dumb people), but Mac OS X is doing exactly the same thing!
After much though, I decided to do a clean install of Mac OS X and to have a double-partitioned system. I reserved 50 of my 250GB to Mountain Lion and the rest to Linux (in particular to Bodhi Linux).
Am I crazy? Probably yes, probably not. I’ve decided that a small Mac OS X partition was necessary for very specific tasks (Adobe and Office suites, to sync my iPad and my iPod) but all the rest will be demanded to Bodhi.
Seldom in my life I was surprised by a piece of software. Maybe the first time was with Panther (ah, my first Macbook). I stumbled upon Bodhi by chance, searching for the best (here read, the most compatible) distribution for my MacBook 5,5. Being a Zen guy myself, Bodhi incarnates (no pun intended) my idea of software: lean, barebone, fast. You decide what to add. You pay for what you want to include. This philosophy is witnessed by the size of the .ISO, only 526MB! Bodhi ships with Enlightenment, a Desktop Manager that used to be bugged as hell. Fortunately, it used, because E17 seems to be a solid manager, I suspect thanks to the wonderful job of the Bodhi team. Now my system is fast, lean, responsive, and best of all, I can bend it to my needs. The dust is there, where I want it to be.
Farewell Mac OS X, you served me well during these years. Probably we’ll encouter again soon, maybe with Mac OS XI. But I really hope to see the trend change. In the meantime, Windows 8 is approaching. Almost everyone praises it, so I’m freaking curious to see what lies in store. In this period, after Steve premature demise, the OS is open again. Will Mac OS triumph, or Windows will take even more market? We’ll see. In the meantime I feel 10 year younger, when I installed and enjoyed my first Linux distro. It was a Mandriva, but it seems to me like the door for an amazing world.