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Top 10 Things Mac OS X Gets Right That Linux Distributions Do Not

After just reading Ten Things Linux Distros Get Right That MS Doesn't, I thought to myself, I could easily come up with a Top 10 Mac vs Linux.

For those who read my blog on a regular basis, know that I am as pro-Linux as they come. However, I have to admit that Mac OS X has Linux beat in a number of areas. Here's my list:

10. Virtually bug-free BSD kernel. Linux has yet to get this right. Although the Linux kernel may contain less than 10% the bugs that Windows NT kernel contains, it's astronomically more than the *BSD-based distributions, which are virtually bug-free. As such, this makes Mac OS X a viable solution to stability, reliability and dependability.

9. Consistent regular releases. There are a couple Linux distributions that get this right, but as an overall whole, Linux vendors have missed the mark in this area. Gnome has a release schedule of every 6 months, and Ubuntu follows Gnome closely making sure that the latest release of Ubuntu contains the latest release of Gnome. However, the vast majority of distributions overlook the importance of regular releases, and as such, share minimal success in the Linux market.

8. Feature-packed releases. When Mac OS X produces a release, it is far superior to it's prior versions. The features that each release contain make you want to spend the $129 to upgrade to the latest version. Currently, the latest release is Tiger with such features as Spotlight, Automater and Dashboard. Leopard, due out early next year improves Tiger with homemade Dashboard widgets, Spaces and Time Machine. I have yet to see a Linux distribution equal the feature impact that Apple puts out year after year.

7. iLife. Need I say more? There are some great tools on Linux for editing photos and movies and sharing your digital life, but nothing in the Linux arena holds a candle to what iLife brings to the table. Just the other day, my wife made a full-scale DVD movie in about 3 hours. Complete with a custom soundtrack, loaded with extra features and goodies, and widescreen to boot. Watching her drag 'n drop pictures and videos around to create the movie was truly incredible. Doing anything like that on Linux? Yeah, right.

6. Eye candy. Linux has come a long way in this area, especially with the help of KDE, but Mac has eye candy done right. The Aqua interface is beautiful. The way windows swish across the screen, the Dock and its magnification and even the sounds are all done right. It took Linux 6 years to catch up to this level of performance with the advances of XGL, Compiz and Beryl, and even then, it's still not 100% there. Too much dependency on the command line and in config files, to get the eye candy you want, keep Linux from competing in this area with Mac OS X.

5. Hardware is done right. This is the Achilles' Heel of Linux. Linux faces the problem of porting the kernel and various distributions to many different architectures. As such, many models of laptops, printers, network cards, touchpads, video and sound cards, etc. just don't quite work right, if work at all, out of the box. This is due to the philosophy to keep the drivers open, and many hardware companies just won't release the specs, so development is slow. With Mac, if you want to run OS X, you run it on Apple hardware. No questions. That's just how it is. As such, all the drivers for all the hardware just works. And now with Apple moving to the Intel chip, OS X will run on your x86-based PC, and even then, the hardware just works.

4. Wireless freedom. This is one BIG area that turns a lot of users away from Linux, even Ubuntu. Wireless just doesn't work for the majority of cases, and wireless hardware vendors aren't interested in releasing the specs of their hardware, as such, Linux is faced with, again, creating open alternatives. Ndiswrapper helps in this area, which is probably the greatest strength, and a Broadcom spec was reverse-engineered, but other than that, wireless just isn't up to par with Mac OS X. This includes Bluetooth.

3. Ease of use. Mac OS X is a powerful powerful operating system. On Apple's website, they claim it as "the world's most advanced operating system", and I won't argue with them. Mac OS X has a BSD Unix core, and yet, when I am on my wife's iBook, I rarely need to touch the terminal. It just isn't a crutch as it is with Linux. And I am no stranger to the terminal. Linux just depends too much on the command line and configuring applications through config files. No need for Mac, at least, not near as much. This makes OS X extremely easy to use.

2. Full system integration. Everything from iLife to the Aqua interface is fully and tightly integrated with each other. Everything on Mac OS X just seems like they were meant to work with each other. The look, feel and interoperability make Mac OS X a tight, pleasant operating system. With Linux distributions, although some see this as a strength, there are too many choices and alternatives to get the same job done. As such, for example, KDE applications don't integrate well with Gtk and vice-versa. Even applications within Gnome don't integrate all that well with the Gtk interface. As such, a Linux system with all it's running applications feels hacked together. Even the look and feel varies from application to application.

1. Installing and uninstalling applications. If you've ever used a Linux system that gives you dependency hell (all the source-based and rpm-based distributions), then you know what a pain it is to install and remove software on Linux. Heck, even the apt-based distributions have their problems. With Mac OS X, to install an application, Firefox for example, you just drag 'n drop your application... wait for it.... into the Applications folder. To remove the application, just delete it from the Applications folder. It couldn't be easier. Linux distributions could learn a valuable lesson from Mac in this area.

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