From Linux to OS X: my first month impressions

I’ve consistently used Linux for my servers and workstations since mid-2007, and dabbled with it for much longer than that. I enjoy their wide array of open-source software, drop-in replacements, and the idea that no solution to any challenge is necessarily the only way. When I started my new development job, I came to a environment that was a small OS X shop which relied on the Apple side of things to develop software. Since I was handed a laptop with an apple on it and the latest version of OS X, I decided to see what this was all cracked up to be.

After my first month, my impressions are underwhelming.

Linux, in whatever flavour that you prefer, has an amazing package management system that allows unified control point to manage your installed software. While the App store is nice, it doesn’t come close to include all of the OS X software included. 3rd party solutions such as homebrew exist, which give you a Linux-like management system, but they’re all kind of janky solutions that feel as though someone was trying far too hard to make OS X feel like Linux.

The window management is a total disaster. There’s no window snapping (which even Windows 7 has!), no real sense of “full screen” if you have more than one monitor, and the WM essentially assumes that you never really want more than one window open and active at a time. The alt-tab functionality is oddly flawed, and the OS has a general lack of coherence when managing your windows. Compared to a tiling window manager, or even Unity, OS X is atrocious. 3rd party apps (ew) have fixed it somewhat, but it’s still a mess.

For an OS and company that has the reputation of making the latest and greatest, Mountain Lion feels like an OS that doesn’t fully know what it wants to do. Expose’ and the other window revealing tool seem like they both have identity issues. The notification center isn’t supported by much. Spotlight and the other app chooser also seem to be differently-implemented ideas that live side-by-side, with you never fully understanding which one to use. As I noted earlier, I’m all for user choice, but it should exist as an option that overrides default behavior. Instead, OS X just provides the user multiple tools that all essentially do the same thing, and just kind of assume that you’ll figure it out sooner or later.

The hardware is exceptionally good. I’m running a fully-loaded 15″ MacBook Pro that can handle multiple VMs without hesitating. It’s fast, speedy, and has a frightening amount of power. Whatever I choose to do, I can easily accomplish the task without lag or any semblance of slowdown.

This OS seems like training wheel. It’s as though a group of users in the past, who were intimidated by the open source community but thought Linux too hard, tried to cobble together 3rd party solutions on the next best platform. The result is a weird Frankenstein that doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, and always has to be forced to work.

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