Forwarding Address: OS X

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

On the theme of migration, I thought I'd post about an unexpected, probably temporary, migration I made this afternoon -- I'm posting this from the Konqueror web browser, on a machine running KDE on FreeBSD on Intel hardware.

My first-gen PowerBook G4 (500MHz) has served me incredibly well, but it is nearing the end of its service life, with vertical lines on the display and freezes galore. Yes, I should have bought AppleCare :P Today I just couldn't take one more freeze. I dragged the FreeBSD machine, which had been a headless development box, over here to my desk and plugged it into my monitor.

I know this probably isn't going to last. For one thing, I hate desktops, and love laptops. If I made this a longer-term adventure I'd be looking to get me a nice sub-4-pound wintel laptop on eBay. But for now (i.e. while I deal with selling my old PowerBook and buying its replacement), I'm enthused and I think it's going to be very interesting.

I in terms of bang for the buck my "new" machine is quite tremendous. Apple can't touch that. The OS, desktop environment, and all the apps I'm using are free -- and quite current -- and the 333MHz/128M/10GB/CD-R Pentium II tower cost me $60 at a yard sale.

One irony that strikes me is that I never would have done this if I hadn't been using OS X for the past 2+ years. Apple did a tremendous job of making the OS perfectly usable and tidy while leaving the Unix clockwork there for inquisitive souls to play with. So now I know enough to really be dangerous. I've been using FreeBSD on web servers for years, but this is my first foray into the non-OS X Unix desktop world.

Random notes: There is a mind-blowing selection of software out there. The ports system is fantastic. I'm using mostly stock KDE apps right now because that's what I have installed, but plan to move to Firebird for browsing and Thunderbird for mail. Being a web developer, I'm very intrigued by the Quanta Plus development environment, which looks like BBEdit on [insert drug of emphasis here]. My Kensington Expert Mouse Pro USB is plug-n-playing just fine, in left-handed mode no less. I like this old-style tactile feedback keyboard. I like the "Klipper" multiple clipboard. I miss Quartz, especially the text. I miss the Keychain, imperfect though it may be. I miss Launchbar bad. Really bad.

Finally, while the feel of the UI is of course not as nice as Apple's in most respects, the mood is very fine -- and by that I mean that nothing on this machine is trying to sell me something else. I like that. A lot. I'm not being endlessly pestered to upgrade to Quicktime 17, or get a .mac account, or open my MSN Wallet, or pay my shareware fees. I'm free, baby, and it feels good. Discuss