First a couple of quick notes. I tried to be objective when doing this review but I am a huge Linux fan, I prefer that OS and so there is a chance that some of this is biased.I compared Kubuntu 9.04 and OSX 10.5.7. Neither of them are cutting edge, but they were both stable and worth looking at.

Installation

Winner: Linux

Details: Neither install was very complicated, so what it basically came down to, for me, was “How much did I have to interact?”. OS X required more interaction. There were more things to fill out. In addition, the OS X installer did not make it clear how to go about formatting and repartitioning the drive, while the Kubuntu installer made it very clear and suggested an optimum layout. OS X had extra steps revolving around the registration process and tried to get you to sign up for a mobile me account as part of the install. Kubuntu went very smoothly and basically the only thing I had to enter was my user name and password. As a bonus the installer disk also functions as a live CD letting you test out the system first. OS X lacks this feature, even though the installer appears to be running in a slim version of the OS.

Configuration

Winner: OS X

Details: After the install OS X was pretty much ready to go. You still had to configure specific applications like mail, but kmail has to be configured in Linux. In Linux however, a few things needed adjusting. Mainly enabling restricted drivers and such. Again not much difference, but this one goes to OS X because it required nothing extra, while Kubuntu required me to click two buttons and wait a few seconds.

 

Customization

Winner: Linux

Details: This was a hands down victory to Linux. OS X does not let you customize very much at all with ease. Basically you can pick your background, change some sound settings and that’s about it, without diving deep. Kubuntu on the other hand has tons of things you can customize without having to look very far. At the same time when it comes to getting your hands dirty OS X seems to want to discourage modifications while Linux encourages them. It should be said that part of the OS X “idea” is that you should not need to customize, while the Linux “idea” is customize everything even the OS it’s self.

Application Availability

Winner: OS X

Details: Sorry Linux guys, I’m a Linux guy too, but OS X can run most “Linux” software plus they have a larger range of commercial software. Granted, it’s usually difficult, at best, to get the Linux software to run on OS X, but it will run. In pure availability terms, OS X wins

Application Support

Winner: Linux

Details: OK OS X fans hear me out. Linux has a whole community of people who’s hobby is to help others get their Linux software working. Sure OS X has commercial support but commercial support sucks in comparison to open source support. With Commercial support your usually stuck waiting for a response, or they blame other software on the system. Linux support groups tend to just fix the problem and worry about blame later, though that is not always the case. In addition, with fewer people running the Linux software on a mac you can really get into “edge case” land pretty fast. Commercial software of course does not have this problem. Linux gets the win for support simply because there better at it, and there’s more people doing it (along with more venues).

Application Installation

Winner: Unknown

Details: Linux has package management systems. I prefer them. But if the application you want is not in the repo it can get complicated. OS X has an awesome installation feature but first you have to find what you want to install. Linux is better at installing stuff when you know what you want to do, and the package is in the repo. OS X is better at installing stuff with out a repo when you know what application you want. Linux is better at removing applications and their dependencies. OS X has a more intuitive ‘uninstall” feature. It’s all about preference in this one. I prefer package management, others prefer one-off installs.

Looks

Winner: OS X

Details: OS X gets the win simply because it comes all ready looking pretty nice. Linux has way way more eye candy but you have to work to turn it on.  You can make the two look identical if you like, but as stated OS X gets the win simply because it looks better at the start. If I ran OS X and Linux for 6 months each, the Linux box would look better. But right after install OS X looks better.

Community

Winner: No one

Details: This is just gonna make both sides angry. Linux has a larger, more interactive community. However there are Linux zealots that will tell you your going to hell if you don’t compile your own kernel and write all your email in hex. The OS X community is almost the exact opposite. If your not using the application of the month then your likely to get tared and feathered when you ask for help. Both can be great resources, but both can be aggravating when you just want something to work. In addition the OS ideals effect the communities strongly. Ask a Linux user for help and there likely to give you a 50 step process with 20 options along the way. Ask a OS X user for help and your likely to get “you can’t do that”, even though you really can. Both side have their pros and cons and it’s a person choice rather you use/participate in the community or not. For that reason there is no winner.

Summary

The only real diffrence between OS X and Linux is prefrence. If you want to customize your computer and such, then Linux is the move for you. If you want to have commercail applications then I would take a look at OS X. Both are extreamly easy to use and setup. I choose Linux over OS X personally because I like to make modifications and such. However I feel right at home on a OS X computer. Personally I think Linux is a stronger platform, but that really comes down to my love for Open Source software and not anything that can be measured or quantified. In reality the choice between Linux and OS X for a personal computer is limited to prefrence.

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