Choose your poison

Having just mucked around for the last two days reinstalling everything on my primary laptop for no really good reason and then replacing the power supply and guts on Sybil the PowerMac  myself ( 4th Apple machine to die on me in 4 years) I  have been led to think about the operating systems I use. I am sure I am not typical but in any given week I use OS X, Windows NT, Windows Vista, Ubuntu ( Linux), and Mac OS 9. Despite so many people haranguing on about how their OS is the best I really have to say they are all pretty good in their own unique ways. I might even say that I am fond of them all….though the degree of fondness varies greatly depending on how much they are annoying me.

The picture at the top of this entry is my desktop on my PowerMac Sybil which is an ancient machine ( 2001 I think) but, after a few upgrades, runs anything I throw at it in OS X. Apple’s latest OS is something I resisted getting until about 2 years into its development when the Jaguar edition came out.  As a purist I was fond of  OS 9 and, despite its many flaws loved it for the way it followed logic. Click on a folder and another folder popped out showing what was inside…just like the real metaphor on which it is based. Multitasking was a hit and miss affair and frequently resulted in system freezes from which the only recovery was a reboot. Still, every Mac user knew to save work regularly and a reboot of OS 9 was laughably quick compared to any other system  at the time and still is today. When I purchased a new iBook it came with OS X as well so I got used to it and appreciated its stability, lovely colours and plethora of eye candy. It is rock solid and I don’t recall it ever freezing for any reason. Having used Macs since 1984 the lack of viruses were not really a benefit since the old OS didn’t have any real viruses either. I still use OS X a fair amount at home as a lot of my photo editing and other programmes are  on it. That sort of thing happens when you spend so many years on one kind of machine…you build up a lot of very useful stuff.

A year and a half ago, as I mentioned in this blog, I was shopping for another laptop when a comely Toshiba caught my eye and I bought it. Sure it ran Windows and I had been sufficiently indoctrinated into the Mac world that I feared the Apple police would descend on me with hundreds of pitchfork toting Mac users right behind them…but such was my shallowness that I fell for the looks of the thing. As it tuns out I really don’t see what the hatred of Vista is all about. It is a lot more convoluted than OS X but everything works as it should. There were a few devices that I had to get special drivers for but I can’t hold Microsoft responsible for that since, unlike Apple, they don’t make computers and the sheer number of different PCs Windows has to be installed on is staggering. Most days I take my Vista laptop to work and I am able to accomplish as much as I could with my Apple machines. In fact, I use a proxy software called Identity Cloaker which lets me watch BBC’s iplayer shows even though I am not in the UK…and that is Windows only. Like my OS X machines I have been able to customize the laptop exactly the way I want it and, thanks to Kaspersky Internet Security I don’t have to think about viruses much at all. Speaking of which Microsoft should be commended ( I can’t believe I am writing this) for releasing their own free Antivirus tool called MSE…there is no excuse for anyone not to get it.

As you can see I have chosen a serene Irish countryside scene for my Vista desktop most likely because whereas I am always relaxed on a Mac  I tend to be a bit edgier on Windows out of habit – and the peacefulness helps. Still, no complaints so far and I may even get Windows 7 one day though I don’t find it that different from Vista.

Ubuntu fascinates me. It is a freely downloadable operating system that comes with all the programmes one would most likely need included. Whatever isn’t included can also be downloaded for free with just a  click. I love the concept  and also find it to be a remarkably good OS.  Like the others it is very stable and even better it runs amazingly fast even on quite old machines. It is based on Linux which is , in turn, is based on UNIX,  so it is, in fact , a cousin of Apple’s OS X but without the price. The basic look of Ubuntu is fairly simple but a few tweaks and it has eye candy to rival even Apple’s best effort – I especially like being able to work on multiple desktops and then turn the whole desktop into a rotating cylinder in order to choose which one I want to use.

I an not sure which Ubuntu committee ( and it is Open Source so there are many heads involved) thought that brown was all the rage but thankfully it is easily changed. The screenshot above is what it looks like when it first starts up. It is still a remarkable and very easy to use Operating system though…even for non geeks.

I have already written my ode to OS 9 in an earlier entry but I still boot into it at least once a week to appreciate its simple beauty.

Time to get off  Vista now and work on my plan to escape to Tobago during Carnival so I can flee the annoying noise  and even more annoying brain dead people it seems to bring out.


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