I’ve been using computers since I was nine years old. At the time of writing, that’s about eleven years ago. In America, that isn’t too much of a remarkable age. My younger brother started around six and my youngest at five, mostly because my family got more savvy. What we got introduced with was a different story.
How I Started
I started my tech “life” with Apple, but mostly for editing PowerPoint presentations for science class. It wasn’t until later I noticed how much I didn’t like Windows but did envy Apple’s desktop operating system’s look and feel. The only thing that really kept me from actually owning a piece of the Apple pie was just money. Just a laptop was enough to cover rent and my mom wouldn’t do that. I was a bit greedy when it came to the system and a desktop machine wouldn’t make sense in that light.
Where I Landed
That indirectly led me to Ubuntu and the whole conglomerate of open source desktop environments and distributions out there. There’s a lot of them out there. However, the breaking thing of a distributions would be its support. It doesn’t matter if it’s insanely fast or robust; if it has shit support, you’ll have a shit time using it. That was (and still is) the story of open source software. Ubuntu and its Unity interface is meant to be a light yet powerful solution for novice, intermediate and pro users alike. In theory and in practice, it works. But people are extremely hostile to change in the open source community and with good reason. Too much “rapid change” makes it difficult for users (and developers, translators and the like) to adopt and adjust to. That’s why I changed my desktop environment of choice to KDE.
I’ve been told that my desktop slightly resembles OS X at times, but that’s only because of the common characteristics they share like a global menu bar and an application management dock. KDE comes with KRunner which is similar to the productivity application Alfred for Mac. But all of this cost just $0.00. Of course, there’s the whole application portability issue. Applications and libraries built using Apple’s Cocoa framework and otherwise on top of the Objective-C language will not work “out of the box” on a Linux machine. So I “lose out” on software exclusively built for OS X. In today’s day and age, this isn’t so much of a problem since we aren’t forced to use Facebook via a desktop application1, or LinkedIn with an desktop application. But we do lose (or at least currently lack) a strong synchronization function.
Synchronizing Your Information
To mention another operating system, Windows 8 for the matter, introduced a very service heavy concept of information syncing in its core applications like People, Mail and Calendar. This provides the ultimate convenience for the end user if their desired service is supported like Google’s, AOL’s or Yahoo’s. From what I know of OS X today, Mail.app knows the typical settings for GMail, Google Apps, Hotmail / Windows Live, and AOL so it’d be trivial for a user to set up their accounts and get going. Also with account synchronization within their account, it makes it trivial to get function like sending an email to a contact you’ve recently saved on your mobile device on the computer at a later time. Awesome, no? You’d see why someone would want to have OS X now. It’s even better if you have an iPhone, notifications and messages are synced between the two (or more) devices, making management a breeze. That and OS X has the best integration of iOS services and visa versa that’s known for obvious reasons.
KDE comes with a personal information management suite dubbed Akonadi. It does everything listed above and with more application support, it can do more.
Why Don’t I Use OS X, Then?
To preface this question, I wouldn’t still move to OS X now solely because of migration complications I’ll run into. I’ve invested quite a bit of time into my Linux environment from the kernel (built on the 3.8.0-31 release) down to the themes (tweaked to my liking). For me to discard that is like throwing out my bed with all of my sheets and pillows and resort to sleeping in a hotel because I want to pay premium.2
Outside of my now quasi native nature with a Linux machine, the niceties of getting my life on OS X would be a pain. For starters, I’m not a big fan of “constantly” connected services. My current mail client, KMail, does an amazing job of caching all of my email to my local machine, handling PGP and S/MIME security options, and best of it, it’s open. I could work to write an extension for KMail that allows me to synchronize text messages from my mobile device and it would look like plain email messages in KMail! Of course, one could easily say:
But why would you want your SMS and MMS to be just like email? iMessage is so much better here.
That’s a valid response and a strongly personal one to have. I personally like having all of my information in one place and my configuration organized. So to each their own.
I don’t use OS X because I choose not to. I chose to have flexibility over my environment, to actually know what is it I’m spending my time in front of and have that piece of mind to actually understand why something may not work as intended. In practice, it’s always better to know what’s wrong and how to fix it then to rely on someone else. “If you want it done right, do it yourself (or pay someone else to do it).”