Mac OS X vs GNU: my personal summary (2/3)

Yesterday I described the bad things I found with my year experience with a Mac. Today it’s the day of the ugly stuff.

The ALT-TAB (or CMD-TAB, in Mac world) has the stupidest behavior ever. It cycles through the open applications, not the open windows. For being an OS based on the documents, not the apps, it’s disappointing, at best. It’s also annoying that if you have minimized a window, CMD-TABing won’t bring it back in foreground: you have to go on the bar and click! Dude: that’s silly!’  I know you can install third-party apps that restore the common CMD-TAB behaviour, but that’s not the point: the system should work well out of the box, as claimed.

I tried plugging in my Samsung MP3 and OGG player and the first time I did that the kernel crashed. Now, after 5 major updates, there is no crash but only a message saying ‘Cannot read this disk: eject or ignore?’ Lame Apple, lame. Especially since the same player works perfectly on OS X 10.4. Reporting the bug didn’t help (almost one year has passed).

But wait, it gets worse. Quicktime player doesn’t play DIVx and other formats out of the box!!! WHAT? The first and foremost complaint I’ve heard every time I tried to defend my GNU systems was that there are no codecs for movies. And I get this expensive computer only to find out that I still need to download VLC to watch my collection?

So, in the end, any GNU system is not different from Mac: you need to hack your box to make it work how you want it, you need to install software, you need to put codecs. Free software comes to rescue the Mac, with VLC, Firefox, Thunderbird, Songbird, MiroTV, Cyberduck, Adium, ecc completing the otherwise very limited experience. But all this software is already available out of the box on any GNU/Linux system: why pay more and use the same programs?

Disclaimer: I’m not adding any rant about the defective, DRM crippled iTunes simply because I never used it. My collection of music is in OGG Vorbis format and iTunes is of no use.





  1. Hi Mago, I know about exposè, but honestly it’s cumbersome: to activate alt-tab I don’t have to move the hands from the keyboard, while to activate exposé I either have to use the mouse or press the F3 key, and then navigate to the window I need… It’s unconvenient.

    And to install codecs, that’s exactly my point: you need to install extra software and unofficial plugins in order to get basic funcionalities. Just like you have to do in GNU/Linux systems.

    The conclusion for me is that OS X is not this masterpiece of usability, and compared to GNU/Linux it’s not a clear winner IMVHO.


  2. I actually like the OS X [ALT] + [TAB] behavior, because unlike most operating systems the “~” character can be used to go backwards if you skipped over your favorable open application while still holding down the [TAB] key.

    But then again the _Click_ action is a lot to ask for. Say for instance your mouse just fell over the edge of your desk into the cable chaos zone? WHAT do you do NOW !?

    “But wait, it gets worse. Quicktime player doesn’t play DIVx and other formats out of the box!!!”

    I can relate to this problem, big let down from Apple! 🙁

    But then again I use VLC with every codec imaginable pre-installed so I may be spoiled. O:)

    As far as the whole hack it how you like it idea, completely with ya on that!

    And for anyone who may not know… fink is a good start for open source apps on the Mac.