OS X and the frustrations of not being Open Source

It’s now being about 22 months since my job sortof forced me into sharing my main OS from being 90% Linux (with a Gnome desktop usually) to 50:50 Linux:OS X. In that time I’ve grown to really like it. Prior to that I’ve used a Mac for about 10% of the time for a number of years. Probably coinciding with the introduction of OS X I guess, although I’ve also used OS 9 and OS 7 at earlier times in my computing life. I love the ease of use. When I want something to work it just does. I really enjoy messing, but sometimes the effort of setting something up surpasses the need for that task. For example although I spend a large amount of time hacking and reconfiguring my Mythtv box, I’ve never had the motivation to get my scanner working with Linux, as I know it’s just going to be a drag! This whole ease of setup is only possible due to a unified platform controlled by a dictator.

However, the enforced integration also has a downside. That is when I want to do something that is not prescribed by the Apple user guidelines. Having a Linux ‘if it does not do what you want and how you want to do it’ attitude, it gradually becomes a frustration when I need to do something in a different way to the majority of the OS X user base. Admittedly this frustration is way lower than whenever I have to use Windows. Steve Jobs and his crew have got most things correct, so that it does do things properly, and of course you always have the option of dipping into the CLI and doing things how you want to do them. However, that is not always an option when you have a third party application that is frustrating you, rather than the OS.

Consequently there’s always a list of trivial things that do well annoy me that would have had solutions quickly developed if they existed on an ‘open source’ platform.

Actually while we’re on this topic here’s two annoyances that just would not survive in the open source world

– Mail.app’s rubbish behaviour (see this post) when used with a low bandwidth connection. IMAP is just not great. It’s got better with Leopard, but it still does not behave as well as Evolution.

– itunes and Ogg Vorbis. Come on even most Windows mp3 jobbies wil also deal with Ogg files. Why does iTunes just do not do so? AAC is good, but larger and not that good. If my MBP had a 1Tb disc then FLAC would be good, but it does not have the space and let’s be honest, you do not always need FLAC quality.

I also suppose it’s ironic that the Linux desktop I use the most (Gnome) seems to be heading down the road of reducing user configurability. I’ve never had a problem with that though.