So I generally hate Windows … mainly because I don’t trust it and the zillion creatures that live in it. And I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to make linux work the way I want … but I often have people ask me ‘Why don’t you just use OS X?’. Yes, it’s Unix and it is supported by real manufacturers. I have thought about it quite a bit. Price and the fact I had an Ibook many years ago have put me off. The cheapest new Mac here is the Mac Mini. Its still quite an expensive piece of kit, and you could get a decent intel generic PC for the same money. And then there’s the Ibook G3 500MHz I had many years ago. This ran OS X and I thought I had a decent amount of RAM on it … but I bought it new at a time when laptops were maybe 3 to 4 times what cheap ones cost today … and I just didn’t think it went well enough for what I paid for it. So six months after buying it I sold it.It’s now 2007, and I had an urge to waste some money … and Apple had just announced (finally) that the Mac Mini would have Core 2 Duo CPUs (instead of Core Duo CPUs like they’ve had for the past couple of years), and the price actually was a bit lower than the older MacMini’s so I ordered one … and picked it up last week.

So far I like it more than the old Ibook. OS X seems reasonably snappy (the current MacMini’s have 1GB of RAM). It’s very tiny. Very quiet and doesn’t seem to generate too much heat considering how small it is. I have a crappy old PS2 keyboard and mouse going into a PS2 to USB adapter and that works fine. The user interface is very pretty … and everything looks quite polished. I like the Expose thingee. I like the Frontrow media center interface that seems to work.

My Debian Etch PC has the same speed Core 2 Duo in it and the same amount of RAM and so its been interesting to compare the two. OS X has possibly a more consistent pace to everything you do whereas linux is sometimes quick, and occasionally hickups. I’ve been reading all the press about the linux scheduler lately and yes linux has quite a way to go to provide decent sound and video reproduction. The Etch box cannot really play or two or three divx videos at the same time without a lot of stuttering (and yes, I agree that it is silly to watch more than one video at once) … but the MacMini has no dramas playing a few videos. Its all very smooth.

Having said all these nice things, here’s the bad stuff:

  • I somehow crashed the thing on the first day I had it. I can’t remember what happened but I somehow locked up FrontRow and had to hold in the power button. Bizarre.
  • Automounting of NFS shares doesn’t seem to be reliable … and I have read a website somewhere that suggested that yes the automounter in 10.4.9 and 10.4.10 does not work properly. Good one. So I have static mounts for the time being
  • Firefox has a tendency to lock up.

The only thing I’ve tried plugging in are my Logitech webcam … and well that didn’t work, but there’s some mother of all drivers called macam that picked it up … but of course it still doesn’t work with apple’s iChat and you needed some program to make your crappy camera pretend to be a firewire camera as required by iChat (iChatUSBCam which is a shareware program)

I’m still getting used to the keys … and I still seem to lose windows, as Apple-tab or whatever it is doesn’t cycle through everything … just the things that are open.