Quit OS X? I Never Started With OS X

I have admittedly limited experience with OS X (and Apple products in general), starting on the OS X train with a late 2012 i7/16GB Mac Mini equipped with Mountain Lion. Over the subsequent two years it has been upgraded to Mavericks and then Yosemite.

I originally planned on using it over VNC for XCode work from my primary desktop machine, but even over a 1Gbps wired direct connection to a desk 10 feet away I found VNC performance absolutely miserable (trust that I’ve tried a number of VNC options, and every manner of tuning). As someone who remotes to Windows desktops day in and day out, over long distance internet links, sometimes on the other side of the world and with a high level of latency, this contrast in usability rendered OSX remoting effectively unusable.

If I wasn’t used to something better, it probably would have been fine. But I was, and it wasn’t.

The experience isn’t that much better sitting at the workstation locally (how very archaic). Despite being fairly decently equipped, it feels like a very slow computer. Actions often have no indication that anything is happening, yet take surprisingly long periods of time. It’s running on a magnetic drive, and of course would be more responsive with an SSD, but the general performance experience was, and remains, unexpectedly bad. At least relative to a bog standard Windows machine.

abandoned

And stability…forget about it. I’ve seen the spinning pinwheel of death enough times to greatly dislike it. Basic services like iTunes and home sharing are a continual issue. After updating to Mavericks the machine would frequently return from standby to a black screen (which you could escape from if you could log into your account sight unseen, where the display would suddenly appear. This was not an uncommon issue).

Synthetic benchmarks all show that the machine is performing exactly as expected. Hardware tests show everything is perfectly fine. The operating system is simply imperfect in a variety of ways. If I were accustomed to its unique traits and saw them as strengths or worth the trouble, or if culturally I felt pressure to be pro-OS X (such as in Silicon Valley where a Macbook is de rigueur, even if often it’s a replaceable veneer over virtualized Linux guests), perhaps I would overlook this, but instead I consider this OS a very flawed implementation. I wouldn’t voluntarily rely upon it as my primary desktop platform.

The logs tell me that a large number of people who read my missives run OS X, and those people have their own reasons and motives, inputs and factors, that drive their decisions. That doesn’t sway me to laud the OS, or to avoid criticizing it: The day I avoided offending a technology or choice that some portion of readers might use is the day I would stop doing this whole thing.

My children don’t use it. My four year old refers to it as “glitchy”, preferring Windows desktops (despite, it should be noting, having most of his early computing on this device. He isn’t just resistant to change).

It deserves criticism for its faults, along with deserved lauding it receives for its benefits. Windows on laptops, for instance, remains an expensive tax that dooms your battery to rapid depletion.

The former — criticisms — it recently got in droves when someone posted a widely linked diatribe about “Why I Quit OS X”. Marco Arment added some follow-up comments that added fuel to the fire. Marco’s missives were particularly incendiary given that he has long been seen as such an unwavering Apple booster.

The first author took down their post for reasons unknown. Marco expressed their “unstoppable nightmare of embarrassment and guilt” because their words were used against Apple.

Apple. The $700 billion dollar consumer electronics company. One of the most powerful and influential companies in the world. Embarrassment and guilt.

Bizarre.

Many in the Apple community still seem to believe that Apple is the underdog. As if it’s them against the world. Bloggers like John Gruber ply their trade defensively shuffling around the tubes looking for claim chowder to cynically denounce, all in defense of Apple. All criticisms have to be coached in vague language, always targeting the audience of insiders, fearful that it might be used against “you”, where you is the ego-attachment to a platform. What guilt one would suffer under if their words were used against one’s “group”?

All very strange, and truly embarrassing. It’s a company and a set of platforms. Quit making it a part of your identity.