That's it. I've decided.

I'm switching.

In the very near future (after taxes are computed, reported, and paid) I'm putting one of my Thinkpads (the T21 running Linux) and my oldish G4 Apple Powerbook (15" 550MHz) up for sale. Using the funds from those sales and a bit of other cash, I'll be buying a new 15" Powerbook.

This has been a long time coming. In the nearly 2 years since I wrote that reivew, I've upgraded it a bit. It now has 768MB RAM and an AirPort card. I'd use it from time to time, but couldn't ever convince myself to just give up my old ways. But I recently tried to be completely honest with myself about my computing needs (that's not always easy!). I realized that I only do a few things on my Linux notebook (my primary machine until recently) 99% of the time:

That's really it.

Of course, there's a list of things that are a pain in the ass on Linux that I've just been living with for no really good reason (other than the fact that I'm very, very comfortable on Linux):

  • watching quicktime movies
  • expecting power management to work
  • having easy wireless networking
  • finding an RSS aggregator that doesn't suck (less of an issue now that I use bloglines)

Now, looking at things from the point of view of an occasional Mac OS X (Jaguar) user (no, I haven't upgraded to Panther yet--sure me), it's pretty clear that I can fix everything on the second list without changing much on the first list.

Sure, I may switch to using Safari as my browser and may give Apple's another chance once I move to Panther. Or maybe I'll use Mozilla Thunderbird instead. But I've used mutt/exim/emacs/isync on this old Powerbook before without any trouble.


Why didn't I do this sooner? Beats me. I'm slow and stupid sometimes.

Probably a combination of inertia, being lazy, not wanting to change, and so on. But in the last week or so, I've been more honest with myself and really tried to give OS X a fair shake. Unlike most Mac users, I don't think the OS X interface is "beautiful" or "clean" but it certainly does the job well enough for my needs. Yeah, I'm giving up a lot of control but ditching FVWM2 on Linux, but that's okay. I really don't have time to tweak that crap anymore.

I've owned four Thinkpads and ran Linux on all but one of them (the fourth is my Windows box, used mainly for GPS and flight/navigation software nowadays). I've been at this a long, long time. But, you know what? Stuff just works on this Mac. And since all the cool kids are doing it, I have few if any fears that my favorite Open Source tools are already debugged and working there smoothly.

There really are no good reasons left for not switching. I haven't thought of anything I can do on the Linux Thinkpad that I can't do on a Powerbook running Mac OS X. Well, there are some things, but none of them matter to me. That was the important realization here.

Am I giving up on the idea of Linux on the desklaptop? Not really. I still have a Linux desktop at work that I use to talk to a bunch of FreeBSD systems. All I really need/want there is a bunch of xterms, emacs, and my IM clients. So it fits the bill nicely. But let's face it, when it comes to being user friendly and handling modern media, Linux (meaning "the desktop stuff" often packaged to run on it) has some growing up to do.

Use the right tool for the job, I guess.

I'm sure that I've known all of this on some level for a year or so now. And I know that there a bunch of you reading this and thinking... "Duh. Welcome to the party. It's about time you showed up!"

I guess I was just in denial.

So, anyone wanna buy a couple of notebooks? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at March 31, 2004 12:39 AM

Reader Comments
# Wahyu Wijanarko said:

Emm, maybe not me, because it will take more cost, when you send computer to my home. I'll buy notebook at here.
I'm in Indonesia now!

on March 31, 2004 03:35 AM
# B said:

This may be a bit premature, but welcome to the fold. I made the jump in August with the purchase of a 12" PB to replace my aging TP 600. A week later, my boss bought me a G5.

I'm thrilled with the switch. I love many of the Mac-only technologies, like Rendezvous; I only wish I were in closer proximity to more geeky Mac users so I could play with them (collaboratively editing a document with SubEthaEdit by myself gets old fast).

Up until switching to the Mac, I was a pine user for probably 10 years. I still miss the keyboard navigation in pine, but I really like, now. It is the best IMAP client I've used so far, and, frankly, I think you'll have no need for the isync you referenced (iSync and a .mac acc't rock for keeping bookmarks in sync between two copies of Safari). works great in disconnected mode.

I do Java development and its nice having Java be a first-class citizen on the platform. I've been using Emacs for the better part of a decade, as well, and the build for OS X is pretty solid. I keep trying to switch to something native, but 10 years of inertia and muscle memory is a lot to overcome.

Feel free to ping me with any questions; I think we're going down the same road.

on March 31, 2004 04:40 AM
# Kasia Trapszo said:

Oh, just admit it, you saw mine and got jealous because it's bigger than yours :)

Powerbook size envy!

on March 31, 2004 05:01 AM
# Mark said:

I rejoice not because I am a Mac fanatic, but because I believe that you will get so much more done. I personally run every flavor of OS I can afford on my desk, but I always find myself attracted to working with my Blue and White G3. The interface is more pleasing to the eye than Windows XP, tasks are fluid to execute and Expose' is just so darn useful! Plus, addition of peripherals is like plugging in a lamp. Plug in, turn on the switch and there is light.

Good choice. I am sure the powerbook will be good to you.

on March 31, 2004 05:03 AM
# Mike Hillyer said:

"I am sure the powerbook will be good to you."

Great... now I have sprongmonkeys in my head:

'We love iBooks! Cause they are good to us!'

on March 31, 2004 05:50 AM
# Pete Prodoehl said:

I'd recommend the following for Mac OS X (if you haven't used them yet) Fire for IM, and iTerm (better than Apple's I use which does a great job at filtering spam, but Thunderbird is nice too... Also, since isn't quite there on Mac OS X yet you might try NeoOffice/J

on March 31, 2004 06:49 AM
# brian said:

I agree with Pete, Fire and iTerm are really nice. I use those, as well as bbedit and Transmit to name a few. Interesting enough, I planned to do a reverse switch to a IBM T41 running XP. I've been using os x for Java/Web development and managing redhat web servers via ssh for a number of years. I was thinking it was time to join the rest of the world on Windows, just to see how good I had it. I look forward to your updates on the switch. Good luck.

on March 31, 2004 07:10 AM
# Adam Trachtenberg said:

IMHO, one of the benefits of running Mac OS X instead of Linux is that you can actually use MS Office instead of Open Office.

Yes, it costs money, but when you read in a complex spreadsheet or presentation there are no conversion issues and there's full feature parity with Windows. Those were always my two biggest problems with Office clones.

on March 31, 2004 07:29 AM
# said:

Mmmm. (that is a Mmmm written from my 12" Linux laptop with my 17" iMac sitting idle).
What stops me switching is that I'm used to having about 20 xterms open in 6 different workspaces. How do I do this on OSX?

on March 31, 2004 07:31 AM
# anders said:

fwiw, i've been using mplayer and mplayerplug-in for video on linux and haven't run across a quicktime (or any other video file) that i haven't been able to play in the last two years or so.

of course, when i was running redhat or mandrake, i never could figure out how to get mplayer working with all the codecs. under gentoo it just works without me doing anything more than 'emerge mplayer'. so it may be a distribution related problem.

on March 31, 2004 07:53 AM
# justin said:

yes , it's a distro issue. getting mplayer to fully work on mandrake is HARD work.

and don't even start me on stupid Java app issues (java apps wont work in your browser unless you download the jvm from Sun blah blah) or stupid Flash distro issues.
you think all distros would have sorted this out by now.

on March 31, 2004 08:02 AM
# Jeff Flowers said:

Before I say anything else, I would like to point out that Rendezvous is an open technology that anyone can use. It is not Mac only. A good page for info is

My only advice to Jeremy would be to max out your RAM. RAM is cheap and the benefits are incredible.

on March 31, 2004 08:23 AM
# Andrew said:

Re: Workspaces

Try, Desktop Manager.

on March 31, 2004 08:27 AM
# B said:

Re: iTerm. iTerm has some great features, but it also has some great big memory leaks. I'm back to using now, but I do miss the tabs in iTerm. Now if someone would figure out how to configure the Command key to work as an Alt or Meta key in the terminals...

Re: virtual desktops. There's at least one freeware virtual desktop manager for OS X, and another that's payware. The problem I had with them is that if I've got, say, a Safari window open and focussed in one virtual desktop and switch to another, the window that was active would stay active, even though it was on the other desktop. I guess what they needed was to remember which window was focussed on each VD.

on March 31, 2004 08:41 AM
# B said:

I heartily endorse maxxing out your memory. Don't buy Apple's. Buy from Crucial, or another reputable memory retailer. My 1.8GHz G5 with half a gig of RAM becomes an absolute dog compared to my 867MHz G4 PB with 640MB of RAM, with roughly the same applications open. I've set up a bunch of graphs with rrdtool on both the PB and the G5; its really ... er ... interesting to see how much the G5 thrashes under low memory conditions...

on March 31, 2004 08:46 AM
# Tom Becker said:

I struggled with the decision to buy one of the new aluminum Powerbooks but now, after using the 15" for 3 months, my hesitation was in vain. I just wish I could use OS X at work.

on March 31, 2004 09:51 AM
# justin said:

off topic: channel 4 news (UK) just did a piece on Google, and interviewed Larry Page. This news program is pretty big in the UK - it's more highbrow, and the bulk of the intellegensia and political/business classes always watch it.

last time i saw tech news like this was during the boom. Yet another sign of Jeremy's "mini-boom" theory, that he posted about a while back.

on March 31, 2004 10:51 AM
# ben said:

It's the jealousy triggered by of all those meetings where you saw me with my 17" G4 PB.

Get 1GB of RAM.

on March 31, 2004 10:53 AM
# Mark said:

What the heck is a sprongmonkey? :-)

on March 31, 2004 11:05 AM
# Ryan said:

And you can't forget Voodoo Pad if you are in to Wiki like things. (Had to plug my friends software :-)

on March 31, 2004 12:00 PM
# Michael Perry said:

Just a comment on the T21 running linux and your power management point. I have a T21 running debian linux with 512mb of memory and try as I could apm would just not work right. If I left the laptop alone too long, the screen would dim but the laptop would be in some locked down mode where I could not awake it no matter what. I went through a few bios upgrades on it, went to 2.6.3 and when I went there I decided to try ACPI instead of APM. Unfortunately at that point, the memory on the laptop went bad. I rebuilt the laptop with debian and a 2.4.25 kernel but I kept using acpi and the laptop seems to handle power management events much better.

How much you want for the T21? :)

on March 31, 2004 12:32 PM
# TjL said:

Yup, same thing going on here. I gave up my NeXTSTEP box a few years ago because although I loved it and was comfortable with it, I couldn't do what I needed to do on it.

Went to a Windows machine because OS-X wasn't ready yet, and found that it "just worked" for me too (after I went to Win2k rather than 98). 2k and XP have also "just worked."

I've installed FreeBSD as dual boot a couple of times, but like yourself, I don't have time to be twiddling with all these different settings to just get a window manager working.

OS-X seems like the best of both worlds. Unix underneath and nice GUI on top.

I hope to join you in the Mac world soon.

on March 31, 2004 12:36 PM
# justin said:

wwooooaah - that Voodoo Pad stuff looks seriously cool. maybe i'm too lost in the Linux world to pay much attention to Mac stuff. I must get out more and check out the Mac scene i bit more.

I've been thinking about getting a laptop for myself recently, with the intention of running Linux on it - but Jeremy's post has made me reconsider that.

on March 31, 2004 12:39 PM
# Ian Holsman said:

You might want to wait until the WWDC (apples developer conference) in mid april, and see if they announce anything 'interesting' like a faster processor or some new giveaway/deal..

on March 31, 2004 02:51 PM
# david said:

Make sure that you wipe/shred/degauss those disks before selling them..

Although i'd be fun to see..

"Jeremy Zawodny, and secrets of how to run a blog with lots of commenters" someday ;)

on March 31, 2004 02:55 PM
# Chris said:

I just bought a 12in iBook (Hey! I'm a student, I don't got the cash you business bodies do) and besides just getting used to using it after being a Windows person for more than a few years I love it. The battery life is great (really is 5hrs with screen dimming technique on wireless) and everything works well except for IM. the Mac IM clients blow, no ifs ands or butts. All seriously beta when it comes to crashes and even iChat sucks in comparison to AIM w/ DeadAIM or the like. None of them compare to Trillian in pure usability/power.

*shrugs* Minor thing.

Does anyone know of a good newsgroup reader though? Thats the one app I haven't been able to find a nice one of that runs native under OS X.

on March 31, 2004 06:03 PM
# Victor Panlilio said:

Chris asked: "Does anyone know of a good newsgroup reader though?"

Try Unison from

on March 31, 2004 06:20 PM
# Andrei said:

I'll probably be switching soon as well...

on March 31, 2004 06:30 PM
# Scott Johnson said:

I've thought about switching, but there are just some things that I haven't been able to do as quickly on my G4 (running Panther) as I can on my Pentium3 (running XP). I hate Micro$oft as much as the next guy, but Windows just works well for me.

on March 31, 2004 07:11 PM
# craig said:

Do it! I just sold my ThinkPad T40 that I used for XP and Fedora to get a 12" PB 1GHz w/ Airport Extreme, 768MB RAM and I am loving this switch. I'd never owned/hardly used a Mac before in my life either. Whiel the T40 was great, just like you I was tired of doign it the hard way, all the meaningless tweaking, etc. "It Just works" and it works so well. 3 weeks into the switch and I don't know why it took me this long to do it!

on March 31, 2004 07:31 PM
# Charles said:

You might want to wait on purchasing a new PowerBook, there are rumors of new models just 3 weeks away, at the NAB convention.
BTW, someone discovered a way to get to work with Unix mbox format, like it used to before MacOS X 10.2. Check it out. It looks like you could grab your mail with the regular old fetchmail stuff, or run procmail locally, or whatever mail geekery you like, and still use or any Unix mail reader you prefer. You could even use different mail programs on the same mbox, although I don't know why you'd want to do that.

on March 31, 2004 07:35 PM
# Ryan C. said:

Good timing... I actually just placed an order for my own 15" PB (maxed out, minus DVD-R! ;) Can't wait to get rolling on the 'switch'..

Seems I'm not the only owner of an IBM 'T' series laptop either. I'm certainly looking forward to handing off my T22..

on March 31, 2004 09:40 PM
# Martin Streicher said:

I currently have a Linux machine and three OS X machines. Two of the OS X machines now run Panther Server, and I am this close to moving everything from Linux to OS X. Open source tools run on OS X almost as easily as Linux, but the administration tools are dead easy to use. DNS, mailing lists, email (in and out), etc., etc. are just so simple under Panther Server.

I agree that memory is key. It's had the biggest impact on my Mac OS X machines, even the modded G4 Blue and White, which now has 1 GB of RAM. My 17" Powerbook is also maxed out.

One perk: I have a G5 on loan for 30 more days. It's a dual-processor, 2 GB RAM system that kicks ass. I'm gonna be sad to box it up and send it back to Apple.

on March 31, 2004 10:45 PM
# Chris Winters said:

I did the same thing last November (15" aluminum Powerbook) and have never regretted it. I was a Linux-at-home/XP-at-work person as many others, and just so refreshed by how the OSX and the Powerbook Just Work.

What helped me a lot is that I actually do very little with my computer, and all of it's generic. (Non-programmers are always surprised by this.) All I need is: browser, mail, XEmacs, Postgres, Apache, Perl, Java + IDEA, plus a compiler for the various small items that pop up now and then.

FWIW, fink ( has been excellent for me, and for what I do I get by just fine on the 512MB of memory the PB came with.

on April 1, 2004 02:13 PM
# M.Statton said:

Excellent job! Hope everything goes well for you with the switch. I switched years ago and haven't regretted it at all. I program, do graphical design work and am also a physician. I've used a few distros of LINUX and found them nice, but lacking the polish that OSX does. Good luck!

on April 1, 2004 07:14 PM
# Michael said:

To Chris: Have you tried Fire? ( Much better IM client than Gaim or Trillian, imo. (Though I haven't used Trillian in a couple of years.) All the features I want and need, and very stable. And a comparably excellent user interface. (To Gaim, anyhow.)

Also, for anyone who likes Fink, be sure you don't miss out on (the included?) FinkCommander. GUI goodness for installing apps via Fink.

on April 2, 2004 05:57 AM
# sjk said:

Great "switcher" stories. I've been using a 12" 600MHz G3 iBook since late 2001. Trying to be patient for Apple's next hardware announcement before buying a desktop Mac that I'm long overdue for. My background is mostly with Sun/Solaris systems. I almost sidestepped into Linux but figured I'd end up tinkering with it too much. Mac OS X has most everything I need and lets me tinker in ways I *want* to, not that I'm *forced* to.

Yes, OS X is RAM-hungry. My iBook could use more than 640MB for graphics/video projects I'd like to do.

To B, who had sticky window focus after switching virtual desktops: I rarely have that happen using CodeTek Virtual Desktop and there's probably some preference I could tweak to completely eliminate it.

Someone mentioned VoodooPad. Also check out Hog Bay Notebook.

I'm surprised no one plugged the FireFox browser. I don't use it because I prefer the "feel" of Safari and OmniWeb (and they integrate nicely with the system), but some people are fanatical about it.

If you want a decent personal database look at DEVONthink. I throw all sorts of random information in it instead of using file/folder hierarchies. I'm an advocate of "search-based" interfaces for content management and organization. Thinking about which folder to put files has become really tedious. I'd rather store everything in a "database" and use something like "smart folders" (like smart playlists in iTunes) to search/manage/organize it with various metadata.

Some of my essential apps:

Carbon Copy Cloner (for backups for external FireWire drive)
DiskWarrier (for disk repair/optimization)
EasyFind (for non-indexes file/folder/content searching)
iNet Stream Archiver (for streaming audio captures)
Logorrhea (for browsing iChat (sufficient for my IM use) logs)
NetNewsWire (for RSS news reading)
SSHKeychain (for ssh key management)
Watson (for scheduling EyeTV recordings)

Panther Secrets Declassified is a recent Macworld article covering some useful tips (and some also apply to pre-10.3 systems).

Okay, that's more than enough.

on April 2, 2004 08:46 PM
# Anuj Goyal said:

Hey Jeremey, what notebooks do you have for sale? I noticed that you graduated from Bowling Green (I orginally grew up in Toledo) - how interested in you in database technologies, I have just discovered a blast from the past based on non-row based storage that you might be intereted in, gives 5-10 times performance of existing database implementations. No joke, I don't want to waste your time, but I believe this would help Yahoo to a great degree.

on April 3, 2004 02:11 PM
# Will Parker said:

My wife is becoming seriously envious of the screen on my 15" PowerBook, and we don't have the funds yet for one of us to upgrade to one the newer PowerBooks. We might, however, be able to spring for your PowerBook.

Please send me your requested price - with an account of the condition and options (RAM, hard drive space, CD/Combo/SuperDrive, AirPort card, etc.).

Welcome to the world of modern Macs!

on April 3, 2004 05:31 PM
# Stewart C. Russell said:

No interest in switching here. Though I have access to OS X boxen, Gentoo (on Athlon or x86) does the happy thing for me.

Say no to twee, slow user interfaces and outrageous hardware prices!

on April 4, 2004 07:50 PM
# Brian Curran said:

*cough* BSD *cough*

on April 4, 2004 08:55 PM
# Jeremy Dunck said:

FYI, GAIM now interops w/ the Yahoo protocol. Until it changes.

on October 7, 2004 07:09 PM
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