My journey from Macs to Mint

I saw the commercial. Buying a Mac would throw a rock through the window of mundane, non-graphical computing.

I was already entranced with the idea of the progenitor of modern GUIs, SmallTalk, and its GUI-focused daily computing-life maneuvering.

I'd tried various Apple IIs, III, the Lisa, and enjoyed their thinking. Apple was headed that way. A Mac as my work output machine? Not yet.

Then Mac OS X arrived, and I bought two used Macs that would run on the now archaic, then progressive, PowerPC chip.

The portable was outrageous. I could get Word. Because it was based on Darwin/BSD, I could get other FOSS software to work on it. It was a pleasure. I was never going to change, if Apple kept updating it.

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Then the Intel version came along. Breezy, it was, to move onto that platform. Wow. Wasn't fragile, and I felt like I was getting off the merry-go-round. Along came 10.1/2/3/4/5 and 6. I was still happy. Apple did quirky stuff. They would let me use Bluetooth, but not in certain ways. Drivers always lagged.

Software updates were frequent, but some broke my machine. I moved my hard drive from notebook to notebook, and with each new updated machine, life was better, if expensive.

Now iTunes and iPads and iPhones arrived. Apple was starting to know a great deal about Tom Henderson and his buying habits.

Apple and Microsoft fought long and hard. I thought I was winning in a weird way, by being an Apple user. Apple is a cult; you don't half-like Apple or you're accused of apostasy.

I had the sticker on the back of my car. Yeah, Apple fanboi. I started to see the waves of people migrating towards the now-co-opted mantra: It just works.

Apple did an amazing job of forcing simplicity and continuity among its community members. My first Mac had evolved into a sophisticated platform that allowed me to code, write work product, do virtual machines, even use Apple's Xserve platform -- and I still use that server platform today, despite Apple's discontinuance of its server hardware/storage platform.

The Mac, and Apple in general, is totally about the user. It's about a personal, rather than a dictated platform or methodology.

I felt primped, pampered, if at a price for the pampering. Virtual machines did well; Parallels or VMware knew what to do. This was a machine for the ages.

Then one afternoon, I realized that Apple was comparatively proprietary in nature. Apple's OS couldn't be used on non-Apple hardware; Apple has sound reasons for this.

The server line was discontinued. It was great, but like the Apple XSan, no one apparently bought the chrome look for an extra 70%. They were ahead of their time, but businesses snubbed them. I got off the Mac bandwagon.

Today, I do 90% of my work on Linux Mint. There are no Mac VMs so I don't run them. I like MacOS. I like integration. Autonomy requires using machines as tools. I fawn after Macbook Airs. But my budget and independence streak is still in the zone of commodity Lenovos, and Linux.  

Henderson is principal researcher for ExtremeLabs, of Bloomington, Ind. He can be reached at kitchen-sink@extremelabs.com.

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