Why do Mac people also use Linux?

1) As stated before, if you held out against the Wintel duopoly during the recent dark years, you're not a "just go along" type of person. (Yeah, the whole "Think Different" thing is pretentious, but there's a grain of truth to it. It's a stubborn streak that suits both Mac and Linux users well).

2) It's easy. MacOS coexists peacefully with another OS on the same hard drive. Most of the alternate OSs provide easy-to-use dual booters, and choosing between different startup drives has always been trivial on the Mac. You can boot from just about anything on a Mac: external HD, floppy, Zip, Jaz, whatever. So it's easy to experiment with little obligation.

3) This one is subtle, but I think the most important. Both Macs and Linux reinforce the idea that computers are logically designed and predictable systems that can be mastered. With Linux there is predictability and mastery, but it requires much greater initial knowledge (i.e., a steep learning curve). You've got to want to do something, then learn how to do it.

With the Mac there is a shallow learning curve, but you can keep going as far as you like. If you're a Grandma and you just want to e-mail and file recipes, you can stop there. But I've found the Mac actually encourages "serendipitous" learning -- sometimes I've ended up doing new things just because it was so damn easy and predictable on the Mac. I got a cable modem, then before I knew it I was using my machine as a Web server and router, with three or four other Macs on a LAN with it. And it was easy. I've seen novices (like I was) go from using software to installing it,from attaching peripherals to swapping components, from using higher end apps to coding. Even when Macs crash, it can be logically narrowed down to an extensions conflict or offending app.

Compare this to the Wintel side of the world, where even experienced technicians just reinstall Windows to solve a problem. Whenever I use Windows I feel like the system is fighting me every step of the way. Sometimes things just don't work. Sometimes it just crashes. No one is ever able to explain it. It's all just freakin' voodoo. Although its not as bad as it used to be, how would anyone ever learn cool stuff by chance when the computer is this inscrutable device that doesn't do simple stuff right? If the computer is not logical and predictable, why even expend effort trying to understand it?

Even if you do make the effort, it's just one kludge after another. Right down to the processor and its assembly language. No offense to the Intel users out there, but x86 assembly language is just a mess. Let's not even discuss PowerPC, because I don't want to make this a Mac-vs-PC thing. Look at MIPS assembly language. Instructions logically grouped, all the same length, with consistent syntax. It's understandable. It's knowable. When you look at it you see logic behind the design.

But I'm getting a bit off topic here. Basically, I think the shallow learning curve of the Mac and its consistent design encourages users to learn more. It tells them that computers (and technology in general) are rationally designed things you can understand and master. Do that for long enough and you will build up the necessary knowledge and confidence to tackle Linux.

-- by an Anonymous Coward on slashdot 10-Jun-99

Linux and classic Macintosh mix well because neither one tries to be the other. The classic Mac is unstable and inflexible, but has an excellent user interface and a good range of everyday software. Linux is fast and sturdy, but doesn't have a well-integrated user interface or big-brand non-scientific software. But now both platforms are stretching toward the middle: the Macintosh with Mac OS X, which replaces the system software with BSD; Linux with Ximian Gnome, which is a real user interface.

Presumably, the Linux developers as a whole will realize that fancy user interfaces are not optional when dealing with anything but flat ascii, and so one day I'll have an open-source equivalent of Adobe Illustrator(R). But until Linux steals the good parts of the Macintosh, it's quite convenient to use both on the same box -- because of their completely different philosophies.

(It might be argued that Windows(R) failed by trying to be an OS for both servers and desktops -- spreading itself too thin -- but that's another node.)

The factors mrsid mentions above, plus the remarkable excellence of software like Yellow Dog Linux and Mac-on-Linux, are both the cause and effect of this symbiosis.

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