OSX, Darwin, and the usual *nix apps...

I’m looking for a 12"/4lb notebook that’ll be my daily lugger when I start school again this fall.

Lately, I’ve been looking at Averatec’s $900-1k offerings. Though I’m tempted, I finally got a chance to play with one the other day, and the keyboard is just waaay too crappy to get used to.

So next up the ladder, oddly enough, is the 12" Powerbook. With my upcoming student discount, I should be able to get one reasonably cheap.

Anyway, my question is this: how difficult is it, really, to get the usual open source apps to work in OSX? I’m talking Gimp, OpenOffice, Apache, PHP, Mysql, etc… typical web development stuff. I’m sure as hell not going to buy MS Office or Photoshop when their open source equivalents suit me just fine.

I’ve done a little looking at the Open Darwin Project, and from what I can tell, everything needs to be pulled from CVS. How good are the builds? Do the apps integrate as well as your typical X86 distro?

Yeah, I know I can install YDL or PPCLinux or whatever, and I probably will, but since I’m going to be paying the premium for OS X, I’d like to try actually using it, and not having to boot back and forth.

Any ideas?

I’m sorry if this is IMHO material… I’m looking for both subjective and factual info.

Any terminal-based apps will be very easy to compile and run.

Apple provides an X11 server for running X11-based applications such as OpenOffice (which has a MacOS X binary available) and Gimp and so forth. Apache and Perl come with the default installation, and MySQL and PHP work fine. Additionally, the X11 server is supposed to be fully integrated in the next reelease of OSX.

Short answer: It’s all possible, but frequently doesn’t work as well as native version. For example, since those are X11 apps, you won’t get antialiasing, and other things such as fonts are inconsistent between X11 and the OSX main system (I think the font thing may have recently changed, though).

But it’s fairly easy to set up. Apache and PHP come setup already with OS X already. I’ve installed MySql and Gimp, and both were very easy installs.

Cool. I assumed it’d have the usual terminal tools, and I figured on sticking with Apple’s X for the (relative) consistency of interface. It’s kind of scary how hard it is to give up my free/open source apps… less than a year ago, I was all windows, all the time…

If you are going to be using mainly UNIX applications, why would you pay a premium for Apple’s hardware?

For the price of a 12" Powerbook, you can find PC laptops that will stomp on it with regards to performance. The new Pentium M chips gets great performance with very good battery performance. Before you make your purchase, you should take a look at the IBM T40.

I believe the 12" Powerbook is about $950 with student discount, which is competitive with Windows systems of comparable quality. Why would you talk about paying a premium and then suggest an $1800 IBM as an alternative?

I didn’t realize that the student discount would be that much. At the local University here, the prices of the Powerbook G4’s range start at $2100 CDN. The IBM T40 starts at $2900 without a student discount (the University doesn’t seem to be carrying the T40 at the moment).

Hmmm… Didn’t realize the T40 cost so much.

That will teach me to post without checking prices. How about the R40 then? Starting at $1700CDN.

Oops, I confused the Powerbook with the iBook, sorry. The 12" Powerbook is about $1400, but it may be different at different schools. Anyway the Mac vs. Windows debate is off-topic for this thread, isn’t it?

Yes. The Mac vs PC debates are always pointless and more often than not ends without resolve. :slight_smile:

But I will still suggest a PC alternative if the original poster is looking to run mainly UNIX/Linux applications. The linux distributions on the PC side are always ahead of the Apple offerings.

Both PCs and Macs have their benefits. You won’t be disappointed with your choice, regardless of which one you choose.

Also have a look at Fink

If price isn’t an issue, then there’s no real difference between a “commodity” x86 machine and PPC machine. As for manufacturers, you’ve got Apple on the PPC front and everyone else on the x86 side. For the same amount of money, you’ll probably get higher quality hardware from Apple than from a generic PC builder.

As for the software, there’s no inherent differences in the system. Let’s agree that they both can run several, big name Linux distributions – long have passed the days where LinuxPPC was the only big PPC distribution. That said, we’re on equal ground. Mac nuts nor Windows fanatics have anything to gripe about, since we’re not talking Mac vs. Windows; only Linux.

However: since the Mac comes with a BSD-derived POSIX compliant Unix-based operating system anyway, there’re probably no really compelling reasons to run GNU/Linux instead of the Mac OS. You get the beautiful Mac operating system with full X11 services as needed. If you really, really need Windows, get Virtual PC (there’s no “Virtual Mac” for x86, so it doesn’t work the other way around).

Check out fink for a debian-style package management system for your Mac Unix. You can use “fink” for source-code installs or “apt-get” to install binaries. There’re lots and lots of packages, including all the big, important ones.

Furthermore, GPL gtk has been released for Mac OS X. What’s this mean? Non-X, native builds of a huge amount of X11 apps will be along soon. You won’t be stuck with Xfree86, but be able to run things in the native windowing system.

In short, if you’re a Linux/Unix guy/gal, there’s nothing you’ll miss by using a Mac OS X system.

Uhhh… the T40 is at least $800 US more than the Powerbook, new. Comparably equipped refurbs start at $1,500.

So yeah, if price wasn’t an object, I’d blow three grand on a top-o-the-line Thinkpad, but since I’ve only got $1,800 tops to spend, the Powerbooks come out ahead in the price/performance/portability equation. Everything else I’ve seen of the same size either a) uses Via or Transmeta chips, b) costs a helluva lot more, or c) has external drives, docking stations, or whatever, that I don’t want to bother with.

I know, I had trouble wrapping my head around the idea of Apple being the best deal for the money, too, but in this case, it holds pretty true.

And strangely enough, I don’t so much mind paying the OSX Tax as I do paying the Windows Tax. :wink:

Apache, MySQL and PHP work just fine and require no extra juju to get working on OS X than any *nix box.

Dunno if installed Mac OS X installed comes with the extra developer’s CD that is included with the boxed OS X. The developer CD has the ususal open source tools and goodies.

As other have pointed out, the X11 graphics are problematic but there do exist some ports to Mac OS X (like emacs for example).

Andrew Warinner

My 15" Powerbook came with the developer tools package on the hard drive. I had to run the installer. You can also download it.

I have had no problems with the X11 that fink installs. At least, no problems that aren’t problems inherent in X11 or XFree and are also seen on other platforms.

I’ve been using my powerbook with a lot of stuff installed from Fink for almost a year now, and I’ve been very happy with it.

Comparing prices on Thinkpad vs. Powerbook doesn’t make too much sense. The IBM Thinkpad is a truly awesome piece of gear, but… they’re overpriced. Every single model is overpriced.
I’m not saying that with your student discount, a Powerbook isn’t the best deal available for your goals. But I will say that you should also shop against Sony, HP and Dell laptops as well.