This discussion came up on our internal mailing list today. As this turned out too long, and I didn’t want to start a mailing list frame war, I decided to post it here instead. Feel free to comment below, or ignore .
Here’s what Apple does well in my mind: Apple does a good job of providing a solution that works out of the box for a limited environment and a very limited supported set of hardware. They invest considerable resources in that and it works quite well, most of the time, for most people, especially non-tech ones that don’t turn screws. It even works well for many tech users (e.g., myself). I personally consider it the best compromise for my productivity. And that is even though I miss the freedom I had during my decade of using Linux as the main OS, and I am annoyed by how they close they platform and much of the corporate behavior they are exhibiting.
Ubuntu desperately tries to emulate that user experience, with way too few resources and for a completely undefined hardware landscape. They fail miserably.
Two developers at tt gave up on 11.04 this summer and switched over to Windows 7 as their desktop OS because of recurring issues with Eclipse crashing, menu bars vanishing, X hanging (yes, we give everyone their OS of choice and let them administer their own desktops). Two different sets of hardware, two different people. For UNIX only stuff, they now work via VNC on my workstation which is still 8.04 because I am a conservative bastard . From my experience, and much of what I have heard, 11.04 is simply more broken than 10.04 and that was more broken than 8.04 (and arguably, that was more broken than 6.06).
My claim is that Ubuntu should stop trying to emulate what Apple is doing, because they cannot possibly do so successfully, given the resources they have and the hardware landscape they have to support. And they should stop making these lonesome, ill-communicated, ill-documented decisions, like, using an untested event framework to reduce boot times so they look good in quick first-glance reviews. Or switching from gnome standards to an unready custom shell that was designed for *Netbooks* of all things. These decisions alienate both their power users and the external OSS developer community.
They should return to embracing the open source community and try to build a working desktop out of community supported OSS components for power users that know what they are doing. We don’t need shiny demos. We need a working system.
Let Apple cater to non-tech people — let’s be serious, they are never going to use Linux on a general-purpose PC anyway. Most of them will be using iOS / Android type devices as their main platforms before too long, because that is all they need.