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January 6, 2009 / davebirss

Goodbye 2008. Goodbye Apple.


Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of a thing for Macs. Over the years I’ve convinced dozens of people to make the switch from the gloomy, grey world of Windows to the bright and cheery world of OSX. So it may come as a bit of a shock when I tell you that I’m no longer a Mac user. I’m typing this very post on my new laptop and there’s not an Apple logo in sight. And I love it.

But don’t fret – I’ve not defected to Microsoft. Instead, as the result of my daughter murdering my 4 month old MacBook, I decided to try a switch to Ubuntu – a rather tasty version of Linux. And I’m running it on a very cute, lovely and cheap Asus eeePC.

So will I become as evangelical about Ubuntu as I was about Apple? Well, no. Not yet.

Don’t get me wrong – I really like Ubuntu. I love the fact that it’s open source. I love it that all the software is free. I love the interface. I love how customisable it is. But the problem is that you need to be a bit too geeky to use it.

I’m not as much of a geek as you may think. Yes – I love digital stuff – but I prefer experience, usability and good design to tinkering with code. I speak pidgin HTML, can ask directions to the nearest bakery in CSS and can kind of work out what Javascript stuff does but couldn’t order a beer in it. I just prefer all that stuff to be hidden from me. Unfortunately, Ubuntu still requires just a bit too much tinkering in the command line terminal for my liking. And it’s taken me days delving into the dark world of forums to get the computer working pretty much the way I want. I just don’t feel comfortable getting ‘superuser’ permissions and typing in esoteric code that I don’t fully comprehend. I would much prefer to simply click on an ‘install me’ icon and click my way through a wizard. And until Ubuntu does that, it can’t ever hit the mainstream.

So my plea to the wonderful developers donating their time to the Ubuntu project is to concentrate on the user experience. It doesn’t take much to beat Microsoft at this game but Apple is the standard you should be aiming at. And if you get better at this, automate as much as possible and make it possible to get a machine up and running without having to spend days wrestling with Google, I’ll start recommending Ubuntu to everyone I meet. I promise.

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  1. Christian Hermansen / Jan 6 2009 8:20 pm

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