Kasperian Moving Parts

kinda like Batman, but with a wife and 3 kids

This Just In: Linux Is Better Than OS X


Well, at least it is for me. And it’s taken me $1500 to figure it out the hard way.

How much is it to ask for to be able to {alt,command}-tab through ALL bloody open windows in OS X? You know… ALL of them. Like, ALL of them–including the X11 windows that all get bunched up underneath one stinking X icon. Or the 2 Firefox windows. Not just one of them. ALL of them. And yes, I do know about Witch. And no, it doesn’t work with X11 windows. And why would I want to use X11 to begin with? Because sometimes Free applications are much, much better than the ones you have to pay for. For example, kontact is MUCH much better an integrated mail/PIM environment than Mail.app could ever dream of being.
I realize that some people (mostly Mac-only people) don’t bother their pretty little heads about such things. OS X is pretty, after all, and it’s sooooo much better than OS 9, etc. And if you stay in the Apple box, it truly is a really nice and functional and pretty environment.

I now realize that what I have is a really pretty, sexy, sleek, expensive computer (again, they all suck) that is completely incompatible with me. I’m not saying it’s not compatible with others–obviously that’s not the case, and I wish them all the best of luck. But it sucks for me.

I realize this, but it comes down to what you’re used to and what you can be most-productive with. And for me, I’m used to working the way that I’m used to working for the last 10+ years on Linux, and be it “better”, “worse”, “ugly”, or “whatever”, it’s what I’m comfortable with and what I’m most-productive with.

As I’ve blogged about previously, I cannot just use Linux on the powerbook (Linux works absolutely great, persay, but the proprietary applications that I need to run on it I cannot since they’re not made for Linux-PPC, but only Linux-x86). Let this be a lesson to all those who come behind…. Yes, Linux (the Kernel and distribution) works wonderfully on the PPC platform. But do the apps you need? Realize up front that you cannot use Flash (like 50+% of the websites on the WWW use these days?!?), Moneydance (forget OFX because Moneydance is proprietary, as is Java, and the only “complete” JVM you can use decently is IBM’s JDK, which doesn’t work with Moneydance’s SSL layer or something… blah), Win32-based multimedia codecs (.mov, .avi, .asf, etc…. any of the codecs that work in Linux-x86 that are based on windows32 will NOT work in Linux PPC), and others you may not realize you really need to have until you’re stuck with a powerbook running Linux and can’t have them.

I also cannot just use OS X. This is partly because of comfort/what-I’m-used-to, as well as some practical things, like having to jump through some really screwy hoops to be able to develop for the KDE environment.
And how bloody difficult is it to have the “end” key mean “End of Line” to OS X????? Or the “Home” key mean “beginning of Line”, not “top of page”????
And why not put the to-the-rest-of-the-world standard keys (ever heard of insert? single-key delete/page down/page up/home/end?????) as single keys on the Mac keyboard, Steve???

Bloody BLAH.

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Nerd. These are our stories....


  1. Yeah, that’s a pretty BLAH post! 🙂 Sorry to hear of your woes!

  2. Heh. Thanks. =:) I don’t suppose you’d be interested in buying a very gently-used powerbook, now, hmmmm, Pax? =;)

  3. Actually, I’ve got an IBM ThinkPad X40 that I **love**!! So I think I’ll pass! Perhaps eBay? 😉

  4. I have a, gasp, ibook g3/600. I just updated to Dapper and have not had some of the limitations that you’ve mentioned. For instance, I downloaded a wmv file and was able to play it (much to my admitted surprise). I have also installed the Quicktime libraries but haven’t tried to use them yet. I might just pop one of my Quicktime-based CDs in the computer and see if it works or not.

    Having said that, I do agree with you on the Java and Flash thing. It is very frustrating when you can’t do something because Adobe or Sun won’t produce what you need/want. I also don’t like the fact that ATI drivers aren’t available for Linux/PPC. I would love to have truly accellerated graphics (different versions of X produce different frame rates which vary widely).

    Well, I’ve enjoyed your blog. Keep up the interesting commentary. Shalom.

  5. Hi Jim!

    Nice little laptop there!! =:) Hmmmm. I am surprised that you’re able to play wmv’s. Have you tried quicktime yet?

    And yeah, I’m pretty fed up with the whole proprietary software situation on Linux PPC. I understand that it’s kind of a niche market and it’s nowhere near as large as x86 Linux, but still…

    I’ve not tried accelerated X yet. I had been meaning to–to try out some of the neato Xgl stuff that Novell has been sponsoring. It sounds like that’s not going to be possible either, from what you’re saying.

    Blah!! =:/

    Thanks for the comment!! And definitely, Shalom to you too. =:)

  6. Hey,

    I just downloaded a .qt and an .mpg file and they both work flawlessly with my current set up. If only I could get a decent flash player I’d be happy(er). I really can’t complain too much, though.

    Now I am going to try to find gflash and try to figure out the whole xgl thing.

    A quick question for you: I found a program under MacOSX that allowed me to turn my touchpad into one that overcame the typical limitation of moving the mouse. I was able to enable double-tapping, setting up part of the pad to scroll through Firefox and other apps, etc. Do you know of any apps that would allow me to do that with Linux/PPC? I’m currently running standard Ubuntu Dapper (not Kubuntu).


  7. Hi Jim!

    Please let me know how you fare on the flash thing!

    And I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I did get my touch pad working very well under X as described here:


  8. Blah indeed.

    Sorry to hear of your woes. I’ll pray that you find a solution (whether that’s new hardware, or software solutions).

    This may not be worth the overhead/effort, but I run Enlightenment as my X window manager on OS X, which lets me Option-Tab through all X11 windows. I haven’t used a wide variety of X11 WMs, but most would let you do that, I bet.

    Not exactly what you’re looking for, but it does mostly work.

  9. Hmmmmm. Does Enlightenment also Option-tab through native OS X windows too? That might indeed be an option for me that I hadn’t thought of. Although, it is worth saying that X11 apps don’t seem quite as stable on OS X as they do normally. For instance, amarok and kontact have both crashed in weird places on me where they never would have on Linux.

    Anyway, Hi! =:) And please let me know on the tabbing-through-aqua-or-whatever-windows thing! =:)

  10. Also, I definitely agree with your point that it pretty much comes down to what you’re used to and what you’re most productive with.

    This is why I use OS X rather than Linux, actually – I’m really used to a lot of the slick little shortcuts that aren’t quite the same or don’t exist in a Linux-based environment, like Command-Space bringing up the Spotlight search (this is the best way to launch apps/documents/etc – I don’t really use the file manager much anymore), or Exposé’s window management technique (which, fyi, when you press F9, lets you see all windows including X11 windows).

    To each his own, though, and I’m sorry it cost that much to find out OS X isn’t the right environment for you. I now feel kinda guilty for encouraging you that way… 🙁

  11. Nope, not all OS X windows – just the X11 ones. That means it’s still kinda clunky – you have to Command-Tab to X11, and then option-tab to where you want to be in X11.

    still, it’s a bit closer to working. Quartz-WM, which is Apple’s default manager, isn’t all that great, apart from making X11 look more like OS X.

    And yeah, the X11 apps aren’t as stable on OS X as they are on Linux, I think that’s true. Not sure if that’s a result of Apple’s X11 implementation, or the changes that are sometimes needed to port to OS X.

  12. Well, I installed the Mozilla flash plug-in via synaptic and it works for some of the flash-based websites. The sound didn’t work right and when it encounters a flash that it doesn’t like it merely kills the browser. So, flash is less of an issue now.

    I haven’t had a chance to play with your X11 touchpad hint, so that is next on my plate.


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