Have been having an interesting discussion on the ONS forums about Mac versus Linux vs Windows… this is what a bloke called PaulV had to say:

While the PC has its advantages including but not limited to marketshare and the sheer quantity of software and the Mac has the user-friendly and admitedly better GUI, my friends, fancy polished software and beautiful interfaces can not match the raw computing power of a linux box.

I have used Macs for video and audio work, I use a PC for Pro/E and my Finite Element Analysis, but in all seriousness, when I want to compute the big numbers of Computational Fluid Dynamics the only economic viable solution is Linux.

The thing that I do not like about Macs is the nature of the closed architecture. I can’t go in and play around with hardware easily.

The thing I don’t like about Microsoft: Microsoft. And while XP and 2000 give hope that Vista, I pray will be a decently stable and useful OS, it’s expensive and patched together.

I’m not a real fan of either becuase their source codes are such closely gaurded secrets. You can’t really customize the inner workings of them.

Linux is open source which rocks. You can get the source code, make changes and create an entirely customized version of your OS to fit your needs.

And my reply to his post:

While I agree with some of what you said PaulV, the power of Linux part I have a differing opinion. Darwin is based on Mach and FreeBSD, which both I have found to be FAR more stable and powerful than any Linux distro. FreeBSD actually has roots in UNIX, Linux was written to behave like UNIX… *BSD rocks

Though I wholeheartedly agree with what you say about customisation, I love being able to whack together a Linux box with XFce, KOffice and Flock, it’s fast, reliable… though lately I’ve ditched Linux altogether and use DragonFlyBSD with XFce.

I gave OpenSolaris a go too recently, aside from the irritating hoops you have to go through to boot it with the original Solaris disc, it’s actually quite a compelling product: the basic command line utilities such as ls and mv seem to be much zippier, and apparently the whole TCP/IP stack was completely rewritten and is the most memory efficient of any *NIX, apparently to reduce the latency in data centres.

At the end of the day though, if I write a #/usr/bin/perl program, I can pretty much run it unmodified on Linux, Solaris, *BSD, Mac OS X/Darwin, MINIX, HP/UX (had a small amount of experience with) etc… but when I come to Windows… you get the point

And that’s what that’s all about :)

I’d also point out that Macs being a “closed architecture” is such a tired old cliche. Just open a Terminal.