The Best Mac OS Is Ubuntu

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Not many people expected the “replace your proprietary OS with Linux” movement to strike a blow against the engineers in Cupertino instead of Redmond, but that is just what one educator has done.

After seeing this story on a couple of sites, I thought this had to be a joke. Professor Gurdy Leete, with a domain called PeaceLoveAndHappiness.org? Maharishi University of Management? Trancedental consciousness as part of the curriculum?

Even more unbelievable, wiping OS X off Mac hardware in favor of the Ubuntu Linux distribution? That’s no criticism of Ubuntu, by the way, it’s the delete-OS-X-thing that’s most surprising.

Maybe the use of Linux involves a higher level of consciousness. It’s been a while since I’ve read “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” anyway. So I treated the report like the sunrise of a new day.

Leete took that beautiful Mac OS X off the machines in the school’s digital media lab, replacing it with Ubuntu. Photoshop, Freehand, QuarkXpress, and Dreamweaver also met a horrific reformatting fate.

The horror. The horror.

In their place, Leete installed the Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus, and Quanta Plus. Oh, and Leete added FontForge for typespace design.

Leete touched on concerns from his students over using these alternatives instead of the industry standards in the article:

When students asked if they were learning the industry standard applications that they felt they might need to get a job, I pointed out that in our department fourth-year students spend a semester developing their portfolios using the technologies of their choice, and that once they’ve learned the free software packages, gaining expertise with their proprietary counterparts won’t be difficult in their semester of portfolio development, if they wish. The first group of my “switched to GNU/Linux” students starts their semester of portfolio development now, and I expect they’ll do extremely well.

Leete observed how programs like Photoshop “generally had more polished interfaces and more advanced features than the free software we chose.” But the replacements more than than fulfilled the core capabilities his classes required.

The professor also noticed a significant financial impact from the decision:

The switch saved thousands of dollars in software upgrades. As a result I was able to dramatically lower the lab fee for each class, and require instead that the students purchase additional textbooks. These textbooks enriched the class experience, yet the overall cost to each student was significantly less, which they appreciated.

The experiment had some bumps, many of which Ubuntu’s support forums handled adeptly. Leete noted how their scanner was not supported in Ubuntu, so he left Mac OS X on one machine and the scanner connected to it.

Overall the changes satisfied Leete, and his students. He may not have needed to send Mac OS X to the Trash, though, as one commenter on the NewsForge thread complained:

This seems completely pointless considering that Mac OS X is, at least last time I checked, POSIX compliant and has ports of every one of the software packages you got up and running on Ubuntu.

It’s still an interesting account of a switch to Linux, especially since Microsoft’s name wasn’t invoked with assorted profanities for a change. Higher consciousness indeed.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

The Best Mac OS Is Ubuntu
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