Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Days I spent playing with Tiger

Sadly, the MacBook Pro was duely returned to its owner this afternoon. The MBP was with me for over 3 weeks now. He had ‘dumped’ it with me for me to learn it and teach him how to do ‘stuff’ with Mac OS X. But even after I did tweak around the OS and had my share of fun with the world’s most sexiest OS, I still think GNU/Linux is what suits my tastes – perfectly.

The MacBook Pro 17” with a whopping 1680x1050 resolution, was running OS X 10.4 “Tiger”. It was running on an Intel Core2 Duo, 2x512M dual-channel mem (1G total), and a 111.8 Gig ATA HDD. I’ve never seen a USB2.0 interface transferring something with 4-5Mbps – before using Tiger.

Ever seen a computer that can run all the three popular OSs? No? Me too – before using a Mac. I think Apple’s decision to switch to Core2 Duo – better battery life, could run Wind0ws for loonies, don’t need to get a PPC live CD for GNU/Linux distros, etc. But POWER6 reports to have crossed 5GHz in recent news. I don’t know what Apple feels now.

The engineering is perfect. The smooth finishing and the metallic feel is so captivating. No wonder girls envy computers. ;) The keyboard feel is so comfortable. I used Dvorak-QWERTY keyboard on the Mac. So that while typing, I could use Dvorak, and while using shortcuts, I can use ⌘C, ⌘X, ⌘V, etc, the way it is printed on the keyboard.

The keyboard – aah – the keyboard has a definite feel to it. And sometimes, it is really a relief that the keyboard will glow in the dark – sometimes even when my shadow falls over it. The Mac has this property – it will adjust it’s brightness to the lighting in the room. Sometimes, this really is a PITA. I didn’t start using Tiger after reading any tutorial. It was recollecting whatever I had read about the Mac in the past, mixed with a little intuition, plus some ⌘? – the Tiger built-in help.

The applications are really built ‘integrated’. The Apple folks really knows designing a desktop. And now I know why GIMP looks the way it looks – try using Photoshop on a Mac. Also, I had this trouble while closing the windows, the first time. It doesn’t exit the app when we press the little-red button on the top-left corner. You have to press ⌘Q key, in order to quit the app. It took me some time, learning this. Also, the Alt-Tab behaves a lot different in a Mac. The correct way is F9 – swish – choose the window you want to switch to. Easy! (If you know how to do it, that is)

The DND (drag-and-drop) is pretty advanced in Tiger. You could drag a URL, drop in anywhere (desktop?) and it will automatically create an internet short-cut. Drag an image from a webpage and it will get saved where you drop it. Nice!

Browsing is faaaasttt! Safari literally flies over the information superhighway. So do Firefox. The default filetype while saving from Safari is somekind of ‘.webarchive’ file. It is some kind of Apple proprietary list. But it saves the scripts, CSS, and everything associated with a webpage (even the server transactions, the GET/POST requests, the web server banners – everything!) into an archive. A lot like MHTML something. That sucks! I’ve seen that firefox does have trouble saving the CSS in some CMS-enabled webpages. But if you’re an Apple-only user, this seems like a kewl feature.

Installation of new apps are also easy. The ones I tried installing over the web are DivX player, Mozilla Firefox and Skype. All except Skype form the Apple menu→Mac OS X Software; this will open Safari with the Apple app instalation web page. Download, drag into the Applications folder, and use. The ‘.dmg’ file is some kind of disk image thingy that is mounted as a drive – dunno – some kind of new OS X magic.

I could get around the system, thanks to my experience with GNOME. The file-open dialog in GNOME too has borrowed its idea from the Mac. Also, there’s no paths in the filesystem. If you press the browse button while uploading/attaching a file on the web, we see only the filename, no the ‘path’. Dunno, but it feels strange!

Many of the apps made me realize where the GNOME folks are getting their ideas form. The Network Utility (Network Tools), System preferences (GNOME Control Center), System Profiler (Hardware Information), etc. I only wonder when the GNOME folks will include something similar to the dock. Talk about tweakability and customizability, then.

The filesystem is pretty robust. Copying the files are blazingly fast. The only mental block that I have while living with the Tiger is the evil proprietary aura that keep radiating from the Mac – ewww!

I am sure to miss my late night sessions with Tiger. :’(


signil said...

Safari IS supposed to be the fastest web browser -- using the Webkit engine and all (based on Konqueror's KHTML engine)
beating Firefox and IE when it comes to speed!

If you want a Gnome dock.. check out Kiba Dock -- you can drag, bounce and throw launchers around the screen or bash them into each other. Sounds fun doesn't it :D

An alternative would be AWN, which it seems is easier to install and more reliable.

Anyway /me not envious ;)

maravind said...


Yeah, I know Safari, being based on KHTML is "faast" and all. But hearing != seeing, right?

No, I want a solution tweakable 'within' GNOME. I know there are alternate programs available, but that's not what I have in mind. I'd be more happy if I could do it with XFce.

You must have some problem -- check your meds. It takes so much will power to be 'not envious' of a MacBook Pro. ;)

indicaspecies said...

Another hi to the simple man..

If you've missed the "late night sessions with Tiger" I hope you get a chance for another with a tigress!

I hope jokes are allowed in such serious blogs. :P

backpakker said...

Im not too much of a tech person sounds like another world - do I sound like Im from a diff planet ?
thanks for your comments at my calvin blog - unfortunately I dont have the time to update it as travel takes away all my drop in sometime at backpakker.