Mac + iPhone or Ubuntu + Android?
March 23, 2011 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Shoud I get a Mac + iPhone or Ubuntu + Android?

I need to change my laptop and phone. Work's paying for the laptop, I'm paying for the phone. I need to figure out whether to get a Mac + iPhone or Ubuntu + Android.

I'm run a web development studio, and also teach 3d modelling at my old Architecture School.
My current Dell XPS M1530 boots Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7. My main OS is Ubuntu. My current phone is not even worth mentioning (hint: Sony P.O.S.).

I spend most of my work time programming Django websites in PyCharm on Ubuntu, using a dual head setup (Laptop+External Screen).

I spend about 10% of my time designing in Fireworks or Rhino in Windows 7.

I've been thinking about getting a Mac for a while, and wonder whether I should get a 13" MacBook Pro + iPhone 4 or the equivalent in Lenovo or Dell + Android Phone (which?). I'll probably be dual booting regardless of what I end up getting, Mac+Ubuntu or Ubuntu+Windows.

I'm comfortable at the command line and like how easy it is to install libraries &c. in Ubuntu.

I don't play any games except Minecraft. I don't do any hardcore rendering or modelling anymore, though I used to and might in the future again, I suppose.
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Being that Mac OS X is essentially BSD anyway, you may find that you don't need Ubuntu at all. Many, if not most, *nix software is available for OS X either as a full port or an X11 application. Pycharm, as an example, most definitely is.
posted by Oktober at 11:49 AM on March 23, 2011

Whichever you go for, you may want to wait a couple months to see when a 4G iPhone is coming out and/or see how the reviews are on the 4G android devices that are out.
posted by Grither at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2011

Are you required to match the phone against your laptop? I have an OSX laptop and an Android, and I'm pretty happy. The laptop lets me have fun developing (I use Netbeans mainly), while the Android can be developed for via Netbeans, and I just can't bring myself to work on stuff for iOS with the ever-present possibility that Apple might shoot the app down.
posted by babbageboole at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2011

(Sorry, I meant Eclipse for Android above)
posted by babbageboole at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2011

We're an Android shop, but we all use Macs. The Unix side of OSX is about as friendly as Ubuntu (see Homebrew for a package manager), and it's nice to not run into funny hardware incompatibilities. Not sure why you're tying your phone choice to your laptop OS, Android works equally well with both.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 12:02 PM on March 23, 2011

Absolutely get a Mac.

I've used both OS X and Ubuntu extensively. Your experience with the Mac will be MUCH less painful. Not trying to slam Ubuntu or Linux, but OS X has a better, more consistent and logical UI. Apple really focussed a lot of effort on that UI :)

Also, you can run Ubuntu on your Mac hardware and there are several inexpensive options for doing that such as Bootcamp and VMware fusion.

I switched from Linux for Web development work to OS X and I'm really glad I did. Linux is a great server OS but has never really caught up as a workstation. In some cases, the cathedral produces better software.
posted by eeby at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2011

This may not make the decision easier, but a Mac will let you triple-boot Ubu/OSX/7. Or run Ubu or 7 VMs inside OSX via Fusion or Parallels. Or just do your *nix stuff in X11.
If you want to cover all your bases, a Mac is going to give you a lot of options and good build quality. But it'll be pricey, especially if you're going to boot 7 (you'll need to buy a full copy); you might have to charm the powers that be a little bit.
posted by bartleby at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2011

If you don't have to pay for the laptop (so cost is no concern), you should most certainly get a Mac if for not other reason than the build quality. The timing is perfect as they just refreshed with Sandy Bridge components. And, it will throw just about any OS you want to throw at it, although you'll probably find OSX to be just fine for everything. I especially have grown accustomed enough to the multi-touch gestures that using my work PC drives me batty.

Phone? That's up to you. I really like my iPhone 4 more than my friend's Android. He likes his more than mine. It's a personal decision that really doesn't matter what OS you're using on the laptop. Although, I will note that iTunes runs about 7 trillion times better on the Mac than the PC.
posted by General Malaise at 12:24 PM on March 23, 2011

Mac + iPhone.

I have an iPhone 4, a Samsung Focus and an HTC Android phone sitting on my desk right now (I'm doing development work on all three platforms), and I can say without a doubt that the iPhone is the most polished phone with the best user experience, and the Windows phone has the best developer experience. I have nothing good to say about the Android phone, so I won't say anything. Also, Apple laptops are the best in terms of sexy hardware; I run Windows 7 on mine.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:24 PM on March 23, 2011

Mac laptop and Android phone. I'm rolling with that rig right now...

The Mac has some very tasty text editing tools, and can run almost all of your specialized open source tools natively (albeit with X-windows rather than the Mac interface.) To be frank, it's a lot more fun to use than Linux, while offering all of the unix-nerd goodness you require.

There are a lot of very nice Android phones out there, and I've been concerned with the Apple iOS closed-ecosystem. I have a scripting environment that includes a perl compiler on my Motorola Droid, and that is more than enough to tip the scales in favor of Android, IMO.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:25 PM on March 23, 2011

It's quite easy to set up a MacBook to boot into Windows 7, Ubuntu and OS X - and you can, of course, run multiple versions of GNU/Linux and Windows in VM software. This isn't because the Mac hardware is any better of course, but because Apple won't let you run OS X on other hardware (though of course you can do that technically, just not legally).

That said, if you don't need or want OS X for anything, there's no reason to get the Mac. The Mac OS is, on it's own, a pretty phenomenal piece of software for people who work in the GUI. As a command line user, however, that might not mean much to you.

Even though I'm a self-identified member of the cult of Mac and use only Macs myself, if I were in your position, I'd go with the GNU/Linux & Android option simply because I think the Free Software is the more ethical choice and you already have the skills necessary to get as much out of the Free Software as you could out of the proprietary software. Also, from a usability perspective, your skill set means that you could, theoretically, encounter barriers in OS X and iOS, and to some degree even in the hardware.

I'll give you an example of the kind of barrier I'm thinking about: Macs will not let you change the region code for the DVD player more than 5 times. This is an issues at the intersection of the drive firmware and the software - but it still exists and affects all software, and even if you're managing a university full of Macs (as I do), and have machines in a Library that need to play DVDs from every region, Apple's system engineers response is "this cannot be changed."
posted by jardinier at 12:32 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you like spending your time tinkering and derive a great deal of satisfaction from forcing your computer to do fairly trivial things, go the Linux route (and unless Ubuntu has changed substantially since I last used it, it's still going to have its Moments). If you like having your computer take care of those things for you so you can skip straight to the doing stuff with your computer part, go the Mac route.

Likewise with the phones. Bear in mind that that iPhone will be supported by the company that made it for a bare minimum of one software update. Even that is not guaranteed when you go Android.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:39 PM on March 23, 2011

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