I miss OS X
June 20, 2005 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I switched over from my Windows desktop to a Mac, and I loved it. Unfortunately the Mac had to go back to it's original owner. I've tried various distros of Linux and none of them seem to satisfy my OS X addiction. Can anyone recommend an OS that will tide me over until I can get the money for another Mac?
posted by jackofsaxons to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I have an iMac at home.

For a couple of years, at work, I was running FreeBSD with KDE as the desktop. Rock steady. I didn't bother with the Aqua-like skins, just tried a different desktop skin every couple of weeks.

Don't try and install something that pretends to be OSX, because it'll be depressing to use. Instead, concentrate on the juicy goodness that is a fine OS such as BSD. Then when you do finally get your Mac, not only will you appreciate the GUI, you'll also have enough of a clue to work your way around its internals.
posted by veedubya at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2005

Keep in mind that KDE is KDE. If you didn't like it under Linux, you'll be looking at exactly the same thing on FreeBSD.

That said, there aren't a whole lot of OS alternatives out there. Figure out what meets your needs for applications, and then tweak the hell out of the rest of the environment.
posted by mendel at 2:01 PM on June 20, 2005

When it comes to Unix (and its clones), it's your Window Manager -- not the distribution or kernel -- that dictates look and feel. Doesn't matter if it's FreeBSD, Gentoo Linux, or Debian GNU/Hurd.

I'd recommend Xfce as a good starting point.
posted by Eamon at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2005

Or you could try to find a bootleg of MacOS X for Intel systems...software may be a bit of a problem, though.
posted by TonyRobots at 2:43 PM on June 20, 2005

You can always run Darwin/x86 ;)
At least then you'll be on the same OS, although without the GUI.

But as Eamon said, its gonna be the window manager that determines look & feel, although to a certain extent, the X window system sucks anyway (it was meant to be a network windowing system, never a desktop one, and it shows). Plus, all your apps will still be the same linux ones.

Honestly, Windows is what you're looking for if you want something polished, which is the big strength of OSX. Linux is still very much hacked together at the moment, and will always be that way. I'd use Windows and install something like cygwin to practice/keep up with unix.
posted by devilsbrigade at 2:44 PM on June 20, 2005

I second the "don't bother". Linux wm's are nothing like OS X and whilst having some nice touches, are downright sucky in a lot more. In addition, KDE and Gnome both try to be Windows rather than OS X.

Oh and that is ignoring the fact that half your hardware won't work as well as it could and you'll waste hours "tweeking" it.

Stick with Windows and Cygwin until you can afford to move. I ran a half-working Redhat for years before realising that the Windows combination did everything I wanted as well as the nice bonus of actually being able to access the Internet, play music, browse the network and print properly.
posted by ralawrence at 2:49 PM on June 20, 2005

as others have said, if you're looking at linux based systems, then the thing that makes osx special is largely the eye candy and integration. however, there's also the ease of configuration.

personally, i use windows + cygwin a lot of the time. for general use, it's hard to beat. it's only when you got into details of developing that you tend to run into nasty details like unsupported or out of date software from unix-land.

but if you want to build on top of unix, i recently installed the latest suse on a server at home, and it was surprisingly easy. basic configuration is all done through a nice enough gui, too. in my opinion it was better than the debian i was using before, or the red hat/fedora we use at work. i've not used a bsd for some years, but i doubt they have as smooth and pretty an installer/updater/config interface, either.

so you could go with suse and an appropriate window manager (kde or something fancier but perhaps with less cross-application integration). i think that is the closest you can get coming from the "must be unix" angle. but it won't be as easy to use day to day as windows + cygwin.

and if i ever get to buy another personal machine, i suspect it will be a mac.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:03 PM on June 20, 2005

Try FlyakiteOSX. The demo is impressive as hell. I'd be interested to try it out, but I can't really tweak my PC at work cuz I need it to stay close to default settings for numerous reasons.
posted by glyphlet at 3:29 PM on June 20, 2005

Buy that Mac. Scrimp and save. Don't defer pleasure. Go for it. You'll be glad. End of post.

Wait a minute. FlyakiteOSX . . holy cow! Thanks a lot!
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2005

Try craigslist. My first OSX box was a 400 MHz G3 ibook with 128 MB RAM. I would be surprised if they cost more than $200 today.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:05 PM on June 20, 2005

There is no decent Mac OS alternative. All the GNU WMs are either minimalist (which is ok) or extremely poor imitations of OS X that used to be extremely poor imitations of Windows. I haven't seen that FlyakiteOSX before, my experience is all the little hacks for XP to make it look like OSX were annoying after the first day.

So, don't bother. Get a Mac if it's a Mac you want.
posted by angry modem at 9:46 PM on June 20, 2005

Or you could try to find a bootleg of MacOS X for Intel systems...software may be a bit of a problem, though.
posted by TonyRobots at 2:43 PM PST on June 20 [!]

FYI, this doesn't exist in the wild yet, and if it did, it'd be illegal (if that matters to you).
posted by angry modem at 9:48 PM on June 20, 2005

FYI, this doesn't exist in the wild yet, and if it did, it'd be illegal (if that matters to you).

And if it you had it (say you are an Apple registered developer and are willing to drop a grand for a development machine), chances are you couldn't just load it up on any old x86 PC. But if you do have it, my address for a copy of the disc is . . . . never mind.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:38 AM on June 21, 2005

If you're really interested in trying a non-Windows OS, and you liked OSX, perhaps yellowTAB Zeta which is a modernization of BeOS would be something you might find interesting.
posted by majick at 10:45 AM on June 21, 2005

Sure, it seems to be little more than a skin at this point, but FlyakiteOSX is certainly nice XP eye candy. Thanks for the link, glyphlet!
posted by Fezboy! at 12:36 PM on June 21, 2005

Hack up Windows so it has an OS X skin and a dock (ObjectDock is okay). I had my Windows install looking almost a carbon copy of OS X at one time, but now I run a Mac full time anyway.. :) The only problem is you don't have a nice UNIX prompt.. I dealt with that by having VMWare running Linux and a Cygwin install for other stuff.
posted by wackybrit at 1:30 PM on June 21, 2005

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