Twelve years ago I got my first Apple computer. For my birthday friends and family clubbed together to purchase a 12″ Powerbook G4. It was a stunning little machine made from aluminium that was both perfectly portable and powerful. It was rather different from the LED lit, transparent cased, custom PCs I was using and building at the time.
OSX took some time to get used to; having grown up with DOS and Windows machines it was a relatively jarring experience but a mostly welcome one too. I took great delight in finding alternatives for my favourite Windows applications. The only application I really missed was Winamp (iTunes has always been sub-optimal).
Over time, I grew to really love the world of Apple to the point I would eagerly await the keynotes of Steve Jobs. I have owned a handful of Apple laptops, two iPods, two iPhones and an iPad in the years since that birthday.
Every eighteen months Automattic employees are encouraged to upgrade their primary work machines. Like many, I was waiting for the new line of Macbooks. I waited, then waited some more. When it came to the launch day I was already having my doubts as to if I would order another Apple product. This is what I have been thinking:
Working for a company that builds and promotes the use of Open Source, I find it strange that so many of us use a proprietary operating systems and software. If I had to guess I would say 90% of the company is using Apple products, all day, everyday. How can we build software for everyone when so few of us are testing our products on other hardware and software?
Despite our Apple lacuna (a nicer way of saying blind spot, thanks John), Automattic is a very supportive company. I will be supported in my decision to move away from Apple. In fact I see this as the perfect opportunity to try something new.
The UK has not yet left the European Union. Our politicians are a disorganised bunch of idiots. It is going to take them some time to even agree on the process that we need in order to begin leaving. People estimate two years. I give it six. With any luck it might never happen.
Apple couldn’t wait six months before announcing a Brexit inspired price hike. A top spec 15″ Macbook pro will now cost around £5,000. Add dongles and you are beyond the point of ridiculous. The laptop I would have ordered would have been just shy of £3,000 and I would have liked to have added another hundred pounds worth of dongles in order to use my existing hardware.
It seems crazy to me in a World where hardware continues to get cheaper and a Raspberry Pi costs £5. Why should an Apple machine cost as much as a second hand car?
Old Hardware, Dongles and Touch Bar
Having splashed out all that money you would expect your Macbook to be running the latest hardware. Well they are not. The processors are not the latest from Intel.
Perhaps then you might expect that your new laptop would come with an extension lead for charging (as all previous Apple laptops have). Nope.
You should also know that they took away the glowing Apple and stickers too.
And then there is the dongle situation. I am sure you have heard about it by now. A free dongle would be nice, just one would be a big help.
What that leaves you with is the touch bar. The little battery hog that requires two interactions for what used to take one. I am sure it will be useful for something, eventually.
iOS devices have become Apples primary focus, they sell extremely well and have been the driving force for changes to OSX. As iOS evolves, OSX evolves to be closer to it. This results in a restrictive environment where flexibility is traded for security. For example, installing third-party software is becoming harder and operating system changes are reset after a reboot.
I like to tinker and that right is being taken from me. I feel more and more like a second class citizen on hardware the I own and operate.
I am also not a fan of any of the default Apple software. I don’t use iTunes, Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Safari, GarageBand, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, Messenger, FaceTime or Chess. If I could, I would uninstall them all.
So today I took delivery of my new laptop. A Dell XPS 13 developer edition that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. In many ways I feel as I did back when I got my Powerbook; excited and anxious for the change. I need to find new software, create new habits and work out which distro and desktop environment best fits my needs.
The time for Open Source software is now.