Linux vs Windows vs Mac

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KnightExemplar
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Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:40 pm UTC

A Mac hate thread over in N&A is definitely getting out of scope, so I'm restarting the discussion here.

Last post in the other thread was this:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=86836&start=80#p3051163

Arariel wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:http://www.overclock.net/t/828495/edb-linux-zero-day-found

Because Linux isn't vulnerable to Zero-Days that have been in the source code for TWO YEARS am i rite? Many eyes my ass. How many of those "many eyes" knew about the two-year old Zero Day before it was discovered by a white-hat?


Thank you for reading through that entire thread. Because if you had, you would realise that this had been quickly patched before and was mistakenly reverted, that it was easily patched almost as soon as it became news, that the issue only affected 64-bit OSs running in 32-bit compatibility mode, and that the exploiter needed to have access to a valid account. All you needed to be safe was pretty much just a firewall.

Then again, in this case, the bug was fixed before it could be exploited, no? And the worst that could happen in a situation like this? A few computers get exploited, the bug is quickly found and the patch is reapplied. GNU/Linux distros update quicker, more easily, and more frequently than any other operating system. What happens in Windows or Mac-land? Microsoft has taken several months to respond to bugs that have been reported, and has said explicitly mentioned they will not patch certain bugs. But what happens is, when an exploit is found, it's definitely not going to be from a white-hat. And when the exploit hits? How long before a patch is applied? For the Linux kernel, less than a day, apparently. For Stuxnet? Apparently two or three months (article says July worm, but it was discovered in June, not to mention having been in the wild for a whole year).


First: This is called a root escalation attack. It means that all you need to do is find a flaw in say... Adobe Flash, Java, or some other userspace program and you've now got complete root access to the Linux shell.

Second: Windows has recently been keeping up with Linux as far as patches are concerned. Its really Apple that has been slacking recently (with the recent Flashback Virus that took several months for Apple to fix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_BackDoor.Flashback) Note that all three systems, Linux, Windows, AND Mac were vulnerable to some variant of Flashback... the problem was on Oracle making a crappy version of Java.

Mind you, the point of this is not for me to say that Windows > Linux or Mac > Linux or whatever... but that all systems should be assumed vulnerable... and Vulnerable in different ways. Again, the big problem recently was with Debian and Ubuntu screwing up SSH Certificates, allowing remote access through any SSH-based mechanism. (ssh, sftp, etc. etc.) With such an exploit... as well as one combined with the one I linked to earlier... it would have been easy to take over even a Debian based SERVER.

Every security flaw needs to be treated with respect. Especially in the Open Source world. Again, if you fall behind in security in Open Source, you become the next Sony, and you lose millions of your customer's information. NO operating system is safe from a security point of view.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:51 pm UTC

Also worth noting is the fact that just because an exploit has been "patched", it doesn't mean it's been fixed. This is quite critical, actually, because linux systems oriented for end users don't always nag their users to upgrade, and many users are apprehensive to do so. This is in contrast to OS X/Windows with all the fanfare going off on every new iteration, and why I like how OS X now gives easy, essentially one-click (or as close to one-click as it can get) upgrades for a fair price.

Also, to mention what I didn't want to in that thread (since it was horribly off-topic): people nowadays want more than their browsing and word processors. They want skype, they want dropbox, they want all sorts of cool things their friends are using. And yes, asking people to sign up for an "internet forum" is alien to many people. My parents even need me to walk them through a 4-field registration form, much less grasping the concept of a forum.

I believe it's due to many people's fear of "breaking" their devices; they're afraid they'll type the wrong thing or press the wrong button and have to pay for damages or something. And it's sometimes a good thing: laymen aren't familiar with terms as we are, so while we'd immediately understand when a button says "deactivate my account and erase all data", casual computer users might not realize that data is un-recoverable. After all, most people learn to use computers where Undo and the Recycle Bin are always available.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby tetsujin » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:17 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:all you need to do is find a flaw in say... Adobe Flash, Java, or some other userspace program and you've now got complete root access to the Linux shell.


Well, not root access, not unless somebody's foolishly running a bunch of insecure plugins while logged in as root. Though of course there's plenty you can do with non-root access. Non-root access is enough to use a bunch of CPU cycles or network traffic. Can't hide it too effectively without root, but non-root access would probably be adequate for certain botnet-type stuff.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby TNorthover » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:45 pm UTC

tetsujin wrote:Well, not root access, not unless somebody's foolishly running a bunch of insecure plugins while logged in as root. Though of course there's plenty you can do with non-root access. Non-root access is enough to use a bunch of CPU cycles or network traffic.

And, possibly more importantly, play havoc with the unfortunate user's files. It's all very well /usr and friends being protected, but realistically they're the easiest bits of the system to replace when things go tits up.

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby tetsujin » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:24 pm UTC

TNorthover wrote:
tetsujin wrote:Well, not root access, not unless somebody's foolishly running a bunch of insecure plugins while logged in as root. Though of course there's plenty you can do with non-root access. Non-root access is enough to use a bunch of CPU cycles or network traffic.

And, possibly more importantly, play havoc with the unfortunate user's files. It's all very well /usr and friends being protected, but realistically they're the easiest bits of the system to replace when things go tits up.


Well, for sure that's a danger to the unfortunate user. I was thinking mainly of scenarios like, if someone did get access to my computer (but not root access), what would they want to do with it? An intruder most likely doesn't want to destroy my data, unless they hate me for some reason. Mischief against random strangers can be fun, but if they wanted to actually use the compromised machine for something, they're better off not drawing attention to themselves.

It seemed to me like the most likely thing (assuming they want something out of your machine, rather than just wanting to cause you pain) would be to exploit the machine's resources - CPU, storage, network access - which are for the most part unregulated resources. If an intruder gained unprivileged system access, they could still do things like create a spambot or DDOS drone, maybe even a web proxy or network tunnel (depending on how cooperative the firewall is) - and get away with it for as long as the system's owner doesn't notice what's going on.

Root access makes it possible to cover those tracks - make various important system tools lie about what's really going on or even compromise the system at the kernel level to make that activity invisible at the syscall level. But I was just trying to be realistic about what an intruder could do with non-root access (again, in terms of using your machine for something, rather than just damaging your stuff) rather than shrug it off as "only" unprivileged access.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:20 pm UTC

Yeah, part of what makes it harder to fuck up a linux system is specifically the lack of casual superuser and root access. The cron thing (write to /etc, get killed with instructions to insert into core, ????, profit!) was early 2.6 kernel wasn't it?

There is a shield icon that blinks and bitches at me if there is a patch needed, the various "app stores" which have now become casually familiar to most end users are little different from any package manager, I am partial to synaptic myself, but I found it just as simple to talk the woman through adding noscript/adblock to chrome as it was to show her how to put GIMP and Minitube on her system. "Click that, type this in the search box, look for x, double click, hit apply... ok, you're done."


Is it just me, or does it seem like the argument against GNU/Linux boils down to "people aren't smart enough, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit", more or less? Couldn't you just as easily argue that people getting more involved with different OSes would help prevent that very problem?

Windows and OSX approach the "don't let end users fuck everything up" by dictating their experience as much as possible, GNU/Linux does it by simply having them operate from a /usr folder.


Btw, Skype, Xchat IRC, Dropbox, Deluge, Thunderbird, Firefox, Webilder, the various iPod loaders, and Wineloader all come with Pinguy by default. I haven't had driver issues with my random ass selection of hardware, they downloaded and installed linux versions if available and wineloader handled the windows ones just as easily. I did have some issues getting Puppy to play nicely with the wireless card in the netbook, but Pinguy and Bodhi both picked it up and set it up automatically during install.

Note that 11.10 was mentioned in the other thread, 11.04 was the fully maintained version as he knew 12.04 would hit before long and began setting up for that after getting a workable 11.10. I went 11.04 -> 12.04 beta -> 12.04 LTS currently.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby tetsujin » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:10 pm UTC

Max™ wrote:Is it just me, or does it seem like the argument against GNU/Linux boils down to "people aren't smart enough, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit"


Well, more or less. I wouldn't say "people aren't smart enough", some people just don't want to deal with computer-related issues. They'd rather have it "just work", until it doesn't, and then pay somebody. This also sums up my relationship with the plumbing in my house pretty well. :) Some things, I just don't have time or inclination to go and learn, I'd rather just get past the problems to the part that does interest me.

I've gone that route with computers as well - got my first laptop (12" powerbook) thinking I'd really like to be able to go to a store and buy software now and then, and have a system that "just works". It wasn't for me. I thought that having a pretty UI on top of (basically) a Unix system would be really nice - but it just never felt like home, you know? A few years later when I replaced the Powerbook with a EEE901, it felt good to have the new laptop run Linux. Even with the occasional difficulties, it's the environment I want to be in.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

tetsujin wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:all you need to do is find a flaw in say... Adobe Flash, Java, or some other userspace program and you've now got complete root access to the Linux shell.


Well, not root access, not unless somebody's foolishly running a bunch of insecure plugins while logged in as root. Though of course there's plenty you can do with non-root access. Non-root access is enough to use a bunch of CPU cycles or network traffic. Can't hide it too effectively without root, but non-root access would probably be adequate for certain botnet-type stuff.


Context, Context, Context. You removed the most important part of that sentence:
First: This is called a root escalation attack. It means that all you need to do is find a flaw in say... Adobe Flash, Java, or some other userspace program and you've now got complete root access to the Linux shell.


A root escalation attack combined with a local (or remote) vulnerability == full root access. Period. That is what makes root escalations so dangerous. Mind you, its pretty much the only attack on the Linux Kernel that we can expect. Much like we don't expect remote vulnerabilities in the Windows Kernel Networking layer, we don't expect Remote Vulnerabilities to be found in the Linux Kernel.

Indeed, remote vulnerabilities are more likely to be found on services. Such as PhpMyAdmin, or even Wordpress. I should note that Root Escalation attacks can also be found in any program that runs with setuid running... so such attacks are not limited to the Linux kernel either... such as this one, wherein a vulnerability in pulsaudio creates a root escalation.

--------------

So all this discussion about non-root accounts and whatever is completely moot in the face of a root escalation attack. It doesn't matter: "Linux" has had multiple privilege escalations (depending on how broad your definition of "Linux" is. If you include common services like udev, yes... a ton of Linux distros have been vulnerable to these attacks in the past)

Part of the problem here is that Linux is such an imprecise word. Not every linux distro is the same, and even those of the same family are running different versions of software. Wordpress (and the underlying programming language PHP) have a ton of vulnerabilities. Do we count those vulnerabilities against Linux? After all, you get a remote exploit + remote shell through a PHP exploit alone. And writing such an exploit is so common its practically a rite of passage. Its not a surprise to anyone if a new remote shell is written in PHP.

But no, we probably aren't going to consider such attacks on PHP as Linux exploits... even if a BSD jail would have prevented it and even if the attack would have failed on Windows. AKA: if it only would have worked on Linux we blame it on PHP. :roll:

----------------------

Anyway, long story short:
* "Remote attacks on Linux" is a poorly defined concept, and we can spend a great deal of effort just trying to define it accurately. Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways to get remote access on a non-hardened Linux server. Fortunately, we can do all sorts of "shell = nologin", sudo, SELinux, and various other tricks to lock a server down to minimize the damage someone can do with a remote attack. (And no, a firewall doesn't stop a remote shell from a buggy Wordpress template). HOWEVER...

* Root Escalation attacks on Linux exist. Again, its poorly defined (ie: is an attack on UDev against Linux? Its technically a userspace daemon. What about a less common service like pulsaudio ?? Was that a "Linux attack" or was it a "Debian Attack" or a "pulsaudio attack" ??). Anyway, these can blow away even the most dedicated sysadmin who locked down his system. These are obviously far more rare, but are serious security threats.

The original link I posted: http://www.overclock.net/t/828495/edb-l ... -day-found is about one of these Root Escalation attacks. It is not against a system daemon, but against the x86 / AMD64 compatibility system call that at one point existed in all 64-bit distributions of Linux. It represents one of the worst of the worst kinds of root escalation.

If one were found today with a signed secure-UEFI kernel, it would actually destroy the entire secure boot scheme (even for Windows, because Microsoft has stupidly decided to sign Red Hat's kernel). EDIT: I may be wrong on this statement actually. So I'll cross it out for now, since I haven't fully studied the exploit.
Last edited by KnightExemplar on Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:48 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:46 pm UTC

Max™ wrote:Is it just me, or does it seem like the argument against GNU/Linux boils down to "people aren't smart enough, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit", more or less? Couldn't you just as easily argue that people getting more involved with different OSes would help prevent that very problem?


More like "people don't want to spend time learning them, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit." A good chunk of my developer community (myself included) use Macs even though we're entirely competent programmers. We just want our system to get out of the way, do what we want it to, get the software we want, and then focus on our own work. It makes sense when you consider how people's work depends on their system: if I were a writer, or accountant, or public speaker, or one of many jobs that rely on computers, I'd love to pay someone to make sure my computer doesn't break/get hacked/whatever and I can get my job done.

How would getting more people involved with different OSes help?

Windows and OSX approach the "don't let end users fuck everything up" by dictating their experience as much as possible, GNU/Linux does it by simply having them operate from a /usr folder.


Well, I can't talk for Windows, but OS X doesn't dictate very much. It does dictate in terms of hardware, but not really on the software side. Most of the safety nets are simply what you'd find on any Linux-based system; running as your user by default, asking for passwords for superuser actions, and so forth.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:19 am UTC

Apple doesn't dictate that you stay with their software preferences to the point that the term "walled garden" was coined to describe their behavior?
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:24 am UTC

Not on Mac, no. There are no software dictations on OS X.

If you want to talk about iOS, though, that's a different thread. That's where the whole "walled garden" thing came from.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:30 am UTC

Eh, it's been too long since the last time I used a Mac, we're talking like early 90's here. My biggest issue with them is the horribly overpriced hardware.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:38 am UTC

I don't recall early 90's Macs having software limitations, either.

Here's something interesting to think about: Some users (and people in the business) think that Apple's "clear-cut" pricing model is part of why they're so buyer-friendly. Their machines are expensive with clear pricing gaps and only one model per class. This is because the vast majority of users don't walk into a store thinking "I want a 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a quad-core processor." They walk in thinking "I need a new computer, I have $1500 to spend, which one can I get?" There's no horrible experience picking through the MegaComp 21UD500 Quad Awesome model list, especially since old models get rotated out.

To come back to your statement, I honestly don't see the issue with overpriced hardware, because the overpriced hardware is the only (user-sane) way to get the software. If I want the software, and the only way to get there is through overpriced hardware, and I have the money for it, do I have a choice?

(not counting hackintoshes because those are clearly against the whole point of "I just want my system and let it get out of the way".)
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:42 am UTC

A new user actually posted something, but we missed it... I'm guessing it had to be approved by a moderator.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=86836&start=80#p3051134
pinguy wrote:Been getting a bit of traffic from here so thought I would pop on and say hi.

KnightExemplar you do know that the issues you linked to where solved? Also did you even check the date? These are very old issues that got fixed ages ago.

Also about ATI. ATI do a lot of work on the open source drivers. ATI works very well in linux.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_hardware_and_FOSS


I'll keep it in mind then. I admit that its been a while since I did the Linux laptop thing, so if its been solved by now, I'll somewhat retract my statement... (more like... amend it). Nonetheless, those issues I mentioned are real experiences of mine, and totally would make Linux unsuitable for a workplace desktop environment.

Based on the Wikipedia article, I may have gotten ATI and NVidia mixed up. If ATI really was contributing device driver code as early as 2007, then that was well before the laptop incident. Nonetheless, I explicitly remember having video card issues when I was installing Linux laptops some time ago. Needless to say, I didn't like the experience.

Again, its not so much that I blame Linux distros, its that the simple fact of the matter is that some companies don't offer very good support for Desktop components for Linux. Its just a bad situation for Linux users. You definitely need to put a fair bit of research today to make sure your laptop hardware will be compatible with Linux before you buy it... and that kind of effort means that Linux isn't really a "install it and forget" system.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:52 am UTC

The main reason I know the term, btw, is because I was asking someone about the feasibility of setting up a lightweight linux in a virtual machine for the gf's mother to browse through, since she has an amazing ability to get viruses on the system. I called it a walled garden and someone asked if I meant apple, with a bit of explanation that the term refers to their end user experience, so it's purely anecdotal.


I'm not sure that the overpriced hardware is the only way to get the software, pretty sure you can install lots of it on other systems, and I don't think there is anything you can do on an apple which doesn't have a linux or windows equivalent these days. Really the only system with a clear-cut advantage over the other two is windows for gamers.


Also, hullo pinguy, note that I am in no way a paid representative or affiliated with pinguy except as a fan of the OS and philosophy he spun it around.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Arariel » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:12 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Second: Windows has recently been keeping up with Linux as far as patches are concerned. Its really Apple that has been slacking recently (with the recent Flashback Virus that took several months for Apple to fix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_BackDoor.Flashback) Note that all three systems, Linux, Windows, AND Mac were vulnerable to some variant of Flashback... the problem was on Oracle making a crappy version of Java.


The Linux kernel vulnerability was patched the day it was found. In the mean time, each version of Stuxnet has several zero-day exploits and has taken Microsoft several months after discovery to patch.

Oracle also patched the Java Virtual Machine. Apple, however, issues its own version of Java; they failed to update it to fix the issues.

Mind you, the point of this is not for me to say that Windows > Linux or Mac > Linux or whatever... but that all systems should be assumed vulnerable... and Vulnerable in different ways. Again, the big problem recently was with Debian and Ubuntu screwing up SSH Certificates, allowing remote access through any SSH-based mechanism. (ssh, sftp, etc. etc.) With such an exploit... as well as one combined with the one I linked to earlier... it would have been easy to take over even a Debian based SERVER.


No disagreement there. But assuming a competent sysadmin, do you think the server running Windows, Mac OS X (Does Apple even make any decent servers?) or some GNU/Linux variant would be safer?

Every security flaw needs to be treated with respect. Especially in the Open Source world. Again, if you fall behind in security in Open Source, you become the next Sony, and you lose millions of your customer's information. NO operating system is safe from a security point of view.


Perhaps. But safety is always a relative issue; some operating systems are more safe compared to others.

Steax wrote:More like "people don't want to spend time learning them, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit." A good chunk of my developer community (myself included) use Macs even though we're entirely competent programmers. We just want our system to get out of the way, do what we want it to, get the software we want, and then focus on our own work. It makes sense when you consider how people's work depends on their system: if I were a writer, or accountant, or public speaker, or one of many jobs that rely on computers, I'd love to pay someone to make sure my computer doesn't break/get hacked/whatever and I can get my job done.


The way everyone's talking about difficulty of using a GNU/Linux system, it would seem like your only experience had been compiling Gentoo from source. How does a GNU/Linux system get in your way? And how often do you actually use tech support?

Steax wrote:Not on Mac, no. There are no software dictations on OS X.

If you want to talk about iOS, though, that's a different thread. That's where the whole "walled garden" thing came from.


Err, IIRC, that's how Flashback occurred. Apple's special Java VM.

KnightExemplar wrote:Based on the Wikipedia article, I may have gotten ATI and NVidia mixed up. If ATI really was contributing device driver code as early as 2007, then that was well before the laptop incident. Nonetheless, I explicitly remember having video card issues when I was installing Linux laptops some time ago. Needless to say, I didn't like the experience.


Yeah, ATI has been fairly good with contributing. nVidia OTOH... Torvalds had a few things to say about them.
Spoiler:
Image


nVidia makes quite a bit of money selling chips for Android devices, which is why he wasn't too pleased. Ironically, they lost out on a multi-million unit contract with China to ATI because of poor Linux support.

Again, its not so much that I blame Linux distros, its that the simple fact of the matter is that some companies don't offer very good support for Desktop components for Linux. Its just a bad situation for Linux users. You definitely need to put a fair bit of research today to make sure your laptop hardware will be compatible with Linux before you buy it... and that kind of effort means that Linux isn't really a "install it and forget" system.


Actually, of all the computers I've put a GNU/Linux distro on, the only problem I've ever had was with my netbook's wireless card; yum update when I connected with ethernet easily cleared it up, though.

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:44 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
Steax wrote:More like "people don't want to spend time learning them, so it's better to have them pay other people to fix their shit." A good chunk of my developer community (myself included) use Macs even though we're entirely competent programmers. We just want our system to get out of the way, do what we want it to, get the software we want, and then focus on our own work. It makes sense when you consider how people's work depends on their system: if I were a writer, or accountant, or public speaker, or one of many jobs that rely on computers, I'd love to pay someone to make sure my computer doesn't break/get hacked/whatever and I can get my job done.


The way everyone's talking about difficulty of using a GNU/Linux system, it would seem like your only experience had been compiling Gentoo from source. How does a GNU/Linux system get in your way? And how often do you actually use tech support?


It's not only about using tech support, but also knowing that it's available.

That said, yes, I've sent my machines in several times for quick fixes. I pay a premium for issues, but they get fixed and I get my stuff back as I need them. Quickly, too. And all the while, I just transit to another machine to resume working, instead of dragging through support forums.

It gets in my way when I'm installing and maintaining my basic tools. One outstanding issue was how their variants of common software are somehow less featured than their counterparts on Windows/OS X. I still haven't found a good program for simple text editing that doesn't suck (OpenOffice is very clumsy). How-tos involve a lot of command-line work and working with extensive documentation. And it's simply a fact that there are different existing audiences for OS X, Windows and Linux: searching the web for solutions on a platform is then skewed by each audience.

And thats me, and I'm a programmer.

For casual people, even seeing the command line is enough to get them to say "get me Windows already."

And before you ask, yes, I prefer GUIs, and so do many other people. It reduces the margin of error significantly. Yes, I purchase GUIs for things like Git. I know the command line, but I'm less error-prone with a GUI, so I think it's money well spent.

Arariel wrote:
Steax wrote:Not on Mac, no. There are no software dictations on OS X.

If you want to talk about iOS, though, that's a different thread. That's where the whole "walled garden" thing came from.


Err, IIRC, that's how Flashback occurred. Apple's special Java VM.


Flashback was an issue from Java. The criticism Apple got was because they supplied their fix late. You can install one of many other programs that deals with Flashback with no issue. It took 2 weeks for Apple to patch the vulnerability and 1 week after that to distribute a removal application. Calling it "Apple's special Java VM" is like saying Adobe Photoshop had a vulnerability and calling it "Apple's special Photoshop". Apple did take too long to release it, but it's not some sort of major disaster. And it was one incident.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:48 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:Second: Windows has recently been keeping up with Linux as far as patches are concerned. Its really Apple that has been slacking recently (with the recent Flashback Virus that took several months for Apple to fix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_BackDoor.Flashback) Note that all three systems, Linux, Windows, AND Mac were vulnerable to some variant of Flashback... the problem was on Oracle making a crappy version of Java.


The Linux kernel vulnerability was patched the day it was found. In the mean time, each version of Stuxnet has several zero-day exploits and has taken Microsoft several months after discovery to patch.


The Stuxnet vulnerability was in the printer spooler of Windows. Its the rough equivalent to finding an exploit in the CUPS printer driver in Linux.

Which btw, has happened before and took longer than a day to patch. The Windows system as a whole is more unified than Linux, which makes the job somewhat unfair to compare the two together. Again, its very difficult to compare security issues between the other operating systems and Linux because Linux is so damn fragmented.

And for a more recent attack, here's another Root Escalation bug in CUPS, this time from 2008. EDIT: Got down the specific dates. http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/usn-707-1/ implies that the security update was in January 2009, while the bug was found in November 2008. Thats more or less the same lead time as Windows and Stuxnet.

This really just highlights how its unfair. When Windows gets hit with a Printer Spooler root escalation bug, its Microsoft's fault. When Linux's major printer spooler gets hit with a root escalation bug, its CUPS's fault... not Linux at all. :roll:

Mind you, the point of this is not for me to say that Windows > Linux or Mac > Linux or whatever... but that all systems should be assumed vulnerable... and Vulnerable in different ways. Again, the big problem recently was with Debian and Ubuntu screwing up SSH Certificates, allowing remote access through any SSH-based mechanism. (ssh, sftp, etc. etc.) With such an exploit... as well as one combined with the one I linked to earlier... it would have been easy to take over even a Debian based SERVER.


No disagreement there. But assuming a competent sysadmin, do you think the server running Windows, Mac OS X (Does Apple even make any decent servers?) or some GNU/Linux variant would be safer?


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As for your main question... the OS is completely tangential to the security practice of your system administrators. Its like asking "What color of your car will make it go faster??"

A secure system happens when you have a dedicated security team staying up-to-date with patches, and disabling services when issues come up without a patch. Zero-days have come out on every system, and there is literally no defense against those. And it is impossible for any of us to properly evaluate the remaining number of zero-days in a given system. (If there was a way to evaluate them... they wouldn't be Zero-days now would they?)

So the answer is: Against a dedicated opponent (ie: the mythical Advanced Persistent Threat), your security team doesn't matter. The zero-days will come and you will lose to the attacker. Against more casual enemies, (ie: Anonymous) who use publicly known exploits, if your security team's response time is within hours... you should be safe. (Casual enemies give up after trying all the low hanging fruit. There are other departments in your company or other targets that will be easier to get into than your place).

It gets in my way when I'm installing and maintaining my basic tools. One outstanding issue was how their variants of common software are somehow less featured than their counterparts on Windows/OS X. I still haven't found a good program for simple text editing that doesn't suck (OpenOffice is very clumsy). How-tos involve a lot of command-line work and working with extensive documentation. And it's simply a fact that there are different existing audiences for OS X, Windows and Linux: searching the web for solutions on a platform is then skewed by each audience.


Despite my position for this thread... I'm personally more productive in a Linux environment.

Stupid freaking "Magic Mouse" scrolls wrong, and without a middle-click copy/paste button, I feel absolutely castrated on Windows / Mac machines. (Magic Mouse doesn't even have a middle button, nor a gesture that is equivalent to the 3rd button that is commonly on the mouse wheel). At least Windows XP had "right click" for copy/pasting to a command line, but I haven't figured it out yet on a Mac. Multiple Desktops are an absolute must for me, and are well supported in Gnome / KDE, but not really in Windows. (I don't recall a simple bar like Gnome's multiple desktop widget that helps me remember where I put all of my programs)

The stupid Mac GUI only allows one toolbar per window to be in focus at any time, because the toolbar has to be locked up with the bar at the top. And when you have 6 or 7 terminal windows open (I'm a VI guy), I just hate how you can't easily open up a tab in another window without first focusing on that terminal and so forth. (I forget, does the default Mac terminal GUI support multiple tabs?)

I just like to complain about everything :-p More seriously though, while I'm personally in favor of Linux in both the Desktop and Server environments, it is important to see the competition for what it is. Both Mac and Windows are doing pretty good now, and its hard to seriously hate on them from a security point of view. I just always find it unfair to Mac / Windows because of the whole fragmented Linux thing going on. Bugs that would have been considered a Mac bug (ie: Java vulnerability introduced by Oracle) are not really considered vulnerabilities in Linux (I'm fairly certain that CVE-2012-0507, aka the Flashback Vulnerability, affected Linux as well. However, its an Oracle Problem when it affects Linux)

Granted, the way Apple handled flashback was absolutely horrible. So I'll concede that point to Arariel at least.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:39 am UTC

Steax wrote:Their machines are expensive with clear pricing gaps and only one model per class.

The biggest problem with Apple's selection IMO is the lack of a midrange tower. For a variety of reasons, I don't want and won't buy an iMac, the Mac Mini also has a number of problems, and the Mac Pro is just way to freaking expensive.

Steax wrote:To come back to your statement, I honestly don't see the issue with overpriced hardware, because the overpriced hardware is the only (user-sane) way to get the software. If I want the software, and the only way to get there is through overpriced hardware, and I have the money for it, do I have a choice?

I don't understand how you can put that first bolded bit (my emphasis) next to the rest of what you said. What if I want the software but I don't have the money for the overpriced software? Or I want it, but not enough to buy the overpriced hardware?

Max™ wrote:I'm not sure that the overpriced hardware is the only way to get the software, pretty sure you can install lots of it on other systems, ...

Depends on what software you're talking about. If you actually want OS X, then you gotta get a Mac (Hackintoshs excluded). And there are at least a few pieces of Apple software not available on other platforms; I'd love to get a Windows version of Keynote for example. At least if one of the features I've heard about holds; I haven't actually used it. (I don't have a Mac.)

KnightExemplar wrote:I just like to complain about everything :-p

My typical line is that I like using Linux at work and Windows at home so that my OS pisses me off in different ways instead of always the same way depending on where I am. :-)

It's not entirely accurate and isn't the whole story, but it definitely has some truth to it.

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:55 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Despite my position for this thread... I'm personally more productive in a Linux environment.

Stupid freaking "Magic Mouse" scrolls wrong, and without a middle-click copy/paste button, I feel absolutely castrated on Windows / Mac machines. (Magic Mouse doesn't even have a middle button, nor a gesture that is equivalent to the 3rd button that is commonly on the mouse wheel). At least Windows XP had "right click" for copy/pasting to a command line, but I haven't figured it out yet on a Mac. Multiple Desktops are an absolute must for me, and are well supported in Gnome / KDE, but not really in Windows. (I don't recall a simple bar like Gnome's multiple desktop widget that helps me remember where I put all of my programs)

The stupid Mac GUI only allows one toolbar per window to be in focus at any time, because the toolbar has to be locked up with the bar at the top. And when you have 6 or 7 terminal windows open (I'm a VI guy), I just hate how you can't easily open up a tab in another window without first focusing on that terminal and so forth. (I forget, does the default Mac terminal GUI support multiple tabs?)

I just like to complain about everything :-p More seriously though, while I'm personally in favor of Linux in both the Desktop and Server environments, it is important to see the competition for what it is. Both Mac and Windows are doing pretty good now, and its hard to seriously hate on them from a security point of view. I just always find it unfair to Mac / Windows because of the whole fragmented Linux thing going on. Bugs that would have been considered a Mac bug (ie: Java vulnerability introduced by Oracle) are not really considered vulnerabilities in Linux (I'm fairly certain that CVE-2012-0507, aka the Flashback Vulnerability, affected Linux as well. However, its an Oracle Problem when it affects Linux)

Granted, the way Apple handled flashback was absolutely horrible. So I'll concede that point to Arariel at least.


Yes, it all comes down to preference. I don't work with many of the things you do, and I just have copy/paste mapped to mouse gestures (as well as F18 and F19).

And yes, the terminal supports tabs.

EvanED wrote:
Steax wrote:Their machines are expensive with clear pricing gaps and only one model per class.

The biggest problem with Apple's selection IMO is the lack of a midrange tower. For a variety of reasons, I don't want and won't buy an iMac, the Mac Mini also has a number of problems, and the Mac Pro is just way to freaking expensive.

Steax wrote:To come back to your statement, I honestly don't see the issue with overpriced hardware, because the overpriced hardware is the only (user-sane) way to get the software. If I want the software, and the only way to get there is through overpriced hardware, and I have the money for it, do I have a choice?

I don't understand how you can put that first bolded bit (my emphasis) next to the rest of what you said. What if I want the software but I don't have the money for the overpriced software? Or I want it, but not enough to buy the overpriced hardware?


For the first part, yes, I agree. I think that's why they provide RAM/processor/hard disk updates for their existing line, so you can get a moderate machine that way. I can imagine it being an issue with people who need the extra power (I don't, seeing as my work is mostly just text and graphics).

For the second part, yeah, I see what you mean. To clarify, I usually just assume the overpricing to be partly for the software, since they all come in one package anyway. As in, that $1000 machine isn't $1000 for hardware, but $1000 divided up into hardware, software, and support. My earlier statement was as in "how could you call the hardware overpriced when there's no other Mac package to compare it to?", in the "yes, it costs N, but that's A+B+C, so you can't say that A is too high." Look, I'm drunk on cheese.

I also honestly don't see the need for excessively 'good' hardware for your average user, or even myself; the two parts of upgrading that matter, RAM and hard disk space, are well-supported on Macs. I personally just have the cheapest iMac, then I threw in a firewire 1TB external drive and beefed it up to 16GB memory (just because I can, and memory is stupidly cheap now).
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Arariel » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:39 am UTC

Steax wrote:I still haven't found a good program for simple text editing that doesn't suck


Simple text editing? Er... vim? Emacs? Gedit?

(OpenOffice is very clumsy).


I'm pretty sure everyone uses LibreOffice now instead of OpenOffice.org. And neither is used for "simple text edit[ing]". Also, Texmaker.

How-tos involve a lot of command-line work and working with extensive documentation. And it's simply a fact that there are different existing audiences for OS X, Windows and Linux: searching the web for solutions on a platform is then skewed by each audience.


I can get around an entire system without even touching a terminal. Especially on one of the systems I recommend, which is Linux Mint, and even on Fedora, which isn't exactly the most user friendly system (you have to add another repo called rpmfusion to play mp3s and other proprietary media formats because of the Fedora Project's stance of nonfree software in their repos). Certainly, I could go without touching the terminal; but it's definitely a lot easier to type in "sudo yum -y update" or "sudo yum -y install libreoffice" than it is to do it all through yumex or packagekit, or whatever the default yum GUI is. If anything, Windows doesn't make enough use of the terminal; how many complicated multi-step procedures involving GUIs could have been solved if Microsoft had a CLI function where they could just copypasta into the terminal?

For casual people, even seeing the command line is enough to get them to say "get me Windows already."


Except, IIRC, Mac OS X troubleshooting frequently involves some CLI copypasta. Or so I remember seeing instructions on dealing with Flashback.

And before you ask, yes, I prefer GUIs, and so do many other people.


Obviously it depends on the task. I prefer Firefox to lynx and Pidgin to irssi, but some CLI tools are just superior; yum is better than any GUI built for it, gnuplot and GNU Octave similarly, python is a great, quick to access calculator (although I technically could use bash as one, too). mplayer is much, much better than VLC. And vim is much easier to use than emacs (forgive me, Stallman).

And again, troubleshooting should ideally involve just a bit of copypasta into the terminal.

It reduces the margin of error significantly.


Again, depends. I trust myself not to accidentally type "yum remove -y" when I mean "yum install -y", and not to accidentally type "kernel" when I mean to say "supertux" or something.

And there's not much error involved in copy and pasting a CLI command.

Yes, I purchase GUIs for things like Git. I know the command line, but I'm less error-prone with a GUI, so I think it's money well spent.


... I'm pretty sure there are free GUIs for Git.

Flashback was an issue from Java. The criticism Apple got was because they supplied their fix late. You can install one of many other programs that deals with Flashback with no issue. It took 2 weeks for Apple to patch the vulnerability and 1 week after that to distribute a removal application. Calling it "Apple's special Java VM" is like saying Adobe Photoshop had a vulnerability and calling it "Apple's special Photoshop". Apple did take too long to release it, but it's not some sort of major disaster. And it was one incident.


Except no because Apple doesn't maintain Photoshop? Apple does maintain their version of the Java VM.
They patched it two months late. Oracle had provided the fix in February, and Apple didn't get around to it until April.

KnightExemplar wrote:The Stuxnet vulnerability was in the printer spooler of Windows. Its the rough equivalent to finding an exploit in the CUPS printer driver in Linux.

Which btw, has happened before and took longer than a day to patch. The Windows system as a whole is more unified than Linux, which makes the job somewhat unfair to compare the two together. Again, its very difficult to compare security issues between the other operating systems and Linux because Linux is so damn fragmented.

And for a more recent attack, here's another Root Escalation bug in CUPS, this time from 2008. EDIT: Got down the specific dates. http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/usn-707-1/ implies that the security update was in January 2009, while the bug was found in November 2008. Thats more or less the same lead time as Windows and Stuxnet.

This really just highlights how its unfair. When Windows gets hit with a Printer Spooler root escalation bug, its Microsoft's fault. When Linux's major printer spooler gets hit with a root escalation bug, its CUPS's fault... not Linux at all. :roll:


Possibly because CUPS used to stand for Common Unix Printing System (which also has a Windows port)? The vulnerability affected BSD and Mac OS X as much as GNU/Linux, and even then,
/* Note:
*
* This exploit only works under the (rare) conditions that cupsd executes
* external filters as a privileged user, a printer on the system uses the
* pstopdf filter (e.g. the pdf.ppd PDF converter). Also, /etc/ld.so.preload
* must be world readable.
*/

So, it's an exploit for a commonly used Unix program. Because even then, CUPS is not the only program for managing printers. There are no versions of Windows without the Printer Spooler; but OTOH, there have been GNU/Linux distros without CUPS (it only started getting popular around 2002). Same thing goes for X or Firefox; Neither X nor Firefox is necessarily present on every GNU/Linux system. It's a GNU/Linux exploit if the exploit exists within either the GNU components or the Linux components. And even then, if it's a GNU exploit, you can't call it a Linux exploit because Android and non-GNU Linuxes aren't affected.

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Almost 150GB/($ month) at current exchange rates at 100Mbps. And infinite bandwidth at 10Mbps.

As for your main question... the OS is completely tangential to the security practice of your system administrators. Its like asking "What color of your car will make it go faster??"

A secure system happens when you have a dedicated security team staying up-to-date with patches, and disabling services when issues come up without a patch. Zero-days have come out on every system, and there is literally no defense against those. And it is impossible for any of us to properly evaluate the remaining number of zero-days in a given system. (If there was a way to evaluate them... they wouldn't be Zero-days now would they?)

So the answer is: Against a dedicated opponent (ie: the mythical Advanced Persistent Threat), your security team doesn't matter. The zero-days will come and you will lose to the attacker. Against more casual enemies, (ie: Anonymous) who use publicly known exploits, if your security team's response time is within hours... you should be safe. (Casual enemies give up after trying all the low hanging fruit. There are other departments in your company or other targets that will be easier to get into than your place).


I suppose; the OS is not nearly as important as the sysadmin, so that was a bad case. How about the safety of an average computer user?

Multiple Desktops are an absolute must for me

When I first discovered them, I thought these were the greatest feature ever. Until I discovered Yakuake, that is, which demoted them to second-greatest feature ever.

Bugs that would have been considered a Mac bug (ie: Java vulnerability introduced by Oracle) are not really considered vulnerabilities in Linux (I'm fairly certain that CVE-2012-0507, aka the Flashback Vulnerability, affected Linux as well. However, its an Oracle Problem when it affects Linux)

Granted, the way Apple handled flashback was absolutely horrible. So I'll concede that point to Arariel at least.


If Apple had released the Java update the same time as Oracle (or left it up to Oracle entirely), then yes, it would have been an Oracle issue. But since they didn't, it's quite a different story. A GNU/Linux distro that didn't keep its repos patched for vulnerability would have the same fault Apple did in this case. I suppose the Mac OS X Java VM had different code from the others? Either they made excessive changes to the upstream and couldn't patch the vulnerabilities quick enough, or they were just too damn lazy to press the compile button.

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:54 am UTC

Edit to reply to Steax

Steax wrote:For the first part, yes, I agree. I think that's why they provide RAM/processor/hard disk updates for their existing line, so you can get a moderate machine that way. I can imagine it being an issue with people who need the extra power (I don't, seeing as my work is mostly just text and graphics).

It's not just power in the CPU/Memory sense though. I've had as many as 3 hard drives in my computer now; I'm not sure I've ever had a desktop of my own with only one except during a transient period after one died. Maybe for the first year or two of my first computer.

I mean, consider the 27" iMac. By default it comes with a 1 TB hard drive. You can add a 256 GB SSD -- for $600 dollars! You could buy two 256 GB SSDs from Newegg for that price and still have plenty of money left over! Or, you can upgrade from 1 TB to 2 TB for $150! You can buy a 3 GB drive for that price -- and that's the upgrade! I mean, that sort of pricing is absurd!

(Sure, I could add an external drive. Just what I need, more wires and boxes. And it still doesn't solve the problem, only hides it a bit. Suppose I decide to upgrade that 1 TB to 2 TB. That upgrade "should" be maybe $30 glancing at Newegg prices. Maybe $40 if you pay someone $10 to install it. Keeping the default 1 TB and then adding on another 1 TB separately is $100. Congrats, even though you didn't get any upgrades, Apple's absurd upgrade prices just cost you $70. And that, BTW, is the price for an internal drive.)

And that doesn't even get into the whole "the monitor is built into the computer" problems.

Yes, I'm a power user, I acknowledge that. And it's sort of my point: IMO, Apple doesn't have a desktop that is well-suited for power users who can't afford the Mac Pro!

For the second part, yeah, I see what you mean. To clarify, I usually just assume the overpricing to be partly for the software, since they all come in one package anyway. As in, that $1000 machine isn't $1000 for hardware, but $1000 divided up into hardware, software, and support.

What extra software and support comes with that $600 SSD that should probably be under $300?

Arariel wrote:how many complicated multi-step procedures involving GUIs could have been solved if Microsoft had a CLI function where they could just copypasta into the terminal?

Actually it's sometimes surprising how many things do have this that just are very uncommon knowledge. Granted, MS's shell and terminal (especially terminal) suck ass.

yum is better than any GUI built for it

So I'm not sure I agree with this. (I'm an apt user, but I assume the same thing applies to yum.) It also depends on the task you're doing. If your task is "install the package named llvm-3.0-dev", then I agree. If it's "I want to install program X but don't know the exact package name" then the GUI starts to gain on the command line. If it's "I want to install these 10 programs but don't know the exact package names", then the GUI wins. (In that case it's much the same reason that Git's index is often very handy. It allows you to easily queue up several operations one by one and then commit them at once. In the same way, some GUI to apt will let you check off each individual package as you find it, while doing the same thing on the command line means you have to search for package 1, write down the name, search for package 2, write down the name, etc., and then copy all those names to the actual apt-get install line.)

python is a great, quick to access calculator (although I technically could use bash as one, too)

And yet, iPython's qt front end looks like it could be really cool. I haven't tried it, but I'd really like to.

mplayer is much, much better than VLC

And something like gmplayer is even better. :-)

And vim is much easier to use than emacs (forgive me, Stallman).

No comment. :-p

... I'm pretty sure there are free GUIs for Git.

There are also free photo management programs, and yet I've bought two versions of Lightroom and it was completely worth it. I don't know Steax's use cases or preferences, but it's entirely believable that there's a commercial tool that works better enough that it's worth buying.

There are no versions of Windows without the Printer Spooler;

I'd bet money that I could put together a Windows Embedded image that could run desktop applications (at least until you said print) and omitted the print spooler.

Sure, I'm picking nits a bit and that's a technicality -- but it probably is technically true. And then you're left arguing practicality, and a CUPS vulnerability is practically speaking a pretty big vulnerability. (Granted: not sure about the root/non-root aspect.)

I suppose; the OS is not nearly as important as the sysadmin, so that was a bad case. How about the safety of an average computer user?

Then a CUPS vulnerability is pretty damn damaging. :-)

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:17 am UTC

Arariel wrote:So, it's an exploit for a commonly used Unix program. Because even then, CUPS is not the only program for managing printers. There are no versions of Windows without the Printer Spooler; but OTOH, there have been GNU/Linux distros without CUPS (it only started getting popular around 2002). Same thing goes for X or Firefox; Neither X nor Firefox is necessarily present on every GNU/Linux system. It's a GNU/Linux exploit if the exploit exists within either the GNU components or the Linux components. And even then, if it's a GNU exploit, you can't call it a Linux exploit because Android and non-GNU Linuxes aren't affected.


This trends toward equivocation. When someone talks about Linux systems without further qualification, they're talking about GNU / Linux systems. A GNU exploit is an exploit for the thing we insist on calling "desktop Linux." And I do think that the desktop conversation and the server conversation really are just different things and shouldn't be mixed.

On texts and the editing thereof - LibreOffice is slightly less clumsy than the last version of OpenOffice; they've finally, finally, finally fixed the fucking nonsense toolbar system and Find dialog, made adding headers sane, and reworked .docx support. I'm on Ubuntu, so I'm hitched to the six-month release cycle, and what the Open Document Foundation did between the last two Ubuntu releases (LibreOffice 3.4-3.5) is more and better development than I saw in OpenOffice's entire tenure on my machines since '09. I found the settings to enable the quickstarter and disable the useless auto-recovery around the same time, and I'm actually fairly happy with it.

But it's still definitely not MS Office, which I would still use exclusively in place of LibO if the font smoothing worked under Linux. (And you don't get to complain about the ribbon unless you've tried "minimizing" it - the results are actually kind of amazing.)

I wonder - Steax, this is weird to ask since you're a developer, but when you said text editing, did you mean something more like composing? With "text editing" I think of literal text editors, monospaced and highlighted and used to edit ASCII text, exactly the sort of thing you'd never do with OpenOffice, so I'm as thrown as Arariel on that. To my understanding, Kate and gedit are on par with Notepad++ for that, even if, personally, I find gedit's lack of soft indentation and Kate's KDEness irksome. For composing, I've been using Tomboy Notes, of all things (as I mentioned back in that thread on applications like Tomboy that keep their data to themselves.) I think of MS Word and LibreOffice both as good applications for formatting and designing documents, not so much for actually writing anything up. But what kind of use case are you looking for? Open / LibreOffice's clumsiness doesn't seem to come into play if you're just editing the text of a document, any more than MS Word's (I mean, the fundamental awkwardness I'd see in using a full word processor if you're not interested in formatting for print layouts.)

Arariel, I'd have to agree that CLI really is better for certain kinds of tasks, even if I'd see a much narrower set of kinds of tasks than you're defining, and Gnome, at least, makes it comfortable. I tend to think that the most common use for the command line should be folks copying and pasting things they don't understand out of a support page, as you mention for OSX, since that's still better than the alternative of being guided through sixteen steps of the Windows GUI to change some obfuscated little setting. (Not to say that command line solutions of exactly that kind don't exist in Windows, too.) I do prefer having a GUI package manager and calculator, thankssomuch.

On the big topic, there are a lot of workflow reasons I wouldn't want to switch to Mac or Windows (and I really mean 8 here) even if those platforms didn't have other limitations - I can't accept the terms on which their app stores operate, nor would I want to have to go back to not having an app store, and both Mac and Windows (8) reserve too much of the system's capabilities to app-store-approved software. Those are features generally not available in Linux at all, but they're good ones, and I don't want to feel coerced. But that's a different thing from "better"ness.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:55 am UTC

Steax wrote:For the second part, yeah, I see what you mean. To clarify, I usually just assume the overpricing to be partly for the software, since they all come in one package anyway. As in, that $1000 machine isn't $1000 for hardware, but $1000 divided up into hardware, software, and support. My earlier statement was as in "how could you call the hardware overpriced when there's no other Mac package to compare it to?", in the "yes, it costs N, but that's A+B+C, so you can't say that A is too high." Look, I'm drunk on cheese.

I also honestly don't see the need for excessively 'good' hardware for your average user, or even myself; the two parts of upgrading that matter, RAM and hard disk space, are well-supported on Macs. I personally just have the cheapest iMac, then I threw in a firewire 1TB external drive and beefed it up to 16GB memory (just because I can, and memory is stupidly cheap now).

My friend got an iMac recently, I looked at the specs and price, hopped over to Newegg, built a system with upgrades to all the same parts for $200 less. I can't find a reason to insist on Apple software as though Linux doesn't have the same capabilities, so you're basically paying $400 or $500 for service and having someone else build it for you/put a logo on it?


As mentioned above, gedit?

Know what blew my mind when I discovered I had it?

I can edit pdf files directly, and I don't need to upload a libreoffice file to an online pdf converter... you can just tell it to export to pdf. Very handy given how many files need to be turned in as pdfs.
Last edited by Max™ on Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:07 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:00 am UTC

Price is not exclusively influenced by cost on the supply side. Also, the cost of OSX is certainly greater than that of any Linux OS, as there is far less development freely donated or otherwise subsidized.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:05 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I wonder - Steax, this is weird to ask since you're a developer, but when you said text editing, did you mean something more like composing? With "text editing" I think of literal text editors, monospaced and highlighted and used to edit ASCII text, exactly the sort of thing you'd never do with OpenOffice, so I'm as thrown as Arariel on that. To my understanding, Kate and gedit are on par with Notepad++ for that, even if, personally, I find gedit's lack of soft indentation and Kate's KDEness irksome. For composing, I've been using Tomboy Notes, of all things (as I mentioned back in that thread on applications like Tomboy that keep their data to themselves.) I think of MS Word and LibreOffice both as good applications for formatting and designing documents, not so much for actually writing anything up. But what kind of use case are you looking for? Open / LibreOffice's clumsiness doesn't seem to come into play if you're just editing the text of a document, any more than MS Word's (I mean, the fundamental awkwardness I'd see in using a full word processor if you're not interested in formatting for print layouts.)


Err, yes, sorry. I meant composing text.

I'm not really sure about these things, because they tend to have really widespread use cases from the same people. Which can easily get confusing. Sometimes I'm just writing a goddamn letter, sometimes I need to mock something up a little more complicated (without me resorting to use Adobe Illustrator). I'm happy with Word or Pages, but for some reason Libre/OpenOffice doesn't feel as comfortable.

I honestly want a word processor that's just CSS-based. And given CSS's paged media module I might just do that.


Arariel wrote:I can get around an entire system without even touching a terminal. Especially on one of the systems I recommend, which is Linux Mint, and even on Fedora, which isn't exactly the most user friendly system (you have to add another repo called rpmfusion to play mp3s and other proprietary media formats because of the Fedora Project's stance of nonfree software in their repos). Certainly, I could go without touching the terminal; but it's definitely a lot easier to type in "sudo yum -y update" or "sudo yum -y install libreoffice" than it is to do it all through yumex or packagekit, or whatever the default yum GUI is. If anything, Windows doesn't make enough use of the terminal; how many complicated multi-step procedures involving GUIs could have been solved if Microsoft had a CLI function where they could just copypasta into the terminal?

For casual people, even seeing the command line is enough to get them to say "get me Windows already."


Except, IIRC, Mac OS X troubleshooting frequently involves some CLI copypasta. Or so I remember seeing instructions on dealing with Flashback.

And before you ask, yes, I prefer GUIs, and so do many other people.


Obviously it depends on the task. I prefer Firefox to lynx and Pidgin to irssi, but some CLI tools are just superior; yum is better than any GUI built for it, gnuplot and GNU Octave similarly, python is a great, quick to access calculator (although I technically could use bash as one, too). mplayer is much, much better than VLC. And vim is much easier to use than emacs (forgive me, Stallman).

And again, troubleshooting should ideally involve just a bit of copypasta into the terminal.

It reduces the margin of error significantly.


Again, depends. I trust myself not to accidentally type "yum remove -y" when I mean "yum install -y", and not to accidentally type "kernel" when I mean to say "supertux" or something.

And there's not much error involved in copy and pasting a CLI command.

Yes, I purchase GUIs for things like Git. I know the command line, but I'm less error-prone with a GUI, so I think it's money well spent.


... I'm pretty sure there are free GUIs for Git.

Flashback was an issue from Java. The criticism Apple got was because they supplied their fix late. You can install one of many other programs that deals with Flashback with no issue. It took 2 weeks for Apple to patch the vulnerability and 1 week after that to distribute a removal application. Calling it "Apple's special Java VM" is like saying Adobe Photoshop had a vulnerability and calling it "Apple's special Photoshop". Apple did take too long to release it, but it's not some sort of major disaster. And it was one incident.


Except no because Apple doesn't maintain Photoshop? Apple does maintain their version of the Java VM.
They patched it two months late. Oracle had provided the fix in February, and Apple didn't get around to it until April.


Then that's exactly why you're not in the use case that OS X is aimed at. The fact that some troubleshooting is CLI-based is why Apple offers their customer service. And I am a GUI person; my mental model maps much better to the physical location of widgets on a screen rather than mapping to bits of text that determine command arguments. I don't use the CLI enough to memorize commands, and I prefer to memorize bits of information about my work instead. Just because there are free GUIs doesn't mean they're superior.

Flashback was an Apple issue, I'll give you that. It was a single incident, though. I'm guessing Apple was being really careful about it... or something.

EvanED wrote:I mean, consider the 27" iMac. By default it comes with a 1 TB hard drive. You can add a 256 GB SSD -- for $600 dollars! You could buy two 256 GB SSDs from Newegg for that price and still have plenty of money left over! Or, you can upgrade from 1 TB to 2 TB for $150! You can buy a 3 GB drive for that price -- and that's the upgrade! I mean, that sort of pricing is absurd!

(Sure, I could add an external drive. Just what I need, more wires and boxes. And it still doesn't solve the problem, only hides it a bit. Suppose I decide to upgrade that 1 TB to 2 TB. That upgrade "should" be maybe $30 glancing at Newegg prices. Maybe $40 if you pay someone $10 to install it. Keeping the default 1 TB and then adding on another 1 TB separately is $100. Congrats, even though you didn't get any upgrades, Apple's absurd upgrade prices just cost you $70. And that, BTW, is the price for an internal drive.)

And that doesn't even get into the whole "the monitor is built into the computer" problems.

Yes, I'm a power user, I acknowledge that. And it's sort of my point: IMO, Apple doesn't have a desktop that is well-suited for power users who can't afford the Mac Pro!

For the second part, yeah, I see what you mean. To clarify, I usually just assume the overpricing to be partly for the software, since they all come in one package anyway. As in, that $1000 machine isn't $1000 for hardware, but $1000 divided up into hardware, software, and support.

What extra software and support comes with that $600 SSD that should probably be under $300?


Yeah, those upgrades are absolutely insane, and I think nobody should ever use them. I was talking more about the base models. I think we're just talking different use cases. Even those intensive work in my office is done on a beefed-up server, instead of individual workstations, so we fit the model better.


Max™ wrote:
Steax wrote:For the second part, yeah, I see what you mean. To clarify, I usually just assume the overpricing to be partly for the software, since they all come in one package anyway. As in, that $1000 machine isn't $1000 for hardware, but $1000 divided up into hardware, software, and support. My earlier statement was as in "how could you call the hardware overpriced when there's no other Mac package to compare it to?", in the "yes, it costs N, but that's A+B+C, so you can't say that A is too high." Look, I'm drunk on cheese.

I also honestly don't see the need for excessively 'good' hardware for your average user, or even myself; the two parts of upgrading that matter, RAM and hard disk space, are well-supported on Macs. I personally just have the cheapest iMac, then I threw in a firewire 1TB external drive and beefed it up to 16GB memory (just because I can, and memory is stupidly cheap now).

My friend got an iMac recently, I looked at the specs and price, hopped over to Newegg, built a system with upgrades to all the same parts for $200 less. I can't find a reason to insist on Apple software as though Linux doesn't have the same capabilities, so you're basically paying $400 or $500 for service and having someone else build it for you/put a logo on it?



What Copper Bezel said, pretty much. Apple goes through a lot of testing, development, and design (run by a whole section of a huge computer company, no less) for OS X. Seeing as how Windows is somewhere around the $200 mark last time I checked, the remaining $300 seems fair for pre-building and premium (phone, face-to-face) support.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:12 am UTC

Eh, you can still get warranty coverage for a system you build, and it's difficult for me to imagine support being worth hundreds of dollars, but I'm not the type of user that is aimed at.

Hardware warranty varies as certain parts are more and less prone to failure.
Software warranty... well, get better software?
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:35 am UTC

Apple's service is basically "if it's broken, give it to us, and we'll give it back as working, no questions asked." Which is why a lot of people I know are happy about it. They also help you adapt to your new system, if you're moving.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:58 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:So, it's an exploit for a commonly used Unix program. Because even then, CUPS is not the only program for managing printers. There are no versions of Windows without the Printer Spooler; but OTOH, there have been GNU/Linux distros without CUPS (it only started getting popular around 2002). Same thing goes for X or Firefox; Neither X nor Firefox is necessarily present on every GNU/Linux system. It's a GNU/Linux exploit if the exploit exists within either the GNU components or the Linux components. And even then, if it's a GNU exploit, you can't call it a Linux exploit because Android and non-GNU Linuxes aren't affected.


So.... We may have a bug that causes a root escalation on Red Hat Enterprise, Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, Gentoo, CentOS, SUSE, and all distributions based off of those. But its not a "Linux bug" because it doesn't affect freaking Android? I presume that the libc root escalation issue wasn't a Linux problem either, because Androids use the nonGPL uLibc instead and there are ports of libc to other systems?

What about Windows 7 phones. They don't have a printer spooler so they're immune to Stuxnet. So is Stuxnet not a Windows bug either now?

Its hard to blame you, because its really a flaw in the computer industry as a whole IMO. The following article highlights the thinking:
Headline: Apple Safari used to exploit zero-day security hole in Windows 7
http://www.infoworld.com/t/security/app ... s-7-182269

That is right. The security hole is in Windows 7, not Safari. :roll: But a CUPS exploit is in CUPS, not linux. amirite?

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http://www.macminivault.com/sign-up/
** Colocate a mac mini here for $30 / month for 150GB / month on 15Mbps.


Almost 150GB/($ month) at current exchange rates at 100Mbps. And infinite bandwidth at 10Mbps.


I don't think the plans are comparable. You've brought up a dedicated hosting deal while I brought up a colocation deal. And there are too many differences to adequately compare the two.

Sure you get more bandwidth in your plan, but that is not the only factor. The MacMini is owned by you if you buy into the plan (ie: you need to pay $600 upfront cost), so you can personally customize the hardware and software and then ship it to those guys. I've never worked with MacMinis before, but I like the idea that I can take it apart, put whatever parts I want inside of it, and then have that specific machine hosted somewhere. (Although... it looks like I'm limited to a single RAM slot and HDD vs Solid State. I forgot that those things aren't so customizable...)

Ultimately, if I'm using the MacMini plan over two years, that is $600 upfront costs plus $35/month. Or approximately $25 + $35/month overall (and I get to sell the Mac Mini on Ebay afterwards to recoup some money).

So even then, you own the hardware but rent the space. In your link, they own both the hardware and the space, and the cost is approximately $80/month for a better bandwidth deal.

Ex: With the MacMini deal... you can buy a MacMini, wipe the disk, install Linux and then hand the hardware over to those colocation guys. There are benefits to truly owning the hardware of the platform you're hosting. There are stories of people throwing up Xen / Debian on those buggers and owning your own VPS server. (As in, you own the hypervisor and all of the DomUs)
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Iranon » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:24 pm UTC

I don't think macs are terribly overpriced. Apple just doesn't have a very complete range.

A large laptop, modestly powered and modestly priced, is often a good fit for casual users.
A 17" Macbook Pro (recently discontinued) would have been massive overkill for a potential customer who just wants a decent-sized screen.
It may indeed be the only acceptable offer by Apple, at 3-4 times the price of the cheapest acceptable offer from a competitor. That doesn't make it overpriced - direct competitors of the Macbook Pro would play in the same price league.

Comparing an iMac to high-performance components in a cardboard box happens too often and makes as much sense as comparing a grand tourer to a road-legal race car.
One is comfortable, civilized, comes with all the fancy trim and established support channels... and has more than enough power for most people.
The other is more powerful, modular, easy to service, upgrade or adjust to a specific task... but may be fiddly, harsh and unpleasant to use every day.
The latter makes sense if you drive your machine hard enough to need its capabilities and willing to put in some work to keep it running, but I wouldn't say it's strictly better.

*

Personally, I always end up annoyed with OSX. All the little details to make my life easier instead come across as jarring inconsistencies. I always end up hunting for things the GUI is hiding from me in an attempt to appear clean and friendly. Still haven't found a non-sucky way to make things readable if your eyesight isn't up to scratch. Focus policy is limited by their decision to use a global menubar. Several window management options I take for granted don't exist without buggy add-ons. At least in their German translation, they seem pathologically scared of long complicated-sounding words and would rather make things unclear or incorrect instead. Very basic functionalities (Cut&Paste, Copy&Replace) are limited, quirky and subject to sweeping changes that introduce new problems. Tacit assumptions are made, often with unpleasant results... working with applications or on file system incompatible with version control turned the aggressive autosaving into a data destroyer par excellence.

It does many things well when used as intended, but Think Different and things go pear-shaped. I can see the appeal, but not for me.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Arariel » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:27 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:You can buy a 3 GB drive for that price -- and that's the upgrade! I mean, that sort of pricing is absurd!


Yeah, $150 for a 3 GB hard drive would be absurd, considering my micro SD card costs a fifth of that and holds ten times more. :P


Actually it's sometimes surprising how many things do have this that just are very uncommon knowledge. Granted, MS's shell and terminal (especially terminal) suck ass.


At any rate, Windows ridiculously underutilises the terminal. There may be solutions via it, but it's so useless and neutered on Windows in general, I don't think there's really much point in learning DOS.

So I'm not sure I agree with this. (I'm an apt user, but I assume the same thing applies to yum.) It also depends on the task you're doing. If your task is "install the package named llvm-3.0-dev", then I agree. If it's "I want to install program X but don't know the exact package name" then the GUI starts to gain on the command line. If it's "I want to install these 10 programs but don't know the exact package names", then the GUI wins. (In that case it's much the same reason that Git's index is often very handy. It allows you to easily queue up several operations one by one and then commit them at once. In the same way, some GUI to apt will let you check off each individual package as you find it, while doing the same thing on the command line means you have to search for package 1, write down the name, search for package 2, write down the name, etc., and then copy all those names to the actual apt-get install line.)


Compare: yum, aptitude and the pitifully small list of commands for apt-get
apt-get is ridiculously unversatile; there's not ever a search command for crying out loud! (Which is what I would do with yum)
aptitude is slightly better, but the command list is still really small. Neither has history (and therefore no "undo last" or redo option as there is for yum), neither has a command for providing a brief description (info), one for listing dependencies (deplist), or list repos (repolist). I suppose Debian-based systems use GUI package managers a lot more because APT seriously just sucks, CLI-wise.

And yet, iPython's qt front end looks like it could be really cool. I haven't tried it, but I'd really like to.


Just Python via terminal is much quicker; I just press a button to drop down my terminal, open python, type a calculation, and close it. A GUI adds considerably to that. Even if I keep it open constantly, I'm either going to need to alt-tab through a few windows, have it on a different desktop, or actually touch my mouse for a moment and click on it to open it.

And something like gmplayer is even better. :-)


Ewww. First of all, VB? They should call it VD. D: Why would anyone write free software in a proprietary language?
Second of all, unless there's a media player that can compare to the simplicity of mplayer -loop 0 ./Jethro\ Tull/*/*.ogg, that opens up and starts playing almost instantly, that takes up at most three or four seconds total to type and start playing (especially with the handy CLI integration of Dolphin; Konsole is far from my favourite terminal, but it works), I don't think any media player can quite compare. :P


I'd bet money that I could put together a Windows Embedded image that could run desktop applications (at least until you said print) and omitted the print spooler.

Sure, I'm picking nits a bit and that's a technicality -- but it probably is technically true. And then you're left arguing practicality, and a CUPS vulnerability is practically speaking a pretty big vulnerability. (Granted: not sure about the root/non-root aspect.)


Right, but it's not like you can take the print spooler off of a Windows NT system entirely; it's as part of the OS as Internet Explorer is. OTOH, CUPS is not the only printing system, and it's not in every variant of GNU/Linux, and wasn't even in very many until around 2002 or so.

Then a CUPS vulnerability is pretty damn damaging. :-)


/* Note:
*
* This exploit only works under the (rare) conditions that cupsd executes
* external filters as a privileged user, a printer on the system uses the
* pstopdf filter (e.g. the pdf.ppd PDF converter). Also, /etc/ld.so.preload
* must be world readable.
*/


Seems slightly convoluted, no?

Problem: not enough desktops. Solution: add more desktops. ;-)

I smile and shake my head at the poor fools who buy second monitors for their Windows workstations. :D

Max™ wrote:I can edit pdf files directly, and I don't need to upload a libreoffice file to an online pdf converter... you can just tell it to export to pdf. Very handy given how many files need to be turned in as pdfs.

Oh God, yes, pdf. Until I started using GNU/Linux, I didn't know there was free pdf-editing software. And last I checked, Word still didn't have a built-in pdf converter (and neither did the other Office programs).

Steax wrote:I'm not really sure about these things, because they tend to have really widespread use cases from the same people. Which can easily get confusing. Sometimes I'm just writing a goddamn letter, sometimes I need to mock something up a little more complicated (without me resorting to use Adobe Illustrator). I'm happy with Word or Pages, but for some reason Libre/OpenOffice doesn't feel as comfortable.

I honestly want a word processor that's just CSS-based. And given CSS's paged media module I might just do that.


What exactly is wrong with LO Writer? I use it minimally (plain text suits my needs 99% of the time), and when I did, it was very ergonomic. The maths was as functional as the one for Word, everything was easy to find and intuitive.

Then that's exactly why you're not in the use case that OS X is aimed at. The fact that some troubleshooting is CLI-based is why Apple offers their customer service. And I am a GUI person; my mental model maps much better to the physical location of widgets on a screen rather than mapping to bits of text that determine command arguments. I don't use the CLI enough to memorize commands, and I prefer to memorize bits of information about my work instead. Just because there are free GUIs doesn't mean they're superior.


As I said, different models for different purposes; I don't use lynx as a web browser, but using a GUI for gnuplot or Octave takes five to ten times as much work and time. But if someone wanted to get around a GNU/Linux system without touching the terminal, they could.

Flashback was an Apple issue, I'll give you that. It was a single incident, though. I'm guessing Apple was being really careful about it... or something.


Well, I figure there are only two possibilities: Either they were lazy (and thus irresponsible) or they made so many downstream changes that it took two months to make sure that applying Oracle's updates wouldn't break anything (and thus irresponsible).

KnightExemplar wrote:So.... We may have a bug that causes a root escalation on Red Hat Enterprise, Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, Gentoo, CentOS, SUSE, and all distributions based off of those. But its not a "Linux bug" because it doesn't affect freaking Android? I presume that the libc root escalation issue wasn't a Linux problem either, because Androids use the nonGPL uLibc instead and there are ports of libc to other systems?


It's not a Linux bug, because Linux is not an operating system; it's a kernel. GNU/Linux is an operating system. It's a case of terminology, here.

What about Windows 7 phones. They don't have a printer spooler so they're immune to Stuxnet. So is Stuxnet not a Windows bug either now?


The printer spooler is a Windows NT bug would be the correct thing to say. Incidentally, is it even possible to remove the printer spooler? If not, then it pretty much is a part of Windows, isn't it?

Its hard to blame you, because its really a flaw in the computer industry as a whole IMO. The following article highlights the thinking:
Headline: Apple Safari used to exploit zero-day security hole in Windows 7
http://www.infoworld.com/t/security/app ... s-7-182269

That is right. The security hole is in Windows 7, not Safari. :roll: But a CUPS exploit is in CUPS, not linux. amirite?


However, as noted by Kaspersky Labs' blog, it's possible that other browsers could be used to exploit the vulnerability.


Furthermore, if Safari caused the same security hole in another version of Windows as in Windows 7, it would be a Safari problem. And since CUPS caused the same hole in every Unix and Unix-like system, it was a CUPS problem.

I don't think the plans are comparable. You've brought up a dedicated hosting deal while I brought up a colocation deal. And there are too many differences to adequately compare the two.

Sure you get more bandwidth in your plan, but that is not the only factor. The MacMini is owned by you if you buy into the plan (ie: you need to pay $600 upfront cost), so you can personally customize the hardware and software and then ship it to those guys. I've never worked with MacMinis before, but I like the idea that I can take it apart, put whatever parts I want inside of it, and then have that specific machine hosted somewhere. (Although... it looks like I'm limited to a single RAM slot and HDD vs Solid State. I forgot that those things aren't so customizable...)

Ultimately, if I'm using the MacMini plan over two years, that is $600 upfront costs plus $35/month. Or approximately $25 + $35/month overall (and I get to sell the Mac Mini on Ebay afterwards to recoup some money).

So even then, you own the hardware but rent the space. In your link, they own both the hardware and the space, and the cost is approximately $80/month for a better bandwidth deal.

Ex: With the MacMini deal... you can buy a MacMini, wipe the disk, install Linux and then hand the hardware over to those colocation guys. There are benefits to truly owning the hardware of the platform you're hosting. There are stories of people throwing up Xen / Debian on those buggers and owning your own VPS server. (As in, you own the hypervisor and all of the DomUs)

Ah, oops, forgot to read. In that case, for some colocation: http://www.askwebhosting.com/colocation ... nsfer.html
http://www.colopronto.com/compare/
http://www.michigan-colocation.com/inde ... colocation

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Dason » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:44 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:I smile and shake my head at the poor fools who buy second monitors for their Windows workstations. :D

... I don't quite get it. A second monitor is amazing. What exactly are you trying to imply is wrong with this situation?
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:26 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:apt-get is ridiculously unversatile; there's not ever a search command for crying out loud! (Which is what I would do with yum)

Um, apt-cache search. Sure, it's not part of apt-get, but that's just because they gave it a different top-level command for whatever reason. (To be fair, I'm not a huge fan of this split even though it probably makes sense to someone somewhere.)

neither has a command for providing a brief description (info), one for listing dependencies (deplist)

apt-cache show and apt-cache showpkg; apt-cache depends

or list repos (repolist)

This is maybe not quite as nice as just a subcommand to list the repositories, but you can just cat /etc/apt/sources.list.

Neither has history (and therefore no "undo last" or redo option as there is for yum)

That's true.

But I note that you don't mention staging several changes across different command invocations and then committing it all at once. Could I do something like

Code: Select all

yum search xorg
yum install-this-in-a-minute xorg-server
yum search kde
yum install-this-in-a-minute kde
yum search awesome
yum install-this-in-a-minute awesome-wm
yum install-everything

?

Because you can do that with aptitude and other GUI package managers.

Ewww. First of all, VB? They should call it VD. D: Why would anyone write free software in a proprietary language?
Second of all, unless there's a media player that can compare to the simplicity of mplayer -loop 0 ./Jethro\ Tull/*/*.ogg, that opens up and starts playing almost instantly, that takes up at most three or four seconds total to type and start playing (especially with the handy CLI integration of Dolphin; Konsole is far from my favourite terminal, but it works), I don't think any media player can quite compare. :P

I'll take a program where I can use a progress bar to scan through the track more precisely than using the scroll wheel. There's probably a way to do this with mplayer, but I don't know what it is. (In fairness, I haven't really looked.) I just know that I used some other problem before -- I think gmplayer -- to get a GUI. (And that was on Linux, so you may have found a different gmplayer. Or I'm misremembering, because it wasn't in the apt repositories I have set up when I tried to install it recently.)

There's also another thing that GUI media players are better at (actually many other things, but this is one), which is choosing several files that don't have some uniform sort of names. It may take more time to bring up the DUI dialog or something, but after a couple of files, the increase in speed of just clicking on a name instead of typing it in (even with tab completion) starts to win.

Right, but it's not like you can take the print spooler off of a Windows NT system entirely; it's as part of the OS as Internet Explorer is.

Which is... not. Windows Embedded runs the NT kernel.

Problem: not enough desktops. Solution: add more desktops. ;-)

I smile and shake my head at the poor fools who buy second monitors for their Windows workstations. :D

Just to be clear, I meant virtual desktops, in reference to "yakuke is better than virtual desktops" meaning you obviously don't have enough virtual desktops. :-)

That said: two monitors is a huge boon even on Linux.

Oh God, yes, pdf. Until I started using GNU/Linux, I didn't know there was free pdf-editing software. And last I checked, Word still didn't have a built-in pdf converter (and neither did the other Office programs).

To PDF? I'm pretty sure you're wrong with 2010. I have a fresh installation and it can save as PDF. 2007 has a free first-party download from MS.

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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:20 am UTC

Dason wrote:
Arariel wrote:I smile and shake my head at the poor fools who buy second monitors for their Windows workstations. :D

... I don't quite get it. A second monitor is amazing. What exactly are you trying to imply is wrong with this situation?


I second this. Getting a second monitor was probably my single best investment, far exceeding any software or other hardware purchase.

EvanED wrote:
Arariel wrote:apt-get is ridiculously unversatile; there's not ever a search command for crying out loud! (Which is what I would do with yum)

Um, apt-cache search. Sure, it's not part of apt-get, but that's just because they gave it a different top-level command for whatever reason. (To be fair, I'm not a huge fan of this split even though it probably makes sense to someone somewhere.)

neither has a command for providing a brief description (info), one for listing dependencies (deplist)

apt-cache show and apt-cache showpkg; apt-cache depends


Not that I disagree on anything you guys are saying, but this is exactly why I prefer GUIs; easier to remember and easier to discover. A GUI is assumed to be a frontend to the collection of systems that make up a service, and manages them accordingly. While a CLI is faster when you know the commands, GUIs are more useful for people who don't want to get knee-deep into them. ... This is probably a different debate, however.
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Max™
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:23 am UTC

As far as pdf's, it's just a button in LO Writer, next to the print button, I was playing with a really full featured pdf editor when I accidentally told one to open in GIMP and learned it preserves the format and layout as I wanted, and exports it correctly.

Office 2010 costs as much as my entire computer, just for the home/student version, suffice to say that's not even remotely an option.

Btw, a Mac isn't "a full featured easy to drive car", it's a Cadillac. It's shiny, it looks expensive, but it's still a Chevy under the skin. Putting a computer together is roughly as difficult as building a lego set from instructions. If it required professional levels of skill it might be comparable to a road legal racecar, but it is in no way something that "any shmuck" is unable to do, I admit to having a knack at disassembling and reassembling things, but really cleaning out a window AC unit was more difficult than assembling my computer parts.

I did cackle and say "IT'S ALIVE.... IT'S ALIVE" though, just for effect.


The synaptic gui is great because I can search for packages without knowing exactly what I will find and try out several different versions. Simply searching for them is enough to get it installed.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:32 am UTC

Max™ wrote:Btw, a Mac isn't "a full featured easy to drive car", it's a Cadillac. It's shiny, it looks expensive, but it's still a Chevy under the skin. Putting a computer together is roughly as difficult as building a lego set from instructions. If it required professional levels of skill it might be comparable to a road legal racecar, but it is in no way something that "any shmuck" is unable to do, I admit to having a knack at disassembling and reassembling things, but really cleaning out a window AC unit was more difficult than assembling my computer parts.


It is your inability to understand how this is an issue for many people that lead to people (over and over, in both threads) explaining why people will pay extra for something pre-built for them.

A computer is a ridiculously scary thing for many people. Electronics, electricity, nuts and bolts, fragile pieces of hardware that cost them hundreds of dollars. It takes time to even understand how computers work; the vast majority of people don't even know what RAM is, and to them, the contents of computers are just wizardry. When something costs you a good chunk of money, has a possibility of electrocuting, exploding or short-circuiting, and requires a whole new segment of knowledge to understand, people will pay good money to have them built for them. While we geeks are happy to dive into computers, the vast majority of people just want it fixed so they can get on with their work/play.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:35 am UTC

Yes, well, I tend to prefer to attack superstitions. The idea that a computer is a box of magic is absurd, and should be ridiculed appropriately.

You can also order systems which are built with certain specs, and Mac systems are still well above that price range, they aren't just convenience priced, they're "we can charge a premium because of the apple logo" priced.
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:44 am UTC

Why would you ridicule the fact that people have better things to do than understand computers?

It's ingrained into how common people think about computers. Look at them. They're vastly more complicated than anything else around you. Cars at least have finger-sized pipes, TVs just have a bunch of inputs on the back. Most other complicated things are those you don't build from scratch anyway, like cell phones. Computers fall in that terrifying spot where you have dozens upon dozens of plugs, cables, and things that spin and heat up. We've all heard horror stories about people's computer overheating, people getting electrocuted by bad grounding, and other accidents - and they're worse because they actually do happen. And when you invest so much into a computer, and rely on it so much for what you do, you don't fuck around with it.

Hell, even our own computer repair market is helping the propaganda, in a way. More and more repair shops have the tagline/policy/idea of "something wrong with your computer? bring it in!" without even asking you to diagnose or check the issue. They'll deal with everything from melted hard drives, to stuck CDs, to viruses. While you can blame this on repair shops trying to get more money, I also say it's because computers are fundamentally hard to troubleshoot remotely. Asking your parents to get a screwdriver and open the case is like telling them to unscrew the microwave to look at the magnetron.

Also, software is equally terrifying for many. I have a completely tech-capable friend who needed VirtualBox, so I linked her to the website, and she had no idea which to pick. "Checksums"? "Source code"? "x86/and64?"
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Max™ » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:07 am UTC

I would ridicule the idea that assembling a computer nowadays is akin to magic.

Anyone can go on newegg or a similar site and build a system, there are numerous places that will pre-assemble parts for you, there are numerous other prebuilt system sellers, and Apple is in no way competitively priced with the majority of those. They don't sell ease, they sell fashion.

It seems that the largest portion of the population who really are unable to pick up these sorts of skills are the boomers, and let's be honest, we don't need to accommodate them anymore.


As far as assembling a computer, again, can you build a lego set?
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Re: Linux vs Windows vs Mac

Postby Steax » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:21 am UTC

I'm not going to argue about Apple prebuilding and other places, because there are so many other variables to discuss. But since you insist that "person A (born after 1980 or so) should not have any trouble making his own computer", I'll keep going.

You cannot compare a lego set with a computer. Legos cannot fatally electrocute you when you do something wrong. Legos do not break when you install them incorrectly. Legos do not hold your entire responsibility at your office, your family photos, and your online banking access. Legos do not cost hundreds to thousands of dollars (not for most). For most people, it is a risk not worth taking. Even if you do compare them, are you seriously comparing the array of wires and components on a computer with legos you stack on each other?
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