Mac-less Day 1

Well it's been 24 hours without my MacBook, and it hasn't been very nice. I've been dragging by on my Ubuntu Box and Windows. In the past few weeks I have been thinking about Windows Vista and Linux as my primary desktop operating system, just because I've gotten a bit bored with how well (the OS at least…) runs on my Mac.

So I got forced into it. Now, when it comes to Ubuntu, I think it's great. Of all the linux distro's I've installed, it is by far the easiest, and the package manager is beautiful. It runs fairly fast on my 1.2 GhZ Celeron, and worked with my D-Link 802.11 card "out of the box" so to speak. Inkscape and GIMP run wonderfully, and even the OpenOffice runs pretty well. Where I ran into problems was with music management.

There has been lots of talk about Linux possibly taking over some of the desktop market, and it's entirely possible for it to do well in a basic office environment where web/email/wp is all you need. But any average user will want to manage their MP3 player and listen to music on their computer. To my surprise, Rythmbox, which is a GNOME music player bundled with Ubuntu (they even just call it "Music Player" for clarity) didn't even support MP3, nevermind AAC. Now I get where Ubuntu is coming from. They want to prove that an OS can be fully operational without proprietary software, and being a proprietary codec, they didn't include the MP3 library.

But honestly, who uses ogg-vorbis? If I had an MP3 player that played it and a software manager that worked well enough, I would. But my shuffle won't play it, even though I can download the latest episode of TWiT in Ogg format. To me that's a real set back.

Just in general Rythmbox didn't work very well. The error were vague, and often inaccurate. Linux is great, but this is why I have my Mac to balance out my media needs.

Returning to our family's PC, I watched as it slowly logged onto my user that I probably hadn't used in months. Chuga-chuga-chuga. It really doesn't run very quickly. The scariest part trying to fix Windows and speed it up, is that it's so hard to figure out what's going on. I won't even start on the registry this time, but similarly, is "svchost.exe". Yes, it's that nightmarish process that is always eating up most of your RAM and CPU all the time in your process list. But the worst part about it is every program in the world has it's own service. iTunes, F-Secure, and Adobe for example, all have "QuickStart" programs that sit there and do nothing.

This wouldn't be a problem, except that there's no way of tracking back these services. When Windows Update is screwing up the Download of Microsoft Office Vulnerability Rollup Pack 2007/01 (There's a great name right there), you only see in your process list "svchost.exe" is maxing the CPU. So you go into this huge list of "Services" that mostly just say "Don't turn this off or nothing will work" and are usually awkwardly named. (I've since figured out that anything starting with "fs" must mean F-secure) But how do you know which one is killing my CPU?

Unlike UNIX based OS's, Windows just groups processes together for no good reason. These things have been going on since NT, and being Microsoft they won't break compatibility for Adobe or whatnot who uses those service API's.

Anyways, I'm just pointing out that Vista will be a great improvement, and many Mac users are welcoming it with great praise as a much-needed upgrade to XP, but underneath it all, there's still the registry, svchost, and all those Windows nightmares that haunt XP and NT.

The withdrawal is on in full force. My knapsack feels too light without my 'Book in it, and I am missing my podcasts dearly. Waiting…