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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

Of Macs and Linux

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One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it’s a good way of feeling the pulse of a community. Planet Eclipse was a hive of acivity during EclipseCon, and now has settled back down into the normal day-to-day running of Eclipse related posts.

But you have to laugh when doomsayers predict (again) the death of Apple, and this time, based on the fact that an uber nerd lost his files because he didn’t have a backup. Yes, that’s right, it’s Apple’s fault he didn’t have a backup when his hard drive failed, so he’s switching back to Linux.

  1. Mark Pilgrim: Bye Apple
  2. Mark Pilgrim: When the Bough Breaks
  3. John Gruber: And Oranges
  4. Mark Pilgrim: Juggling Oranges
  5. Tim Bray: Time to Switch?
  6. Cory Doctorow: Mark Pilgrim’s list of Ubuntu essentials for ex-Mac users

Seriously, the big beef that these guys have is that they don’t like iTunes (or iPhoto) because when their hard-drive crashes, and they don’t have a backup, they can’t get back the information that they put in there. Get a life, guys. (Oh. They’re bloggers. They probably don’t have one.)

Firstly, there’s a big difference between ‘application’ and ‘operating system’. An operating system is supposed to provide a platform for applications to run on, and manages hardware (devices, graphics, networking etc.) What application you choose to run is up to you. If you didn’t want to put your data in iTunes (or iPhoto) then choose another friggin’ app. Or write your own. And then release it under the GPL.

Secondly, the data in iPhoto/iTunes isn’t stored in a proprietary format with no hope of getting it back. Quite apart from the fact that the data is available in an XML file in both cases, there’s also a programmatic interface through AppleScript (or even automator) that will let you iterate through the contents. I mean, would you not use a database just because you didn’t know the exact storage layout under the covers? It’s got an interface to that data – so use it to get your data out.

Lastly, this is exactly the kind of reason people take backups. There’s iBackup, but there’s plenty of others (including good old tar or rsync) not to mention raid mirroring built into the kernel. I have raid mirroring set up for all my data (I wouldn’t trust a single disk) and take regular backups of tar dumps and rsync onto other hosts. And it doesn’t matter whether your application is GIMP or BerkleyDB – if you lose disk hardware and you’ve got no backups, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Even the Mac has built in ‘iDisk’ support for those with Mac connection, precisely to offer an off-site backup store for important data for those people that don’t know how to otherwise do those things.

As usual, Slashdot provided a reality check with ”Nerds Switching from Apple to Ubuntu?”. I think that opinions are best summed up with this quote:

And that’s the point, really. Two people, who owe their positions in the pantheon of ‘Internet celebrities’ to a certain amount of nerd-cred, find they have to [be || appear to be] even nerdier to keep those positions. What better way to do that - and generate a nice little publicity storm in a teacup at the same time - than to “switch” to Linux?

Wake me up when RMS buys a Mac…