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"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

John 15:5






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I am sure that you have had it happen to you -- your friend sends you an e-mail written in a panicky frenzy -- I've been hit! More often than not, you already knew that, because the previous e-mail from that address was obviously not something which would have been purposefully sent. You know that your friend just got hit with the latest Windows virus, but you waver between sympathy and frustration.

If you've worked with so-called personal computers for any length of time, you'll have gotten the taste of the freezing, the crashing, the insecurity, the infections and the frustration.

Some will know that my home computers have been using Linux since shortly after having first tried Windows in the early 90s. Linux does not suffer from many of the problems that the average PC user suffers with: it rarely crashes, rarely freezes, it is not prone to viruses, is rather inexpensive, and offers configuration choices that stagger the imagination.

Linux is also more of a technical adventure than the average kid wants, if they just need to get their homework typed in. So, when the University sold off the Apple iBooks at the end of the summer, I picked one up. This is something the kids can use and I didn't need to spend a great deal of time explaining it to them. I went from Mac hater, to Mac tolerant; I didn't particularly care about the infatuations of a half-crazed Mac world, but was growing quite content with ignoring the kids' computer until that fateful day.

I was torn from my complacency when my nephew, who knows just enough about computers to make him dangerous, started messing with the configuration of the iBook, and got it into a state where everything required a password -- only, he couldn't remember what he had set the password to! So, the cleanness of the Apple install worked against me -- reinstalling the operating system on a Mac, does not automatically obliterate your configurations, as it often does on some other systems. I resigned myself to the fact that I would need to wipe it all out and reinstall from scratch. It was Fall of 2001 and Apple had just released a complete remake of their operating system, which they are calling OS X.

The scary part about installing software on the Macintosh is that is so seductive. Whereas, Windows never seems to do what I want, and whereas Linux does usually give me the opportunity to get it right, installation is rarely as trivial as the Mac. The Mac install involved none of the searches for drivers that are often characteristic of Windows and Linux installs -- by the end of the CD run, it asked a few questions about my connection to the Internet and presto, everything just worked. And, as it turned out, I was able to gracefully recover the files that had been lost in my nephew's failed experiment. Ok, I was getting farther and farther from hating the Mac.

Much can be said about the elegant beauty of the OS X Aqua user interface -- it is in fact, stunning. The reputation that everything is easier on a Mac may be close to the truth. But, it wasn't until I had delved into the underpinnings of the new operating system that I became satisfied that this software indeed addresses my interest in a computer that doesn't crash, and takes seriously people's need for security when connected to the Internet.

The OS X system under the covers, resembles Linux in many ways and offers many of that system's advantages. Yet, it improves slightly on that system's security model by removing access to the root user. For an end user who doesn't want to know much about system configuration, Apple ensures that the default settings are as secure as they can be. It seems very likely that we will see on OS X, nothing of the magnitude, nor of the nature of the problems that have become so prevalent in the Windows world -- it will be more difficult for virus writers to ply their nasty trade, here.

It had been a year, of Code Red, Nimda, and others. Was nothing going to restore sanity to this industry? Although, Linux does not have these kinds of problems, it has made modest inroads on the desks of computer neophytes. Apple's OS X, on the other hand, is a sharp answer to those that might find Linux a little too gritty -- not only is it conceptually clean and easy, it is not vulnerable to these ubiquitous virii and security problems which plague Windows. Though OS X is more functional than Windows XP Professional -- it manages to be so at less than half the price.

For the curious, additional thoughts and background which motivated our recent migration to Apple have been documented here.



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