OS Discussion (Windows/Mac/Linux etc)

I’ve been a Mac-only user since our first family computer (Mac Plus) in about 1985…

I think Macs don’t seem as widespread because they’re not really known as gaming machines. In my experience with standard tasks they are much easier to use, last longer, and retain their value. You just can’t trick them out the same way you can a Windows machine.

I’ve owned and developed for Macs and DOS/Windows machines going back to 1990 and Commodores before that, but these days I only use Linux.

You couldn’t pay me to use Windows or Mac again.


Mike, I’m curious, what puts Linux so far above?

Short version: Control.

Long version: With Linux I can tailor my OS to do exactly the things I want to do in the way or ways I find most efficient, without having to fight against some manufacturer’s idea of how I should do things, or even of what things I am allowed to do. I never have to deal with advertisements, forced changes/upgrades, “activating” things I already paid for, DRM, and other nonsense that commercial products bring with them. As my needs and tastes change, I alter my OS as I choose, rather than being dragged along on whatever the latest fad in UI design happens to be today. With Linux, my privacy is mine to control or to lose. I know that my OS and my applications are not sending my data to some company regardless of my wishes. My machines are truly mine, and only mine. No company can deny me the ability to use them in any way I see fit or lock me out of them (I’ve seen lockouts happen to people with both Apple and Microsoft products). I am free to copy my operating systems and applications to as many machines as I like without restriction. I can run the same applications and transfer files and settings between big number-crunching servers, laptops, and tiny single-board computers like the raspberry pi or even smaller. I could probably go on at length, but I’ll stop here.

That said, Linux isn’t for everyone. While it can largely do anything commercial products can, and a number of things they never will, it can be more difficult in some ways. With Linux, you are playing outside the mainstream, and that has a price all its own.


I used Linux for two years before returning to Windows. I found that I spent more time trying to get my OS to just work than I did actually using my PC for the reason I booted it for. Stuff that I took for granted in Windows (like dual monitor support out of the box) took an hour of two of googling to get to work right. I also found they I was basically just trying to get Linux to emulate Windows, even down to running PC games in Wine since Linux has a pathetic game library. It just felt like a waste of time, so I went back.

Windows is a lot better than it used to be too (although worse in a couple areas, but you’ll have that). I like that they now have PowerShell which is effectively bash script for windows.

I’m not trying to hate on Mac, but I never understood the reason for it. It seems like it’s stuck between Linux and Windows and has both of their flaws and neither of their benefits. The one benefit is some software is exclusive, but that stuff could easily be ported if someone wanted to.

Understandable. When I first started using Linux, I went through some ups and downs as I tried to do things the way I was already used to. Eventually I learned how and why things work the way they do in Linux and it’s been great ever since. There’s a learning curve, no doubt. But it has the potential to be far more flexible and powerful than anything Microsoft or Apple offer.

Windows games are a valid reason to continue putting up with Windows. The native game repertoire on Linux has improved greatly in the past few years and Wine has likewise come a long way, but my interest mostly belongs in open source games, or retro-emulation, which fits perfectly with Linux.

I’ll agree to disagree here. I have seen nothing better in the latest Windows, and much that is far worse. I still follow its development even though I no longer use it. Powershell is certainly better than the virtually non-existent shell scripting which existed before, but it is a poor substitute for bash or other linux shells like zsh.

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It has a built-in anti-virus and firewall now, and both are pretty good. The anti-virus is known for false positives, but is otherwise acceptable. The firewall is pretty capable according to checks I’ve done using a port checker for finding open ports. This is really nice because the average Windows user has only ever heard the term “firewall” in scifi movies and was basically leaving the doors to their house unlocked.

It has much better driver support. I can’t remember the last time I had to manually install a driver. It seems like nearly all hardware (from a monitor to a printer to a mobile phone to a playstation 4 controller) just works when you plug it in.

There are a lot more accessibility options than there used to be. For example it now gives you the ability to scale font size in applications without scaling the app itself, which is a life saver when using it with a 4K monitor or television.

Even Microsoft knows how much IE and Edge suck, so the Edge browser (which is the default until you install a real browser) now uses the Chromium engine.

There are other things too, of course. It’s just a lot of small things that add up to a better user experience than it used to be.

There are bad things too. I hate how intrusive administrator permission are when running apps or installing something that’s unsigned. Also windows no longer letting you say no to upgrading is compete BS. When I go to shut the PC down, I want to scream when the options turn into “update & shutdown” and “update & reboot”.

I think we should move to another thread if you want to continue discussing. I’m feeling guilty about hijacking this one. :frowning:

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Nah. I think I’m done with the PC vs Linux talk anyway. I just wanted to mention the things that I thought had improved that you might not have been aware of.

Done, I’ve split this to Off Topic Discussions!

All three operating systems have their advantages. My primary desktop/os is a Raspberry Pi 4 that runs a very modified version of Debian called Raspi OS. It is hands down the best teaching/learning system available. It supports just about every programming language in the books.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to run Inform 7 or TADS on the RPi. Even Zilf no longer works on the RPi since they moved to a 64 bit kernel. Zil will run on the Arm based Debian but not Raspi OS and I have been unable to achieve a work around.

OS X is actually a POSIX version of Unix, similar to Linux. I like it a lot but I have trouble affording a new Mac since retirement. My old MacBook Pro died last February. I may ultimately splurge on Mac Mini or a Macbook Air eventually. At least once they work out compatibility issues with the new M1 Arm based chips.

My secondary desktop is a Lenovo Nano with a Core i5 processor. It does everything that I need to do with a desktop that I can’t do with the RPi, mainly TADS, Inform 7, Trizbort and Scrivener. And, as far as reliability goes, my 2007 Dell Inspiron laptop with a Core 2 Duo is still running perfectly. So far, as long as I replace the batteries that wear out, it keeps chugging (and I mean chugging by today’s standards) away.

The Lenovo Nano is tiny. I could easily mount it on the back of my monitor. It is only slightly larger than my RPi. The Core i5 version barely gets warm and rarely runs the fan as compared to an i7. It is more than fast enough for everything I do with it. It even runs the Trainz simulator game well enough to play. It doesn’t run X Plane very well but I am waiting for an X Box series X and MS Flight Simulator for that.

I’ll just chip in with another aspect to this: Hosting Online.

To build out a platform for serving text adventures on the internet, a Linux OS is likely to be the best option.
More interesting still is the prospect of a lightweight Docker OS like Alpine, so you can containerise your online game.

That’s advanced stuff, but you can learn the ropes by starting with a Raspberry Pi on the desktop.

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I think Microsoft should not be allowed to name their own products.


My Rust+WebAssembly rewrite of Crowther’s Colossal Cave Adventure runs on a Digital Ocean vm.

Edit: If you play it, keep in mind it only recognizes upper case input.

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That’s really cool. Not had a chance to get into any Rust yet.
Is your code available?

The pure Rust application code is available at https://crates.io/crates/colossal

It should compile and run fine on linux or windows (maybe also mac?)

The web assembly version required some changes due to Javascript’s horrible event loop based nature. I was not happy with the resulting code, so that version is not publicly available.

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Edit: If you play it, keep in mind it only recognizes upper case input

Ha ha, did you just look at the logs? :laughing:

I didn’t spot that…

Nah, I just knew that it might be confusing.

An earlier version I made accepted both upper and lower cases, but that turned out to not be based Crowther’s code, but another person’s slight rewrite from Fortran IV into Fortran 77.

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I confess not to be a deep, deep parser fanatic, but this is really interesting.
In terms of archiving and preserving old work, do you think the Web approach has more legs than the compile-your-own-local approach?