Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Lion has Lost the Magic

For a long time Apple has been known as a company that creates new and innovative products. Now if you have stopped by my blog before you will know that while I am not a fan of Apple hardware, I don't mind using the OSX operating system. That is why it makes me slightly sad that the up coming Apple OS 10.7 (Lion) is going to follow in the steps of the iPad and be less than innovative in the area of new features .

The first on the list of new features is the "Mac App Store":

While this is a good idea, it is far from being a new idea. Even if you ignore the fact that our mobile computers have had application stores for years, Linux was the first to create a centralized, graphical application for easily installing software on your computer with a single click. Beyond simple applications such as gnome-app-install, the Ubuntu Software Center was released over a year ago:

Ubuntu 10.10 also brings with it an integrated software store. So it appears those behind FOSS have beaten Jobs to this punch.

Most he rest of the "new features" listed for Lion only go down hill from here. Next is Apple's "Launchpad":

Not only are these essentially desktop icons, but Lauchpad may very well be an infringement of Canonical's intellectual property on the name. Also, what is the point of the dock if all the application launchers are splayed out all over your desktop? This next one is unfortunately not a joke. Listed on the page for OS 10.7 is "full screen applications". Forgot a feature like the software store that has been around for over a year - we have had full screen applications for over a decade.

Finally the feature sneak peak closes out with "Mac command central":

What this does is allow you to see all of your opened applications on the screen in front of you. This way you can switch between applications and see what is open. While this is a much more interesting addition than desktop icons and full screen applications, it is still something that FOS desktop environments such as Gnome and KDE have been doing for years.

Unless Lion is going to pack some other awesome features that just have yet to be announced it appears it could very well be a "meh" release that would really only be worth upgrading to if it was free (or if you are die hard Apple fan and like throwing money at Jobs).

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. Mac fanboys would probably argue that the operating system is close to perfection already.

    In the days before Mac and Linux became good alternatives I used to cringe at all things microsoft. Now I cringe equally at all things Mac.

  2. Great post!

    It shocks me how Macs are borrowing many ideas from Linux. First the log-off(which looks like a compiz cube transition), then the workspaces and now all this.

    BTW your title strangely made me think of Narnia's magical lion...

  3. Apple is doing what they have been successful at - catering to the less computer astute ('make it simple crowd') and then charging a premium for it.

    The six-month release cycle of Ubuntu is now finally kicking in as 'apparent to all'. Continuous improvements are small and methodical but they add up "all of a sudden". Batching development builds, like Windows every 5 years and OSX every 3 years is just too slow.

  4. How long will it be before they lock you out of the filesystem, and keep you from running the software you want to run?

  5. I find Ubuntu to be too much like Mac anyway, so to me they are competing against each other. I go Fedora Linux, because Fedora seems to be swimming happily in its own little private pool, yet maintains one step ahead of everyone in features and isn't trying to be a Mac.

  6. Hmm. I think I'd be happier to reserve judgement based on an actual test drive of the final, released OS next year, rather than relying on a few screenshots, press releases and a flashy keynote speech.

    I mean, if I were to base my interpretation of Linux on the same things, I wouldn't necessarily have the positive opinion of it that I do now - especially Ubuntu, which I would just categorize from "screenshots and press releases" as a rip-off of Mac OS X...


    Yes, I have a Mac, and yet I am highly technical. I chose to run it because I wanted to "get things done" without mucking around too much.

    If I want to muck around on my desktop, I can always run Linux (or, *shudder*, Windows) in Fusion.

  7. I can't remember the last time I ever 'mucked around' on my linux box. That is to say, I can't remember the last time I ever mucked around when I didn't feel like it.

    As a professional designer, and webdev, I get things done all the time. No hassles. All with free software.

  8. Hey, if Linux and FOSS work for you as a professional designer, that's great - no disrespect was intended towards those who use it for serious things.

    Linux and FOSS do great things for me too, as does my Mac. I use GIMP on my Mac rather than an alternative since it works so well, and you can't beat the price. My file server runs Ubuntu.

    I am a senior nuclear engineer, and I believe in the "right tool for the job". If that's Linux, great - if it's Mac, great - if it's Windows, great. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

    The main thing is getting done what you need to get done.

  9. I agree with Brett Legree, which is why I use Windows for C# ASP.NET programming. Outside of that, I haven't found anything that I can't use Linux for, to run my Business.

  10. To build further upon what I said earlier and add to what tracyanne said, I have started a nuclear consulting business on the side, and I am saving right now for an ultraportable notebook to be used when I am in "road warrior" mode.

    The logical choice for this tool's OS will be Windows 7, in spite of my poking fun at it above :) it will provide me with the compatibility I need to work at client sites.

    There is something for everyone!

    Honestly, I think we are fortunate to have such a wide variety of good operating platforms and software.

  11. Ubuntu was nowhere near the first Linux distro with a online software store. Linspire (then LindowsOS) introduced the Click'n'Run store in 2002. That's eight (8) years ago.

  12. Irony: Apple's Launchpad is simply them licensing Canonical's Launchpad to develop Mac and iOS.

    End sarcasm/wittiness.