Gnome co-founder explains why he dumped Linux for Mac

Miguel de Icaza says desktop Linux 'never managed to cross the desktop chasm'

Free software programmer Miguel de Icaza, co-founder of the Gnome and Mono projects, has revealed that he dumped Linux months ago in favor of Mac OS, citing fragmentation and incompatibilities among the various Linux versions as the reasons for his switch.

"Linux just never managed to cross the desktop chasm," de Icaza wrote in a personal blog (spotted by The Register) in which he described his gradual transformation from Linux user to Mac user.

It started during a three-week vacation to Brazil in 2008, for which he took a Mac laptop instead of a Linux machine. The vacation turned out to be very relaxing, he wrote, because Mac OS proved far easier to use than Linux.

"I spent three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation," he wrote. "While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked."

De Icaza summarized the trouble with desktop Linux thusly: "The fragmentation of Linux as a platform, the multiple incompatible distros, and the incompatibilities across versions of the same distro were my Three Mile Island/Chernobyl." (The allusions to nuclear disasters were callbacks from a post by renowned developer Dave Winer in which he described why he dumped Windows in favor of Mac.)

Even before adopting Mac himself, de Icaza was an advocate of the platform, he confessed. "Even during all of my dogfooding and Linux advocacy days, whenever I had to recommend a computer to a single new user, I recommended a Mac. And whenever I gave away computer gifts to friends and family, it was always a Mac," he wrote.

Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, took de Icaza's criticism in stride. "We agree with Miguel that Apple makes great products," he said in a statement to InfoWorld. "As to the broader question, we see Linux diversity as its strength rather than a weakness. According to Goldman Sachs, Linux via Android now represents the dominant share of personal computing devices. Maybe it isn't a Mac, but it probably isn't the nuclear meltdown or Chernobyl that Miguel references, either."

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