My Powerbook has not gotten much attention lately — it’s spent a lot of time leaning against the wall, charging. Lately, I’ve been using my desktop; the screen is bigger there, and the chair more comfortable. I’m also enjoying using Linux as my primary operating system (Most geeks, of course, have multiple O/Ss that they have to use at any given time). While it’s not as polished as MacOSX, and the apps can be downright ugly and cantakerous to deal with, there is some small joy to be derived from configuring everything “just so”.
I suspect that primary catalyst for the fanaticism people exhibit about operating systems is the simple things, the “just so” things. The interface works “just so”. The background is controllable “just so”. The mouse works “just so”. For the most part, it’s about perception and an emotional attachement to a well-worn environment. We are creatures of habit and like to wrap ourselves in comfortable robes of visual feedback and expected responses. Strangely enough, this even applies to the extremes like BSOD — it’s no longer (was it ever?!) a big deal to people when their computer stops functioning. They just reboot, albeit with some disgruntlement, and continue on. Ask someone to switch operating systems and they’ll probably let you have an earful about how they only know this O/S and besides their (exact) applications don’t exist on whatever O/S you suggest. I don’t think that this sort of reaction is a mistake, especially since I’ve reacted this way myself on many occasions. It’s just an observation about people and their computers.
Of course, there’s a whole class of readers who would comment loud and long about how unimportant the O/S is, or should be. Unfortunately, that’s not reality.