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Appeal for {i,Power}Book experiences from PC user
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optilude
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:53 pm    Post subject: Appeal for {i,Power}Book experiences from PC user Reply with quote

Hi,

I've had one of those customer-service-from-hell-experiences you think only ever happen to other people with Evesham.com in the UK. The bottom line is that I am having to seriously consider buying a new laptop, and I'm rather unexcited by what's available in PCs at the moment. I'm also concerned about reliability and quality. I've heard a lot of good things about Apple products, and I'm hoping that in buying an iBook or PowerBook, I may be more confident it'll last 2-3 years without going obsolete or breaking like my previous Sony VAIO and this Asus-built POS did.

I would like to dual-boot OSX and Gentoo. I have a good Gentoo setup at the moment, with Gnome 2.8 as my principal platform. I also have external an USB 2.0 hard disk and DVD+/-RW burner, a USB 2.0 hub and a wireless USB mouse I'd like to use. I'd also like to be able to sync my Windows Mobile/CE device over SynCE via a USB cable. Finally, I need to have 802.11b compatible wireless network access. Will this be a problem?

In terms of software, standard open source stuff will be fine. I'm concerend about the lack of Java browser plugins and Flash, but I may be able to live without it. However, I'm rather dependent on Microsoft Office (particularly Word, Excel, Powerpoint). I currently run this in Crossover Office. Is there any way at all to get this to run on Gentoo PPC? If not, I guess I'm stuck with OpenOffice (this works, right?) when I can, and rebooting when I need office.

Are there other limitations of using iBooks or PowerBooks? I will of course have to re-compile/re-install Gentoo, but I assume I can transfer much of my configuration over from my backup. Are there types of software which do not work on PPC? Does the PPC platform lag behind x86 in any way?

And finally - is a PowerBook an obviously better choice than an iBook for similar specs?

Sorry for the vague questions. Really, I'm just hoping you will share your experiences so that I can better make my choice. I'm doing some research at the moment, but I'd appreciate personal experiences, as I may end up having to make this decision in a hurry.

Best wishes,
Martin
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xjeff
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:51 pm    Post subject: i would go for the apple Reply with quote

As a graduation present I got a 15" 1.5GHz aluminum powerbook. I've had it since about June, and it has been nothing but a pleasure to work on. Everything from the hardware engineering to the software design is far superior than anything that I've ever seen. I've been a linux PC user for about 4-5 years now, and OS X is an amazing blend of unix stability and desktop functionality.

I thought I was going to install gentoo shortly after I got my apple, but I still haven't installed it because I just haven't needed to. OS X is fast and stable, yet I can still use ms office 2004 and adobe photoshop (along with the many other great applications for mac). Besides, if I can't remember or don't know how to do something, I can just fire up a bash terminal and get whatever done.

From what I've heard, gentoo and gnome run just fine on a powerbook. The only things that I've heard don't work are the integrated airport extreme card and video hardware acceleration. In brief, making the switch from a PC to apple was very rewarding.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

Apple uses also out-of-the-shelf components so things can break. On my iBook the hard drive died and on my brother's Compaq, its the CD/DVD-drive. Maybe Apple picks better part in general and I was unlucky? I don't know, I have only 2 computers, my iBook and a AMD clone. No hardware problem with the AMD so far.

What I don't like about PC manufacturers is that most of the time you can "cheat". Ex: The old family Packard Bell had the four 4MB slots occupied for 16MB. No way to expand... Yes, my iBook had a single slot and it was occupied but at least Apple mentions it in the specs.

Another example, the Compaq laptop of my brother had no install CD... only restore CD that wipes the entire hard drive (including any Linux partition) and installs back Win XP... No choice given. It's this kind of attitude that I don't like that seems common with most manufacturers of Windows PC.

For the "obselete" things, I think that Macs get as obsolete as fast as PCs though I think Mac people tend to keep them longer (I read that somewhere).

I use mainly Gentoo and I don't use office/desktop software.

But you will probably be interested in Mol (Mac-on-Linux) and in Mom (Mac-on-Mac OS X that is coming). Mol always you to run OS X inside Linux in usermode. If you have a lot of RAM quite fast as the CPU is not emulated. So you could start an OS X instance as well as a Office instance.

For 802.11b, Apple's Airport works in Linux. The problem is with Airport Extreme for 802.11g that is not supported.

Quote:

but I assume I can transfer much of my configuration over from my backup. Are there types of software which do not work on PPC? Does the PPC platform lag behind x86 in any way?


I suggest that you use ~ppc if you want more recent software. I run on both ~x86 and ~ppc and there is not much lag.

Yes, you can have the same config on ppc and x86 provided that you have the same version of the apps.

Other that the boot loader and the fews apps ppc-only or x86-only, basically you can have 2 systems quite the same.


iBook vs PowerPC?

Depends. When I bought my iBook, the extra cost of the PowerBook was not justified for my needs. But then after Apple made the gap smaller. Just look at specs, price what you need etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had very few problems with my PowerBook 15" and I got Gentoo and OS X installed quite easily. You said you were worried about using Workd and Excel, you can buy the mac version and just use mac-on-linux (emerge mol) to run them. I have it running very nicely, you can use safari for web browsing and word for your documents, and everything else can be done under linux, simultaneously I might add. It has worked great for me. Hope this helps some :)
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c00l.wave
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also interested in a report on the iBook-series. I need to buy a notebook but since all PC-notebooks have difficulties somewhere (I want a robust notebook with a good battery and it should be able to run Linux/Gentoo without problems; unfortunately the cheapest notebook doing all that costs >1300€) I get more and more interested in an iBook. Since this thread has been opened today and contains similar questions, I will append my questions to this thread.

If I would buy an iBook (PowerBooks are a bit to expensive to me at the moment), how hard is it to get used to the one-button-touchpad? I have been using only PCs since 1993 so I'm quite used to a 3-button mouse especially under *nix (mark&copy, context menu, paste). I would like to use most of the applications I already use on my desktop PC (Windows & Gentoo) and can hardly imagine how applications will work with either "Gentoo on PPC" or "Gentoo for Mac OS X" (portage) without a second or third mouse button. Of course I could buy an external 3-button USB-mouse but since I would mainly use the iBook in university my workspace is quite limited and an extra mouse would probably just be in the way. :)

I know that a G4 has a (much) different architecture than an Intel-CPU, but how would you compare normal desktop speed to it? (GCC, OpenOffice, LaTeX, ...) It would be enough for me to have about 1GHz "Intel-speed" at these applications, of course it would be better if even the cheapest iBook (1,2GHz G4) was faster. ;)

iTux wrote:
For 802.11b, Apple's Airport works in Linux. The problem is with Airport Extreme for 802.11g that is not supported.


Are there general problems or is it just too new to be supported yet? I guess it won't be a problem if support will be available in a few months.

Thanks.

Edit: I would probably use portage under Mac OS X (because connecting to the WLAN-VPN-servers is quite tricky with Linux but Mac OS X would support it without any problems) - what are your experiences with "Gentoo for Mac OS X"?
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

c00l.wave wrote:
how hard is it to get used to the one-button-touchpad? I have been using only PCs since 1993 so I'm quite used to a 3-button mouse especially under *nix (mark&copy, context menu, paste). I would like to use most of the applications I already use on my desktop PC (Windows & Gentoo) and can hardly imagine how applications will work with either "Gentoo on PPC" or "Gentoo for Mac OS X" (portage) without a second or third mouse button.

They don't, you do need a second button for most applications. You have for this purpose a kernel option and three sysctls that allows you to emulate the second and third mouse buttons using keys. It is a bit more awkward than real three buttons but if the keys of your choosing are close to the trackpad you won't feel the difference too much.
Quote:
I know that a G4 has a (much) different architecture than an Intel-CPU, but how would you compare normal desktop speed to it? (GCC, OpenOffice, LaTeX, ...) It would be enough for me to have about 1GHz "Intel-speed" at these applications, of course it would be better if even the cheapest iBook (1,2GHz G4) was faster. ;)

That's a very good question, my older Tibook (667MHz) compares favourably in terms of LaTeX typesetting and compiling under Gentoo with a 1.2GHz Pentium 3. But then I did not do any rigurous research on the matter.
Quote:
iTux wrote:
For 802.11b, Apple's Airport works in Linux. The problem is with Airport Extreme for 802.11g that is not supported.

Are there general problems or is it just too new to be supported yet? I guess it won't be a problem if support will be available in a few months.

The problem is deeper, Broadcom (the chip manufacturer) refuses completely to release specifications. I do not think it is a matter of months, maybe years, but then nobody really knows.
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optilude
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies guys - this is very helpful!

The new macs all seem to come with Airport Extreme.

Can I run them in 802.11b mode with the old drivers, or will they simply not work at all?

Martin
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

About the mouse:

I was usually using a 3-button (scroll-wheel) USB mouse and I had the F10 and F11 keys configured for middle and right via kernel as mentionned by bruda. But recently, I somehow got used to F10 and F11 and I am using less often the USB mouse...

About the speed:

Very difficult to find good comparison between x86 and ppc.

My iBook G3 700MHz is about the same speed as my AMD Athlon 1200MHz both with 256MB RAM. A diff in speed is not noticeable during regular desktop use. For running the SpecJVM98 benchmarks with the SableVM JVM, my AMD is faster than my PowerPC but not that much.


The G4 is faster than the G3 by design.


With gcc 2.95 there are performance issues with very large files of code (read compiling SableVM). gcc 3.x compiles much faster and now do not notice diff on ppc vs x86. (Note: ppc have 32 regs, is register-based and register allocation is a complex problem.)

LaTeX is known to be much faster in Linux than OS X on the same hardware.


About Gentoo for Mac OS X:

Very experimental and under development. If you don't mind testing/debugging package go ahead. If you want to avoid issues and get running several Unix things fast, use Fink or DarwinPorts, at least in the short and medium term.



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c00l.wave
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bruda wrote:

They don't, you do need a second button for most applications. You have for this purpose a kernel option and three sysctls that allows you to emulate the second and third mouse buttons using keys. It is a bit more awkward than real three buttons but if the keys of your choosing are close to the trackpad you won't feel the difference too much.


Do I have a similar opportunity to emulate a 3-button-mouse under Mac OS X if I compile a program (like Firefox or OpenOffice) through portage? Has anyone tried this yet? Linux won't be very useful if I can't use WLAN at the moment. ;)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

c00l.wave wrote:

Do I have a similar opportunity to emulate a 3-button-mouse under Mac OS X if I compile a program (like Firefox or OpenOffice) through portage? Has anyone tried this yet? Linux won't be very useful if I can't use WLAN at the moment. ;)


I don't know if it can be emulated and how, but OS X does support 3-button mouse and all 3 buttons will work provided the app supports it.

For X11 apps, I googled this:
http://www.mrcla.com/XonX/FAQ.html#3buttons

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optilude
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2004 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, can anyone comment on the battery life of the 15" powerbook? Apple claims 4.5 hours max. I get about 3-4 out of my current (dying) Centrino machine. I have read that the battery life on these machines is a bit poor. Any experiences?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

optilude wrote:
Also, can anyone comment on the battery life of the 15" powerbook? Apple claims 4.5 hours max. I get about 3-4 out of my current (dying) Centrino machine. I have read that the battery life on these machines is a bit poor. Any experiences?


Hi,

Apple was claiming 6hours for my iBook.

I was getting 3.5 hours of continuous work. To get the max of what a manufacturer says, you need to put luminosity low and not use it much :)

Most PC pre-centrino laptops were claiming 3hrs, but from what I read/heard, it is more like 1.5 hrs.

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