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What To Buy?

By Adrian Lane

This is a non-security post… I did not get a lot of work done Thursday afternoon. I was shopping. Specifically, I am shopping for a new laptop. I have a four year old Fujitsu running XP. The MTBF on this machine is about 20 months, so I am a little beyond laptop shelf life. A friend lent me a nice laptop with Vista for a week, and I must say, I really do not like it. Don’t like the performance. Don’t like the DRM. Don’t like the new arrangement of the UI. Don’t like the lowest-common-denominator approach to design. Don’t like an OS that thinks it knows what I want and shoves the wrong things at me. The entire direction it’s heading seems to be the antithesis of fast, efficient, & friendly. So what to buy? If you do not choose Windows, there really are not a lot of options for business laptops. Do you really have a choice?

I was reading this story that said Intel had no plans to adopt Windows Vista for their employees. Interesting that this comes out now. Technically speaking, the Microsoft “End of Life” date for Windows XP was June 30th. I sympathize with IT departments, as this makes things difficult for them. I am just curious what departments such as Intel’s will be buying employees as their laptops croak? With some 80,000 employees, I am assuming this is a daily occurrence, so I wonder how closely their decision-making process resembles mine. I wonder what they are going to do. Reuse XP keys?

I have used, and continue to use, a lot of OSes. I started my career with CTOS, and I worked on and with UNIX for more than a decade. I have used various flavors of Linux & BSD since 1995. I have had Microsoft’s OSes and Linux dual booting on my home machines for the last decade. I am really not an OS bigot, as there are things about each that I like. For example, I like Ubuntu and the context cube desktop interface, but I am not sure I want that for my primary operating system. I could buy a basic box and install XP with an older key, but worry I might have trouble finding XP drivers and updates.

Being an engineer, I figured I would approach this logically. I sat down and wrote down all the applications, features, and services I use on a weekly basis and mapped out what I needed. Several Linux variants would work, and I could put XP in a virtual partition to catch anything that was not available, but the more I look, the more I like the MacBook. While I have never owned a Mac, I am beginning to think it is time to buy one. And really, the engineer in me got thrown under the bus when I visited the Mac store http://store.apple.com/. %!&$! logic, now I just kind of want one.

If I am going through this thought process, I just wonder how many companies are as well. MS has a serious problem.

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Comments

Rich convinced me to try a Mac, so I bought a refurb macbook, figuring that it would be a fine second computer if I didn’‘t like it as my primary machine.

Well, I love it. OS X "just works" and I have XP running under VMWare fusion for any Microsoft tasks that need doing.

One day I’‘ll upgrade to a Macbook Pro, but for the last 18 months my Macbook has been great!

By rbp


@LonerVamp:

See:

Enterprise Desktop Alliance
http://www.enterprisedesktopalliance.com

Using SAP with Mac OS X
http://macenterprise.org/content/view/316/42/

By gerro


@LonerVamp I would rate it as quite feasible.  A number of organisations manage Macs in those sorts of volumes or larger - Goggle is an example.  It’s easy to do with the right tools and the right approach.

By James Turnbull


How would you rate the ability to manage a Mac system in an enterprise of say, 5,000 people?

Maybe this number has become higher these days, but until such time as a Mac is as easy to control and police as Windows boxes, it is not really good form to compare personal computing decisions to IT decisions. If this number is increasing, it just takes time and more people who knowledge to push/pull enterprise users.

By LonerVamp


Look for some security-related Mac apps here:

http://osx.hyperjeff.net/Apps/apps?f=security

By chad


I decided a long time ago to stick with Windows because at the time (when I was still able to call myself a programmer/engineer without having to explain a marketing title) for the same reason you don’‘t like Vista…Macs back then seemed to think they were smarter than you. 

But I actually liked OS/2 better than Windows, it was just that only my co-workers at IBM had ever heard of it.

However, all that aside…I’‘ve worked with a few Macs and have some friends and colleagues that are using them.  I think that Mac today makes a far better laptop with a better interface…you will also pay more for it.  Regardless, my $0.02 would be to get a MacBook and only look back in a few years when you’‘re ready for your next one.

By Mark


Well, all things considered, a Mac is the only laptop that can effectively run all three major operating systems (OS X, Windows and Linux) natively. While there are great hacks to get OS X onto regular PC’‘s, it’s never the same. Since the shift to Intel, the Mac has become a very interesting prospect… the hardware is innovative (light sensors, magnetic power cord, multi touch trackpad), the build quality is superb and no matter which os one evangelizes, one must admit that having a full blown certified UNIX level 3 BSD core under a user interface that is lauded for its productivity and attention to detail is very attractive.

Plus, there’s a lot of interesting security stuff happening for OS X as marketshare builds. It looks like a pretty forward looking decision. In the worst case scenario, Apple laptops have a significantly higher resale value than your average Dell.

There are lots of security folk moving to the platform, I believe Matasano is a mac shop through and through.

By Jeremiah Watson


Hey Rich,

Next personal laptop that I buy (over $500AU) will definitely be an Apple. Last one was my Eee, which I love for it’s mobility and price tag, and even got the default Xandros dist to do most of the things I want it to do. But a Macbook/Macbook Pro would be nice.

By Christian


I should give a shut out for the Dell D630 with a dock.  Its a pretty slim 14" with a build quality every bit as good as a Lenovo T61.  Plus with the dock it can drive a 24" AND a 20" external monitor for desktop like dual displays.  People at work really like them - all use with Ubuntu.

By Jason


Go on ebay and get an IBM T42, the last model IBM made before Lenovo took over.

If you really must have a new one, then Lenovo still makes decent laptops and I really like my MacBook. I have unkind words to say for everything else out there.

By Dan Guido


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