A late comment

I attempted to update this site with meaningful and insightful commentary but I liked my past post so much I wanted it to stay on the front page for a while. Excuse my ego.

Minimal Linux posted a quote from Minimal Mac, and if this blog was on tumblr it would have been easy to quote and discuss, but no, it's time to crack out the HTML. Then again, tumblr crashed while I was writing this blog, so maybe I made the right choice.

"iPhoto works, iTunes works, iMovie works, iChat works, Safari works, Apple stuff works. Sure there might be a program that lets you organize photos better than iPhoto, or a faster music player than iTunes. But my Mac was handed to me preloaded with 98.3% of what I want my computer to do. You can’t put a price on that."

To which Nathan (smartly) responded "This is exactly why I choose a high quality, sensible distribution like Ubuntu, Peppermint OS, or Debian. They give me a simple set of software that pretty much does everything I need."

This is interesting because I was just about to write a post about how I find the recent Linux distro movement towards deluging the user with programs they never use and won't ever need. So let's get cracking.

In my brief time in Mac OS X, I found that iTunes did not work for my needs. I found that Safari did not work for my needs. Finder. Spotlight. iPhoto. Quicktime. Sure, there's the angle where saying "there might be a faster music player than iTunes" is an understatement in the way that calling the act of blowing up the world a simple gesture of ill will. But it also smacks, to me, of settling for something of lesser quality just because we're too apathetic and lazy to bother downloading something better.

Don't think I'm picking on only OS X here - while my talons sink into Apple's joyless cruft with relish, I'm just as irritated with Linux and its users. I have to say, when reinstalling Windows XP for the first time in years, I was pleasantly surprised when I loaded up my desktop and found a clean, empty slate that I could add, expand, and make my own. There wasn't a dock full of apps or a dozen internet apps that connect to twitter and email and an entire office suite.

We have become so focused on this delusion of an objectively best user interface that we've become convinced that not customizing and making our user experience tailored to our needs has become a virtue in and of itself. Not only this, but one of the very successes of Linux - perhaps one of the greatest advantages it has over other OS', even - is its well integrated package management system. Why ignore its possibilities? And it puts a damper on things when I have to remove a gigabyte of meaningless libraries and applications before I get Ubuntu to where it's a canvas for my needs.

Don't get me wrong - sometimes I just want a temporary desktop system that I can use for a few days. But it's nowhere near close to what I would call "top of the class" for me. I can't stand most default desktops and I love to endlessly customize and make changes. It's a constant procedure. My needs change forever. I cannot say with a straight face that any one desktop can do 98.3% of what I want to do; it changes daily. I find new programs that do things better and better, faster and quicker, with lighter resources and less clutter.

I miss the days when we had a working, well configured desktop that we made our own. I want to stop using computers entirely when I see customization looked down upon as some sort of geeky, unachievable thing. When did the nobility of individualism suddenly transform into a virtue of conformity?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I think we're giving too much credit to default applications. Is it too much to ask to just want a well configured Gnome, a Terminal, and nothing else?

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