Peter M Howard ::

Computer upgrade: White vs Beige

19October2005 [wishlist]
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It’s coming time to get a new computer, and I’m hunting around, getting up-to-date on the latest releases and specs, so I’m ready to buy something when I get back to Aus.

My current system is a 4-year old laptop, a P3 800. I’ve improved it over the years, now running on an 80GB HDD, 384MB RAM, and with an external DVD burner. My primary OS is Linux, with Win2K installed as a dual-boot option, mainly so I can run Flash Pro (MX can be made to work under Linux, but not MX2004, and I need/ed the Pro features). I desperately need an upgrade, the only reason I haven’t done so yet was because it would be a waste of money before spending a year overseas — my laptop has served me well enough here.

But soon I’ll be able to upgrade, and it’s coming down to a big match-off: White vs Beige. In the white corner: Apple and their pre-built marvels; in the Beige: customisation… It was going to be Mac vs Windows (vs Linux), but that’s inaccurate… The three-way OS battle gives the following:

So there Mac comes out on top, with a dual-boot Win/Linux setup second. However, on the hardware front, I still like Open-ness. At least Apple’s boxes are no longer hermetically sealed, but they’re still very limiting - sure I can boost RAM or hard drive space, but that’s it. And worse, with Apple, you pay extra for the privelege - sure, you pay for the knowledge that the machine will just work, but as I’ve said before, Computing isn’t meant to be Easy. So a ‘build-your-own’ system looks very attractive… I can keep Linux, and I can switch to Windows in desperation for multimedia work — I’m going to setup a Linux server for the home anyway, meaning no more losing access to files and emails when I boot into Win. Admittedly, I could also dual-boot Linux and Mac, but that’d be a waste of time — if I had Mac (and had paid a whole lot extra for it), I’d want to use it…

So in short: White gives me a perrty, but closed and expensive box, and means I can run all the software I want to without rebooting. Beige, though it gives me an ugly box, lets me run all the hardware I want to at costs I determine, with the condition that I have to reboot into an icky OS to run specific (but necessary) software. On the face of it, White is a spectacular choice, but that Closed box is _Very_ off-putting.

So there it is: the same thing that makes me want to use Linux (Open-ness), is driving me towards using Windows, because the alternative (Apple) just isn’t Open enough…

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