one reason I don’t use apple

Being a linux and FLOSS fan has its advantages, not least the fact that most, if not all of the software I would want to use (and indeed, /all/ of the software that I actually do use) is free as in beer as well as free as in speech. And given the much smaller target offered by my chosen desktop in comparison to the widely used proprietary offerings, my systems are amost entirely unbothered by malware.

Most of my friends use proprietary systems. A few insist on paying over the odds for Apple products and, perversely, seem to take some pride in doing so. One or two even seem to think that simply buying Apple products marks them as more discerning, cultured and intelligent than the great unwashed who buy their systems from PC World.

In the course of a recent series of email exchanges on this topic, I was therefore delighted to receive this image from another friend. I know he uses windows 7 – I’ve seen it.


(copyright “” gratefully acknowledged.)

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    • Peter on 2011/07/03 at 7:25 pm

    You are entitled to your opinion (hey, it’s your blog :-), but I beg to differ re. motivations to use Apple – at least OSX.

    Until a year ago I used a mixture of Linux and Windows to get things done. I bought a MacBook for research, and in just two months every Windows box has been thrown out because the Mac just does it better (Linux lives on a server). I have zero time for fan-based acquisitions (it was the main reason I originally remained far from the OSX platform) but I do appreciate usability and stability – I don’t have the time to continuously read man pages and adjust text files in /etc and other fun places (and I know you know I can). About the only failure in usability is cursor navigation, for the rest things are just easier on a Mac, and because Apple is in control of both the OS and the hardware it’s quite stable. What’s more, because it’s FreeBSD under the hood I can also use all the Open Source tools I’m used to (wireshark, etherape, nmap et al) – the command line is well alive on a Mac if you need it as do various programming languages.

    What a Mac also offers you is the ability to point your less computer able friends at a shop and say “go get that” without immediately becoming tech support for either a complex platform (sorry, Linux isn’t beginners compatible yet IMHO – at least not if they need to migrate from Windows), or one that breaks down and spends 25% of its time and 50% of its bandwidth on patching, updating and reloading virus databases (try leaving a Windows system offline for 2 weeks and you’ll see what I mean).

    I found OSX software prices quite reasonable in comparison to products for Windows. What’s more, what you buy tends to be easier to use and have a more sane structure. Further, the hardware is quite good, not so much the *design* aspect but build quality – my personal experience is positive.

    That for Apple Mac and OSX. I also have an iPhone, basically because a Blackberry was too limiting. However, I have an older one because it does what I need it to do – no update required. Do I have any walled garden problems? No, not really. The apps I need I have, despite being “old” (it’s a 3GS as I haven’t found the need to upgrade) and there is no real need for me to jailbreak it. Heck, even the secure mobile comms platform runs without any problem, and that does all sorts of interesting things to cloak its traffic over and above the “traditional” crypto..

    In summary, although I have the competency to hop over the walls of the Apple garden if required, I have as yet not found the need.

    It all depends on your needs. For my needs, a MacBook works so well that I’m prepared to live with the risk of being considered a fan boy. Those that matter know just how inappropriate that tag is for me – as do you :-).

    • Mick on 2011/07/03 at 7:44 pm


    Hi – and thanks for the comment. Fanboy I know you are not, but I still contend that Apple products are overpriced (though cleverly marketed so that people don’t object too much to being stiffed by Jobs). Even my Mac (and iPad – now that’s a complete waste of money, get a netbook for god’s sake) loving friends admit that they sometimes buy Apple products just for the “oooh shiny” factor.

    And my posting here is a gentle dig at one or two of my friends who are convinced that /they/ couldn’t possibly be socially engineered into downloading malware because as Apple users they are in a “different demographic” to PC users. Unashamed snobbery – which Apple is equally unashamed to exploit.


    • Peter on 2011/07/04 at 9:32 am

    “a gentle dig at one or two of my friends who are convinced that /they/ couldn’t possibly be socially engineered into downloading malware”

    Ah, but here is a cross-over with Linux. You will always need a degree of root/admin rights level access to manage a system, and that is controlled by the end user. Getting a Trojan installed with a bit of social engineering is thus possible on ANY platform – but there is an important difference between Linux, OSX and Windows.

    On Windows, people at least *expect* the threat, because the platform *is* weak (based on just how much effort is involved of keeping it almost safe if it wasn’t for zero-days). Average OSX and Linux users share an interesting belief that they are safe from malware. IMHO this represents a dangerous, false sense of security that makes them vulnerable.

    The sooner that myth is addressed the better.

    • Mick on 2011/07/04 at 5:00 pm

    Peter, you should know better than that. I agree with you. I have never said (and nor do I believe) that linux is inherently any safer than the main proprietary platform. Read trivia carefully and see if you can find any comment to the contrary. What I /do/ firmly believe is that the platform is a less attractive target simply because it is used by such a small proportion (c. < 1% depending on your source statistics) of the totality of the target space. Much the same can be said of Apple products, though the proportion in use there is higher.

    It is relatively easy for a malware author to design a payload which will exploit an application running on MS's platform. The platform is almost ubiquitous, the products running on it are largely well known, and the vulnerabilities in those products are also well known. Add to that the fact that a (disappointingly) high proportion of those systems will leave those vulnerabilities unpatched for some ridiculously long time and you have a very rich target environment. Add further the knowledge that the MS platform and applications in question are almost certain to be running on the corporate desktop which is of most interest to attackers and it is not difficult to see why FLOSS platforms receive little attention. This does /not/ make them inherently more secure. Merely a less "interesting" target.

    My dig at my friends (here and in various email threads over many years) is aimed at getting them to understand that they are /not/ inherently any safer than Joe Public simply by virtue of their choice of Apple's products. Nor are they any smarter, net savvy, or security aware than people such as Cory Doctorow. Sadly, one or two of them refuse to believe that they can be scammed, and eventually will be.


    • Peter on 2011/07/05 at 8:31 am

    Hey, I didn’t say *you* made such a statement :-). If anything, the “duh” score is still on my side: you may recall me filling a room-wide white board during a dual DNS discussion – after which I discovered I was holding a permanent marker :-).

    But I digress. I think we are in violent agreement – some people just don’t want to listen. Having said that, Apple has not exactly been helping, see This made me discover something very interesting: anti-virus software companies have without exception stopped classifying infections per platform. AFAIK it’s actually impossible to now get a separate count for Linux, OSX and Windows – I wonder why?

    Sure food for conspiracy theorists :-)

    • Mick on 2011/07/05 at 4:21 pm

    I prefer the South Park version.

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