Why my next laptop isn't gonna be a Mac, either

01-29 11:10

I'm typing this in an early build of TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 6. This version contains speculative fixes for hangs on Facebook and crashes with textboxes on some systems, plus tuned-up UI, accelerated video frame colour conversion and -- the biggest feature -- basic adblock integrated directly into the browser core. The basic adblock is effective enough that I've even started running "naked" without Bluhell Firewall and it's so much quicker that there's no add-on overhead. I have some more features planned with a beta somewhere around mid-February. Watch for it.

Meanwhile, Raptor has announced their first production run on the Talos II has begun , their big, beefy, open and fully-auditable POWER9-based beast -- check out this picture of their non-SAS production sample motherboard . I'm really looking forward to mine arriving hopefully sometime in February. It's been delayed apparently by some supplier shenanigans but if they're moving to mass production, they must have enough parts to get it to us early orderers (my order was in August 2017).

I bought the Talos II because I wanted something non-x86 without lurking proprietary obscenities like the Intel Management Engine (or even AMD's Platform Secure Processor) that was nevertheless powerful enough to match those chips in power, and the only thing practical and even close to it is modern Power ISA. It had to be beefier than the Quad G5 I'm typing this on, which is why beautiful but technically underwhelming systems like the AmigaOne X5000 were never an option because this 11-year-old Quad mops the floor with it (no AltiVec, wtf!). It had to be practical, i.e., in a desktop form factor with a power draw that wouldn't require a second electrical meter, and it had to actually exist. Hello, Talos. It was pretty clear even before I decided on the specific machine that my next desktop computer wasn't going to be a Mac; I briefly toyed with gritting my teeth and waiting around for whatever the next iteration of the Mac Pro would be, but eventually concluded pro users just weren't a priority demographic to Apple's hardware designers anymore. After all, if we were, why would they make us wait so long? And why should I wait and pay buck$$$ for another iteration of an architecture I don't like anyway?

But now I'm not sure we're even a priority to their software designers. Here's where I lost it: from the idiots who couldn't even secure a password field properly came their bloodyminded attempt to improve the security of the operating system by removing command line telnet and ftp (directly from the Apple CSR, "it is not possible to access FTP through the terminal, because High Sierra is a more secure operating system" [sic]) -- and they even screwed the removal up .

That's the absolute last straw for me. Sure, as someone who actually uses them on my internal network, I could reinstall them or anything else Apple starts decommissioning in Homebrew (right up until Apple takes some other component away that can't be easily restored in that fashion, or decides to lock down the filesystem further). Sure, hopefully if I upgrade (I use this term advisedly) my Haswell i7 MacBook Air from Sierra to High Sierra, I might not have too many bugs, and Apple might even fix what's left, maybe, or maybe in 10.14, maybe. Sure, I could vainly search for 64-bit versions of the tools I use, some of which might not exist or be maintained, and spend a lot of time trying to upgrade the ones I've written which work just fine now (breaking the unified build I do on my G5 and being generally inconvenient), and could click through the warning you'll now get in 10.13.4 whenever you open a 32-bit app and leap whatever hoops I have to jump through on 10.14 to run them "without compromise."

Sure, I could do all that. And I could continue to pay a fscking lot of money for the privilege of doing all that, too. Or, for the first time since 1987, in over thirty years of using Macs starting with my best friend's dad's Macintosh Plus, I could say I'm just totally done with modern Macs. And I think that's what I'll be doing.

Because the bottom line is this: Apple doesn't want users anymore who just want things to keep working . Hell, on this Quad in 10.4, I can run most software for 68K Macs! (in fact, I do -- some of those old tools are very speedy). But Classic ended with the Intel Macs, and Rosetta crapped out after 10.6. Since then every OS release has broken a little here, and deprecated a little there, and deleted a little somewhere else, to where every year when WWDC came along and Apple announced what they were screwing around with next that I dreaded the inevitable OS upgrade on a relatively middling laptop I dropped $1800 on in 2014. What was it going to break? What new problems were lurking? What would be missing that I actually used? There was no time to adapt because soon it was onto next year's new mousetrap and its own set of new problems. So now, with the clusterflub that Because I Got High Sierra's turned out to be, I've simply had enough. I'm just done.

So come on, you Apple apologists. Tell me how Apple doesn't owe me anything. Tell me how every previous version of OS X had its bugs, and annual major OS churn actually makes good sense. Tell me how it's unfair that poor, cash-starved Apple should continue to subsidize people who want to run perfectly good old software or maintain their investment in peripherals. Tell me how Apple's doing their users a favour by getting rid of those crufty niche tools that "nobody" uses anyway, and how I can just deal. If this is what you want from your computer vendor, then good for you because by golly you're getting it, good and hard. For me, this MacBook's staying on Sierra and I'll wipe it with Linux or FreeBSD when Sierra doesn't get any more updates. Maybe there will be a nice ARMbook around by then because I definitely won't be buying another Mac.

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