Sunday, April 11, 2010

Escaping My Unhealthy Relationship With Apple

Yesterday was the last straw. A day after my Psystar Open Pro quit booting I spent several hours trying in vain to revive it. The end result is that it now boots directly into a nice Linux distribution, which is good and I probably lost a lot of data, which is obviously not so good.

Apple fans are all thinking to themselves that I got what I deserved for buying a hackintosh. Not so fast--why did I buy a hackintosh in the first place and why is it so hard to get a hackintosh to work? Please see below.

This machine is my main music production workstation with Ableton Live, my favorite Audio Damage plugins and lots of other musical goodies installed on it. I was quite motivated at first to get Mac OS X Leopard working again. Sadly, frustratingly, ultimately infuriatingly, no amount of work with Psystar's rescue disk (in concert with an authentic, Apple manufactured Leopard DVD) got me so far as the OS X installer. In short, Psystar's custom boot loader doesn't work right, even on their own machines.

So, I installed Windows 7 from a DVD I legally purchased through the university where I work. I thought I would install Macdrive and use my existing Ableton Live projects in Windows. Apparently I'm a sucker. My Windows DVD is upgrade-only and, of course, Windows did not detect a qualifying previous copy of Windows. It installed fine (supporting the theory that OS X was not broken by a hardware problem) but I couldn't activate it without buying a $300 "full" Windows license. $300 for the privilege of using software that I already purchased and isn't my first choice anyway? No thanks!

openSUSE 11.2 wouldn't install either. Interestingly, it failed at a different point in the install process every time I tried it. What did I do to deserve that?

Anyway, Puredyne, one of the Linux distros I've been writing about in my Linux music production series, installed without incident. The only problem is that I have yet to get it to extend its desktop to my second monitor (so far it will only mirror the displays). Compared to not booting or trying to extort $300 for protection I find that acceptable, at least for now.

Puredyne sees all six of my hard drives but I have not yet found the most precious of my data. The HFS+ support seems to work pretty well but it is possible that I installed on the wrong drive and overwrote a member of the RAID set where my sample library and Live projects were stored. If so, that one is on me.

I would have had an up-to-date and complete backup, just like on my Mac at work, but Time Machine NEVER worked on my OpenPro. So, my backups are probably weeks old.

The upshot is this. I'm done with Apple, their secrecy and their pathological need to control their customers. I would not have been in this bind if I had been using free software to start with. It's Apple's secrecy, premium pricing and lock-in strategies that drove me into the arms of Psystar, after which I found myself relying on unsupported, undocumented technology. I'll get my second monitor working with Puredyne because X.org and all the rest of the software in question is open and documented. I'm probably not much more than a forum post away from having it fixed.

So, Apple, I'm not going to say "It's not you. It's me," because it isn't me. It's you. You have the best interface and industrial design in the computer industry but it just isn't worth it anymore.

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