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Wow... I had just been lusting after both a Dell XPS 15 and a 17" screen (like that of the ultralight LG Gram 17"), and a friend emailed me about brand-new new Dell XPS models, which include a new 17" screen! (Unfortunately, with revenue way down after Amazon's drastic commission cut, a purchase may not be viable. I'm also curious about Linux compatibility.)
Wow, Dell stuff on a Mac site, nice. Whichever:

Dell has been my daily driver for laptops for a long time now (current squeeze is the rather wonderful 15" XPS 9575 2-in-1 convertible: touch screen, foldable, UHD display, dual graphics, etc.).

In any case: yes, Linix is well supported on the XPSes, and most recently there is even a single free download installer from the Windows Store for Ubuntu. However, I don't see much of this directly related to Dell (someone may want to correct me), but more so in terms of Windows more broadly, whether native or in Windows Sandbox. These days I'm much preferring Windows 10 (especially Windows 10 for Workstations) over macOS (especially Catalina).

One thing aside from performance specs I'd like to mention:

The Dell extended warranty options (vs. Apple): greater number of 'tiers' and choices from Dell, but for slightly less than the same price as three-year Apple Care: at home service. Wonderful.

Only just last week my battery was getting sluggish with its charges and now much shorter run time. I ran the Dell Support assist and lodged a ticket with Dell. Two days later a free replacement battery was shipped to my door, with a subsequent free pickup to return the old one. Dell also 'let' me open and fit the battery myself - who would have thought! Of course, I also have the options for a tech to visit and fit, again, free and part of the service contract.

Personally, would prefer a convertible (a dual-screen job coming on the Dell roadmap, I believe), but who knows, may well pull the pin for one of these new 17" XPSes.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Mark Gurman reports that Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality content startup:
Forbes said:
Apple Acquires Startup NextVR that Broadcasts VR Content
... NextVR supplies content to several existing VR headsets, including Facebook Inc.’s Oculus and devices from Sony Corp., HTC Corp. and Lenovo.

NextVR has deals with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association and entertainment networks such as Fox Sports. The startup also has expertise in live streaming in virtual reality, which could also be useful for live concerts and games.
 


Looking at the System 76 page, the Lemur Pro caught my eye – 10th-gen i5 or i7, user-upgradable RAM up to 40GB, two M2 slots for up to 4 TB of user-upgradable storage, actual ports (HDMI, USB-A, etc.), 73Wh battery (vs. 50Wh for MacBook Air), 2.2 lbs (vs 2.8 lbs for MacBook Air), .61" thick (.63" thick at thickest point for MacBook Air). Seriously out-Airs the MacBook Air in an upgradable package. Base configuration (which is roughly comparable to the MacBook Air base config, except for the i5 chip) is $100 more. (I wonder, though, at those dimensions – would the i7 get thermally throttled pretty quickly?)

It used to be that slickly engineered thin and light was Apple's domain. With the likes of this, and Dell's XPS, there are some seriously attractive alternatives.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here is an interesting article...
Coincidentally, I have recently put countless hours into wrestling with Windows on a Dell laptop, along with Linux, and this has really demonstrated the Mac's advantages clearly, although Linux remains appealing for a number of reasons.

But one of the biggest lessons has been how expensive and difficult it is to migrate from any major platform to another when you have a significant history and investment in one particular platform. For me, this is especially obvious/painful in system management operations: backup/clones, partitioning and boot issues, disk encryption/encrypted disk images and device drivers. (There is, of course, much more beyond that, but those to me are major issues/challenges.)
 




But one of the biggest lessons has been how expensive and difficult it is to migrate from any major platform to another when you have a significant history and investment in one particular platform.
Back when I converted my personal computing from Mac to Linux, the biggest problem I had was simply finding all of my media (music, photos, etc.) on my Mac. Apple and its penchant for "organizing" such data in very arcane ways meant it took me MANY hours to simply find all of my files and get them into some sort of semi-organized human-readable folder structure.

My experience has been that Apple rearranges your files to meet the needs of the OS/iTunes, while Linux media apps are able to work with your files in whatever way you've chosen to organize them. While both methods have their merits, with Linux I felt "in control" of my files, and found that very liberating.

The issue around backups really hasn't caused me much of an issue to be honest. At home we have Linux, Windows, and Macs, and I have to back them all up. The Mac gets backed up with Carbon Copy Cloner, the others with Clonezilla. CCC is nice in that it does an incremental backup but you can only have one backup on an external drive. Clonezilla does a full backup each time but you can have several backups on the same external drive. Again, both have their own merits.
 


Back when I converted my personal computing from Mac to Linux, the biggest problem I had was simply finding all of my media (music, photos, etc.) on my Mac. Apple and its penchant for "organizing" such data in very arcane ways meant it took me MANY hours to simply find all of my files and get them into some sort of semi-organized human-readable folder structure.
Apple is not the only culprit. When I recently switched from Quicken 2007 to Quicken 2020, it took some sleuthing to find that Quicken 2020 hides its documents, downloads, automatic backups and other files in ~/Library/Application Support/Quicken.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The issue around backups really hasn't caused me much of an issue to be honest. At home we have Linux, Windows, and Macs, and I have to back them all up. The Mac gets backed up with Carbon Copy Cloner, the others with Clonezilla.
Just some of the issues I've encountered with Windows and Linux:
  • needing (e.g. Clonezilla) to boot off a special drive ("Live USB") to do a backup
  • backup programs (e.g. Clonezilla "Live USB") incapable of handling encrypted volumes
  • expensive upgrades required for basic encryption (i.e. Windows 10 Pro)
  • inability to boot off USB clones (Windows)
  • UUID conflicts when cloning partitions/drives
  • frustrating problems with bootloaders/startup (especially with multiple systems in different partitions on one drive, and even more when encryption is involved)
  • miserable user interfaces typical of non-Mac software
  • etc.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's an interesting new ARM-based "Mac" (actually a version of Linux running on a Raspberry Pi with a Mac OS emulator/VM):
Forbes said:
The Free Operating System That’s Identical To macOS
Dubbed (none too subtly) iRaspbian, the distro creates a near-identical version of the macOS Dock, Launcher and even the default wallpaper that comes with macOS 10.15 Catalina.

... As if iRaspbian wasn’t yanking the chain of Apple’s lawyers already, the distro also includes an emulator for Mac OS 9, as well as one for Windows 98.

Judging by the video, the distro runs remarkably smoothly on the Raspberry Pi 4, which has only a fraction of the power of even the most puny Mac in Apple’s range. The Raspberry Pi 4 has a 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex A72 processor and can be configured with up to 4GB of RAM.
 


Here's an interesting new ARM-based "Mac" (actually a version of Linux running on a Raspberry Pi with a Mac OS emulator/VM)...
Apparently Apple's lawyers have intervened, as this addendum was posted earlier today:
Forbes said:
The Free Operating System That’s Identical To macOS
Update, 20 May: The download site for iRaspbian has been taken down. A tweet sent to me from someone seemingly connected to the project said: “Site and download links are taken down. This was a fun project and there was no thought of legal ramifications considered. This was an attempt to make the pi4 more fun to use for those who don't just use it for hardware projects. Others only think of money and suing. Oh well.”
 


Apparently Apple's lawyers have intervened, as this addendum was posted earlier today:
Bummer. I've tried several flavors of Linux and skins that try to emulate macOS. None were thorough enough. Hopefully they can come back with something close to macOS that doesn't stomp on Apple's intellectual property.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Bummer. I've tried several flavors of Linux and skins that try to emulate macOS. None were thorough enough. Hopefully they can come back with something close to macOS that doesn't stomp on Apple's intellectual property.
I meant to mention this before, but there's an important connection between the Linux GNOME desktop and the original Macintosh team:
Wikipedia said:
GNOME Files
GNOME Files, formerly and internally known as Nautilus, is the official file manager for the GNOME desktop. Nautilus was originally developed by Eazel with many luminaries from the tech world including Andy Hertzfeld (Apple), chief architect for Nautilus.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
macOS market share is nothing compared to that of Windows. It's holding its own, but Linux is gaining ground.
TechRadar said:
Bad news for Windows 10 as users shift to Ubuntu and macOS
... Windows 10 ... market share dropped, from 57.34% in March to 56.08% in April. Less surprisingly, Windows 7’s market share dropped as well, from 26.23% to 25.59%....

The third most-used PC operating system is now Apple’s macOS 10.15 (also known as macOS Catalina)... and it recorded a pretty decent leap to 4.15%, up from 3.41% the month before.

... the Linux distribution Ubunutu also recorded a big leap, from 0.27% in March to 1.89% in April. Combined with other distros, the open-source operating system Linux is now sitting at 2.86%.
 



macOS market share is nothing compared to that of Windows. It's holding its own, but Linux is gaining ground.
Bad news for Windows 10 as users shift to Ubuntu and macOS
Or the sampling is different now.
...With many businesses closing their offices, their employees have been working from home, and often using their own laptops and PCs instead. While businesses overwhelmingly use Windows 10 on their machines, it appears individuals are becoming more keen on macOS and Linux....
Two substantive factors:

First, these are percentages not units. For the folks who dumped desktops completely and are just on phones/tablets/streaming devices now out of the office and not working with a desktop/laptop much at all in the transition: If you just have long days with primarily Zoom meetings, you can easily do that with an iPad. If the number of desktop users goes down, then it is easier for Linux to grab a share with the same folks it had before.

Second:
... NetMarketShare ... While it only records devices that are online and access certain sites ...
Again, if you have a shift in sites being looked at, then you will have shift in demographics measured (and proxy and ad blocking on home networks similar to that at work).

P.S. Something odd about the macOS version in the "Desktop Versions" chart: The default summary has macOS 10.14 higher than 10.15. But if you select just the major players besides Windows (macOS 10.14, 10.15, Linux, ChromeOS, Ubuntu ), then you see a more expected transition to amcOS 10.15 (although much, much, much slower than the iOS transition or, in the tablet chart, iPadOS.)
 


There are interesting things happening at Microsoft re ARM processors, Windows and virtualization with obvious implications for Apple/Macs.
More a precursor toward something like Ampere's next iteration of an ARM server chip showing up in Microsoft Azure cloud by end of year... Amazon has already rolled out their N1-based Graviton 2 solution. Deploying VHDX images up into Azure Cloud would be the logical thing to do after they're finished configuring it on a Windows ARM system running Hyper-V. Cheaper to rent Windows instances from the Azure Cloud for 'work at home' employees ... I'm sure they can get a number of companies to move for that....

Windows rolling out Terminal will be helpful for those developers who used to get macOS as a useful Unix plus GUI system. If Apple manages to kill off XQuartz in the next iteration or two, then Windows supporting Unix GUI apps would be another step.
 


I think Apple's endless efforts to keep forcing software updates onto my older laptop until I reach a point where I feel I have no choice but to buy a new computer have finally borne fruit. I am at long last ready to buy a new computer...a new Wintel computer.
I, also, am tempted to get a Wintel computer, but every time I look at that option, it does not end up on the short list for these reasons, even though purchase costs are lower:
  • inability to boot from an external drive
  • lacks built-in time machine and other useful capabilities such as disk burning Note: Windows 10 can burn a Windows iso rather well, but you need 3rd-party burning software for other uses.
  • Macs mostly have lasted for over 10 years (2011 MacBook Pro 17" an exception) and are functional for other purposes, such as an interface for my wife's $XX,XXX emboridery sewing machine.
  • Can pass Macs off the daughter and grandkids for a few additional years of use.
  • Mac's are easier for tech support.
  • too easy get fooled on web sites to download unwanted sofware with malware on Wintel computers
  • Boot Camp makes it easy to runs Windows on the few occasions when it is needed, like when I recently downloaded some Windows software to reset the battery life on my 10-year-old Ford Fusion Hybrid.
No need to go further.
 


Far be it from me to tell someone else what to buy, but I've a few comments.
inability to boot from an external drive
Are you sure about this? It's been a while since I bought a PC, but most have a firmware configuration that lets you select the search order when finding a boot device. Normally it's something basic like (and I'm showing my age here) floppy disk, then CD, then hard drive, then PXE/network.

It would surprise me if a modern computer doesn't give you the option to put USB mass storage devices in the search order. You will normally want to leave it disabled, to protect against accidentally booting from a bootable device that happens to be attached at the time, but it shouldn't be too hard to select it. (Of course, still not as easy as the way Apple does it.)
lacks built-in time machine and other useful capabilities such as disk burning
True, but I think there are some good open-source solutions. I know there are for disk burning. I'm pretty sure there are also some for automated backups.
too easy get fooled on web sites to download unwanted sofware with malware on Wintel computers
I would argue that someone who can be fooled can be fooled just as well no matter what OS the computer is running.
Boot Camp makes it easy to runs Windows on the few occasions when it is needed, like when I recently downloaded some Windows software to reset the battery life on my 10-year-old Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Dual-boot solutions on Windows platforms are also easy to get. Linux's GRUB boot loader lets you switch between Windows and Linux. And, of course, there are several virtual machine options for Windows: VirtualBox, VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V (requires Windows 10 Professional - not in the Home version) are all options.

All this having been said, I love my Macs, and I don't plan on replacing them with Windows PCs at any time in the foreseeable future, but I also use Windows PCs (for work, and to support family members who use them for gaming) and think today's Windows is far better than it was in the past and can do anything a Mac can do, even though it does many of those things in a different way.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It would surprise me if a modern computer doesn't give you the option to put USB mass storage devices in the search order.
From many, many hours of recent experiments with a current Dell Inspiron... yes, you can boot Linux from an external USB drive via firmware options (e.g. using F2 or F12 at startup), including booting a "Live USB."

You can also clone a internal Windows 10 Home drive to an external USB drive (e.g. using Macrium Reflect), but booting Windows from that external clone may be difficult or impossible, depending on complicated factors. You may be able to boot from a Windows recovery system imaged onto a USB drive.

In neither case, in my recent experience, is there anything like the simplicity, reliability and ease of simply cloning a traditional Mac system with Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper and booting it from any Thunderbolt, USB or internal drive you feel like. However, T2-based Macs make this far more complicated than pre-T2 Macs for external drives, and I was never able to boot Linux at all from a T2-based Mac, despite many hours of trying many different things.
 


I, also, am tempted to get a Wintel computer, but every time I look at that option, it does not end up on the short list for these reasons, even though purchase costs are lower:
  • inability to boot from an external drive
  • lacks built-in time machine and other useful capabilities such as disk burning Note: Windows 10 can burn a Windows iso rather well, but you need 3rd-party burning software for other uses.
  • Macs mostly have lasted for over 10 years (2011 MacBook Pro 17" an exception) and are functional for other purposes, such as an interface for my wife's $XX,XXX emboridery sewing machine.
  • Can pass Macs off the daughter and grandkids for a few additional years of use.
  • Mac's are easier for tech support.
  • too easy get fooled on web sites to download unwanted sofware with malware on Wintel computers
  • Boot Camp makes it easy to runs Windows on the few occasions when it is needed, like when I recently downloaded some Windows software to reset the battery life on my 10-year-old Ford Fusion Hybrid.
No need to go further.
Yes, there is a list of reasons why you should buy a Mac. But, equally, there is a list of good reasons why you should consider buying a Windows or Linux machine over a Mac (price, compatibility with business world, more software choice, more hardware choice, more freedom). Traditionally, for me, the list of reasons for buying a Mac has always greatly outnumbered the alternatives, and I have always purchased Macs. Now I am not so sure.

Apple seems to me increasingly hostile to its own users (their constant nagging with no opt-out is particularly galling). Its hardware has been behind the curve and of poor quality, its software increasingly buggy and difficult to use, a focus on planned obsolescence, its customer service slipping (that they could persist with lumping customers purchasing very expensive laptops with known defective keyboards over several model changes demonstrates to me their mindset).

Like JimS, I am in the market for a new laptop currently. With Apple abandoning 32-bit, making most of my software obsolete, if I am going to jump ship, now is the perfect time. If I have to buy it all anyway, I could just as easily buy it in Windows versions.

The possibility of Apple going ARM processors and needing to buy it all again in a couple of years as they abandon security updates for 3-year-old "obsolete" Intel Macs makes the decision even more uncertain.
 


Yes, there is a list of reasons why you should buy a Mac. But, equally, there is a list of good reasons why you should consider buying a Windows or Linux machine over a Mac (price, compatibility with business world, more software choice, more hardware choice, more freedom). Traditionally, for me, the list of reasons for buying a Mac has always greatly outnumbered the alternatives, and I have always purchased Macs. Now I am not so sure.
Apple seems to me increasingly hostile to its own users (their constant nagging with no opt-out is particularly galling). Its hardware has been behind the curve and of poor quality, its software increasingly buggy and difficult to use, a focus on planned obsolescence, its customer service slipping (that they could persist with lumping customers purchasing very expensive laptops with known defective keyboards over several model changes demonstrates to me their mindset).

Like JimS, I am in the market for a new laptop currently. With Apple abandoning 32-bit, making most of my software obsolete, if I am going to jump ship, now is the perfect time. If I have to buy it all anyway, I could just as easily buy it in Windows versions. The possibility of Apple going ARM processors and needing to buy it all again in a couple of years as they abandon security updates for 3-year-old "obsolete" Intel Macs makes the decision even more uncertain.
I agree with the 32-bit part and loss of 32-bit favorite apps. And I am not pleaed with the butteryfly keyboard,m but changing my typing method to be more like it was on an old mechanical typewriter appears to have solved most problems. But every time I go to use Windows 10 or 8, just as I did yesterday, the roundabout way(s) I have to go to accomplish tasks is tiresome - e.g. using individual windows with any number of drawers to change settings is a bother. I hate Windows OS downloads and updates, as they interfere too much with my work.

As for behind the curve with hardware, I just looked at the MacBook Pro 16" GPU and it is only 198 days old! I am not a gamer, but my grandson is and, based on my experience with him, anything Windows or Mac becomes old at about 5 or 6 years. My 10-year-old homebrew tower motherboard appears to have died, so hardware failure appears to be no worse than my old 2011 MacBook Pro with its GPU failure.

With a Mac I am not necessarily hobbled by multiple OS installs while troubleshooting. Once, some time ago I managed to kill 4 or 5 OS installs in one day, troubleshooting problems. I most likely would have been out of allowed installs with a Windows OS by that time.

Bottom line, I gues is that everyone has different needs and should proceed accordingly.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
This review of Dell's new XPS 13 – Windows and Ubuntu versions - demonstrate why people might still want to buy Macs, despite Apple's high prices and other issues:
Ars Technica said:
Dell XPS 13 and XPS 13 Developer Edition—side-by-side review
We spent this weekend going hands-on with a pair of 2020 model Dell XPS 13 laptops—one standard edition running Windows 10 Pro, and one Developer Edition running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The XPS 13 is among Dell's most popular models, and for good reason—it's a sleek, solid-feeling laptop that usually has top-of-the-line hardware and good battery life.

Unfortunately, both of the XPS 13 models we tested had driver issues—particularly the Windows laptop, which has a Killer AX1650 Wi-Fi card. ...

The Good
  • The XPS 13 chassis feels as solid as ever
  • Perfect stiffness to the display hinges
  • Bright, attractive display with minimal bezels
  • Webcam is where it should be—at the top of the display
  • Audio is solid quality, if not impressive
  • Ice Lake i7 offers good CPU performance and better iGPU performance
  • Great battery life—if you opt for the FHD+ screen, not the 4K UHD+
  • Good value for the price
The Bad
  • Killer Wi-Fi in the Windows edition is a disappointment
  • Occasional Ubuntu desktop environment lockups on the Developer Edition
  • Fingerprint sensor in the power button is weird
  • Webcam is only 720P
The Ugly
  • We're still mad about that Killer Wi-Fi garbage.
 


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