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Switcher Stories Follow Up
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Alex Bangs is sympathetic to the Mac/PC file-transfer conundrum and worked around it with Xamba.

I noticed that Brian [Dear] was complaining about xfring files between Mac and PC and specifically not wanting to fiddle with Samba. I'm sympathetic to this. I ended up giving up on trying to do this through mounting the PC disk on the Mac (given various security layers), and I thought I'd try Samba, but I wasn't up for lots of config file manipulation. Instead, I was able to put the Xamba package on the Mac and get Samba up very quickly. My only caveat: While it has a nice UI for configuration, the version I used (2.6) did no error checking, so you can set it up, let 'er rip, and then have no idea why it isn't working, until you check the logs and see complaints about something in the config files.

Anyway, I haven't read the details on Jaguar, but it sounds like it has more built-in to share files easily. We'll see.

My own story: I've been a Mac user since early 1984, got one of the first Macs to arrive in Indianapolis (I'm in California now). Over time, I've given it up at work (my customers don't use them) and even at home, where my wife was the Mac user but tried Windows 2000. She got tired of that, we got an iMac, and once 10.1 came out, I was hooked on OS X. Got an iBook in part so I can get more time on it without stealing hers. Now if I can just figure out how to have an excuse to use one at work. Despite being the CTO of the company, I still have those pesky customers to deal with. ;-)

Mark Boudreau recommends Emailchemy to help move email over to OS X.

I liked your article about the Mac OS X switching that is going on. I wanted a laptop for Web development work and thought about getting a Thinkpad and installing Linux. Then I saw OS X and bought a PowerBook. I love it. I still use my Windows desktop for games and my old Linux box for fun Linux hacking (running Gentoo), but I've moved my life to the PowerBook. I still have to use Windows at work, but I've been telling everyone about how cool OS X is, and I'm slowly winning them over.

Like Brian Dear, I had years worth of Eudora mail to try and convert and I had a hell of a time doing it. I've moved over 99% of it using Emailchemy. It's 25 bucks, but it's worth it. If you know a lot of people that are having trouble making the switch, have them try a demo of this and hopefully they'll be pleased.

Thanks for all your work in the computing world. Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight.

An anonymous tip on how to transfer email:

Brian Dear complained about poor tech support in transferring Eudora for Windows files over to the Apple's Mail app. Here are two ways to do it.

Method 1:

  1. Upgrade to the latest free version of Eudora for Windows (version 5.1). This ensures that the mailboxes are in Unix mbox format.

  2. Install the latest free version of Eudora for Mac (version 5.1) on either Mac OS 9 or X; it doesn't matter.

  3. Locate the Eudora Documents folder on both Win98 and your Mac. It can be in varying places. In this folder, locate the "Mail Folder." Transfer everything in your Win98 "Mail Folder" to your Mac "Mail Folder." (You are basically copying your mailboxes over.) If you start up Eudora on your Mac, you should now be able to see all your old messages in the same mailboxes you created originally in Windows.

  4. Start up the Mail app. Use the Import command to transfer your new Mac Eudora mailboxes.

Method 2 (requires Microsoft Entourage):

  1. Upgrade to the latest free version of Eudora (version 5.1). This ensures that the mailboxes are in Unix mbox format.

  2. Locate the Eudora Documents folder in Win98. It can be in varying places. In this folder, locate the "Mail Folder." Copy only the files in your Win98 "Mail Folder" to your Mac. (It doesn't matter where you put them).

  3. Start up Microsoft Entourage (a program in Microsoft Office v X). Select the Import command under the File menu. Choose Import from Text File. Choose Text File in MBOX format. Select any Eudora mailbox that you copied over to your Mac. Each mail file will now show up as a mail folder in Entourage.

  4. Now that you went through all that hassle, if you still want your files in Mail app, start up the Mail app. Select the Import command. Select Entourage files. You are now importing all your Entourage mail files.

Steven Champeon, a contributor to Unix Power Tools, 3rd Edition writes that OS X is for people who love Unix and the Mac.

I saw your post to IP and didn't figure I was relevant to your survey, until I read your piece on O'Reilly Network. I figured I'd chime in now.

I've been using OS X since the beta period early last year. I'd switched from a Toshiba laptop running Windows 95 back in 1997 to an iMac, as an alternative primary desktop to my ancient Sun IPX, and then to a Pismo G3 laptop when I needed a laptop. I'd had a Mac Centris 610 since 1993, and used both Windows (mostly NT) and Solaris on the job, with Solaris as my primary platform until 1996 or so. When I got my PowerBook in mid-2000, I dual-booted Mac OS 9 and Yellow Dog Linux until the OS X beta came out, when I switched to a triple-boot system. But I found that I never booted into Linux anymore, and hardly booted into OS 9 except to fix things that wouldn't run, or install, properly under Classic. This was even more true under the 10.0 and 10.1 releases of OS X.

I just upgraded to OS 10.2 this weekend, and so far, so good. After a bit of restoration to the things I'd tweaked (such as my Apache config, various preference settings, etc.) and upgrading some primary utilities (such as DragThing, TinkerTool, and the like) it's running nicely.

A bit more detail: I started out as a TRS-80 user (1980), then went to C64s (1983?-) and Macs (1988-), using PCs only for VAX access. I used a Mac SE/30 as well as some old Pluses all during school. When I got out, I landed a job using Sun OS to do SGML document conversion (1993-94).

I bought the Macintosh Centris 610 for home use (1993). I'd worked on a Quadra to support grayscale scanning during 1993-94, and loved it, and I worked on various PCs to handle certain cross-platform stuff such as taking Group 4 TIFFs from the Sun OS systems over to a PC running Hiijak on Win 3.1 to do Deskew operations. My big complaint about the Mac during this time period was that MacTCP sucked. But the Internet apps were so much better that it was all worth it. OpenTransport fixed all that, and so the only thing holding the Mac back was the legacy toolbox.

When I "needed" a laptop at work, I got a Thinkpad running Win95 and only used it for email, Office apps, and Framemaker. (We had more Maker licenses for Windows than for Solaris at the time--this was 1995-96.) That Thinkpad was a brick. You could kill people with it. I'm glad I never had to swing it in anger.

When I moved on (or, more accurately, when the company melted down), I had to get a laptop for work as a consultant, and I bought what was cheap: a Toshiba Satellite with Win95--this was late 1996. Struggling with a Win95 p/100 w/8, then 20, then 36MB RAM wasn't worth it. But that's what I had, so that's what I used. And of course I still had the Mac at home, along with a Sun IPX.

When I joined with my current partner in 1997, I had the Mac at home, a couple of Sun IPXes at work, and a homemade WinNT machine to handle firewall/proxy service to our dialup (the IPXes had lousy serial ports that could only handle 33.6), so I could come back up to speed on NT. Good decision; as it turned out, as we had some ColdFusion work and Netscape server support work, and NT made a decent platform for that. But what a miserable experience overall: we had to reboot it at least once a week. By contrast, our Linux servers have been up for 231 days, nary a problem. We had one machine that was up for over 400 days between reboots before we finally retired it.

When we got offices and hired more employees, we took the NT box down and switched to Linux (RedHat 4.3) for our Internet firewall/proxy service and filesharing. We do our own Web hosting on Linux and have since late 1997. It's still RedHat, though I am becoming much more comfortable with FreeBSD and the other Linux variants and distros such as Debian. Mostly, we chose Linux because it was free, solid, and wasn't Windows NT/IIS. I've been an Apache guy since 0.65, and NCSA httpd before that, and though I've used IIS and ColdFusion (notably at IBM!) and Netscape's servers, I don't see much that we can't do with mod_perl, Tomcat/Jakarta, PHP, and the like. And I don't see much need for expensive server hardware and OSes like Solaris, though we're currently working with a client who is running Solaris, so the prior experience doesn't hurt. It all boils down to the command line in most cases, anyway.

I kept the Win95 laptop through my time onsite at IBM's PC company, mostly running HomeSite and Netscape and a Telnet/SSH app so I could check my mail on the Linux server. While onsite, I had to use Notes, which made me appreciate Microsoft more, oddly enough. Eventually, I stopped running Notes and made everyone I was working with contact me through my work email address rather than through Notes. I was mostly working on ColdFusion apps (via the Win95 laptop and a PC desktop) and on Perl CGI and Domino Go on AIX, so it really didn't matter much to me what I used for a desktop, as long as I had FTP and SSH, and the target system had Emacs. ;)

I got the PowerBook to replace the old Win95 laptop (and the IPX on my desktop, as well as to supplement the iMac I'd bought a few years earlier) in mid-2000, and have been running OS X in various configurations on that laptop since early 2001. So, now I'm an OS X user full-time and have been since early 2001, and I love it.

I was never really a Linux desktop user. My Solaris, Mac, and Win95/NT experience overlapped our use of Linux on the server side, but I never really wanted to go back to X Windows after I finally shut down the IPX.

I'm a fan of the Mac desktop and have been since 1988, if not earlier, and my experiences with Unix made it difficult to enjoy Windows of any stripe. This is true even now: I've used WinXP and Win2K, and it seems the simplest things are even more clunky (if prettier) now than ever.

I've always felt that Windows stood in the way of me doing what I wanted to do. Maybe I just did different things from one system to another, but I've done sysadmin on all manner of Unix systems, Mac systems, and Windows boxen, so I don't think it's just ignorance of which GUI I should be using at a given time that made Windows so awful. Mostly, it's a mismatch between what I think needs to be done and how the Windows OS has presented it to me. Even MacTCP was better; besides, I learned a lot about pre-CIDR netmasks from that UI. And don't get me started on how I had to rebuild our internal DNS from RCS files after someone plugged in a Win2K box on our network. (Groan.)

It's so very nice to have a solid Unix system on my desktop with the seamless Mac desktop experience to boot. I think this saying sums it up nicely:

BSD is for people who love Unix.
Linux is for people who hate Microsoft.

Now, OS X is for people who love Unix and the Mac. Windows doesn't even come into it, except when I have to boot VirtualPC to run some annoying Windows-only Palm conduit or test Web sites under Windows IE or Netscape Navigator, etc. Or, like now, when I need to run a Windows-only VPN client to work with one of our clients. I haven't tried out the OS X VPN yet, but I have hope that it'll do what we need it to do. I'm whittling away.

And with the promised seamless filesharing implementation OS X 10.2 claims to provide, I can't think of any reason to run Windows at all on the desktop, except where there is no alternative, as mentioned above, or if you simply prefer the apps that only run on Windows, such as HomeSite.

So, although most of our internal desktops here are Dell Win98/XP/2K boxen, primarily because the production folks love HomeSite, we do have a few iMacs and a G4 (for the test labs and designer's desktop, respectively), our internal filesharing is done via Linux, our firewall is Linux, our hosting is on Linux, and when the economy picks up, I'm going to seriously consider going to an all-OS X filesharing setup with the XServe.

From there, we'll likely continue to run Linux for the firewall -- we used an old P75 with 16MB RAM for a ten-person shop for four years, until the mobo gave out and we had to upgrade (to an old, EOL'd P233, which is incredible overkill considering the things we need it to do). The upshot is that we won't have to upgrade the firewall for a few years yet. Linux has been great for making use of older, EOL'd boxen as servers, though I suppose BSD would have worked as well, and the only real motivation for change has been a need for more disk space, not speed or RAM, for the most part. We ran our hosting service (fifty-plus Web sites running a variety of core Apache, PHP, mod_perl, and Java apps) on a p166 with 128MB RAM for three years, with almost zero downtime.

But if I could, I'd get everyone here to switch to OS X, and leave the Windows boxen to the test lab and maybe one of our production/test folks. OS X has restored choice to the desktop.

That seems like a nice note to end on. "OS X has restored choice to the desktop." So tell us about your choice. . . .

Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O'Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim's blog, the O'Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim's long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O'Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

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