Since I have received both Novell's SUSE 9.3 upgrade and Apple's Tiger 10.4 in the last four days, I can make at least a few comments. One is the that the title of this post is no joke. Tiger comes in at around one pound whereas SUSE 9.3 hits the scales at about two and one half pounds. Of course this isn't exact since our kitchen scale only weighs up to one pound and the bathroom scale doesn't seem to do anything very accurately under five pounds. Perhaps before anyone on Slashdot starts analyzing this, I should run down to one of the package stores and get some accurate weights.
Of course evaluating operating systems by weight isn't a very serious endeavor so I will forge ahead with no fear of serious repercussions. Based on the less than carefully calculated weights my SUSE 9.3 upgrade (interesting concept Apple) cost me $69.40 including shipping or $27.76 per pound. Tiger is obviously a gourmet meal. Giving Tiger the benefit of a full sixteen ounces, it ends up being priced at a discounted $107.10 per pound which also included shipping.
Of course the biggest difference between Tiger and SUSE 9.3 other than SUSE 9.3 doesn't have a cute cat name is that SUSE actually includes a serious paper manual. So far I have been able to use Linux without cracking the previous large manual, and I was able to do the upgrade from SUSE 9.2 without cracking the new manual so it may be of little benefit to me. Staying out of the Linux manuals is fine with me.
Both Tiger and SUSE 9.3 installed without a hitch on their respective machines, an Apple Dual 1.8 Ghz G5 and a Dell Dimension 4700 3 Ghz Pentium 4. The Dell has 1 Gig of memory and the Apple has 768 MB.
This is no Ars Technica review of Tiger. There are plenty of good things in Tiger, but so far I have seen nothing that is compelling.
Spotlight, Tiger's desktop search, may be fantastic but SUSE comes with Beagle desktop search which seems to work fine for my limited searching needs.
My general opinion which at least on mail.app matches that of Ars Technica is that Apple messed around with the user interface and how things work far too much. This comment comes from the mail.app part of the Ars Technica review on Tiger.
There's also the strange case of the conjoined toolbar buttons. As the "customize toolbar" sheet shows, some buttons are available individually, some in groups, and some in both forms. This is inflexible, inconsistent, and again, a little strange.
Mail's "customize toolbar" sheet
I didn't mean to turn this section into a Mail 2.0 intervention, but honestly, it is the poster boy for unexpected graphical changes in the Tiger user interface. I'm all for experimentation; I just hope the next experiment turns out better than this one.
I actually find the user interface of SUSE 9.3 more productive than Tiger. Now there isn't an image program as slick as iPhoto but there are lots of other apps with SUSE which don't come with Tiger.
Also as far as getting things done, moving around the desktop, and accomplishing my work, I think SUSE may win the race, but I will give it a few more days.
I just had a problem with the mail.app just refusing to send an e-mail. The icon for send when clicked did nothing. Perhaps Linux tells you more than you want to know about what is happening, but OS X doesn't tell you enough. My experience this year has taught me that a Linux box comes with better tools for fixing problems. With OS X mostly your option is to start from scratch again.
I won't be migrating my wife, Glenda, to Tiger. I don't see any benefit for her. I also find Tiger a little less responsive than Panther on my aluminum Powerbook so I may go back to Panther there. It could be a result of only having 512MB of memory.
I don't want anyone to get me wrong, Tiger is a very good release. It is, however, no reason for Windows users to come stampeding over to the Mac. I actually think most would be better served with either Xandros Linux or SUSE Linux.
Mac users reading this post, who haven't already started burning me in effigy for suggesting such a thing, may still think that Linux is scary and not user friendly. At end of the post I am including some screen shots which I hope you will take the time to view. Seeing those screens just might make some folks understand that the race is on in user friendly interfaces especially considering Apple did a lot of mucking around this last upgrade. It might have actually caused them to lose ground in the user interface wars.
Of course determining which package is the best value is really no contest if you measure things by the amount of software included. SUSE Linux 9.3 wins hands down. You could go out and download NeoOffice for MacOS X and pick up some other free software to even things out a little, but remember you don't have to do that with SUSE and there is plenty more software included. NeoOffice also seems to run a little slow on my G4 PowerBook but seems fine on my Dual G5 desktop. At any rate neither NeoOffice nor some of the even more complicated solutions such as X11 is a perfect answer for the free software issue for the Mac.
To be honest, SUSE in spite of having the reputation of being one of the slower Linux distributions out there, seems snappier than Tiger. Both, however, Tiger and SUSE are plenty fast for me and should be more than adequate for almost all users as long as your machine is a recent one.
The Mad Penguin has a much more Linux knowledgeable review of Novell's SUSE 9.3 than what I have given you. Just consider my review as one from someone who never thought he would be so pleased with Linux and so impressed with what the Open Source community is doing to move things forward.
A lot of things they are doing with the user interface are very intuitive. It's not perfect, but what they are doing is consistent which is more than you can say for Apple's recent effort. Maybe OS X is moving into the bells and whistles phase of their user interface.
If you have a Windows box and are tired of security issues and expensive hardware, give Linux a real strong look. Novell provides an image you can download and burn to DVD to do a live evaluation of running Linux on your Intel hardware. That's how I got started last fall. That Linux runs completely from the DVD is a miracle in itself.
If you want to run your old MS Office software, give Xandros a close look. You can buy and download the whole distribution from them. The CrossOver Office from Codeweavers included with their software is very impressive. I'll be testing the next Xandros upgrade as soon as it gets out.
If you haven't seen it, there is an interesting article, "Ready for a Windows-free Desktop," in Government Computer News. It was done in February so it isn't the latest versions, but it is one of the few articles that I have seen that compares OS X to major Linux distributions. That review was what prompted me to try Xandros and write a post on it. Here are the SUSE 9.3 Screen Shots.
Have fun with whichever software you choose, Tiger or SUSE.