PC vs Apple Mac (Not the war!)

My good old PC running Linux OS is coming of age and recently started failing. The Optical drive is not functional and occasionally it will freeze. The Top cover does not hold anymore and the graphical TFT screen needs to be supported carefully.

While this particular computer has served me well, I am at that point where i need a new machine but am torn between an Apple Mac and a PC running Linux. First my work involves the following aspects;

  1. Compiling and running bioinformatics software developed using open source standards and technologies
  2. Programming
  3. Word processing and document editing
  4. Occasional mathematical modeling
  5. Administering  Unix based servers

I have tried to come up with a computer-model agnostic specifications for my needs.


* High Processor speed (2.60GHZ or above)

* High Memory (4GB or above)

* Medium Hard-disk space (160GB and above)

* Long Battery life ( 5hours and above)

* Durable external cover

* Ergonomic keys and mouse

* Support for multiple external devices(printers,Cameras,Microphones,Storage devices,monitors)

* Excellent support for wireless technologies

* Support for running multiple operating systems on the same machine

Size and weight

* Lightweight

* convenience while travelling while traveling

Operating System

* A Unix or Linux derived operating system

* Easy to upgrade at zero or minimal cost

* Free patches against known security holes and problems.


* Support for Open software standards

* Support for Microsoft, Adobe and other proprietary software vendor’s products


* Excellent inbuilt support against Malware, Trojans and viruses at minimal or no cost

* Support for locking the machine while away or against unauthorized login

* Ability to easily ‘tag’ the machine in case of theft

Price : Affordable and reasonable

Based on the above specifications I have evaluated two computers models that can satisfy the above needs.

1. A PC laptop computer running a Linux based operating system

2. An Apple Macintosh laptop computer

I have ruled out a Windows/DOS based Operating software because  Microsoft Windows based operating system cannot offer  support for open source standards and technologies. OS upgrade for windows is very expensive and the OS is highly prone to malware, Trojans and viruses. Most bioinformatics software and tools are developed on Unix or  Linux environment.

PC can support Linux installations even though one looses on hardware optimization. Linux has a relatively poor graphical user interface and functionality when compared to Mac OS or Windows. There is limited support for document processing, graphics and rich multimedia applications support. Linux does not support any of the Microsoft software applications natively. There are open source equivalents but most lack good support.

Apple Macintosh computers are based on Unix and open source technologies, they support both closed source and open source standards. The hardware is optimized and accelerated for the Apple mac OS. They offer excellent graphical user interface system, a powerful terminal for interaction with the OS, they are not prone to virus attacks, and they support long battery life as well as portability, ergonomics and a relatively within a  price range equivalent to a PC of the same specifications.

Given my budget constrains, I am thinking that a 2.53GHz Apple Macintosh 13 inch model with 4GB of memory is best for my needs. There is little price differences between the PC and Macintosh models based on my specifications. PC models do not favor Linux installations and Linux hardware support is not guaranteed. They however seem to have a more flexible price ranges depending on the manufacturers, vendors, quality and specifications.

I will keep Linux to run my server applications.



  1. Veronica

    Saw your post on twitter. I also considered a mac, but couldn’t get past the 13 inch screen and price tag. I got a similarly configured Toshiba recently for $700 and Ubuntu Jaunty runs well on it (haven’t had the guts to upgrade to Karmic yet). It was a tough decision though, I spent much time gazing at the Mac as I considered the options. I agree that sometime Linux does not adequately support all hardware and upgrades are tenuous. Let me know how the switch goes.

    • biorelated

      @veronica, yes it is a tough decision. If you had a new machine you could have gone for a straight upgrade and installation for karmic. This old laptop am using is running
      on karmic and except for the hardware failures i have had no problem, i actually think if it was windows it might have ground to a halt ages ago.

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