The Story Of Macs Beating Linux & Windows In Academia

Jack Perry was an Amiga user in the world of academia who did research into the field of mathematics. Mr. Perry has an encouraging tale to tell about his (unnamed) university of Macs winning out over both Linux and Windows in his field. Mr. Perry begins his tale with the explanation that he had to replace his Amiga machine, and how he chose to buy an iBook, while his department as a whole went the Linux route. That was three years ago, and today many of those Linux boxes are being replaced with Macs. From his story, which was published by

The biggest surprise came some weeks ago, when one of my officeis biggest Linux advocates showed up with a 12" PowerBook. Peter had just won a research award, and wanted a portable to take his work with him to conferences, or even on the road. He decided to buy a PowerBook. Why? He didnit want to spend two or three weeks researching which laptops were supported by Linux; nor did he want to waste time getting CygWin to work on a Windows box. He simply ordered a PowerBook, got it in the mail, and was using it the following weekend at ECCAD 2004 to give a talk using his TeX-generated slides (works great with Preview -- and probably with Acrobat as well) and to demonstrate the Maple program he wrote to implement his research. He wonit shut up about how cool iTunes is.

This caused quite the stir; Peter brought his PowerBook to a party at another colleagueis home. The goal was to test whether it worked with the apartmentis free wireless internet access. It seems Walker (the colleague hosting the party) has been considering buying an iBook himself, but he wanted to make sure the Airport Extreme card would pick up the apartmentis network. It was as easy as opening up the PowerBook: it woke from sleep, detected the network, and popped open a dialog, naming the network and asking if Peter wanted to join it.

The other mathematicians at the party (and two computer scientists as well) were eager to set their eyes on Peteris PowerBook; it made the rounds and won general acclaim. Quite a few expressed favorable opinions, and said they would look into acquiring one. There were the usual comments on its stylish looks and its gorgeous interface, including from Peter -- this from the man who used to mock me for my iBookis "eye candy" :-)

Triumph of triumphs: Peteris advisor -- he of the opinion that we Computer Algebraists should be using Linux instead of a Mac -- was impressed at the conference by Peteris PowerBook, and said he might have to get one.

The full story is quite interesting, and much longer (3 pages). Mr. Perry discusses some of the things he thinks Apple could be doing better when it comes to marketing to academia, and thereis a lot of background info about why Linux has been less of a success in his world than had been expected. We recommend it as a very interesting read.

Also, thanks to mrmgraphics for pointing us to this story in the TMO forums.