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#1
Hans van der Maarel

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I'm a pc user and have always been so, from the dark days of MS-DOS (3.21 is what I started with), through the first Windows on to today. But I want to change...

There's several reasons I am strongly considering moving to a Mac for:
  • Stability (I know it's possible to have a very stable Windows system, mine certainly is when I'm not trying to use it)
  • Longer practical lifespan (this is tied in with a decision by the Dutch tax office to change the write-off period for computer hardware from 3 to 5 years. I'm having enough problems getting 3 years of useful life out of a Windows box, let alone 5...)
  • Less legacy (even now, we're still feeling the effects of decisions made for the very first DOS versions)
  • Some of the software I sell and support comes in Mac and Windows versions. I feel I should be able to at least run both flavors in order to be able to support my clients.
So my plan, for the moment, is to try and move my existing Windows computer setup (1 desktop and 1 laptop) to an all dual-boot Mac outfit over the next 12-18 months, starting with the laptop (got my eye on the 15" MacBook Pro).

There's some questions I still have and hopefully you can give me some answers (any other suggestions you may have are more than welcome of course)

Windows XP and Vista currently have some issues when it comes to handling more than 2Gb of RAM. Seems to me that unless you have both a 64-bit operating system and the application you're running is 64-bit too, you can't really use the extra memory to its fullest potential. How is that on Mac?

If I partition a part of the hard drive for Windows use (I guess that would be NTFS then, as FAT32 doesn't really cut it anymore with large disks), MacOS will be able to see that partition, right? On the other hand, Windows won't be able to see the Mac filesystem. So apps should go on their respective OS drive, and all data can go on an NTFS drive in order to be useable on both sides?

Price is one thing holding me back. The MacBook Pro isn't that bad really (although the euro pricing on Macs is terrible, the same number as in the US, but with a € instead of a $...) but the desktop Mac is going to cost me... (then again, two dual-core Intels, 4 Gb of Ram and 3 juicy hard drives is going to cost me bigtime in pc hardware too...). If I want to cut back on cost, I can just add 'non-Apple' memory and hard drives, right? It's all compatible, as far as I've been able to tell.

That's it so far, but I'm sure I'll have more questions later on...
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#2
kevinpaulscarrott

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I'm a pc user and have always been so, from the dark days of MS-DOS (3.21 is what I started with), through the first Windows on to today. But I want to change...

There's several reasons I am strongly considering moving to a Mac for:

  • Stability (I know it's possible to have a very stable Windows system, mine certainly is when I'm not trying to use it)
  • Longer practical lifespan (this is tied in with a decision by the Dutch tax office to change the write-off period for computer hardware from 3 to 5 years. I'm having enough problems getting 3 years of useful life out of a Windows box, let alone 5...)
  • Less legacy (even now, we're still feeling the effects of decisions made for the very first DOS versions)
  • Some of the software I sell and support comes in Mac and Windows versions. I feel I should be able to at least run both flavors in order to be able to support my clients.
So my plan, for the moment, is to try and move my existing Windows computer setup (1 desktop and 1 laptop) to an all dual-boot Mac outfit over the next 12-18 months, starting with the laptop (got my eye on the 15" MacBook Pro).

There's some questions I still have and hopefully you can give me some answers (any other suggestions you may have are more than welcome of course)

Windows XP and Vista currently have some issues when it comes to handling more than 2Gb of RAM. Seems to me that unless you have both a 64-bit operating system and the application you're running is 64-bit too, you can't really use the extra memory to its fullest potential. How is that on Mac?

If I partition a part of the hard drive for Windows use (I guess that would be NTFS then, as FAT32 doesn't really cut it anymore with large disks), MacOS will be able to see that partition, right? On the other hand, Windows won't be able to see the Mac filesystem. So apps should go on their respective OS drive, and all data can go on an NTFS drive in order to be useable on both sides?

Price is one thing holding me back. The MacBook Pro isn't that bad really (although the euro pricing on Macs is terrible, the same number as in the US, but with a € instead of a $...) but the desktop Mac is going to cost me... (then again, two dual-core Intels, 4 Gb of Ram and 3 juicy hard drives is going to cost me bigtime in pc hardware too...). If I want to cut back on cost, I can just add 'non-Apple' memory and hard drives, right? It's all compatible, as far as I've been able to tell.

That's it so far, but I'm sure I'll have more questions later on...


Just a quick hello again Hans,

BBC World Click had a few comments from viewers today on Windows vs. Mac.
Nothing much on the technical side but definitely worth watching.
Streaming media on.
http://www.bbcworld....ture.aspx?id=18

The XP/Vista - AppleMac segment is about half way through.

Best wishes,
Kevin Paul

#3
Adam Wilbert

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I'll take a stab at a few of these:

If I partition a part of the hard drive for Windows use (I guess that would be NTFS then, as FAT32 doesn't really cut it anymore with large disks), MacOS will be able to see that partition, right? On the other hand, Windows won't be able to see the Mac filesystem. So apps should go on their respective OS drive, and all data can go on an NTFS drive in order to be useable on both sides?


Sort of. Macs can read NTFS drives, but can't write to them. If you want full read/write from the mac and windows, the drive needs to be FAT32 as that is, I believe, the only common file system between the two OSs. I believe there is software available for the windows side that will allow it to read/write onto a mac HFS+ partition, but I've never used it. I just set up a drop box folder on my windows partition (FAT32) and store files in there that I need to have access to from both systems. The other option is, as you state, to give each OS its native file system (HFS+ for the mac apps, NTFS or WinFS down the road for the XP/Vista apps), then use a completely separate FAT32 drive for all of your data. If you plan on splitting your time between both platforms evenly, this is probably the best option.

If I want to cut back on cost, I can just add 'non-Apple' memory and hard drives, right? It's all compatible, as far as I've been able to tell.


Sure. I'm not sure exactly what memory the newer macs use, but its just off-the-shelf memory. Same for hard drives. I've bought mine from NewEgg.com and saved a bundle over the apple store prices.

Hope that helps.
-Adam

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#4
Hans van der Maarel

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Thanks Adam. Bummer on the NTFS writing, but it appears this may help.

Also, it would be most pressing for the planned desktop, which I probabely won't be buying for at least another year. Who knows what will change in MacOS X in that timeframe.

I only use the laptop for on-the-road work and training courses, so I can just store the data on the appropriate partition there (and transfer back and forth using a FAT32 usb hard drive...)
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#5
frax

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I would really,really not recommend FAT for data of any importance!
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#6
Adam Wilbert

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I would really,really not recommend FAT for data of any importance!


Good point. But even the most robust file system will not be as good as a frequent backup routine. :)

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#7
natcase

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Price is one thing holding me back. The MacBook Pro isn't that bad really (although the euro pricing on Macs is terrible, the same number as in the US, but with a € instead of a $...) but the desktop Mac is going to cost me... (then again, two dual-core Intels, 4 Gb of Ram and 3 juicy hard drives is going to cost me bigtime in pc hardware too...). If I want to cut back on cost, I can just add 'non-Apple' memory and hard drives, right? It's all compatible, as far as I've been able to tell.


Hans:

Is there any reason not to buy in the US? The dollar being the sinkhole it is now (and looks to be for the future) that seems like an absurd price differential to pay. I'd be suprised if it weren't price-adjusted in Europe over the next year.

We've found our pricing in the US direct from Apple is about the best we can get, but we also have a sales rep at Apple and have sometimes gotten modest discounts when buying multiple systems at once; you might find something similar if you buy the laptop and desktop at the same time. For software and peripherals, we use ProVantage.

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#8
Hans van der Maarel

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Is there any reason not to buy in the US? The dollar being the sinkhole it is now (and looks to be for the future) that seems like an absurd price differential to pay. I'd be suprised if it weren't price-adjusted in Europe over the next year.


Import duties, which will be pretty hefty on computer hardware. All goods shipped to me from outside the European Union are declared at customs, who will charge me the import tax. Unless the value is under a certain treshold, but that's just a few hundred €, nowhere near enough to buy any Mac hardware.

Potentially I could get a better deal in one of the other Euro countries. Germany can be pretty good for hardware sometimes, and they use the same power sockets, but then there's the issue of warranty (which is not necessarily covering foreign countries) and the fact I have to watch out that I don't get a German version of the OS along with a German keyboard layout. Then again, supposedly there is a Dutch keyboard layout available too, but nobody over here uses that... Apple is offering it though <_<
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#9
erik

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Are you considering using VMware Fusion? Then sharing filesystems becomes a lot less problematical.

I recommend getting anywhere from 4 to 8GB of RAM for heavy duty map work where Adobe CS3 is part of the process.

Yes, it is true that even on Leopard which is 64 bit OS, not all applications are immediately ready to use > 32 bits of addressability. However there is a lot to be said for providing each application (and your virtual Windows environment) as much memory as they can use.

erik


Windows XP and Vista currently have some issues when it comes to handling more than 2Gb of RAM. Seems to me that unless you have both a 64-bit operating system and the application you're running is 64-bit too, you can't really use the extra memory to its fullest potential. How is that on Mac?

If I partition a part of the hard drive for Windows use (I guess that would be NTFS then, as FAT32 doesn't really cut it anymore with large disks), MacOS will be able to see that partition, right? On the other hand, Windows won't be able to see the Mac filesystem. So apps should go on their respective OS drive, and all data can go on an NTFS drive in order to be useable on both sides?

Price is one thing holding me back. The MacBook Pro isn't that bad really (although the euro pricing on Macs is terrible, the same number as in the US, but with a € instead of a $...) but the desktop Mac is going to cost me... (then again, two dual-core Intels, 4 Gb of Ram and 3 juicy hard drives is going to cost me bigtime in pc hardware too...). If I want to cut back on cost, I can just add 'non-Apple' memory and hard drives, right? It's all compatible, as far as I've been able to tell.

That's it so far, but I'm sure I'll have more questions later on...



#10
natcase

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Potentially I could get a better deal in one of the other Euro countries. Germany can be pretty good for hardware sometimes, and they use the same power sockets, but then there's the issue of warranty (which is not necessarily covering foreign countries) and the fact I have to watch out that I don't get a German version of the OS along with a German keyboard layout. Then again, supposedly there is a Dutch keyboard layout available too, but nobody over here uses that... Apple is offering it though <_<


Apple products generally are dual-voltage (doesn't take care of the plug shape, but your average electrics shop will have those of course), and the OS installers I've used recently have all been multilingual (i.e. pick your language when you run the installer).

Are EU import duties really 46%? That's what the Euro is running vs the dollar these days (yow).

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#11
Hans van der Maarel

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Apple products generally are dual-voltage (doesn't take care of the plug shape, but your average electrics shop will have those of course), and the OS installers I've used recently have all been multilingual (i.e. pick your language when you run the installer).

Are EU import duties really 46%? That's what the Euro is running vs the dollar these days (yow).


The plug isn't really going to be the problem (although, as one of my friends can confirm, you do not want to set the power unit to 110 and then plug it into 220... kinda makes sense of course, but he had to go and test it). It's the keyboard :)

Import duties aren't, as far as I know, 46% on hardware. Part of the higher price would be the retailer markup...
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#12
mike

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Hans, to answer your Windows XP/Vista RAM question, here is a good thread I found:
http://www.pro-netwo...pic.php?t=88544

Basically, the 32-bit versions of XP and Vista are only able to handle 2gb regularly. With the Memory Remapping disabled in the BIOS, the OS will show 3gb. Whether it is using 3gb efficiently is another story. You may fair better using the 64-bit versions, because they will show and use the full amount of RAM available.

If you do end up getting an Apple (Macbook Pro or Mac Pro), it is probably wise to get as much RAM (3rd party non-Apple RAM) as you can afford. You can get some here: http://eshop.macsale...p/apple/memory/. It's much cheaper than Apple custom configurations and some of the RAM is Apple certified. You can probably do well with 4gb of RAM. 8gb of RAM if you really needed it.

If you are running a dual boot or virtual windows (Parallels or VMware) I will have to say be careful. We are running Parallels in my dept and there are definitely bugs when running both at the same time.

#13
Hans van der Maarel

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If you are running a dual boot or virtual windows (Parallels or VMware) I will have to say be careful. We are running Parallels in my dept and there are definitely bugs when running both at the same time.


Is Parallels actually feasible for running hard-core GIS stuff? I'm sure editing a Word document or checking email will work just fine, but the kind of stuff I'm (and all of us here, basically) doing goes a bit further than that :)
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#14
erik

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I've been doing a fair amount of heavy crunching using Global Mapper and other mapping programs under VMware Fusion 1.0 and now 1.1. It has worked flawlessly for my purposes, and I am really appreciative of the fact that it can utilize two CPU cores of your system. However I do not do any printing, gaming, complex networking (say VPN), or GPS device interaction from this virtual environment, so I can't attest to how good those types of things are. I get the sense that there are more problems with Parallels, but that is not firsthand, just from reading MacFixit and http://www.macwindows.com/. Before choosing Fusion I read a lot (like every one) of reviews of the two packages.

erik

#15
mike

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If you are running a dual boot or virtual windows (Parallels or VMware) I will have to say be careful. We are running Parallels in my dept and there are definitely bugs when running both at the same time.


Is Parallels actually feasible for running hard-core GIS stuff? I'm sure editing a Word document or checking email will work just fine, but the kind of stuff I'm (and all of us here, basically) doing goes a bit further than that :)


From what I have read and talked to ESRI support, ArcGIS installs fine through Parallels or VMware. Basic processing and functions work without any problems, but some users report that more demanding geoprocessing tasks cause performance to become sluggish. Another option is to run WindowsXP through Bootcamp. Users report that there are little to no problems in performance using this method. However, if you want to use Mac based Adobe CS3 to handle any exports from ArcGIS, then you will have to reboot and enter OSX, which can be a hassle if you like to switch back and forth between OSX and XP.




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