apple, schmapple…

Well, I’ve been working in an all-Apple shop for 5 months now. Overall, things are great. The problems that arise are either really simple, or involve replacing hardware. Haven’t hit too many mysteries yet.

I’d have to say that my main source of frustration is “the Apple Way®”. For instance: We received a new Macbook 2 days ago. As part of our standard operating procedure, we netinstalled an image containing all the most common apps that we use with the latest (or so we thought) version of MacOS X (10.4.8). After a quick install, we were ready to set up the new user on the machine. For some reason, the Airport card wasn’t functioning properly. Odd. A call to AppleCare, and they recommended taking the machine to a service location. In our case, the 5th Ave. Apple Store 🙂

So, later that afternoon, I trot down to the Apple Store. Wow. At 3pm, it was crowded. Anyway, after a 30 minute wait at the “Genius Bar”, I get my turn. I tell the genius that the machine isn’t recognizing the Airport card and about our imaging procedure. He says it’s probably our image. “But I just imaged 3 other Macbooks with it and it was fine.”

“Well,” he says, “You really can only install these things from the discs that came with them.”

What?! Sure enough, when he booted the machine from his clean 10.4.8 installed on a Firewire drive, the Airport card worked like a charm.

This may sound all well and good. I mean, the genius solved the problem, right? No. This sucks. What this implies is that every time there’s even a slight change in the OS, every update, every driver, etc. , we’ll need to create a new install image. Ugh. The whole point of the install images was that we’d save a lot of time when there are weird things going on with a machine, and we just want to get it back to a sane state. We’ve just lost that ability. Thanks, Apple! We really appreciate your looking out for the admins out there.

This is merely the latest in a trend of design decisions seemingly targeted at making an admin’s life a living heck. For starters, the server admin tools are a hodge-podge of GUI and non-GUI activities. While I don’t mind this so much, most Mac admins these days aren’t UNIX folk.

It’s official. As of yesterday, I have begun the disenchantment phase of my relationship with the Mac. Or, maybe the infamous “Reality Distortion Field” is just wearing off. At any rate, my feelings boil down to this: Macs are great at home. In a networked environment, they’re not so hot.