Add to that the fact that I've found it a pain to get used to the method of installing things, and I've come to the following conclusion:
A modern beginner-oriented Linux distribution such as Ubuntu is considerably easier to use than a Mac.
Now, hear me out. These are the points I've found where Linux is easier to use:
- The desktop. Ubuntu, for instance, has Applications, Places and Systems on the top panel by default, and the Application menu is broken down into categories so it's always easy to track down what you want, and other desktops such as KDE and Xfce are similarly easy to navigate. If you want a launcher, you can install Gnome Do as it's available in Hardy. By comparison, a Mac has no equivalent menu for launching applications. OK, the Dock is pretty prevalent, but it only shows a subset of applications, and if you aren't familiar with them then the only way that you can find out what does what is by trying it. And yes, you can open them in Finder, but that means opening one application to open another, which is a bit of a waste of time. Spotlight is OK, but it takes a bit of getting used to - it's not as good as either Katapult in KDE or Gnome Do in Gnome. Also, it's tiny and hidden away in a corner, while both Katapult and Gnome Do are big, friendly launchers that appear dead in the centre of the screen. To get something comparable on a Mac, you need Quicksilver.
- Installing new software. In Ubuntu, you can open Add/Remove Applications, pick out what you want and install it, or you can use Synaptic to get a list of everything you can install, and again can just pick out what you want, and with a few clicks whatever you want will be installed. By comparison, on a Mac you have to go to the web page, download whatever it is you want, then mess around dragging it into a folder, then you have to delete the dmg file from your desktop.
- Compiling from source. It's rare to have to compile from source these days, and with Ubuntu you're more likely to see new versions available in the repositories, so you probably have to do so less than on a Mac. And if you do, it's made easier to remove it later by installing the checkinstall package. By using checkinstall instead of make install, you create a deb package which can be easily removed using the package manager if necessary. As far as I can see, there's no equivalent to this on a Mac.
- Out of the box functionality. A Mac does "just work" quite well. But so does Ubuntu. I've only EVER had two problems in using Ubuntu or Kubuntu - one was the fact that my wireless card had a driver which didn't support WPA, so I had to use Ndiswrapper to get it working with the Windows drivers. The other was a DNS problem which was to do with my router. I've never had to mess around with my X.org or recompile my kernel, or install any other drivers. And this is on an OS that didn't come preinstalled! To be a truly fair comparison you'd have to compare both preinstalled and installing it yourself on your own machine, as only a "like-to-like" comparison is really fair. A machine that comes with Ubuntu preinstalled "just works" as much as a Mac does, whereas building a hackintosh is MUCH harder than getting Ubuntu working on another machine, and not many non-Apple machines will work at all with OS X, whereas most will work with Ubuntu.
- Greater range of preinstalled applications. OK, apps like iMovie, PhotoBooth and Garageband are fun to mess around with, but they are the ONLY ones that don't have equivalents preinstalled in Ubuntu. Ubuntu has more useful things, such as the OpenOffice suite, Evolution (which includes a calendar), the Pidgin IM client (which supports more different protocols than iChat does), The GIMP etc. And it's better supplied with games - there's about five or six, whereas a Mac has chess only!
- Better support for third-party media players. iPods are pretty well supported out of the box in Ubuntu or Kubuntu, as are many other music players, as both Rhythmbox and Amarok have wide-ranging support for third party devices. By comparison, trying to get a third-party device working in OS X is likely to involve having to install new software, if it will work at all.
And if you're a Mac fan - this is not an attack on OS X, having used it I do think it's a good OS, and constructive criticsm benefits Apple because it shows them where they could improve.