I remember writing a review of an iBook some years ago. Honestly, the thing was a lemon and because of this I opted out of even pondering on buying another Apple computer. I liked PPC processors (RISC based) but since these were and still are on a downward spiral for desktop use (the opposite is true for game stations), I reasoned that my next investment would be an AMD –only somewhat RISC-like. Even so, AMD too was on a downward spiral considering that they were behind Intel in laptop suited processor design a few years ago … what with Intel’s _Centrino_ and all.
When I found my iBook doing a system-wide breakdown halfway through an university gig, I went against my previous conviction and again considered purchasing another Mac –a MacBook Pro running a late 2006, 2.6 GHz Intel Core Duo model. This, not for my previous experience (obviously) but for the default reliable UNIX OS, hoping that Apple had learned from previous mass production related quality problems (as with my old iBook). Well, its performs like a champ. To my chagrin, it feels incredibly fast compared to its PPC predecessors. It seems that Apple has also learned from its barrage of Airport Extreme emails concerning Libre hardware support, and their fiasco in choosing Broadcom on their iBooks (maybe not, as the new Santa Rosa uses a NVidia video card). On my MacBook Pro, both Airport Extreme (an Atheros card) and iSight have Libre software support. I had an over-heating problem early on and got the entire motherboard replaced. It doesn’t come close to getting hot anymore and I didn’t have to lather it with “heat gel”, as some Mac enthusiasts claimed when this issue came to air. I’ve tried a friend’s Mac Book (without “Pro”) and find it not nearly as responsive (it intermittently lags noticeably).
What about my personal commitment to not buy another Apple computer, not to mention a repulsion to evil Intel? Well, I risked it on account that it gave me a quick stable UNIX-like system off the bat, knowing full well that Gnu-Linux (and BSD) support takes time and more so on Mac hardware because they sometimes use obscure hardware. ie., MacTels do not use BIOS but Extensible Firmware Interface [EFI] which inhabilitates video acceleration unless BIOS emulation is enabled with Boot Camp. I needed a reasonably reliable production system for university work –barring another system-wide hardware failure– and OS X as a bastard child of FreeBSD and NetBSD lineage qualifies. As for my Tiger OS X pet peeves, read my “Show Stoppers, OS X vs. BSD & Gnu-Linux“.
Again to my chagrin, I haven’t veered all that far off course as NetBSD documentation demonstrates my MacBook Pro does not really have an Intel processor!!! From the corresponding NetBSD MacBook install guide,
“As mentioned above you’ll need a -current release of NetBSD for the AMD64 architecture (Intel licensed the AMD64 instructions and re-named them to hide their shame at having the Itanic rejected by Microsoft).”
Now I don’t know if Intel has bought AMD processors and just relabelled them or makes them in home to AMD specifications or takes the AMD instruction set and incorporates Intel design, thus, innovating –but my friends laughed at the shame of opting for a competitor’s chip instruction set. But then again, it takes courage to stand up and recognize that a competitor has a better product, and then borrow it.
I assume this puts a damper on Libre projects trying to get MacBook Pro supported via their i386 versions. In contrast, they should concentrate support via their AMD ports! Hint: FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Debian install guides suggest installing i386 versions, presumably because the processor has the Intel name-brand.
I’ve figured out that the Intel 2 Cores are 64 bit (not the Intel Core Duo [Yonah] as previously thought), and that these 64 bit CPUs are the presumed processors that use the AMD instruction set, incorporated into the second generation MacBook Pros with the NVidia cards.
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