Why Dual Boot Macs are Irrelevant for Education, Too

Bootcamp for the Mac is a cool toy for Mac geeks, but is certainly no enticement to bring Macs into my school.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

I've said before that I really like the Mac OS. OS X is a beautiful, elegant, sophisticated and secure operating system. OS X Server is similarly a very solid network OS. I'd be perfectly happy to run all Mac all the time. And now you can dual boot Windows XP with OS X! Yawn. Since my hardware choices are largely dictated by cost, until I can pick up a 100 Macs for 200-300 a piece, I don't care how many operating systems they can boot. My students won't care either and I guarantee that the 95% who use Windows at home would boot into Windows at school.

A few fellow members of the geek squad here at my high school were incredibly excited at the prospect of dual boot Macs.  I have to admit that I even got a tingle of super-Mac goodness.  However, no matter how I feel about Microsoft or the various underdog players on the market, the truth of the matter is that until Apple licenses their software at a reasonable price for use on whatever white box can run it, I won't be bringing Macs into my school.

If I had the Linux expertise and time/budget to train students and teachers, chances are I'd be running some flavor of L'Unix.  Free and secure - how can you go wrong?  Again, though, Linux can run (if not always very well) on most of the cheap boxes I can throw at it.  I can't download Mac-Lite (but wouldn't that be cool!) and install it en masse, nor can I go to my local academic retailer and buy a volume license for OS X.

Besides, we all know after my countless blogs whining about it, that I'm running a big old network-o'-junk.  It doesn't take much horsepower to run XP or Linux (they may not run well, but you can fire 'em up and open Word, a web browswer, or OpenOffice).  OS X, on the other hand, is designed for high-end hardware.  The kind of hardware I will certainly not be able to afford anytime in the near future.

George Ou has compared prices between Apples and PCs recently ("Dude, The Mac Duo is Almost $1000 more!), and, to be honest, even if I could afford high-end hardware, why would I pay as much as a $1000-$1500 premium to have a Mac?  The new commercials with the guy in the T-shirt (representing a Mac) and the guy in the suit (representing a PC) are marketing genius.  But for as much time as I spend lobbying my adminstrators to run our district like a business, I'd be a hypocrite to spend significantly more on a Mac than a PC with equivalent performance.  Come on, Apple - Give us Mac-Lite for a free download and then we can talk.  Until then, Bootcamp would be just another expensive toy.  I'm dual-booting XP and Kubuntu just fine on the cheap.

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