Gary asks a follow-up question to How has open source helped or hindered?:

Why do you use Mac OS X as your laptop/desktop/development machines OS instead of a Linux distro?

There is really nothing religious about our use of open source. We use it because it’s better on the scales of merit that we care about. For infrastructure software, such as web servers, databases, server operating systems, programming languages, and web frameworks, the scales of merit lend themselves incredibly well to open-source development. Thus, we use it and are passionate about it.

For desktop operating systems? Not so much. There are just too many disciplines involved that programmers are not naturally good at and don’t have sufficient levels of taste to prepare masterfully. And programmers constitute the vast majority of builders in the open source community.

So it’s not unreasonable to think that these programmers will do exceptionally well when they’re designing for them and their kind, but at the same time do less well when they’re trying to figure out what makes a great iPhoto or iTunes or what have you.

Therefore I tend to think that open source is at a natural disadvantage at creating end-user applications, in which I include OS X and Linux destined for the desktop. It’s not impossible, just very hard.

Firefox is always heralded as a great example of good end-user software, but I do think that in part is because they’re mostly just doing great infrastructure advances (spec compliance, developer tools, security) in a familiar shell (how much difference is there between Firefox and the early browsers on the UI?).

Which interestingly enough is also how my usage of Firefox goes. I use it for development purposes (primarily because of the developer plugins, like Live HTTP Headers and Firebug) and I use Safari for recreational purposes.

So what I’m trying to say is that for me, OS X is just better on the scales of merit that I care about when it comes to an operating system that needs to be so generally applicable as to deal with my email, IM, browsing, music, pictures, productivity apps, and more.

In other words, I’ll stick to OS X on my Macbook Pro (tight integration between hardware, software, and services is the hallmark of OS X’s superiority), but be equally thrilled to use Linux and FreeBSD on the server.