Ubuntu and macOS have a long history of being two of the most revolutionary and popular operating systems, and they continue to be relevant today. They were first released in 2004 and 1999, respectively. Ever since their initial introduction, professionals (especially programmers and other IT professionals) have debated which is the ideal system.

First things first: let’s establish what an operating system is and how it’s going to help or hurt you. An operating system, usually abbreviated as OS, is a special kind of program that acts as a middleman between you and the hardware, software, and other programs on your computer. 

The kind of OS you use will impact a variety of computer functions. It will change what computers you can use, what software you can reasonably or easily run, and even your privacy.

Different operating systems also have varying levels of stability. In other words, the likelihood of the OS failing or encountering errors is lower with more stable systems.

Windows OS, which is developed by Microsoft, is the most popular OS as of 2022. But it’s actually less stable and less secure than both Ubuntu and macOS. The appeal of Microsoft Windows is that it’s easy to use and is very compatible with popular software like Microsoft Suite.

Fundamentally, different operating systems will have different strengths and weaknesses. In the case of Ubuntu and macOS, the only way to know which is the better operating system is to review them in detail.

Ubuntu vs. MacOS: A Side-by-Side Comparison

UbuntumacOS
DeveloperCanonical (open-source)Apple
CustomizabilityHigh (you can change the UI to whatever you want)Low (you mostly have to stick with the design you’re given)
Security/PrivacyStrong security and privacyStrong security and weak privacy
PerformanceVery goodExtremely good (made for usage on the hardware it runs on)
CostAlways free (open-source)Free with a Macbook

Ubuntu vs. macOS: What’s the Difference?

A high-level comparison can’t really shed light on the most meaningful differences between Ubuntu and macOS. In the spirit of showing what both operating systems are really about, let’s go a little deeper.

Ubuntu

One of the oldest families of operating systems is Linux. This OS group includes Ubuntu, and all of them have the key benefit of being incredibly flexible. It’s all thanks to the fact that Linux (and every OS based on it) is open-source.

If you’re constantly finding yourself trying to push the boundaries of what your operating system can do, then you’re the main audience of Linux-based OS. You can easily create scripts to automate tasks or make things simpler––that is, so long as you are comfortable writing scripts.

That flexibility is the main area where Ubuntu clearly trumps the competition. You can customize and script it to a high degree, including changing the UI to anything you want. You can even make it identical to either Windows or macOS interfaces if you really want.

Ubuntu also has an advantage when it comes to price. Although it’s true that both operating systems are technically free, you’ll need to purchase a Macbook in order to have access to macOS. 

Ubuntu’s resource efficiency, security, and overall stability are all impressive. Whether or not they’re meaningfully better than macOS has yet to be seen, though. As far as we can tell, Ubuntu and macOS are very close to being tied in these areas. macOS does have a slight advantage in this category, but more on that later.

Overall, Ubuntu is a great choice for programmers. With its wide access to IDEs, text editors, and other programming software combined with its other advantages, it’s no wonder that Ubuntu is so well-loved.

Ubuntu Linux server desktop
Ubuntu is completely open-source, so users love its flexibility.

macOS

macOS was developed by Apple explicitly for use on Macbook computers. In fact, you can’t use Apple’s operating system unless you own a Macbook computer. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, and the only real workaround is to go the ‘Hackintosh’ route. Trying to convert a computer to using macOS can be a real chore, though, which is what a Hackintosh entails.

Thankfully, Apple’s hardware is usually top-notch. It’s beautiful, clean, and integrates perfectly with macOS. There are stability and performance benefits that come with having hardware designed for an OS.

Everything works together seamlessly because Apple designs the entire setup and won’t let you deviate from it, which is why you might hear macOS referred to as a “walled garden.” 

Generally, Macbooks (and macOS) are popular amongst art, video, music, and other design professionals. They’re well-optimized with the hardware that’s used for these kinds of tasks. Macs doubtlessly are better than Linux-based systems like Ubuntu or Microsoft Windows in this context.

For programming, which is where Ubuntu joins the competition, the difference isn’t as large. Efficiency and stability improvements are really minute in the scheme of things. The software you have access to might also be better, but it depends heavily on your profession.

A pitfall of macOS is that, although it has great stability, its privacy is not as great. Ubuntu is an open-source Linux-based operating system. This means that it won’t store your information or send it back to the developers for any reason.

macOS and the Macbooks that they come along with have amazing benefits. Still, you need to weigh whether or not Apple’s walled garden approach is going to be right for you.

Ubuntu vs. MacOS: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Ubuntu has better privacy than macOS as an open-source operating system.
  • macOS is slightly better in resource efficiency and stability because it has hardware (Macbooks) specially designed to be compatible with it.
  • Ubuntu is part of the Linux family of operating systems, which are all open-source and highly customizable.
  • You’ll likely have a difficult time using Ubuntu if you’re not comfortable with scripting, command lines, and heavy customization.
  • When considering cost, you need to factor in the cost of the Apple product you’ll need to purchase to get access to macOS.

Ubuntu vs. MacOS: Which Should You Pick?

Although you might be feeling more lost than when you started, the choice between Ubuntu and macOS isn’t as complicated as you might think.

At the end of the day, which you should pick simply depends on your individual needs and your situation. Neither OS is explicitly better than the other. They’re just different, and that difference only matters if it’s relevant to what you’ll spend your time doing.

If you need a Macbook for one reason or another, then macOS is the obvious choice. Some people are more familiar with the UI or have fallen in love with the crisp designs that Apple uses. It’s okay to have that be your deciding factor, so long as you make sure it’s what you care about the most.

There are a lot of factors that you can choose to prioritize when selecting an operating system. If you care the most about keeping things budget-friendly, then Ubuntu is a clear winner. You can apply the same principle to other features you might care about, like customizability, software options, and hardware.

The best way to pick between Ubuntu and macOS is to look through what you’re currently using and what you want to use in the future. Is there certain software that you can’t imagine living without? What kinds of programs and tools do you regularly use? Can you be flexible when it comes to UI, or do you despise how Mac is set up?

You should pick the operating system that keeps your workflow as intact as possible. There’s no point in disrupting something that’s working fine for you just because you heard it might be better, or some people prefer it.

All in all, Ubuntu and macOS are both solid picks for operating systems but your specific needs determine which is best for you.

Ubuntu vs. macOS: Pros and Cons for Programmers FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is Linux or macOS better for programming?

Neither Linux nor macOS have the upper hand when it comes to programming. Linux operating systems have more flexibility, customization, and privacy. macOS comes with solid hardware in the form of a Macbook and better software options.

Technically, macOS is slightly more stable and resource-efficient because it runs on hardware specially made for it. The difference isn’t meaningful, though.

 

Is macOS better than Ubuntu?

macOS isn’t always better than Ubuntu, but it can be. Ubuntu is better if you want high levels of customizability and free reign over what you do. macOS, on the other hand, might give you better performance and has access to better software.

Which OS is better for coding?

Linux is widely known as the best family of operating systems for coding because of its flexibility, customizability, scripting capabilities, and its open-source nature. Other operating systems, like macOS, are also popular for coding.

Choosing a Linux/Unix-based OS or macOS is going to be the best for coding. Between those options, it comes down to individual needs.

Is Mac safer than Linux?

Macbooks probably aren’t safer than Linux, but the difference between the two is not substantial. However, Linux does have unique tools available for security purposes– for example, sandboxing processes. Either way, both operating systems are safer than Microsoft Windows.

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