PCs are Protestant and Macs are Catholic and

Well according to Umberto Eco. The old dispute is given theological clothing in this piece by Stephen Evans of the BBC in North America. Thanks to reader Emmett!

The Italian philosopher, Umberto Eco, once wrote, tongue only partly in cheek, that Macintosh is Catholic while Microsoft computers are Protestant. …

Macs, Umberto Eco opined, were “cheerful, friendly, conciliatory,” traits he associated with Catholicism. More to the point, though, their way of operating was different from Microsoft’s, giving more guidance to users.

He saw that as like Catholicism, in contrast to the Protestant faith which he thought, like Microsoft computers, would “allow free interpretation of scripture, demand difficult personal decisions… And take for granted that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself”.

  • Alan2

    “allow free interpretation of scripture”

    hmm. Protestantism is based on the simple unchangeable word of God. Its message is plain and clear.

  • El Matador

    I woke up one morning to find my PC had grown a sash.

  • la dolorosa

    I have a green imac – is that a double whammy????

  • sean west

    I wonder what is on Copelands PC.
    NO crooks in government.

  • la dolorosa

    I have a green imac – is that a double whammy????

  • Mick

    Sean, that’s a Yellow Card. Try looking at your post for signs of man playing before you hit the send button!

    Yellow is a warning. It’s only followed by a red (two week’s exclusion, if the man play persists).

    I’ve just posted on this subject. See above, for the reasoning.

  • Alan2

    My PC`s definitely a Prod. It never does what it is told and constantly tells me I am in error. 😉

  • Alan McDonald

    I normally don’t chime in on matters of religion, but when far right Catholics and Protestants get together here in the USA, I have to worry.

  • Davros

    How many Mac users have we here ? I know one regular uses a Mac as he posted about it.
    I’m PC – in the computer sense 😉

  • Sol

    muslims, jews, hindus??

  • SeamusG

    Can you only download tunes from a PC to an i-Prod?

  • barney

    “Can you only download tunes from a PC to an i-Prod?” Ha ha ha, what a typo!

    SeamusG, shouldn’t that be ‘from a RC to an i-Prod’?

  • SeamusG

    Barney, it wasn’t a typo 😉

  • Sol

    on win mx there was a christian discussion group/chatroom thing, naturally I pointed out that dl’ing music without paying the artist was stealing… got also of interesting comments chucked at me.

  • Henry94

    I’m a liberal Macatholic.

    I’m hoping that whoever succeeds Steve Jobs will tell ups that PCs are just as good.

    And that we really do need anti-virus software.

    And that when joining similar devices toghether a straight through cable is just as legitimate as a crossover cable except for the fact that it won’t actually work.

  • seamusg

    I guessed it wasn’t. Very clever.

  • barney

    Not again! Sorry for nicking you title on top of your joke SG.
    My laptop is lapsed.

  • SeamusG

    Excommunicate it!

  • Rebecca Black

    that can’t be right, I have a mac!! Although to be honest I do prefer PCs

  • Mr. Bingley

    I’m confused. I was raised a catholic, married a prot, became a prot…and we’ve always used macs.

  • SeamusG

    Well Mr Bingley, as Mary O’Malley said, “Once a Catholic”…..

  • Alan

    All so much episcopal waffle!

    You’re all deliberately ignoring the dissenters at Linux – make it up yourself as you go along and offer it free to everyone. A bit like the racier side of windows. Does anyone on the thread use Linux?

    I’m PC myself, mainly because I’m too frightened to re-partition and step into the void – very freudian!

  • maca

    “Does anyone on the thread use Linux?”

    I intend to dabble sometime in the future. Re-partition is the way to go.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alan, I use Linux (usually under VMWare on Windows). Part of my job is to write device Linux device drivers so I’m a sort of high priest of the whacky Linux cult. Usually I run Windows because it’s handy for many things, particularly games and writing documents which other people can read easily.

    Henry94, personally I don’t run either a virus checker – I’ve never had a virus – or a spyware scanner because my machine is properly configured and I don’t stupidly open attachments sent by anonymous people. Given the high cost of Mac hardware and the limited availability of expansion parts and software, I don’t think you have a lot to laugh about.

  • Henry94

    Comrade Stalin

    If you are running a PC and using the internet then you are making a mistake by not having a anti-spyware program and an anti-virus program. But if you believed you will be saved (from intruders) just because you think you are then carry on. In the context of the current discussion it is very amusing.

    I don’t find Macs expensive considering what one gets and I have all the software I need to do what I want to do as a home user.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “If you are running a PC and using the internet then you are making a mistake by not having a anti-spyware program and an anti-virus program.”

    What mistake ? Tell me about the intrusion risks on my machine and explain to me why I’ve never had one.

  • Henry94

    I have in my life met drivers who claim they are well able to drive after a few pints and as evidence point to the fact that they’d never had a crash because they are careful. You are operating on the same logic and it makes as much sense.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Henry, Windows is perfectly secure for people who know how to configure it. I don’t get infected by spyware because I don’t install applications that contain it, nor do I run a web browser that executes ActiveX controls. There are no security vulnerabilities on my machine because I’ve switched off all the background services that are used during an attack.

    FWIW I’m a software developer and in a previous job I was a system administrator in a large business on a network with over 1500 Windows machines. I like to think I have an idea about what I’m doing. I might add that Apple machines feature almost nowhere in the business landscape which is dominated almost entirely by Windows. I can’t think of any places where Macs are used to run critical business infrastructure. Do you think that this is because businesses intentionally like taking risks by running Windows, or do you suspect that there is some other reason for this ?

    Macs are great machines and OS X is a great operating system (being based as it is on *BSD). I just hate the way a lot of Mac owners feel the need to evangelize on subjects they don’t know very much about.

  • Henry94

    Comrade Stalin

    It may be possible for an expert like yourself to setup a windows machine safely but they are sold to everybody and for the normal user that is not possible. As they are sold Macs are safe and Windows PeeCees are not. So Windows users have to go through a boring process of configuring anti-virus software or closing off services like you described

    in a previous job I was a system administrator in a large business on a network with over 1500 Windows machines

    Did you use anti-virus software on your network? Of course you did. Probably SUS as well to get the regular security patches required by the MS software.

    I just hate the way a lot of Mac owners feel the need to evangelize on subjects they don’t know very much about.

    I dislike the way some PC gurus like to blame users for the failures of the OS.

  • mick hall

    Henry and Stalin, forgive me for being opportunist but I need a new computer, I thought about getting an apple ibook 14 inch screen. do you feel this would be a good decision or is there another laptop you can recommend in the same price rage. I need a laptop for email on the move and surfing the web, I do not play games on my computer. … i looked at a toshiba tecra today which was light and seemed to have what I need, wireless hookup, etc.

    Any ideas, if you prefer to discuss this off list i can send you my email address.


  • Gerry O’Sullivan

    mick hall

    I got a 14″ iBook last year, and am delighted with it. The Mac is an excellent choice as a home/work computer and the OS is a joy to use. The iBook now comes with an Airport wi-fi card as standard, so you have wireless access to the internet straight out of the box.

    Mac users don’t encounter anything like the same sort of security issues as PC users. Viruses, trojans and spyware are not big issues. There are very few Mac viruses compared to PCs. Mac doesn’t recognise the .exe file format, which is often used by virus creators.

    If you’re into photos, music, movies, etc, your needs are handsomely served by the iLife suite of programmes.

    One of the biggest myths about Macs is that you can’t share files with PC users. This is not the case. Most common graphic and movie file formats are cross-platform compatible. You can get a Mac version of Microsoft Office and create native Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents that are fully compatible with PCs.

    Price sometimes puts people off, but you get a lot of computer for your money, and it’s money well spent.

  • Mick Hall


    Thanks very much for the info.

    All the best,


  • Shay Paul


    Mac OsX is based on BSD (Unix kernel) so you can run Unix directly on the shell. Darwin is the open source version available free, so Linux is so simple on this solid framework.

  • maca

    Gerry /Mick

    “You can get a Mac version of Microsoft Office…”

    And why would you do such a thing. Open Office is just as good as MS Office and is FREE and will soon be available as Gaeilge. 😉

    Thanks for the info, i’ll have to look closer at that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “As they are sold Macs are safe and Windows PeeCees are not. So Windows users have to go through a boring process of configuring anti-virus software or closing off services like you described”

    This is what I mean by evangelism; you’re being rather misleading. Viruses exist for the Macintosh, and anti-virus software has been produced which runs on the Macintosh. For that reason I’m rather unsure where you get your certainty that you can plug in a Mac and never get a virus.

    I certainly would agree that the Macintosh lacks some of the stupider security weaknesses that Windows machines have. On a balance of probability a novice user running either type of machine out of the box is less likely to get a Mac virus, but that does not mean it is impossible. In either case, a certain amount of clue is required to operate either type of computer to have absolute certainty (or close to it) that virus infection is an impossibility. Computers are not consumer appliances and they require a certain amount of clue to use despite the way they are marketed alongside washing machines and televisions. That probably sounds rather elitist. I’m all for everyone having the ability to own a computer, I think it’s great that the technology has become so democratized (and it keeps me in a job), but it doesn’t get around the simple fact that they are very complex – and rather boring – devices.

    The reason why Windows is a target for virus writers and trojans has a lot to do with it’s ubiquitousness; no piece of software is completely free of exploitable bugs which can be manipulated by viruses, and it is a very serious mistake to believe that OSX is incapable of virus infection.

    By the way, yes in the business in question we did indeed run a virus checker on all the machines, as do all businesses which 99% of the time will have a comprehensive computer security policy (at all levels of the business, whether it’s the desktop machines or the large mainframes). I can promise you that if any business ever got to the point where it was running a Mac, a virus checker would be installed on that too.

    “I dislike the way some PC gurus like to blame users for the failures of the OS. “

    This is just a matter of personal preference. I prefer to be in control of the computer. Your point of view suggests that the computer should control the user and work to clean up and prevent whenever the user trips up (such as double clicking a malicious attachment in an email). The latter is valid enough, except it is wrong to assume that the computer will be capable of catching everything that goes wrong.

    Mick Hall, personally I see nothing to disagree with in Gerry O’Sullivan’s comments. If you play with the iBook and like it, go for it. The only gotcha you need to watch for is that PCs are a bit cheaper and less costly to fix or maintain when they go wrong; a Mac user might want to give an opinion of where to go in NI to get your Mac fixed (I can’t think of anywhere myself). But that’s unlikely to be a problem given the intended use you have.

    Shay Paul, in pedant mode, BSD isn’t strictly speaking a UNIX but a UNIX system-like 🙂 To boot Linux all you need is a bootloader that is capable of running it and a kernel compiled for that platform. The fact that the Mac runs OSX doesn’t inherently mean it is better suited for Linux. On the other hand, OSX is so good that it’s hard to think of a good reason to run Linux on your Mac these days.

  • Mick Hall

    what would you guys say is the best way to connect to the WWW whilst travelling, bar using hotspots, which as you are aware are not available everywhere.



  • Comrade Stalin

    There are only two major ways to connect to the Internet while on the move, wifi hotspots as you have said, and dialup internet using a mobile phone. These days that is accomplished via GPRS. You connect a cable from the computer to your phone and then you can dial an ISP. The mobile phone provider bills you for the quantity of data you exchange.

    GPRS is only really suitable for picking up email or doing light surfing. Since you’re getting billed by the byte, heavy surfing with lots of big images to download will become expensive quickly. I imagine this gets even more expensive if you’re “roaming” abroad.