Might be a case of people finally getting thoroughly fed up with Windows, which happened to me 16yrs ago! :-) Might also be the iOS halo effect. Or maybe more and more developers are finally coming to their senses and realizing that multiplatform is the way to go.
Any vendor that goes multiplatform definitely gets my interest. Microchip's IDE is a good recent example. Most software on the hobby end of the spectrum (e.g., Arduino) is multiplatform.
I find it interesting that a great majority of demos I've seen (images, videos) of multiplatform SW use a Mac :-) And, there's a fair bit of open-source SW that only has Mac & Unix/Linux versions (OS X being Unix of course).
Hear say hear say: I fully agree. We threw out our Windoze-PC's about 6 years ago and are very very happy. Even under emulation (Parallels) my CAD tools work great (under Windoze eXperimental Package) and the rest we do is pure MAC. In time it saved us lot of engineering time. Windoze just is 1 file to backup to our RATE harddrive. We love it and hope this will stays this way upto my pension age ;-)
Virtualization can be a brilliant way to handle long-term support: Your 15yr old OS, application software, and user files can all live in one big image file as you mention. A double-click, and the entire environment is fired up, even though your current OS & HW are four generations removed.
Depending on what I'm doing. Draftsight(Dasault systems) has a CAD version for Mac. Eclipse IDE works on the Mac and with some elbow grease the GCC compilers work under Mac, which is what I'm doing some of my embedded programming under mac with. Microchip also has an IDE that works with Mac, but sadly some of the other chip vendors still need to find a way to make it work. For the rest of it, definitely a VM to use Altium Designer for board layout and verification(gEDA tools aren't quite there for me yet, although they work on the Mac also). Alterra and Xilinx are definitely under the VM for the CPLD/FPGA work. So we're definitely out there, and we're slowly taking back the market to a system that runs more stable than, error, stop, restart, do over...
Whatever the reason is, many more people are using OS X for electrical engineering. I started a list on my web site http://www.rau-deaver.org/Links.html a couple of years ago and I am getting a lot of traffic these days.
Whenever we can we prefer OSX and the Mac for engineering software. One tool I couldn't live without is IGOR from Wavemetrics. No, this isn't an ad, I have no connection to Wavemetrics. But I have been using their software for more years than I can remember. Probably version 2 circa 1990.
I couldn't use a Mac, because there's no software support for many of my needed tools. There's more support for Linux than for Mac; for example, Ixxat and Kvaser have Linux CAN drivers, but no Mac drivers.
Besides, I don't want a Mac beause I think different (from Jobs or Ives): Apple simply doesn't make any systems that fit my needs, and I won't pay a lot extra or accept compromises just to get a fruity logo.
Another Linux datapoint: my brother has been using Linux for >15 years for embedded software development, PCB design, research, and testing.
When it comes to controlling test instruments, MacOS has very little support. It's all Windows and some Linux. Only National Instruments supports MacOS through LabVIEW. I monitor the LabVIEW e-mail list every day and even there, I see very few MacOS users. NI made a plendge long ago to alwasy support the Mac on LabVIEW because that's where it started.
Funny thing is, OS X is really a Mach kernel with FreeBSD userland on top of it . It is a better Unix machine than Linux will ever be. So how come you can't make it work for you, whereas Linux, which is a hodgepodge of components bothced together, seems good enough for you.
I was at NI Days on Boston today. If course, every third word spoken today was LabVIEW. I asked about the Mac. Although NI will always have a Mac version, they don;t suport it to the extent that they support Windows. But, as test and daq systems go more towards control from laptops as opposed to desktops, less support is needed. Ppeole don;t isntall boards into desktop computers as much anymore. The instrument interface is USB or Ethernet, or GPIB using an USB/GPIB or Ethernet/GPIB adapters.
LTSpice for OS X has been out for a few months now, and it works well.
And yes, engineers use Macs. NXP's LPCXpresso runs well on OS X, as do other Eclipse-based tools (Silicon Labs has made a little bit of noise about supporting OS X for their upcoming unified tool set). In the board layout area, Kicad actually works quite well (gEDA is a disaster, but that's true on all platforms).
So, yeah, we run Xilinx tools and Keil tools in a Windows VM, and the ability to run in a VM is now the excuse for not porting to native OS X. Macs are solid machines, no more costly than an equivalently-configured Dell box, and they work.
"Could you expand a bit on your KiCad/gEDA comparison. I haven't come across any informed ones before!"
I tried to get gEDA working on OS X and it ended up being impossible. There was a dependency of a dependency whose maintainer was so anti-Mac that he was able to ensure that his piece of the puzzle simply wouldn't build on OS X without being hacked.
Plus the gEDA developers are not interested in user suggestions. (By not interested, I mean, "openly hostile.") For example, I suggested that they should figure out how to have net names show up in traces and vias and holes in the PCB layout, and I was basically told, "Why do you need that?" Well, I need it because I don't work on trivial one-layer boards, that's why.
And finally, gEDA's library system for footprints and symbols is just ... awful. M4 macros and all sorts of horridness.
Kicad is actively developed. Certainly there's a lot of developer hubris there, too, and some bug reports get unacknowledged (a show-stopper I reported in July is still listed as "we haven't even bothered to look at it yet").
Most of the issues with Kicad on OS X seem to be with the differences in the wxWidgets layer.
I've designed a couple of boards with it, and it works. Just ignore the stupid CvPCB thing and embed footprint names in the symbol and you're all good.
"Yeah, ludicrous that Altera supports some random flavour of Linux, but not OS X."
Xilinx is exactly the same way. The underlying tools are all Unix and there's a translation layer handling the GUI. Doesn't make any sense.
Of course, some of us are old enough to remember how long it took Xilinx to support Linux while they were still actively supporting HP-UX and Sun-OS, both of which were basically dead.
"Hmm, DL'd the latest...none of the apps runs, and the Python script does nothing. I'm impressed. Also impressed by the confused state of the website. Hmm."
I'm not sure if the latest is stable. I use the 4107 version from April. The Kicad devs have done a lot of revising the PCB and library file formats after that version.
Download the package and unarchive it. You'll get the resulting KiCad directory. Drag that somewhere useful, perhaps into your home directory, perhaps into /Applications (which I did).
The applications should open without issue. Start with launching the kicad program; that's the umbrella app/project manager. From there you can create new projects and from with a project you can create schematics and PCB layouts.
NB: in that archive is a directory called data. That directory includes the default libraries and templates. On OS X, the applications all prefer to see the libraries in ~/Library/Application Support/kicad, so move data to that location (rename data to kicad). In that directory, the subdirectory library holds the schematic symbols and the subdirectory modules holds the footprints.
I guess it must have been 5-6 years ago, PC Magazine did one of their periodic speed comparisons using a standard set of characterization software. A Macbook Pro running Windows under Parallels ran faster in all categories than the fastest PC at the time. That was quite an admission from the magazine's standpoint.
After having to use PCs during much of my engineering career, as soon as I had decided to retire early from the corporate world, I switched over to the Mac.
1. No more virus updates. No need to even run virus protection S/W.
2. No more crashing.
3. No more fiddling with drivers.
4. No need to replace hardware every two years, due to H/W failures.
This is not to say the Mac is perfect...but it's very close. For those arguing over the price aspect...all I can say is you get what you pay for. Anyway, I digress.
I run all the standard PC-based engineering design software under Parallels and "it just works". Parallels also makes it very easy to go from a Mac to PC application at the click of an icon. It also allows seamless transfer of files and folders from one environment to the other by simply dragging.
I believe S/W companies are finally realizing many engineers prefer moving over to the Mac platform and are starting to port their applications over.
Back to the subject:
Yes, Linear Tech has released a Mac version of LTspice.
Also, there's EazyDraw, a fantastic drafting/drawing program.
There's another spice program, MacSpice.
For PC board viewing and development, there's McCAD GView (plus others for development)
I also recently posted info on a bunch of free PC board viewers here:
I remember that article! It was pretty funny hearing people on both sides of the fanboy crowd arguing about it.
Personally, my experiences with MacOs have been horrid. I was a PC/Linux guy mainly. I tought video production using Media100 systems (apple) and they crashed constantly. I stayed away from apple till osX came out and eventually bought a macbook pro (I wanted a nice metal milled chasis!). The hardware is impressive but I had issue with software crashing all the time during video editing... again.
Ultimately I just installed windows7 directly on that machine and had no further issues till it decided to drink an entire cup of coffee.
Now I'm back on another macbook with macOsX and again, flash crashes, browser crashes, etc. I have bad mac luck I guess because everyone else seems to have nearly flawless machines.
"Personally, my experiences with MacOs have been horrid. I was a PC/Linux guy mainly. I tought video production using Media100 systems (apple) and they crashed constantly. I stayed away from apple till osX came out and eventually bought a macbook pro (I wanted a nice metal milled chasis!). The hardware is impressive but I had issue with software crashing all the time during video editing... again."
Software crashing? Why are you blaming the operating system instead of the application?
I mean, professionals use Avid video editing and audio production stuff daily on OS X and it all works and they make money using those tools.
Perhaps there's a reason Media 100 is no longer in business?
it is easy for me to blame the OS, when I can directly compare win7 running the latest firefox to MacOSX running the latest firefox on the same exact hardware. One crashes regularly, the other is windows.
Please don't make me say that again, I feel so icky. Arguing over operating systems is silly. Like I said, I've probably just had bad luck.
"It is easy for me to blame the OS, when I can directly compare win7 running the latest firefox to MacOSX running the latest firefox on the same exact hardware. One crashes regularly, the other is windows. "
I'm truly sorry, but your argument is still baseless. It's the APPLICATION that keeps crashing, so the developers of the APPLICATION need to get their act together.
I'm surprised nobody mention Matlab--I use that on a Mac all the time.
I also use Python for automation of instrument control and compuation--it seems more streamlined and it's quicker to develop code than either Matlab or Labview IMO.
Gerbv is available for looking at circuit board artwork files.
The latest remote desktop app (for windows) available on the Mac app store actually works better than the windows version (there's a bug on Windows RDC that makes it difficult to use the Microcap simulator.)
Microsoft kindly makes Office, Outlook, and Lync available for OS X.
Windows has a number of deficiencies that hinder productivity compare to OS X--at least for my work flow.
Crashing is a non-issue for both except on occasion when I'm doing memory intensive computations on Windows. When Win7 runs low on RAM, it deals with the situation very ineligantly and the whole system nearly freezes. It's not crashed, but it's so slow, I have to reboot to recover. OSX seems to be able to run out of RAM without getting itself in a knot--especially with the latest 10.9 release.
I know this thread is about LTSpice for the Mac, but since it is about LTSpice I thought I should mention there is a new book out- The LTSPICE IV Simulator" by Gilles Brocard published by Wurth Eletronik. I got mine yesterday, so I only have first impressions, but it looks really good. You can get it here. There is a TOC here