Linux vs Mac 2023

Last posting to a similar topic was 2 years ago.
Linux is becoming a bit more expensive for out facility and I was wondering what the opinion was of the current iteration of mac. What hardware are you using? M1, M2, Macbook, Mac Studio? The one thing I would miss is background reactor. It’s sped up my projects quite a bit. No waiting around for renders.

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We have a M1 Ultra Mac Studio 128GB RAM as well as Lenovo P620 16core 128GB RAM with A5000s. The Lenovos we picked up for about USD$1K cheaper than the Mac Studio. The Lenovos are definitely a bit faster overall (maybe 10-15%), and for any AI/ML things they are significantly faster (for MLTW it is multiples faster). On the flip side though, the Mac Studio is a lot more versatile. there are so many more software options for Mac and certain OFX like Particle Illusion will work on Mac version of Flame but is not avilable for linux. The mac is easier for the average Flame Artist to administer themselves (even though Rocky 8 is reasonably user friendly for anyone with half a brain).

Long and the short of it, I think either way can be equally good, and there isn’t the overwhelming performance advantage there once was for Flame on Linux vs Mac.


I’m on M1 Ultra Mac Studio as well. Works great for TVC… being able to open Photoshop, AfterEffects, etc. quickly.

The downside so far is working with heavy 3D Geometry in Action. Very slow and still buggy. If you do this kind of work stick with Linux.


Flame on Mac is great. Spent years at facilities with linux: waiting for the machine room to download and raster a PNG from an AI file for you… waiting for engineering to type some cryptic text in a shell when things went wrong

It’s stable. It’s surprisingly fast. For commercials it’s a no brainer. And you can pack up a Mac Studio and a SSD external RAID in a bag to shuttle between work and office.

Edit: Work and Office


Nothing changed during those 2 years - PC is more powerful, flexible and cheaper, Mac is…well…Apple. None is better then the other one, just different. Don’t forget that Linux box is not just flame, but also Windows in dual boot with all apps that you need. I am wondering, how is Linux becoming more expensive?

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Supporting linux takes more time and money than mac. It’s much less plug and play.
Don’t get more wrong, I’ve always felt that it had more raw speed. But that has changed.


Speed is relative :wink: Both platforms are equally capable to be fast, and at the same time to be shittty. I understand that Linux is not plug-n-play, but it never supposed to be. One of the advantage of Linux box (in general, not only flame) is that, once it set and configured, I don’t have to worry about it. Just update kernel once in year is enough on most machines, and in case of flame with DKU provided by Autodesk it could not be any easier, so it’s like one maintenance day for IT support. In my region is easier to find good linux tech support than for Apple platform, so I am little biased. With today prices and options I do not understood why one must choose, PC are so inexpensive and powerful these days that you can have have both platforms and use which ever devices is doing task better. Also I love that flame is on own OS, with supported version of drivers, and Windows with Davinci, blender, etc with latest drivers is on separated disk, on Apple everything is together, so when you update one element, than rest of system can be endangered.

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I find the combination of both to be most useful. The Linux version is a powerful and reliable workstation. And even though installation is relatively easy depending on the hardware you use, it’s not as trivial as a Mac.

On the Mac you can have multiple versions of Flame exist next to each other happily, not sure if that is supported on Linux? So if you need to keep an old version around for some projects and compatibility… And while there are many apps on Linux, as mentioned apps like After Effects, etc. do come into play on some jobs.

My primary system is a Linux work station, but I do have it installed on my MacStudio as well. Actually frequently I find myself working on the Linux workstation, but logged in remotely via VNC from my Mac where it’s easy to have multiple windows open to other systems and apps. From time to time I run it locally on my Mac if I’m on a newer version than my Linux system, or a short project.

Remote access within facility rather than across Internet is super fast and problem free. And with shared storage there’s no hassle with having to copy files.

So my recommendation might be to give most people Macs for their desk, and keep a few Linux boxes around that can easily be remoted into for jobs or tasks that favor the Linux version of Flame (such as MLTW).

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It’s easy to me. No nvidia, no party. Everything is fine until you see how , for instance, a TWML render with 4K material takes a few seconds on an Nvidia card and 35 minutes on a latest-model Mac Pro.

Managing Linux nowadays is not so hard. It’s a very childish stance to think that typing “sudo rpm -ivh whatever.rpm” or “sudo systemctl start smb” is something terrible or mysterious. For the love of god, we use a software whose printed manual could exceed several thousand pages.

For my part, my biggest issues when it comes to daily work on Linux are precisely dealing with stupid Keynote documents from clients, or hard drives formatted in APFS.


Not sure that hits the mark.

Linux is great if it’s in the zone. But if you something goes sideways, the recovery is a lot more complicate and time consuming. There are fewer resources, and what you can find is split between many flavors of Linux so you have to sift. And there’s a higher chance of something going sideways.

Case in point - my Flame Linux ran perfectly for the last 145 days. Today while switching monitors something happened. I tried to reboot to see if ti clears up. It does boot, but once I log in I get a black screen. After some work I was able to edit the grub config so it would start without X11 so I could at least get to a terminal and debug. Now paging through log files it seems apparent that something got corrupted on the gnome config, still have to figure out how to reset. Already spent 2 hours on this, and not back up and running. Luckily not on a deadline right now, so I’ll figure it out.

And I’m more versed in this type of stuff than the average Flame user, having worked on code, including operating system for many years.

I can totally appreciate that not everyone is up for that, and prefers a Mac for peace of mind. There are days where I would join their ranks just because I’d rather spend my time on billable work than chasing Linux quirks.

Yes, you can snapshot your system and just nuke it and start fresh something goes wonky. Not ideal.

I don’t think that is a childish stance.


Having two Linuxes and a couple Macs, I’m glad to have the Macs as backups. But they’re almost never used. Linux can be a pain, but the app experience I find to be worth it.


Exactly. If you run on Linux, you almost have to have a Mac as ‘I just need to keep working and will get back to this on the weekend’ recovery plan.


Also I am command line-illiterate pretty much. I get by just fine, but with the occasional help from IT vendors who just screen share and figure stuff out. If anyone wants a contact for that I can provide.


I might spend around $1-2k per year on IT guys helping with Linux stuff that’s beyond my reach. For me it’s a worthwhile investment.


Linux: system where you have absolute control VS Mac: system where you have no control (Apple dictates what and how you will be using YOUR computer). flame is faster on Linux. Mac is more versatile. No NVIDIA on Mac. Windows can be installed beside Linux and you can use whatever application you need. Mac is plugn’play. Linux is not that hard, but it requeries some tech knowledge and little sense for adventure. Apple looks cool and is more attractive. Linux is better investment, you can repurpose PC for so many different things long time after Mac is used as door stopper. On Mac you don’t have to worry about anything, system is preconfigured and you can’t bend it to your liking so there are less points of failures, and when Mac is broken or you need to upgrade RAM you just buy new computer.
As you can see there is nothing new. Some prefer apple, some prefer oranges. With today prices, availability and options you can use both platforms and don’t have to worry which platform is better :slight_smile:

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More like Apples and Pears - Windows is the Orange :slight_smile:

MacOS is a Unix operating system under the hood, and if you’re adventurous enough you can do more Linux type things on Mac than you can do on Windows. One of the reasons Flame runs on Mac but not Windows.

Also the best thing to re-purpose a retired Mac: install Linux on it. Most distros will install right out of the box and recognize all the hardware. I have multiple old Macbooks with Ubuntu running on them.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Unix (and thus by family tree Linux, Rocky, etc.). I’ve been around it more than 40 years; it was one of the earliest OSes I got to know well.

Where the difference for me comes in - is this a tinker toy or is it a business resource? Do deadlines and clients depend on it running smoothly and predictably, or is it ok if it’s down for a day or two while I sort things out? And does your business afford the right hardware? In the old days Linux was a way to get access to high performance hardware that was otherwise not in budget. That margin has shrunk.

And we all have our tinker hobbies. Right now I’d rather tinker with the apps than what makes the apps run. But everyone’s mileage varies on that front.

There are no right or wrong answers. Everyone’s priorities and motivations are different. The only thing we should not do is, is look down on other people’s reason for eating an apple, a pear, or an orange. Let them eat what they want.

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Just to round out my latest saga… (and in case someone runs into the same thing)

4 hours later my box is finally running again with Flame. It was an X11 config upset, where the window manager would just crash. Many different things and Google searches and no good answers.

In the end - a month+ ago when I was writing shaders, I had added a line to my .bash_profile to set DISPLAY=:0, as is required by the ADSK matchbox compiler tool. Well, that worked great while I was logged in opening to xterms to compile shaders and saved me having to type this all the time. However, it also applies when you log in, and unfortunately killed the window manager on startup. Removing that line in my .bash_profile was the answer. But it took me remembering that I did that over the n-th cup of coffee. An external consultant probably may have gotten there too, but he wouldn’t have had the same context of prior changes. At some point we may have just given up and re-installed. I got close to that point…

Just to illustrate how fickle Linux can be at times.


Linux vs. Mac

Linux + Mac

P620 + M2 MBP = FTW


*(I guess today I only speak in abbreviations)


I’m back there again. Wondering if the newest permutations of Mac are closing in on Linux. I’ve used Linux my whole career. I was asked recently if we really needed Flame. Would Resolve do. Fortunately I was able to move past that discussion.
Now I’m back to “it would be so much simpler to just use Mac”. But is it better or at least equal…yet?

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A quick read on a few threads on here will pretty much show the consensus that performance is close enough that the benefits/ease of going Mac silicon equal out the small performance benefits you might get on Linux. It is more a matter of preference now. The one caveat being AI/ML is currently nowhere near as good on Mac. I’ve been pro Linux for years now but up until the last couple of years there’s no way I’d run Flame on Mac. Now I would happily use a Mac Studio or Pro with Apple silicon.