The WPI Mac Users Group (WMUG), is a small organization devoted to providing support for the Macintosh platform at WPI. It is small because, well, come on, how many Macs really need support? The club held weekly meetings between 2000 and 2003, but soon realized that its small number of members resulted in not a whole lot to talk about. In recent years, WMUG has operated mostly online, with the WMUG discuss list providing Mac support and advice mostly to professors having problems with their six year old iMacs and prospective students wondering if the Helpdesk's declaration of Macs as unsupported means it is impossible to use a Mac at WPI at all.

Macs on Campus

In 2003, WMUG convinced the CCC to install an iMac in the CCC Lab on the third floor of Fuller Laboratories. The lone white iMac, in the corner of a room filled with jet black PCs, has dutifully served ever since, and from the look of things will go on dutifully serving for many years to come. Administration of the machine was left to Brian Ellis, then secretary of WMUG, until his graduation in 2005. Since then, stewardship of the iMac has been up in the air. Theoretically it's still running, though.

(Note: the CCC's Public Computer Labs Page incorrectly refers to the Mac in the CCC lab as an eMac. It's not.)

By far the most common email WMUG receives on its mailing list is from prospective students wondering if using a Mac at WPI will put them at an academic disadvantage. This is probably due to the refusal of the CCC Helpdesk to officially support Macs (although NetOps seems to be coming around on that issue, and provides WPI keys and certificates as well as detailed installation instructions for getting Macs, as well as PCs, on the WPI wireless network). To answer this question here and now: using a Mac puts a student at a slight advantage compared to Windows; there is no need to download software such as puTTY or WinSCP to connect to one's Unix account, and the built-in SMB connectivity allows seamless access to the Windows network as well. Also, WPI offers free network downloads of Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac, which is 100% compatible with the Windows version and even includes the Virtual PC software which allows Mac users to run Windows software if they absolutely need to. Most of the time this is entirely unnecessary, however, as most of the software frequently used on campus is available for the Mac. In the computer science department especially, having a Mac confers a distinct advantage as it comes with GCC, a Java compiler, and a highly renowned free IDE called Xcode, among many other things. All this is not even to mention the fact that Macs are not prone to viruses, spyware, or adware, which makes visits from NetOps much less frequent. (Mac users on campus have been known to receive emails informing them that their computer has some form of virus and they need to update their copy of Windows; a trip to NetOps with much mirth and smirking later, and this "problem" is always resolved.)