The reason Jobs didn't license out OS X is because the last time Apple did that it almost killed the company. One of the first things Jobs did on returning to Apple was end those agreements.
My recollection was that Apple was in dire straits at the time anyhow, but that the clone makers were substantially increasing MacOS shipments at a time when Apple was threatened with irrelevancy.
I thought Jobs killed the clones because he wanted absolute control, which he saw as necessary to pursue his goals for a high-end, seamless experience.
E.g., this blog entry (skip down to "Amelio") --
Here's Jobs on the subject, indicating it was unwillingness of the clone makers to accept higher license fees:
Of course, just because Jobs is saying it, you can't know if this is the whole story.
So basically you get a machine in mint condition. And yeah, it is like Linux in that when you install the OS it's the OS and nothing more. You can talk about freedom and locked down platforms all day long and I'll even agree but thats neither here nor there. Point is, the Mac isn't screaming for your attention, doesn't come preloaded with shit, and generally doesn't fuck with you in the same way Linux doesnt do those things. There are exceptions to every rule and god knows you have to cover them all here on HN but generally speaking that's the way it is.
As a long time Linux and Gnome user i got accustomed with an arguably better experience in managing software and user experience :-)