What Apple needs to do is build a stripped-down OS X for Linux geeks.
Before you point out that stripping out the sleex sexy bits from OS X would be marketing suicide, hard work for little return, consider:
Marketing suicide: OS X has already made significant inroads into the Linux world. The main beef of most Linux geeks is that the eye-candy chews cycles for little return – true, if UI sexiness is not what turns your crank. An optional, more sparse interface would provide Linux users with a robust, serviceable UI without making them feel coddled – and enable more users to get the best out of OS X (I’m typing this on an 800 MHz G3 iBook, which can feel pretty damn sluggish under heavy load). And credibility with power users goes a long way to convincing others: think of the mindspace which Apple has gained by the Virginia Tech supercluster. (It’d also make it possible to put even more impressive speed stats in advertisements.)
Hard work: would enabling flags to disable CPU-hungry aspects of the interface be that difficult? There are third party apps out there that already do some of this (kill the bouncing “look at me” icons, remove drop shadows, disable the ‘brushed metal’ look on some apps: if they can do it, might not Apple? That way, they can do it consistently, make it look good, and make a whole bunch of nerds happy.
Steve? How about it?