OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

Summary: OS X Server may be a great product, but Apple releasing it into the wild just doesn't seem to be in the cards, despite the wishful thinking of its supporters.


When I wrote last week about Apple dropping their datacenter hardware in the form of the Xserve I received the predictable responses from Apple zealots, despite the fact that I wrote that Apple playing to their strengths was a good idea and that the datacenter simply wasn't an area they had been successful. Many wrote me directly to tell me that I was simply being shortsighted and that I should expect to see major Apple announcements any minute now about the products that will replace the Xserve in the datacenter, or that Apple hadn't given up on the corporate datacenter market, they were just going to come out with a series of products that would redefine the corporate datacenter market.

Many of the comments I received came across as wishful thinking, but for some reason there was a steady stream of commenters who seemed to believe that since OS X Server was such a great product, Apple would soon be releasing it as a server software product that would run on datacenter server hardware from other vendors.

Now given how Apple's OS X EULA is worded and their steadfast refusal to allow any competitive hardware vendor to ship a compatible computer, this seems really unlikely. Of course, now that the Mac uses pretty much industry standard PC hardware, there is an active community of "Hackintosh" fanatics dedicated to running the most recent versions of OS X on non-Apple hardware.

 In true community support fashion there are dozens of blogs, how-to, and forum sites focused on this hobbyist project. If you find this something that you are interested in, despite it violating the license for OS X, you'll find that hackintosh.com is a good aggregation site and place to start for tips, tricks, and help on getting OS X running on non-Apple hardware.

But this isn't the same as supporting OS X Server in a production environment on the wide variety of available datacenter server hardware. Keep in mind one of the things that limits OS problems with OS X is the fact that Apple tightly controls the hardware that it will support.  Apple simply doesn't have the infrastructure in place to support OS X on a wide variety of hardware platforms or the drivers for the hundreds of peripheral devices that make up today's datacenter.

This doesn't rule out a careful set of limited partnerships between Apple and server hardware vendors to build OS X server rack-mountable systems, but doing so would be a major change in the Apple business model. Not impossible, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

Apple doesn't talk about what they run in their own datacenters, but they have stated that that their datacenter environments consist of OS X, IBM/AIX, Linux and SUN/Solaris systems, so it would seem that OS X Server has a lot of company in their own environment and that Apple isn't trying to run it on non-Apple hardware at this time.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Data Centers, Hardware, Servers, Software, Storage

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  • Virtualization

    While not likely either, for similar political reasons you mentioned, X Serve would be easy to support as a VM. Apple would only need to provide drivers for the core technologies, VMWare, Xen, KVM (small and open enough to add to their kernel), and HyperV. With UEFI and an embedded hypervisor, Apple could have its software run on nearly any data center hardware.
    • My thoughts exactly

      @jcschweitzer Where I work, if it won't run on a virtual machine, we don't want it. Of course there is nothing but Apple itself in the way of OS X VM's. Then again, what does an OS X VM buy you that you couldn't get with linux?
  • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      @d.alan.stewart Where's the value argument in this? Darwin is essentially Net BSD. It doesn't have any of the MacOS stuff and won't run MacOS X apps. So, you'd have what is a specialised, nonstandard version of Unix. It would make way more sense to just go with BSD from the start.
  • I'd have rather thought that...

    a) They have just given up on the X-Serve, or
    b) They've got another server lined up.

    If it's "b" then I do wonder about if it might be something with a massive number of A4's in it.

    However, it's all just wondering...
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      @zkiwi The problem with that is, you end up with a datacenter that can only run iPhone/iPad apps. Those aren't exactly the kinds of things people set up datacenters to run, and Apple's walled garden approach isn't going to sit well with datacenters unless Apple lets THEM be the walled garden.
  • what?

    i read last week's blog and didn't see a lot of apple zealot's there in the post section. i saw some bickering back and forth but nothing outrageous - and that bickering was between zealot's on both sides. you know they exist right? anti-apple zealot's? of course one would never hear that mentioned in an article because that would be like fox news admitting that there is nuts on the right wing side as well.
    you can write better than this. give it a rest.
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.


      i get a fair number of emails sent to me directly. Not everyone wants to post in a public forum. But they are more than hapy to direct their comments to me in email ;)
      David Chernicoff
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      @sportmac Mac zealots tend not to frenzy around server news. It doesn't mean it isn't being used. Also, many Xserver users are Windows enthusiasts that crossed platform lines in the interest of affordability.
    • You lost all credibility when you spouted the typical

      knee-jerk reaction regarding fox news.
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      you know the big paradox lies in that Anti-apple-stupids they believe that apple is "perfect" more than apple fanboys either.. that's why they irrationally and illogically criticize every apple's move. but some of them criticize for criticizing and be cause they know that there's an army of fans behind apple.. so sure they will get a lot of comments and feedbacks... and as they are incompetent they measure the success of their blogs by the number of those feedbacks. this is really a very poor blogging model.
      now, let's get back to the hardware apple is declaring and willing to use in its datacenter, i think that the Main computers for Pro data ceters are the HPC or super computers and apple makes none of these and that's the IBM/Sun core market... so what stupidity is wasting our time in reading those poor quality blogs.
      Chernicoff man if you have some social security money go get some rest ma..n go retire u don't belong this generation .. go man go.. you are clueless about IT
  • Of course everybody seems to forget...

    Of course everybody seems to forget that Xserve has some severe limitations, especially scalability issues. See this link:<br><br><a href="http://lowendmac.com/ed/kitchens/09kk/apple-enterprise-server.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://lowendmac.com/ed/kitchens/09kk/apple-enterprise-server.html</a><br><br>Not to mention it could not multitask its way out of a paper bag a few years ago (see benchmarks below). Sure they improved it since then, but having such horrible performance 5 years ago? Who is going to trust it when they need real performance?<br><br><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/1778/5" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.anandtech.com/show/1778/5</a>

    EDIT: Also note that Apple never compares Xserve performance with anything else, only with its own previous offerings (2.3 times faster). There is a reason - because it isn't faster than anything else.
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.


      Anand compared the G5 Xserve, not the new Xeon based ones.
      • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.


        Anand also clearly stated that the problem was with OS X. When they ran Linux on the exact same hardware, the performance difference was dramatic. Check the graph.
  • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

    Yes it is.
  • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

    Don't forget that Apple allows OS X Server to be installed in a virtual environment such as VMWare. If you want a rack mount, buy a Dell then buy VMWare and install OS X Server on it.
    • No, Apple doesn't

      Sorry, but you are very much mistaken. The only installation allowed in the OS X Server license is as follows:
      <i>"Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, you are granted a limited non-exclusive license to install and
      use one copy of the Mac OS X Server software (the ?Mac OS X Server Software?) on a single Apple-branded computer."</i>

      OS X Server is licensed only for installation on a physical server, and that hardware must be built by Apple. Or perhaps you have visions of being the next Psystar? ;)
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      @bkennedy1 We've run X-Servers for file services in an SMB for years, with very low maintenance & very nearly 100% uptime. For many SMBs, it's not about speed but rather about secure, reliable access to our data. If we had to replace the Xeon X-Server we now use, a Dell with VMWare might well be the choice we'd make. I think Apple may push its server users toward a managed cloud service model, and away from local hardware. Given the resources Apple has put into its server hardware, along with their pricing, it's doubtful Apple has ever made a profit with servers.
  • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

    I think many will be very unwilling to use Windows Azure, I know many admins that are getting sticker shock from Windows licensing. While Linux is still not perfect, Xserver is pretty well established. things could go a variety of ways and I'm not saying that Windows is going anywhere. But I could definitely see Apple taking a command presence in the server market soon.
    • RE: OS X Everywhere? Not likely.

      @Socratesfoot Again, where's the value proposition here? You argue that Azure is too expensive. Then you leap from that right over every other option (while mentioning Linux) to MacOS X server.

      Azure isn't just Apache running on a server, there's a lot more going on behind there. But if you don't need it, you have Unix (NetBSD, upon which Darwin is based) or Linux, both of which can run on inexpensive PC hardware with minimal licensing issues and no brand lock-in.

      MacOS X Server may be free - but the hardware certainly isn't and you can only run it on Apple's hardware. That makes for a very risky and potentially expensive support proposition.