MacOS X on Linux?

MacOS X on Linux?

Summary: Apple could simply license the MacOS X shell and integration technologies set for Linux - thereby creatingan instant mass market for its software on Intel, more than meeting its obligations to its PC oriented developers,differentially rewarding those who put real effort into their Mac software, and freeing itself toto make a more reasoned CPU decision for its 2007 and later products.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Yesterday I talked about the pricing box Apple finds itself in as it tries to integrate Intel CPUs into its products: basically going from a $72 CPU in an iBook to one selling, in volume, for about $240 destroys the financial structure needed to meet school board demand for significant discounts on products retailing at $999 in oneses and twoses.

If Intel were to match PowerPC pricing from As a strategy, this is win-win for all the good guys. IBM and Freescale they'd have to reduce the average price per CPU by about $200 - meaning that Intel would be subsidizing Apple to the tune of about a billion dollars a year.

SInce that's just not going to happen the obvious thing for Apple to do in 2006 is continue, as it originally said it would, with the PowerPC line - using the dual core G4 in products like the iBook and Mini and the low power (14W at 1.6Ghz) G5 970FX in new Powerbooks.

Great, but where does this leave Apple's Intel strategy? More importantly, how will developers, particularly the PC oriented shops dragged into the Apple house over the last six months on the promise of lower porting costs and higher performance for PC code, react?

There is a simple and elegant answer: Linux.

Apple could simply license the MacOS X shell and integration technologies set for Linux - thereby creating an instant mass market for its software on Intel, more than meeting its obligations to its PC oriented developers, differentially rewarding those who put real effort into their Mac software, and freeing itself to to make a more reasoned CPU decision for its 2007 and later products.

As a strategy this is win-win for all the good guys:

 

  • Current Apple customer values in terms of quality, "it just works" systems integration, external design elegance, and high end performance would continue to support growing sales for Apple's own BSD based machines;

     

  • The general Linux community would gain a beautifully unified and highly functionally commercial alternative to KDE/Gnome along with access to a lot of new business software - including Microsoft Office.

     

  • Developers, hobbyists, and the games community would get access to Intel's performance tools for Lintel - from compilers to analyzers these either level the playing field or provide competitive advantages to Linux in the battle for Windows market share.

     

  • And Apple, of course, would be the biggest winner of all: a future in computing; continuity of intellectual rights protection on MacOS X; significant new software and services markets; greater opportunities for low end products like iBooks and Minis; greater sales synergies between Minis and entertainment products like the iTechnologies group; and, clear product differentiation for its higher end, higher margin, product lines.

So what could possibly be better than all that? Well, there is that sticking it to IBM, Microsoft, and Intel in one move bit, but hey, grown-ups wouldn't care about that, right?

Topic: Apple

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71 comments
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  • It could happen!

    The probability is essentially zero, but it could happen!
    palmwarrior
    • 1 over infinity

      is a POSITIVE number! ;)
      Roger Ramjet
      • no

        1 over infinity is zero, which is neither positive or negative.
        Michael Kelly
        • huh?

          1 over infinity APPROACHES zero which isn't the same as zero.
          thelemite
        • OK, let's be pedantic....

          The limit of 1/x as x approaches infinity is zero. 1/infinity is not a number.
          palmwarrior
          • All depends if you round it down

            Technically it could never be zero.
            voska
          • You've got the concept but not the terminology....

            My 'pedantic' post contains the core part of how a 'limit' is defined in basic calculus. A 'limit' is never reached.
            palmwarrior
  • Slim to none and Slim left town

    One of the drawbacks of Linux is its driver support. The "it just works" promise of OSX would be damaged with quirky driver issues on Linux. I'm sure there would be some licensing problems with OSX on Linux - and if there were none initially, there would need to be effort (money) spent to make sure that no problems surfaced in the future.

    But just what would you get from having a OpenGL windowing system plopped on top of Linux? Cool graphics? Wippeee! Every single cool thing that has been done on OSX has been copied in GNOME/KDE. I'm still waiting for the Sun "looking glass" interface to come out on Linux. That would blow away most of OSX's "great" interface.

    There's really nothing in OSX that can't be copied in future Linux offerings - except the use of OpenGL instead of X for windowing. I'm not convinced that it is all that great.

    Apple's hallmark is the tight coupling of hardware and operating system to make very reliable platforms (like the mainframes of old). And like the mainframe, the mac just runs and runs with few problems.

    Windoze and Linux use the strategy of writing an operating system to run on commodity hardware. That means that strange issues can pop up anywhere, anytime due to hardware/driver issues. Throwing OSX into this paradigm would just make OSX look bad - and NOT make you want to drop everything to run OSX.
    Roger Ramjet
  • Huh??? Linux has nothing to offer

    that BSD doesn't. There is no reason to use Linux at all.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • here we go

      more bait
      you are such a bore ;)
      D T Schmitz
      • No bait, just the facts.

        Obviously BSD is doing everything Apple wants, there simply is no reason at all to use Linux. Oh I understand how it might help Linux, but add to Apple's bottom line? No way.

        Alao consider that Microsoft would drop OS X support in a heartbeat if Apple did this and that means losing the number one application sold on a Mac, MS Office. That is NOT going to happen...
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Licenses

          Apple went with BSD for the license. The GPL just doesn't work for them (or many others).

          As for (OS/X on x86) Office, I wonder how M$ can keep "regular" x86 BSD folks from running it?
          Roger Ramjet
          • I agree, the GPL is not acceptable.

            I signed up with the Apple Developer program a year or so ago to keep myself informed on what is happening in that camp. From what i see, Apple made some modifications to the BSD kernel and kept them proprietary and with out them MS Office (and other apps) simply will not run.

            I am certain this was something they did to make certain the sofware vendors were protected from piracy or running it on other *nix platforms.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
    • What?

      There's Better Hardware Support (Holy Cow That's Bad) in Linux and most commercial versions of Linux will run on newer chipsets but the same can't be said for Darwin.
      just^me
    • What?

      There's Better Hardware Support (Holy Cow That's Bad) in Linux and most commercial versions of Linux will run on newer chipsets but the same can't be said for Darwin.
      just^me
  • Yeah, I'm sure Steve will get right on it

    "sticking it to IBM, Microsoft, and Intel"? Why would Apple do that? They're in business to make money.
    archerjoe
  • Message has been deleted.

    archerjoe
  • A better idea, go with Solaris

    In order to port to Linux Apple would have to modify the kernel which of course means they would be forced to hand over their code according to the GPL encumberance.

    However, if they went into a partnership with Sun and used Solaris and the CDDL we could see a very different out come that works to the advantage of both Sun and Apple.

    It's no secret that Apple has gone no where in business. Their market share is tiny in that market. It's also no secret Sun has not made headway on the desktop at all. Again there are tiny installs but no market share.

    So, Apple needs a business in, Sun needs a great desktop and a joint venture gives both of them what they both want and need. Given the buying clout of both companies they should be able to work a better deal with Intel to obtain better pricing and lower the hardware costs.

    Now there is a true win - win...
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Not to mention that

      Steve Jobs and Scott McNealy work about 1 mile away from each other in Milpedas. Why not jog over and say hi?
      Roger Ramjet
    • Q: for No Ax

      SO, IF you could have a solaris-based mac, would you give up on Windoze once and for all?
      Roger Ramjet