Could Dvorak be right, and the Mac move hurt Linux?

Could Dvorak be right, and the Mac move hurt Linux?

Summary: The Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD. Windows offers a lot of services for Unix. In a way we're all Linux now, and all that's left to argue about are the terms of the world's surrender.


DvorakIn his latest Marketwatch column (no link -- registration only) John Dvorak predicts Apple's move to Intel chips will hurt -- Linux.

It's not as crazy as it sounds. Software vendors play a market share game. That is, they look to support products with market share. Right now Apple has a miniscule market share, and Linux is poised to engineer some success on the desktop. If Apple's move to Intel raises its market share that might be at the expense of Linux. Cogito ergo penguin.

Well, yes and no.

Let's give the devil his due first. There are some folks now working on Linux stuff who would rather be making money. They're the ones who complain loudest about the GPL obligation to share their enhancements with the community, who rail about their costs and, after a few beers, spread the FUD about Linux not having a business model. They're only here because they're afraid Microsoft will engulf-and-devour their next Big Idea, which they haven't had yet but are certain to get if they can righteously dream of owning a football team after the Big Score.

I can easily see these folks moving to Mac development. More beer for the rest of us, I say.

But look people. The Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD. Windows offers a lot of services for Unix. In a way we're all Linux now, and all that's left to argue about are the terms of the world's surrender.

Should the Macintosh pull in more desktop market share, however, that's coming from Windows. Should Macintosh pull in some server share that might come from Linux, but I expect to see pigs fly before I see any Linux servers hot-swapped for Macs.

Besides all this is theoretical, it's entertainment, it's speculation. An Intel-based Mac is still a Mac. The full transition is still two years away. A lot can happen in two years.

But at least now the game's afoot. And we have a little something to talk about.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Loud cheering in this section of the stands...

    "But look people. The Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD. Windows offers a lot of services for Unix. In a way we?re all Linux now, and all that?s left to argue about are the terms of the world?s surrender."

    Couldn't possibly have said it better myself.
    • Aw shucks...

      I don't know what to say, murph (kicking a little rock with his toe and looking down in embarrassment)...<g>
    • Oh, Brother.

      "Windows offers a lot of services for Unix." Therefore, "we're all Linux now".

      A mountain goat would be intimidated by a leap like the one taken by this logic.

      The desktop world has already surrendered. In the server world, Microsoft recently exceeded Unix sales for the first time. (Admittedly, Unix was weakened by Linux, but do you want to bet against Microsoft exceeding the Unix/Linux duo?) Think pocketpc, think media delivery, think XBox...

      If the world is going to surrender to anyone, wouldn't it be the company that has grown accustomed to accepting capitulations?

      On the desktop, the anti-Microsoft 5% has a choice of Linux and Apple. There's an interesting discussion about whether they're considered alternatives by potential buyers, or whether this niche is segmented.
      That discussion is a good alternative to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. (Answer: all there are. I want to be helpful.)

      The issues of this small niche are not earth-shattering. If it's possible to reason out the universe from a piece of angelcake, that doesn't mean the universe IS a piece of angelcake.
      Anton Philidor
      • Re: Oh, Brother

        "The desktop world has already surrendered. In the server world.

        The "desktop world" that surrendered to Microsoft was OS2 and
        non-Unix Macs. That generation has retired and Generation
        Unix has vacated the cease fire. MS has a entirely new fight on
        it's hands and the days of "no one ever got fired for specifying
        Microsoft" days are long gone. Upper management of
        companies from the top of the Fortune 500 down to the smaller
        companies in the Yellow Pages know about Linux and include it
        in their business plans.

        "Microsoft recently exceeded Unix sales for the first time." MS
        gets credited with a sale every time a box is sold with their OS
        installed, but who gets credit for (the increasing number of)
        servers sold without an OS? Do they go into the Windows
        column, Linux, BSD, ?

        And what about all those servers that left the factory on
        Microsoft and have been upgraded to *nix. Based on the
        frequent calls I receive from Microsoft wanting to know what we
        are running, I don't think Microsoft is all that happy with the
        exodus of MS servers from the world's data centers.

        ".. do you want to bet against Microsoft exceeding the Unix/
        Linux duo?) Think pocketpc, think media delivery, think XBox..."

        Yes, I'll bet against Microsoft gaining any share in the computer
        market. Think WebTV, MSNBC, Viruses, Spyware...

        Why is MS pouring money into XBox, smartphones, and every
        other market, other than computers, that they can find? They
        know that their numbers have peaked and their server AND
        desktop marketshare has nowhere to go but down.
        • We can agree that Microsoft's share...

          ... of the desktop market has peaked at over 90%. On the other hand, the number of pc users is still increasing, and if over 90% come with Windows, that's not a disappointing result for company revenues.

          In servers, I've been surprised by how substantial and immediate Microsoft's success has been. I still haven't seen a good analysis of what's being sold, to whom, and for what purpose. That would be worth reading when it appears.

          Still, given that Microsoft negotiates prices, any organization that did not mention evaluating Linux in its plans would be remiss.

          The statement to which I responded was, "We're all Linux now." Part of the response was to show a better case for: "We're all Windows now."
          Please don't consider the post to be advocacy, unless you take reality as an argument in favor of Microsoft.
          Anton Philidor
  • Sure Dvorak.. and the skies will be raining bird feces too..

    Better make sure you have your umbrella Dvorak.
  • Something to talk about? Not really...

    The Apple story has been talked about to death...
    • You wish

      Truth is all the talk about Apple on Intel is just getting started. It's
      going to be the biggest tech story of this year and for many more
      to come.
      Len Rooney
    • Then don't talk about it!

      Only kidding. Talk all you want.
  • Different profiles

    Mac users and Windows users want a turnkey system.

    Linux users want a free software,
    universal, custom system on cheap hardware.

    I think you will have some Windows users switching to a Mac to get away from Windows malware problems.

    They will have the added comfort that they can install Windows on their new Mactel if they want to.

    The migration will come from Windows NOT Linux.
  • Re: Could Dvorak be right, and the Mac move hurt Linux?

    [i]"Software vendors play a market share game. That is, they look to support products with market share."[/i]

    Whether or not this is true, market share and installed base are two different things. If a Windows user buys a new rig thrice in four years and his neighbor buys a Mac once, then Windows has a 75 percent market share among them while the installed base is 50/50.

    Couple of things about the Mac move hurting Linux: It might hurt IBM and Novell but Linux will go on and on not even taking notice. It's the nature of F/OSS.

    And Dvorak is the guy who said Apple's Tiger "borrows heavily" from Longhorn. Isn't that kind of like saying the Honeymooners borrows heavily from the Flintstones? Come on.

    none none
    • Not Exactly

      You forget the deliberate obsolescence built into the Windows platform. A two-year old Windows box may be unable to get new software, and a four-year old box may be unable to get virus protection.

      These things turn over quickly, which means a change in yearly market share can be more quickly reflected in the "installed base" numbers (at least the "active installed base" buying software) than it would be in, say, the car business.
  • Except for this:

    Just because Apple is thinking of using Intel chips on their motherboards and optimizing OSX to run on Intel processors does not mean that you can run OSX on your Athlon-64 machine, or your P4. OSX will still require some proprietary Apple hardware which just won't be present on your Intel- and AMD-compatible motherboards. So those of us who know better will still run Linux (as opposed to Windows).
    • But

      Apple, uniquely for a corporation that would otherwise solely mooch off of linux, is giving back to the open source community.

      They know they're going to move to Intel.

      I think they've known for some time.

      Why write a new OS from scratch when they can take FreeBSD and make it PowerPC-friendly?

      They can convert it all back to x86 or 64-bit easily enough. Giving back to the open source community will only help them achieve the goal.
    • You forget one thing

      There will be no need to buy a whole new Mac to run OSX all you will need is a MO Board. I am sure that set-ups will be available to allow you to install dual Moboards. You will have two PC's in one box!

      This is what I am waiting to see.
    • Well sort of...

      I can purchase a MacTel box, partition the hard drive, run Windows natively for my gaming pleasure and then boot into the OS X mode to get my work done. Something that no other platform can currently offer. The real losers here will be the OEM's like Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. People will like the choice and option in a big way.
      • Of course it all depends.....

        ....on whether or not Jobs actually sees the potential profit from doing so. The fact that he's been such a control freak is what has kept Apple at the 10% market share level.
        • Well Steve did say...

          That the Intel based Mac's will run Windows.
  • Won't work - corporate America is moving toward thin clients. Aka


    Simple linux-based dumbtube that boots off of an integrated NIC. Connects to a Citrix (which uses) Windows Terminal Services of all things. (And Windows, as we know, is LESS than secure than a wealthy man using the restroom with his pants down and then a robber comes in with a semi-automatic...)

    Hackers will undoubtedly be overjoyed with the prospect of turning the eggs in their corporate basket to a gooey mess. "The yolk's on who?" is the ultimate question here...
  • bill gate's nightmare has begun

    let's face it nobody except a programmer/itguru/or masochist would get a linux machine, not right now anyway, and as far as I can tell the community would like it to stay just that way, to keep out the tourists. If apple can make enough of a splash, and show that it's workstation models are sooooo easy to drive, and price them in the ballpark, what would eventually stop him from marketing software he has already developed? Steve Jobs won't live forever, and I'm sure that someone else would straight up take on Windows, more likely Apple than any free distribution of linux.