Open Source on Mac

Comment from E-mail

Currently I do not own a MAC. The main reason for that is because I am a hardcore gaming enthusiast. I think that that might change in the future and I am considering buying an iMac for my wife and daughter. I work as a Network Administrator, primarily with WindowsNT. Strangely enough, I do not advocate the use or purchase of Microsoft products. I make a living solving problems with these products. Needless to say, there is PLENTY of work to keep me busy. But on a personal level, (when I am not playing computer games), I am working with Linux. If I do purchase an iMac for my wife, I will dual boot it to Linux for my own use. I have also seen BeOS in action on an iMac and was very impressed.

I have a question for you if you have time:

One thing that I think could really help Apple right now, would be to go completely open source with its OS and possibly move its OS to one based on Linux or FreeBSD. Over the years I have heard only two complaints from ANYONE about the prospect of owning a Mac. The first is a lack of applications. While this is not wholly true, I think that the number of apps available could be dramatically increased if they moved their OS in the direction that I suggested above. The second complaint was the difficulty or inability of upgrading your Mac as opposed to a PC. Firstly, I don't know enough about Mac hardware to know if that is true or not, but my guess is that if it ever was true, its not so today. The reason being that most PC's (Mac's included) are at a point where they are so far over powered for today's applications that upgrading is totally unnecessary for at least 3 or 4 years which is the expected life of the machine anyway.


Apple prides itself on keeping greater compatibility by strictly controlling the hardware and OS and having less configurations to deal with. That might go against Open source. I would certainly favor Open Source though. I think that a lot of future OS 'improvers' would get educated this way. Examining code and trying to understand it is a better way to learn than from books. Associating the Macintosh with Linux would be the most positive thing Apple could do to be accepted everywhere. But Linux is UNIX and the underlying kernel of MacOS X will be MACH, which is also UNIX. It just may not be as popular as Linux.

While upgrading Macintosh hardware is often not easily accomplished, the basic elements (RAM, HD, Keyboard, peripherals, PCI cards) are easy to upgrade. It's just not so in the consumer models, the iMac and iBook. The audience for these products is better off not including upgrade in their vocabulary. Upgrading causes more problems than it fixes. Isn't that why you are working with WindowsNT and not willing to buy Microsoft for yourself?

Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...

Question from E-mail

First I want to say thank you, not just for your contributions as an engineer but for serving as a valuable role model as well. My personal experiences with computers evolved from the C64's to Apple IIe's, Windows then UNIX (several varieties) and now I feel as though I found the perfect OS with Linux. With all the discussion of Mac vs. Windows it seems like other good options don't get the recognition they deserve. I would like to know your opinions on these alternative OSes (Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, etc...) as well as the open source movement. Have you ever played around with any of the other systems and if so do you think it possible that you might switch to something other than a Mac?


It's only been Apple ][ and Mac for me. I used a little UNIX in the far past, and have to touch on it for some of the network equipment that I administer.

Over the years I met so many people doing things with Atari computers, particularly the Amiga, that were not easily doable with Macs or any other PC, that I was very impressed. Many of the best people ('best' meaning those that want things other than normal and that can't stop moving and all) are into Linux so I admire it. But with all my time consumed with a large family and many computers to maintain and a network too, and mail and magazines and updates and all, I won't have time for things like Linux for quite a while. I actually look forward to my children being gone.