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Dvorak Avocates Open Sourcing OS X 571

Posted by Zonk
from the jigga-whaa dept.
xzvf writes "Dvorak claims OS X and Apple in trouble. He suggests open sourcing OS X for an epic battle with Linux. In many ways, this is just insane rambling, but it's certainly entertaining on some levels." From the article: "That would make the battle between OS X and Linux the most interesting one on the computer scene. With all attention turned in that direction, there would be nothing Microsoft could do to stem a reversal of its fortunes. Let's start at the beginning. There's been a lot of fuss over Apple's rollout of the unsupported Boot Camp product, which lets Mac users run Microsoft Windows easily on an Intel-based Macintosh. I got into various levels of trouble when I suggested that Apple was going to gravitate towards Windows since it would be easy to do and there was some evidence that the company might want to do it."
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Dvorak Avocates Open Sourcing OS X

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  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:46PM (#15150979)
    There have been several instances where I would have liked to step into a Cocoa API call to see what's going on behind the scenes, but was not able to. The Cocoa API is part of what the Mac experience is built upon, so Apple is not going to open up this library. But from a developer's standpoint, it is frustrating to have it closed.
  • by baadger (764884) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:48PM (#15150999)
    How would open sourcing OS X make an epic battle with Linux? If anything, asuming the license was favourable, it would only benefit Linux and projects like KDE and Gnome, wouldn't it?
  • by Trillan (597339) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:52PM (#15151035) Homepage Journal
    Only on the Internet could Dvorak be taken seriously. On TV, people would notice his mouth foam and his face twitching in sheer insanity.
  • Moronity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@[ ]oggy.com ['phr' in gap]> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:55PM (#15151079) Homepage
    I got into various levels of trouble when I suggested that Apple was going to gravitate towards Windows since it would be easy to do and there was some evidence that the company might want to do it.

    No there wasn't.

    Getting OS X onto PCs might be even more doable today, since researchers are reporting that as many as half of the business-owned PCs in operation now may not be capable of running Microsoft Vista.

    And any random crap hardware that can't run Vista should have no trouble running Mac OS X! Piece of cake.

    The Boot Camp product is pure test marketing. It's so obviously test marketing that it's hard to believe that people are foolish enough to get worked up about it.

    Yes, Apple announced that this functionality will be built into the next version of Mac OS X, because they want to wait and see how people react before they decide whether it's a good idea. Because if they had already decided it was a good idea, they would have done something differently.

    Does Windows works well on Mac hardware, or not? The idea here is to put it into the wild and see what happens in a support-free environment where Apple has no responsibility to help make it work.

    Does Windows work well on PC hardware, or not? That's debatable, but obviously Apple thinks they can make it work just as well on Mac hardware. Does it yet? No. That's why Boot Camp is in beta. There are bugs they need to work out. Some of them are documented.

    Apple needs to analyze the reaction to Windows on a Mac. This includes seeing whether there is massive rejection of the idea--protests, picketing, egg-throwing, and flaming. In other words, can the community at large live with the idea of Windows running on a Mac? That cannot be known or assumed without this test.

    Nope, it can't be known. Absolutely no way to even guess. It's not like you could ask people. You know, take a survey. And I mean a real one, not PC Magazine's equivalent of a Slashdot poll.

    Much of the positive reaction, though, seems to stem from the mistaken supposition that having Windows on a Mac will make OS X look better by comparison, so people will flock to OS X.

    Really? That's not the reaction I've been hearing. The two reactions I've been hearing are:
    • I've never used Mac OS X and I don't know if I'll like it; now if I buy a Mac and don't like the OS, I can rest assured that I can switch back to Windows without ditching the hardware.
    • I prefer Mac OS X but I have to use Windows for work (or gaming); now instead of buying a PC to get my work done (or play my games) and being stuck in XP all the time, I can buy a Mac instead, run XP when I need to work (or want to play), then spend the rest of my time running a better OS.


    I didn't bother continuing to the next page.
  • by MOBE2001 (263700) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:58PM (#15151117) Homepage Journal
    The reason is that the vast majority of existing commercial software is running on Windows and people have gotten used to it. Microsoft has a captive market for Windows, the same way Columbian drug dealers have a captive market for cocaine. Microsoft has other things to worry about, not the least of which is that a third party may come into the ring out of nowhere and offer a solution to the biggest problem facing the computer industry today: software unreliability and our inability to manage and create highly complex and safe systems. This is the reason that none of us are riding in self-driving vehicles today among other things. Clearly, something needs to be done and quick. Microsoft (Bill Gates) has no idea what this something is. That's where the fear comes in. Some other company may come in and take everybody by surprise. Microsoft and the other big players would then be left in the dust holding on to yesterday's obsolete technology. Unless, of course, they see the light and take quick action. But I'm not hoilding my breath.
  • A simple request (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Repvblic (4658) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:04PM (#15151169) Homepage
    If the /. staff is going to continue posting Dvorak articles regarding Apple as if they have any value, can my Batboy links please be accepted for the science category?

    I mean if you're going to post bullocks like this in one category it's only fair to accept them in all categories!
  • Sounds like you're a good candidate for this: http://www.gnustep.org/information/mission.html [gnustep.org] --as they say, due to Apple changing the Cocoa API all the time, it's not a 100% match, but any development work you do in GNUStep should be trivial to build in Cocoa.
  • by McDutchie (151611) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:12PM (#15151238) Homepage
    Nobody buys Mac because of the hardware no matter what they say.

    So says you. Have you ever seen recent Mac hardware from nearby (and I mean recent as in less than five years old)? It's not just beautiful, it's solid and durable. Look inside one and the attention to detail seems immediately obvious. I have never seen a PC box or laptop that comes close, although some try.

    Yeah, so I'm an Apple fanboi. Sosumi.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:12PM (#15151241)
    I think the best question to ask all these writers/posters of "Apple should do this..." articles is, why? Or to be more specific. Why DO YOU want Apple to do these things? What's in it for Apple? What's in it for you? How come the status quo isn't good enough for you...or Apple?
  • Do your part ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:13PM (#15151250) Journal
    I did my part by not actually clicking on the link and giving it one more page hit.
  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:20PM (#15151306) Homepage
    I don't think Jobs wants to dominate.

    Apple has very carefully created a boutique quality to their products. This was a calculated move. To strive for dominance would bring much of the hip-and-cool aspects of Mac culture to an end.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:24PM (#15151329)
    Face it folks, Unless Apple sells an integrated system, they can't compete. If they sell hardware only, they get killed on price. If they sell just the OS, M$ kills them with its market power. Apple can do something M$ can't, they can sell an integrated computing system that basically "just works."
    The boot camp strategy seems to be a way to allow someone to own and use an apple while still retaining their legacy M$ software. Eventually the customer will abandon the M$ partition for everything but that application (game) that still doesn't run on apple. Meanwhile, Apple is selling overpriced very reliable computer systems to people who discover that computers don't have to crash on a regular basis.
    At some point the developers will notice this fact and provide programs that run on both platforms. When that happens M$ dies (or it adapts).
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:25PM (#15151336)
    Dvorak is rather obsessed with OS X isn't he? Considering he writes for PC Magazine? Do you think he's in love with the OS but his bosses won't let him use it (or write what he really thinks) at work?
  • by TrekCycling (468080) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:26PM (#15151353) Homepage
    What's insane is that he gets paid big money to write this kind of drivel. This proves that the "invisible hand of the market" is not just invisible, but stupid.
  • by BluhDeBluh (805090) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:29PM (#15151376)
    Dvorak just likes to make inane random predictions that never, and I mean never, come true. His column inches are dedicated to shots in the dark which don't deserve the time of day. He's a troll with a website who claims to be an expert, and loves making wilder and crazier predictions with a distinct Apple fetish

    Apple has the best sales they've ever had, they have no reason to open source it, and it's just... nonsense to anyone.

    Looking at Slashdot posts he thinks
    * Apple is going to move to Windows
    * Microsoft should buy Opera
    * Apple are promoted by news people more than they are used
    * the Creative Commons license is worth trashing
    * That Apple's move to Intel will harm Linux
    * Google is planning a web browser
    * Apple should discontinue the Mac
    * TiVo is a way of stealing programming

    Make your own opinions. Mine is that he's a poor troll. Okay, so he correctly predicted that Apple would move to Intel. But if you fire enough shots and make enough random predictions, you're eventually going to get one on the bullseye.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:33PM (#15151408)
    Are you sure GNUStep is a strict subset of Cocoa? I could be wrong, but I thought they still supported some things from OpenStep that Cocoa dropped or diverged a little or something. Ah, here's the relevant quote (from the page you linked to):
    Our target implementation for the core libraries is the OpenStep standard and OPENSTEP implementation. However, we do consider changes and additions to this API under the following circumstances.
    • We add methods and classes, either from Cocoa or our own extensions, if they add substantial value and don't interfere with OpenStep and/or Cocoa compatibility.
    • We generally don't remove things unless there is a clearly better implementation in newer Cocoa API.
    • Where there is a real problem with a change, we find a technically superior work-around. In rare cases, this might involve a change in the original OpenStep API.
    It's sad, but this focus on "OpenStep with a bit of Cocoa, and maybe some of our own stuff if it's better" is why nobody uses GNUStep. If their mission was "100% compatibility with Cocoa" instead, then it would be a lot more popular.
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:38PM (#15151458)

    Certainly the recent rise of OS X on the back of the iPod has hurt desktop Linux, but these two desktop OS's appeal to completely different market segments so they are natural allies, not adversaries.

    Linux attack MS from the low-end and is particularly strong in corporate, third world, and limited use, environments. It is flexible and is appealling technically and politically, but is quite rough and not ready for the average consumer.

    OS X is the opposite. It is high margin, high sytle, and slick. It is perfect for the brand-concious, reasonably wealthy, consumer who wants everything to work together easily.

    I'm not suggesting that Apple would intentionally help Linux, anymore than MS would, but Apple and Linux are not exactly on a collision course!
  • by AusG4 (651867) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:39PM (#15151465) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, my favorite part of this article is this:

    "I got into various levels of trouble when I suggested that Apple was going to gravitate towards Windows since it would be easy to do and there was some evidence that the company might want to do it."

    What he actually said was that Apple would ditch OS X for Windows. What Apple actually did was allow people who want to run Windows -as well- to install it on a second partition, obviously with the intention of providing a safety net to would-be switchers.

    I like John, but I'd rather he not try to restate what he previously stated to make himself look smarter than he really is.
  • I want that job! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cannelloni (969195) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:45PM (#15151521)
    Wouldn't it be great to have a job where you could write any outrageously mindless article on your laptop, moronic stories concocted during lengthy shit sessions - and get paid for it! Then millions of angry slashdotters will hear about it and maybe click a certain link, and this will generate advertising revenue for PC World. Brilliant! I want to do it, but I would use a pseudonym.
  • by mosestheripper (969229) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:46PM (#15151533)
    run for congress
  • Complete Nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by o-hayo (700478) <andy AT lbox DOT org> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:48PM (#15151549)
    To assume that buying Apple hardware is just means-to-an-end for getting their software is quite ridiculous. Yes, OSX is great and I've been happily using it since 10.0.3 on a first gen ti-powerbook.

    So back to the hardware. Whatever premium you think exists (I disagree) on Mac Gear is what my good friend and I call "Worth Every Penny." I've seen an iBook that a caring mother drove over with her BMW X5, sure the LCD was cracked but system still booted in FireWire mode and I was able to retrieve all the documents they needed. My own 12" alBook has been used and abused by myself since they were released and through nearly 2 years now (3 years on an iBook) of my sister's college education without a single failure. I'm kind of upset that I even bothered buying AppleCare for it since I've never had to call them once, not once.

    My iMac G5 is one of the most brilliant home computers ever created. One power cord runs the whole system. One. The case is practically seamless and is almost as easy to move around my home as my old powerbook was. When I first shipped it to work some antiMac socialist went crazy and asked why I didn't buy some gateway that was "the same case and form factor and is no different" - http://content.gateway.com/www.gateway.com/img/pro d/249x176/prf55c_pd.jpg [gateway.com] - ya freaking right.

    I will unplug my internet connection and live in a cave before I buy a "Mac" installed on some beige box AlienDellWare piece of shitbox.

    Sorry for the rant, I was up for a little karmaburn anyway.

  • by cookiej (136023) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:02PM (#15151672)
    I think you're missing the mark with regard to what makes for the "it just works" experience. it is not just OS X. It is the blend of the two -- which is only possible because Apple controls both ends. The MacBook Pro has an integrated iSight. From a hardware perspective, lots of systems have built-in cameras. But the integration with OSX is so tight and straightforward it makes using it seamless with virtually every app I've tried. Could they do it as easily if they had to rely on some industry "standard" instead of knowing the hardware from all sides? I doubt it. The light-activated (dark-activated?) backlit keyboard is right in line with the way Apple thinks. Just when things are getting dark (and I'd be thinking of tilting my screen forward to see the keys with my old laptop) the backlight comes on. It doesn't just flick on, it fades up. It's smooth. There are so many things that are like that on this laptop. The two-finger scrolling thing on the trackpad. The slot-load drive. The reliable sleep mode. The discrete eject button. The pulsing light that indicates sleep mode on the case button.

    OS X and the hardware it runs on are simply reflections of how Apple does things. It isn't just the software. The reliability of OS X would approximate Windows pretty quickly if they had to support all the different hardware Windows does. We'll see where this goes, but were I Dell, I'd be offering extravagant discounts to educational institutions about now. Apple will crush the competition in Education when Leopard comes out.
  • by oudzeeman (684485) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:03PM (#15151680)
    SOME of OS X is open source. The things that make OSX OSX (things like Aqua, core[audio,image,data], Quartz, Cocoa, Carbon, DisplayPDF) are not.
  • by CovenantMG (902847) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:07PM (#15151715)
    Actually people buy Apple precicely because of the hardware. Or more specifically their control of the hardware. The fact that Apple is the sole supplier of Apple hardware is a major factor in the software being what it is. There is no concern for unsupported third party motherboards/bios/video cards etc. No worry about thousands upon thousands of various systems often put together from the cheapest parts by someone on a budget. Instead they can test on the few systems that they produced and sold at a premium. Windows often has stability issues because it runs on every hobbled together piece of hardware out there not to mention the desire to support bleeding edge hardware to keep users happy. The spyware thing is also a red-herring. If you really care what the Apple users are doing call both of them and ask ;-) But seriously, if you want to track user's behavior you aim for the largest installed base. That is currently (good or bad) windows users. It's not because the mac is inherently better at preventing it. It's quite possible that the reason that we don't see apple rushing head long into porting OS-X to everything intel is precicely because they don't want to support every odd hardware configuration out there. Better to put out a product that is 'unsupported' on such hardware but usually runs... that way they get more sales to those who are curious without having to support them or take the blame if it doesn't work...
  • by GoatPigSheep (525460) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:21PM (#15151831) Homepage Journal
    Actually apple hardware is pretty awesome... Really thin laptops, really quiet desktop computers (except the power macs, but they are workstations)... 1000mbit ethernet standard even on the mini... Sturdy contruction overall (I saw a vid of a guy smashing a g4 power mac with a hammer and it barely scratched untill the swing-hinge holding the motherboard opened).

    Pricey.. yeah.. But every PC manufacturer is trying to make half assed copies of their hardware designs.
  • by igaborf (69869) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:24PM (#15151860)
    Each would benefit those with the actual power to implement his suggestions not at all.

    Not true. Angie and Natalie would get free Jello.

  • by GoatPigSheep (525460) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:24PM (#15151868) Homepage Journal
    the thinkpads WERE great, when they were manufactured and supported by IBM (who always made sturdy hardware). Not anymore.
  • by sterno (16320) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:25PM (#15151877) Homepage
    It's insane rambling and on top of that it doesn't make the slightest bit of business sense for Apple (yeah sometimes insane and business sense do go together). Apple makes money on hardware. If people can get the Apple experience on cheaper hardware like they did in the clone days, then Apple has a serious problem.

    For Apple, running Windows on Apple is perfectly okay because it means people are still buying Apple hardware. However, it is not in their interest to be, primarily, a windows computer manufacturer because then they suddenly have to compete with Dell, etc. They derrive value from having a unique experience with the slick hardware and the nicely integrated OS.

    It is furthermore not in the immediate interest of Apple to offer OSX on non-apple hardware. The risk they face there is, once again, people defecting to cheaper hardware. This could change in time though. The position they are in now is that people can get an Apple laptop and become familiar with the Apple experience without abandoning Windows completely. It makes it possible for business users to have chic Apple hardware but still run their company's Windows based software.

    So open sourcing will not happen. It's too important to Apple to keep a tight control over the experience of using Apple products. Once they set the code free they can't control what happens. Imagine the mistake of clone licensing repeated with no ability to undo the mistake and you see where this goes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:45PM (#15152054)
    By the way, I was asking netradio.com for a way to buy tracks individually ten years ago! Does that make me a visionary?? What took Steve so f@cking long??

    No you see, while you spent your time posting as an AC on Slashdot, Steve Jobs actually went out and did it.

  • by kisrael (134664) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:52PM (#15152101) Homepage
    Bingo. I was going to say something like that.

    Also the grandparent post misses the way that truly standardized hardware makes it significantly easier for Apple to make its lovely software.

    There are a few things here and there I'm not crazy about w/ my G3 iBook, like the single mouse button, and some other thins that probably because of over exposure to Windows I'm not comfortable with, but overall it's a much more well tuned experience, and I love that the hardware doesn't bake my lap...
  • by dohcvtec (461026) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @04:21PM (#15152333)
    Jobs doesn't want to dominate. He's a kooky hippie who managed to strike it rich, not an aspiring Bill Gates or Larry Ellison.

    True, and this is the key reason why Dvorak is clueless. He says Apple is doomed because they will never dominate the desktop or monopolize like Microsoft. If Apple not overtaking Microsoft is considered failure, then sure they're doomed, and something crazy like open-sourcing OSX may become necessary. But back in the real world, Apple is sitting pretty with the small marketshare they have, and I see their star rising with the path they're currently taking, not falling as Dvorak confusingly suggests.
  • What a bonehead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danwesnor (896499) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @04:56PM (#15152607)
    With all attention turned in that direction, there would be nothing Microsoft could do to stem a reversal of its fortunes.
    Except rake in the profits. If Apple loses quality control by going open source, their product won't meet the standards of their users. Also, it would be mere minutes before an open-source OS X was ported to run on non-Apple hardware, essenitally knocking themselves out of the computer business.
    Step 2: Determining functionality without risk.
    The definition of a public beta test.
    In other words, can the community at large live with the idea of Windows running on a Mac?
    Yes, they can, they've been doing it for a while through various emulators. Maybe if your head was someplace with a more panoramic view than the orifice where you usually keep it, you'd have noticed this.
    If the Windows test keeps going the way it's going, the results may indicate that Mac users are more likely to shift to Windows than we used to think.
    That's a baseless conclusion, and is based on the assumtion that Mac users don't really want to run OS X and are looking for an alternative, an assumption that we all know is wrong.
    But what will happen to Mac OS X?
    It's userbase will grow. That's what happens when you make a good product more useful to more people. I will not use the author's name because I think this article is nothing more than a publicity stunt. But I will give my opinion of him - he is one of those crusty old men hanging around your local computer club meetings waxing poetic about the days of DOS and trying to impress you with his library of obscure and outdated computer trivia ("In the old days, we used to print by copying the file to LPT1 on port 378h."). He has never been able to maintain an up-to-date understanding of what is going on in this industry. He is an anachronism.

    So Johnny, let me give give you a key insight you'll need to hold onto whenever you write anything about Apple: Jobs doesn't want to win, he wants to be the best.


    (PS - I do not and have never owned an Apple computer, so this is not fanboi crap.)
  • Re:Moronity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:04PM (#15152673)
    You know I've been hearing this argument for dual boot of OSX and XP for a while, heck even Linux and XP, but it never dawned on me until now how silly this idea is. I mean, if you're doing your work and your play on XP, then just what is it that you're doing on OSX? Browsing the web, listening to music? Both these can be classified as work or play, but putting that aside, why boot into a new OS just to do these simple tasks? This is coming from someone who dual boots Linux and XP, so realize this is just an observation and not a critique.

    Well, personally, I would much rather work and play in OS X. But if I have no choice, because I game I want to play is available only for Windows, or because my employer requires me to use a Windows-only application, I'm willing to tolerate Windows for as brief a period as possible before returning to OS X.
  • by bubkus_jones (561139) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:15PM (#15152735)
    Maybe he didn't have a direct hand in iTMS, but where was the company headed during his absence? He rejoined Apple and revitalized the company with the iMac. An inexpensive, easy to setup and operate computer for those who don't like computers. Then they brought out the iPod. No it wasn't the first hard drive portable mp3 player out there, but pretty much since, it's been the first one that comes to mind for most people when they think of an mp3 player.

    iTunes is also the most popular digital song file online store. I'm pretty sure that it's share is greater than all the rest combined (with a little help from it's integration with the iPod).

    He wasn't directly involved, but do you think Apple could have done all this without him leading the company?
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Apple OS just as much a ripoff of a Xerox system GUI as Windows allegedly was/is of MacOS?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @06:27PM (#15153168)
    Um...you do know that hardware you order from the Apple store ships from China, right? Apple may design their hardware, but it's made in China just like all the rest of the computers in the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @06:44PM (#15153269)
    Nonetheless Apple still ripped off the overall GUI...and there is not concrete proof that any rights were originally paid to Xerox. Some stories talk of a payment to Xerox after the fact to avoid litigation...others say its just plain BS. So all you applefanboys...enough with the "vista and xp are ripoffs of osx"...enough already!

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