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Mac OS X Kernel Source Now Closed 663

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nice-while-it-lasted dept.
littleghoti writes "Macworld is reporting that "Thanks to pirates, or rather the fear of them, the Intel edition of Apple's OS X is now a proprietary operating system." Mac developers and power users no longer have the freedom to alter, rebuild, and replace the OS X kernel from source code."
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Mac OS X Kernel Source Now Closed

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  • Great news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    This is fantastic news! It means:

    1) Whiney OS X Fanboys are no longer going to say "OS X is just as open as linux" (what a stupid argument that was anyway.

    2) Whiney Anti-GPL Fanboys are no longer going to point at Darwin saying "see, Apple contributes back without being forced too - why does linux have to be GPLed?"

    Me? I'm just going to wait and see how much the discussion changes from the rumour that Darwin was going to close source (see this guy [slashdot.org] for a typical example.
    • Re:Great news! (Score:5, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:19AM (#15351109)
      There is no new news here.

      The state of Darwin x86 hasn't changed since the day the Intel-based Macs shipped.

      In fact, Apple's only action since then has been to release MORE source; APSL sources that correspond to the entire PPC Darwin tree with the exception of the kernel.

      This has been discussed for MONTHS in other forums, has already been covered by slashdot, and has been beaten to death on Apple's mailing lists.

      Darwin x86 *as an OS* is dead. The actual part of the Darwin strategy people cared about, i.e., the Darwin OS *components* being open, and all of the projects (like WebKit), etc., are all open, alive, and well on x86 and PPC. Apple releases parity Darwin source releases with each Mac OS X release.

      See for yourself:

      http://www.opensource.apple.com/darwinsource/ [apple.com]

      The only item of note not present is one thing: xnu (the kernel).

      All of Apple's open source projects, all of the APSL-licensed projects - which Apple is under zero obligation to continue releasing - and all of the GPL-licensed projects (of course) are still there.

      So, in sum, paint this as some kind of bad news if you want, but if anything, it's OLD news, and actually, the pieces of Darwin people actually care about and use - indeed, both of the things you allude to in your post - are still alive and well on x86.

      The only thing you can't do is make a bootable Darwin OS for x86 any more. And if you can explain to me why anyone would want to do that for any useful purpose, well, I'm all ears.
      • Idiotic moderation ... your comment was the best explanation I've gotten in this thread so far as to what's going on and what is and isn't closed.

        I can't really think of why anyone would want to run Darwin x86 without OS X either; we've already established that it's a worse server platform than Linux for most tasks, especially database ones, and headless servers are really the only place I think there'd be a market for Darwin. And it's not like there's any dearth of server OSes and distos these days anyway.
      • useful purpose (Score:5, Interesting)

        by r00t (33219) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:14AM (#15351637) Journal
        I happen to like fixing kernel bugs. It's fun, and it makes the bugs go away. (not suggesting that Apple should delibrately add extra bugs just for the thrill of fixing them though) Kernel source is educational too.

        Oh well. I can still judge a Mac on hardware alone, and then install Linux if I get a Mac. That's what I did last time I bought a computer.

        It sure irritates me to see BSD groups actually helping proprietary vendors compete against open source. Thanks buddy. Stallman got at least one thing right.

        • Re:useful purpose (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          "It sure irritates me to see BSD groups actually helping proprietary vendors compete against open source."

          Your assessment is wrong. BSD code as used to make OS X, which led to a major usage of open source and GPL code, nearly doubling the probable user base of free and open software. More people are engaged in open source software than before, and yet you (expectedly to some like myself) twist this into a bad thing blaming BSD, rather than analyze the failings of the GPL license and the Linux camp in not
      • Are you serious? (Score:3, Informative)

        by mangu (126918)
        The only thing you can't do is make a bootable Darwin OS for x86 any more. And if you can explain to me why anyone would want to do that for any useful purpose, well, I'm all ears.


        That question has been asked and answered several times [google.com]

      • Re:Great news! (Score:3, Informative)

        by The Slashdolt (518657)
        Fact: OSX is partially open and partially closed. Many development packages and the kernel have been open source, but the gui and visual areas have remained closed source.

        Fact: For the PPC platform this hasn't change.

        Fact: The ability to compile the OS X kernel for x86, aka xnu, is no longer available.

        My question is, and I have yet to hear an answer, is why have they done this? "Nobody does this anyway" is not a good excuse. I personally compile my own xnu kernels on PPC and x86.

        The only thing you c
        • Re:Great news! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jeremi (14640)
          My question is, and I have yet to hear an answer, is why have they done this? [...] One obvious reason is so that you can run OSX on non-apple hardware.


          Looks like you've answered your own question. Apple does not want you to run OSX on non-Apple hardware, because that might discourage you from buying Apple hardware, which is where they make their money.

  • Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SavoWood (650474) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:13AM (#15351026) Homepage
    It was only a matter of time before Apple got pissed. If you didn't see this coming, it's time for new glasses.

    • Re:Duh! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pius II. (525191) <PiusIINO@SPAMgmx.de> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:06AM (#15351548)
      Nope. If you didn't see this coming, that's because it happened months ago. And just like months ago, the xnu ppc source code is still being published.

      What's more, I have personally used the ppc kernel source to compile an x86 kernel. I haven't tested it, since I lack an ICBM, but I'd assume it would work.
      The only difference I noticed was that the official x86 kernel includes Rosetta, while my self-built kernel didn't[1]. If I was to take a wild guess, it'd be that Apple does not have the right to distribute the in-kernel parts of Rosetta, and accordingly cannot distribute their x86 xnu branch.

      [1] Note that there may well be other differences, but I hacked on binary loading stuff, so that one really caught my eye.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:14AM (#15351035)
    *Extremely* old news.

    Also, "Mac OS X" has ALWAYS been proprietary. It's sensationalistic and shoddy journalism to say that "Mac OS X is now closed". Mac OS X has ALWAYS been closed. It's Darwin that has been open. And "Darwin" is more than a bootable OS: Darwin is Apple's open source strategy AND an OS; but the usefulness has always come from the open source components of the OS, not the usefulness of Darwin as an OS itself. Darwin's usefulness as an OS is, shall we say, "limited" at best, and always has been.

    This has been beaten to death on the darwin-dev list, and there is no new information. Apple has taken no new recent action whatsoever, and in fact, the most recent action is that it has opened up more source code in the x86 tree, not less. Indeed, all of the traditional Darwin source with the notable exception of the kernel itself:

    The thing that's not open in the x86 tree is xnu (the kernel), and it's not possible to create a fully bootable binary x86 Darwin OS, as it is for PPC. In the Darwin/OpenDarwin community, this has been discussed for months.

    In fact, this article by Rob Braun (formerly of Apple, and a member of the OpenDarwin core team) was published in February 2006: http://ezine.daemonnews.org/200602/apple.html [daemonnews.org]. This was then covered on slashdot, to which Rob issued this response: http://www.opendarwin.org/~bbraun/slashdot_respons e.html [opendarwin.org]. These two discussions cover the issues very well.

    I predict, however, that this Macworld UK article will be seen as "new news", and will be picked up by the tech outlets, and trumpeted, exactly as the headline hopes, as "Apple closes down OS X", even though the source for pretty much everything (except the kernel and drivers) is still available. In other words, everything that a normal person needs Darwin sources for is available. In 5 years, I can think of ONE instance where I looked to the kernel source for confirmation of something, and that was only for *confirmation*, and only because it was convenient - not because I needed to rebuild the kernel. I know of no other non-developer/programmer Mac OS X adminisrators/system engineers/enterprise users who have ever had any reason to rebuild the kernel or any drivers.

    If the kernel and driver source were available, it would, however, be used for one purpose: to churn out hacks to get OS X to run on non-Apple hardware in a much faster and higher-quality way than has been possible to date. Will OS X be hacked anyway to run on non-Apple hardware, and will it continue to be, regardless? Yes. If people are willing to replace enough of the OS with the ugliness they're using to get it to work, absolutely. But it will continue to be ugly. Releasing kernel and driver source for the current iterations of OS X on x86 will only make their jobs infinitely easier, while brining little to no benefit to conventional users, power users, and administrators of OS X.

    I'm sure people will find a way to make a huge deal about this, though, even though a huge deal has already been made about it in various forums, including slashdot and other tech news outlets, and on several of Apple's mailing lists.

    I'd like to point out that this was my initial reaction: http://listserv.cuny.edu/Scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0602 &L=macenterprise&T=0&P=58970 [cuny.edu]

    Since then, Apple has posted all of the APSL sources, and it was just a legitimate, honest delay. The PPC and x86 trees are at virtual parity with the sole exception of the kernel and drivers. So I'd submit that "Apple closes down OS X" is highly inaccurate for two reasons:

    - Most of OS X was never "open" to begin with; if he wants to say "Darwin", great, but I suppose "Apple closes down Darwin" wouldn't be as sensationalistic and guaranteed to get as many page v
    • The people pirating it often do not care that what they're using is a nasty hack. Esp. when the alternative is buying a new computer.
      • Indeed. Then why give the x86 Mac OS X hacking community the tools they need to make a nice, polished release of Mac OS X for x86 for use on non-Apple hardware?
        • by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:16AM (#15351654) Homepage Journal
          A better way to word this is: Why give legitimate users a version of Darwin for x86 when pirates are perfectly capable of creating illegal copies of Mac OS X?

          To which, I guess the answer is: Flubajugalubums.

          I honestly doubt closing the sources will make much of a difference. There's an awful lot of pirated binary-only programs out there. Meanwhile, those with legitimate uses are locked out. Doesn't really make much sense to me.

          Perhaps a better solution would be to deal with the piracy issue by, well, catering to a clear demand. What's better, 1,000,000 MacBook sales, and 10,000,000 people with illegal copies of Mac OS X on their Dells, or 1,000,000 MacBook sales, 2,000,000 people with paid-for, unsupported, $100 copies of Mac OS X on their Dells, and 8,000,000 illegal copies? If people are going to do it anyway, and they are, you might as well make some money from them.

          • by telbij (465356) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:21PM (#15353207)
            Perhaps a better solution would be to deal with the piracy issue by, well, catering to a clear demand. What's better, 1,000,000 MacBook sales, and 10,000,000 people with illegal copies of Mac OS X on their Dells, or 1,000,000 MacBook sales, 2,000,000 people with paid-for, unsupported, $100 copies of Mac OS X on their Dells, and 8,000,000 illegal copies? If people are going to do it anyway, and they are, you might as well make some money from them.

            If you don't think this would cut into their hardware sales, dilute their brand, and create angry customers despite the fact that it's 'unsupported' you don't understand the first thing about Apple's market.

            If you want to run OS X unsupported on a PC then go ahead and pirate it, I'm sure Apple doesn't care. If you seriously want to run OS X then suck it up and buy a Mac. You need to stop deluding yourself and think critically about how its in Apple's interest to sell OS X for beige boxes. First of all, it's not a question of whether they'll lose hardware sales, it's a question of how much. Would they be able to make up the sales with OS X for Dells? Especially given the stability and support issues? Seems like a losing bet anyway you slice it

            Look, Apple doesn't have a piracy problem. They don't have complicated DRM. They don't waste money on anti-piracy crusades. They just do a little obfuscation where its convenient, and it's working great for them.
          • Pirates (Score:3, Interesting)

            by orasio (188021)
            Pirates attack ships at sea.

            It does everybody a disservice to call copyright infringers with a term that is used for actual crimes. In fact, the DMCA does in fact make you a criminal in some copyright infringement issues, but that is just stupid. In fact, the choice of the word 'pirate' is convenient for the people who like restricted distrbution, because it implies that copyright infringers are criminals, and that kind of concept grows in people.
    • In fact, this article by Rob Braun (formerly of Apple, and a member of the OpenDarwin core team) was published in February 2006: http://ezine.daemonnews.org/200602/apple.html [daemonnews.org]. This was then covered on slashdot, to which Rob issued this response: http://www.opendarwin.org/~bbraun/slashdot_respons [opendarwin.org] e.html. These two discussions cover the issues very well.

      Yes, it was covered on slashdot at the time, [slashdot.org] so you're not telling us anything we don't know.

      Perhaps the fact that the vast majority of the comments were "It
      • Perhaps you missed this part of the article:

        Users in demanding fields such as biosciences or meteorology do hack OS kernels to slim them down, alter the balance between throughput and computing, and to open them to the resources of a massive grid.

        Sounds pretty useful to sophisticated OS X users to me!


        I saw that part, and my first thought was, is that really true? Many hack the OS as a whole, but not the kernal. Is there a single example of someone hacking the kernal in a "production" system?
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:31AM (#15351227)
        Users in demanding fields such as biosciences or meteorology do hack OS kernels to slim them down, alter the balance between throughput and computing, and to open them to the resources of a massive grid.

        Sounds pretty useful to sophisticated OS X users to me!

        To Apple, letting a relatively small population of niche scientific users "slim down" the Mac OS X kernel is massively outweighed by preventing the Mac OS X on x86 hacking community from being able to easily and quickly deliver an extremely polished distribution of Mac OS X for non-Apple Intel hardware, instead of the ugly hack they have now.

        Most of the usefulness of "Darwin" in the enterprise, developer, and system administration communities has come mostly from the open source Darwin components and projects, period. Not the ability to rebuild or hack the kernel, and not the ability to build Darwin as a bootable OS.

        Is it a loss? Sure.
      • by elventear (868128) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:49AM (#15351397)
        Perhaps you missed this part of the article:
        Users in demanding fields such as biosciences or meteorology do hack OS kernels to slim them down, alter the balance between throughput and computing, and to open them to the resources of a massive grid.
        Sounds pretty useful to sophisticated OS X users to me!

        I use a Mac for my research because it is a great desktop and it has a unixy feeling (I say feeling because it is still a headache to get some programs installed/compiled which are a breeze in any other of the more traditional flavors; especially with the Intel transition, there are some things that do not compile).

        But besides that, I have to say, it's been proven with hard facts and my own experience that MacOSX is not an efficient OS. I don't know why they would even want to spend time hacking the kernel, or use MacOSX for a massive grid. Use Linux, FreeBSD or anything else more efficient, and hack it to improve it even further.

        I am not trying to give an excuse for Apple, but it is just clear that Scientific computing is not the forte os MacOSX, even though Apple might market it as a strong point.

    • by null etc. (524767) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:30AM (#15351776)
      even though the source for pretty much everything (except the kernel and drivers) is still available

      Oh, well there you go. Who needs the kernel or drivers?

    • Mac OS X has ALWAYS been closed. It's Darwin that has been open. And "Darwin" is more than a bootable OS: Darwin is Apple's open source strategy AND an OS; but the usefulness has always come from the open source components of the OS, not the usefulness of Darwin as an OS itself. Darwin's usefulness as an OS is, shall we say, "limited" at best, and always has been.

      RTFM. The kernel of Darwin/OS X was always open source, now it's not. The only open source parts now are the Unixy userland (and I'm not even sure
  • Big deal (Score:2, Informative)

    by davidoff404 (764733)
    It really isn't that big of a deal. Trying to compile the kernel even on PPC was a nightmare anyway so it was, in effect, already closed.
  • TPM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Psionicist (561330)
    Well, as most new Macs have a Treacherous Computing Module installed and Apple sure will use it to restrict their OS from being installed in generic boxes, this doesn't surprise me the least. It's only a matter of time before the TPM is used for other purposes, such as userland DRM.
    • Re:TPM (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GweeDo (127172)
      A link to them having included TPM would be helpful. I was under the impression that Apple didn't include TPM in the new Intel Mac's.
      • Re:TPM (Score:5, Informative)

        by makomk (752139) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:28AM (#15351766) Journal
        A link to them having included TPM would be helpful. I was under the impression that Apple didn't include TPM in the new Intel Mac's.

        Apparently, at least some of the shipped Intel Macs contain TPM modules [masternewmedia.org]. Unless anyone can find evidence to the contrary, it's probably reasonable to assume they all have them...
        • Re:TPM (Score:3, Informative)

          by jthill (303417)
          Thank you for that link! It contains this one [ibm.com], which I also didn't know about and makes important distinctions.
  • THANK YOU (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad to hear it. I'm tired of hearing Apple's base is open source and that Linux should give up and other BS. This makes it much more clear. THANK YOU APPLE!
  • by Tyrun (944761) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:15AM (#15351057)
    Pirates: Arrrrr! We'll be havin' your operating system now matey...
  • source availability (Score:2, Informative)

    by kris_lang (466170)
    At least it seemed it was more available than the so called "already open source" JAVA was.

    Sigh.

    Alas.
  • Who cares, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jay Maynard (54798) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:20AM (#15351118) Homepage
    Does anyone out there aside from free software zealots truly care about this? I don't, and I do use and customize Linux kernels on other systems.

    I want my desktop and laptop to work, period. Keeping them that way is Apple's problem. I pay the (really, not all that much once you compare apples to apples, so to speak) premium in price to get a system that I can plop on my desk and run without having to be constantly tweaking and hacking on it.

    This might make a big splash here, but in the real world, nobody will truly care.
    • by biglig2 (89374)
      Even they don't care. OSX is not free software, and was never likely to be. Darwin was very much an open source kind of deal - using the Bazzar method to devlop better software. The free software people have Linux and Hurd to use for kernels.
  • Software pirates will just use IDA Pro [datarescue.com] instead of GCC to get the job done. The part they've always cared about (Don't Steal Mac OS.kext) was never open source anyway.

    If Apple says that software pirates are the only reason, don't believe them.

    Melissa
  • BSD vs GPL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dan Ost (415913)
    And now we know (well, we always knew) why Apple chose to use BSD
    userland vs a GPL userland.

    This should add more fuel to the debate of the merits of BSD vs GPL
    lisencing.
    • The userland has nothing to do with it; people have been running GPL userland on proprietary kernels for years (decades?).
    • Re:BSD vs GPL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alistair (31390) <alistair.hotldap@com> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:38AM (#15351306)
      I'm no expert, but I'm not sure this is true. The kernel for Macs and BSD is very different, the MACH Kernel is no BSD kernel. The parts Apple took from BSD relate to Networking and the user tools we often use from a shell, i.e. the shell and common unix commands most Mac users play with from time to time. The diaply code (Quartz, Aqua etc.) was their own and I think they have kept this closed.

      For the BSD stuff they took, they wern't required to post anything back to the BSD communitity but my imprssion is that they have in every case. I don't think this would have been any different if they had taken a GPL equivelent, unless the GPL prevented them linking to a closed source kernel.

      The code they have taken for Safari was GPL and I think they have contributed back to this. There have been numerous discussions around this as they did make huge changes optimed for Power PC which they contributed back but were of very little use to Linux on Intel and I would be interested to hear what people think now they have contributed back their Intel code.

      I have to say that I am no expert in this, working mainly in the identity and directory field. However Apple's work with Directory Servers and Clients [apple.com] is on a par with the open source contributions of SUN, Novell and OpenDirectory and something I watch with great interest (and far beyond what I would expect from a company which mainly makes home based Macs and iPods.
      • Re:BSD vs GPL (Score:5, Informative)

        by shawnce (146129) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:04AM (#15351535) Homepage
        Alistair you are generally correct. A lot of the Mac OS X / Darwin kernel (XNU) is Apple grown and NeXT before that but several aspects have and continue be infused with content from FreeBSD and others (Apple also submits things back upstream). The aspects that came from FreeBSD are generally still available via the open source version of XNU PowerPC source tree (it is coded to support both PowerPC and x86) and items outside of XNU are available from the source trees for both x86 and PowerPC.

        Of course drivers for devices only found on PowerPC aren't available in the x86 source tree (which makes sense). Also drivers for x86 hardware isn't available nor has it been stated by Apple if they will or will not be made available (for all we know Apple could be waiting for the unification coming in 10.5).

        The only real loss to developers is not having IOKit from the x86 source tree however the IOKit available from the PowerPC tree is likely nearly the same if not the same (it contains some ifdefs for x86, etc.).
  • Sad day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caseih (160668) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:22AM (#15351136)
    But at the end of the day, Apple is a proprietary software vendor. Apple never was an open source company. But they did grasp how to utilize open source to their advantage, but it was always in a way that was really not quite in the spirit of the open source community. Yes the source code was always available for Darwin and the pieces of OS X. But rarely in patch form and often not buildable without tracking down internal header files. Working with Apple's build of OpenLDAP in Panther Server really soured me to Apple's commitment to Open Source. While the code was there, it was difficult to see just what they had changed and very hard to take their changes and apply them to the newer version of OpenLDAP. A great example of how you can use open source in a very closed way.

    So this doesn't come as any surprise to me. And I really don't have any ill will towards Apple, as I understand their position they are in. But I don't agree with the position they have taken but that is their perogative.
    • Re:Sad day (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#15351335) Journal
      The deal here is that Apple is a company, not a bunch of (talented) hackers. They're here to make money, pay employees and execs, and (hopefully, 'cos I'm one) raise value for their shareholders. They're not a charity and they're not there to make the world a better place (well, Steve may disagree... let me rephrase: they're not there to make the world a better place for free).

      The reason I'm replying to you is that you say "But they did grasp how to utilize open source to their advantage, but it was always in a way that was really not quite in the spirit of the open source community". I think that's unfair. Just because they don't want to lose control over *one* piece of s/w doesn't mean they don't get it - indeed they may "get it" all too well, if they're planning on releasing server-based machines in the near future... you don't really need much more than Darwin to have a server, so they probably would lose money to people self-building and self-installing "clone" machines...

      Where they see there is an upside for them, I think they've been reasonably generous - Webkit (despite some initial negative feedback, they responded and made things better); there's a story about how to use Quicktime Streaming Server to get MythTV on your cellphone elsewhere on the main page; they put a lot of effort into gcc; etc. etc.

      I don't think you can expect much more from a company - so it's not a 'sad day', they do indeed 'get it', and as you say - it's their right to do things as they see fit. I think they do more than most...

      Simon
  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:25AM (#15351168)
    Because as we all know, closed source software prevents piracy!
  • I have to wonder if some group or other won't go back to the last open version of the kernel code and fork it into a new project or maybe some alternative to Darwin? Also, what does this mean for the Darwin project?

    Would something like that even be worth it without some vendor support or tie-in? It seems a shame to let such a nice chunk of code go to waste.
  • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:29AM (#15351213) Homepage Journal
    This development just reinforces the likelihood that the Mach(-ish) kernel is going away in 10.5. If I were Apple and planning on switching to a new in-house developed kernel, I'd most definitely want to clear myself of obligations of showing it to the world... at least at first until it's clear that the code is mostly clean, by which I mean fairly efficient and exploit/bug-free.

    This is an awful lot of drama though if that were the case but trying to figure out Apple's true motivations is always a crap shoot.
    • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:08PM (#15352048) Homepage
      I thought that too. Cringely says, here in his 420 column [pbs.org], that Apple has Darwin running with a full Windows API implemented in-house, and has the rights to release this from a prior Microsoft/Apple agreement. The possibility is that all Windows apps would run in OS X natively. Closing the Intel-Darwin source under a "security" excuse could be exactly what they need to do to upgrade everyone's machine to run Darwin with a Windows API, possibly on a native BSD instead of a BSD over Mach...
      • Please. I would like to add my own moonbat speculation with no basis in reality. Cringely cites the cross-licensing agreement as proof that Apple could have an implemented Windows API running in Mac OS X, and that they would have a new kernel to achieve this.

        The reality of the situation is that Apple did not only appropriate the Win API, but they also appropriated the Windows NT kernel. They've been stripping out the Windows-specific hacks, grafting on some of their lessons-learned from Darwin x86, and created a new kernel for OS X. That's why the source is now closed: because it contains substantial portions of NT kernel source.

        First the move to Intel, now leveraging that move to take advantage of the technically superior NT kernel (unfortunately weighed down by Microsoft bloat normally, it will now be freed to flourish under a lickable interface). XNU was useful for the initial transition, but is being abandoned for performance concerns.

        They really ought to give me my own column. I can out-moonbat both Cringely and Dvorak.

  • Initial impression (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:30AM (#15351214) Journal
    Mac developers and power users no longer have the freedom to alter, rebuild, and replace the OS X kernel from source code
    Good, because we know how that's helped Windows reach it's apex of security.

    "If your OS is secured by keeping the code private, pray it's never, ever, released." Only takes one slip into the public to break that "security model."

    Then there's those OSes that *assume* publicity of the source code and have different expectations for ensuring security. These "published" OSes also happen to be the "more secure" OSes available.

    Go figure.


    P.S. I'm not only referring to GPL'ed and BSD'ed OSes. There are other published OSes, the source of which are publicly accessible.


    Disclosure: Mac OS X user here. Linux user here. Reluctant Windows user here.

  • Oh Snap (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kuku_monroe (753761) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#15351320) Homepage
    And this had to happen the very same day i was planning to alter, rebuild, and replace the OS X kernel from source code, oh well..
  • by Sonic McTails (700139) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#15351336)
    I know I'm in a minority, but I used Darwin/x86 quite a bit since it had NetInfo support so I could use it for shared login, and while I could switch to everything to LDAP, it wasn't worth the effort. I currently got an Intel Macintosh, but maybe my next purchase won't be a Mac, because I do/did use Darwin quite a bit. That being said, the Macworld UK article doesn't cite sources, so where is it getting this info? I still see the xnu sources on OpenDarwin's site:

    http://darwinsource.opendarwin.org/10.4.6.ppc/ [opendarwin.org]
    • by Sonic McTails (700139) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:50AM (#15351405)
      I hate to reply to myself, but checking Apple's offical Darwin site, XNU's sources are still posted. The only thing that could even suggest Apple's going to stop releasing the XNU sources is that if you go into Sources (X86), XNU is not shown, but to my knowledge, those sources are just for packages that are different or not included in the PPC version.

      Thumbing through the XNU source, all the assembler and C sources for the Intel platform is still there ...
  • GPL vs BSD (Score:3, Informative)

    by towsonu2003 (928663) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:51AM (#15351415)
    IMHO, this puts an end to the GPL vs BDS license flamewars.
  • by Master Of Ninja (521917) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:57AM (#15351487)
    If they are locking the source down, I for one would hope that it might indicate making a move to solaris. Especially after the recent news that they were porting some of Solaris' file system over to MacOS, moving over to full solaris may leverage the best of unix and the mac os GUI system.
  • by soullessbastard (596494) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:07AM (#15351572) Homepage Journal
    The article and the blog linked to it are somewhat trollish since Mac OS X hasn't really had an open kernel for some time. Still, this doesn't affect end useres in the slightest. With the public sources, all that could be built for PowerPC anyway was Darwin which is another BSD derivative. It's not OS X...it doesn't have Quartz, QuickTime, Java, Aqua, the Dock, Carbon, or anything else that makes OS X the operating system that it is. Those components of OS X were never open source and never will be. Where Darwin shined, however, was in opening up the source for drivers.

    Some drivers can be made in user space, but a lot of drivers need to be coded in kernel space. When OS X first came out years and years ago, the procedures for writing drivers was horrid. Even today, it's still easy when writing drivers to make a coding error and get a kernel panic. Each kernel panic has a bunch of stuff in the log that allows developers to trace back the problem that caused the kernel to crash.

    On PowerPC, the source code for the underlying drivers is available. This is invaluable since not only do you have the point in your code where you have a crash, but you can also figure out what IOKit or the kernel was trying to do that caused the crash. Being able to see exactly how the driver family is using your device is very helpful in figuring out either how to work around your bug or how you can remove it.

    With the Intel OS X drivers, however, there is no source. You can't look back and see what the kernel is trying to do that caused your driver to soil itself. This makes debugging a pain in the neck since now, instead of being able to try and figure it out for yourself, you need to get Apple involved if you need more information. Having the PowerPC source isn't sufficient since the drivers are different between x86 and PowerPC. Case in point: right now I'm developing a USB audio device that works just fine on PowerPC but the moment you plug it into an Intel based Mac the OS kernel panics. I suspect a div by zero in the x86 driver, but I can't verify that since I can't see the source. Instead I have to rely on Apple to tell me what to fix.

    Thankfully starting with Tiger a number of the more obscure kernel interfaces are actually a bit more abstracted for dlils and the like for which in the past reading kernel code and other drivers was almost the only documentation. That's still no reason for getting rid of the sources.

    Although this lack of source is no new development, it really doesn't affect end users. The only people really building custom kernels for running OS X are the XPostFacto [macsales.com] guys for running OS X on legacy hardware or PowerPC accelerators, and they never needed x86 code anyway. It affects hardware developers like myself and can make debugging a pain in the neck, especially if you don't have any of those paid-for ADC tech support incidents left.

    ed
  • by Roskolnikov (68772) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:14AM (#15351638)
    When folks feel that its ok to steal because they don't believe in a way a company does business that company will be forced to take countermeasures.

    I recall a few threads back an article linked to benchmarking the new Apple laptops, a dell running a hacked (read, stolen, a DVD image most likely DL'd from
    any number of sites) copy of OS X was used as an example, this is both unfair to Dell (who I hate) and Apple (who I happen to like) the OS was configured to run properly on Apple hardware and by luck ran well enough on the Dell to run some basic benchmarks.

    Apple has been submitting a large amount of code for nearly all of the OS that runs underneath their closed GUI (always has been closed) and this policy is sound for a company that attempts to make a profit, if it threatened their business model they would be foolish to release it and in the case of the gui it would threaten it to have others build the gui on linux or solaris or aix. Apple continues to submit source for items that do not compromise their business model, previous to the x86 move Apple had little concern regarding their OS/look/feel appearing on anything but Apple controlled hardware, it could be done (MOL as an example) but this was always out of the reach of the general population. With the move to x86 they have to rely on DRM (hate that too) to ensure that their profit (they're a hardware company?) continues as their OS is really only sold as an upgrade (not a full version like the folks from Redmond sell) and on the condition that you are running it in the environment for which it was designed (read the shrinkwrap license, which I also hate).

    I would imagine that the module(s) for TPM are very cleanly written and very easy to defeat given a little effort and a recompile, if you've looked at any of the code Apple has released you'll know this to be true, with little to stop them we could be seeing HK and/or Chinese Macs (really they are already, almost all manufactured PC's are) rolling in for a bit less then Apple could afford to profit from.

    As an open source advocate I am saddened to see this, as a stockholder I am quite happy.

  • by DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:28AM (#15351763) Homepage
    Mac developers and power users no longer have the freedom to alter, rebuild, and replace the OS X kernel from source code

    Or, as rewritten by Apple marketing for your black turtleneck wearing, latte-sipping Mac hipsters out there:

    Apple is proud to announce QuickKernelTM, the completely revamped heart of Mac OS X. With patented, proprietaty innovations optimised for the high performance IntelTM Dual CoreTM architecture, QuickKernel is offered as an exlusive benefit to new Apple customers. Buy an Intel-based Macintosh today, and we'll throw in QuickKernelTM for free!

    "We are excited to announce that we're making QuickKernelTM retroactively available to anyone who bought an Intel-based Mac within the past five years," CEO Steve Jobs said. "But act fast -- this free offer will not last long. We estimate QuickKernel adds at least $199 in raw speed enhancement to every Macintosh sold."

    QuickKernel further boosts speed with its ClosedSourceTM architecture, which prevents performance hiccups caused by "credits," "comments" and "disclaimers" typically added to the "source code" of the open source kernel typically used to repair WindowsTM PCs. ClosedSource is delivered in a highly optimized UberBinaryTM format that is many times faster than the uncompiled source code delivered by "open source" operating system vendors.

    "QuickKernel is the fastest way to deliver content to your iPod, greatly accelerating MP3 playback," Jobs said. "It also keeps your black shirt from fading in the wash, disappears scratches from your U2 EditionTM iPod and enhances the graphics on your Ruby on Rails blog."

    • It's so true. Apple is 100% marketing, and their "fans" can't get enough of it... they buy any product with an Apple logo on it! I know a guy who went and bought a two-button Apple mouse the day those came out, despite the existence of other brands of two-button mice well before that, which would have worked with his Mac via USB. ... and right now on apple.com, they're marketing a laptop that is so good, why? Because it can do blogging and podcasting! As though no other laptops can do those things. You can'
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:00PM (#15351987) Journal
    b/c if they left the source open you'd begin to see all of the hooks they were building into the kernel... hooks that will eventually be used to allow the Windows Vista kernel to be dropped into place.
  • by ickoonite (639305) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:02PM (#15352012) Homepage
    This Macworld writer is a fucking idiot. I'm willing to bet that the number of people who actually recompiled their kernel on Mac OS X can be counted on the fingers of, say, two hands. For that reason, this is a total non-issue. And as others have noted, this has been the case for quite a while and, well, most of the source is still open anyway.

    Would that we could concentrate on some real news for a change.

    iqu :|
  • I don't care (Score:4, Insightful)

    by soupforare (542403) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:04PM (#15352027)
    I wear plaid.
    I have a long ponytail.
    I have a lazy eye.
    I could stand to lose a few pounds.
    Pretty much all nerd here.

    There's no reason for anyone to care about this while they're getting work done. If you've got a product that's going to do/enable you to do the work you need it for but you don't use it because of libre/gratis masturbation, you're ridiculous.

    2k at home, xp on the road, osx for layout, linux and hpux in the server closet.
  • by nblender (741424) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:11PM (#15352074)
    Some comments here indicate that people aren't entirely clear on the state of OSX86 piracy at the moment. Basically, it amounts to groups of people having started with the early release OSX86 code, and hand-integrating the Apple released patches back into it, as well as adding whatever drivers could be found in the Darwin sources, and/or binary patching Apple's kext's to produce, what today, is a 10.4.6 bootable/installable DVD that works on lots of non-Apple hardware. Indeed, I installed it on a corporate Dell laptop that my employer insists that I use.

    Here's the problem, performance sucks relative to my Intel 20" iMac, it hangs frequently, and the network driver can't read the mac-addr. I also can't set the mac-address using ifconfig, so end result, is no networking. Screen resolution is also not able to match what the screen is capable of so the aspect ratio is wrong.

    In short, while it's a cute hack and the novelty of seeing OS X running on Dell hardware is certainly nifty, it's far from production ready. Why did I dare to anger the Apple gods by trying to pirate OS X? I'm ok with it personally. I own 4 Mac's personally, have a G5 tower on my desk at work. My employer makes me carry this 20lb Dell around when I travel and I'm certainly not going to add weight by putting my powerbook in my luggage as well. So if I can have a few of the comforts of home-computing on the road with me, then I'll do it. It may not be completely legal, but I'm not taking any money out of anyone's pockets and I'm only using one instance of my OS X 86 license at a time.

  • by linguae (763922) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:28PM (#15353255)

    It looks like OS X is taking a few tips from the 80s. Most Unix developers are accustomed to having access to the source code for the system; this dates back to the mid-1970s when universities bought Unix licenses from AT&T including source code to study. This practice ended in the 1980s when source code licenses from AT&T started to cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Then, in the 1990s and 2000s, we get BSD, Linux, OpenSolaris, and even the original Unix sources (from Caldera). Having access to the source code of the kernel is useful for understanding how the system works, creating device drivers, and optimizing the performance (research experiments, for example). Removing the kernel source code is a loss. As a FreeBSD user, closed-source Unix just doesn't make sense to me, and this removes one incentive of the Mac (although I'm still planning on getting one).

    Then again, NeXTSTEP and OPENSTEP were completely closed source (but that was due to AT&T licensing; BSD wasn't fully unencumbered until about 1994), so I guess most NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP users who switched to the Mac have no concept of having access to source code.

    • It looks like OS X is taking a few tips from the 80s.

      What, unbundling the documentation tools and the compilers and even the man pages, and selling them back to you for outrageous prices?

      No?

      Most Unix developers are accustomed to having access to the source code for the system;

      Even when I was at Berkeley working on 4BSD that wasn't true. Only the CSRG guys had access to that source, everyone else was stuck with (if they were lucky) photocopies of the Lyons book.

      Having access to the source code of the kernel is useful for understanding how the system works,

      Yep, and you still have that. You don't have the x86-specific stuff, but you have everything else. And there just isn't that huge a difference between systems... hell, I was debugging Digital UNIX kernel problems by referring to the FreeBSD sources in the '90s, and the differences between XNU PPC and XNU x86 are trivial by comparison.

      As a FreeBSD user, closed-source Unix just doesn't make sense to me

      Then stick with FreeBSD.

      As a former FreeBSD committer and 386BSD patchkit maintainer, I'll continue to use the best tools I have available: Mac OS X on the desktop and FreeBSD in the server room.
  • Its okay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davmoo (63521) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:22PM (#15354179)
    Its okay to make it closed source. This is, after all, Apple. They can do no wrong.

    Now, if it had been any other company, Slashdotters would be demanding public hangings at dawn...

Crazee Edeee, his prices are INSANE!!!

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