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Mac OS X 10.5.6 is out today. Are you excited? According to all the Apple-oriented buzz, it's a much-anticipated release. It has lots of fixes and some cool enhancements but do you want to know what would sell me an Apple product?
(And it isn't a hip new release of their current proprietary OS.)

iLinux.

iLinux would sell me more than one Apple product. In fact, if iLinux were a reality, I would rebuke all other hardware and software in favor of it. For now, iLinux is a figment of my own imagination. I think Apple should develop it for its fleet of products from its iPod to its iPhone, to its iBook, iMac, and iWhatever. Linux runs on almost anything and iLinux could power everything Apple.

It's shocking to me that Apple would abandon its old operating system for a FreeBSD/NeXT hybrid instead of using Linux as the foundation for its next generation OS X. FreeBSD is a good operating system. It's fast, secure, and developed by some great folks but the problem is that it is too "lunatic fringe" and not mainstream enough to be widely supported like Linux is. And NeXT (NeXTstep) was pretty cool but was plagued with problems of its own and never really caught on in a big way. So, why did they make the very odd anti-establishment decision to go the way they did? Only Apple can answer that for sure.

My first guess is that they wanted to maintain the somewhat proprietary nature of their system. My other guess is that it may just be another poor decision in a long string of poor decisions that have come from the good people at Apple.

I think it's time for Apple to step back, take a good look at the Desktop operating system market, and think seriously about using Linux for their OS of choice--that is if mainstream and widespread adoption of their products is really what they're after. Otherwise, Apple is destined to be a "gadget" company that also throws away a lot of money into an OS that only they support. Seems like they've already tried that and it didn't really work out all that well for them.

So, maybe the idea of iLinux will take hold for them. It would be great for Apple, a natural fit for the already Linux-converted, and an easy switch for their current customers.

The downside? Their products would be open to massive modification, cool hacks, much buzz, and a host of supporting products, and millions of converts would flock to them. Sounds like a pretty good downside to me.

Their products would become the technological Volkswagen Beetle.

So, how about it Apple? iLinux?

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Last Post by AnnoyingOrange
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Ken,
Apple reportedly has more than $25 billion dollars in cash reserves (and growing). They are gaining market share in the desktop market every year. Their brand is as solid as you are going to find. I'm trying to figure out what string of poor decisions they have made and still be so successful. I don't think your idea is a bad one, but I don't think it's likely to happen either because so many of the company's products are based on OSX and its underpinnings.

Nice idea though.

Ron

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Poor marketing was their first and biggest mistake. MS grabbed the desktop market from them. They make products that can't be cloned or licensed by others and their overly-simplistic design irks me to no end.

Now, to me, they're just a gadget company that is wasting its time messing with an OS that has no future. No one else will adopt it and it certainly will never see its way into a data center. I see Macs/Apples as high-end, overpriced, toys for the less technical folk. I have never had good luck with their products (2 iPods that lasted less than 3 weeks each)--they are more like lemons than apples and would be better suited to falling from trees IMHO. I could go on and on. Not that I have a strong opinion about them or anything. ;-)

My suggestion is legitimate, though. They should use Linux on their stuff to grab a huge market share and perhaps truly contend with the Evil Empire.

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iLinux will never happen. Linux and Apple are opposed on so many levels, I can't see Apple ever going there.
- Apple is the epitomy of Cathedral development. They surround everything with secrecy and only unveil products that are fully-formed. Contrast this to open development. It's no surprise when Ubuntu releases its "new feature" list every six months, because anyone can look upstream and see what's coming in kernel/X/Gnome development.
- Apple wants control of the whole experience. If they wanted to do a commodity OS they could have done so any time in the last three decades. They passed, and admittedly the strategy has served them well. It's also a limiting factor on their growth, I don't think they could ever scale to microsoft proportions with their current model.

So, yeah, they could embrace Linux, but they'd have to reinvent what it means to be Apple. For now, it's working for them. Will it keep working for them? Who knows.

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As long as it's not free software, who cares. Switching kernels would not do much to make MacOS similar to Linux distros as you are probably thinking of them (that is, distros which include all the GNU tools plus some kind of open-source GUI apps). And free software GUI apps are not well integrated enough because the desktop is not based on X, so X is an extra "app" to run, and I can't e.g. drag-and-drop files from the Finder to Scite or Gimp, etc. I got a Mac with the thought of getting the best of both worlds, but so far it's most certainly not the best of both worlds, no matter how much of the existing free software ports I install. (So I just keep using my old Linux box mostly, and the Mac has its own separate uses.) To make a well-integrated version of Scite for example, the GUI needs to be re-written. Development is more painful for me just because of that... I don't want to be forced to switch to XCode's editor. (It's kindof like how there is a special Mac version of OpenOffice, to get the OS integration features that would otherwise be missing.) The situation is actually better on Windows in that regard. It's also better with Qt apps because of the non-X11 MacOS version.

Apple could open-source their GUI stuff, and it would become independent of the OS (you could run it on top of Darwin or Linux). But then they could not charge a premium for their hardware, because we'd all buy the cheapest hardware and install MacOS on it.

But the free software world would do better to imitate MacOS more often, take the best features of both MacOS and Windows (and others too), and then innovate some more besides, rather than just assuming that if it looks like Windows it will be more familiar to people. Yeah I know Gnome sometimes puts the app menu bar across the top of the screen... that's about as far as it goes though. The taskbar concept in particular is IMO an abomination, but you always see it faithfully reproduced by default, the more like Windows the better... what are they thinking... and I'm not saying the Dock is any better, either. The point is, it's not impossible for Linux developers to out-innovate both companies. Why should their stuff be better than ours, constantly inspiring all this envy?

And for that matter there is no reason Linux has to be considered superior to the BSD's, because they are both free software (just one's more popular than the other). What makes MacOS special is not at that level, anyway.

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The best rebuttal of this I have read is here :
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/0506.linuxmyth1.1.html

And basically Apple will not switch to Linux because it would be costly and there's nothing to gain.

As for the benefits you mention, where are the cool hacks in open source gui apps ? And where would you find millions of converts ? OS X has a lot more market share than Linux.

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