Well, we’ve heard from the others, let’s let Apple weigh in. Or rather, let’s let Apple refuse to weigh in, in this article entitled Why Apple snubs its open source geeks.
Now, some of you out there might not realize that the current edition of Mac OS X is technically, sorta-kinda, open source. Not the fancy, pretty parts, like Quicktime or the like, but the kernel, and things like WebKit (which is actually a fork of KHTML), can be downloaded, hacked upon and compiled. Meaning that, if it’s of interest, one can indeed roll one’s own OS X (Darwin) kernel. That is, if you have a PowerPC Macintosh.
In response to piracy concerns with the x86 version of OS X, Apple chose to close their x86 version of the kernel. In response to the just-linked article, Apple offered an interview, the result of which spurred the “Apple snubs” article, above.
Now, I really do understand the business decision here. The Mac OS is pretty much Apple’s last real bit of IP, and their control over it one of the few things keeping Mac sales from collapsing. This will change. With Boot Camp, and the expected inclusion of virtualization in Leopard, Apple is beginning the transition from their current “making-the-whole-widget” business model into a high-end PC maker and a company that creates an operating system. Once the Mac brand is established as the top of the line PC, no matter what OS it’s running, I won’t be surprised to see the Mac OS break from it’s Mac-only roots and make the leap to the rest of the x86 world. But it’s going to take time. Moving too aggressively here has the potential to really turn Apple into that neat little music player company that used to make computers.
Still, this comment irks me:
Apple pushed back, saying that as eclectic as my readership is, the subset I described is only a “fraction of a fraction” of the geeks (Apple’s word) who are my regular readers. Issues that matter to so few, and to me, shouldn’t be projected to a larger audience in 48-point type.
The fact that Apple has a seemingly skewed picture of its user base? No, this should be pointed out quite clearly. The fact that the Reality Distortion Field has infected Apple to the extent that they think what is good for Apple is good for Apple’s users? Trumpet that from the mountains, man.