[linux-elitists] Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Jan 8 17:46:23 PST 2003

Quoting Michael Bacarella (mbac@netgraft.com):

> How do you answer it? My answer:

I rather like Adam Sampson's answer, which is simple and to the point:

   More concisely: if I wanted to buy an expensive proprietary Unix
   workstation, I'd buy from Sun, not Apple.

If, like me, you're getting really tired of the question, you might wish
to FAQ it, as opposed to merely marshalling your answers for further
iterations of the discussion.  I've considering doing so myself, but: 

1.  There are a lot of stupid niggling details that pro-proprietary-OS 
    debaters to to digress into, in order to evade the main point.
2.  A significant percentage of traditional MacOS users, as distinct 
    from the more-clueful but much smaller NeXTStep userbase, are twits.

I get quite enough people already who send me mail wanting to argue with
my FAQs, apparently choosing to disregard the FAQs' basic intent of
disposing of my involvement in topics that have been done to death.
Being besieged by MacOS-advocacy types would not enhance my day.

> It's a closed source system with open source components.

The twit-types will argue endless with you over this, if you let them.
"But Darwin is a stable and functional BSD!  Cocoa, Carbon, Quartz, and
so on are just libraries!  X11 sucks, and Display Ghostscript for
GNUStep is a crazy idea!"

If you want to deal with those, discuss what Darwin amounts to:  A funky
sort of NetBSD approximation, except that you have to retrieve and
install XFree86 separately, and it's a whole lot easier and more
satisfying to go for the real thing.  (Don't harp on netinfo:  They're
phasing it out.)

> It is proprietary software that picked and choosed open source
> components because even Apple wasn't stupid enough to try to spend the
> thousands of man years duplicating what they could get for free today.

This is somewhat unhistorical.  To review:  NeXTStep was an early BSD
fork, using Display PostScript instead of X11 and with a tremendously 
useful -- albeit boutique-marketed -- development framework based on
Objective-C.  The latter involved extensions to gcc, which Jobs with
some ill grace was obliged to contribute back under the GPL, and is now
integral to that codebase. 

Late in its history, NeXT, Inc. documented its OS design in the publicly
available Openstep[1] specification, which has lead among other things
to the now-mostly-complete independent GNUStep implementation.

After Apple Computer's purchase of NeXT[2], Apple reissued most
proprietary NeXTStep code under ASPL[3] as Apple Darwin, excepting the
display engine, graphical shell, administrative and UI graphical
widgets, multimedia apps, a print engine, and some other such things.
It made a minor change from Display PostScript to Display PDF to
eliminate large patent-royalties obligations to Adobe.  In the process
of updating NeXTStep (redubbed "Macintosh OS X"), it contributed -- and
continues to contribute -- large amounts of code to upstream BSD and
other maintainers under the upstream open-source licences.  (Of late,
this has included significant improvements to gcc.)

> Them keeping it open source is a convenient marketing tool to appeal
> to geeks, the company has no real interest in open source.

Impuging their motives is a weak argument at best, and will drag you
into time-wasting flamewars.  More to the immediate point, it's
fundamentally irrelevant to the topic:  In the long term, what matters
is code and licensing, licensing and code.  Whether those who produce
code are benevolent or evil is pure red herring.

If a company issues excellent code under a suitable licence for all the
wrong reasons, good!  Excellent!  If they have terrific motives but
don't issue useful, OSD-licence-covered code, screw 'em and their little
dog Winer, too.

The point is that, if you care about candy-coated software goodies 
and don't mind being locked into proprietary code and specialised
hardware, then OS X might look pretty attractive.  Otherwise, it's 
just yet another propietary *ix running only on weird-ass hardware, 
and can't merit consideration instead of {Free|Net|Open}BSD or Linux on
account of a fundamental obstacle that won't be going away.

Point that out, and when the twits try to change topics and attack X11,
talk about how BSD & Linux suck, or wave their proprietary candy and
Apple Marketing babble at you, you just calmly point out that they've
blatantly and completely ignored the point under discussion.

You'll never get the wasted time back, but in my view that's the way to
minimise the lossage.

[1] No, I'm not going to write OPENSTEP, nor OpenStep, nor NeXTSTEP,
NEXTSTEP, NextStep, NeXTstep, or any of the other weird-ass lettercase
permutations used at various times for these things.

[2] A subject on which you can waste additional niggling time:
Arguably, the substantial outcome was NeXT taking over Apple, instead,
as Jobs took over as CEO and put the NeXT engineering team in charge, 
discarded the Apple codebase, and substituted the NeXT one.

[3] Don't even.

Cheers,                                      "My file system's got no nodes!"
Rick Moen                                    "How does it shell?"

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