Open-sourcing the Apple

By Jordan Hubbard

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 20, 2000 8:10AM (EST)

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John Hubbard's geek's-eye view of Mac OS X was, in my estimation as a longtime Mac user and OS X beta user, fair and balanced. I have managed a small advertising work group for 15 years using Macs. Apple's brilliant achievement, I feel, is the incorporation of the classic environment into this new OS. Given that I have an investment in software tools -- shrink-wrapped off-the-shelf stuff that creates most, if not all, of the advertising you see today -- an investment in people skills needed to create advertising with these programs and, finally, equipment that runs this software, the worth of this classic environment can't be overstated. Furthermore, in the beta it works as advertised, meaning REALLY WORKS! It's not just a marketing ploy. Now, if younger people could get as excited by the new Unix underpinnings as they are by Linux, Apple's chances to stay in the PC game would improve dramatically.

-- Paul White

Jordan Hubbard's odd piece advocating the open sourcing of Apple's OS X reinforces the stereotype of the insular, reality-challenged geek. He is referring to the company that has flatly refused to license technology to third parties for nearly two decades. To presume that Apple would today entertain the notion of giving away its operating system code makes the term "pipe dream" seem hopelessly inadequate. Hubbard's dissecting of the Unix-based innards of OS X is almost laughable in its sheer ignorance of the raison d'jtre for the Mac: A defining characteristic of Apple customers is their aversion to this kind of low-level nuts and bolts complexity.

As to whether OS X manages to blend industrial-strength server technology with a desktop GUI OS, one might as well ask whether a vehicle can be designed that simultaneously embodies the primary virtues of a Miata and a dump truck. Possibly, but who cares? Finally, his unrelenting screed against Microsoft is typical open-source-nerd humbug. I work with Fortune 500 companies daily. They use Windows 2000 extensively because it is cost-effective and, with few exceptions, it works. Most CIOs I know would rather not contemplate the use of device drivers or anything else that has been created by a cadre of pimply-faced, code-obsessed ideologues working out of their parents' spare bedroom.

-- Steve Macdonald

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