Mac OS X Kernel Source Now Closed
May 25, 2006 2 Comments
That (or something close to it) is the title of many articles that seems to be circulating. The odd part is, OS X was *never* Open Source code in the first place. Nor did Apple pitch it as such. Carbon, Quartz, Cocoa – you name it, no code. Does sound like a good headline though, doesn't it? What the articles are actually referring to is that Apple is no longer releasing the code for XNU, the OS X kernel, for the x86 platform. I don't follow Darwin too closely, but it seems to have been dead for some time now. The reality is that Apple just isn't an Open Source company. They claim to support OSS in their marketing, and do in fact release a fair amount of code, but it's just not their bread and butter…nor is it really their culture. They were, however, able to leverage OSS to make a nice platform.
Much of the speculation going around centers around why Apple chose to do this now. One of the most popular theories is that it's to prevent piracy. I'd hope they have a better reason then that, because it's clear that making something closed source in no way prevents piracy. Other theories abound though. Could it be because of an embarrassing disparity between the PPC and x86 trees? Or does it go deeper than that. Is Apple working on a non-MACH version of the kernel and trying to slowly work some items in without people knowing? Are they working on implementing the full Windows API to enable you to run Windows apps right in OS X? With the next release of OS X coming up fairly soon, I'd guess we'll know more soon. In the meantime, if this is a subject that interests you, I suggest reading these two extremely informative articles.
Apple, OS X, Open Source, Darwin