|Apple has gone Open Source with at least part of its server OS strategy by announcing Darwin. As its name implies, this is the next evolutionary step for Apple as it harnesses the power of the Open Source community. According to Apple:
The first release of Darwin consists of the foundation layer of Mac OS X Server, including enhancements to the Mach 2.5 microkernel and BSD 4.4 operating system, as well as core Apple technologies like AppleTalk, HFS+ file system and the NetInfo distributed database.
"The Open Source movement is revolutionizing the way operating systems evolve and Apple is leading the industry by becoming the first major OS provider to make it's core operating system available to Open Source developers," said Avie Tevanian, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering. "We look forward to working with the Open Source community to enhance the feature set, performance and quality of our Mac OS X products."
At www.apple.com/darwin, developers will be able to download the latest Darwin updates from Apple on a regular basis. Apple will also promote the web site as a forum for guiding and encouraging Darwin development efforts from the Open Source community.
"Apple has a proud tradition of innovating in ways that shake up the computer industry. They've done it again with this announcement," said Eric Raymond, president, The Open Source Initiative. "The Open Source Initiative hopes that Apple's decision to 'open source' its core OS code will point the way for other computer and systems manufacturers to 'open source' their operating systems."
"This source code license allows Apple and their customers to benefit from the inventive energy and enthusiasm of a huge community of programmers, many of whom are found in universities," said Jos-Marie Griffiths, University of Michigan's chief information officer. "Apple's intention to make sure any improvements are legitimized and redistributed has the potential to change the way the whole industry views support for Open Source."
The Mac Observer Spin: This is a very powerful development for Apple. For those who may not know, Open Source development is basically the practice of making one's code available for anyone to look at and develop with. Linux is the poster child for Open Source development and has been propelled towards near mainstream acceptance by the efforts of literally thousands and thousands of Linux developers around the world. Having worked with a Linux network, we have seen how powerful it can be. If one finds a problem with one's Linux server or workstation, chances are that someone somewhere in the world has developed a fix for you and is happy to share it with you to boot. The caveat is that there is usually no support available from these developers (think "user beware").
Apple's stance will likely offer support to those developments they re-release in order to maintain integrity in the software.
Observer Call: We would like for our Open Source oriented Observers to help us dissect the Darwin license so we can share it with the Mac community. Write us and tell us what you think. Due to the enormous volume we get when we put our Observer Calls, we may not be able to answer every e-mail, but if we use your input, you will be credited.