This Story Posted:
December 16th
1:31 PM/CST


Wednesday, December 16th

Apple To Ship Power Macs With Linux
[1:31 PM] Computer Retail Weekly is reporting that Apple is likely to offer Linux on a limited number of shipping Power Macs once the new Yosemite based Power Macs are made available early next year. The article suggests that Apple will announce this at Macworld.

The version of Linux will be based on MKLinux DR3, but Computer Retail Weekly says that it will not be called MKLinux. MKLinux DR3 is modeled after Red Hat 5.0.

Webintosh took the opportunity to ask Stu Green, a pioneer in the Unix world and founder of the Austin Linux Group, what this might mean to the Linux and Mac crowds. Mr. Green says that this represents an opportunity for both groups.

"Any time a computer manufacturer distributes Linux," says Mr. Green, "it offers direct recognition of the viability and usability of Linux by the general population."

To Apple's somewhat discontent AIM partners, IBM, and Motorola, this may be Apple's chance to repair some of the damage done when Apple canceled Mac clones, when Motorola alone wrote off over US$100 million from their cloning efforts. Market share growth for the PowerPC chip could increase if Apple can make the Mac a more attractive choice for server and networking solutions. According to Mr. Green:

"Since Linux networks well, it opens Mac hardware to a wide range of services and hosting services that here-to-for were not available. This includes Web services, ISP services, Proxy servers, FTP servers, and Virtual networking solutions, which will make the Mac and Apple a viable hardware choice to networking professionals."

This could have some long term effects outside of Apple selling a few more PowerMacs every year. While Linux is a very popular OS for networking and other techies, most Linux machines are Intel based. There are currently two flavors of Linux that will run on a Mac, LinuxPPC and MKLinux with a third on the way from a company called Terra Soft Solutions, Inc. None of these versions of Linux enjoy the same support as Red Hat, S.u.S.E., or Slackware which run on the x86 line of Intel processors.

It is well known that both IBM and Motorola need to find other markets in addition to the Mac to support the R&D costs of the PowerPC product line (Motorola has a thriving PPC embedded chip market) and a major expansion into the world of Linux may be just such an opportunity. Mr. Green:

"It raises the PowerPC processor as a viable competitor and alternative to Intel. There is an open market now, with support for many major applications running on Linux, including all the major databases. With the shipping version of Linux they are going to use being modeled on Red Hat 5.0, it brings even more options to PPC based Linux."

Mr. Green feels that this will bring the PowerPC chip further into the limelight.

Because the version of MKLinux is modeled on Red Hat 5.0, a recompilation of some source code base on the Red Hat Package Management (RPM) system will make an Apple PPC Linux version a compilation away. RPM based code can be recompiled during installation on any Linux system that recognizes RPM. So if a company or individual makes an app on his Pentium based Red Hat machine, anyone can recompile it on the Apple Mac Linux box. This opens the amount of software available to Mac Linux users.

The Mac Observer Spin: While it is possible that Apple could change their plans before Macworld, the Webintosh staff hopes that will in fact do what Computer Retail Weekly say they will. MacOS computers make excellent servers that are among the easiest to use in the world, but Linux is a more powerful and robust server solution for many users. The end result of a successful push by Apple into the Linux world will mean more Macs sold which will only help MacOS users.

This could even be a very excellent arena for Apple to return to licensing in the future. 3rd party manufacturers could make Linux based solutions that didn't compete directly with Apple in their core markets. This would allow smaller, more nimble companies who may be more in tune with the networking and server world the chance to make inroads where Apple might not. This is pure speculation on our part.

Computer Retail Weekly - Apple