ZDNet Publishes Piece On Benefits Of X11 To Apple

ZDNet has published a piece by Joe Wilcox and Stephen Shankland that examines the benefits of X11 for Apple. More importantly, the piece also looks at how Appleis Mac OS X implementation of X11 benefits businesses and other Unix users.

X11 is a windowing system for Unix, and is the basis for many of the GUI-based Unix and Linux apps that are out there. This is a big deal in the server world, as well as many specialized vertical markets. Appleis X11 implementation of X11 for Mac OS X makes it easier to port many more Unix apps to Mac OS X.

According to the ZDNet article, this could help lure more businesses and other Unix users to the platform, especially in terms of hardware costs, something you may not have expected, and users who want a portable Unix PC. From the article:

Apple believes X11 is the key to bringing Unix applications to Mac OS X. "We look at X11 as a bridge, for people that have been in that (other) world and want to come to ours and couldnit quite get there or didnit have the opportunity or bandwidth to do so," said Richard Kerris, Appleis director of developer relations. The company will make the software available free of charge when it debuts later this year.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver said there are a number of reasons why a traditional Unix user might consider a move to Mac OS X. A prominent one among them, he said, is "definitely lower cost."

On hardware costs alone, Apple can make a case that switching to its systems from Unix makes sense. A Sun Blade 2000 workstation with 1GHz UltraSparc III processor, 2GB of RAM and a 73GB hard drive sells for $15,995. In comparison, a Power Mac G4 with dual 1.25GHz processors, 2GB of RAM and a 120GB hard drive sells for $4,599. The Mac also offers DVD recording and wireless networking, among other features not typically available with Unix or Linux workstations.

Unix implementations donit easily run Microsoft Office--the de facto business standard. That means many people must maintain both a Unix workstation and a PC on their desks, which represents a support headache and added cost for IS departments, analysts said. A move from Unix to Mac OS X could allow companies to consolidate systems, said Silver.

"For most folks, the ability to run Microsoft Office is a real big (incentive)," he said. Another issue is portability--Sun does not offer Unix portables. "There are lots of Apple portables to choose from, and they run Mac OS, which (with X11) would run Unix applications," said Silver.

The article also quotes a developer who says X11 for Mac OS X brings legitimacy to Apple:

Appleis move brings "an air of legitimacy (to X11) in the Mac world," said Ed Peterlin, an independent developer working on a volunteer project to build a Mac version of OpenOffice, the open-source business application suite. "It adds end-user credibility to X11 applications." The Apple version of X11 delivers a 10 percent to 25 percent performance improvement, Peterlin said.

The OpenOffice group has been working on porting its open-source alternative to Microsoft Office to Mac OS X. The group hopes to release a version of OpenOffice using Appleis X11 software in the spring of 2003 and a native version supporting Aqua in the first half of 2004. Other programs that could benefit from Appleis move include MatLab and Simulink, which are used by researchers, and GAIM, a popular instant messaging software application.

There is a lot more information in the full article.