Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 20:49:04 -0400 (EDT)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 04-26-2005 - Open Apple Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Open Apple | 04.26.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, April 26, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Open Apple
  • Top Linux News
        - Open-Source Gets Smart
        - Opera To Firefox: Our Mob Is Bigger Than Your Mob
        - Firefox Gets Crafty With The Keyboard
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Fact, Fiction, And Firefox Security
        - Open Source: Aruba's Hot Commodity
        - Windows And Linux: Pain-Free Printing
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: How do You Get Your IT News?
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Open Apple

    Apple Computer's decision to name its OS X releases after the Great Cats always struck me as a play on the company's image: beautiful from a distance, aloof when approached, and dangerous if provoked.

    I do a lot of my day-to-day work on an iBook, however, and whatever flaws OS X or Apple may have, I still consider OS X the best desktop operating system ever made. That's not the kool-aid talking--I simply find OS X more enjoyable than any other operating system I've ever tried. Perhaps the fact that I'm about as easily amused as a four year-old riding a sugar buzz has something to do with this, but it's true nevertheless.

    Apple deserves a lot of credit for this, both through its stewardship of OS X and of the Mac itself--a welcome exception in an industry never known for its grasp of industrial design . Yet a lot of the credit for OS X--and certainly more than they now get--should go to the open-source developers, past and present, who contributed to Darwin.

    Darwin, as most of you know, is essentially OS X minus its Apple-proprietary GUI and a few other pieces, such as the device driver framework. Darwin source code is available to developers under an open-source license; today, according to Apple, upstream developers now account for most of the new code in each official Darwin release.

    Among FreeBSD developers, Darwin can be a sensitive subject. Although Apple isn't compelled to do so, it has worked closely with the FreeBSD community to keep Darwin, which has very strong roots in the platform, more or less compatible and to provide its own code updates for FreeBSD developers to use as they see fit. Yet Darwin is also radically different from FreeBSD in some ways, including the former's use of the Mach microkernel. And technical differences aside, a lot of FreeBSD contributors resent--with good reason--the notion that the two operating systems are identical, or worse yet, that FreeBSD relies on Apple as some sort of open-source sugar daddy.

    (By the way, you can find a dated but still very serviceable overview of what Darwin is and how it relates to FreeBSD here.)

    Apple's relationship with Darwin, and by extension with the FreeBSD community and the open-source world at large, gets less attention than it deserves. There are a lot of reasons for this; some people, for example, assume that Apple's license for Darwin isn't "real" Open Source--a notion based on problems identified in an early version of the APSL but long since fixed to the satisfaction of everyone except the usual "GPL or nothing" suspects. It may also be true that given the company's frequent flirtations with psychodrama and corporate idiocy, Darwin's productive and stable history with the open-source community just doesn't compute for a lot of Apple-watchers.

    Even if you don't usually follow Apple, however, or care about its open-source activities, there's a development you might find interesting: Apple's decison to support an Intel x86 version of Darwin.

    The Darwin developer community has been working on an Intel-compatible version of the OS almost since Apple released the source code back in 1999. Yet Apple never officially endorsed or supported this work---until now. When Apple released Darwin 1.3.1 about two weeks ago, it also released a binary installer for certain x86 hardware configurations. The Darwin FAQ on Apple's Web site confirms the company's decision to support future x86 development, stating that it will work with contributors to "enhance support" for the platform.

    What does it mean? I'm really not ready even to hazard a guess just yet. And even if I knew, I certainly woudn't let it slip--that's the kind of thing that lands people like me in shallow, unmarked graves on the outskirts of Cupertino.

    (That's just a little joke, folks. Ha ha. Apple would NEVER do anything resembling the aforementioned, entirely non-actionable, totally satirical suggestion, written in a clearly labeled Opinon Piece. Especially if I don't have a book to sell.)

    Anyway--Apple may simply have decided that providing some additional support for a Darwin-on-Intel project can't do any harm. And besides keeping a lot of Darwin's most active contributors happy, it has the potential to create, dare I say it, FUD in certain quarters more accustomed to dishing out the stuff than to taking it.

    We all know that FUD is bad, of course. Tsk, tsk.

    We'll see just how far Apple takes its "enhanced support" for Darwin on Intel. This could very well be a non-story. It could also, within a few months, be one of the biggest stories in the history of the PC industry.

    Matthew McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    Open-Source Gets Smart
    Taking their cue from a string of successes in the operating system and app server markets, open-source software makers turn their attention to shaking up the business intelligence market.

    Opera To Firefox: Our Mob Is Bigger Than Your Mob
    Opera Software says the response to its recent Opera 8 browser release was so massive--users were requesting over 120 downloads per second at one point-- that it needed additional servers to handle the load.

    Firefox Gets Crafty With The Keyboard
    Mozilla engineers working on some recent Firefox builds take an old idea--navigating Web page links using keystrokes--and then spice it up with a generous helping of TV technology.

    MySQL And Red Hat Gird For Grids With 'Scaled Out' Support
    The two open-source players see a huge opportunity supporting Linux-based clusters and enterprise grids--markets where the companies' products can make a big splash on a small chunk of change.

    Developers' Tool Aims To 'Team' Microsoft With Eclipse
    A small, grass-roots development effort could presage better connections between Microsoft and open-source developers--if they can iron out sticky details about the parts that Microsoft expects someone to pay for.

    SCO-IBM Lawsuit May See Progress
    A federal judge will hear arguments from both sides concerning a SCO request to depose IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, a tactic one open-source expert described as a 'fishing expedition."

    JasperSoft Sells Out--And Its Open-Source Partners Cheer
    A reporting-tool startup, combining open-source roots with a proprietary product, squares off against established--and possibly overpriced--competitors. For the open-source community, it's a good chance to see whether this sort of hybrid business model can crack some particularly tough nuts in the enterprise software market.

    Editor's Picks

    Fact, Fiction, And Firefox Security
    Firefox is a good browser, says InformationWeek's Fred Langa, but it's a long way from bulletproof--and mass-market success may teach open-source software fans some hard lessons about real-world security. (After you've read this, we suggest checking out our readers' response, available below. Someone may have beaten you to the angry-letter punchbowl.)

    Open Source: Aruba's Hot Commodity
    Aruba Networks' open-source initiative is very likely to take the profit out of selling wireless LAN access points--and that's exactly the idea.

    Windows And Linux: Pain-Free Printing
    A properly configured, cross-platform printing environment can save you time and money on both hardware and maintenance. We'll show you how to set it up, and how to keep it working smoothly.

    Open For Business (Intelligence)
    Our colleague Ted Kemp saw this coming last year: Everyone and their dog suddenly has a stake in open-source business intelligence solutions. Unfortunately, this doesn't explain how our dog got that line of credit and a spanking new Powerbook.

    Making Book On Firefox
    The authors of "Firefox & Thunderbird Garage" offer their opinions on the past, present, and future of the Mozilla Foundation's open-source flagship applications.

    Firefox Fans Get Fired Up At Fred
    As suggested above, a few of our readers kindly shared their thoughts about Fred Langa's piece on the pros and cons of Firefox. We can even print some of them on a family Web site.

    My 14 Favorite Firefox Extensions
    One of the coolest things about Firefox is its large, and constantly growing, collection of free extensions. TechWeb Pipelines Senior Editor Mitch Wagner describes his favorites. We wonder which one he added at the last minute, after realizing he had 13 extensions.

    Voting Booth: Big Mouths In Open Source

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    We're in the second week of our poll asking for your opinion on the recent trend of serving open-source with a healthy side order of bad manners, veiled threats, and gratuitous harassment. Yum.

    Tell us what you think: Are open-source fanatics a real threat to the community and to business, or just an annoying minority everyone knows not to take seriously. Voter Number Five this week is eligible for a free, late-night phone call berating them for a variety of imaginary offenses. We do go the extra mile for our readers, don't we?
    Every vote counts.

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