Apple failing to understand open source

by Jeremiah Foster

Apple is failing in Open Source and Free Software. It fails to understand the movement, its principles, and how to leverage it to make money. This would not be such an issue if Apple had not based their operating system OS X on Free Software in the form of NeXT/FreeBSD. Since OS X has taken its place amongst the other flavors of UNIX it is expected to behave as a responsible citizen in this community. Apple has failed to do so and its behavior is getting worse resulting in loss of goodwill from the community. If you think loss of goodwill is negligible, as apparently Apple does, you should consider its implications, many of which are already being realized in the ecosystem that Apple lives in. Not least of these is security and that is no trivial issue. Apple's reputation has already been damaged by the Month of Apple Bugs and in its attempt to whitewash security issues that were published last summer. Fixing these problems was what the last, huge, processor-eating "security update" was all about. Now security researchers are wary of Apple and zero-day exploits may be published before fixes are ready, potentially exposing Apple's customers to remote exploits and loss of data.


Tom Bridge
2007-03-22 04:49:43
Yeah, I really don't think you have anything to backup your claim that Apple's rep was hurt by the "month" of Apple "bugs".
jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 05:08:19
Yeah, I guess you are right. Remote exploits, kernel buffer overflows, and DoS attacks really enhance your reputation.
Fraser Speirs
2007-03-22 05:14:06
Don't forget there was a time when the Open Source community was desperate for validation by businesses like Apple (I'm thinking roughly the period 1996-2000). Adoption of Open Source licenses or code does not turn a business into a charity. Apple, or any rational business, would need to see a good business case for getting involved in a project.

In the case of OpenDarwin, I can't imagine that it would be a #1 priority to spend money on a fork of something you're already spending money on (i.e. Darwin itself).

jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 05:21:01
@ Fraser

The point is to make money.

If you understand Open Source you can see how it can help you leverage your community for better, more secure, more usable products. If you think of it as a fork you are missing the point of Apple's own declaration regarding Open Source: "Apple believes that using Open Source methodology makes Mac OS X a more robust, secure operating system".

Plus you SAVE money on development, you add users with new tools, you create new business, etc. This is "getting" Open Source and improving shareholder value. After all, I hold Apple shares and I want them to go up.

2007-03-22 05:54:24
Kevin Buterbaugh
2007-03-22 06:07:33
I agree with Jeremiah and I think Apple's problems can be summed up with, "When you're riding high you think you know it all, you don't need anybody else, and no one can tell you anything."

On another note, instead of developing its' own browser, e-mail client, word processor, etc., why doesn't Apple just work with the open source community to make sure that Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, etc., are the best choices for the Mac?

I'm a Mac user and right now don't have any plans to switch away, but if it weren't for the iApps (iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie), I'd be buying AMD (another note to Apple - AMD blows Intel out of the water - give us a choice) based machines and putting Linux on them in a heartbeat...


2007-03-22 06:33:44
What exactly could be Apple's interest in having an implementation of GTK+ besides Aqua?
Why should they invest their developement ressources in something decidedly cross-platformish like Firefox, Thunderbird or the bloated OpenOffice?
The Mac is all about it's platform experience. Therefore they focus on improving their own frameworks (all this Core Thingies).

The Unix-underpinnings are of course a different story. But one should not forget to mention that Apple made some contributions like Bonjour, launchd and the rest of the possee on macosforge.

And yes, Adobe can be open (but still keep PDF and Flash closed!), cause there's not a single serious challenger left ...

jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 06:43:09

What exactly could be Apple's interest in having an implementation of GTK+ besides Aqua?

Apple states them here:

I'll quote,

"Cross-platform development environment
Integrates easily with C/C++ code
Robust feature set"

Helping Gtk+2 will allow a huge collection of already written applications to run natively on the Mac expanding the usefulness of OS X. Think tools like the GIMP for example, Evolution, or nearly any Gnome tool. There are lots of compelling reasons to help Gtk.

2007-03-22 08:02:16
yes, Apple invites developers to port whatever they have (Java-Gui, X11, Qt, Tcl, GTK+) to Mac OS X - but they adress the drawbacks in the same document too:

However, that cross-platform nature comes with a price in flexibility. In essence, to be cross-platform, they can only support capabilities that are generic to all of the potential operating environments, and as such, they tend to provide only the lowest common denominator in terms of functionality.

The Mac way is to separate itself through innovative and/or unique features and deep integration. Really, I'm not looking forward to work with Evolution on a Mac lacking Spotlight capabilities and bringing its own adress book and calendar. Otherwise I'd use a linux box as it's free.

Robert 'Groby' Blum
2007-03-22 08:33:12
Gah. I pray to the gods GTK is never fully ported to OSX. Frankly, I'm happy with a decent UI and decent usability - if I wanted pain, I'd just use a hammer on my hand. (Which still beats the experience of most GTK apps)

Just because Apple doesn't support every crummy project out there doesn't mean they are anti-open-source. Witness Webkit - they sorted out their issues with the KHTML guys and have become very open. Because KHTML/Webkit is actually a decent piece of sw, as opposed to many other open source projects.

2007-03-22 08:50:33
Are you kidding? George Ou as a reliable source on Apple?
2007-03-22 09:01:57
"Month of Apple Bugs and in its attempt to whitewash security issues that were published last summer."

Whitewash? You mean that phony Ou article? TUAW and other blogs that were supposedly conspiring with Apple have already called his claims as bs. Why is everyone regurgitating this non-story?

William Moss
2007-03-22 09:25:34
Before Apple bought them, NeXT already fought and lost the GNU battle; they were put in a position to rip out their GNU foundations or to return their modifications to the community. They chose to rip out the GNU foundations. The NeXT alumni have been the most aware of what commercial obligations they have: zlich.

In terms of community, you can look to the Safari and webkit operations to see how Apple continues to try working with the free communities. They contribute back code improvements. They participate in standards development. And they namespace prefix their non-standard innovations rather than just forcing them on the community. Apple has been severely criticized for all of these things ("dumping code", "nagging", "forcing their way") And this is in an area that isn't critical or differentiating Apple in the marketplace.

My guess is that there is discomfort between a closed source, commerical software company and the free / open communities. What else is new?

jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 09:39:04
@ Matthew - TUAW seems to take the bugs seriously look here. and they link to Landon Fuller who patches those bugs he I have no idea about the truthfulness of Ou.

@ William Moss - I find it remarkable that no one sees Apple's choice of BSD/NEXTSTEP platform as a differentiator or competitive advantage, despite Apple's claims to the contrary. It seems Apple customers just want Free Software people to go away so Apple can make new, shiny toys. Problem is, underneath those shiny toys runs a sophisticated OS that needs work. Many companies have figured out how to get that work done for free. Not Apple.

Apple needs to contribute more than just updates to their fork of KHTML.

2007-03-22 09:53:47
I wonder if it's not you that misunderstands OpenSource. As long as you are not violating the license agreements under which the software is released, you can whatever the hell you want with it, and are under NO obligation to contribute back to the community.

I have worked with OS software for over 10 years, and let me tell you that it's a very, VERY rare thing to find a company that uses it and contributes in any way back to the community. If you're pissed that people are taking freely available software and making money off of it, then I'm afraid you've been labouring under some kind of misapprehension all this time. They are, so long as they don't violate the Ts&Cs, perfectly entitled to do so.

As it is, Apple DOES contribute significantly back to the OS community. I really can't see any case for complaint.

2007-03-22 09:54:24
I don't think Apple is failing at anything. Rather it is other companies who are failing to realize that Open Source is communism. "Free" is not a business model.

Sun is going GPL because Sun is at death's door and trying to figure out how to stay in business. Pretty sad when your products are so bad that you have to give them away free to get people to accept them.

The goal of Open Source, like all communist movements is to cheapen and degrade the value of products. By degrading the value of software, Open Source attempts to turn software from a creative endeavor into a cheap commodity - like a factory stamping out a bunch of uniform pencils. That is not where business profits lie.

Apple is doing so well precisely *because* it is not embracing open source. The big profits lie in high-value creative work and in creating beauty, not in creating cheap commodities.

As for MOAB, the communists who were apparently running it got angry because no one cared and stormed off in a huff. The relentless media attacks on Apple (including MOAB) can't seem to bring this down this company which the communists hate so much.

2007-03-22 10:08:00
Please, before posting again, learn how to write properly. Just repeating your claims again and again will not provide any proof.
2007-03-22 11:14:58
How can you point to Adobe as a good citizen and not realize that e.g. Apollo is build upon common efforts by Apple and the Konquerer team? Is it too hard to find macosforge? Or don't you realize that OSS is not about hyped bullshit like creative commons licensed support forums but about contributing code?

Thank god you can blame all criticism above on zealotry and don't have to stop and think.

2007-03-22 11:15:48
Can I become a writer for DevCenter just by repeating my claims over and over again without even minimal proof?

First, I can't believe you're still repeating the non-story driven by Ou's ephemeral allegations. That issue has been thoroughly debunked, again and again.

Second, your main evidence that Apple doesnt "understand" OSS is that they don't throw all their resources at every project trying to compile against OS X. You've got to be kidding me. Apple, more than any other major commercial OS maker, has encouraged OSS development and made available information regarding the system to encourage it. It's not their obligation, nor, IMO, in their best interest, to spend significant resources on these projects. They make what they can available, but the point of OSS community-driven development is that others develop the applications, not the corporation.

2007-03-22 11:17:35
I would say that the MOAB enhanced OS X's reputation. Look at the severity and frequency of bugs found in a whole month of concentration compared to what is found monthly in Windows just in the normal course of business.
2007-03-22 11:22:52
I know most pro-opensource guys will go balls to the walls defending anything that is open source, and claiming it is better than all alternatives, but just because a program is open source doeesn't make it better. Firefox is a nifty program, I like it and if you are on Windows you are an idiot to not use it, but the WebKit rendering engine underneath Safari (which is open source isn't it?) loads pages faster than Firefox. Firefox's engine is extremely bloated by comparrison. The nice thing about Firefox is its extensibility through plug-ins, but Safari is a perfectly valid choice. The same could be said about Mail (to a lesser extent) and all the other iApps for one reason or another. I agree with Jeremiah on a lot of points, and Apple could leverage open source a bit more, and be a better open source community member, but utilizing open source for every app would be wasting a whole lot of really good software engineers they have hired over there at Apple.

Seriously, I don't mean to start up a totally different debate, but you have to drop your blind loyalties here people. They don't serve you. I like AMD, I really do. They are the scrappy underdog. And a couple of years ago when Intel was still trying to push their decrepit NetBurst architecture, AMD had the faster chips, easily. Then Intel pushed its new Core architecture and dropped NetBurst like the junk it was. Look at any benchmark, Intel's current chips are faster across the board. When Apple first switched and went 100% intel I had no idea why they would do such a thing. NetBurst was slower than AMD and slower than PowerPC. But Intel switched to Core and we all saw why Apple made the choices it did.

2007-03-22 11:34:18

Pick up one of these, it might help...

Jonathan Wight
2007-03-22 11:36:46
"Apple needs to contribute more than just updates to their fork of KHTML." Wow. What a disingenious thing to say.
2007-03-22 11:57:12
"TUAW seems to take the bugs seriously look here. and they link to Landon Fuller who patches those bugs he I have no idea about the truthfulness of Ou."

I didn't say anything about TUAW not reporting on MOAB. What I said was that they and many other bloggers have come forward to say that Ou's claim of Apple somehow conspiring with bloggers to spread a misinformation campaign is completely false. It would have taken all three seconds of a Google search to learn about this sinister "whitewash."

Then you say that fixing these bugs is what the security updates were about. While that may be true for MOAB, it's not necessarily true for the "Macbook wireless hack" referenced in the Ou article you pointed to.

John Gruber gets it right:

"Why, for example, was the demo Maynor showed last week against Mac OS X 10.4.6 rather than 10.4.7? After he caused a kernel panic on 10.4.6, Maynor rebooted the machine into 10.4.8 and showed that the exploit no longer worked.

But Mac OS X 10.4.7 was released on June 27, 2006, more than a month before Maynor and Ellch announced their exploit. Maynor rebooted into 10.4.8 last week to show that the patches Apple released on September 21 -- after Maynor and Ellch's announcement in August -- fix the problems exploited by his demo, indicating that despite Apple's protestations, he and Ellch deserved credit for those fixes.

But if his exploit doesn't work against 10.4.7, it might indicate just the opposite: that Apple's September AirPort security patches were not directly related to this particular exploit against 10.4.6."

2007-03-22 13:41:12
The GTK part is funny. It sounds like Apple should have used something open instead of Cocoa. But if you go to Wikipedia you'll see that's what they did. It's OpenStep and did exist long before GTK and the GIMP developers could have used that with GNUStep instead of creating a new GUI lib. With a simple recompile the same source could run with GNUStep, Cocoa or any other OpenStep implementation.

Someone mentioned Apple could have used Firefox/Phoenix/Chimera or Gecko instead of creating Safari and Webkit. Now that's also funny, because Dave Hyatt worked on Phoenix, Chimera and Mozilla at Netscape. I guess with someone like him in their team the Webkit team had a reason why they created something based on KHTML.

Open Source isn't something you do just because it's cool - that's what many don't understand. It's like saying the MOAB had a real impact ... oops.

2007-03-22 14:21:31
What a masterpiece of journalism. Do O'Reilly let just anybody post? Here's a paraphrasing of your article:

Paragraph 1: Apple are failing at OSS. They don't get it, like I do. They are losing goodwill, I'm sure of that. Goodwill is important. Apple don't realize how much they need people like me. A controversial article I read claimed to discover a security exploit. (This has nothing to do with OSS, but I wanted to mention it anyway.) I think Apple covered it up. Security experts are wary of Apple. At least that's what I've heard.

Paragraph 2: Apple needs to realize that I think OSS can strengthen their business. Look at SUN! They OS'd Java. And look how good they're doing now! I'm sure every day Steve Jobs wakes up wondering, "What can I do today to get Apple closer to SUN." Look at Adobe! They added a Creative Commons tag to their forums. Apple didn't DO THAT. Don't you see, they don't GET IT, like I do.

Paragraph 3: Apple talks the talk, but don't walk the walk. That's exactly what I'm pretty sure the community is saying.

Paragraph 4: I've found many OSS projects that Apple have't contributed to. Look at Gtk! Why is Jobs focusing on crap like Apple TV, iPhones and the lot, when GIMP still doesn't run well on OS X!!!

Paragraph 5: I'll conclude my well-evidenced article by restating that there is a cost for not being a good Open Source citizen, and that is loss of goodwill. I personally happen to know what this cost is, but as I have clearly argued and demonstrated above, Apple don't. (Now, where's my Pullizer?)

2007-03-22 14:30:34
Lots of assertions in this rant but very little substance. Using MoAB and the Krebs debacle as support for your argument effectively reduced your credibility to zero. You'll need to do a lot better than that. For instance, you say that Apple's reputation was "badly damaged" by MoAB. Show me an objective measurement of that assertion. If anything, MoAB _strengthened_ the reputation of OS X since after the month was over I think only one was serious enough to worry about (RTSP). The rest were for services that no one uses (AppleTalk) or for third-party products (Rumpus FTP). And for Krebs? He and Ou have almost no credibility left.
jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 14:44:51

@Anonymous - I think you meant Pulitzer.
2007-03-22 15:05:23
Just to clarify, NeXT was never open-source. GNUstep, OK, OpenSTEP, maybe. But NeXTStep, nope.
Check your facts before writing an article...
worm eater
2007-03-22 17:00:10

Please explain why you think that WebKit, Darwin, Darwin Streaming Server, Bonjour, and Calendar Server, all projects for which Apple provides the source code at no obligation, are not enough to generate good will.

2007-03-22 17:27:24
The list on macosforge of projects Apple has contributed back is a lot more than KHTML - a calendar server seems pretty handy to me, as does an open source Quicktime streaming server - then there is Chris Lattner's work with the LLVM - - an open source project in which he is one of the lead developers - on Apple time.

Might be a bit techie but it's suspected the LLVM work was quite integral in making OS X portable enough to run on the iPhone. Not sure how much truth there is to that, but it's obviously important to Apple at some level.

They also employ people who contribute changes back into BSD as part of their work through Apple - the kind of low-level work that advances BSD along. I presume there are contributions back to gcc too. It's not the kind of stuff that gets 'goodwill' and publicity like opening up Java, but it's the kind of low-key work, also engaged in by staff at IBM, Oracle and Novell, that makes open source as significant as it is. It just that it suits IBMs business model a lot more to court 'the community' a lot more than Apple (who sell hardware and software, not development services and consultancy).

It does strike me that as closed as Apple are, the Open Source community is equally prone to hissy fits in the way it expects to be treated - all those posts about Apple not releasing the Intel kernel source - then it went up, and you didn't see a 100 blogs about it.

The Open Source community is also often guilty of Not Invented Here syndrome too, and in fact here's a great example of how Apple does understand open source.

Sun produced dTrace as part of Solaris and released it as open source. Apple assisted in porting it to BSD - then developed a proprietary OS X based diagnostic tool - X-Ray - to add value on top of a core FreeBSD operating system.

The Linux community decided they wanted something similar - and developed SystemTap rather than porting dTrace from the off. It doesn't seem to have embraced Bonjour or launchd either despite those being useful services - there's a suspicion about launchd that seems almost wholly based on the fact it came from Apple. We have init and cron already, and they are the Unix way.

You get a lot of talk about how Apple should open up Cocoa, while GnuStep barely gets any attention, so there can't really be that many open source developers who actually want to develop in Obj-C.

The other 'problem' with community/standards based development (whether open source, or simply between vendors) is that it is often paralysed against innovation. For instance, OS X delivered a GPU accelerated desktop and graphically rich environment by breaking the Unix windowing architecture, while everyone else pursued getting acceleration working under X. And it was largely achieved by one guy working on a 'closed' project then donating it at the end. When people promptly bitched about it.

Browser technology is in an even worse state - look at the timescales for HTML 5.0 - and compare them with progress in the proprietary Flash plug-in. Apple were criticised for pushing the canvas tag (now standard on non-IE browsers) rather than the correct SVG approach.

Another example - Tapestry has recently been getting a lot of attention as a simpler alternative to Struts - yet the basic concepts of Tapestry are based on WebObjects. Now I can see why people didn't use WebObjects (it was incredibly expensive when it was x-platform, and Mac only after that) BUT the basic ideas could have been copied a lot earlier. Not invented here strikes again.

>On another note, instead of developing its' own browser, e-mail client, word processor, etc.,
> why doesn't Apple just work with the open source community to make sure that Firefox, >Thunderbird, OpenOffice, etc., are the best choices for the Mac?

Because Apple's software vision is very different from the community - it's Pages rather than Word. Mail rather than Outlook. It's about doing 80% of what 90% of people need in the simplest way - and forgetting the other 10% (that's what AppleScript is for). It's why Macs are popular with the over 50s.

It would be very difficult to impose that vision onto community developed software, short of parachuting staff into the Mozilla Foundation (who do a great job of keeping Firefox a focused project, and pushing feature requests out into extensions). Look at the problems with GNOME and KDE - GNOME started pushing guidelines at developers, and the reaction has been to go over to KDE (try searching on HCI guidelines for both projects). Herding cats springs to mind.

That's without even considering the fact that the strength of Apple's own apps lies in building on top of Cocoa, which they don't want to open up. I largely use Safari simply because the ability to use the system level dictionary while typing in web forms is a godsend. Ditto Mail.

I'd say their open source strategy is quite sound - they're open at the points where there is no competitive advantage in being closed. What sucks is their community relations, but I guess that's a reflection of the whole company (no staff blogs except WebKit, 'no comment' on security issues), NDA on Leopard vs public beta at Microsoft and Adobe.

As for MOAB - only one issue raised could have actually affected me. MOAB actually gave me a lot of confidence in the base level security of the Mac, just as I don't get alarmed about software quality every time Firefox or Apache issue security updates. Although it is notable that Quicktime seems the single worst component on the Mac.

I'll refrain from commenting much about the only security researcher I personally know, but how do you think these guys make a living? (Clue : notoriety is a good form of publicity).

2007-03-22 17:29:36
Oops - that shouldn't have read FreeBSD. Darwin isn't FreeBSD. Brain error.
Scott Stevenson
2007-03-22 17:31:38
It's not clear to me what you're asking for. The kernel and core OS is open source, along with WebKit (which Adobe and Nokia are using), most of CoreFoundation, and all of their changes to gcc and such. I don't think Apple intends to position Mac OS X as a flavor of a Unix in the traditional sense. It's an operating system which uses Unix as a foundation.
2007-03-22 17:45:51
More on LLVM - check the front page to see Apple credited as a significant industrial funder - and check the documents on what it does - essentially you can use gcc to compile C,C++,Obj-C, and Obj-C++ down into byte-code on a virtual machine, that already runs on a wide variety of CPUs.

Now that's what I call an interesting project!

2007-03-22 17:51:23
Yeah, I guess you are right. Remote exploits, kernel buffer overflows, and DoS attacks really enhance your reputation

I see nothing anywhere that would lead me to believe that Apple's rep was hurt. It came and went and people aren't even really talking about it.

There are so many philosophies on what open source is and does and should be it is rediculous. Apple is doing just fine. Could it do better? Sure it could. So could every other company that is using open source software.

jeremiah foster
2007-03-22 18:05:11
@ JulesLt - Great comment, thanks. I agree with your criticisms of Open Source as well.

@ worm eater - I think they are not enough. I agree with you that they do engender goodwill and that webkit in particular is an excellent project, but compare that to OpenDarwin. Sad. "Availability of sources, interaction with Apple representatives, difficulty building and tracking sources, and a lack of interest from the community have all contributed to this (the closure of OpenDarwin)." Furthermore, what about the threats of legal action from European governments? There is a tangible consequence of loss of goodwill.

Another further tangible loss is the Symantec report which lists Microsoft as the most secure OS over the last six months, Apple came in third. While this does not paint an accurate picture of overall security, Apple now has to spend treasure in defending their image to the press. It also has to take security more seriously as it gains market share.

This lack of openness to the community in the form of excessive secrecy, lack of Open Source licensed products, and unwillingness to be involved in significant projects will continue to cost Apple not only goodwill but real money.

2007-03-22 18:09:44
What more do you expect from a business? Any source code goverened by the BSD liscence doesn't require Apple to give back to the community. If you are unhappy with the liscence... change it.
2007-03-22 19:00:10

Jeremiah, are you even reading the stuff you’re claiming as evidence? That Symantec report has already been outed as FUD.

Your article consists of gross generalizations about what various unidentified “communities” are thinking and feeling about Apple, you are setting up straw men left and right, you are forced to use the passive voice thanks to the lack of evidence, you are using things like MOAB that don’t have anything to do with Open Source as evidence of something or other, and you are making claims about Apple’s entire corporate well-being using such nebulous concepts as “goodwill” — can you tell me what this sentence you wrote even means in the real world?

“If you think loss of goodwill is negligible, as apparently Apple does, you should consider its implications, many of which are already being realized in the ecosystem that Apple lives in.”

Okey dokey.

Nobody invested in creative Adobe products has any incentive to switch to a platform that can’t even run Photoshop. You bring up the presence of Creative Commons licensed documents on that Adobe page — did you happen to read the footer on the front page there?

“Copyright © 2006 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Your use of the Adobe Labs including the download of software, submission of comments, ideas, feature requests and techniques, and Adobe's rights to use such submitted materials, is governed by the Adobe Labs Terms of Use and the Adobe Privacy Policy.”

Funny, that doesn’t look like a Creative Commons license. Try checking out their Terms of Use while you’re at it.

Others here have done a good job of poking holes in what arguments you have, so I won’t repeat them. However, I will pull out one more example:

“Merely the fact that Open Darwin was allowed to wither on the vine is direct evidence that Apple says one thing about Open Source but does completely another.”

Again the passive voice: “was allowed to.” The stock answer from Open Source forum, mailing list, and IRC channel denizens seems particularly apropos here: Don’t like it? Fix it yourself.

2007-03-22 19:14:59
I said it before and I'll say it again - you don't use open source just to be cool. OpenDarwin was a nice idea, but without users it's useless. The only users of Darwin use it as part of Mac OS X. Everyone else is using Linux or BSD. For users of Mac OS X OpenDarwin isn't important. You don't build the system from scratch, you replace, improve, .. parts of it. And that's still possible because XNU is open source, launchd is open source and the other unix parts too.
2007-03-22 19:40:10

"So-called creatives...have incentive to switch to Linux," just because Adobe has opened up a few chunks of its code?

Excuse me?

Why on earth would a creative who has gotten used to using Mac OS want to throw everything (s)he knows UI-wise down the crapper just to use the same software the same way on what is probably an unfamiliar OS, and the apps aren't even the ones (s)he uses for work (read: Creative Suite CS* & Adobe Studio)?

Folks, I like FOSS as much as everyone else, but let's get real here: every FOSS victory is not going to result in people flocking to Linux. I don't know where this logic originated, but it really needs to pack its bags and go away. Seriously, FOSS is available to ALL OSes, not just Linux. That means when Adobe opens up its source code, it's going to be compiled for Macs, too. Again, no reason to switch.

P.S.: I'm one of your "so-called creatives." I used Linux for 14 years -- including GIMP, which is not a Photoshop killer by any stretch of the definition -- before switching to Macs for desktop action and Adobe's graphic design apps. I don't care if Adobe DOES port CS* and Studio to Linux, I'll STILL have no reason to switch back. Sorry, but I'm comfortable right where I am.

2007-03-22 19:49:28

Sorry, hastily edited post.

I meant to say "Adobe CS*," not "Creative Suite CS*."

William Moss
2007-03-22 20:15:38
I realize that people are talking about different forms of Free / Open licensing. The story I was making reference to happened long ago and not much can be found on the internet about it these days. But it was significant since it was one of the first times the GPL forced a commercial software company (in this case NeXT) to change its ways. Some people even like to claim that Steve Jobs was the Free Software Foundation's first GPL violator. Richard Stallman writes about the incident in a pdf essay at (Look at the end of page 91). The lawyers and technologists at NeXT learned quickly under threat of legal action decades ago that the Free / Open communities aren't just development farms. There are some big companies today that don't quite get this, but Apple appears to have understood it for some time.

If you are give acknowledgment to the developers of the code, link and use LGPL software libraries if you want.
If you want to use GPL code, be prepared to open up the source of your program, too.
If you want to make something private, use a license like FreeBSD or the MIT license that permits anything but taking over the copyright.
If you want to offer a standard to the public, offer a liberal open-source license to the public.
If you just want free development for a closed-source product, the free / open community isn't going to help much.

This is still a battle that gets hashed out in different ways inside Apple. You can bet Apple would love to include GNU readline actually compiled into some of their command-line tools, but they understand what they'd be obligated to if they did that (disclosure of some of their source code). Apple meets the obligations of the open source licenses and they do return code that they can't maintain or want other people to adopt as standard to the community to use.

Microsoft doesn't understand community standards. Why invent a whole new dialect of C and keep it closed source? Microsoft isn't in the business of making (much) money off of software developers. When Apple looked at the limiting features of Objective-C, they could have decided to build a new language like C# that didn't have those limitations. Instead, they've decided to give back the changes they want to make to the standards to the Objective-C community. They want to push the standards to evolve, true, but they don't appear to be taking them over.

2007-03-22 21:16:45
At least one Apple open source project are world class; see Squeak -
2007-03-22 21:57:42 about giving us some concrete examples of how, exactly, Apple is failing to be a good open source citizen instead of just making blanket statements?

Frankly, whether Apple uses Creative Commons licenses for its support forums is irrelevant. Yes, there are a lot of abandoned open-source project. So what? That's very common.

And please, citing Adobe as a model for open source collaboration is plain ridiculous.

Allan W.
2007-03-22 23:36:03
This lack of openness to the community in the form of excessive secrecy, lack of Open Source licensed products, and unwillingness to be involved in significant projects will continue to cost Apple not only goodwill but real money.

Apple hasn't exactly made using it's source code easy, nor has it nourished a community who could really leverage the code (see comments by willbb over at Ars.

However, I find the argument that, because Apple isn't creating Open Source Licensed products, that it will lose significant sales. This is absolutely the last thing on the users' minds in Apple's core markets. Apple's design philosophy is all about tyrannical vision and focus to achieve greatness - and influence every aspect of the user experience. I'm amazed that they've done any open source work at all, actually (perhaps a legacy of the Tevanian era, I don't know).

This reminds me of the argument that because Macs don't use open formats for everything, switching to Linux (on that merit alone) is better. Didn't that guy move back over, or something?

2007-03-23 01:44:24
You say that Mac OS X was based "on Free Software in the form of NeXT/FreeBSD" - in what what was NeXT's software, acquired by Apple in 1997, Free?

Also, why do you write Sun all in capitals, as in SUN?

Jim Stead
2007-03-23 07:42:25
The claims about os x insecurity are academically and theoretically interesting, but I'm still waiting for reports from actual humans who have become infected. As for open source, Apple does a nice job of integrating open source and proprietary code to make a smooth product, and product is what they are in business to create.
2007-03-23 08:33:37
What about this?
2007-03-23 11:37:12

"Another further tangible loss is the Symantec report which lists Microsoft as the most secure OS over the last six months, Apple came in third."

Question for Jeremiah - where in Symantec's report does it state Microsoft (or "Windows") as the most secure OS? Because it sure wasn't Symantec that declared "Microsoft" as the most secure OS.

Secondly, since when is "average time to patch vulnerabilities" considered the primary criteria for determining whether an OS is secure? Because that seems to be the gist of the Symantec's report. There's no recognition of how many vulnerabilities were critical (12 by Microsoft, 1 for Apple) as opposed to "it's a little drafty around the windows" type of vulnerability?

You really do yourself a disservice when you repeat someone else's argument's that "concludes" something a report doesn't even state. Makes it seem like you're being disingenuous just to advance your own agenda.

2007-03-23 14:43:20

GPL != BSD Lic

Apple is under NO obligation to give anything back. If you use the BSD Lic for your code you can't really complain.

And for what possible reason would apple want to contribute to any gtk port or even open darwin for that matter? AFAICT Open Darwin was a fun project that never got any significant community built around it. Why would it? Linux scratches any itch that OD would have.

There's a cost for being a good GPL OSS citizen. Kind of the whole point of using the BSD Lic.