Blast From the Past: NeXT OpenStep on MacBook Pro

by Erica Sadun

Remember NeXT? Steve Job's next big thing after he left Apple in the 80's? Weblog Mac on Intel reports they've gotten NeXT OpenStep up and running on a new Intel-based MacBook Pro. OpenStep was developed in the early '90s to let NeXT's NeXTStep OS run on Solaris SPARC workstations. NeXTStep, which dates back to the late 80's was a Mach-kernel based Unix with a GUI that later evolved into Rhapsody and eventually OS X. GNUStep continues a live, open-source and developing GNU release of OpenStep.



2006-04-20 14:25:24
Got there first, on an iMac.... see :-) Currently sound disnae work in OpenStep (I need to write a driver, any volunteers for helpers? :-)), and the networking is s-l-o-w but all of my NeXT apps run fine. Now to look at some other issues:

"OpenStep was developed in the early '90s to let NeXT's NeXTStep OS run on Solaris SPARC workstations" - erm, no. NeXTSTEP 3.x ran fine on Sun SPARC workstations (and NeXTs, HP-PAs and Intel 486s). OpenStep was a portable Objective-C framework and runtime (and Display PostScript), designed to bring NeXT's highly-lauded RAD environment to e.g. SunOS and Windows NT. It was, however, designed by NeXT and Sun. Early 90's you can have (except that it was 1994, which is really the mid '90s). Incidentally, both Digital and IBM tested out NeXT/OpenStep frameworks for their own Unixes - don't know what happened with DEC but at the time AIX was not up to the task (literally, as the problem was multithreading support) of hosting the environment,

"GNUStep continues a live, open-source and developing GNU release of OpenStep." - no they don't. They have an OpenStep-derived framework which is portable to multiple Unix OS and Windows.

Erica Sadun
2006-04-20 14:36:01
Thanks for the clarifications!
2006-04-20 15:22:43
:-) No problem...

I wonder if they've had any contact with Parallels; I've been trying to contact them to see if they'll support OpenStep (or at least let me point them at the networking drivers etc) and haven't heard anything.

Marc Driftmeyer
2006-04-21 10:14:45
Correction: Yes Openstep was co-developed to run on SUN Hardware. The $20/$25 million investment from SUN to NeXT to jointly develop the specification included the goal of SUN selling the hardware and NeXT selling the Operating System. SUN had Openstep ported and everything down to was Openstep certified. What stopped the release was a breakdown between the two executive teams and where the profits would be distributed.

We, at NeXT, had NeXTSTEP running on IBM's hardware but it ran faster than AIX. A certain group of IBM executives found that didn't sit in their mouth so well and asked to have it run as a layer on top of AIX. This performance degradation was then shown to the top brass to convince them that it was "too slow." This misrepresentation led IBM to keep with AIX.

This should show people just how often the "best" solution gets sabotaged for various reasons.

Yes. GNUstep adheres to the Openstep specification and Cocoa where necessary, plus with their own additions that best serve their kernel agnostic approach.