The UNIX wars are over, and Leopard won.

by Jeremiah Foster

Well, you could argue that any one of the OS X 'Big Cats' was the winner, simply because Apple has made a user-friendly UNIX system that outperforms most, if not all, other operating systems. Leopard is now fully POSIX conforming making it more inter-operable with other POSIX systems.

Some other goodies are things like DTrace which will help hardcore C hackers more than those who are building widgets, but still, there must be some hardcore C hackers out there eager to build things for the Mac, and hopefully not just device drivers, though those are welcome.

I look forward to using XCode 3. XCode has always been one of the best IDEs out there, not really fair to call it an IDE since it is so much more fundamental to Apple development than just an IDE.

Sadly, Apple seems to have neglected perl. Though perl 5.8.8 is going to be included in Leopard, 5.10 is due out shortly. (It has been due out shortly for a long time now.) Also, Apple completely neglects mention of perl on their fancy 300 Leopard features page. There is one mention of perl in association with DTrace but otherwise Ruby and Python get all the attention. With so many perl developers carrying around Apple laptops and so much Apple or Mac specific software on CPAN you would expect more and better perl integration in Leopard, but you would disappointed like me.

22 Comments

Andy
2007-10-17 04:46:09
It seems that Perl has lost it's way somewhat. Perl 6 has been in the works for years, and will be a very big change, requiring re-coding of current Perl 5 apps if they are to run under Perl 6. In the mean time, the focus has shifted to cleaner, more pure-OO languages like Ruby and Python which are a) easier to learn, b) easier and more concise to code, c) easier to maintain d) appear to actually be going somewhere and e) actually borrow a lot of Perl idioms making it easy to carry over Perl knowledge.


I have earned my living for the past 7 or 8 years as a Perl developer, but I too have recently made the switch to Ruby because Perl feels like a dead end. That's not to say there is no future for Perl or Perl programmers, but I know that I now enjoy programming Ruby much more than I ever did Perl...


I wonder how Leopard will perform in a server environment against Linux or other Unices ? This as always been a perceived, if not real, weakness of Mac OS X. I'm hoping that performance is again improved, as this has been the trend for all prior Mac OS releases.

Jeff
2007-10-17 06:24:31
The UNIX wars ARE over, but Leopard didn't win. Linux won. I still don't see OS X in the server room. I do see Linux in the server room. While OS X Server will be a great choice for a small business to use, I don't see it taking over the server room anytime soon.
blackrim
2007-10-17 06:34:13
seems like you lack a little perspective. i run linux and mac and linux (*buntu) outperforms the mac in most everything. it is a software not hardware issue. i develop high performance software and it matters, but mac is even slower at starting up simple applications. i say slower because it is MUCH faster than when it was PPC, but still slower than it should be. also, mac is just finally catching up to what all though *buntu boxes already had. i mean tabbed terminals?! come on -- when was the first tabbed terminal ?! you can even tab in fluxbox. and how about spaces. wow that is an innovation brought to you from the early 90's. i don't know. seems like the new release will be exciting, but be humble, it is much more becoming.
Jeremiah Foster
2007-10-17 07:03:16
@blackrim - I run Ubuntu too, but it has a long, long way to go to match the UI of Apple. And that is just the beginning. Linux is faster on the same hardware though, which is embarrassing for Apple. If you like Ubuntu, you might like debian even more. I run sid and find that it is much, much better than Gutsy (or is it Gusty?) It gives me the level of customization I want, i.e. more. Ubuntu's interface is too cluttered and there is too much crud that steals focus.


@Andy - It may be that Perl6 is taking too long, but perl has not lost its way. Perl6 will be a new language in many ways, but it will be fantastic, at least according to what I have seen at places like YAPC::EU. Nothing wrong with ruby at all, its just that 12,000+ CPAN modules is a lot more than 4,000+ rubyforge modules.


@Jeff - Linux and FreeBSD get to share lots of things, like the GNU tools. Check out gcc under Mac OS X and you'll see what I mean when I say Leopard won: it has everything _plus_ an amazing user interface that just works.

Tom B
2007-10-17 07:10:35
You get it.


If we can just get IT slow-adopters to dump that Archeopteryx of Mail platforms, Exchange, and do something more modern, Like IMAP, you might see more Macs in the server room more. If Leopard does 64bit WELL-- that would surely give it another leg-up over MSFT, I would think.

Zac
2007-10-17 07:19:58
I doubt OS X will ever catch up to Linux in terms of pure speed. Apple's developers are very talented, but one thing the open-source community has proved they can serve up time and time again is extremely tight, clean, code. Apple simply doesn't have the man hours to match that.


That said, I have to agree with Jeremiah here. Linux still has its place, but Leopard is an amazingly feature complete upgrade. It will be hard to market because there is no big gotcha feature like Expose or Dashboard, but every level of the OS has been filled out. Sure, some of the features are just catch up to Linux (though who really needs virtual desktops when you have Expose?), but that doesn't change the core of what Jeremiah is saying. Leopard has everything, or atleast closer to everything than any other UNIX OS on the market (and a terrific UI to boot).

AkitaOnRails
2007-10-17 07:29:36
well, blackrim is picking on a very unimportant point about the terminal, because you don't have to use Apple's terminal - I don't. I prefer iTerm, which is free, and supports lots of features as tabbed terminal since forever.


Jeff is right, Mac OS X Tiger lacks performance when compared to Linux servers. Not THAT much that hurts, but it is slower. Mainly I/O intensive stuff like MySQL seems to suffer, maybe that's one reason Apple is testing out ZFS (Sun's Solaris FS) in this release. It still doesn't replace the older HFS+ but this is a sign that the next OS X release would have a much broader usage for ZFS, mainly in the Server version.


Perl being released at 5.8.8 instead of 5.10 doesn't mean much, at least to me, because you can always install your own version. You have to understand that a commercial product can't have bleeding edge, keep the pace, because they do have to freeze packages early on before the release for testing, packaging, etc. It's the same thing with Ruby on Rails for instance. Rails just released version 1.2.5 but I am pretty sure Leopard will ship with 1.2.2 or 1.2.3. Capistrano just released version 2.1 but my guess is that Leopard will ship Capistrano 1.


This is all unimportant because serious developers will update their tools using tarballs, MacPorts, specific dmg installers or all of them at once. No big deal actually as I use Tiger that ships with Ruby 1.8.2 but I do have Ruby 1.8.6 installed.


The Unix was is not actually over. It is a fact that Leopard is the most successful DESKTOP Unix ever shipped. For the server, really hardcore stuff do requires either Linux (if price is an issue) or Solaris (if reliability, performance are issues). For intranet-like servers, OS X Server is a pretty good fit.

Reedo
2007-10-17 07:36:44
I imagine you meant the UNIX war for the desktop is over--that is, the war for the minority of desktops not covered by Windows. For servers (and UNIX's original purpose is a multi-user server OS), Leopard being the winner is far from the case. DTrace and ZFS are from Solaris, OS X is based on FreeBSD. Sure Apple is innovative, but sometimes people forget Apple is also good at knowing what to "borrow".


I've heard great things about XCode, but since I don't use anything from Apple, I can't personally confirm that. When it comes to dynamic languages running on OS X, Perl development has received far less publicity than the "Beautiful Rails TextMate Fans of DHH".

Jay
2007-10-17 07:47:49
Tecnologically superiors OSes don't always win the race in terms of marketshare. The key is to get as many users as possible and this is where the GUI is important. Apple and Microsoft have realized this. Linux has more servers, in part, because it lowers licencing costs and isn't tied to specific hardware (e.g. Apple's XServers).


I'm not a developer but I've used computers for many years. I am a Unix geek but my day job is as a writer. And in the end, the OS X GUI and ease of use far outweigh the 'freeness' of Linux. Promises and improvements to the X project, KDE and GNOME still gives me a 'clunky' interface. And using current builds of X on a PIII system with Fluxbox for instance is slow. The apps that I need are either on OS X and Windows but I chose OS X.


Is OS X slower than other 'nixes? Probably. But 'll take the hit improved GUI, great unrivaled 3rd party applications and features of Finder, Automator, Mail.app, etc any day. None of the other 'Nix OSes make apps as nice and featureful. And frankly, with a RH or SUSE install DVD with 4000+ apps all with obscure names, how am I to know which is better? Install them all and try them? This is the problem most noobs run into.


Now, the hardware price premium, especially for the Mac Pros, well that's another question.

Dana Hudes
2007-10-17 08:23:27
Macs are pretty, no question. But the UNIX wars? I hardly think OS X is any kind of winner. Sure, its a UNIX desktop for the regular user. Dell is shipping a LARGE number of x86 PCs with Ubuntu preinstalled, and it would not suprise me to learn that 1% of Dell sales volume is more than 100% of Apple. Others refer to the server room. Well, I'm a UNIX admin for a living and a Perl hacker on the side. I must say that I have never seen a better hardware platform for UNIX than SPARC. Its not the normal everyday stuff one does like zones and how all that SMF stuff (all missing from OS X BTW) works. It works well on SPARC and on x86/x64. What you get on SPARC with Solaris is superior fault management and diagnostics. Try prtdiag -v on your x86 machine, I don't think so! Yes, on x86 one has more sensors now to tell you the cpu temperature and fan speed and of course SMART tells you about your disk drives. But you get so much more with SPARC hardware for servers. Yes, its expensive but it is far more reliable than Intel hardware. Even the Sun Intel hardware.
Janak Parekh
2007-10-17 08:30:00
<pedantic>
Linux is not UNIX. So, by that metric, Leopard's probably winning the UNIX wars over Solaris, AIX, etc. It'll be interesting to see who becomes #2 behind Linux in the "UNIX-like" wars, though, be it Leopard or someone else. I doubt Solaris will be displaced so quickly in the server market, though.
</pedantic>
Jeremiah Foster
2007-10-17 08:33:28
@Dana - I am not at all sure that 1 percent of Dell's sales volume is even close to 10% of Apple's volume, let alone 100%. A quick look at the fundamentals of both companies will tell you a lot. Apple has more than twice the market capitalization of Dell. Apple sells a lot of computers and they are gaining market share as well.


Solaris is a great Operating System and Sun is a great company. I don't blame Apple for taking the good ideas like DTrace and ZFS from Sun and incorporating them into OS X. That is why it is one of the best OSes out there, it has so much of what the other guys have. And as others have already said in the comments here, what it doesn't have out of the box you can install yourself.

Jeff
2007-10-17 09:19:07
Let me explain my earlier position that Linux won the UNIX wars, not Leopard. In the server room, LINUX dominates. OS X will play a niche role. Its perfect in an office, as a workgroup server.


I agree that OS X is the UNIX desktop of choice. I was a Linux administrator for 4 years. I actually preferred using OS X for my desktop because the finish and polish was better. This will more than likely always be the case. Web developers seem to agree with me. I know a lot of people who switched from Windows to OS X to do web development. They would have never switched to Linux for development even though they more than likely will deploy to Linux servers.


I'm a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job. I just don't see where Windows fits in this rule. :-)

has
2007-10-17 09:50:50
In addition to Perl's chronic and ongoing Perl6-induced image problems which are unlikely to ingratiate it with the Apple marketing bots, Apple engineering also apparently had a bit of a struggle finding an volunteer willing to support Perl integration efforts (http://www.mail-archive.com/macosx@perl.org/msg09739.html). Python and Ruby currently have much more shiny about them, so it's not really surprising Leopard marketing is focusing on those - they're just going where the popular public attention currently is. Besides, while PyObjC and RubyCocoa are being bundled for the first time, PerlObjC was already added in Tiger, so it's not like they can use it to inflate their 'new feature' count for Leopard as well.
Tom B
2007-10-17 10:22:14
"Let me explain my earlier position that Linux won the UNIX wars, not Leopard. In the server room, LINUX dominates. OS X will play a niche role. Its perfect in an office, as a workgroup server."


Let's be happy we're not sitting around talking about how NT conquered UNIX. MSFT is still growing with regard to server installations, last time I checked, but I'd be surprised if they aren't beating a hasty retreat in a year or two.

Simon Hibbs
2007-10-17 10:50:47
This whole thread is so missing the point it's funny.


There are no Unix wars, at leas from a user's perspective. The big attraction of Unix is trivialy easy code migration, standard basic APIs and advanced, high quality, standard protocol support. Unix servers are the IT equivalent of slightly different shaped leggo bricks. They are each suitable for slightly different purposes but you can snap them together to build whatever solution you require. OSX workstations with Linux intranet servers and Solaris for heavy lifting databases? No problem!


The successes of OSX and Linux sustain and support each other. Even Sun has realized with which is why they sell so many linux servers these days. The very concept of the Unix Wars is as relevent today as the Cold War.

MonkeyT
2007-10-17 12:46:29
@has: Python and Ruby currently have much more shiny about them, so it's not really surprising Leopard marketing is focusing on those - they're just going where the popular public attention currently is.


Actually, from what i heard it was that Python and Ruby share an internal object structure that's very similar to Cocoa, making it easier to get them to work together, the same reason why there hasn't been a lot of talk about a Cocoa/PHP bridge. I'm sure it's not impossible, it's just more work.

Chuck
2007-10-17 17:35:55
Gee, I hate to see articles with posts back and forth about Linux vs. OS X. They're laughing up in Redmond as they read it. Linux and OS X are cousins, close or distant, depending on how you want to look at it. Neither of them is part of the Evil Empire. Run the one you like, and I can't help mentioning that you can run *both* on a Mac. Hell, you can run both at the same time with Parallels or VMWare.


Just don't run that Evil Empire stuff.

James Katt
2007-10-17 21:27:52
Linux is not UNIX. Linux is not fully POSIX conforming.
Mac OS X is the best of the UNIX operating systems - and has won as the best.


Since Mac OS X only runs on Macintosh Computers, of course they are not going to be prevelent in the server room. Macintosh Computers cost more than generic Linux boxes.


However, Mac OS X can be run simultaneously with Linux and Windows on a Macintosh Computer. Thus, one who has Mac OS X and thus a Macintosh Computer, has everything that Linux, UNIX, and Windows has, and can run any of the other operating system's software.


You cannot say the same for the other operating systems running on non-Apple hardware.

Sherm Pendley
2007-10-17 22:59:42
A Unix vendor calling Perl a feature would be like Ford calling tires a feature.


As for 5.10 - what would you have Apple do differently? Are you saying that they should they allow p5p to dictate their release schedule? Ship bleadperl with Leopard?

Neil Anderson
2007-10-20 08:30:37
Leopard looks like a solid upgrade. Just placed my preorder.
Scott
2007-10-20 08:51:18
AIX is a very fine UNIX choice and runs only on IBM hardware and we find it in the server room. Have any of you that have declared OS X the UNIX winner used AIX lately in the virtualized environment IBM has created?


No doubt OS X is the UNIX king for the desktop. But the AIX LVM and virtualization exceeds any other UNIX flavor and technology I have used.


BTW, a Macbook is my computer of choice at home and I also have a Linux desktop. As a system administrator I use HP-UX, Solaris 10 (Sparc) and AIX on a daily basis. I have also administered Linux on VMWare and the Mainframe.