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Apple Businesses

OS X on x86? 465

FusionJunky asks: "There has been some talk surrounding Apple's OS X and its potential to be released for the x86 platform. Sites like have been trying to get the message to Apple that we feel the consumers are ready to see OS X on x86 boxes. I'm wondering what the Slashdot community thinks this would do to Apple, would it adversely affect their hardware sales? Could Apple move away from selling G4s from Motorola and start producing Intel Macs. Do you think Apple should release an x86 version of their next gen OS?" We asked earlier whether you felt if Linux would be threatened by OS X, with the possibility of OS X working on x86 machines, has your answer changed?
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OS X on x86?

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  • OK, so for software you have: Microsoft. For 3D cards you have: nVidia. For sound cards you have: Creative Labs. In all these cases it's the result of market consolidation, buy-outs, even pressure like Creative destroying Aureal.

    You want to add to that, for CPUs you have: intel compatible, AND for OSes you have: Windows?

    Why, for God's sake? Is this an expression of faith that consolidation of markets doesn't really happen except for Microsoft, nVidia and Creative Labs? Leave MacOS hardware and software in the perfectly good niche they're in. Why screw that up?

  • ...enjoy!

    Tossing X Into the Seething Sharkpit of x86 []

    Caveat: Some unkind words about Linux and Free Software are said therein to make a point... I do have some positive views on Linux and Free Software put to print here, [] if it makes you feel any better.

    SoupIsGood Food
  • SPARC was always going to be the preferred platform, and Intel was always very much a second rate citizen in the Solaris world.

    As far as I know, Solaris x86 was always targeted towards academic users and home users, rather than the enterprise. It's performance on x86 was never as good, relative to other Unix implementations, presumably because of the need to conform to the specs of Solaris for SPARC, but it is a very high quality product. It served its purpose in making Solaris knowledge/affinity more widespread. If it had been free (beer) from the start and had a bigger HCL, it would probably be most of the places that Linux is today. I don't think Sun ever entertained the idea of migrating their products from SPARC to Intel - like Apple, Sun make their money by selling hardware, with Solaris, Java, SPARCworks et al as loss leaders to drive sales.

  • damn, I am so sick of hearing about this STUPID topic, why wont it die? why wont the idiots shut up?

    Yes! I agree that Apple is in a bind with Motorola as far as getting enough high quality PPC chips, and moving the technology forward at a pace commesurate with competitors. But there's fuck-all anybody can do about it.

    Yes, Darwin runs on x86. But Darwin!=OSX. Apple is YEARS behind their original plan to have a "modern" OS. When they finally made plans, they were years behind the rest of the industry. Now they're SO close to actually realizing that goal, and you want them to shove it all off, and have Apple sit on their asses for another 2-5 years to port Aqua/Quartz - and bunches of other technolgies to x86? What will we end up with? Another fucking Be? No software. Do you think for one second that Adobe would waste time porting photoshop to OS X x86? Fuck no. Apple would be dead in the water. Game over.

    Not to mention the fact that Apple is bigger than Microsoft. Do you know why? Because Apple makes hardware. Microsoft does not (with the exception of keyboards and mice). Apple makes money off of hardware. The number if iMacs sold in the past 3 years proves that there is a market for Apple hardware. If Apple got out of the hardware business, they'd quickly be out of the software business as well.

    Plus, x86 sucks. that's it. Do you want there to be only one viable CPU choice in the world? 0wned by Intel? Fuck that. I know Motorola isnt giving Intel much competition lately, but PPC is still a better platform, technically. The world is better off that it exists, rather than not.
  • There's a project to clone OSX for Intel. It's at [].

    Personally, I don't think it has a chance of succeeding, and even if it does the only thing it will accomplish is drive Apple as a hardware company into the ground, thus forcing us into a demonstrably inferior architecture. Thanks, but no thanks.

    But hey, if that's what you want, go check it out.
  • ...I can't think of what.

    On PowerPC, Linux isn't "threatened" by OS X. Look at the vast array of devices running Linux/PPC. There's the TiVo [], Total Imact's briQ [], and Apple machines ranging from the Power Mac 7200 (PowerPC 601 @ 75 MHz) to the PowerBook G4 (PPC 7410 @ 400/500 MHz).

    OS X is targeted at very specific audiences, most of whom are different than Linux's audience. You can't run OS X on a TiVo. It might be made to run on the briQ (somehow). And you can't run it on any Apple machine prior to the Power Mac G3.

    If OS X was released for Intel, it'd find a home (possibly a small home), but it wouldn't totally annihilate Linux. It also won't do that on PowerPC.

    People aren't looking at what OS X could do for LinuxPPC. Instead, they're obsessing over what it may do to Linux. And that is not what we should be obsessing over.

    Haaz: Co-founder, LinuxPPC Inc., making Linux for PowerPC since 1996.
  • Of course OS/X would be a great opportunity to do doubly duty in the hardware revenge department: Deal Intel a blow and ally with AMD would deliver the message loud and clear to Motorola and Intel.
    And also, of course, it would be sheer suicide. Commoditize the Apple interface and there would be nothing unique about a Mac any more.
    Ask Corel how well they succeeded on their apps for Linux..
  • While the Darwin core might well be, the windowing system and graphics toolkit certainly isn't and will never be. I'm not going back to a proprietary operating system if I can possibily avoid it, thanks.

    I've gotten kinda used to the idea that I can email the actual person responsible for code if I find a bug. I like being able to check the source if I don't understand what a function does. I like the fact that I will never again be beholden to a software company's whims. It'd take something pretty damned compelling for me to give that up again.

  • Plan on buying one? Using open source software on it? Emailed the GM engineer about the bug you found in the ABS? Of course, as a purist you're using an open source coded cell phone right?

    You're trolling, but you raise an interesting point. Yes, I would like to tell the engineer about the bug that I found in the ABS. Or the fact that the cupholders don't hold bottles of my favourite drink.

    To give a more realistic example, my family owns a sport fishing boat, which we operate in rather rough conditions (southern Tasmania, a very windy, rough, and unforgiving place to be at times). Much of the gear that we fit to the boat fails, having been designed for relatively benign boating conditions like those in Florida, and when we repair it we often make modifications to better cope with the conditions. Don't you think the engineers at those companies would be interested?

    Open source lets you do the same thing for software. That's what makes it so valuable.

  • Yes... I recall that... it was was about 4-5 years ago. MS gave Apple 75 Million. Personally, I think BillG just likes having Macs around. Maybe be needs something to be the butt of his jokes. I dunno.

  • The point is, these puppies last!

    Yep. Gotta second that remark.

    I bought a Mac 9600 clone (604e/200) in 1996, and five years later, I am still operating it as my primary home machine, with only video, hard drive and RAM upgrades.

    It runs every new OS perfectly and without significant lag. In fact the latest OS, 9.1, runs faster than the last one, 9.04. Office 2001 runs perfectly. Only hi-end games like Diablo II are beginning to make it show its age, and I can get a G3/400 drop-in processor upgrade for about $200 which will keep me gaming for another three years at least.

    Of course, this hasn't always been true. I ran a Mac SE until 1993 - that was a great little machine. But the IIsi I replaced it with was as out of date as the SE in only 2 years. Apple definitely had a slump in the early 90s.

  • You make it sound like an architecture "compatible" with any old peice of crap add-in is a good thing. And it would be, too, if you didn't have to jump through hoops and continually fiddle under the hood to get it working and keep it working.

    The reason you can't use any old piece of crap with an Apple is because the hardware specs and the software specs are engineered as a unit. The benefit is that when you do go under the hood, you pop in the new component and close the hood. And it works.

  • Umm, why would publishers want to move their MacOS versions of apps to x86, when they already have x86 versions of those programs?
  • There are three kinds of people buying Apple computers.

    There's only one kind of person that pigeonholes everyone into a few narrow categories...

    Some people buy Macs because they work, and don't require constant tweaking. They don't want to have to constantly fart around with the OS and hardware to keep their machines working

    Some people buy Macs because of brand loyalty, a few of whom are your classic "Mac religious zealot." Some might otherwise be fully satisfied with a PC, but they bought a Mac first, way back when, and stuck with it. Others are convinced of the utter superiority of Macintosh, and resent any implication otherwise.

    Some people buy Macs because they bit on the advertising, from Steve Jobs' rebel attitude to iMac glibness, or they bought into its "easy to use" line. Very few people buy machines on appearance alone, and those who do probably can't use them.

    I know some people who buy Macs because they're software engineers/EEs, loyal to the Motorola processor. Most of those, though, would rather use an Amiga or NeXT box, and complain that the more superior the hardware, the less successful it is.

    Since the advent of Win32 operating systems, which effectively duplicate the Apple UI for most consumers, very few people are picky about the "look and feel" - only the old school Mac zealots for whom a start menu will never replace an Apple menu: and they've already been counted.

    But in reality, most people choose Mac for a combination of all the above, appearance, legacy, loyalty, marketing, and technical reasons.

    being realistic, price is king.

    If that were true, NeXT and Amiga would still be around. They both had vastly superior cost/performance ratios for their day.

    Nope, marketing is king. Microsoft has proven that. And beside him sits the queen: application development.

    You're certainly right about Jobs' emphasis on appearance, though!

  • My 33-MHz 68040 Next Turbo -- not retired. (runs my laser printer and occasionally is used for PostScript editing).
  • And MS is split?

    Then theoretically the Apps Co won't care that Apple is competing with the OS Co. And thus a major barrier to OSX on Intel is gone.

    Which is the whole point of the court's ruling, to foster competition in the OS market.

    Think of it, OSX (Mac + Unix) and MS Office (and other apps) and cheaper hardware. I'm sure Apple is pulling for the DOJ on this one.

    Steve M

  • Yeah, and face it - the people signing the "OS X on Intel" aren't interested in specing out a supported box. What they want is to run the latest cool thing on the box they have already.* And as another poster pointed out, Apple's business model just doesn't work that way - it's easier to build your own "supported system" than to dig around in the PC parts bin and find something.

    * Even Linux, which has pretty damn broad hardware support, suffers from the moaners that can't kickout $50 for a real modem. Even if Apple did invest Microsoft-style money in getting drivers ported, there would always be some NIC that didn't work, along with the latest+greatest video and sound cards. Which the "cool toy" people that wanted OS X on Intel to begin with would bitch about to no end.
  • Ask VMWare to create a PowerPC emulation environment. Then you could install OSX on your PC. With some good native code translation I betcha such a thing could be plenty speedy.

  • Fuck. I really hate reading this thread over and over. Firstly OS X != Darwin (which has been ported to x86). Intel is not a panacea for Apple's supply difficulties with Motorola. And for some odd reason people think that if Apple did switch processor architectures that somehow they would become all open and cool. Apple is 85% about style, polycarbonate cases and candy colourings ought to tell you that much. They're not going to open BIOS specifications on any of their boxes, Intel chips or otherwise. It'd be a dumb fucking idea to switch architectures anytime soon in any case. Does anyone remember Microsoft had MIPS and PPC version of Windows NT? Notice how there are no MIPS or PPC versions of Windows 2000. They couldn't even get people to port to a different architecture despite they could write to the same API. Microsoft didn't even port its products to those platforms. Third part developers would get awfly pissed at them, they would be shipping their PPC software out (a costly venture) and then Apple says they are switching to x86 so you best not buy any software until new boxes come out. Yeah great idea you fucking dipshits. Let this fucking thread die and buy a fucking Mac if you want OS X.
  • The fact that OSX has the potential to be relatively hardware agnostic (not unlike WinNT..) has inspired all kinds of theories as to what role OS X on x86 has for Apple.

    The truth is, coming from NeXT, SJ knows how hard it is to be a purely software company when you're peddling and alternative OS.

    Make no mistake, OS X on x86 will never complement PowerPC Macs. OS X on x86 exists solely as an escape plan (not unlike the factors behind NT's HAL).

    Apple has nothing to gain by expanding it's installed base at the expense of revenue. OpenStep was a disaster for NeXT.

    OS X on x86 is the only real incentive for Moto to make 7400's better for PC use.
  • That presupposes that those expensive commercial software packages will be available for x86/OSX. It's not a great example, but how much commercial software got ported to Alpha/NT?

    Those commercial software makers have trouble supporting Linux due to the lack of consistent GUI etc

    However, it just pushes the difficulty off onto Apple. How much trouble does Apple have hitting deadlines when they control every aspect of the hardware? I wonder how much more the OSX schedule would have slipped if they were dealing with commodity hardware they have next to no control over.
  • Jobs is debateably suffering from some sort of demensia, but I've never thought the guy was stupid.

    The only way I could see Jobs doing this is if he had a big problem with Linux. OSX on x86 would hurt both Linux and Apple.

    No, you say, Linux cannot be hurt by competition, only helped! That's true for the staple Linux users. Myself, I would never stop running linux because of the availability of OSX on my hardware. I might add another choice to my boot menu, but it would probably just be a fling like QNX and BeOS. I always come back to my true OS.

    Its the other type of Linux user, the convert. This is the guy who hates MS, and runs linux because it's not. He rarely gets out of X, and when he does you cringe because he's logged in as root and just typed rm -rf /* These casual Linux users could jump to OSX because of it's apparent advantages Better interface, easier administration, and abundance of popular apps.

    Does this really hurt Linux? Well, not the technical advancement of Linux, but Linux could begin to loose ground in the % war, fall from the limelight, and become obscure again. Bad thing? Good Thing? That's argueable.

    Now apple has much more to loose. We all remember what happened when Mac Clones were around. Hardware so cheap there wasn't much point in buying Apple. Apple had to pull back licensing of the OS to slow their tailspin. Would we be seeing ads for cute little titanium G4's or Cubes if they hadn't done this? Probably not. Apple likely would have continued to die, and eventually would stop advancement of the OS. The entire Apple market would be virtually gone. Maybe LinuxPPC would have taken off on the clones eventually, but it's doubtful.

    x86 hardware is now dirt cheap. You can build a top-shelf system for about $1000-1500. You can pick up a high-end laptop for under $2000. Tell me all you want about Apples superior hardware, but price is why the vast majority of the market is on x86 right now. Put OSX on x86, and you loose at least half of your current hardware market.

    So I think that if Jobs decides to do this (no matter how much I might like to see it), its time to send the guy to the funny farm. Or maybe aknowledge that MS has perfected mind control.
  • People who buy an iMac don't want to upgrade it, they just want it to work. Geeks can't seem to grasp this concept, some people just want a tool that will get the job done. Even if we ignore the fact that you can upgrade things in an iMac (memory, processor, HD), it's irrelevant. I don't bitch about how I can't upgrade my VCR because it's an appliance that does the job. The iMac is the same thing. If upgrading is your concern, the iMac is not for you...
  • The point is, these puppies last!

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I got my machine in 1995, and it's still going strong. It's running Linux beside my main workstation right now. Oh, wait-- it's an Intel machine. Whoops!

  • Reread the question.

    The question was whether it would damage Apple's hardware revenues - and I can't see that it could concievably help them. If you wanted MacOS you'd rapidly become seduced by the cheap boxes. They could refuse to sell MacOS without a licensed box, but that would only result in the CD being copied. Put a software block in and it would be hacked out.

    There's then the wider question of whether it would help their overall revenues. I'm personally of the opinion it wouldn't as their hardware revenues would fall while the prime reason people don't buy MacOS machines now - won't run Windows software - would remain. Yes, people like us can dualboot but that't not something most would think of or manage - and we're not that big a market.

    I still believe this is a silly idea I'm afraid.
  • much money would Apple actually make selling hardware, if that hardware didn't come with the Mac OS attached to it?
    If your answer is no (as I suspect it is) then the reason you buy Apples is primarily because of the software and OS...
    Let me turn your question around.

    How much money would Apple actually make if they only sold the software? The answer: $0. The combination of Microsoft and Linux would run them out of business.

    If it makes you feel any better, you can say that Apple is a systems company. But the hardware is what keeps that company afloat. Some people might hate Steve Jobs for squashing the Mac clone market, but he simply realized that the hardware is what drives the company's revenue.

  • If you look at a machine with no ISA slots, you'll see that windoze still loads ISA drivers.

    heh, the PS/2 port, floppy, serial, and some other stuff are all on an ISA bus.

  • This is all great except for the part about Maya and Adobe apps -- they are written in Carbon, not Cocoa. They are not processor independent. So sure, you could have OSX on Intel, you just wouldn't have any apps for it except the NextStep ones. In fact, from an OS architecture perspective, OSX on Intel would bear a striking resemblence to NextStep for Intel.

    - Scott
    Scott Stevenson
    WildTofu []
  • The biggest problem I see for Apple releasing OSX for Intel, is there are so many Hareware combinations to support and test, where as there are very few G4 configurations.

    Apple has aways wnated to produce "easy to use" systems. If it needs complex systems to get drivers to work, that another thing to break, hence not "easy to use".

    Sun tried with PCs (solaris X86) but its hardware support sucked! And so pretty much dropped it, Sun Sparcs however have few hardware configs so is much easy to support.

    Its not just there are lots of new ones, you have to produce "historical" drivers to just get up to speed, before you can move forward.

    yes I know its based on BSD however to keep with the hardware support for intel, (using the BSD guys) they would have repeatedly port the drivers.

    All in all I do not think it would be worth their time, I look forward to being proved completely wrong ;-)

  • I think the first target would be Microsoft Windows. All of a sudden, all those people who just want a computer and are nudged toward Dell or Gateway don't have to get married to Windows. They could buy a Dell or Gateway with OS X. Really, I don't think many of these first time consumers care what flavor of OS it is running, as long as they get internet access and can play games. If Apple got even a tiny fraction of the OEM software market, that still millions and millions of it starts edging out Microsoft on the desktop which reduces its power to leverage through the network effect.

    Anyway, I thought the linchpin for Apple was Microsoft Office. With a move to OS X, what happens now? Is Microsoft really going to develop Office (or IE for that matter) for a Unix? If not, then what does Apple have to lose by challenging Microsoft on the x86 desktop?
  • Could someone possibly explain why this could be a good idea?

    Um, the amount of money they make is not only dependent on *what* they sell, but *how much* they sell. Even if OS X took only a fraction of the OEM PC desktop market (Dell, Gateway, etc.), that's still *a lot* of money. The question then is: will people buy enough copies of an OS X x86 machine to make up for the loss in sales of Apple hardware based machines? I don't have the numbers but maybe somebody would like to make some estimates and calculate the smallest fraction of the x86 PC market with which Apple would break even. Considering that a lot (most?) of Apple fans are diehards who would never consider buying an x86, I don't think there would be *all* that high an attrition rate.
  • Ha ha. Click the "Statistics" button to see the Slashdot effect in action. The Slashdot article was posted at 6:54 AM. The "Signature Submissions" jumps drastically on the 6 AM hour. ;)

    (ya ya, given that they're in the same time zone...still a huge effect)
  • I's sort of hard to argue that Microsoft isn't squelching competition, when this very thing, OS X on x86, would be a terrific boon to consumers.
  • Something just occurred to me as to the reason why Apple has not released an x86 compatible version of their OS.

    Fear of Microsoft viewing them as a "threat" to their monopoly and their heavy hand coming down on them.

    When I look at it that way it all makes sense...
  • X86, and NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP (OSX's ancestor) always had support for X86.

    For the record, that's not true; the original OS was for NeXT hardware only. My memory is pretty fuzzy here, but I think they launched the X86 version at the same NeXTworld Expo that they announced that they were going to stop making hardware. Was that '93? And the first NeXT boxes I recall were in '88 or '89, so that's 4 or 5 years on proprietary hardware.

    My personal bet is that they will get the OS working in the lab as a "just in case" plan; given its cross-platform history, I think it won't be much work (except, of course, for hardware drivers, which will be a nightmare, just like they were with the x86 NextStep).

    But they won't ever release it until Apple itself is forced out of the hardware business. Remember that Jobs is the guy who killed the Mac clone business; doing an X86 version of their OS is even worse, as their are no hardware license fees. But it will come to pass sooner or later.

    It really saddens me, as I'm very fond of Apple, but they're caught in a vicious circle that I don't think they'll ever break out of.
  • I think that one of the main reasons that MacOS has been so stable(compared to Windows) over the years is because of Apple's stranglehold on hardware.

    Not only on the CPUs, but also on third party hardware and drivers. I could be wrong, but don't they approve any device and driver before it will run on the OS?

    Try to dump the OS onto the hodgepodge Intel platform, and you end up with the same problems x86 users are already facing (including 20+ years of backward compatibility).
  • "If OS X for x86 was available, I'd be willing to bet that a large proportion of the first two groups would immediately jump ship over to cheaper hardware."

    I think something you forget is that those three categories are not mutually exclusive. The media workers like the really nice and well designed case of their computer. So do some of the GUI junkies.

    The price difference between Mac and PC hardware those days is not that big... it's slightly more expensive on the Mac side, but not much more (if you don't buy your RAM at the Apple Store online :-)

    Also I'm not so sure that price is king.... otherwise only the cheapest computers would sell, and it seems there are lots of offerings at all kind of price points. Like for any other manifactured good.
    Hey, people pay lots of moneys to buy their Nike... and it's just shoes. :)

    Last but not least, if OS X worked on x86, Apple could switch from PowerPC to Intel, maybe even use some standard motherboard design and cut prices down some more, etc.


    There is one thing to be known about Steve Jobs: he is a hardware guy. He likes beautiful hardware. He made the NeXT guys redesign the motherboard of the Next box so it looked visualy pleasant... yes, he went that far. He never really cared much for the software... what really excited him was to make and ship hardware. Or so I read, I don't know him personally :) Of course he may have changed (he has been pushing iMovie, iTunes and iDVD a lot), but I would be surprised that he would want to give up nice hardware design.

  • Well, yeah, but Apple would be doing this from a position of strength, whereas Be has always been a largely unknown underdog. I think that changes things somewhat, though whether that's enough to matter is anyone's guess. If it's to be done anyway -- if there will be an Intel OSX -- I don't see any reason not to do it. All I'm suggesting is that they keep the bar set high as far as hardware support goes...

  • My sig is not part of my post. I was only (partially, anyway) joking when I said that you should move to BeOS. It just doesn't fit for a lot of people. Still, you said you were looking for speed, and I pointed to it.

    Either way, I have trouble believing that OS-X is faster than BeOS.

    A) The BeOS microkernel is a good deal faster than Mach at IPC. You can run the benchmarks yourself, but BeOS can sustain even more msgs/sec than QNX.

    B) Mach has a bunch of other problems, read the HURD dev-list.

    C) They use a single server BSD/Mach approach. Such a system has traditionally been slower than a standard BSD macrokernel, and (for destkop performance at least) BeOS outperforms those.

    D) They use a PDF rendrer in their graphics display. While it might be well-optimized and all, it will never be as fast as a standard bitmap system (unless it gets HW-accel)

    E) The subjective performance reports of the public beta from Ars Technica are not that impressive.

    Still, I've never actually used it, I'm just giving theoretical reasons on why it could be slower. Since I don't have a G4, I can't conduct decent benchmarks, and even if I did, the benchmarks would be ambigious because BeOS doesn't run on a G4 and OS-X doesn't run on Intel. However, you're welcome to run some tests yourself if you want to refute my arguement.
  • I never said that Apple made bad computers. I'm just saying that the vargacies of the Intel architecture aren't bad enough to trade off the extra speed. Maybe I've had too easy of an OS experience (mainly NT4 and BeOS) but I never really have that many problems with PC hardware. Just keep on top of driver updates and buy quality hardware. Thus, any gain in elegence that I'd get from using a G4 really would be outweighed by the fact that it is slower and more expensive.
  • PCs are still incredibly broken AT architecture machines
    I can certify that PC hardware is indeed crap. Do any system-level hacking, and you find out exactly how crappy it is. Forget the interrupt limit, with PCs, you have to bother with things like I/O ports (most archs use mem-mapped I/O) odd methods of addressing hardware, complicated ASM, etc, dealing with the keyboard controller to enable over 1MB of memory, etc. HOWEVER

    Apple has always, with a few notable exceptions, built first-rate hardware
    Isn't true either. While the G4's and all may certainly be elegant and Mac's elegantly architectured, they're slow. Sure RISC helps out, but in the face of 1.2GHz clockspeeds (not to mention things like 3DNow! and SSE which level the field a lot) even 750MHz G4's are still slow. Especially considering the hefty price margin they carry. I like well-architectured stuff as much as the next guy, but for $3500, I want my system to be *faster* than the cheaper competition. Not to mention the fact that Apple is always several months (half a product cycle these days) behind in the introduction of new graphics chips. For the longest time, even in the days of the GeForce, G4's were coming with Rage 128's! Those are TNT-1 class chips! Just now they are getting GeForce2 MX class chips and making a big deal about it, and NV20 is on the horizon! If you're going to pay several hundred dollars more, you should at least get modern hardware!
  • BeOS 5.0 on a 1.2 GHz Athlon. Fastest thing you can get without moving up to an Alpha ;)
  • It's not x86's fault, it's the OS. Invariably, it's the OS. I'm not bullshitting this. BeOS might have a lot of problems, it might have limited developer support, and its supporters might be holier-than-thou evangelists, but it has the sweetest hardware detection on this side of a Mac. BeOS is the closest you'll get to trouble free PC operation. The other day I was bitching with a PC in order to get a new PocketPC working, I could install outlook because the software kept crashing, and my stupid WinNT machine wouldn't place nice with my stupid Win98 machine (which itself would randomly reboot just to spite me.) So I just dropped everything, left my Micro$haft crap in its state of dissarry, and retreated into my blissful BeOS world of painless computing...
  • Is this a troll? The AC pointed out (quite intelligently, I might add) that x86 != IBM compatible.

    What makes a PC "IBM Compatible" is the system as a whole, mainly, the BIOS and the processor.

    Change the BIOS considerably, and you aren't IBM compatible.

  • You don't think companies would be willing to recompile their code so that 90% of the computer market (x86 pc's) could run it?

    I'll name you one company that sure as hell won't recompile its OSX apps to run on an Intel platform... Microsoft.

    Quite frankly, Apple can't afford to induce the wrath of Microsoft. If Apple were to start making an operating system that was real competition for Microsoft that ran on the same hardware IE and Office for Mac would disappear faster than you can imagine. Linux manages to stumble by without these applications, but there's no way in hell that MacOS would get by without them. Apple needs Microsoft because Apple's own Claris/Apple/whoever owns it these days Works is adequate by and large, but it's not office and many people really do need to have office. Apple also doesn't make a web browser and the Netscape one for MacOS really isn't much good (for that matter, are they even making one for OSX? I sure haven't heard about it...).

    Where is Apple really going to be if they're pushing a platform that costs money, for which there isn't a real browser or office suite, and can run on systems that cost less than the hardware Apple sells? If they were to do that they'd be looking a lot like Be in a real big hurry. Be is a cool product and all and really has some good ideas in it, but I don't envy their market position one bit and I'm sure that Apple doesn't either.

  • > Give me a reason not to switch to OS X.

    Right on, brother! This is exciting shit.

    I switched from a PC to a Mac two years ago once the NeXTSTEP + Mac OS = Mac OS X thing was explained to me. In the meantime, I surprised myself by totally falling in love with Mac OS. It is just great except for the guts, and Mac OS X goes overboard in fixing that, as well as tightening up all kinds of little legacy things and adding new features.

    This is a platform that's about to offer a $2500 full-featured notebook with 15.2" wide-screen, built-in 802.11 and antennaes, 1394, VGA out (for a second display or mirroring), TV out, Cardbus, IR, five-hour battery life, hot-swap batteries, slot-load DVD, Apache, Perl, iMovie, Mac OS X, Java2, BSD, Altivec. And the fucker is made out of titanium and is 1" thick! Damn right we better be excited. This is everything that Apple and NeXT ever promised and moreso. You can run Apache, Perl, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop side-by-side. Quake III already runs on Mac OS X and got the fastest frame rate ever at the recent Macworld SF on a G3/533 with an nVidia card (100+ frames per second). That's twice as many frames per second as the same machine can manage with Mac OS 9.

    This is the notebook for the die-hard geek to code up his next embedded Linux set-top box or whatever. Run multiple installations of Linux in Virtual PC if you want to. Dual-boot with LinuxPPC if you want to. Very 21st century. And look, no Microsoft at all. None. Not a bit. Not a hint.
  • I know you're probably just trolling, but when BeOS reaches version 1.0, it would be interesting to do a bake-off with Mac OS X version 10.0. Be has some nice technology, but their desktop OS is not in the same league as Mac OS X. It is not even in the same league as Mac OS or OpenStep. Can it print, yet?
  • > BTW, doesn't have their commericals.
    > Where are they

    At ... the new ones are easy to find, but the older ones take a bit of hunting. had a folder full of them at one point, and might still. Apple asked not to run their commercials, perhaps because Apple runs them themselves, and's statistics are important in PC Data's ranking of hardware-related sites.
  • That's bullshit, or you would have bought a Mac by now. I know it and Apple knows it. No Mac OS X for x86.
  • Carbon apps are just as native as Cocoa, and both kinds of apps live inside application packages that can contain multiple binaries. Whether a Mac OS X app is Carbon or Cocoa won't be a limiting factor in porting the OS.
  • The BeOS model has not even been successful for Be. It's like you're suggesting that Apple follow the Edsel model. Also, Be used to follow something called the "Apple model". The Be model is Be's Plan B.
  • The reason that Steve Jobs spends a lot of time on the UI at Apple events is the same reason that Sun focuses on reliability or MB/s and other such numbers at a Sun event: these things matter to their customers. If your Sun server can put out twice as many Web pages as an SGI, then that's going to save/make you money. Apple's users know that you can take the same hardware and software functionality and put a good UI on it and speed up the wetware (humans) dramatically. We're the slowest part of a computer system, but we're also the smartest ... the UI is the vital connection between the hardware and wetware. If we could measure it in MB/s, maybe more people would understand. As it is, creative users flock to the Mac because they understand good UI from using paintbrushes and musical instruments. Mac users will buy an OS upgrade if you show them that the interface will save them time and trouble.
  • I'm running Mac OS X Public Beta on an original iBook with a G3 300 in it, and 192 MB of RAM. This machine has much less performance than any PowerBook from the last year or so. I can run as many apps as I want, whether they're native or Classic. How much RAM does your friend have? You can put 256 MB more into a PowerBook for about $125 these days. Mac OS X Public Beta apparently gets very happy when you get into the 256 MB RAM area. The final 10.0 will probably be tuned to like less RAM, but RAM is so cheap now ... 256 MB for $125 really maximizes the hardware investment you've already made.
  • I always find it funny when non-Mac users complain that the Mac has no software. Most of the "brand-name" apps that are out there started on the Mac and were ported to Windows, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Director, FreeHand, Word, Excel, QuickTime, and on and on. The rest of the "brand-name" apps are Mac and Windows, except for server and database stuff, which is usually Unix and Windows. Mac OS X runs pretty much everything out there that isn't Microsoft, and that means it runs all the best software. A Web developer using Mac OS X may only have three or four server packages to choose from, but one of them is Apache. A Web developer using Windows may have 10 server packages to choose from, but none of them are Apache. Do you see what I mean? There are also a selection of amazing Mac-only apps like Final Cut Pro and MetaSynth. Microsoft's Mac apps are also dramatically better on the Mac ... you might not recognize them.

    The impression that Windows has more software comes from the fact that Windows software is carried in retail stores, and from the fact that Microsoft lied for years about how many apps were available for Windows. They said 70,000. At one of the recent Microsoft court proceedings, it came out that 70,000 applications is more than have ever been written for all combined platforms in the history of mankind. The actual number was deemed to be "about 10,000", which is about the same number of apps that Apple says run on Mac OS. I've been using a Mac for two years and I still run into major apps that I didn't know were available, like Lightwave, which I saw recently at Macworld. I also saw Maya and Nuendo there, too, which are two apps that are coming to Mac OS X in a few months and have never been on the Mac at all. Software is plentiful on the Mac platform, especially so now that all the Unix stuff is coming over to Mac OS X.
  • > Compare [the iMac G3/233] with a PII/233
    > and you'll find [that the PC is] every bit equal
    > to grandma's box ... er, boxen.

    No, that's just plain not true.

    A couple of years ago, I switched from a very nicely equipped IBM PII 300 box to a Power Mac G3 350 with similar specs, and the Mac runs circles around the PC. I immediately got more than twice as many tracks and effects going simultaneously in a multitrack audio program, as well as having much, much lower latency. It also just feels faster when you use it. I used to keep PC's for a year or 18 months, max, and then give them away, but this Mac is still my main machine after two years and I will still have have lots of jobs for it once my new machine arrives this month (a Power Mac with the CD/DVD-RW combo drive). The G3 still has room for 1 GB more RAM, and the CPU can be unplugged and replaced with a faster one if I want to.
  • We're talking about Mac OS X, here, not 9.

    There are lots and lots of 3D artists who have a Unix box on their left and a Mac on their right, running Photoshop. Explain to me how they will resist a PowerBook G4 for $2500.
  • Mac OS X for x86 will be out sometime next year. It's called "Windows 2002", and it's from Microsoft. It runs Photoshop, it runs FreeHand, it runs Office ... all Macintosh apps that are now available on x86 thanks to the fine people at Microsoft. Rather than BSD, you get DOS, but you can dual-boot BSD. Rather than Mac OS, you get Windows, but it also has a mouse pointer and icons. Rather than Apache, you get Microsoft Personal Web Sharing with a limit of 10 simultaneous users, but if you pay through the nose, Microsoft will flip a switch in the Registry for you and you can serve more users. Rather than a small, cool-running, superfast RISC chip with an amazing DSP co-processor, you get an overclocked beast the size of a paperback book with two or three huge fans, but x86 users know that these are all small compromises to make for the pleasure of buying your add-on hardware from umpteen different vendors in 148 countries around the world. In fact, the majority of people won't even notice the difference between the two versions, because they are ignorant.

    Windows 2002 comes free with a computer system that will set you back about $800-$2500 complete. If you don't like it as much as the PowerPC version (called Mac OS X) then buy the PowerPC version, which is also available free with a computer system that will set you back about $800-2500 complete (unless you want a CD/DVD-RW combo drive, which is $1000 extra). The PowerPC systems do include such niceties as built-in antennaes, a single cable for the display, award-winning industrial design, FireWire, optical mouse, no legacy ports, free movie-editing software, etc, but the x86 version is available with snap-on colored panels, and occasionally comes in cases that look like melted marshmallows (hello, Compaq), and, as mentioned, it will work with add-on hardware from umpteen different companies. And remember, both versions of Mac OS X run pretty much the same brand-name apps.

    It's all pretty simple when you ignore little details like API's and disk formats. Sure Mac OS X and Windows 2002 are different to us geeks, but geeks don't always make the purchasing decisions, do they? So, why would Apple go to all the effort of making an x86 Mac OS X when that's Microsoft's core business? So a cheap bastard with an eMachine can run a prettier and easier to use version of Word? NOT going to happen.
  • > What I still don't understand is how Apple
    > managed to turn NEXTSTEP (runs fine on my
    > NeXTStation Turbo which is a 33Mhz 68040 with
    > 32MB of RAM) into OSX (apparently only runs
    > reasonably well on a XXXMhz PowerPC G4 with
    > 128MB of RAM)?

    Well, I can tell you how. The main thing is that there's a big difference between meeting the processing needs of a 1989 user and a 2001 user. People weren't playing MP3's in 1989, they weren't encoding DVD's, they weren't serving Web pages in the background. They also weren't running Microsoft's bloated apps. Also, the NeXTSTEP interface, while elegant and useful, did not do the kind of work that Aqua is doing with anti-aliasing and drop shadows. NeXTSTEP also didn't have the Carbon API in addition to Cocoa, and most of all, NeXTSTEP didn't run Mac OS 9 inside a simulated computer (not emulated, because the processor is real).

    Requirements for Mac OS X Public Beta are any G3 or G4 equipped Mac (except the original PowerBook G3) and 128MB RAM. It runs quite well on any of these boxes, for a beta. More recent builds are flying in comparison to the Public Beta. The GUI, especially, has obviously been tuned quite a bit more (one Macworld writer said "this is the fastest GUI I've ever used, period.") This is Apple's OS for the next 10-15 years, according to Steve Jobs. Sure, they could tune it for machines that predate the iMac, but why do that when the original iMac is going to turn three in a few months? It will run on older machines just fine, but Apple are aiming the feature set at the machines they've been selling for the past three years, and the machines they will sell in the next three years.

  • He said "IF you want OS X" ... if vanilla BSD meets your computing needs, then good for you.
  • "Rhapsody" is Mac OS X Server 1.0 or 1.2, available for the past two years (type uname in Terminal on a Mac OS X Server box and it will tell you it is "Rhapsody"). Mac OS X will tell you "Darwin".

    Mac OS X is not Apple's first "next-generation OS", just the first one that will really do the whole job. Promises made for Rhapsody don't count, same as Microsoft has been promising a single version of Windows for 5 years.
  • No, that really doesn't matter. A Mac OS X application is actually a folder that contains all of the application's resources and files, and it can contain multiple binaries as well. The GUI displays this folder as a single application that the user can interact with by moving it, renaming it, running it, dragging things onto it, or browsing its contents to get a look at the insides. Photoshop for Mac OS X on PPC would just have to get a bit bigger to also run on Mac OS X on x86. Mac OS X itself would choose and use the right binary at runtime. All the developer would have to do is compile the app twice, but many Mac software developers are used to making dual PowerPC/68k (so-called "fat") binaries already.
  • > MacOS X is based on GNU/Darwin which is
    > currently being ported to x86.

    Mac OS X is based on Darwin, which already runs on x86. I downloaded a Virtual PC "hard drive" disk image with DarwinIntel on it two or three months ago, so it's been running on x86 for a while. It is basically a BSD with a modified Mach kernel.

    I guess Apple could have called Darwin "GNU/Darwin", or maybe "GNU/PCI/Darwin", since it does use a PCI bus and why wouldn't we put the name of every underlying technology right in the name of the OS? No disrespect to the GNU folks who have made so much good stuff possible, but a car's engine belongs under the hood, you know?
  • Yeah, but when Photoshop so plainly runs better on one platform, you don't ask why if you're a Photoshop user, you just use the better platform. Who cares if this or that or the other is the reason? That's why application benchmarks are so meaningful, never mind if geeks don't like them as much as compiler shootouts.

    Photoshop is also a great app to use, even if you're not a Photoshop user, because so many apps these days use Photoshop plug-ins or similar computations when they work with bitmaps or do anti-aliasing. Even a Web browser is resizing bitmap images from time to time.
  • > If you really think about it, there is nothing in an
    > Apple (with the exception of the PowerPC chip)
    > that is unique.

    This isn't really true. You can find a PC that is comparably-equipped to a Mac, but what's important to the platform and to developers is that there are certain things that ALL Macs have. For example, Apple introduced sound and CD-ROM drives first, and then put them in all of their machines. Sound and CD-ROM drives were also available for PC's shortly after that, but it was years and years before a developer could rely on a PC having both of those features, which made it harder to truly exploit those features in the wider market. The mouse is another example. Before Windows 95, PC developers could not assume that you have a mouse.

    These days, all Macs have Ethernet, so you can create a device or software for the Mac market that requires Ethernet and not have to include an instructional book on how to add Ethernet to your PC. Similarly, they all have FireWire, so you can develop an add-on that requires FireWire and know you have a good chunk of the current Mac market. Mac keyboards have always had two USB (ADB in the old days) ports, so you can make a joystick and count on the user just having to plug it into their keyboard. When they test their joysticks on the Mac, they're plugging them into the same keyboard that the users all have, so it's easy to troubleshoot the drivers or whatever.

    A lot of these kinds of assumptions move the burden of getting things working off the user and onto the developer and Apple. In effect, the "computer" evolves to include a higher base set of capabilities, and then developers make software to exploit those capabilities as a whole. Sometimes knowing you can rely on Ethernet and FireWire both being there makes the whole more than the sum of its parts.
  • You can't make any assumptions about the supported machines in 10.0, based on 4K17 or other Apple internal builds. Mac OS X Public Beta runs on older machines, because it has to, since its a public build. However, Apple have been using Mac OS X internally for quite a while ... some of the servers running are running Mac OS X, and many of their employees are using Mac OS X on their desktops. There is no reason for 4K17 to have the drivers for older machines. Drivers for old machines could easily be in an add-on package, which would clearly be labeled "unsupported". We're talking about machines that, if they were PC's, wouldn't run Windows 2000.
  • I don't know the details, but I think there is already a 64-bit path built into the PowerPC in some way. I read an article about it once, and the impression I left with was that you could sort of stamp a 32-bit PowerPC chip as "64-bit Ready". I think the bus is 64-bit or something. Motorola has a lot of stuff on this at their Web site.

    I also read somewhere that 64-bitness is part of Apple's plans with Mac OS X as well. They know it's coming. Altivec is 128-bit already, of course.
  • > What's changed since 1994?

    People are serving Web pages out of their homes and need reliability and good multitasking. They are editing digital video and need good system throughput. They are hooked up to the Internet 24/7 and need security. They are overwhelmed by a mass of set-top boxes, wireless phones, PDA's, MP3 players, and need an interface that is simple and easy to use, and a hardware platform that deals with peripherals in a sensible way. Most of all, they are not using computers so much because they want to, but because they need to, and that really begs for a system that really works, and is also fun to use.
  • If Apple plan on releasing OS X on Intel, they'll have to do it soon, or it won't be worth it. When Sun released Solaris for Intel, it was seen as too late -- they were already comitted to SPARC, and the market saw the Intel move as halfhearted. SPARC was always going to be the preferred platform, and Intel was always very much a second rate citizen in the Solaris world. The same situation exists with OS X. Unless an Intel version is released very soon, OS X on PPC will be too entrenched. If it reaches that point, Apple won't be able to convice developers to code for both platforms, and they'll stick to just PPC. Ultimately, the support of third party developers is what makes or breaks an OS.

    I'm actually in two minds about whether or not Apple should release an Intel OS X. On one hand, more competition is always a good thing. On the other hand, if it's successful, it could hasten the demise of viable non-x86 alternatives.

  • by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <david@d a s> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:15AM (#468134)
    I'm by no means a programmer, but it would seem to me a lot of work to port existing apps over to OSX on x86

    Under NeXTSTEP, most cross-processor porting consisted of the following grueling steps:

    • Step 1: Open the app in Project Builder.
    • Step 2: Check "Intel," "NeXT," "Sparc," and "HP," then hit "Compile."
    • Step 3: There's no step 3.

    <chuckle>there's no step three....

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @07:50AM (#468135) Journal
    What matters ultimately is how they run, not how well they fulfill YOUR idea of what a server architecture should be

    "Try moving your sound card to a different PCI slot."

    "Why won't my motherboard enable 2x AGP?"

    "How can I keep my video card and my NIC from sharing IRQ 9 under Windows 2000?"

    "My system hangs if I try to hibernate it."

    "Ever since I upgraded my BIOS, all of my games run slowly."

    All facts of life, day and day out, in the PC world. Check any hardware/gaming oriented message board and see. Sure, it's great if you are a tweaker, but that's not exactly Apple's core market, and it's the sort of thing that their current customers abhor.

    OS X on Intel would be another one of those specilty OSes that you would pretty much have to spec out a whole machine for before buying (kinda like OpenStep 4.2!) Apple could solve that problem by selling nicely designed 'certified' boxes, but that wouldn't be open enough for the people who are campaigning for this (who want to run OSX on the box that's sitting on their desk).
  • by mato ( 14195 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @04:31AM (#468136) Homepage

    Under NeXTSTEP, most cross-processor porting consisted of the following grueling steps:

    • Step 1: Open the app in Project Builder.
    • Step 2: Check "Intel," "NeXT," "Sparc," and "HP," then hit "Compile."
    • Step 3: There's no step 3.

    Oh, and you forgot to mention that you end up with one binary which through clever sharing of resources (all interfaces, resources, etc are in the .app folder rather than in the executable) is actually smaller than for example, 4 binaries of the same app for different architectures under *NIX. It also means you could essentially fire up Interface Builder on the .nib and localize apps yourself/move buttons around and so on.

    IMHO these are the most important points about OSX people on /. are missing, just look at the amount of posts here saying "it's too hard". In the case of OSX, it's not. Apple has quietly been keeping Darwin running on X86, and NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP (OSX's ancestor) always had support for X86. So an X86 port of OSX would be a matter of updating NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP drivers, writing some new ones for hardware that didn't exist at the time (note I'm only talking about drivers for those subsystems that Darwin does not include, i.e. Aqua) and recompiling. Presto, you have OSX/X86.

    What I still don't understand is how Apple managed to turn NEXTSTEP (runs fine on my NeXTStation Turbo which is a 33Mhz 68040 with 32MB of RAM) into OSX (apparently only runs reasonably well on a XXXMhz PowerPC G4 with 128MB of RAM)? As far as I can see, they are essentially the same OS (OSX has a couple more APIs and more Eye Candy, but surely doesn't justify such a jump).

  • by Brento ( 26177 ) < minus poet> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:17AM (#468137) Homepage
    Yeah, that's what I've been clamoring for. Yet another OS to run on my x86, preferably one without a killer app or widespread support, and even better if it's one that won't support my existing apps. I want something pretty. It doesn't need to do anything that Linux/Windows/Beos does. I've always thought that the world needs more OS's. I'd love to go back to the early 80's, when every time I sat down at a new desk, I had to learn a new set of commands just to get my work done. Woohoo! My heart beats with anticipation.

    Seriously, folks, what is it about Mac OS X that would make you shell out money for it when Linux is free? Do you think it can compete with Windows where Linux can't? Do you think it's genuinely better? I don't get it.

    Mac OS X won't penetrate large organizations, either. Network admins have their hands full with 95/98 desktops, 2000 desktops, 2000 servers, Linux servers, and Netware servers. Mac OS X will be looked at as just another unproven alternative with no real history, an answer looking for a question.

    I also can't believe posters haven't mentioned the failed 3rd-party hardware problems generated when Apple let other manufacturers build PowerPC boxes. Remember that? Apple couldn't stand letting other people build boxes and run Apple software. Now we're hearing rumbles that not only will it run on other boxes, but it'll be boxes that Apple hasn't put their golden blessing on. That's ridiculous - Apple dropped that hot potato years ago, and they're not likely to pick it up again.
  • by babbage ( 61057 ) <cdevers@cis.usoutha l . edu> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @06:33AM (#468138) Homepage Journal
    A quick skim over some of the higher rated comments shows a common thread -- a lot of people are concerned that moving to x86 would be to abandon the superior Apple hardware and to embrace a lot of crappy legacy stuff. Could Apple not do what BeOS does, by saying "yeah, you can run it on a regular x86 box, but you have to have at least x for a graphics card, at least y for audio, and at least z for the $whatever.

    That way, you can support the platform without supporting all the cruft that has built up over the years. I can almost see Apple defending their hardware (and the higher prices for it) by saying something to the effect of "yeah, you can run OSX on PC hardware, but you need at least a PIII / 1.2 gHz or equivalent processor, 196 mb of ram, a DVD burner...", etc -- just make the requirements so high that it would be a relatively expensive kit anyway, so it wouldn't hurt G3 based sales that badly, and it would avoid a lot of the legacy issue.

  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @10:31AM (#468139)
    I'm one of the Mac-using media people you talk about. You're right that price is king, but Macs are cheaper than x86 PC's. Don't just do a CompUSA comparison of the hardware sticker-price, although Apple's notebooks, at least, will win that easily, and the desktops would surprise you if you added the comparable features to a PC. You have to evaluate what the machine will cost you over its lifetime, and what it will give you over its lifetime.

    Support. There are almost zero IT costs related to Macs. Apple has an article on their site right now about a 150-user consulting firm that is a Mac-only shop and has only two IT guys, and they take care of the phone system, too. In many places, the "business people" use Windows PC's and the "creatives" use Macs, and the IT people only work on the PC's and the "creatives" take care of their own Macs (Microsoft gives this as the reason why their Mac apps are installed with a drag and drop of the folder from the CD to the hard disk, and their Windows apps have a complicated installer). If IT does support the Macs as well, they typically have a 10:1 Windows:Mac ratio on their support calls.

    Productivity. The interface is better and makes users more productive, especially in media apps, which were all originally Mac-only and it shows. You only have to learn one set of key shortcuts and they work everywhere. You don't have to know or care about pathnames. You can move or rename apps and they keep working. You don't have to use filename extensions. You can mount drives formatted with HFS, FAT, UDF, and other formats. Mac OS 9 is more stable than any DOS-Windows version, and more stable than NT 4. It probably won't quite go head to head with Windows 2000, but Mac OS X does, easily (been using it for over a year and no crashes, and these are alphas and betas). These things really add up.

    Hardware. Apple's hardware is high-quality, and components are optimized for each other and work well together. You can add RAM to any Mac in under a minute, because they all have easy-access doors, even the notebooks (the keyboard is a door). Their displays are all color-calibrated, and integrate with ColorSync in the OS. Towers have built-in gigabit Ethernet, and all other Macs have 10/100 built-in (for years now). All Macs have two built-in 802.11 wireless antennaes, and an internal slot for a $99 optional wireless networking card. They all have FireWire built-in (except for the low-end iMac, I believe). They all come with optical mouses and quality keyboards. The machines come with a bunch of stuff that you'd have to add yourself, otherwise.

    Saving a few hundred bucks off the initial sticker price just doesn't help you in the long run. This is why Mac users are willing to pay a little extra. We don't pay much more, though. The $3499 G4 tower has a $995 CD/DVD-RW combo drive in it, as well as iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, iTools, DVD player, CD-RW burning built into the OS, internal antennaes, gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, an audio amplifier for external speakers, power and USB for the display through the video card, optical mouse, room for 1.5 GB RAM, room for two removable drives and four hard drives, four empty PCI slots, easy open case with the mobo on the door, nVidia graphics. That's an awful lot of features and capabilities right out of the box.

    There are so many misconceptions about Apple, because all the other PC manufacturers are in bed with each other and not with Apple. It's worth actually checking into this stuff ... it saves you money and makes your daily work easier. And they look cool and run Mac OS X. You can't beat that.
  • by daniell ( 78495 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @10:49AM (#468140) Homepage
    If apple were to run OS-X on iX86 based machines that they provided, I think you'd find that that there wouldn't be many similarities between apple's iX86 boxes and off the shelf windows iX86 boxes.

    Look at a G4, and look at a standard iX86 box. They basically share the same memory bus, the same PCI bus, the same AGP port, the same USB ports; the Apple lacke a normal UART serial (except for the modem card that I don't think is an option any more) and has a FireWire (highspeed) serial instead. What else is different... well the processor, its cache, but most importantly the Firmware/ROM.

    Apple, in some deal of wisdom, has used Sun's OpenBoot ROM (named openfirmware) to keep their system bootable, iX86s use the uber-patched BIOS. If Apple were to make intel based machines, it would make its own custom motherboard, and stick with the clearly supirior OpenBoot styled Firmware. It would be nice if you could get this off the shelf, but you can't since MS never bothered to prod developers into supporting it.

    now consider that the only cost differences are the price of the Mot's or IBM's latest PPC (who-knows) vs the price of Intel's latest chip (the who-cares), using current history, you'll see that Apple is actually saving money by buying the cheeper chip. And it has better bang for buck no-doubt.

    So, considering we know Apple won't use off the shelf part, whyever would Apple increase its production costs? Is the world such a sad place that it's going to sell a 1.1Ghz chip that does 0.5 instructions a cycle peak with more success than a 500Mhz chip that does 2 instructions per cycle average?


  • by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:00AM (#468141) Journal
    One interesting thing about this would be that it would remove the OS as a major consideration when doing performance comparisons. I know, I know, compilers and all that. But it would indeed bring the two hardware platforms a greater degree of parity on the OS front.

    So if Photoshop runs twice as fast on one platform as the other, it would be harder to say things like "this performance comparison is meaningless because it doesn't take into consideration this or that OS characteristic".

    Oh, sure, there will always be reasons to dispute head to head comparisons. But they would certainly be more fun.

    That said, I will still never run OSX. I find the philosophy behind the free software movement more compelling than a few more whiz-bang features and eye candy.

    If Apples revenue does truly derive from hardware, and their hardware is superior, then they should GPL everything they do.
  • by spamtrap ( 84490 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:37AM (#468142) Homepage
    And it was a thing of beauty, far more advanced than Linux and it was that years ago.. OSX is just a minor look and feel change, so if they don't do it, it's just for business reasons.

    It's Steve's little red wagon and you never know when he's going to make a turn...

    To drift off topic..

    I was a NeXT developer from the beginning, at one point you could compile a NeXTSTEP app for X86, Sparc, HP's PA-RISC, and their 68040 based slab and have the executable's exist in ONE package as the result of ONE compile.

    The source was compiled into what we would call a Quad-FAT application and the underlying MACH OS would figure out at runtime which processor's code it needed to load. (Linux could take a lesson here)

    I could hand a user a disk and not know or care what processor they were using.

    They didn't allow the development of shared libraries at the time, so you never had to worry about problems like which version of GTK was installed, or fall into RPM hell trying to resolve what version of which library is orisn't loaded.

    The real beauty was the development system, there is nothing that even comes close to comparing to the ease of InterfaceBuilder and ProjectBuilder in the Linux world.. If you never used it you really wouldn't believe how advanced it was(is),
    This was pushing 10 years ago and there is still nothing close in ANY OS (Not Windoze or Linux)

    Their libraries were so well thought out that after you were programming in the system for awhile you could think "gee" there should be a routine name "xx" and sure enough it was there.

    CORBA..Yetch.. Because of the run time binding of Objective-C We could "publish" an Object with literally TWO lines of code and connect to it with another application with ONE line of code... No STUB compilers or any of that crap..

    It was playing to ALL of the NeXTSTEP strengths, but we used to developer "Mac Write" as the 5 minute demo for programmers. (including font changes, fax capability, printing, color RTF text with embedded images and the ability to access services like "Webster" for spell checking.

    Man do I miss that system..
    Perhaps in another 10 years Linux will be close, but I doubt it.

    Time for a beer..

  • by iso ( 87585 ) <`ofni.orezpraw' `ta' `hsals'> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @07:08AM (#468143) Homepage

    Sun has Solaris available for x86. No doubt there was a lot of debate similar to what's happening.

    that's totally different. the main reason Sun wanted Solaris on x86 was to attract developers. they found that a lot of companies had difficulty developing software for their Sparc boxes because they couldn't justify putting a Sparcstation on every developer's desks. they created Sparc x86 just so that developers (or more likely part-time developers) could create Solaris-based applications on cheaper hardware, and it would still compile and run on Solaris for Sparc.

    Apple could follow a similar strategy to attract developers of course, but they'd get themselves into trouble from people who expect Apple to maintain consumer-level support for an operating system port that's targeted at developers.

    so at any rate, it's not really the same thing.

    - j

  • by biglig2 ( 89374 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:14AM (#468144) Homepage Journal
    It all depends on what you want, surely?

    The OSXonIntel web page seems to take in part a disingenious approach. "We want it because BSD gives us the chance to ge at lots of open source sw and to stick it to Microsoft". Well, if that's all you want, then here's a hint: install BSD. ;-)

    To be fair, later they say they want it all. But surely there's almost no chance of getting it to run legacy Mac applications or carbon apps without recompiling? So does it come down to Quartz and Aqua? What use are they on their own? Open source stuff will be available, true, but it'll be written for console or against X. Again, you're back to "install BSD"

    My motto is that OS is irrelevant; it's apps apps apps that count. Why else do you think I'm writing this on a Win2K box?

    I guess one argument apple can use against OSX on intel is that Apple have a very clear understanding of the fundamental hardware, so they can optimize their OS better. A lot of work done on the Linux kernel, for example, seems to be getting this and that obscure piece of hardware to work.

    I think that a better response is not to try and make OSX run on Intel, but to make Gnome or K, depending on preference, look so good that it has the same "wow!" factor that OSX has.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @09:04AM (#468145) Homepage
    NextStep on x86 was available as a shrink-wrapped product for several years. And that was back when Microsoft's top product was Windows for Workgroups. Even then, it didn't sell.
  • by schwanerhill ( 135840 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @08:03AM (#468146)
    Apple sells a vertically integrated product. They control the hardware and the software. That is why Macs are historically more reliable and easier to configure: there is one company controlling everything. That advantage started to erode when Apple allowed clones; therefore, Jobs killed them (smartly, in 20/20 hindsight).

    Apple is able to largely avoid hardware conflicts because there are only 5 current machines (PowerBook, iBook, G4 Tower, G4 Cube, iMac) that run the Mac OS. Apple tests their products extensively on every machine that can run them from the past few years. Microsoft could never test their products on all the machines that run their software.

    Apple makes their money by selling superior hardware. However, people buy the hardware because of Apple's superior software (Mac OS). If Apple allowed other companies to sell computer that would run Mac OS X, they would lose the advantage of controlling everything about the boxes they sell. In the end, it doesn't matter whether the chip inside the computer is a PPC or an x86; it matters that only Apple can produce a Mac.
  • by f5426 ( 144654 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @04:28AM (#468147)
    "The blind man and the paralytic one", or "Confession of an old NeXTer"

    The only thing that is sure, is that they need to do something else too. OS/X ppc only will not cut it.

    In 1984, Apple once was years ahead everyone else.

    Apple did not know how to manage its advance. The simple and friendly Macintosh mutated into a huge number of sub-standard overpriced hardware. Slim APIs and thin operating system (hey, it had to run into 128Kb of RAM) evolved into a convoluted mess. Instead of slowly adapting, they tried grandious plans that failed (Pink, Copland, OpenDoc...). A lot of working technologies were destroyed (Hypercard, to name one).

    In 1991, NeXT had 10 years of advance.

    NeXT did not know how to manage its advance. Pieces after pieces they dropped their assets, in order to stay profitable. First the hardware. Then the OS. Then ObjC (despite numerous claims of the opposite, NeXT was in the process of dropping ObjC in favor of java, for fucking marketing reasons). At the end, NeXT was dropping the whole AppKit, and focused on WebObjects *consulting*, which was rewritten in java. At this point, you could look behind, and see that NeXT basically dropped every single piece that gave it its '10 years of advance'. In the process, NeXT pissed about evey company that developed for them (At the time of the OPENSTEP/Enterprise thing [ie: AppKit on windows], NeXT refused to indicate how costly would be the run-time license [hint: they didn't knew themselves], despite numerous asking from the developers. It is quite nice when you tell an independant developer that he will have to compete with the biggest established players in the biggest market, but will have to pay a premium for each copy of its software. And that you cannot tell him how much the premium is going to be. "It is going to be cheap. Trust us. We are working hard on that."). I think NeXT was doomed the day Lighthouse Design sold to Sun.

    NeXT then bought Apple for a negative amount of money. This was a good thing. NeXT have software that once rocked. Apple have hardware that once rocked. Thogether they are, IMHO, the only credible commercial alternative to Wintel.

    The merge was difficult. Lot of good things were lost there (Newton, OPENSTEP, YB/windows). We almost lost ObjC. The most important asset of NeXT is FoundationKit/AppKit, which require developers to use a different langage. One of the amusing decision made by NeXT was to stop supporting C++. A very good idea those days. A sure way to alienate most of the existing Apple developers, but well, us NeXTers are fucking morons, and you have to play with our rules. Those have never changed over the years. I can give them to you in full:

    "We are right. You are wrong. End of discussion."

    In 2001, apple hardware is ahead no-one. PC hardware *blow* macintosh at any time. Linux/*BSD are way ahead of Darwin. Win2K is rock solid (and trust me, this is a pain for me to admit it). OSX interface is unusable at best (I have trouble to feel NeXTstep throught this slow mess.)

    OSX/x86 could be a way to get mindshare back. But it is useless. It'll end up on the 4th partition of a linux freak that would boot it once a week, because he is bored of playing with gnome themes, then will reboot under windows to play the latest games a couple of hours later.

    Nope. The only way I see for them is to:

    1/ Revive Yellow Box (This implies porting Qartz to windows to get rid of the fscking Adobe DPS licensing issue). Price it at an exact 0$. Give it away from their website. Give it from magazine CDs. Tell developers to learn objective C, so they will use the best object oriented API in the world *and* deploy the same code under different operating system

    2/ Write the unix yellow box. Price it at the same 0$. Tell unix deleloper that they can use the best object oriented API in the world *and* deploy the same code under different operating system

    3/ Help the GNUstep project to implement the OpenStep spec. A statment that they will not sue the project would already be a great thing (gnustep-db developers are afraid that Apple sue them on 4 key EOF patent. Development basically stopped).

    At this point apple will have a viable and healthy software platform. They could then sell ppc boxes, arguing that they are compatible with old Mac OS applications and have the best OpenStep^WCocoa implementation out there.

    Unfortunately, this would require Next/Apple to do the right thing, which, based on personal experience, is very unlikely.


  • by CarrotLord ( 161788 ) <don.richarde@g m a i l .com> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @04:14AM (#468148) Journal
    If you sign up friends to be notified about this site (at the end of the petition), they get sent a really gumby sounding email:

    Hey there,
    This website is an online petition trying to get Mac OS X ported to the intel platform. Go check it out at I signed it and you should too!
    *Your Name*

    I recommend that you write your own messages, if you don't want to sound like that -- otherwise you end up having to write explanatory messages to your friends to tell them that no, you didn't write that email, but it's a good site anyway...

    Also, I would think that making it look as though the referrer is the sender and writer of the email is actually fraudulent, because I most certainly did NOT write that, yet it has been made to appear that I did.


  • By and large I must agree. Apple is a hardware company and always has been since the day the Apple 1 was built in Woz's garage/shop using 6502s in wooden cases. (As I recall, one 6502 was the CPU, the second was a cleverly timed Video generator.) Yet, Apple is, just as importantly, a design company.

    Sadly, the hardware side of competition doesn't win Apple the clearest of victories. Some wins include the peaceful, silent design of the fanless system, the artistry of the cases, and the simplicity of the peripheral attachments. But these do not distinguish it enough from its Wintel competitors: The Motorola PowerPC chips perform competitive benchmarks per clockcycle, but the masses want those GigaHertz.

    A software-oriented Apple could still sell its strongest point, Design, but that takes development. Taking the new direction of support the x86 platform, with its Tower of Hardware Babel, could be more than Apple is ready to chew... affordably anyhow.

  • by Down8 ( 223459 ) <Down8 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:23AM (#468150) Homepage
    I'm a connoisseur of OSes. I install 'em all to play with [*BSD, Linuxes, BeOS, Windows], so for this reason I would like an x86 version of OS X. I already grabbed the supposed Intel port of Darwin [not yet tried it out].

    But, does Apple care about such a beast?

    They would have to start supporting the newest technology, from all different vendors, not just themselves. Big expansion of their happy little driver coding armies

    They would have to expand their customer services exponentially, to support all the people fleeing MS, who don't know the first thing about MacOS, let alone *nix.

    The would be taking an aggressive step towards MS, that they would not take to kindly. I mean Apple's not really competition for MS in the PC market, but this would make them direct competitors, and everyone has an opinon about what MS does to competitors.

    I don't think it is in Apple's best interest [as far as business practices are concerned] to supply an x86 port of OS X. It may be a nice little bit of press, and 'response to customer appeals', but it would change a lot of their business model.

    Of course, there is the added benefit [to end users] of increased interoperability between both *nix and Macs, which may be a nice bit for the business world. Interesting thought... MS's being the only OSes without the OS X seal of approval.

    My pennies,

  • by hero_or_what ( 245446 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:10AM (#468151)

    Apple has to make the same choice as Sun.

    Sun has Solaris available for x86. No doubt there was a lot of debate similar to what's happening. However, there is a difference. The difference lies in who the customers are. Does Apple perceive its customers as driven by hardware or software?

    Sun has been clear about its stand. Hardware is what they think will rake in the moolah. Software is incidental.

    The question I want to ask is, whether we want Mac hardware or Mac software. If software is the answer, then there may be an overwhelming case for porting OS X to x86. If hardware is the answer, convincing Apple may be tough.

  • by coreman ( 8656 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:05AM (#468152) Homepage
    It would be a shame to have the Mac OS X move onto x86 and then get mired in the PC legacy crap that has caused us to continue to see ISA slots on 1ghz machines. I'm much happier with the SCSI/USB/Firewire legacy the Mac hardware has fostered. Of course it's going to negatively effect hardware sales. Don't you think that the new G4s with DVD burners are specifically to generate hardware sales? Where do you think their priorities are? Why do you think they keep orphaning hardware in each release? No OS X is planned for NuBus macs, yet another "trimming/pruning" of the Apple Tree.
  • by Pope Slackman ( 13727 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @07:27AM (#468153) Homepage Journal
    Apple has a real problem with their CPUs that other server RISC based CPUs do not have - they are about two times too slow to keep up with the AMDs and Intels of the world.

    First of all, Apple makes workstations not servers. Comparing a G4 to an 8 way Xeon is bullcrap.

    Second, I guess Sun is too 'slow' as well. Their Ultra series workstations max out at 450Mhz...The
    new Blade 1000 peaks at 750Mhz.
    Why would people buy those? They're so much 'slower' than a P4!

    I wonder why Sun's sales were up 85% from last year...Could it be that there is *still* demand for real UNIX hardware, even with the PeeCee?

    I think if you had a clue about anything other than PeeCees you'd realize the only 'race' Apple is losing is the marketing race - Mhz is not an accurate measure of real-world performance.

    People will NOT switch to OS X when it comes out

    That's a huge generalization.
    I know several people that are lusting after OSX right now.
    Will appreciable amounts of people buy Apple boxen? I don't know, but I think there will be more than you expect.

  • by jkujawa ( 56195 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:18AM (#468154) Homepage
    I beg to differ about "three kinds of people who buy Macs" ...

    Apple has always, with a few notable exceptions, built first-rate hardware. With the combination of the PowerPC and OpenFirmware, modern Macs are, for all intents and purposes, low-end workstations, pretty much indistinguishable from the low-end RS6000 machines that IBM is making these days. (Boot a modern RS6000 -- you'll see Apple plastered all over the firmware.)

    By contrast, PCs are still incredibly broken AT architecture machines. They still have 16 interrupts, and PCI doesn't work around this very well. If you look at a machine with no ISA slots, you'll see that windoze still loads ISA drivers. The machines are CRAP. The only decent non-server intel machines ever built were the SGI machines of a couple of years ago -- because those were full-blown workstations, throwing out all of the legacy crap, and having a real firmware.

    The combination of really good hardware with a first-rate UNIX is a one-two punch that few serious UNIX geeks will be able to resist. And it's sexy and comes in Titanium.

    I *hope* Apple doesn't start catering to the lowest common denominator and making crappy AT boxes. The effect will be to kill the last quality consumer-level hardware, and it'll kill Apple, because Apple makes its money on hardware.

    If Apple started making non-AT intel-based systems, that were otherwise built like normal Macs, with decent firmware &c, that would possibly be a win. But the OS for a machine like that wouldn't run on a commodity PC.
  • Apple is a systems company.

    They make well-designed hardware that lasts. Case in point: in 1995 I purchased a PowerMac 8100/100. After using it for four or five years, I sold it to my dad so I could buy a rev A iMac. He used it for a couple of years. Now he's purchased a new iMac and I've got the old 8100 back. It's happily running MkLinux (I know, I know..., but it is great as a simple network server). The point is, these puppies last!

    But back to my original point. Apple has some stealth revenue sources that nobody seems to remember. FileMaker (formerly Claris) is a $282 million company, and Apple owns a sizeable chunk.

    WebObjects (run by the Apple Enterprise group) has been raking in money on huge contracts with big corporations and government agencies for some time. They've downplayed the Apple name until now, and have concentrated on telling customers the history of WO (developed by NeXT) and its capabilities.

    Both of these sources of revenue are independent of Apple's hardware sales (FileMaker makes as much money off of sales of its Windows products as it does off Mac sales, and WO only recently became available on OS X Server).

    The WO factor, in particular, points out the impact of the NeXTies and the lessons they learned. Remember, they first went the hardware/software system route, then were forced to ditch the hardware. Jobs has been much more flexible on hardware decisions of late. Note the move from ATi to nVidia. There are strong rumors that Jobs is talking to as many as five chip manufacturers to figure out a way around Motorola's failure to deliver sufficient yields.

    I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Jobs came up with another rabbit out of the hat. He's become less doctrinare in his approach over the years, and more attuned to market realities.

  • by _outcat_ ( 111636 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @04:17AM (#468156) Homepage Journal
    My iMac DV (400 MHz G3) will run OS X PB VERY nicely. As for an "iMac power user" being a "contradiction in terms..." nyah! :)~

    But seriously, as for your shoe being more upgradeable than an iMac, think about Apple's choice of architecture--the Motorola chips. They don't work the same way the Wintel chips you're familiar with do, in terms of megahertz. My grandma has a 233MHz original Bondi Blue iMac. It has 32MB of RAM, I think. She's not running linuxPPC on it and compiling three kernels a day, so it's not like the little beast has a terribly heavy load--instead, she's doing word processing, surfing the web, email, playing a bit with graphic design--BUT even with OS 9 on it (I love macs, but don't get me started on OS 9) it doesn't feel like a slow box. This was a machine from 1998. My boyfriend's K6-233 has LONG since been retired since then.

    Cost is key, concerning the sales of G4's and G4 cubes. iMacs can be had for around $700 (and then you get some rebates--my aunt got a rather good deal on one) while G4 systems are still up there in the $1,700-ish range. (Didn't stop my aunt from getting one of those either, though. :)

    Don't be too hard on the iMac--I think things are looking up for the iMac, all around. They're really pretty affordable and the peripherals that ship with them have improved. The Apple Pro mouse and Pro keyboard are a DRASTIC improvement over the child-sized mushy original iMac laptop-like keyboard, and they've started shipping with the Pro mouse instead of that aggravating iPuck.

  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:19AM (#468157) Homepage
    Yeah, that's what I've been clamoring for. Yet another OS to run on my x86, preferably one without a killer app or widespread support, and even better if it's one that won't support my existing apps. mean like virtually anything that already runs on BSD? Or did you mean all your Java apps? Or was it basically anything ever written for Macintosh? Apple did their homework on this one; even though true Cocoa apps aren't abundant in the wild yet, there does indeed exist a sizeable software base already, much of which has been freely (beer and speech) available to the UNIX world for years.

    I want something pretty. It doesn't need to do anything that Linux/Windows/Beos does...Seriously, folks, what is it about Mac OS X that would make you shell out money for it when Linux is free? Do you think it can compete with Windows where Linux can't? Do you think it's genuinely better? I don't get it.

    Well, let's see. One, it has a great graphical user interface. To even suggest that any of the competing Linux GUIs can be seriously compared to that of OSX is utterly laughable; we can't even drag and drop properly between apps yet! Two, it has a learning curve of about a week for people who are fundamentally computer illiterate. Compare that to the learning curve of the average Linux experience--Linux is free just so long as one considers the weeks/months it takes to learn it as disposable time. Three, it runs on BSD. It runs for weeks without crashing. Yep, Linux does this too, but then again, Linux has always trumpeted this as an advantage over Windows and other "pretty" systems.

    OSX offers, for the very, very first time ever , a system built on a BSD core with a virtually idiot-proof user interface. Linux can compete on the under-the-hood aspects of OSX; it can't even begin to hold a candle to the user experience, though. What's not to get about an operating system that has both a real CLI and an absolutely beautiful, easy-to-use GUI?

    Mac OS X won't penetrate large organizations, either. Network admins have their hands full with 95/98 desktops, 2000 desktops, 2000 servers, Linux servers, and Netware servers. Mac OS X will be looked at as just another unproven alternative with no real history, an answer looking for a question.

    I agree with you to a point on this one. Many large corporrations won't welcome OSX for the very reasons you point out: they already have their hands full trying to get a hodge-podge of OSes playing nicely with each other, and don't need another, thank you very much. Other orgs, though, may do exactly what the Linux community has been clamoring for: drop everything and start from scratch (but with OSX instead of Linux.) There's enough appeal in OSX for both power users and point-and-grunters that it could present a tempting option, especially if Apple were to sweeten the deal somewhat for large corporate accounts. As for the unproven alternative, answer looking for a question bit, well, you just described the situation with Linux circa 1998. That, and I can think of a number of questions to the answer, "a UNIX system that a total novice can use".

    I also can't believe posters haven't mentioned the failed 3rd-party hardware problems generated when Apple let other manufacturers build PowerPC boxes. Remember that? Apple couldn't stand letting other people build boxes and run Apple software. Now we're hearing rumbles that not only will it run on other boxes, but it'll be boxes that Apple hasn't put their golden blessing on.

    A very valid point, and one that I see as being one of the bigger potential stumbling blocks out there. A possible answer for Apple is to partner with one or two major peecee manufacturers and spec out a narrow range of "Apple Certfied" x86 systems. This helps absolve Apple from having to release n! drivers every week, and since they're already used to dictating their own hardware terms, it shouldn't be too tough of a policy for them to stand firm on. Yes, they got burned once by the licensing fiasco, but it's entirely possible that they've learned form their mistakes and feel ready to give it another go.

    OSX stands to be a genuinely impressive operating system. It's still too early to tell, but everything I've seen of it so far has been really promising. Apple seems to be on track for a repeat of 1984 in a lot of respects, and it is entirely possible that the in-house version of OSX they have on Intel may exist for reasons other than sheer novelty...

    information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.

  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:21AM (#468158) Homepage
    I'd have given up hope for OSX on x86 a while ago (the arguments against considerably outweigh the arguments for, IMHO) if not for one little factor called Steve Jobs.

    If there is anything at all I have learned about the man, it's that he is utterly unpredictable, he probably has a grand scheme in mind, and he loves surprises. I think that the biggest question to ask isn't one of technical hurdles or risk/benefit analyses of Apple's hardware sales, but "What's really bouncing around in Steve's head?"

    Sadly, it's impossible to answer this question. One thing is for sure, though--if Apple does release OSX for x86, Jobs is going to have a blast in announcing it. And it's going to catch everybody pretty much off-guard, even those of us who want it the most.

    information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.

  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:16AM (#468159)
    Let's think about this.

    If they're running on commodity x86 hardware then hardware sales would go through the floor. Who would buy the expensive (but good) Apple hardware when there was cheaper hardware which did the same job? Doesn't matter if the Apple stuff is better, the man in PC World isn't going to know that so he buys the cheapest. Apple lose out bigtime.

    If they're running on their own dedicated x86 hardware (remember here, there's a difference between having an x86 CPU and being IBM PC compatible) then they have to develop that, so they've got a new one-off cost to develop this, along with the same costs to maintain it as they currently have with PPC - except they don't have experience with it so they'd be running slower for a little while. Oh, and they'd lose the current advantage of not having fans, as the x86 CPUs run a lot warmer as a whole than PPC. I can't see they'd go to all this trouble so they could use laptop or Crusoe processors. They'd also then have to move their software over to the new CPU for the second time in recent memory, write all the converters and so on. So they wouldn't have a speed advantage for a couple of years (think upgrade cycles) as it'd be emulated. Not pretty.

    All this so they can use different CPUs which have a current speed advantage (which the change would knock out for a while). Could someone possibly explain why this could be a good idea?
  • by robbieduncan ( 87240 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:03AM (#468160) Homepage
    Whilst I would openly welcome OSX on my desktop, running on my x86 hardware with all the funky hardware I've bought I see this as the one major problem for Apple. If OSX were to be released for the x86 market the number of configurations and hardware devices the OS would have to be able to support would grow to the sort of levels which would be problematic. At the moment they only have to support a few graphics chips out of the box - how many would they have to support if they were attempting to sell OSX to the masses. What about soundcard, modems, network cards and so on. I just can't see it happening without a lot of support from manufacturers who are unwilling to provide driver support on the existing mac platform.
  • by Contact ( 109819 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:05AM (#468161)
    There are three kinds of people buying Apple computers. There are the OS interface junkies who love the "look and feel" of the interface. There are the media workers who buy Apple simply because it's still the industry standard in that field, in the same way that office workers invariably use MS Office. Finally, there are those who have been seduced by coloured, translucent plastic.

    If OS X for x86 was available, I'd be willing to bet that a large proportion of the first two groups would immediately jump ship over to cheaper hardware. Mac OS hardware is nice (The G4 is a great chip) but being realistic, price is king.

    The question, therefore, is whether the increased revenue in OS sales would compensate for the losses in hardware revenues. Personally, I'm not sure.

    When it comes down to it, though, Apple won't listen to what we say. Pretty much every major decision will depend on what Steve thinks, and I don't think Steve likes the idea of open hardware - historically, he's shown himself to be very sensitive to physical appearance (the original mac classic, the iMac, the cube) and I suspect that he just doesn't want his lovely OS X running on ugly grey boxes. :)

    (Cue announcement from Apple tomorrow about OS X for x86, just to prove me wrong...)

  • by sessamoid ( 165542 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @04:28AM (#468162)
    For those of you who insist on purporting that Apple makes all of it's money on hardware, I suggest you take a different look at it. My question to you is, how much money would Apple actually make selling hardware, if that hardware didn't come with the Mac OS attached to it? Would you buy an overpriced piece of hardware just because it looked cool, but had to run windows on it?

    If your answer is no (as I suspect it is) then the reason you buy Apples is primarily because of the software and OS, which makes Apple primarily a software vendor who uses their software technology to sell hardware. Without the Mac OS, the Mac is just an overpriced PC encased in dayglo plastic. Sure some of the hardware touches are nice, but none of that really matters without the Mac OS.

    Apple is primarily a software vendor people. Don't forget that. Just because their accounting puts most of the revenue in hardware sales doesn't mean that hardware is truly where their competitive advantage is.

    I've heard this tripe for so long, it makes me ill....
  • by ebooher ( 187230 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:26AM (#468163) Homepage Journal
    In my humble opinion, Apple would release OSX on x86 hardware on only one condition. That it was *Apple* x86 hardware and not everything under the sun that is currently available for an x86 based platform.

    Meaning that the issues that people have mentioned about Legacy problems with the x86 hardware would not exist. The situation would go something like this. Not that I ever see this happening, but it is the only way I can think of to make it work.

    Steve would decide that Apple needs a good, powerful sub $500 system to compete with the likes of Dell, Compaq, Gateway and eMachines. The Apple Design Department would start working on an Apple standard platform mainboard (meaning that this would not be an ATX/AT box, it would be a G4/iMac box) that uses only *one* of the current x86 processor technologies. They would choose between either Intel or AMD and stay there.

    Let's assume the choice would be AMD, because of cost per processor and the fact that in my scenerio they want to beat out the $499 eMachine AMD based box. The mainboard would be designed to be PCI *only* with USB as the same keyboard / mouse input we see on current PowerMacs. (Don't worry about issues with ISA slots, Apple would not write drivers for anything in them anyway.) This means the mainboard would be similar to the "legacy-free" Compaq system, the iPaq. No serial, no parallel, no PS/2 ports. Just USB and some PCI slots. Oh, and don't forget the single AGP port for graphics.

    This indicates, that even though in theory Apple is porting OSX to x86, they are really porting OSX to AMD. Though Intel is also an x86 chip, they do have different command sets than the AMD chips have and vice versa. OSX (in my scenerio) is optimized for the AMD processor, so most likely a good number of the options of the OS would not work, or simply break entirely, if run on an Intel processor.

    Also, there would not be drivers for everything under the sun, including the breadboard PCI card your Grandmother built to keep her recipe system organized. Apple would choose a small amount of cards to build drivers for itself. (The cards that ship with the system) Then it would be fully up to the hardware manufacturers themselves to write drivers for their hardware. If it isn't "Apple Certified" you can bet that Apple won't even give you a deaf ear to voice complaints upon.

    Also, software that runs on OSX will need to be rewritten for most apps. Apps that are specifically coded in ... Cocoa? ... will be the easiest to port. As I understand it Cocoa is a subsystem API that talks to the Mach microkernel, not to the hardware. So Apple would port the Cocoa API to x86 with the rest of the OS and the apps that use it would port easily with a few changes, just like OpenGL games do now. The "hardware" apps would obviously be the hardest, and would cause the most harm to Apple's partner alliance. Take Adobe for instance. They have worked very hard to get their Photoshop for the Mac to take direct advantage of the AltaVec Velocity Engine instruction core in the new G4 chips. There will be no Velocity in an AMD chip, so that entire section of their code would have to be thrown out, or rewritten. Being that they already have a Winport and a RISC Macport, doing a specific x86 Macport might be just enough to cause those companies using Velocity specific code to jump ship entirely.

    Basically it looks like Apple would be shooting themselves in the foot to port to x86 at this stage in the game. The only reason to do it would be to have a sub $500 price point system. They would have to retool entire manufacture specs on a board specific to x86. They would have to port the OS, and all of their specific drivers to a platform that would *still* only work in the Apple way. (They aren't going to give me technical support on OSX if it is installed on a Gateway PC.) Then they would have to train technical support to field questions on the new x86 based box.

    Kind of like SGI and their current market position. I never thought I would see the day when I could purchase an x86 box running NT Workstation / Linux with an SGI logo on the front of it. But I can, and I still have to ask myself "Why?" As far as I know, SGI still has some MIPS based hardware running IRIX for sale. Yet they also have these x86 boxes that they have to develop, troubleshoot, support and market. These SGI boxes are no more or less special than an IBM or a Dell system with the same specs. Apple is not about to let *anyone* say that about them.

    No, I don't think OSX will have be fully available on an x86 box until long after Apple is dead and gone as a company and someone has bought all of the intellectual rights just for the purpose of porting OSX to x86 hardware. It isn't that it is impossible. The core of the system is already running on x86 (Darwin) and could probably even get as crazy as NetBSD or whatever and be running on Dreamcast, and Amiga, and VAX, and Commodore, and my toaster oven. The kernel is portable, it's just not going to be ported. It just doesn't make a good business sense looking at the current Apple business model.
  • by Ubermeister ( 203969 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @05:24AM (#468164) Homepage
    While Linux and the various flavours of BSD all currently offer solid environments for x86 hardware, the desktop facilities offered by all of them are still poor in comparison to most commercial opertaing systems.

    Despite the hype surrounding some of them, I've not found any Unix desktop environments particularly compelling so far... There's also plenty of hype surrounding GNOME and KDE, but I don't see any killer applications for them. People don't need buzzwords, they need a powerful desktop environment running on Unix, and this is what Apple will be providing.

    Linux and the BSD derivatives are excellent server environments, as is Darwin, but MacOS X is also getting Maya and the Adobe applications on a viable desktop.

    Personally, I've yet to find a desktop environment that offers me everything that I want, BeOS came close, but Apple are in a position to offer everything in one package.

    Apple are also in an excellent position to pick up the gauntlet dropped by SGI, right at the top end of the content creation market. 3D, publishing, design and video editing are about to get a whole lot better on the Mac.

    The most likely reason Apple will want to continue development of Darwin for x86 is that it needs a backup plan, exit strategy if things go wrong.

    If Motorola and the G4 architecture don't scale fast enough, if Apple can't buy the hardware in the volumes they need, if the price of PPC processors is too high, then Apple would still be able to put x86 processors into it's systems with only minor re-engineering OS X.

    Custom designed Apple x86 hardware is therefore a possibility, and an exciting one, but I doubt Apple see any commercial interest in supporting generic PCs and legacy hardware.

    Also remember that OS X has the useful ability to support application "bundles" with binaries for multiple platforms in a single executable. This would make it very easy for vendors to ship applications in a form that would run on both PPC and x86 transparently to the user.
  • by pfistech ( 211622 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2001 @03:27AM (#468165) Homepage
    My opinion on Mac OS X on Intel is simple: it would be nice to have, but it simply won't happen. The reasons for this are not technical - Darwin (the BSD core of Mac OS X, which is open-sourced) runs on x86 hardware, although driver support is extremely limited right now. The issue here is economical. Apple is a hardware company. They make a living selling boxes, not software.

    Now even if Apple decided to make x86 boxes of their own, and make them right, i.e. with all the little features and the good stability and support we've come to expect, Apple would still be in deep trouble. They would release a version of Mac OS X that only runs on Apple's x86 hardware, of course. But the core, Darwin, is open-sourced, so it would be a matter of days (or maybe weeks) until someone comes up with drivers to let it run on other hardware. We've seen how much trouble Apple had with clone makers, now think about what would happen if Apple moved to x86...

    Anyway, Mac OS X would have a hard time on Intel. If you're used to Linux, compiling and running Unix software on Mac OS X is (excuse the wording) a pain in the ass. I know what I talk about, because I ported GNOME to Mac OS X (see []). Also, there is no Classic environment on Intel. This is a big drawback, because not all applications will be ported to Mac OS X right away, and you won't have the choice of running the classic Mac OS applications of x86 hardware.

    Personally, I'll just keep running Mac OS X on my PowerBook G3 and be happy...

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