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iPods Don't Run OS X 164

Redrum writes "Everyone thinks that Apple's iPod runs an OS called Pixo, and that the iPhone ushered in a brand new epoch based on OS X. That myth has been busted: the iPod runs Apple's own Mach/BSD kernel, and Pixo is only used as a graphics layer. Daniel Eran outlines the story behind Pixo and what OS X means for Apple. It's no joke; the story was confirmed by Tim Monroe, a member of Apple's QuickTime engineering team, as is easy to verify yourself." Update: 07/15 19:48 GMT by KD : Turns out to be an April Fools joke.
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iPods Don't Run OS X

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  • actually.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimbug ( 1119529 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @01:52PM (#19868871)
    my iPod runs linux.
  • by billatq ( 544019 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @01:56PM (#19868907)
    This is an April Fool's Joke, and an old one too: eloping-quicktime-apps-for-ipod/ []
    • Whatever happened to the rule that "jokes" are supposed to be funny?
    • After years of spoofs about running Mac OS X on the iPod, from a April Fools Joke in 2005, to the fake YouTube video regularly unearthed to titillate the readers of Digg, it turns out that truth was that iPods have been running OS X all along. Or at least that makes for a good story.

      It really isn't that unlikely or hard for Apple to use the same microkernel on the iPod. Calling it the "same OS" is strictly correct, even if slightly deceiving.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by antime ( 739998 )
        The iPods use ARM7-based CPUs. They do not have an MMU, which means you cannot run Darwin on it. Eg. the iPod Linux project is based on uClinux which does not require an MMU.
        • The iPods use ARM7-based CPUs. They do not have an MMU, which means you cannot run Darwin on it. Eg. the iPod Linux project is based on uClinux which does not require an MMU.

          Ok, because someone modified Linux to remove the MMU requirement means that Darwin couldn't be modified to work on hardware without an MMU? I'm so lost as to how that makes sense as a logical argument. But that's ok, don't RTFA just mod up the guy who isn't making sense.

          Please RTFA people. It talks about how it isn't the related

    • by mh101 ( 620659 )
      The "Quicktime Movie player" link perhaps, but the main article is dated July 15, 2007, not April 1.
  • From the article it looks like they used a variant of SNOBOL. I wonder why such a language was chosen? Was it just a geeky decision?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sholden ( 12227 )
      Because it was a joke, and SNOJOB is the coolest name the joke writer could think of, plus rot-13d SNOBOL is just so stupid it should be an obvious joke.
  • OS X != Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <`peter' `at' `'> on Sunday July 15, 2007 @02:06PM (#19869019) Homepage Journal
    Oh dear, it turns out the iPod is running Mac OS X--with a Mach kernel and a Unix userland--and has been for years.


    What this listing shows is not an iPod running "Mac OS X". It shows an iPod that may be running "a Mach-based version of UNIX", presumably a variant of Darwin. Darwin is not OS X. This would be like finding a copy of "vmlinuz" in an embedded device and claiming it's running Ubuntu.
    • by v1 ( 525388 )
      my favorite "uh, no." in that article was

      That's not very revealing. But if we list the contents of the Device folder using ls with the undocumented option af (for "all files"?), we get a far different picture:

      [Kant:/Volumes/iDegger/iPod_Control/Device] monroe% ls -laf

      "undocumented" l, a, and f flags? "uh, no." Though I must admit I was curious enough to pull out my pod and look to see what all was really in that folder, which of course was the expected "not much". the joy!ppef I could actually see Apple
  • Isn't the microkernel Darwin? Mac OS X is the more or less device independent higher level layers. This is why we could move Mac OS X so easily to the Intel platform. Even if it is the same codebase, it mast be a subset. For example, I can imagine Quaetz had to be modified to run on a smaller footprint.

    I hope this is not the beginning of a rebranding thing, where everything apple sells runs OS X. If it is, people are going to by a new device expecting a certain level of functionality, and that level w

    • Isn't the microkernel Darwin?

      The kernel is XNU. It's not really a microkernel though (technically it could be called a single-server microkernel, but there's not much difference between that and a monolithic kernel). Darwin is the kernel + userland, including things like Launchd.

      Mac OS X is the more or less device independent higher level layers

      OS X is Darwin + Quartz + a load of frameworks (Cocoa, Carbon, QuickTime, etc). While the higher-layer stuff doesn't depend heavily on specific hardware (except for some stuff like CoreImage), it does depend in a number of places on Mach ports, making it n

    • Isn't the microkernel Darwin?

      No, the soi-disant Microskernel is Mach, and it's not a Microkernel in any useful sense.

      This is why we could move Mac OS X so easily to the Intel platform.

      The OS kernel in Darwin ran on Intel long before it ran on the Power PC. The GUI layers over the UNIX kernel and utilities are probably *less* device independent than most of the system, due to their close integration with the GPU and OpenGL (have a look at all the Apple-specific OpenGL extensions on a Mac video card some tim
  • ... even without prior knowledge of the joke, what do you think the chances are that an Apple employee could publish this and still have a job the next day?
    • Probably less likely than kdawson publishing this and still having a job the next tomorrow.

    • even without prior knowledge of the joke, what do you think the chances are that an Apple employee could publish this and still have a job the next day?

      Tim wrote this long after Steve's return to Apple, and has a history of writing outlandish April Fool's articles. The previous year, he claimed that he'd been slipped a CD-ROM from unknown sources that ran the entire QuickTime stack on every Microsoft-licensed platform: WinCE, XBox, etc. The 2005 article cited here was a little infamous because MacTech

      • I was unclear in parent post... I shouldn't have said "this" in reference to the gag article, but "a legit piece like this" ... my bad
    • More to the point, what are the chances that Roughly Drafted would post anything that wasn't complete idiocy? I have the following line in my user CSS file:

      A[HREF*="roughlydrafted"]:after { content: " [IDIOT WARNING]"!important ; color: red }
      It stops me from accidentally clicking on their links.
  • by INeededALogin ( 771371 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @02:12PM (#19869073) Journal
    Come on... undocumented ls -af for "all files". That should of thrown all sorts of bs flags.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Come on... undocumented ls -af for "all files". That should of thrown all sorts of bs flags.

      Hmmm, using the -bs flag just gives me some numbers before the file/directory listings...
    • Actually the fact it was Roughly Drafted, one of the worst fanboi sites I've ever seen (yet one that manages to get almost every frickin' article linked to from Slashdot) should have been enough to raise a large number of flags.

      This is bad, even by RD's standards.

  • the iPod runs Apple's own Mach/BSD kernel

    No. OSX uses a Mach kernel and a BSD userland. Why do so many articles get this wrong?
    • According to Wikipedia: []

      The BSD portion of the kernel provides the POSIX API (BSD system calls), the Unix process model atop Mach tasks, basic security policies, user and group ids, permissions, the network stack, the virtual file system code (including a filesystem independent journalling layer), cryptographic framework, System V IPC, and some of the locking primitives.

      Which to me looks like part userland part kernel, but I'm not sure I could put a very fine point on the distinction.

    • by r00t ( 33219 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @02:33PM (#19869275) Journal
      Mach doesn't support much of anything until you add BSD.

      The kernel contains a large chunk of the BSD kernel. Take BSD, rip out the memory management and scheduler, graft it onto a supposed microkernel that long outgrew "micro", and there you have it.

      It's a trainwreak of a kernel, proving that the kernel alone doesn't make the OS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 )

      OSX uses a Mach kernel...

      Mach is a microkernel, not a kernel. Classically, you had to run a OS "personality" on top of Mach to get a full set of kernel features (things like a filesystem, processes, and users are not found in Mach). Back when Mach was a hot topic in the mid 90s, there were POSIX and OS/2 personalities being developed.

      OS/X's XNU kernel [] uses a combination of the Mach microkernel with the BSD kernel - they're co-equal, not a BSD "personality" on top of Mach.

      • by nuzak ( 959558 )
        XNU is probably closer to the design of Dragonfly BSD than Mach/BSD. And thank god for that -- Mach is otherwise just glacial performance-wise. It was a fine piece of research work, sure, but when DEC decided to actually base a production OS on it, it gave microkernels a bad name that persists to this day. Which is too bad really ... microkernels have come a long way since, but now the situation is opposite: they're stuck in research when they need to break out into production.

        NT is still technically a m
    • you are Wrong, wrong WRONG! Darwin, the kernel behind OS X, is a Mach-BSD hybrid. It has plenty of BSD code in the kernel and as such it is not a microkernel. Mach handles low level things like processes, threads, preemptive multitasking, message passing, virtual memory management, etc The BSD components of Xnu provide a POSIX interface, the Unix process model (build upon Mach tasks), user/groups/premissions, vfs, networking, mutexes, ... This stuff is not userland.
  • Apple's OS X is actually doing what Microsoft promised but failed to do over a decade of WinCE development.

    Now, let me say up front that my own experience with Windows CE based devices has not been a bed of roses, but then neither has my experience with desktop Windows... which is a market success despite failing to deliver what Microsoft promised. Not only is Pocket PC, now known as Windows Mobile, used in an awful lot of devices... but it's even penetrated the stronghold of its arch-rival Palm. Yes, Palm created that situation by dropping the ball around 2002, but Palm tried their own embedded UNIX as well as their inevitably doomed BeOS spinoff and ended up deciding to embrace the "failed" Windows CE anyway.

    In addition, there's a plethora of applications for it, something that Apple shows no interest in even making possible. No, supporting fancy web-based applets is not at all comparable to running actual local applications... particularly when it's rather likely those "iPhone apps" will happily run on Pocket PC as well: if not now, just as soon as someone ports Webcore to it.

    And that's just *one* application of Windows CE. You can't license Apple's ARM port of Darwin or any of the rest of the software in the iPod or iPhone, like you can Windows CE. There's no developer's kit, no porting kit, no product.

    So not only is Windows CE not a failure, it's not even the same kind of product as Apple's closed fork of OS X on the iPhone or their closed fork of Darwin on the iPod. Most of what Microsoft promised, Apple's declining to even offer. And Microsoft has done a surprisingly good job with Windows CE... in many ways it's a far better and more secure product than desktop Windows.

    Does it make money for Microsoft? Who cares, other than Microsoft stockholders? Does it do what Microsoft promised? Absolutely.
    • by nuzak ( 959558 )
      WinCE has a lot to recommend it technically (though I thought the CE name was dead now?) but the Windows mentality still pervades some of the devices, representing a serious Inability To Get It. I found myself helping my gf's stepfather with his Axim, where he found he couldn't move a map file to the CF card. It turned out that the map file was opened by a running application that was backgrounded and hung. I ended up rebooting the device to make it work. Unbelievable. Same damn annoying filesystem and
      • by argent ( 18001 )
        I thought the CE name was dead now?

        WinCE is the underlying OS, like Darwin is the underlying OS in OSX.

        but the Windows mentality still pervades some of the devices, representing a serious Inability To Get It.

        Oh, I agree. I wasted a couple years trying a Jornada and ended up back on Palm. I'm not saying I *like* Microsoft's Windows CE based software, but no matter how much I might *wish* it otherwise, Windows CE is far from dead.
    • by gig ( 78408 )
      > So not only is Windows CE not a failure, it's not even the same kind of product as Apple's

      Window CE is clearly a failure.

      - financial: no profits, many losses
      - market share: the installed base is only about 7 million in a market that is 1000 million per year
      - technical: after more than 10 years, cannot view a real Web page

      You're right it's not the same kind of product as Apple's.
      • Windows CE is in a number of markets. It's had success in some. Failures in others, like any other product. Microsoft has a huge ego problem, and has spent a lot of money trying to target the cellphone market with WinCE-based software, and that *application* of Windows CE has done poorly... but that application is not Windows CE.

        Windows CE is an embedded OS. It's built around the same programming model as Win32 with a set of libraries targeted for different platforms. I don't like the design, myself, but I'
      • - technical: after more than 10 years, cannot view a real Web page

        Considering that windows mobile is an OS, and not a web browser, this shouldn't be surprising. However, Opera Mobile is a browser that runs on Windows Mobile, and it can view a real web page.. full internet even, just like in Apple's commercials.
  • Hmmm, they find iPod Solitaire is written in ROT-13 encoded SNOBOL using an interpreter called SNOJOB?

    And the issue number is vol 20, number 4 ... which if I ROT13 then XOR with a fiboonacci sequence I find is ....

    April. Hmmmm :-)

    I pitty da Fool, etc, etc.
  • Roughly Drafted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdc180 ( 125863 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @02:50PM (#19869383)
    Roughlydrafted is nothing more than drivel made to look like news by and for apple fanboys. It's truly funny that this apple fanboy is sourcing an April Fools joke.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What's funny is that he acknowledges that it's an April Fools joke, but then goes on to use it to support his claim. Actually, it's sad, not funny.
    • Not only that, but Roughly Drafted [] has been busted attempting to game Digg - by creating multiple users & using these sock puppets to vote articles up. (presumably for the adsense hits to RD).

      No doubt Redrum's an RD sock puppet & the people behind RD are attempting to do the same thing with slashdot. Do we really need to have some spammer's site linked from the front page of slashdot?
  • Terminology (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sneeper ( 182316 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @03:06PM (#19869525)
    Nah, the kernel is not called OS X, it's not called Mach/BSD, and it's not called Darwin. The kernel is called Xnu [].

    Xnu [] -- The Apple Open Source kernel, a combination of BSD, Mach, and IOKit.
    Darwin [] -- the Xnu kernel and BSD userland binaries and libraries. Basically the Open Source parts of OS X. Darwin is bundled as a full Unix OS.
    OS X [] -- Darwin + Aqua, Finder, Quartz, Quicktime, Cocoa, and the bundled graphical tools and apps.

    The article would more rightly state that the iPods have always run the Xnu kernel.

  • ...I hear that Bill Gates will give $1 to charity for every e-mail you send him. Why not put that ancient April Fool's joke on the front page too?
    • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
      Because we're too busy beta testing a new e-mail system in exchange for free trips to Disney World!
  • I was wondering why the article was so poorly written and aimless. Then I saw it was from roughly drafted and it all made sense
    • Add this to your browser's user CSS file:

      A[HREF*="roughlydrafted"]:after { content: " [IDIOT WARNING]"!important ; color: red }
      It will save you a lot of time in the long run.
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @03:42PM (#19869815)
    Slashdot - April Fools everyday, just to appeal to the fanbois that now control it.

    How much lower can your editorial responsibilities go?

    This week is just ridiculous, and makes the inquirer seem credible, although /. is still less biased sadly.
  • pixo os (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duranaki ( 776224 ) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @05:07PM (#19870493)
    I worked with Pixo a bit back in the late 90's. Their OS was largely meant to run on top of another OS, so why people would think ipods were running pixo OS standalone is beyond me. Pixo was a great UI OS btw and they had lots of talented engineers. They mostly went work for apple after pixo imploded. :)
  • Aren't jokes supposed to be funny?
  • ... but it's not too far away.

    I can't see how the form factor of the nano or shuffle can accommodate the hardware necessary to run OS X, so maybe only some of the iPod product line will run on OS X -- but extending and leveraging the iPhone is too profitable an opportunity to pass up. Driving component purchase volumes up decreases unit costs, and allows Apple to wield a bigger club in negotiations with suppliers.

    The next video iPod may have a spinning disk drive in place of the iPhone's flash memory, as 3
  • Your programming skills or leadership decisions suck. Fix the windows version and make it 64-bit already! Seriously. I'm not even joking. Itunes runs like shit, it's not 64bit in windows vista 64bit. Srolling through music on a fucking qx6700 with 8gigs of ram, reminds me of the old win3.1 days. Its FUCKING TERRIBLE.

    I know you guys cripple the dam windows versions on purpose to drive Mac hardware sales but come on... enough is enough. We Pc guys own Ipods!

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.