Re: Darwin Continues Open Source Evolution

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From: Tony Finch (
Date: Tue Dec 12 2000 - 00:45:23 PST

Eirikur Hallgrimsson <> wrote:
> I find this to be disingenuous. OS X is a proprietary system.
>Darwin is just Apple's latest way to say "not invented here." It's invisible
>and insignificant to the user, so of course it has to be different from
>existing GPL and BSD licensed code. Duh!

Oh crap.

Darwin is just the BSD equivalent of a Yet Another Linux Distribution.
There are good reasons for the differences between OSX and the
existing free software it is based on, just as there are good reasons
for the differences between RedHat and Debian, and there are good
reasons for the patch files that are incorporated into *every* free
software packaging format I have seen (rpm, deb, BSD pkg...).

Darwin is not proprietary: it is far less proprietary than any other
BSD-based commercial product (you get the source!) and some
Linux-based embedded products.

> I can tell you exactly one technical reason for Darwin to exist,
>and that is that you could not link a GPL kernel with your proprietary
>user environment without violating the terms of the GPL.

That is not a technichal reason. It isn't even a valid reason (there
are substantially-GPLed (Linux-based) OSes distributed with
proprietary components). Get back under your bridge.

> Making the Darwin source available has probably a net negative
>impact on the Free Software world. Why should Free Software
>developers contribute to a redundant, needlessly different, and
>actually captive OS?

If it works anything like the other BSD projects, a substantial
proportion of the work on Darwin will be shared with the other BSDs,
but there will inevitably be peculiarities that can't be shared, like
NetInfo and IOKit and the Mach microkernel.

> The irony is, that the installed Mac base is probably much larger
>than the population of people who know anything about Open Source, so you
>may, indeed, be able to sell them on it. Is that the right thing to do?

They don't care about Unix so it doesn't matter to them. What Apple
gets is a proven kernel that lots of people have lots of years
experience with as the basis of their OS, and they get to concentrate
on the GUI, which is their expertise.

They have open-sourced exactly that part of the OS that is
commercially valueless, because it is available free from innumerable
Linux distributors and three open-source BSD distributors, *plus* the
bonus that talented developers do serious work on it for fun.


"Dead! And yet there he stands!"

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