Darwin x86 Appears to Remain Open (for the Moment)

May 21st, 2006  |  Published in old and busted

OS News: Apple Denies the Closing of Darwin x86 Kernel.

It’s not exactly a denial, but the “fact” that Apple’s closing the source is also not nearly as concrete as any of the people running with the story preferred to behave. Especially the guy who started the whole story.

Speaking of that column:

> “Even if I don’t need to hack the kernel, knowing that I can affords me a level of self-sufficiency and insulation from vendors’ whims that fixed system software, such as Windows’, does not.”

I don’t know how many people there are in the world who would, faced with an overreaching Apple out to screw all its users over, be able to solve any of the problems that would cause by “hacking the kernel.” I don’t know how many people there are who could hack the kernel. I bet most of them aren’t columnists for a day job. More to the point, it’s a stupid fixation when the only stuff that makes a Mac better that some of the Unix-descended alternatives is and always has been proprietary.

Darwin itself? Pshaw. Any gee-whiz power user willing to “hack the kernel” to make a high-end app run better can probably put that knowledge to use in any one of many other freenixes. But if they took Aqua from me, I’d be fucked and I guess I’d be reconsidering Linux as a desktop OS.

In fact, if you want my “Why I don’t care if I’m running Linux or OS X on the day-to-day practicalities level” argument, this kerfuffle encapsulates it in a nutshell.

“Supporting Linux,” one could argue, might have given me the warm fuzzies of voting with my feet for the right of other people to better their lives with unfettered access to quality source code, but most of the assertions about what makes open source better for end users are still largely guesses based on optimistic readings of esr’s overheated pseudo-scholarship, which he “based,” to the extent his narrative isn’t a ginormous retcon, on a fucking POP client.

Once I discount the value of having access to source code, I’m pretty much left asking questions about what kind of apps I can run, how well they run, and whether I like them when I run them.

Free software is great for developers. There might be an argument that what’s great for developers eventually becomes great for end users, too. I’d entertain it.

But a non-hackable kernel? As meaningless to me as a non-hackable digital camera or closed source microwave oven firmware.

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