Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:01 UTC
Editorial Today's confirmation that Apple is going x86 makes today a historic day in the industry. It may mean that Microsoft might see a few percent decline of their market share the next few years, but what about Linux? If Linux were to lose an equal amount of share it would alter its spread to the desktop, a spread that has been very positive so far.
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Many assumptions and little attempt to make arguments that follow
by Anonymous on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:38 UTC

> Usually there are two players rather than three: the
> favorite and the underdog. The "third" person does not
> matter as much. With Apple moving to x86 it can quickly
> become the underdog of the platform and put Linux in third
> (outsider) place.

What sort of argument device is this supposed to be? "Usually there are three players instead of four: the winner, the loser, and the loser no one likes. The 'fourth' person does not matter as much. With Apple moving to the x86 it can quickly become the loser that no one likes, and put Linux into the loser category."

Notice that I've just made a lot of stuff up.

> Apple mentioned that Mac OS X will require Apple PCs, but
> you will be able to run Linux/Windows on them just fine.

They said that they wouldn't do anything to prevent someone from running Windows, they didn't say that it would be possible or even simple.

> This is a huge advantage for Apple rather than for Linux
> or Windows.

Which is all the more reason for Microsoft to not officially port Windows to the Mac/x86. It's fairly indifferent to "Linux." If anything it would be a benefit to Mac users with a trivial ancillary benefit to Apple as a result of customers being able to reuse their expensive paperweight should they decide that OS X looked better at the Apple store than it worked on their desk.

> It brings over these last few potential customers who also
> needed Windows but didn't want two computers or commercial
> emulation.

A dual-boot strategy is obnoxious and would see little in the form of interest from businesses. A VMWare-like virtualization bundled with OS X/x86 would do more for Apple than not going out of their way to prevent Windows from working on Mac/x86.

> Apple can sell more Apple PCs when the customer knows that
> this is a normal x86 that can also run native Windows,
> because it allows the customer to think that "oh, well, if
> I don't like OSX, I can always run Windows".

Windows will no better run on Mac/x86 than OS X will run on a generic x86 machine, unless Microsoft is willing to offer support for the platform itself. It has little reason to do so, especially since it might lead to encouraging people to "switch." So individuals will probably "hack" Windows to run on the Mac/x86, but it would be even less appealing of a solution than "hacking" OS X/x86 to run on a generic x86, because if running Windows is really your thing you can get a better deal elsewhere.

> With Mac OS X's great desktop experience, why would anyone
> use X11 and its DEs?

For the same reasons that they use Linux now instead of Windows. There are of course a lot of different religious reasons as well as various forms of elitism and novelty. Then there's the obvious ability to not have to run Windows and not be forced to use the limited hardware options of the Mac/x86.

> They are known to be rather "disconnected" from the
> underpinnings of the underlying OS, making the desktop
> Linux experience worse that it should be.

Should be, or could be? Sure, if you drop support for BSD, commercial Unix, and Windows as targets for your free software, and maybe even "generic linux" instead opting for a tightly-coupled customized linux experience with your software you might create something less "disconnected," but that's obviously no one's goal. If that changes, there's an enormous amount of software available for them to customized and make as incompatible and tightly-coupled as they want. Indeed, Linspire could--for example--do just that. They don't need to care if their programs work on Solaris or Windows. They can dictate that KDE's VFS via KIOSlaves is superfluous and dictate that userland filesystem drivers are the job of the kernel. They can standardize on the Linux proc filesystem for dealing with hardware and create all manner of "control panel" applets for interacting with it. They can dictate that there is One True Firewall, and create a little GUI for it. Let there only be ALSA. There'll be only one GL-X server and all drivers will be in the kernel where they belong. Let's dispose of these sound servers. We can throw things out and push things into our custom kernel and dictate that there is only Lindows.

But of course there isn't only Lindows and developers aren't going to flock to Linspire because it creates this Lindows, and companies like Sun aren't going to fund accessibility development for this Lindows because it doesn't work on Solaris. So all of these custom applications that we've hammered this code into aren't going to see modifications from all of the other developers working on the "disconnected" versions. And maybe you don't care about this and maybe you do.

But "should" that be the way "things" are? No one really seems to think so that's actually willing to write the software.

> and making a commitment to PPC Linux means making a
> commitment to a niche hardware platform.

So will Linux Mac/x86. The port will likely just be an easier one to maintain, and things like Java will be easier to have on it.

> x86 Macs will run the mainstream versions of Linux without
> modification

Says who?

> and once Linux users start making the switch to OSX, their
> favorite Linux apps will become increasingly more
> available on OSX

They already are. Take a look at Fink. Do you know why they're available? Because they're "disconnected" from Linux. Just like a lot of them are available for Windows for the same reason.

You also haven't bothered to establish that Linux users have any reason to migrate to the Mac/x86.

> With the release of the x86 Apple hardware, there will
> probably be a jump in Linux-on-Apple use a first, because
> more than a few Linux users are likely to buy Powerbooks,

Since these Powerbooks will just be Pentium-M laptops, whether they'll buy them will basically depend on whether or not they want to run OS X without a hassle. They could just as well buy a much-more durable Thinkpad or a much more sleek Vaio unless OS X is already something that they want, and they're averse to "hacking" it run on their choice of laptop. These being Linux users, that's not exactly a given.

> With Apple able to provide well-priced x86 Macs AND giving
> the re-assurance to these users that can also run x86
> Linux there

Apple has given absolutely no indication that their pricing model is going to change as a result of them moving to the x86. They've also given no reassurance that Linux will run on their platform, only that they are not going to make any effort to actively prevent support.