Lance M. Westerhoff has written an interesting article over at AppleLust.com, regarding the history of the BSD UNIX. The article talks about the first versions of BSD and continues with the story of BSDi, NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and it concludes with Darwin and MacOSX.
Darwin/Mac OS X: The Fifth BSD
2002-04-14 BSD & Darwin 29 Comments
I think that Apple was smart to use BSD, but I will never consider their OS a BSD. The reason for this is Apple’s license. BSD doesn’t discriminate at all, you can be any age and make any use of the software. Darwin is APSL, http://www.opensource.apple.com/apsl/, the license is just way to restrictive for me to consider it a BSD.
Of course the author of the article is biased, he wants people to buy Apple products. I certainly have a bias against Apple, I do not want you to buy Apple products.
However, I will say that if you don’t have the time or inclination for one of the BSDs, but you want the legendary UNIX core, then OS X is great. It was both a brilliant marketing move and an excellent way to give their new OS a good solid base for those freaky geeky people that must have a terminal at their fingertips.
Really, what it amounts to for me is an aversion to corporate systems. I don’t trust any of them. I want to do what I want to do, not what they want me to do. Sure, I’m still at the mercy of the open source development process, but in general I’m happy with it. I contribute what I can and things seem to be going pretty well.
The things I really miss are BFS, Eddie, and Tracker. Any suggestions for a quality file manager and editor for X?
“The things I really miss are BFS, Eddie, and Tracker. Any suggestions for a quality file manager and editor for X?”
Are you refering to X Windows or OS X? I’m going to assume X Windows since you said you have an aversion to Apple.
For X Windows editors, I like gvim, but if you don’t want to learn all the vi commands, Nedit is another great one. Nedit has good syntax highlighting, line numbering capability, etc.
For file managers, I haven’t really found any X based ones that I like. But then again, I’m kind of a keyboard junky so I prefer just doing it from the command line. If you don’t like the command line, you might look into Midnight Commmander, which is a text based file manager that is sort of a clone of the old Norton Commander DOS program. Midnight Commander has some nice features.
For editors on OS X, my favorite Mac editor has always been Alpha, but I don’t know if there is a native OS X port yet or not.
Yes, X Windows, I should have been more clear. Right now I’m running gvim and bash, but neither really compares to Eddie and Tracker. What I’d really like is a good file manager.
“What I’d really like is a good file manager.”
Hmm.. Well, depends on what you are looking for I guess.
If you liked OS/2’s file manager, there is DFM, which is basically a clone. It’s not the best file manager in the world, but the good part about it is that it is a stand alone manager, so you don’t need to install GNOME or KDE if you want to use it. It also gives you desktop icons. I like to use DFM with ICEWM. ( http://www.kaisersite.de/dfm/ )
If you want something that looks really cool, you might try Endeavour. One of it’s most useful features is that it has an image viewer included with it, so you can browse image files without having to open them. ( http://wolfpack.twu.net/Endeavour/ )
Gentoo looks pretty cool, although I haven’t used it. It has multiple frames and such. ( http://www.obsession.se/gentoo/ )
And then of course, there is the old classic TkDesk. I still find TkDesk to be very useful. ( http://tkdesk.sourceforge.net/ )
Peter, being BSD has nothing to do with the license.
A good file manager: I use tkdesk (my first choice) or rox (it has spring folders!). In a terminal, I love vshnu, a great perl script.
Yamit seems to have disappeared, but xmach is still alive.
Lately every main comercial OS tends to include some X on their product.
You have Windows XP and Mac OSX. I wonder why ? Why didn’t they opt to call MacOS10 and Windows ???*.
After that come those articule writers trying to push unix users to their OS.
It’s better to try and have the real thing (with no fashion at all).
P.S. – I like the plan9 filemanager port to FreeBSD. Very cool (for me at least).
I think OS X is truly BSD, just a few years behind. Isn’t OS X build on a several years old BSD base?
Apple is probably the least corporate corporation in America. Or at least they used to be.
“Apple is probably the least corporate corporation in America. Or at least they used to be.”
Not true at all. They’re just as corporate as ms, they just cultivated a “good guy” non-corporate image. The last really big non-corporate corporation was coors circa 1980 (350 million dollar company at the time with no lawyers or accountants, their financial plan for the year was jotted down on the back of an interoffice envelope).
“Lately every main comercial OS tends to include some X on their product.”
Its because X is the new E. Well thats my theory anyway. We all know ms’ official reason, but I haven’t heard apple’s.
I hear many people praising the technical superiority of OS X. Then I read some statement every now and then where the main point is that inside of OS X it’s a big mess of all the different code from bsd, cube, mach … and there’s hardly anybody who can work on core parts.
I’d really appreciate some insight on that
Hey lets start pushing the darwin team to make some components of the OS AMD friendly. I would surely like to try it on my XP1800!
MacOS X is a Unix like system but just because MacOS X includes some BSD userland tools doesn’t make it BSD. Those tools can be ported to just about any OS, including Windows.
An example of this are the GNU tools, which are available for Windows due to compatability libraries. Does that make Windows a GNU system?
If you use XFce as a Window manager, its file manager is actually pretty… adequate. I’ve played around with a few others which do considerably more, but “doing considerably more” is a double-edged sword. XFce’s file manager is well-designed enough to feel like it’s part of the OS, which is something I can’t say about any of the others I’ve tried–it’s fast and generally intuitive. And, while its updating isn’t instantaneous the way Be’s is, it doesn’t require a “refresh” button–changes to the file system show up automatically in open windows.
For editors, NEdit is definitely the closest to something like Pe or Eddie. Actually, NEdit is pretty darn cool.
Everything other then the kernel in Darwin is similar to FreeBSD 3.2 and it is the hope of the Darwin developers to being Darwin up to FreeBSD CURRENT over the next year or so (hence part of the reason Apple hired Jordan Hubbard).
Remember, one of the primary differences between BSD and Linux is that Linux is defined as just the kernel while BSD is defined by the whole distribution. Sure, there are Linux distributions. But if you could somehow substitute a different kernel for the Linux kernel, then the distribution would cease to be Linux as it is that part that makes Linux, Linux. In BSD that is completely not the case. Sure the kernel is not the same kernel that is in OpenBSD, but then again the kernel that is in OpenBSD is not identical to that in FreeBSD or BSDi or xMach (another more esoteric BSD-based OS) either.
In any case, OS X is much more a UNIX then Windows ever was/is.
OSX’s BSDness extends far beyond userland tools. There is a BSD kernel in there along with mach. There are some differences…some good some bad but its BSD.
As for the commercialness and BSD. If you have a clue and arent a total newbie you’d know that SunOS4 and below and older versions of Irix were BSD. AIX also has strong BSD roots. BSDness has nothing to do with whether its commercial or not.
MacOS with UniX -> MacOS X which happens to be the successor to MacOS 9 so it works in two ways (X = 10 in roman).
Linus wrote his own Unix: LinuX
Windows manager for Unix: X Windows
I like Apple’s naming better than Windows eXPerience, how lame is that?
“I hear many people praising the technical superiority of OS X.”
It depends on your point of view. In terms of ease of use (with Aqua), graphics (Quartz and OpenGL), and development tools (Cocoa and solid Java implementation), Mac OS X is superior in many ways. But, in terms of its BSD implementation, it is at about FreeBSD 3.2ish. So there is much room for improvement (which should catch the interest of the opensource world).
‘and there’s hardly anybody who can work on core parts. ‘
Darwin does include a big mix of several technologies (which I think is a good thing), but the Darwin-developer@apple listserv is very well populated so getting help is never a problem. The biggest problem I had was getting Mac OS X to act like a Darwin-box (ie: OS X does not include the entire set of development headers that Darwin does even with the OS X dev-tools installed). That has been fixed though with an OS X package on the publicsource.apple.com web site that installs the darwin /usr/local dir on your OS X box. Now, everything is great. In terms of the general organization, there are differences but there are many more similarities between Darwin development and FreeBSD development. If you keep an open mind and join the dev list, you should have no trouble.
Dispite my opinion that Darwin isn’t BSD, it is a nice system in any case. I played with it a couple of times when I owned a Mac. I hope that the Intel port of Darwin will continue to be developed so that it can be used on more machines, as Darwin for Intel is pretty limited because of NIC and IDE controller issues. (Or at least it was the last time I checked).
>>Its because X is the new E. Well thats my theory anyway. We all know ms’ official reason, but I haven’t heard apple’s.<<
Well I can sum up Apple’s ‘X’ coming from their acquisition of NeXT Computer. ‘XP’ basically was to try to steal thunder from Apple’s ‘X’… their cheap explanation of ‘XP’ standing for Experience is a laughable on indeed!
Apple’s ‘X’ doesn’t come from NeXT. It was an alternative to calling it Mac OS 10 except ‘cooler’ in the eyes of Apple marketing.
As for Darwin being a BSD, who gives a poop? I know Apple doesn’t. The kernel (xnu) doesn’t have much in common with other BSDs, that’s for sure.
“As for Darwin being a BSD, who gives a poop? I know Apple doesn’t. The kernel (xnu) doesn’t have much in common with other BSDs, that’s for sure.”
Oh come on… Of course Apple cares. And lots of other people do too.
Probably this is a comment from a Linux zealot who is just mad that Apple chose BSD and not Linux, and that in so choosing, Apple propelled BSD to the most popular Unix OS in the world, having around 10 times the user base of Linux.
“Oh come on… Of course Apple cares. And lots of other people do too.”
Apple doesn’t care. If you seriously think they give 2 shits about oss your delusional. They just want to make money.
“Probably this is a comment from a Linux zealot who is just mad that Apple chose BSD and not Linux, and that in so choosing, Apple propelled BSD to the most popular Unix OS in the world, having around 10 times the user base of Linux.”
Wow thats a sad statement. Unix, and its freebie clones, have been lauded for damn near 30 years, yet a desktop that controlls less then 1% of the computers (apple’s total share is around 4%, but I’m guessing osx isn’t even a quarter of that total) in homes is its main distribution. Sad. If Unix was so universally great as pundits claim then why, oh why, hasn’t it had better penetration? I’m not saying *nix isn’t good, but its not for everyone and never will be. Because if it was you think in a mere 2 decades of home computers it could’ve gotten better penetration then apple.
“Apple doesn’t care. If you seriously think they give 2 shits about oss your delusional. They just want to make money.”
Of couse Apple cares about OSS. BSD’s OSS nature allowed them to save a ton of money on R&D because much of the code for OS X had already been written. That’s good for Apple. They can sell an OS and make money off of it while at the same time letting OSS programmers do a lot of the work for free. The fact that BSD was OSS and had such a liberal license agreement is probably the very thing that attracted Apple to it.
Why didn’t they use Linux? Simple, the GPL license wouldn’t have allowed them to keep Aqua and such closed source if it was linked to any GPL code from Linux.
“Sad. If Unix was so universally great as pundits claim then why, oh why, hasn’t it had better penetration?”
I don’t claim that UNIX is great for the typical user’s desktop. But in some cases, UNIX is great, even for desktops. Scientific and technical users for example, are traditional UNIX strongholds.
UNIX has never been great for the typical desktop because no one has ever done with UNIX what Apple did to it now. In other words, no one has ever made it accessible to the average user. With OS X, that changed. But whether OS X can break Microsoft’s stranglehold on the desktop OS market remains to be seen (Come on Apple. Help us out here. x86 port please. There are millions of customers out there willing to PAY for OS X on x86).
Thats my point though. Apple only cares about oss as long as it saves them money (and makes them money, in the case of converting *nix fans to apple fans). If oss didn’t do that for apple they’d ignore it completely. Your right you never did claim *nix was a cure all, but most of the really vocal nix “supporters” say it (between saying m$ sucks). I was too general about my statement, sorry about that (btw I seriously hope an incredible desktop *nix comes along and gives me a reason to remove windows, osX just isn’t it for me).
Why didn’t they use Linux? Simple, the GPL license wouldn’t have allowed them to keep Aqua and such closed source if it was linked to any GPL code from Linux.
Good point Simba, and I’d like to add another: while your reason is true, the more important issue may be that while BSD is truely open, ‘linux’ (ie: the kernel) is an entity OWNED (yes legally owned) by Linus. If Apple would have taken linux they would have had to follow Linus’ lead and not be free to make changes to kernel as they see fit. The more open and free license of BSD allows a company to take a technology and mold it to thier own needs. And that is ok.
To all of the Linux-zealots out there (good word Simba), Linus is not god and at least most of us live in a capitalist society. It is ok to make money. And it is ok for opensource developers to code for an OS that is being sold (realize that redhat et al does the SAME THING). Linux, and more importantly opensource, will never be popular on the desktop until the Linux world stops trying to bite the very people who are trying to popularize UNIX on the desktop.
“If Apple would have taken linux they would have had to follow Linus’ lead and not be free to make changes to kernel as they see fit.”
Actually, the GPL would have allowed Apple to modify the Linux kernel as much as they wanted to. But they would have had to release any modifications they made to the public. And of course, any changes that ended up in the official Linux kernel would have to be approved by one of the top kernel people.
>>Apple’s ‘X’ doesn’t come from NeXT. It was an alternative to calling it Mac OS 10 except ‘cooler’ in the eyes of Apple marketing.<<
We all know about the roman numeral thing that Apple is portraying. That ‘X’ has a lot of meanings, but I think other than ‘X’ standing for 10 and I do corrects people who Mac OS “EX” instead of Mac OS “10”… I still think that the ‘X’ has a connection with Apple acquiring Steve Jobs old company NeXT!
Actually, the GPL would have allowed Apple to modify the Linux kernel
But then it would have not been the linux kernel anymore (or at least Apple would not be allowed to call it a ‘linux’ kernel). ‘linux’ is trademarked by Linus and therefore the name linux is owned by Linus. No, it would have been way too dicey (sp?) to use the linux kernel. Could Apple have gotten away with calling it a Linux kernel anyway? Perhaps. Would they have wanted to call it Linux? Good question.
Ultimately though, why would Apple want to totally switch kernels from the perfectly functional BSD+Mach kernel that originally came from their purchase of NeXT?