[svlug] Linux founder trashes Mac OS X foundation
DayWalker at TheMatrix.com
Mon Apr 9 15:46:02 PDT 2001
Linux founder trashes Mac OS X foundation
By CNET News.com Staff
April 6, 2001, 11:45 a.m. PT
The forthcoming autobiography from Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux
operating system and figurehead of the open-source movement, promises to
cast a shadow over Apple Computer's newly released OS X, parts of which
Torvalds describes in less-than-flattering terms.
"Frankly, I think it's a piece of crap," Torvalds writes of Mach, the
microkernel on which Apple's new operating system is based, with additional
elements from the FreeBSD version of Unix. "It contains all the design
mistakes you can make, and manages to even make up a few of its own."
Torvalds' comments promise to upset not just Apple fans but also some
quarters of the free software movement. The Mach microkernel is also being
used as the core of Hurd, a kernel project from the Free Software Foundation
that will be an alternative to Linux as the heart of the GNU (Gnu's Not
Unix) operating system, originally devised by free-software advocate Richard
The criticism comes in a chapter of "Just for Fun" where Torvalds tells
that, on arrival in Silicon Valley in early 1997, Apple Chief Executive
Steve Jobs invited him to join Apple and help develop OS X. He says Jobs
also wanted him to help attract open-source developers to the project.
The remarks will particularly sting Apple because the company has widely
publicized the fact that the core of its new operating system is, like
Linux, based on the Unix operating system and was developed on open-source
The Mach microkernel was created at Carnegie Mellon University in 1985 and
has been incorporated into a number of commercial operating systems,
including IBM's OS/2 on certain systems and Apple's OS X. Torvalds says that
as developers have tried to improve the Mach microkernel it has become
hugely complicated and convoluted.
Bumps and starts
OS X has not been unanimously applauded since its launch. Shortly after it
was released to the public two weeks ago, users questioned the lack of
support for certain peripherals, particularly CD-rewritable and
Torvalds writes that, even back in 1997, he foresaw compatibility problems
between the new operating system and older applications, due to a lack of
memory protection--a safeguard that stops applications influencing each
other and the operating system--in old Mac applications.
According to Torvalds, Jobs assumed Torvalds would be interested in joining
Apple's mission to capture more of the PC market from Microsoft, rather than
continuing to concentrate on Linux. "I don't think Jobs realized that Linux
would potentially have more users than Apple, although it's a very different
user base," he writes.
Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Staff writer Will Knight reported from London.
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