Are Apple and Linux Allies?

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Apple and MacOS - Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Here and there in the blogosphere it’s been hinted that the Linux fans don’t have nearly the animosity towards Apple and OS X that they do towards Microsoft and Windows. You see plenty of hissing and spitting between the Windows tribe and the Linux tribe, with Apple users staying mostly out of the way. Then every now and then, you see the Apple users and Linux users playing nice together. What’s up with that?

The old Arab proverb has it, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”, but there’s got to be more to it than that. After all, Apple is still a very proprietary company. They’re just as commercial as Microsoft. Given the chance, they’d be just as predatory as Microsoft.

Yet, somehow, they get along. I’ve been thinking it over to try to explain why. Apple does have Darwin as the OS X core. Being free and open-source and Unix-based, that gives it a kinship with the Linux folk. Darwin can trace its origins to the old NeXT-Step boxen (ah, NeXT-Step! *dreamy sigh!* Next to Amiga, you were the next most-dearly missed), so the kinds of geeks who are attracted to Linux typically remember Apple’s pioneer days in a more favorable light.

What’s more, OS X integrates part of BSD’s original system in its core. So, even though Linux and BSD fans tend to have their differences, they are still closely tied enough that having roots in BSD still gets you points with the Linux base.

And a big surprise: Bash is the default shell program for Mac OS X! Yes, every time a Mac user clicks on ‘terminal’ and types in commands, they are using the same command line as Linux. You know those arcane Unix commands that are all obscure punctuation marks and abbreviated words and look like a cartoon character swearing? Macs, with all that sleek design and stream-lined hardware, have the same grubby syntax under the hood.

Now, consider it from Apple’s point of view: when was the last time you heard Apple do a Steve Ballmer and claim umpteen-bazzillion patents that Linux is violating? You just won’t see that, because Apple is and always has been a hardware company first. They kind of see software as an afterthought. Once you’ve bought their gizmo, they could care less what you run on it. Microsoft and Linux, on the other hand, are direct competitors, being only about software (Yes, I know Microsoft also has the Zune and that flat-screen surface thing. I say again, they’re all about the software!)

This all begs the question: If there were no Microsoft, would the other platforms be snuggling quite so cozily? Or would they turn on each other in the absence of the bigger threat?

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6 Responses to “Are Apple and Linux Allies?”

  1. Charles Online Review Says:

    I think there is this resentment against Microsoft for something that they did in the past which the Linux is always been having a long cold war fight with… Especially when I saw an Microsoft ad saying something like how “insecure” linux is in terms of support and incapability to provide help when you need… Well, I forgot what the lines they used already since it was like almost 10 years ago…

    I believe it is not to do with their giant dominance in the operating system industry… It might have to do with the way and the environment Microsoft is living in.. Well it’s all just guessing.. Because I think Google is doing great being the giant now… Maybe only a few who are Yahoo loyal supporters simply just resent it…

    For everything we do, there is two sides – good and bad. There is bound to have somebody who don’t like what we are doing… And people might just ally together since they are too weak to fight by themselves! haha Just joking… Well i don’t know..

    Anyway, enjoy your weekend! I just felt like coming your blog to read some techie stuff when i found this post. 🙂

  2. Alan the Great Says:

    “Given the chance, they’d be just as predatory as Microsoft.”

    Yeah, but they aren’t. I think the main difference is in the leaders:

    Steve Jobs and another guy had a great idea. Steve came out on top, and the other guy, while not famous, made a shitload of money too.

    Bill Gates started with a pile of money, and knew someone with a great idea. He effectively stole it and paid him off. He then proceeded to attack everyone he percieved as competition, made so much money he will not be able to spend it all, ever, and is currently finding ways to take more of it from other people.

    Of course, maybe it’s the way that Windows does not let you do things that Windows doesn’t think you want to do. “I’m sorry, Alan, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” Viewing a Java app could be dangerous, so Vista decided to block all Java on the internet. Not that I’d ever install vista; wasn’t my computer.

  3. Rea Maor Says:

    Very interesting idea you have there,
    Thank you for the nice comment 🙂

  4. Rea Maor Says:

    “Bill Gates started with a pile of money, and knew someone with a great idea. He effectively stole it and paid him off”

    Well, as hard as it might sound,
    That’s the business world; with enough money you can buy your fame and fortune. The real question we should have been asking is
    if it wasn’t Microsoft with their Huge Pocket full of cash who brought
    us Dos, and Windows… would the Computer world be as advanced as it is today ?

  5. Charles Online Review Says:

    You are most welcome! I think you are nice person.. 🙂

  6. Alan the Great Says:

    I completely agree. Microsoft has made great contributions to the computing world through very Trump-esque business. I just think they should have stopped when they made enough money to fill a yacht with hundreds.

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