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?
- This Time, the Bad Guy is Apple
- Operating System Wars
- Why Does Linux Need Marketing?
- iPhone – What’s wrong with a discount?
- 7 Things to do with your iPhone