Incredible 5-years-old article about OSX and x86 compatibility

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by odedia, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. odedia macrumors 65816

    Nov 24, 2005

    I was just reading arstechnica's article about OSX being 5 years old (today!).

    They linked to an article they did on the developer preview of OSX 10.0. It is really interesting reading, and very suprising to see how well the system turned out since those gloomy days.

    What was really surprising to see is this:


    Looks just like today's "build for both platforms" option, and this is BEFORE 10.0 was even released. Plus, they explain how Apple is developing the system cross-platform, while it sounded in Steve's keynote back in the day that is was a very big "secret".

    If you want some interesting reading, go here:

    And here is the 5 years anniversary article:

    Oded S.
  2. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    5 years old? You gotta be kiddin' me :)

    OS X's actually, what, 15-20? Depending on where you define its birthdate. I count from the NeXTSTEP beta, personally. Sure, the old OPENSTEP isn't as beautiful to me as OS X, but it's very nice. OS X is still prettier than WinXP by about the same degree by which NeXTSTEP was prettier than Win3.11/95/98.

    Look at an old OPENSTEP version of Pages, or Project Builder (was that the name?), or the Finder, et cetera et cetera. Very little has changed. You can hold up dialog boxes from the two OSes next to one another and they look like a re-skin job.

    I'm not sniping at you or anything, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that NS/OS were the best-kept secrets in the computer industry. Or worst-sold, maybe. Look at what OS X has done for Apple and think about the possibilities if OPENSTEP had been affordable to the world at large. You bet your ass I would have run OPENSTEP instead of Windows.

    Rah! :)
  3. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    5 years... :eek:

    I remember being at the OS X launch party at Micro Anvika on Tottenham Court Road, not that many people were there then I can tell you. :p though we did make the Guardian the following weekend. :p

    It was a long haul though, the studio I worked at at the time (Apple was one of their clients) and we were running Rhapsody/OS X Server and then the successive DP releases until we began properly developing for OS X with the Public Beta in 2000.

    Seems like years ago and only yesterday. :(
  4. portent macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2004
    It never really was a big secret.

    In 1996, when Apple first announced it would be using NeXT's software as the basis for future Mac OS releases, NeXTSTEP did not run on Power: it was M68000 and x86 only.

    Apple had to port NeXTSTEP to PowerPC.

    The only "surprise" was that Apple maintained the x86 version for years afterwards, without making it available to the public. Even then, there were rumors of internal x86 builds.
  5. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Why would that be surprising? Much of the parts of the early Developer Preview releases came directly from Rhapsody... in fact all of the GUI in Developer Preview 1 was straight from Rhapsody (Developer Preview 2 was the first to mix the Rhapsody GUI with the still developing Carbon Finder).

    Rhapsody (initially) ran on both PowerPC and Intel based systems... which was why those options were still there. If you go back to the very first release of Rhapsody you would find that you still had an option for building for NeXT computers (even though Rhapsody never ran on NeXT systems)... it was a leftover from those tools being ported from OPENSTEP.


    While many in the general public may make this as the fifth anniversary of Mac OS X's release... there are a lot of us who were working on Mac OS X long before that. For some of us, WWDC 98 is the birth place of Mac OS X. That was were Apple first spoke the name publicly (along with our first look at Carbon). And the first product to bare the name Mac OS X was released on March 16, 1999 (that being Mac OS X Server). The first Developer Preview of Mac OS X (client) was released on May 10, 1999 (and was basically Mac OS X Server running on Apple's new, but unfinished, Darwin foundations).

    I did a timeline (here) a couple weeks ago. It emphasizes Rhapsody, but covers Mac OS X too.

    Well... that isn't exactly accurate.

    NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP ran on Motorola's 68K, Intel's x86 (and x86 clones), HP's Pa-RISC and Sun's SPARC (microSPARC II, SuperSPARC II, and SuperSPARC) processors.

    Also, at about the same time Apple was making the move to PowerPC processors... NeXT considered making the move also. There was a port of NEXTSTEP to PowerPC (that ran on a demo PowerPC NeXTstation) before NeXT pulled out of the hardware business. It was that port that let Apple release Rhapsody Developer Release 1 within 8 months of acquiring NeXT Software, Inc.
  6. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    Oof. I wonder how much that box is worth to an enterprising geek (if it still exists). Better not get me thinking too much about it.

    <off-topic>I wish there was a parallel dimension I could travel to where NeXT was a bit more realistic in certain areas (magneto-optical @#$%), was allowed to compete in the consumer market, and basically was able to keep innovating. Who knows what might have happened had they continued to get R&D funds.

    An amazing group of people, all of them. Kudos to anyone who worked with NS back then, and kudos^2 to anyone actually a part of the company. I'm neither a programmer nor an engineer, but both the hardware and the OS is just staggering to me.</off-topic>

    <off-topic 2>Is it amusing to anyone else that I installed OPENSTEP 4.2 on a PIII-1GHz and it seems to run about the same speed as OS 4.2 on my mono slab and OS X on my IMac CD? It's like this operating system runs in its own @#$%ing time zone.</off-topic 2>
  7. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2003
    This is an awesome thread. I'm really curious though - is there anyway to get a copy of Rhapsody (legally)? I think it'd be fun to play with.
  8. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    No, AFAIK. I don't think it can even be resold by developers (which would make sense).

    If you're interested in playing with it, I suggest you get OPENSTEP 4.2. It's (slightly) more available. It's pre-OS X OPENSTEP at its peak (imho -- Rhapsody is too much of a mishmash to me).

    I don't want to get banned from the site here, but I'll go ahead and say that it's abandonware. So it is certainly illegal to accquire it, but the ethics of the situation are more in a gray area than pirating, say, Photoshop CS2. I'll debate the ethics of it all day (I think everyone knows what side of the argument I'm on), but not on this site :)

    Anyway, buy a copy of the OPENSTEP 4.2 CDs off eBay or through some other method, dig RacerX's awesome website which has a full hardware compatibility list, make sure you have something that'll run it, and have fun. It is a great OS for low end PCs that might be good for nothing else but old versions of Windows and Linux. The software department is a bit lacking, but there are resources for that too (OmniWeb is an excellent browser, and you can put GCC and X on it and cheerfully compile most open source UNIX apps without much difficulty).

    That being said, it's not a painless process.
  9. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Well... I fall into the camp of original media is your license to use the software. This is generally how Apple has (to date) dealt with such issues. The NDR (Non-Disclosure Agreement) became a non-issue with the release of the final product.

    That having been said... getting Rhapsody depends on what you are looking for.
    Rhapsody Developer Release (Rhapsody 5.0, PowerPC or Intel) Original media for this release is very rare to find these days. And applications to run on it are even rarer. This version is very very raw... and I (personally) rarely use it for anything. Unless you are a collector and are hunting down the original media for those reasons, I would suggest staying away from this version. It most likely will runyou around $150 on ebay (if you can find it).

    Rhapsody Developer Release 2 (Rhapsody 5.1, PowerPC or Intel) This was arguably the most important release of Rhapsody. It has the foundations of all future releases (which gave developers the ability to start making Rhapsody apps) and it was the last OS release that Apple would let off their campus that would run on Intel hardware until Mac OS X v10.4.1 that came with the Developer Kit Systems. Be aware, developers had already started abandoning the Intel version of Rhapsody by this point in favor of using it on Apple hardware (Apple's 604ev and G3 based systems were way ahead of Intel PCs in performance at this point). This version is rare, but can be found from time to time (going for about $150 on ebay the last time I saw people bidding on it).

    Rhapsody 1.0 (Rhapsody 5.2, PowerPC or Intel) If you can find this version, you have the Holy Grail of the NeXT/Apple OS releases... even more rare than the NEXTSTEP 4.0 Beta releases. To my knowledge this release never made it off Apple's campus, but was the foundation of both Mac OS X Developer Preview and Mac OS X Server. Parts of this release have been found by people within pre-1.0 Darwin releases. I think this falls under the category of priceless.

    Mac OS X Server 1.0 (Rhapsody 5.3, PowerPC) The first public release of Rhapsody... was as a server. But that doesn't mean it has to be used as one (I've owned copies for years and only within the last couple months started using Mac OS X Server as a server). By not installing all the additional server software you get a very nice workstation OS. The first release had some bugs, so Apple released a couple patches... versions 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 (Rhapsody 5.4 and 5.5 respectively) which are free downloads from Apple. You really only need the 1.0.2 patch as it contains everything that was in the 1.0.1 patch. Due to a printing error, some media is labeled version 1.1 when it is actually still version 1.0. If you find this media, you'll still need the 1.0.2 patch. This version is running about $35 when you can find it.

    Mac OS X Server 1.2 and 1.2v3 (Rhapsody 5.6, PowerPC) These were mainly hardware compatibility upgrades. These versions can be used on early PowerMac G4s. Also these versions come with Mac OS 8.6 in Blue Box (previous versions came with Mac OS 8.5). This is the version I personally spend the most time in. I have it installed on both a PowerMac 8600/300 (my primary Rhapsody system) and a PowerMac 7500/225 (formerly my primary Rhapsody system, now being used as a server). This version also runs about $35 today.​
    On the subject of applications, it should be noted that I've been using this operating system for years now... and like most long time users of any platform, I have a ton of apps. They are out there (and I've started mirroring many of them on my site).

    For word processing I use TextEdit (which is what I use in Mac OS X too, so that shouldn't come as a surprise). For page layout, illustration and web design I use Create (version 5.1 on my ThinkPad and 10.0 on my 8600). For image editing/correcting I use ToyViewer, PixelNhance and TIFFany3. For image browsing I use ToyAlbum. For PDFs I use PDFview (and OmniPDF) and PStill (for distilling). I use Resound for sound editing and MacOSXAmp for playing MP3s. For e-mail I have MailViewer and FTP I use RBrowser. And I'm using OmniWeb for web browsing and HTML editing.

    And of course I have games (some I cover here). :D

    As you can see, I have most of my needs covered. Any apps I need a license for, I have a license for. The others are freeware.

    Also, I started down this path before most people even knew what Mac OS X was. I made my ThinkPad my primary mobile system (only running Rhapsody) to force myself to learn how to deal with any technical issue that popped up (had I use Rhapsody on a Mac, I could have retreated to the Mac OS... and I didn't want to give myself an out).

    As for what it looks like when I'm working in Rhapsody, here are some examples of what I see...

  10. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2003
    That's awesome, thanks for posting those screens! Do you regularly use Rhapsody? To be honest my real interest is just to mess around with it, so I don't expect to pay very much on ebay just to poke around a piece of history... I don't really get why Apple doesn't just let people download it if they want to, I don't really see the harm... Whatever, thanks again for the info!
  11. jhu macrumors 6502a


    Apr 4, 2004
    apple may have code in rhapsody in which they don't have the copyrights to. although conceivably they could just release the parts that they do have copyrights to as open source.
  12. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    All the time.

    My ThinkPad (running Rhapsody 5.1) started out as my main mobile system back in 1999 and was replaced by my PowerBook G3 (running Rhapsody 5.6) in 2002... but as my PowerBook became my main system (and I started running Mac OS X on it) it stopped traveling with me and the ThinkPad went back into service. I have about 3 GB of HTML and PDF service manuals on just about every system Apple has ever put out on that ThinkPad, so I rarely go on a service call without it.

    Most of my two web sites were actually made using Rhapsody (on my 7500 to begin with and now using my 8600). Everything posted on my Rhapsody Resource Page was made on my Rhapsody systems using Rhapsody native applications. And as it turns out, most of what I've posted on my NEXTSTEP and OPENSTEP Resource Page was made in Rhapsody too. It is just easier for me to make those types of web pages in Rhapsody now than on any other system.

    I usually spend a couple hours a day on my 8600. It is one of my favorite systems.

    Actually, that is exactly the reason Apple doesn't release things like A/UX and Rhapsody for download. Those operating systems are full of parts and pieces that Apple licensed (and Apple is supposed to pay a fee for every time they distribute a copy). It was those license fees that kept the price of A/UX and NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP over $800 and Rhapsody over $500 when they were available.

    And Apple did remove the parts that had license restrictions from Rhapsody and released it to the public... as Darwin.

    By getting rid of licensed parts from the core OS and by replacing Adobe's Display Postscript with Display PDF (which Apple developed and pays no license fees for)... Apple was able to drop the price of Mac OS X down to $129.

    If Apple made Rhapsody available for download, they would be paying hundreds of dollars every time someone downloaded it (same for A/UX). :eek:
  13. trogdor! macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2006
    I knew about some of this information, but not all. Thanks for the info, I learned a few new things.

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