Will Apple replace the OS X kernel with Linux?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by aaronvan, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #1
    I often wonder if this could occur in some future release of the Mac OS. No doubt Apple has experienced with other kernels in the lab; however, I don't know if advantages exist that would make Apple consider replacing XNU with the GNU/Linux. I’m curious.
     
  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

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    #2
    IMO, doing something like this would break so many things that it would only be worth doing if done at the same time as another change that also breaks backward compatibility - sorta like how Windows RT broke compatibility with the "desktop" applications, by virtue of being on ARM, along with a new API and a host of other changes.

    That being said, I also think that the Linux kernel's license isn't suitable for Apple to use anyway. A better option would be to reuse the kernel from some other member of the BSD family, but even then the point I made above still applies: a LOT of stuff would break if this was done.

    For the curious: When I say "a LOT of stuff will break", I mean both the obvious things (kernel extensions) and the not-so-obvious (the Mach message system, bits of Cocoa that depend on either of the previous two things mentioned, applications that depend on these things directly or indirectly).
     
  3. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604

    ArtOfWarfare

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    #3
    What would Apple stand to gain by changing their kernel?

    Mind you, I don't know much about kernels.
     
  4. dza macrumors member

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    Nov 17, 2013
    #4
    My thoughts on this:
    If Playstation 4 can be built on/with FreeBSD - within a few years (with amazing graphics and modern game support);

    Then OSX must be way more mature :) :apple:

    And btw, there is actually some Open-Source in Apple:
    http://opensource.apple.com
    They even started WebKit - forked it from KDE/KHTML :)

    It's not gonna happen.
     
  5. VoR macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    It's all about control, and they can't have that with a GPL licensed linux kernel.
    There's a reason blackbox appliances and vendors like apple take and build upon products like (and licensed like) freebsd. It's certainly not for 'futuristic features' (the linux kernel is far more advanced in pretty much every respect for example), it's because they can save themselves 10's of years worth of development and build a closed source application/system that's completely under their control.
     
  6. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    #6
    Apple did write an Operating System based on Linux: MkLinux.

    They looked at Linux for iPod and again for the iPhone and in both cases decided against the idea. Steve Jobs tried to hire Linus Torvalds to work on the OS X kernel. So I do not think for a second Apple is unaware of Linux.

    I think it comes down to the fact there is nothing offered by Linux that Darwin couldn't offer. When it comes to performance and features – putting time into Darwin is likely to get Apple better results faster than switching over to Linux.

    Apple would be better focussed on writing a new file system. That is probably a more pressing priority.
     
  7. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #7
    As others have already pointed out, Apple developed the MkLinux distribution of Linux nearly two decades ago. It is based on the Mach microkernel. Linux is a Unix workalike. OS X is Certified UNIX 03. What do we have to gain by switching from genuine UNIX to a workalike?
     
  8. VoR macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    It's obviously not going to happen (and from their pov, certainly doesn't need to), but because it's old, clunky, slow, stale? Big iron systems are being phased out in favour of linux, the big unix vendors focus most new development towards linux, supercomputing is pretty much solely linux etcetcetc.
    I see the 'osx is certified unix' spammed about on occasion, but what does that mean? Have you worked as a sysadmin or developer on huge unix and linux systems for real-world comparison? I assume the majority of posts in this regard are simply because it 'sounds good', but surely they can see osx is a single user focused consumer os so again, what does that really mean to you?
    I can't get away from solaris for the foreseeable future (it works, why change), but it's nothing as fast or modern as linux. I'm not saying that anything linux is going to take over the desktop world anytime soon (far from it), but development (like gfx) that is relevant to the *nix world and consumers alike has been extremely exciting over the last year or so.
     
  9. firewood, Nov 24, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013

    firewood macrumors 604

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    #9
    Not a chance. They prefer BSD and similar licensed code over GPL code, have been moving their compiler and development tools farther and farther away from GNU and Linux compatibility (you can't even compile gcc with stock Xcode anymore), and they do a ton of real-time media stuff with the Mach micro-kernel that may not fit with what Linus (who doesn't like micro-kernels) wants to do.

    Even Google has been moving away from stock Linux with Android and Chrome OS.

    Anyway, why bother? The best way to run linux on a Mac is inside Parallels or VirtualBox, et.al.
     
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    #10
    No ********** chance in hell. Especially since there are plenty of people in the open source community who would do anything in their power to prevent this from happening.
     
  11. aaronvan thread starter Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #11
    I agree that it is highly unlikely but why would the open source community give a rip? I didn't notice any outrage over Google/Android.
     
  12. mslide, Nov 25, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013

    mslide macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    That would never happen for at least one, very big reason... the GPL. While the GPL can be a good thing for the open source community, it can be bad for businesses since it somewhat acts like a virus. Apple, like many companies, would want the freedom to do whatever they want with whatever open source code they choose to use without having to give back changes (even though they probably would/do give back changes that would benefit the community).

    This is most likely the reason why OSX's user land utilities come from FreeBSD instead of Linux. FreeBSD's license lets you do whatever you want with the source without having to give back changes. Same thing with the switch from GCC to clang.

    The community wouldn't be able to do anything about it. It's up to Apple, not the community.
     
  13. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    #13
    There are many, many copyright holders, and it is GPL licensed software. Every single copyright holder can make claims that Apple's use of the software is against the license terms. And many will, as we saw when people tried to put GPL licensed software on the iPhone, and someone threatened to sue them.

    ----------

    Well, most of them haven't figured out yet what Google is doing. Google is outwardly all nice and open source friendly - mostly because they don't sell software, they sell people to advertisers. And of course Google does try to use open source actually as a weapon, like their failed attempt to derail h.264 with their own video codec.
     
  14. mslide, Nov 25, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013

    mslide macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    They can make all the claims they want. What, specifically, is in the license terms that would prevent Apple from being able to use it? Even if they added an "anti apple" clause to the license, it doesn't matter because Apple could just branch the pre "anti apple" version.

    Now, they can claim that Apple is modifying the software and not releasing their changes but that's a different issue.
     
  15. phoenixsan macrumors 65816

    phoenixsan

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    #15
    I know for sure.....

    that a company trying to get money, loves stability. So, regarding kernel changes, I think Apple is very confident and confortable with the original BSD foundation it haves. Question is what are the advantages of changing kernels? Are so overwhelming you can enhace things like user experience and support?.......:confused:


    :):apple:
     
  16. PinkyMacGodess, Nov 25, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013

    PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    #16
    They are running out of 10.X numbers. Will they go to 10.10, or OS XI... With the move to OS XI, would Apple toss Mach then? I'm sure that people making a hell of a lot more money than I do have, and possibly are, having this very discussion at Apple.

    And what next after Mavericks? Peahi? Waimea? Pipeline? Bonzai? Teahupoo? Shipstern? Dungeons?

    ----------

    'Open source' has gotten a tarnished name. Given all of the hysteria over lawsuits if someone gets bitchy, I'd expect Apple to stay where they are. Plus who knows how much had to be written to hang OS X on Mach to begin with. They would have to have a really good reason to ditch Mach.
     
  17. VoR macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Non-discrimination against a group is part of the definition of open source :) - Cherry picking an example (I only know of one on iOS, not that I'm saying there isn't 1000s) seems silly to me, we all know people fold to lawyers and threats for all sorts of reasons that are irrelevant to the actual legality.

    'Most of them' have no idea about anything... Slightly tech saavy users may bound the word 'open' about, but are really saying 'can do more with'.
    Android isn't open source, but comparing it to iOS? :) I absolutely hate the way google is slowly replacing it's open source android apps with proprietary, but pretending that google don't and haven't done huge amounts for oss is incredibly naive (and no, apples contributions pale in insignificance). We can argue motives, but what's the point? Google and apple are the same thing, two monstrosities following slightly different paths trying to make cash in the tech industry - Good vs evil is marketing/InYourHead :)

    h264 and webm is a bad example - h264 is massively patent encumbered and causes all sorts of issues for non-consumers (who couldn't care less/don't know local laws and happily install vlc and/or pay for rights through some nasty commercial app.) A completely royalty free and comparable codec would be amazing (and webm certainly isn't too bad) but it needs hardware de/encoding and that's where it's falling down. Hard to get vendor support when nothing uses it and hard to get people to use it when nothing supports it :)
    What baffles me is the use of the word 'derailed' in that accusation sounding sentence. It feels like the ridiculous us vs them schoolboy argument - What harm would such an oss product do simply because it's associated with google (or any other similar encoder spawned by any other similar 'evil tech giant')? It would be great if there was a lot more opensource 'weaponsing' and 'derailing', replacing stuff that works with open stuff that works. Anyways, mpeg/mpeg la are super nice guys, right?
     
  18. cjmillsnun macrumors 68020

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    Aug 28, 2009
    #18
    And that is what they'll claim. It's specifically in the GPL and if Apple ever modified GPL code they would be asking for the source code for those changes. When Apple turns round and tells them to do on (as Apple would), then they will all start on Apple. Led by the great unwashed RMS himself.

    ----------


    Old, clunky, slow? The Linux kernel isn't exactly lightweight itself. Darwin is actually more efficient than Linux. I agree the front end of Mac OS X is very much a single user desktop environment, however the kernel on OS X isn't as inefficient as you make out.
     
  19. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    #19
    What problems exactly does h.264 cause for anyone - except for the self-inflicted problems of GPL 3.0 that make a GPL licensed implementation impossible? The only real problems have been caused by the likes of AT&T and Google/Motorola who were asking for patent fees that were absolutely outrageous compared to the fees that companies pay for h.264. And the exact same problems would happen with any _successful_ codec.
     
  20. VoR macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Yes
    The linux kernel tends to be exactly what you need it to be.
    osx is a fantastic unix desktop and all its real-time tweaks give a very good user experience and suitable for audio work etc (unlike many out of the box distros).
    I just had a quick scan around a few sites like openbenchmarking and I'm struggling to find any reliable synthetic/realworld benchmarks that show osx outperforming even a bloated mess like ubuntu.
    My post was simply a 'being unix doesn't mean it's best' babble to provoke people that have no idea what they're taking about - Personally I think it's a better operating system than any distro for the vast majority of users :)


    There's very few commercial blurays that use x264 for encoding - that's one pretty good reason to raise an eyebrow or cry yourself to sleep, depending on how much you really care...
    I can't really be bothered to go into the 223529385124 other reasons that this (and thinking like this) holds us back :)

    ps. Just for some context, I'm a tech enthusiast, not an rms hippy
     
  21. MattInOz macrumors 68030

    MattInOz

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    #21
    Sorry if I'm missing something interesting but haven't Apple gotten most the benefits they would want out of a kernel change by moving the build chain to LLVM and a stack of low level work in the system?

    The bonus being they have done that work piecemeal with few and relatively minor side steps at each of the major releases since 2005 when they hired important parts of the LLVM team to come work in house. Plus they can set themselves up for future improvements.

    Unlike a kernel change which require a massive side project that would need to get up to speed before still incurring a painful major transition.
     
  22. subsonix macrumors 68040

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    #22
    Will Linux replace the NT kernel in Windows, will the Solaris kernel replace freeBSD kernel, will GNU Mach replace Linux.
     
  23. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a

    ohbrilliance

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    #23
    There aren't any compelling reasons to switch kernels, and plenty of reasons not to. I'd rather Apple look at changing the filesystem.
     
  24. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #24
    As I understand it, the Linux kernel is a singularly massive body of code, which, naturally, is attended by a relatively large body of, umm, issues. The monolithic kernel is rather challenging to maintain, as compared to a modularized system based on a microkernel, where the subcomponents are not so critically inter-connected.

    If anything, Apple might port the next gen of OS X to L4-Pistachio, moving almost all of the system into Userland. L4 has very fast IPC and has been certified bug-free, but porting would be a rather major project, if even possible (Pistachio for ARM AArch64 is, AFAIK, not yet written). More likely, some flavor of modularized Linux will appear on L4 (like what the Hurd project was working toward for three decades).
     
  25. subsonix macrumors 68040

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    #25
    You are referring to the GNU user space here right? The GNU OS with it's own kernel, is GNU hurd, ie the Mach kernel with GNU user space. No Linux.
     

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