Linus no likey MacOS X
April 6, 2001 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Linus no likey MacOS X Linus apparently doens't like the microkernal that X is based upon. Talk about details. Can't he just get over it and ooo and ahhh over the Aqua?
(side note: Yahoo claims that Linux Torvalds created Linux)
posted by Brilliantcrank (25 comments total)

 
Talk about details...

Linus uses fvwm, I think. Nuff said.

Oh, and the argument about microkernels (particularly Mach) goes back to the seminal days of Linux.
posted by holgate at 9:37 AM on April 6, 2001


I don't understand that. He gets an offer to work on OS X, decides not to, and then bashes it afterward? If you're not going to work on it or contribute anything to it to make the changes you'd like to see, why complain? Better yet, improve on the idea or something.
posted by Cavatica at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2001


Torvalds doesn't get much attention these days, I guess that could be a reason, but I doubt it. I have trouble seeing why he is devoting a whole chapter to X. Hmm.. ohh well. He's a great guy anyway.

As far as software and o/s go, I sometimes wonder why there can't be a really good os. I have not the slightest idea what it is to code as far as software goes, but couldn't they get a bunch of good people from all sides to do something really great? Ok, for X, get a good kernel, one that won't piss anyone off, have good gui, code and look and get all those usability jerk offs to work on a toolbar. *Sigh* Again, I don't know much, but maybe we could just kidnap them and make them work, under a whip.
posted by tiaka at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2001


Torvalds says that as developers have tried to improve the Mach microkernel it has become hugely complicated and convoluted.

Wooo, someone's flingin' FUD there. Yup, I'm pining for the sheer clarity and simplicity of Linux code.

What most *nix people don't seem to get about OS X is that it's not just another distribution. Which it's not--it's an OS which is *based* on Unix but is not primarily a Unix. I don't think anyone screeched this way about NeXTStep while it was alive, and OS X is mostly NeXTStep with a classic Mac compatibility box tacked on, and a lickable interface.

I'm starting to think the whole 'open-source Darwin' thing was a bad publicity move on Apple's part, since it invited in all the *nix geeks who think the command line is the purest form of interface, and who now think they have free rein to treat OS X as if it were just another BSD distro with a fancy GUI.
posted by darukaru at 10:28 AM on April 6, 2001


Not possible, tiaka. There will always be fighting between Mac/PC, Windows/Unix, now Linux/MacOSX, not to mention Director/Flash, vi/emacs, butter side up, butter side down, etc etc.


You can't get everyone agreeing that something's "good". However, OSX does go quite a long way in bringing Unix to the masses. It also goes quite a long way in desktop management. Once people get over the massively huge icons and drop shadows, they'll start to realize that it truly is the direction consumer OSs should move towards.

My chief complaint about Linux is the horrid GUI. I'm a creative guy, not a techie, so I actually notice that all the common window managers in linux just aren't good for most people. "Good enough" doesn't cut it for me. I actually want it to be good on its own.

I see sour grapes in this case. OSX, with all its flaws and rough edges, has beaten Linux to the punch -- Unix with an interface that anyone can use.
posted by jragon at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2001


The last comment about a Jobs/Torvald duo against Microsoft sounds interesting - but infeasible. To me, Apple emphasizes aesthetics and design. Macs have sex appeal. Linux is all about functionality and giving the user maximum control and power over the computer. Microsoft came out on top by splitting the difference and following emergent market trends, rather than clinging to an ideology.

Personally, I can't believe that Apple released OS X without DVD support and other features. If I buy a new Mac computer now, Apple will ship me both OS X and OS 9 and expect me to dual boot to use all the features of my computer. I realize that sometimes you have to make big changes to the OS and lose legacy support, but at least give us a fully functioning OS, not OS X in its current state.
posted by ktheory at 10:52 AM on April 6, 2001


This quote is particularly stupid:

Torvalds says that, even back in 1997, he foresaw compatibility problems between the new operating system and legacy applications, due to a lack of memory protection

My guess is that the reporter mistook an offhand remark for an emission of oracular wisdom, because - duh - EVERYONE foresaw compatibility problems due to the classic MacOS not having memory protection. That's the first and most obvious problem that came to mind when Apple started talking about a next-generation OS back in the early '90s.

Actually, the entire article reeks of reporter-bullshit. Linus is a hacker, and he talks like a hacker, and he tends to say what he thinks about things when people ask him for his opinion. This article is treating it like he's on some crusade against Apple, when most likely he just thinks their OS sucks and doesn't mind saying so.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2001


Actually, the entire article reeks of reporter-bullshit.

Exactly. The article reads as if the reporter has no sense of the differences between the BSD lineage and Linux, which is both a holy war and the kind of thing too easily glossed over by jounos' attempts to treat UNIX as if it's the monolithic entity of 30 years ago.
posted by holgate at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2001


Actually ktheory, if you buy a Mac now, you get OS 9.1, not OS X. They're not pre-installing OS X on new Macs until July sometime, and by then, DVD playback (and all the other things missing) will be working.
posted by vitaflo at 11:19 AM on April 6, 2001


One thought: if they've made the switch to Roman numerals, does that mean that the updated version with DVD support will be OS X.I? (At a stretch, as the Romans didn't do decimals.)
posted by holgate at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2001


You can't get everyone agreeing that something's "good".

That's absolutely right. The big problem is that we all work and think in different ways and that makes the "perfect" OS a pretty impossible goal. I think that in order to satisfy everyone, you need an extremely extensible platform that bends to the user's will and way of working instead of vice-versa. AFAIC, a solid platform with a generic API set for UI goes a long way to making that happen.

Linux does this (although maybe not perfectly) and to some extent Solaris does as well (if I remember correctly). Windows and Mac (unless I'm mistaken) do not.

Abstraction of the interface from the infrastructure is the key. This allows a user to choose his/her method of interacting with the system. This idea is not limited to OS's by the way...
posted by fooljay at 1:42 PM on April 6, 2001


"My chief complaint about Linux is the horrid GUI."

And which one would that be? There is no definitive "linux GUI."
posted by CrayDrygu at 4:00 PM on April 6, 2001


I guess I'll respond to both at once.

I think it's opnion, not fact, that an OS needs to be as extendable as possible. Most computer users are fine with AOL, despite the fact that AOL isn't the "real internet". Most (in fact, the vast majority) users don't want to be burdened with all the options that Linux can bring. They want it to be understandable, and they want it to work.

Linux, out of the box, isn't good at this. Again, I'm talking about the average user, not the target group that Linux very successfully woos.

As for the Linux GUI, you're right. There is no Linux GUI. However, there are defaults -- Gnome, KDE, and (I guess) the command line, if you can call that a Graphical User Interface.

Each of these default UIs bring unparalled power, performance, and customization potential. Add on the concept of being able to use any window manager someone dreams up, and you can easily hand the customization award to Linux.

But. Endless customization and a do-it-yourself mentality make the learning curve far too steep for most people. Imagine installing Mandrake on your mother's computer.

"Ok, now we just type "pico" and we're -- oh, this distro doesn't have pico. Ok, what we'll need to do is go to the cdrom directory, find the rpm, and install it. oh, crap. the cd-rom drive didn't mount automatically. ok, here we go -- now we're going to mount the drive, find the rpm, do the install, make sure all the appropriate libraries are available, then -- well, I guess there is an easier way, mom. We could always use vi..."

For all it has going for it, (quite a lot) Linux is too complicated for most people, and the existing user experience is horrid.
posted by jragon at 5:15 PM on April 6, 2001


Heh. Linux is too complicated for me half the time, and I write unix code for a living.

If Linux is to ever become the core of a consumer OS, they'll have to do something a lot like Apple has done with OS X. Asking users to learn to think in the unix way is not going to work.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:30 PM on April 6, 2001


I find it hard to believe that GNU/Linux will ever be a viable, mass user, desktop operating system but that's not really the point. It demonstrates that there are other ways for an operating system to come about than by the grace of some huge corporation. Other people have noticed this and are writing there own OS's from scratch that may have a chance. One example that I can think of is AtheOS.
jragon: for the record, I have a mandrake distro installed on this computer (which IS technically my mothers) and the only problem I had with it was figuring out how to repartition the hard disk. If I'd only wanted to install Linux and didn't have to dual boot then it would have been much easier.
posted by davidgentle at 8:19 PM on April 6, 2001


MARS said:
Actually, the entire article reeks of reporter-bullshit. Linus is a hacker, and he talks like a hacker, and he tends to say what he thinks about things when people ask him for his opinion. This article is treating it like he's on some crusade against Apple, when most likely he just thinks their OS sucks and doesn't mind saying so.

I'd say you nailed it, Mars.
posted by Zeldman at 11:57 PM on April 6, 2001


My feeling about OSX is that it's the Flash version and OS9 is the HTML version. I'm sticking with OS9 for now.
posted by Zeldman at 11:58 PM on April 6, 2001


As far as software and o/s go, I sometimes wonder why there can't be a really good os. I have not the slightest idea what it is to code as far as software goes, but couldn't they get a bunch of good people from all sides to do something really great?

Ummm, that actually happened. It was called BeOS. It was fast, efficient, and had a beautiful GUI. Problem was that it was marketed to digital art types while support for third party digital content creation software was lacking. Great OS + Few apps= failure.

It's a shame really.
posted by yangwar at 9:42 AM on April 7, 2001


Um what's up with the "side note"?
(side note: Yahoo claims that Linus Torvalds created Linux)

Are you suggesting that he didn't? He did create Linux, that's why it's named after him. Also he is talking about the microkernel, which means he is talking about the microkernel and not the GUI. If he cared about the GUI he would say something about the GUI.

This is really a strange post. He's talking about the engine of a car and it's design. And people think he's talking about how cool the cup holders are and the color. Very disjointed logic.

jgraon: Actually the existing user experience is wonderful. It's the non-existing users that have a hard time of it. And really who cares about them... :)
posted by valintin23 at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2001


Valintin, the article claims Linux Torvalds created Linux.

Linux. With an X. His name is Linus, not Linux. Get it? :)
posted by gleemax at 4:03 PM on April 7, 2001


I guess I'll respond to both at once.

Are you responding to mine???

I think it's opnion, not fact, that an OS needs to be as extendable as possible.

Well, that's not exactly what I said now is it? I said:

I think that in order to satisfy everyone, you need an extremely extensible platform that bends to the user's will and way of working instead of vice-versa.

And I'm not talking about customizable features a la the adaptative (yet tightly controlled by one company) interface of Win2000/ME. I'm talking about "you make the OS and anyone can make the interface" thinking. Sure, LInux ships with KDE and Gnome but imagine if Linux were directed at the mass consumer. There would be hundreds of interfaces, some great, most mediocre, some really bad, but all available and compatible. Beats the hell out of one commpany thinking that they have a corner on the usability market...

Most computer users are fine with AOL, despite the fact that AOL isn't the "real internet". Most (in fact, the vast majority) users don't want to be burdened with all the options that Linux can bring. They want it to be understandable, and they want it to work.

And for those, you get the standard UI and with the OS you buy. Did anyone say Linux was a good choice for this type of user?? I can't imagine anyone would be that stupid.
posted by fooljay at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2001


Linus uses fvwm, I think. Nuff said.

What's wrong with fvwm? It's my favorite window manager. Just because no other window managers will even run on my 486DX2-66 that's running Linux has nothing to do with it, really. fvwm rules.
posted by daveadams at 9:26 PM on April 7, 2001


Business is, far and away, a very very large chunk of the computer market. And there is a reason why business likes the likes of Apple and Microsoft over Linux, and that is the uniform interface. For instance, if a company chooses Apples, ok, everyone learn Apple. If they choose Microsoft, then so be it, and everyone learn that.

I work for a company in which the different divisions choose their equipment, and purchase it independently. (its a multi-billion corp).. anyways, my phone rings, and I have to explain stuff to them. Like, for instance, where they can find how to load Microsoft Word. Or how to open their e-mail. Or what the heck an 'any key' or 'start button' is.

If each division chose a different GUI on Linux, I'd be doomed, and so would the business. And if someone changes divisions, it would be a learning curve all over again.
posted by benjh at 8:18 AM on April 8, 2001


Well, benjh, you fix that by standardizing on a particular GUI. It isn't any harder to standardize on GNOME or KDE than it is to standardize on Windows, is it? Besides, GNOME at least has the added benefit of being runnable on just about any UNIX (at least Solaris and the BSDs, anyone know if such things can run on OS X?) which means you can change platforms and stick to the same GUI.

Now, moving from company to company would be difficult for not-particularly-savvy users if they had to switch GUIs, but there's a chance of that anyway. Windows 9x and NT and 2000 and now XP all behave in slightly similar but disturbingly different ways. At least the Linux GUIs look different enough that you know not to expect the same behavior between them.
posted by daveadams at 4:19 PM on April 8, 2001


Arrgh! I can't read information in typos, I even corrected the side note when I cut and paste. :)
posted by valintin23 at 2:11 AM on April 10, 2001


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