Open source and your Mac

This week I gave a presentation on topic of Open Source and Mac OS X and how it affects your life as a Mac user. While the initial idea was to talk about Open Source alternatives on OS X, I quickly discovered that this might not be the best thing to talk about. The issue of talking of Open alternatives is quite educating, but I rather decided to use my time talking about the actual reasons why the state of Open Source in Mac is so much different from the Linux “scene”.


Source: hakore@flickr – CC-BY-NOC-ATTR

My basic premise is that taking some sort of controlled top-down approach towards assembling open project allows you to build a reliable set of components that do limited set of tasks very well and do not confuse the user. Throw some excellent design into the mix and you’re almost done. That’s the basic argument regarding the OS X itself.

Taking look at the software we can see one really big problem, the graphic toolkit. Since for historical reasons the GTK and QT toolkits were not very native to Aqua/Cocoa this presents quite some problem with porting issues. So what happens to projects is that they end up taking just the core libraries (like libpurple from Pidgin in Adium project) and then rewriting the user interface part using native Apple tools.

The good news is that the amount of new code and porting efforts are improving all the time as Mac are becoming one of the most loved hackers platforms, even though many of them choose not to actually use OS X.

A bit more practical things

There is an excellent resource for all things Open Source Mac – http://www.opensourcemac.org/.

Then there are my slides from the talk:

And lastly, there is my whole talk at vest.si (in Slovenian only).

2 thoughts on “Open source and your Mac

  1. Hey Jure, just a tiny comment regarding slide no. 5… 🙂

    If it’s that simple, then why doesn’t Apple just opensource the whole browser? Yes, it’s not that simple. Actually, it would be better to say something like “Safari = KHTML + Cocoa + Secret Internal APIs”.

    Apple is using lots of secret internal APIs, which provide a way for them to communicate to different revisions of Mac OS X. This approach isn’t opensource friendly, nor is it that different from what was Microsoft doing in the late 90’s.

  2. Žiga: thanks for clarifaying this. I think we’ll see some progress here also with porting of Konqueror to OS X

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