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If Mac OS X Came to x86, Would You Switch? 1409

Posted by Cliff
from the microsoft's-worst-nightmare dept.
A not-so anonymous Anonymous Coward would like to put this query before you: "I'm not a fan of Windows, and never have been, but I am a fan of the x86 architecture. I really like Linux, but there are still a few issues that are keeping me from switching completely. I really like Mac OS X but I don't want to drop $2000 on a computer that is only as fast as an x86 computer at half the price. Darwin, Mac OS X's unix-ish core, has been ported to x86 and Microsoft's upcoming Longhorn OS seems to be disliked by everyone but Microsoft. If Apple released Mac OS X to compete with Longhorn, would you switch?"
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If Mac OS X Came to x86, Would You Switch?

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  • by the unbeliever (201915) <chris+slashdot&atlgeek,com> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:25PM (#10481684) Homepage
    Is one of "will my hardware be compatible with OS X?" -- if I could be assured that my hardware will work as well under OS X on x86 as it does under Windows XP, then I would switch in a heartbeat, or at least dual boot. Application support is another issue, as is migrating data.

    This question does not have a simple answer like "yes" or "no" or "maybe" -- there are a lot of dependencies on each answer.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chewy_2000 (618148) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:26PM (#10481697)
    I would switch in a second. OS X is by far the best OS on so many fronts that I have ever used (interface, ease of use etc, and the Unix core is nice). I'd still have to maintain a Windows boot for games, unless it was so popular most games were released for it.

    Never going to happen though, since Apple make their money from hardware, not the OS.

  • Yep, yep, yep. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sllim (95682) <achanceNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:26PM (#10481700)
    I would most certainly purchase and install it.
    Doesn't mean I wouldn't still run windows. Possibly do a dual boot or a windows on mac kind of solution.

    Ain't never gonna happen though. Apple makes money off there hardware and the OS is why people purchase the hardware. Be a foolish thing for Apple to do.
  • Please not again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravenspear (756059) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:28PM (#10481716)
    I can't count the number of times that I've heard this asked. The obvious answer is that yes a lot of people would switch if OS X was ported to x86. But I also can't count the number of times the people who keep asking this question have been told how irrelevant it is to do so. OS X is not going to be ported, for the simple reason that if it were Apple would go under and then OS X would no longer exist.

    If you need to know why that is, just google for "if os x were ported" and you'll find the same explanation on thousands of pages. I don't feel like rehashing it here.
    • by forgoil (104808) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:37PM (#10481816) Homepage
      Not to mention that it would be pirated like wildfire...
      • by jcr (53032)
        Well, sure it would, but let's do a little thought experiment here...

        Supposed fifty million people pirate OS X and install it on their Intel machines. That's now fifty million seats were you have a chance to sell an app like Keynote or iLife, isn't it? Okay, suppose iLife is pirated, too: that's a couple of million people who might order poster-size prints or a photo book through iPhoto, no?

        If Keynote is pirated, doesn't that mean that many more people (including those who are scrupulous about buying wh
    • Re:Please not again (Score:5, Informative)

      by ravenspear (756059) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:39PM (#10481831)
      Not trying to whore here but if my "google for it" suggestion was too vague for some, here are some articles on why porting OS X would be a very bad idea from Apple's perspective.

      No Intel On OS X Part I: Economics 101 [macobserver.com]
      Porting Mac OS X to Intel [lowendmac.com]
  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:28PM (#10481722) Homepage
    Would software and hardware companies support OS X more consistantly if it were available on an x86 PC?

    The only reason I use Windows is that it is the easiest OS to find games, paripherals, and other things that support it. If Linux or OS X had that, I could consider them.
  • by jralls (537436) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:29PM (#10481730) Homepage
    You're out of date. Macs are comparable (the WSJ's Walt Mossberg even claims cheaper) in price/performance to x86 boxes. When you factor in the reduction in neck pain, the lack of truly low-end macs is easily compensated for. OTOH, you can always get a used mac; OSX runs fine on any PPC version. As to your question, one of the main reasons that OSX is able to be so stable and still provide all of the eye-candy is because of a very small HCL. That advantage would be lost by moving to the rather chaotic wintel platform.
  • by That_Dan_Guy (589967) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:29PM (#10481732)
    I'm a Windows Admin, and live by Group Policy and remote administration tools under Windows 2000/2003 (NT4 had some stuff, but boy did it suck in comparison). I do not know what equivalent things are available under OS X or even unix/Linux. I've only installed Linux on a hobby basis (shrug).

    But if I could manage them at least as well as I can with Group Policy, sure I'd switch.

    It would also have to be able to run all the shrink rapped stuff we support.

    I used to be a big Mac user, back 12+ years ago. So yeah, I'd love to get back to that. It sure seemed like computers were fun back then. But maybe thats becuase it was just a hobby and not my work :)
  • Why switch? (Score:5, Informative)

    by muyuubyou (621373) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:30PM (#10481749)
    The only "issues" I have with Linux is being forced to use certain windows apps (work mostly and no, I'm not leaving a job I like just so I can delete my windows partition). I also have a Mac and yes, if MacOSX was available, I'd install it, but I wouldn't "switch" - why should I use just one OS?

    The whole "switch" thing is for basic users I guess. The rest of us aren't afraid to partition a hard drive.
  • by Sanity (1431) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:30PM (#10481751) Homepage Journal
    ...and that is sad. There is no good reason that free (as in speech) operating systems should not be as good if not better than OSX, but they simply aren't. OSX is great, and Apple has a more open attitude towards their OS than Microsoft, but it is not free (as in beer or speech).

    Furthermore, I regret to say that I don't see much prospect of any of the Linux GUI efforts approaching the ease of use and elegance of OS X any time soon - partially due to a lack of imagination, and partially due to being over-wedded to X which is evolving way too slowly and is over-wedded to a basic design that is simply outdated.

    • by Amigori (177092) <eefranklin718NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:48PM (#10482718) Homepage
      The open source community doesn't have as good of a reason to improve the usability as Apple does. Apple is a business and needs to make money, the various Linux gui maintainers, a community project, do not. Apple's big feature is the usability of their computers; for everyone, not just geeks. Linux vendors don't sell computers to everyday people with everyday needs; they sell to geeks who know what linux is good for. Two different target markets, two different reasons for improvements. Now I'm not saying that Linux developers aren't on the right track, which they are, and improvements can be seen throughout, but they are serving different markets.

      If you don't like the way X is moving along, feel free to help. You're a veteran here, so I don't need to tell you where to find X. As a veteran, I'm surprised that you fell for a troll article like this. Although, I'm just as guilty in my response here.

      As for paying for the OS, I will gladly pay Apple for their products, hardware and software. Is it more expensive? Not to me. My PBG4 has higher resale value if I ever sell it than a comparable dell/etc., I don't have to recompile and spend hours troubleshooting just to get my soundcard/joystick to work, which it still doesn't on my Suse 9.1 box, and I am more productive on my PB, I get the same things done quicker so I have more time for the things that I value in life, like playing with my dog or reading a non-sci-fi book. If you, as your primary mode of transportation, had the knowledge and resources to build a car versus buying one, what would you pick? Buy the car most likely, I would.

      Can the Ask Slashdot topic itself be moderated (-1) Troll or (-1) Flamebait? Please?
      Amigori

    • Furthermore, I regret to say that I don't see much prospect of any of the Linux GUI efforts approaching the ease of use and elegance of OS X any time soon - partially due to a lack of imagination, and partially due to being over-wedded to X which is evolving way too slowly and is over-wedded to a basic design that is simply outdated.

      Yes, X11 really sucks. It sucks so bad that Apple packages it for OS X [apple.com] and calls it a significant feature.

      Could you explain a little more as to why X11 sucks, or what exactl
  • No apps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kundor (757951) <kundor@memb[ ]fsf.org ['er.' in gap]> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:31PM (#10481758) Homepage
    There would be NO APPLICATIONS. Mac programs are compiled for the powerpc architecture, so the binaries wouldn't work. Windows programs wouldn't work except through something like Wine, which won't work any better for Mac than it does for Linux.

    The only apps you could use would be source-based unix stuff, which you can use on linux anyway, and many of which won't actually run on OS X without a lot of work first.

    So no...I wouldn't switch.

    • Re:No apps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bahamat (187909) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:44PM (#10481875) Homepage
      If you build it they will come.

      If Apple ported OS X to x86 software vendors would do the same.
    • by itomato (91092) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:19PM (#10482140)
      Since the day NEXTSTEP was ported to the 486, and possibly before, Project Builder had the ability to compile binaries not only for the Motorola 68040, but also for HP PA-RISC, SPARC, and i486. Quad-fat binaries..
      If you look at any of the remaining NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP archives, or search for an old OmniWeb beta, you'll find files with names like this:
      Foo_App.1.34b.NIHS.b.tar.gz
      That NIHS.b stands for Next,Intel,HP,Sparc-BINARY.
      One binary runs on 4 different architechtures. If they could do it then, with most systems (all architectures) running between 25 and 100MHz, they should be able to do it equally well now, with a narrower range of hardware to support (nVidia or ATI, x86/64 or PPC as opposed to 4 totally different approaches in respect to CPU, display hardware, bridge ASICs, etc)

      There's the issue of AltiVec/SSE2, etc, but there were challenges 10 years ago, too..

      • They still do this, With Fat Binaries, you can ship software with G3/G4/G5 optimized binaries in the same package. What's stopping them from shipping G3/G4/G5/Opteron/i386/P4/Itanic/Whatever in a package?

        The answer is Nothing. GCC supports the target. The format is built for it (it comes from next after all).

        If it became possible, you can bet that Apple would make Xcode cross-compile if there was money in it.
  • Yes, well maybe... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bblazer (757395) * on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:32PM (#10481765) Homepage Journal
    For the past several years I have been buying nothing but Apple products for myself, coworkers and family members. I have been willing to pay a higher price for better (more innovative) physical design, less cabling, and an innovative OS. The downside has been limited hardware choices that are generally a few steps behind the curve of x86 machines. That being said, I would seriously consider 'switching' to OS X on a x86 machine if it was produced and supported by Apple and possibly the hardware vendors. At the same time, however, I really like the ever evolving designs that come from Apple. When was that last compelling design change of the ubiquitous x86 desktop or laptop (maybe from Alienware)? So for me to do a pseudo-switch, I would probably also need to see some changes from the hardware vendors (how many cables run across the desk of a typical workstation?). To sum it all up, I think it would be a great thing for Apple to release OS X to the masses. It would certainly send Balmer on another sweaty spin!
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:35PM (#10481799) Homepage
    It never ceases to amaze me how so many people who use their computers for just basic, simple tasks like office functions act like they have this incredible need for powerful hardware. I bought a Compaq Presario with a Sempron 2800, 256MB DDR Ram and a 80GB hdd for only $445 including S&H, and with SuSE 9.1 it does everything I need. It's not a game machine, so uhhh why exactly when it's just going to run Java and C++ programs for class, would I need the latest Athlon64 or Pentium4?

    The reason for owning a Mac has never been about power, but utility. Every convert to MacOS X from Windows that I know switched because Macs are actually much more useful in many areas than Windows PCs. The hardest pill for many of them to swallow is that the "Apple way" really is significantly easier and more productive than the "Microsoft way."

    The average computer user who could afford one, would actually be much better off with an iMac or iBook than a typical off the shelf PC. It gets the job done, and done well and it is made much better than the usual PC.
    • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:58PM (#10482424)
      As a techie, I always get bombarded with "Where can I get a good computer?" questions, and I just tell people either at Best Buy for 500 bucks or a Mac.

      A few weeks ago someone answered that they don't like Macs because "they like to have control that Windows gives them".
      So, yesterday that person needs help burning pictures off the digital camera to 3 CDs. It took us fourty (40!) minutes to burn 600 megs of data on a well equipped Windows XP machine (3.06GHz P4 HT, 512 MB RAM). This is why:

      I drag the first set of files onto the CD, they burn OK (albeit a bit slow).
      I drag the second set of files and get an "incorrect function" error. I'm thinking WTF?
      I use a new CD and some drag-to-disc program comes up and burns the pictures much faster than the first CD did.
      I try to burn the final CD, but get the incorrect function error again. It took me 20 minutes of CD swapping, ctrl-alt-deleteing, and cussing to figure out that I had to right click on the burner icon and enable CD burning for it.
      Well, duh, one might say, of course you have to have the CD burning enabled. You might think so, but you'd better not wonder why the first two CDs burned, but the last one required enabling.

      What I'm trying to say is that in the time it took me to burn 600 megs of data on a very well stocked Windows XP PC, I could have had the very same pictures sorted into albums, posted on my website (which runs on the same machine), and burned on a cd on a 1.4GHz G4.

      Apple way might be more expensive at first, but it doesn't require you to randomly click on things to make them work. (Provided that the PC has a slew of 3rd party applications to keep it working in the first place.)

  • Dupe! (kinda) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adam mcmaster (697132) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:36PM (#10481800) Homepage
    A strange coincidence, I'm sure, but I asked a similar question this week:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=124599&cid=104 51087 [slashdot.org]

    The replies to my post answer it pretty well, I think.
  • FFS! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xirtam_work (560625) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:37PM (#10481812)
    drop a few hundred dollars (or pounds) on an eMac. If you find out that you don't like it flog it on ebay - mac's have great resale values. If you find that you do like it flog it on ebay and buy a more powerful model... duh!

    there's no chance that apple will release OS X for X86.... and the software developers will not stand for another platform, cpu, os change.

    also, the apple mac hardware would get left behind which is where apple make the money. unless of course osx86 was a poor cousin that lacked features or support and why bother in that case.
  • Core Values (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:38PM (#10481822) Homepage Journal
    If I can use all the apps that I like, without missing the old MS platform. That's how MS got me to switch from MacOS7 to WinNT. The key to IT decisions starts with "what do I need to do" (in simple human/business transaction terms). Then I ask "what apps do that?", then "what OS runs those apps?", and finally "which HW runs that OS?", and I've committed a basic platform. If the apps available can do what I need to do on MacOS, including work without a hitch with everyone else who hasn't switched, I'll be right there with Apple's otherwise superior OS.
  • by mrdlcastle (254009) * on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:38PM (#10481823)
    Why reinvent the wheel?

    Macs are More Expensive, Right?
    http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/36120.ht ml

    But Macs are Slower, Right?
    http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/But-Macs -Are-Slo wer-Right-36964.html

    Carlos
    • by legLess (127550) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:31PM (#10482240) Journal
      You know, I've been laptop shopping twice in the last year, once for me and once for my SO. I'm a serious geek -- I spend 90% of my time in a terminal -- and make my living with my hardware, so I spent a lot of time looking. My SO isn't a geek at all, and I'm her computer slave, so whatever she got had to be easy for me to support.

      I'd never used a Mac before and was originally planning to get Thinkpad and run Debian on it. Both times, hands down, we got Macs. I have a 15" Powerbook and she has a 14" iBook. Both times I spent days on every major manufacturer's web sites, comparing every model I could find.

      What I found was that there is no laptop, period, that matches anything Apple makes feature-for-feature at a comparable price point. Nothing even comes close. The only way to get the features I wanted in a Thinkpad was to pay $3,500 and gain an extra 2 pounds of travel weight. The only sub-optimal feature of the Powerbook is battery life -- after a year of constant use I get about 2 hours.

      This comparison was done OS-agnostic, since I expected to run Debian on the Powerbook, too. After a week, though, I swore I'd never go back. OSX is amazing. It's the first time in 15 years of professional computer use that I haven't had to *think* about the operating system.

      In short, Macs rule. if you don't believe me, do the research yourself. Anyone trotting out the "Macs are too expensive and slow" line is living in the past.
      • After a week, though, I swore I'd never go back. OSX is amazing. It's the first time in 15 years of professional computer use that I haven't had to *think* about the operating system.

        Comments like that warm me from the bottom of my stock options ;-)

        -jcr

    • Those articles are really only valid if you are stuck between buying an Apple and a Dell. And who wants a Dell?

      When it comes to the high end, they may compare. Apple is certainly very competitive in laptops. But when it comes to what I can build myself out of components in the PC world vs. Apple, the Apples _are_ really expensive. The cheapest eMac runs about $800 - for that amount of money I can piece together a pretty nice PC system that's going to be far better than that eMac. Even better, that PC
  • by Gadzinka (256729) <rrw@hell.pl> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:49PM (#10481928) Journal
    Would you switch?

    I would not switch to Mac OS X, Linux+KDE runs just fine for me. But I would gladly switch to PowerPC PC if they were made in volume, like x86 PCs are. The thing is that x86, even in its 64-bit incarnation is a total hack[1]. I'm not running to upgrade to x86-64 any time soon[2].

    If I had comparable prices for barebone x86-32 and PPC system/components (up to 50% more for PPC) I wouldn't hesitate a minute. As it stands now, dollar for dollar, I can buy much better x86 machine which "solves" by force most of the architectural drawbacks.

    Robert

    PS Just don't tell me that I can buy brand X PPC machine for the price of some Dell/Gateway high-end PC: I have never in my life bought a brand name computer, I just buy the parts and build myself whatever machine I need.

    [1] luckily, most of that is well hidden behind the C compiler
    [2] price is not totally a non-issue ;)
  • Yes and no... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:53PM (#10481951) Homepage
    If I could install OSX on one of my homebuilt systems I certainly would.

    However, one of the reasons Apples are so stable is because the hardware and software is so strictly controlled. Thus, either OSX would be very unstable on the X86 platform or it would not work with most hardware. Either would be a huge disadvantage.

  • To x86? NO (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @06:58PM (#10481987) Homepage Journal
    I have a Mac that can run OS X (but runs Linux). If OS X were released for x86, I could start running it on a PC. But I wouldn't. The reason?

    I have programmed x86, MIPS, and PowerPC assembly, and studied the instruction formats for these architectures. x86 is a mess.

    Ever tried to use ACPI power management under Linux? Chances are it won't work, due to bugs in the BIOS. The USB controller on my old laptop wouldn't work, because the BIOS assigned the wrong IRQ to it (it said it was on 9, but it was hardwired to 11). Ever had PCs crash because of IRQ conflicts? I have.

    The PC is so full of kludges it's amazing that it still works. The system starts in real mode (16 bit, 1 MB of addressable RAM). You really want to go to protected mode (32 bit, all RAM addressable). However, certain things need to be done in real mode, because BIOSes don't do protected mode. Does your hard drive use CHS or LBA?

    Have you ever compared efficiencies of other architectures with x86? It's amazing how much power goes into supporting the cruft that's in x86. It's too bad the CPUs are so small, or you could use them for cooking.

    Anyway, time to quit ranting. x86 is not for me. And oh, I run Linux on my iBook because I know how to customize every part of it, and because it starts applications faster than OS X. It also has more software available (a lot of software uses GNU extensions and thus requires a lot of effort to port to OS X).
  • Fan of x86?!?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainPinko (753849) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:10PM (#10482073)
    Who *REALLY* is a fan of x86? BIOS should have died a long time ago. x86 is a hideous architecture with an ISA that makes all assembler code look like vomit etc. I think the only thing people like about x86 is the cost. I think the more important question is can we ever replace x86 with another architecture (I like SPARC and with Intel's R&D I'm sure we could get over any problems) but keep it as open and mix-and-match as x86 is now? Write a decent emulator and legacy code is taken care of. I'm sure OSS and it's upward trend would minimize the transition costs. But really when can we get rid of this turd?!?
  • by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:10PM (#10482079) Homepage
    Here are the mistaken assumptions implicit in this question:

    1. Because Darwin runs on x86 (true), most of the work to port Mac OS X to x86 is already done.

    False. Darwin is a very important part of Mac OS X, but in size it is only a tiny fraction of the operating system. The entire GUI and all of the hundreds of libraries ("Frameworks" in Mac OS X) that Mac OS X apps depend on would need to be ported, and many of these are only designed to work on PowerPC currently.

    2. If Apple ported Mac OS X to x86, you'd be able to run it on a typical PC.

    False. Not unless Apple is able to get every major PC hardware manufacturer to release Mac OS X drivers. Apple might have the drivers already for a basic low-end Dell, but what if you have a PC with a third-party sound card? Or a video card that's not a recent nVidia or Radeon? Or a brand-new DVD burner that's only supported on Windows? What if you have a laptop, and you want it to be able to sleep? All of this would require the cooperation of all of these hardware manufacturers, and it's not clear that they'd have any incentive to cooperate.

    3. There would be plenty of applications to choose from.

    False. Mac applications wouldn't run until they've been ported and recompiled for x86, and it's not clear what incentive Mac developers would have to spend all of that effort with no guarantee of returns. Windows apps wouldn't run just because it's on x86; the operating systems are too different (though porting WINE to Mac OS X on x86 would be slightly easier than on PPC). Linux apps would run the same as they already do - most popular Linux apps already run on Mac OS X natively anyway (see the fink project).

    4. PCs are really that much cheaper than Macs anyway.

    Sure, they're cheaper sometimes, but not nearly as much as most people think. Yes, you can build a PC yourself for a lot less than a Mac - if you know what you're doing. And yes, you can get a low-end PC without a monitor - while only high-end Macs come headless. But probably 90% of the world buys brand-name PCs with monitors. On the low end, a brand-name PC with a CRT monitor and DVD/CD-RW will be about $600, compared to $800 for the eMac (and the eMac will come with a better graphics card). A brand-name PC with a non-Celeron processor, a real graphics card (not integrated video), DVD/CD-RW, and a high-quality 17" LCD will cost $1200, compared to $1300 for the iMac (and the iMac is a fraction of the size and weight). It only gets better when you start looking at the high-end machines - you'll find that the Power Mac G5 is often cheaper than a dual-Xeon or dual-Opteron workstation.
    • not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jeif1k (809151) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:38PM (#10482651)
      The entire GUI and all of the hundreds of libraries ("Frameworks" in Mac OS X) that Mac OS X apps depend on would need to be ported, and many of these are only designed to work on PowerPC currently.

      Well, no, that's not true. The actual OS X GUI, frameworks, and libraries are largely NeXTStep, and that stuff is quite portable and even ran on x86 at some point.

      Of course, OS X also has Carbon and the backwards compatibility stuff in it and that might be harder to port.
      • Re:not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

        The entire GUI and all of the hundreds of libraries ("Frameworks" in Mac OS X) that Mac OS X apps depend on would need to be ported, and many of these are only designed to work on PowerPC currently.

        Well, no, that's not true. The actual OS X GUI, frameworks, and libraries are largely NeXTStep, and that stuff is quite portable and even ran on x86 at some point.

        The foundation is NeXTStep, but what about Quartz, Quartz Extreme, ColorSync, CoreAudio, I/O Kit, VecLib, developer tools like Shark? These were

  • GNOME works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:28PM (#10482218) Homepage
    I wouldn't switch, because I'm perfectly happy with GNOME running on a Linux kernel.

    OSX is really pretty. But GNOME is pretty enough for me. I love the clean, tidy look, and the antialiased fonts. And I have chosen a desktop theme that I like.

    OSX is really stable. So is GNOME.

    If you want to try out GNOME, the best way is to install Ubuntu Linux [ubuntulinux.org] on a spare computer. (It doesn't have to be a brand-new computer, but the older and funkier the computer is, the greater the chance of a problem.)

    The easiest way to try out GNOME is to get a Gnoppix [gnoppix.org] CD. You boot from this CD and it will run GNOME on a Linux kernel, without touching your hard disk in any way. So you don't risk your data. And by the way, this makes a great disaster recovery tool, even if you are a Windows user and you aren't ready to switch yet.

    I'll bet there is someone writing a "KDE works for me" posting right now too. KDE is also a good environment, although I personally prefer GNOME. To try out KDE, you could get a Knoppix [knoppix.org] CD. This works the same way as Gnoppix (and in fact Gnoppix was derived from Knoppix, not the other way around).

    In short, anyone who has already switched to a *NIX desktop (GNOME, KDE, Xfce [xfce.org], whatever) is unlikely to be tempted by an x86 OSX.

    steveha
  • Wrong Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foonf (447461) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:29PM (#10482221) Homepage
    Of course, if it was free, or could be easily pirated, and it worked as well on my computer as Linux currently does, I would switch. But thats not accurate.

    First of all, if it ever came to be, it would have to be hideously expensive. Don't think about the $100 cost of OS X upgrades now. Those are for people who have already paid their dues to Apple by buying a Mac. If it was any good, an x86 Mac OS port would wipe out a fair share of Apple's current hardware sales. Even if they could, say, double their current OS market share by running on cheaper commodity hardware, they would still need to make half the profit on each new, non-upgrade copy of x86 Mac OS that they currently make on the average new Macintosh sold. I would be very surprised if they could make this up with a retail price under $400. I definitely wouldn't pay $400 or more for it, as slick as it is, and compared to free Linux and "free" preloaded Windows I doubt many other current PC users would, and it would never be a market success for Apple if only existing Mac users bought it.

    And thats all supposing that the product is every bit as good as the current version of Mac OS for Apple hardware. That means that they would have to support seamlessly every possible combination of PC components that could show up on a computer made in the last 3 or 4 years. Darwin x86 certainly can't do that now, and even if they could port over every current FreeBSD driver, plus support every video chipset they support on Macintoshes now, it would be far from universal, although it would be good enough for me. Microsoft spends a lot of money on testing and driver development to ensure Windows works on every wacky system they claim it will run on, and that is even given that most of the device drivers are written by vendors.

    Given these constraints, I don't think Apple can bring a viable x86 Mac OS port to market at a price low enough to be successful, so no matter how cool you think it would be to have OS X on your computer, it isn't going to happen.
  • by haruchai (17472) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:31PM (#10482238)
    But, in any case, I would switch. For one thing, if
    MacOS came to x86, I think that a lot of companies
    who were abandoning the Mac and are reluctant to embrace Linux, would quickly reconsider.

  • by muecksteiner (102093) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:34PM (#10482264)
    I'm one of the comparatively few people here to have extensively used NeXTStep (the direct precursor of OS X - the core OS technology is still the same) on Intel hardware, back in the day when Linux was a freaky pile of small-rodent crud, Macs were "Win3.11 with an attitude" abominations and no other alternative to the evil empire existed.

    A lot of postings here have tried to make points like "Steven Jobs hates untidy hardware" or "they couldn't make it work as neatly on x86 machines as they do on PPC rigs they build themselves", or even "they can't make it work on x86".

    The first is perhaps be true (good for him if it is), the second might just be the case (but I seriously doubt this), and the third is certainly absolute rubbbish.

    Granted, a lot of time has passed since then, and OS X is certainly more than NeXTStep 5 (as some diehards like to call it). But the nasty fact remains that the technological foundation of NeXTStep/OS X is enormously more stable, robust and inherently cross-platform than that of Windows in all its assorted versions of degeneracy. The Intel port of NeXTStep was perfectly useable and delivered all the comfort and useability to this new platform (and two more, actually - Sparc and HP builds also existed). You could not use arbitrary hardware (only that which had NeXTStep drivers), but that hardware was rock-solid, and given the availabilty of the excellent DriverKit the only reason other stuff wasn't supported was the lack of device information from the vendors (which is more readily available nowadays, partly due to Linux).

    In short: if Apple wanted to pull this off (BIG if), the technological underpinnings would be there, and if it worked half was well as NeXTStep (which is pretty likely) technological issues would be the least of it. It's just not very likely from a marketing perspective, that's all (a shame, really, but what can one do...).

    Just my two euro cents

    A. W.
  • by jejones (115979) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:36PM (#10482279) Journal
    I have a hard time seeing how anyone familiar with the x86 architecture and just about any other recent processor architecture can be a fan of the x86. The x86 architecture is ugly and irregular, the result of decades of backwards compatibility. The performance such CPUs is where it is now because x86 instructions are interpreted on the fly into something decent, and I really wish that AMD and Intel would make those architectures public, so that all that chip real estate could be devoted to something other than backwards compatibility and so that compiler writers would never have to deal with the x86 again.

    ObOSX: Yes, I would, assuming that drivers that can make full use of all the hardware I currently have were available. I'd be inclined to set up dual boot (OS X and Linux).
  • by julie-h (530222) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @07:41PM (#10482318) Homepage
    Why on earth should I degrade from Linux to Mac OSX?
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:00PM (#10482437) Homepage
    OK, so what if, say, BeOS was ported to x86? And updated? [yellowtab.com] And was later going to be available as open source software? [haiku-os.org] Any interest?
  • by KH (28388) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:30PM (#10482605)
    Maybe I missed it, but not many people seem to have expressed what I feel about the issue.

    I don't know if the post was an observation balloon from Apple, but I hope they don't listen to /. folks on the issue. They, or Steve Jobs, must remember what happend to Apple when it was still called NeXT.

    Everybody was envious and awe-struck by the beauty and ease of use and the power in NeXTSTEP. Everybody who's ever seen it work wanted it on his desk. But the hardware was prohibitively expensive. So, when they figured out that their hardwares were not selling, they stopped selling the hardware and ported the OS (whatever it was called or however it was capitalized at that time). That should have prompted bunch of nerds jumping to the NeXTSTEP, which never happened.

    Things may be different these days, PC hardware may be more or less uniform and easier to support. If *BSDs support certain hardware, they may not have to worry about them. The compiler is gcc which is available for ton of architectures. So, softwares available for OS X/ppc should be available for OS X/x86 easily.

    On the other hand, the experience you get from Apple hardware in combination with OS X will not be the same as OS X on x86 hardware. Does anybody notice how this brushed metal look in OS X corresponds to their current displays? Do people honestly believe that OS X would look as nice as on a PowerBook when it is on a Dell/Toshiba laptop?

    Also, despite the myth, Apple hardware is not much more expensive than those in the x86 world. Still, they are not selling very well.

    Considering the above, I highly doubt that those who said they would switch with a heartbeat will actually switch when OS X became available on the x86 hardware. They may as well complain why they have to pay $150 when Windows comes with the hardware or they can get Linux for free. I'm afraid that the momentum that an OS has on people is so much bigger than one would think.

    If you listen to the debate about one button mouse or menubar on top of the screen, it's all about which way they learned first :( Most people do have hard time changing habits, and they think their ways is the right way. So, I think very few people would switch even when OS X became available on x86. Those who will switch should have switched by this time or they will switch at the next computer purchase regardless of which architecture the OS runs on. Actually they don't even have to switch. Why not have two or more OSes running on different computers at the same time?
  • by anonymous leprechaun (687351) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:31PM (#10482611) Homepage
    I would be more than ready to drop 300$ on OS X for x86!I've been saying so for months.

    But, honestly, i don't think it will ever happen. Why you ask? Although it really sucks that apple sell hardware monopolistically, it's one of their greatest advantages. Why? well since they don't offer that much hardware, they don't have to bother with all the support. Do you think microsoft appreciates having to support all those stupid OEM devices whose drivers only differentiate on a couple bytes? Hell no. I'm sure microsoft wet dreams about controlling the hardware market as well. Well, more tightly than it already does so it only has to spend minimum amounts on hardware support.

    Apple being a small company, cannot put forth all the ressources to support the amounts of hardware there's available for PC. Selling OS X for x86 would force them to, and i don;t think Apple is courageous enough to risk that.

    It's a shame, because, i really would buy OS X for PC, and i'd even give them tip.

    that was my 3 cents.
  • by theolein (316044) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @08:52PM (#10482736) Journal
    Apple cannot do this. For multiple reasons that have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with marketshare and market forces.

    If Apple were to switch, it would start at point zero, with no applications, just as it did in 2000 with the Mac OSX public beta. It would not even have the Classic layer to run the old Mac apps, although that is less of a concern these days. These days Mac OSX on x86 would either have to have some very fancy easy to use WINE like environment, so that Windows users could use their current apps until OSX equivalents came along, or run Windows in a VMWare like environment.

    Also, you would have to kiss MSOffice for OSX goodbye. You, as an OOo user might think this is insignificant, but it sure as hell isn't to those who use it.

    Then, there would be the hardware problem that people like the article author always always forget. Apple makes most of its money from hardware. Do you think Apple would still make as much money and sell as many units if the OS was able to run on x86 commmodity hardware? Obviously not. That would force the price of the OS up. How many newbies would then pay for the OS?

    Talking of newbies, how many of the gazillions of windows users who currently have never heard of OSX, or think OSX is still the same crap they used back in 1995, will fork over $100 plus for an OS without Office, without games and without other pro applications? I seriously doubt that Apple's pro apps like FCP and Logic alone are enough to sustain the platform, not to mention the intensely pissed off current users on PPC.

    That means that the only people buying OSX on x86 would be geeky types like those here who are so fucking stingy (and I don't mean poor - I'm poor yet I use a Mac because it's so good) that they bitch about a $100 price difference in a computer. The vast majority would not use OSX or even think about switching.

    Apple's only recourse in this case would be to make an x86 mainboard, using a special OpenFirmware with no bios, such as current Mac mainboards do, to make it incompatible with other x86 machines so that it would not encroach on Microsoft's Windows territory too much and so that it would keep users from using other x86 hardware.

    And the advantage of that over its PPC platform is right around zero, so why even think about it.

    Apple could have done this exactly once in the past. Back in 2000 when everyone was started to switch to OSX and there were no OSX applications for the new OS, Apple could have gone with a proprietry x86 motherboard and kept on producing a few last PPC machines until their classic MacOS users had switched and there were enough new OSX apps. That time passed as soon as new apps started coming out for OSX and people started investing money in them.

    The only thing Apple could possibly do to make money on x86 these days is possibly port its Cocoa frameworks and devtools over to windows to compete against MS' .Net stuff, but here again, who would actually buy this? .Net is far enough advanced that it is the king of Windows and no big shops would move to Cocoa.

    I am so so fucking tired of some one night wonders asking this same stupid question, when it is so obvious that it is just a geek cheapskate wet dream.
    • by burns210 (572621) <maburns@gmail.com> on Saturday October 09, 2004 @11:33PM (#10483544) Homepage Journal
      Software:
      Jobs did it in the past, supply Fat Binaries of the software, that run on(yup) multiple architectures(Nextstep ran on PPC and x86, a single application could run on either system.) the same idea would happen hear, keep OS X on ppc, while selling hardware, but supply to developers(in droves, give it away like CANDY to anyone who has taken a CS class, try and flood the market for the new sytem) the x86 system for development of fat binaries.

      Port all inhouse software to fat binaries, and let longtime developers get free advanced copies of the OS to develop on, etc.

      Userbase:
      Have a long developer-only release... lots of beta and make sure that the x86 version is superior to longhorn, and release BEFORE longhorn.

      While handing out OS X86(clever, ay?) to developers and creating a buzz, turn your back on piracy. LET the piracy nuts get copies, let them be beta testers and buzz spreaders.

      Apple could make the OS source code compatible with many, if not most/all software for porting. They have done it before with Next, it CAN be done.

      How would it work? Well, Apple would need to merge towards a software company. Buy a few more pro apps and secure a nitch. Then, Apple would have to strike pre-announcement contracts with atleast 1, if not 2+ OEMs to sell the systems on... IBM and Sony would be the most obvious. Get them to be able to sell systems when the 1.0 gets released.

      My Opinion:
      Would it work? Iffy, I would say the Jobs could do it if he took both of Apple's feet and dove 100% into the plan. He would completely gamble the companies 4+ billion dollar savings, and maybe survive. I own a 12" powerbook and I think that owning the hardware makes the system better. Yes, it could(maybe) be done. No, I don't think Jobs would do it. Yes, I would support apple if they actually were that gutsy.
  • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @09:13PM (#10482864)
    Darwin, Mac OS X's unix-ish core, has been ported to x86 and Microsoft's upcoming Longhorn OS seems to be disliked by everyone but Microsoft. If Apple released Mac OS X to compete with Longhorn, would you switch?"

    For starters, OSX is tight because buying a mac is much like buying a console gaming system. All the hardware is pretty much going to be the same across the board. They do not have to worry about compatibility and bugs regarding AMD, intel, SiS, and hundreds of other hardware vendors. This, in my opinion is why Apple's systems are slightly more stable than your average Windows box. I say this with the assumption that both the OSX and XP boxes are unmaintained and run by users who do not keep their systems optimized.

    I would not run a x86 Darwin, personally. Linux serves all my non-gaming needs as it is, and in my opinion, is a superior OS compared to Darwin. I don't really feel like typing up the many reasons for this, but I see no point in doing something less with something that costs more.

    As for XP versus OSX.. I can't say much, except there is an enormous supply of business software and games. It would take many years for OSX to catch up. As much as people hate to admit, Windows 2000/XP are the standard for business workstations. Save yourself the responses like "I AM A DEVELOPER AND I USE LOONIX", as you are not the standard. I am speaking of the masses who do data entry, clerical, medical, and other types of work.

    BTW, if you have not bothered to take into consideration, Longhorn is far from a finished product. Of course people are going to say bad things about it, it's incomplete and very broken at this point. Mind you, if you are going to buy into things that don't even exist yet, does that mean you are the type who is going to decide on your next game console by the preliminary marketing specifications of the console without taking into consideration developer support and the final technical specs of the retail product?

  • Yes, definitely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday October 09, 2004 @10:20PM (#10483197) Homepage
    My biggest objection to Mac has been the cost and inflexibility of their hardware. Give an HCL and I'd happily give it a try. McSoftware is kind of expensive but I'll give them that.

    It'll be a pleausre to consign my last Windows partition to the scrap heap of history.

  • Geeks === Cheep (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amichalo (132545) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @11:20AM (#10485998)
    Let's all face it, the reason us geeks don't, in general, buy Macs, music on-line, software, or manuals is that we feel this sort of entitlement that we know how to get around so many things and it becomes a fun game. There was that 'secret' BBS that had all the copyprotection hacks for Kings Quest and if you are 'smart', you can use Linux for FREE and don't have to pay the 'Microsoft Tax'.

    It has been engrained in us that we don't HAVE to pay because we can figure out how not to and sub-contiously, paying, and especailly OVER-paying is analogous to being a non-tech who has no other choice and so we reject it with all out beings.

    So get the hell over yourselves. You know what, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, and Macs are awesome, 'premium prices' be damned. Take a look at teh 64-bit all-in-one iMac G5 that starts at $1,300 including a gorgeous display. If you've never been to the Apple Store, do yourself a favor and go.

    So to answer the question, no, I wouldn't switch because the x86 architecture is a thing of the past living in the present. The best computing experience these days is coming out from Apple and that includes both the software and the hardware.

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