I thought OSX on Intel was just another rumor fueled by the craving for an alternative X86 desktop operating system. This longing leads to some wishful thinking.
Will OSX turn a sow's ear into a silk purse?
Will OSX "X86" run on a typical X86 P.C.? Maybe, but don't expect Apple's legendary fit, finish and integration when you run OSX on a bargain basement collection of P.C. parts.
Apple historically kept their O.S., development kit and hardware in a closed ecosystem. MS Windows, GNU/Linux and Solaris have a head start on dealing with hardware that is differentiated by more than keyboard color. John Dvorak
seems to think that OSX's "superior performance against Longhorn" will help it grab X86 market share from Windows and Linux. I found this interesting because even though most of us know that GNOME desktop performance has room for improvement
, on my Pismo G3 powerbook GNOME 2.4 (yellowdog linux) was noticibly faster than OSX Jaguar. And since it is difficult to detect a consistant difference in desktop performance between GNU/Linux and Solaris, it seems that both are contenders for displacing Microsoft Windows desktops on Intel.
Platform hopping is becoming more popular. IBM seems to be demphasizing the X86 architecture, Apple is switching from PowerPC to Intel. Microsoft is rumored to be planning a switch from Intel to PowerPC in their game consoles. And of course, Sun's own Solaris is now available on Intel's X86, AMD (32 and 64 bit) and UltraSPARC architectures. Is it possible that finally, almost a quarter century after IBM's first personal computer introduced a near monoculture in desktop CPUs and Operating Systems, the industry is going multiplatform? I should confess that one of my first assignments at a medical device company was to replace any Sun specific code with the posix equivalent. If any of my old friends there happen to be reading this and are renegotiating vendors after the competing product was EOL'd, I hope they know it wouldn't be difficult to switch back to Sun. Writing portable code certainly helps negotiations with hardware vendors. Portable operating systems such as OSX, GNU/Linux and Solaris will help reintroduce competition to desktop hardware.
I'd like to see the numbers on which Steve Jobs based his claim that Intel work/watt is better than PowerPC and I'd like to see the same benchmark on AMD, Via and UltraSPARC (Niagra when it's available.) I'm sure the smart people at Apple do know how to make cool products without intel, they just chose not to at the moment. As Greg Matter notes, it would be wiser for Apple to move to an open architecture.
It will be a while before I consider buying new Apple hardware. Until then, here's a fun JDS (GNOME) menu tweak, it takes me about 2 seconds to switch my Sun Ray appliance from Linux on X86 to Solaris on X86 or Solaris on UltraSPARC (see image.) We just added some utswitches to the menu so we could quickly choose between Sun Ray servers. This is a user tweak, not a planned O.S. feature, but it gives you an idea of just how stateless the Sun Ray appliances are. They can switch from one user running GNU/linux X86 to another user running Solaris on UltraSPARC in less time than it takes to adjust the height of my desk chair. The resulting desktops appear and perform almost identically (though the UltraSPARC server in our lab is the fastest hardware on my menu.) I often have to type uname -a in a terminal to remind myself which OS and architecture I'm logged into.