When the music stops, which CPU? Which OS?
By bnitz on Jun 07, 2005
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.