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Unraveling The Mac OS X Linux Kernel Myth: Part 1
According to proponents of this myth, Apple will, could, or should shortly replace Mac OS X's kernel with Linux. They're wrong; here's why.

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This myth certainly isn't new at all, but there's been such a flurry of rampant speculation about kernel changes in Leopard that Apple's Dr. Ernest Prabhakar, the product manager for Mac OS X, recently took the unusual step of pointing out the difference between speculation and fact.

Why the Myth was Woven
This myth is of the wishful thinking type; the promise of extra speed sounds like a good thing, and who doesn't like Linux? Everyone talks about it, and the big guns are behind it.

The FUD mongers like to bring up this myth to suggest that Mac OS X is simply a bad product, or that Apple has no clue about what they're doing. Like many myths, it has been retold to the point where it has achieved an illusion of credibility that borders on inevitable certainty.

The Myth Weavers
Beyond the usual suspects that just enjoy trash talking, this myth is also frequently rewoven by well meaning people interested in the possibility, who simply aren't aware of the issues involved. So let's take a closer look.

Unraveled with Extreme Prejudice
On the surface, the idea sounds great: replace bits of Mac OS X that date back to 1985 with today's Linux: the buzzword compliant, speedy, standardized tech darling of the moment. There are three problems however:
  1. A kernel replacement would be extraordinarily difficult, time consuming, and a major investment of development resources for Apple. This is simply overlooked anytime the myth is retold, but it factors strongly against the idea.
  2. Reasons for wanting do this are based on faulty information. I'll show why.
  3. Reasons for not moving to Linux are clear and substantial. I'll give examples.

Problem 1: Major investment required
The first issue has already been outlined in Unraveling the Copy/Paste Development Myth. Further details on why it would be so difficult would not be very interesting reading, and will be tacitly ignored by anyone who thinks it's a good idea anyway, so I won't waste any more words on it. Instead, I'll unravel the ideas behind problem number two, then present why problem number three rips the myth apart completely.

Problem 2: A weak idea based on faulty information.
In the previous article, I outlined the main reasons that have been given for replacing the kernel of Mac OS X with Linux:

Let's take a look at why these reasons for changing the Mac OS X kernel really have little merit, particularly when compared with the effort involved. But first, let me say how much I like the word buzzworthy. I thought I had coined it, but no.

As a further aside, I also thought I had coined the word complexification, but Google says no. Wikipedia provides what is perhaps the most appropriate definition ever.

Continued: The Buzz of Linux


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