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Apple opens up…againRaven Zachary, August 10, 2006 @ 7:32 pm ET
This week, Apple is holding its annual developer’s conference – WWDC. It’s historically not a conference with much open source activity, but since Apple’s aquisition of NeXT in the mid 90′s, the company inherited an operating system with open source underpinnings. This operating system eventually became the basis of Mac OS X.
Apple made a big deal about open source when it announced the release of Mac OS X. It open-sourced the BSD Unix operating system underneath the new OS and christened it with the name ‘Darwin’. This spawned a community initiative called OpenDarwin, that has since closed down. Why? Take a look at the OpenDarwin site for the details, and I also encourage to read a May 2006 editorial by InfoWorld’s Tom Yager about this.
Apple has taken a fair amount of heat in the past few months about its level of ‘openness’. At this week’s WWDC, it has made some new overtures regarding its commitment to open source that may be drawing some skeptics back into the fold. Take a look at a mailing list post by Ernest Prabhakar, Apple’s Open Source Product Manager outlining the company’s WWDC open source announcements.
For one, it has made the Intel kernel sources available, which was the major point discussed in Tom Yager’s editorial mentioned above. Tom posted a follow-up entry a few days ago about this announcement.
Apple also launched Mac OS Forge, which hosts the source code repositories of five Apple open source projects, and presumably more over time. You can a take a look at Apple’s open source site to see what the company is doing.
Apple’s success or failure in the market is not tied to its level of openness, but it is a mistake for any company to close down an open source project (or limit access to it) for any reason other than lack of community interest. This was not the case with the Darwin project. Apple seems to have realized this and is pursuing a path of openness.
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