Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Dvorak stirs the pot

John Dvorak seems to thrive on controversy (much like the rest of journalism). His latest claim is that while Apple’s switch to Intel processors could threaten Microsoft, it also “could actually be most dangerous to the emerging Linux OS environment.”

Linux has other problems too. It’s likely that developer interest will wane when Apple is fully engaged on the X86 platform. While Apple ran on the PowerPC chip the amount of developer effort in the Open Source camps was nil. But now that Apple is using the same processor as everyone else, targeting the Macs will now be an easy decision to make. This will be at the expense of Linux.

And then there are the numerous developers who simply do not subscribe to the notions of the Open Source Foundation and its rigid licensing requirements. They will quickly see profit opportunities for OS-X/86 development without having to worry about what has to be shared and what can be sold for profit.

Huh? Dvorak doesn’t seem to grok the Linux and Open Source community. First of all, one of the first things that’s going to happen is that developers will port Linux to the new Intel-based Macs. Just like they’ve ported Linux to the XBox, Playstation, Game Boy, and just about every cell phone and PDA out there. It might not be the most practical thing to do, but it’s a challenge, and therefore it will be done.

Secondly, I can’t really see many Open Source developers suddenly getting dollar signs in their eyes just because Macs have a new CPU. Why should they? How many open source projects are written in assembly language? Not many, I can assure you. Mostly, they’re written in Java, C/C++, Perl, and Python. Some are written to be cross-platform to begin with. Others are targetted at a particular operating system. But few of them give a hoot about what kind of CPU they run under. And then there are the web-based projects built around PHP, Ruby, and/or Javascript, among others. These tend to be even more platform agnostic. They don’t care if they’re running under Windows, OSX, Linux, or FreeBSD. In fact they don’t care if they’re running on a desktop, a mainframe, or a Commodore 64.

The way I see it, Linux and its cousins have a lot to gain. With only one CPU to target, work will become easier for those working on Mac emulators. I don’t imagine that it will be long before we see something like WINE. Maybe MINE is in our future?

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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