Linux-Kongress: Linux Foundation Declares OS X a Luxury Jail

Oct 09, 2008

As a director of the Linux Foundation and a Linux SCSI developer, James Bottomley opened the Linux-Kongress in Hamburg, Germany this week with a keynote investigating the commonalities and differences among the various Open Source operating systems. He describes Linux as the liveliest variant among them.

The British developer didn't mince words. In a short historical rundown he described Linux as the UNIX derivative long awaited by higher educational institutions and private developers outside the U.S. in that they could avoid the lengthy legal battles of the 1980s and early 1990s. A series of these battles involved parties arguing over when and how they could use BSD derivatives as open source.

Bottomley shot right in on BSD by quoting engineering director Jordan Hubbard's assertion that FreeBSD is the favorite Open Source desktop. Naturally Hubbard, who is with Apple, meant the Mac OS X. Rather than challenge him on that point, Bottomley instead likened the OS X to a luxury jail and that Microsoft users are clearly finding themselves in one with dirty toilets in comparison. Mac users, he says, can't even see the cell bars for the plasma screens surrounding them. He emphasized that Apple might participate in Open Source, but that it gives little in return and doesn't disclose many of its components.

Bottomley claims that Linux is a different story altogether and differentiates itself from the other systems in many ways. By his assessment many projects define themselves based on a series of abstract values, whereas Linux relies mainly on the technical competence of its developers and the maturity of its code. The underlying motivation of Linux isn't even the determining factor as long as the code patches are clearly visible to maintainers from a technical perspective. Bottomley claims that this "disparate value" approach is what makes the Linux community as strong as it is.

Bottomley ended his keynote emphasizing the advantages to this behavior. Especially companies can be sure that code they contribute will be viewed and enhanced from as many angles as possible. This fosters valuable contributions in light of millions of lines of code, the nature of which might not exist for projects such as Open Solaris.

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  • Claims explained

    You are right, I missed some links to the original presentation slides, which had not been linked at the Congress website at the time of writing that article back in October.

    Bottomley based most of his claims on the old BSD vs. GPL argument that developers such as Apple who use code under a BSD license have no mandadory obligations to "give back" their imporvements. he cited Linux Foundations CEO Jim Zemlin on the "Jail Analogy". He especially named proprietary divers in Mac OS X a problem, if I recall correctly after all that time. You can watch the full video of the talk at http://streaming.linux-maga...vents/lk08/archive/jbottomley/ and read his slides from, the mentioned section are on pages 10ff.
  • Apple OS-X as Jail

    It would of been nice to read his reasons for the claim that Apple OS-X is comparable to a luxury jail. None have been cited in this article. To make the statement, and publish it, without the supporting reasons makes this a weaker article than it could be.
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