Friday, August 28, 2009

4 reasons why Apple is not criticized by Linux / Open Source proponents

On Wednesday the 26th of August 2009, the Free Software Movement launched the Windows7sins site. This was just days before Apple released its Snow Leopard OS, prompting a lot of criticisms from some corners of the blogosphere  that the FSF is giving Apple a free ride. I simply disagree with such criticisms for the following four reasons.

Reason 1 - Mac OS X is Open Source
Mac OS X is  in full conformity with Unix OS and is built on Mach 3.0 and FreeBSD 5 comprising over a 100 Open Source products. Besides major components of Mac OS X, including the core UNIX, are made available under Apple’s Open Source license, allowing developers and students to view source code, learn from it and submit suggestions and modifications. Can anyone of those leveling criticisms against the FSF confidently say that about Microsoft? This alone is enough reason to give Apple a breathing space when it comes to Open Source! I don't think I can say that about Microsoft and their Windows OS. 

Reason 2 - Size
There is no sense in wasting limited resources trying to fight Apple when they have just a small fraction of the OS market share. Microsoft is the world's dominant computer software vendor and as such makes sense to fight them. Why spend time fighting someone closer to you in size and market share when the two of you have a much larger "enemy" in common?

Reason 3 - Choice
I have more choice when it comes to Apple than Microsoft. Anyone that buys the hugely expensive Mac computers is consciously choosing to use Mac OS X. This is because Apple manufactures its own hardware and as such has every right to preinstall it with their own OS. But Microsoft is just a software vendor that has used its dominant market share to get OEMs to preinstall their machines with Windows. This gives little choice to end users who purchase such systems. 90% of the time, you always have only one choice of OS when you buy a new non Apple computer- Windows. Why should such a situation not be fought against?

Reason 4 Attitude
The attitudes of both Microsoft and Apple towards the Open Source movement are two worlds apart. Apple actively contributes to and respects that Open Source movements. Microsoft on the other hand, treats the Open Source movement with disdain and spits on them at any given opportunity. There is more here and here about Apples' approach to the Open Source world.

Apple has its bad sides no doubt, but being an active Linux and Open Source proponent, I am inclined to judge Apple solely on its treatment of the FOSS movement and nothing else.

There are many other reasons why Linux / Open Source proponents do not waste time bashing Apple like they do Windows, but I am just restricting myself to these four basic reasons. 

Do you think Open Source/ Linux proponents should actively chase after Apple? Share your thoughts.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 9 comments

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