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iTux
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:35 pm    Post subject: Should Apple write Linux drivers for Mac hardware? Reply with quote

Hi,

I had this thought after seeing some concerns about Linux support for more recent Mac hardware (ex: Airport Extreme, iMac G5, etc.).

If Apple would write drivers for Linux, then these concerns could mostly go away. Apple could potentially increase its hardware sales.

What do you think? :)

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that Darwin is open source. Hence, aren't the driver sources available as well?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know Apple makes most of the money with their software and not with their hardware... So they want Mac OS X to be installed on their systems. This is the only way to sell their software products.

In consequense of this they want to avoid running linux on Apple hardware :( So they won't write drivers...

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to see Apple open source some device drivers at the very least I'd be happy at a purely selfish level. Apple won't though. They want you to run OS X so they can sell you OS X software. Bah! However, hardware vendors that have helped out the open source community like nVidia enjoy cult like status among users.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_savage wrote:
I think that Darwin is open source. Hence, aren't the driver sources available as well?

Jens


Some drivers are proprietary I think like the ATI video card (for video acceleration).

I guess if all drivers would be open source someone could simply "translate" them to Linux.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

corsair wrote:
As far as I know Apple makes most of the money with their software and not with their hardware... So they want Mac OS X to be installed on their systems. This is the only way to sell their software products.

In consequense of this they want to avoid running linux on Apple hardware :( So they won't write drivers...


I don't think Apple sells too much software to Gentoo users... :) I think OSes like Mac OS X and Gentoo Linux or Debian etc. cover different markets.

Also, if Mac OS X is a big deal. Why Apple allows its systems to be sold dual-boot with YellowDog Linux (kind of a Redhat for PowerPC).
http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/products/apple/

Maybe they are scared only of Gentoo Linux taking over OS X. Pretty scary with that Gentoo MacOS. :)
And also
emerge world
says it all. :)

Other opinions?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Windows has about what 95% of the market share? Apple's got about 3% and linux users along with the other misfits hold onto the other 2%. So if you were Apple and your main group of users are either non-techinical people that want something that "just works" and has a cute face, read OS X, or are graphics/film people what does apple stand to benfit from chasing that other 2%?

To be sterotypical we're a highly techinical highly opinonated group of users. Apple would find it costly and difficult to change it's whole marketing stratrgy to only appeal to 2% of the market. They'd do much better to stick their current market demograph and appeal to Windows users that have begun to see Apple as viable alternative, mainly due to the iPod, IMHO.

The only thing I can see which would change the whole playing field here is Palladum. If Microsoft is able to partner with all of the x86 hardware guys so it's no longer possible to buy Palladum-free x86 hardware, I think you'd see a surge of Open Source developers and users head to Apple along with a cordinated surge of Apple to release driver specs and source to cater and convice those users to jump archtectures.

Or I may just be talking out of my ass... who knows.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10k1 wrote:
Windows has about what 95% of the market share? Apple's got about 3% and linux users along with the other misfits hold onto the other 2%. So if you were Apple and your main group of users are either non-techinical people that want something that "just works" and has a cute face, read OS X, or are graphics/film people what does apple stand to benfit from chasing that other 2%?


Darwin, the underlying Unix system of Mac OS X, is made available on x86. However, I don't think Apple official supports it or market it.

Here, I am more thinking about having the drivers somewhere but without official support. I am not talking about marketing Macs for Linux users. I agree with you that Apple should market only OS X for its systems.

10k1 wrote:

The only thing I can see which would change the whole playing field here is Palladum. If Microsoft is able to partner with all of the x86 hardware guys so it's no longer possible to buy Palladum-free x86 hardware, I think you'd see a surge of Open Source developers and users head to Apple along with a cordinated surge of Apple to release driver specs and source to cater and convice those users to jump archtectures.


Note: Palladium is a software implementation for Windows. Changing hardware platform is pointless if you don't use Windows... :)

A hardware component is TCPA which drivers already exist for Linux. Could be useful to store your ssh private key. :)

Also, I think it would be more likely that they get a PowerPC motherboard from some other supplier (ex: Pegasos or other) than buy a Mac. (in the event that impossible to use Linux on x86).


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iTux wrote:

Darwin, the underlying Unix system of Mac OS X, is made available on x86. However, I don't think Apple official supports it or market it.

Here, I am more thinking about having the drivers somewhere but without official support. I am not talking about marketing Macs for Linux users. I agree with you that Apple should market only OS X for its systems.


They'd have no reason to open source the drivers and add them to Darwin project for the reason you stated, Apple wants to sell OS X. How would releasing their drivers help them with this goal? If they're not selling OS X and software (read as: making money) what reason is there for them to throw us a bone?

iTux wrote:

Note: Palladium is a software implementation for Windows. Changing hardware platform is pointless if you don't use Windows... :)

A hardware component is TCPA which drivers already exist for Linux. Could be useful to store your ssh private key. :)

Also, I think it would be more likely that they get a PowerPC motherboard from some other supplier (ex: Pegasos or other) than buy a Mac. (in the event that impossible to use Linux on x86).


iTux


I have very little knowledge of the Palladium project and TCPA and all that crap. The way I understand it (more than likely incorrectly) was that it would be hardware security enhancement to allow the operating system to have direct control over what the hardware could and couldn't do. For example rip a CD.

Of course as you pointed out this is incorrect so my whole paragraph is a mute point.

Will Apple open source drivers? I doubt it. Why? If it's not gonna make them money they're not going to do it.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10k1 wrote:

They'd have no reason to open source the drivers and add them to Darwin project for the reason you stated, Apple wants to sell OS X. How would releasing their drivers help them with this goal? If they're not selling OS X and software (read as: making money) what reason is there for them to throw us a bone?


Well, if Linux would not have run on my iBook or if only half the hardware would work, I would not have bought it. :) Anyway.

10k1 wrote:

I have very little knowledge of the Palladium project and TCPA and all that crap. The way I understand it (more than likely incorrectly) was that it would be hardware security enhancement to allow the operating system to have direct control over what the hardware could and couldn't do. For example rip a CD.


If you have some interest in this, I would recommend reading the docs from IBM:
http://www.research.ibm.com/gsal/tcpa/


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We need kernel hackers!
Kernel hackers, go through Darwin and make the drivers!

Don't worry, I'm studying the kernel, so that one day I'll be able to help out.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

porodzila wrote:
We need kernel hackers!
Kernel hackers, go through Darwin and make the drivers!

Don't worry, I'm studying the kernel, so that one day I'll be able to help out.


Exactly, we just need some crazy Darwin developers and a lot coffee. Too bad I'm an idiot otherwise I'd help out.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

corsair wrote:
As far as I know Apple makes most of the money with their software and not with their hardware...

Huh? Apple makes money selling hardware. They develop OS X (and the iApps) because it makes buying their hardware more attractive.

I would guess that their lack of support for Linux is simply because people running Linux on Macs are a small percentage of a small percentage, and Apple does not perceive supporting them as being an efficient use of their resources. Remember, those resources could be used to improve OS X instead, which would please a much bigger portion of Mac owners.

The other problem is that some of the drivers contain code licensed from other companies, probably under NDA, which Apple cannot publish. AFAIK, all drivers which are not in this category are in the publicly available Darwin source. Darwin drivers use IOKit, and so are not all that simple to port to Linux, but it's certainly possible.

Unfortunately, the APSL is not compatible with the GPL, so you can't legally distribute a Linux kernel with drivers which contain Darwin code.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2004 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, all that really needs to be done is for somebody with a good mind to go through the code and re-write it from scratch, just like Linus did.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The framework is there with the whole Darwin thing, isn't it? I really think Apple should pump some cash into that project and push towards getting open source Darwin and Linux drivers for all their hardware. Apple benifits from the work that goes on in Darwin so how come the rest of the open source community doesn't benifit from Apple? I'm tired of feeling like I'm the skinny kid on the playground...
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2004 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, as someone has already mentioned, just because Darwin itself is Open Source, doesn't mean that all the drivers are. However, the problem is not that the Free Software community is incapible of writing drivers. The problem is that if you are given a complex piece of hardware and no documentation, it is often incredibly difficult to figure out how it works.

When faced with the choice between reverse engineering Apple's AE drivers and buying a USB wifi adaptor, most of us chose to buy the USB adaptor. Some people have started down the reverse engineering path, but it's a rare few who have both the time and the talent to succeed there.

What would help is if Apple made it a policy to only deal with hardware suppliers who made their specifications public. The four big problems for Free operating systems on new Mac hardware at the moment are sleep, 3d acceleration, AE and the modem. All of these could be solved by us if Ati, Nvidia, Broadcom and Conexant made their documentation public.

Why should Apple do this? It makes them look good, in two ways. First is the touchy-feely "all hackers love Apple" thing, similar to what IBM is experiencing now. Second is that people who use Free operating systems tend to be "higher up" the IT food chain, and thus other people respect their opinion. Look at the success Mozilla Firefox is currently having, simply due to word of mouth started from the hacker crowd.

If Apple isn't careful, they could get the flip side of this. For instance, with my USB wifi dongle, people often ask me "Doesn't Apple have wifi builtin?", and my answer is "Yes, but I found out that it wouldn't work with my software, so I had to return my AE and get this stupid dongle instead." I gave a similar kind of answer when someone asked if I was gonna get an Airport Express. It does make people think twice about whether Apple is really much better than Microsoft when it comes to the lock-in issue.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What would help is if Apple made it a policy to only deal with hardware suppliers who made their specifications public.

True, but that is not going to happen for video cards right now. They basically have to use ATI or NVidia. It would be suicide for Apple to have such a policy before one or the other opens their specs. Sad but true.

So Apple has little choice in the matter, and it's really the component manufacturers' fault. I'm not sure how we can best encourage them to open their specs (if not their source as well). ATI and NVidia certainly aren't losing any sales from being closed. Maybe it's a golden opportunity for a new 3D card maker to enter the market with fully open drivers and scoop up the Linux segment.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Apple has little choice in the matter" . . . bullshit. If you are a component manufacturer, and Apple chooses your part, that's upwards of 100,000 units shipped. If they say they want public documentation on all new parts, it will happen. Big customers can influence their suppliers like that.

Stop perpetuating this lie that so many companies hide behind: "it's not our fault, we have a contract with our supplier." Who chose the supplier? Who entered into the contract? Who paid for it all?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who would you suggest they buy their video cards from?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've missed something. It's not like Apple go down to their local electronics store and pick up a shopping trolley full of Radeons. The companies do communicate about Apple's needs.

Consider what would happen if Apple said to ATI and Nvidia "we would really like to use your chips, but we've made the decision that all our suppliers must make their docs publicly available." Each company would need to go away and really think about how much money their keep-the-docs-closed strategy is making them, versus how much money Apple makes them as a customer. Both companies would comply. (Hint: "keep-the-docs-closed" is not a strategy which makes real money, it is just a way for managers feel superior to their competitors.)

I understand that if you are used to being a pure consumer, you might not be used to the idea that the customer-supplier relationship can shape products and processes in industry. A more general example of this occurs when manufacturing companies implement some kind of quality management scheme---they usually demand that all their suppliers meet some kind of standards, and their suppliers comply, because nobody wants to lose a good commercial relationship.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2004 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

toojays wrote:

Consider what would happen if Apple said to ATI and Nvidia "we would really like to use your chips, but we've made the decision that all our suppliers must make their docs publicly available."


and if there's some kind of agreement through all the manufactors not to open their docs? but to lower the prices a little. to whom shall apple go? and if it's easier just to accept this policy as long as they get a chip that fits their need in _their_ software environment? why should someone release the specs of a piece of software at all? because he likes to. because he sees the power of open source and is not dependend on money.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2004 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

toojays wrote:
Consider what would happen if Apple said to ATI and Nvidia "we would really like to use your chips, but we've made the decision that all our suppliers must make their docs publicly available."


I agree that Apple should tell the card makers that they would like the specs to be open. I was just saying that if they won't do it, then Apple can't pressure them directly by threatening to switch suppliers.

toojays wrote:
"keep-the-docs-closed" is not a strategy which makes real money, it is just a way for managers feel superior to their competitors.


I also agree that closed source & specs are not beneficial to the bottom line at the end of the day. One example: I think that the first video card manufacturer to open their driver source will get a rather large number of sales to Linux users, particularly on non-x86 platforms.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tesseract wrote:
One example: I think that the first video card manufacturer to open their driver source will get a rather large number of sales to Linux users, particularly on non-x86 platforms.


really? are we such a high number of users depending on open sourced specs? and in relationship to all the users who can live with binaries? i dont believe we can be so valuable for a company that they open their sources, their product, just that some guys, who dont just accept this situation, be happy and buy the product.
open source is some kind of releasing your product to the public and lossing control of. at least most companies think so.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't expect it, and they shouldn't .
They should make live easier for customers who likes to use linux (or BSD, like OpenBSD) on their Macs.
Yes, they should open their docs, but, as they use similar Hardware on the G5 as IBM uses at the JS20, I guess many things are becoming more easy.

I guess the graphic-card thing is equal to the pc-world. There isn't a big gap right now.

Yes, if Linux wouldn't run on my Mac, I would not take a Mac into any thought when I buy a new System.
As good as OSX is, its not the point for me. I could easily find Software like iMovie on other Systems (like Kino) and I must not use OSX.
I like to have a choice. If Apple wouldn't allow that, I would buy an AMD or a used Sun Wkstn (I use Gentoo on a Sparc ultra 5, its good, OK, I'm using a very old SILO 1.3.2, but it runs fine....and boots ;-) )

Cheers Frank
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2004 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think waiting for ati and nvidia to open their specs on new cards (which apple will always use) may be a dead end. perhaps we should try to convince ati and nvidia to compile their binary drivers for ppc/ppc64 so that we can at least have the same abilities as our x86 counterparts. hell, nvidia releases amd64 linux drivers. how big is that market right now anyway?
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