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Scuttlebutt: Torvalds Thinks OS X Is Crap


When Will Knight of ZDNet U.K. published his article, Torvalds Rips Mac OS X, I had to find out what was going on.

I had just seen Linus Torvalds at LinuxWorld N.Y., and was impressed with his affable, easygoing nature. Here at O'Reilly, we've covered the Linux space extensively, and we even have a Linux DevCenter devoted to Linux-related technologies.

In a sense, I had always considered the Open Source movement and Apple kindred spirits -- even though in many areas, Apple is about as proprietary as a company can be. So why kindred? For me it's the commitment to innovation and the somewhat rebel attitude that is the common ground between the two entities.

Then Apple's move to open-source code within Darwin along with the BSD heart pumping away inside of Mac OS X, well, the two worlds coming together seemed inevitable.

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But my illusion was shattered when I read Will Knight's story.

Unfortunately, Knight's article lacks detail about why Torvalds allegedly feels this way. Other than the quote about Apple making design mistakes, the only real concrete criticism I can find about Torvalds is this statement:

"Torvalds writes that, even back in 1997, he foresaw compatibility problems between the new operating system and older applications, due to a lack of memory protection -- a safeguard that stops applications influencing each other and the operating system -- in old Mac applications."

Unless I'm reading this wrong, that criticism is of Mac OS 9's lack of protected memory, and the applications associated with it. Well, that's certainly not news to Mac users all over the planet who are eagerly awaiting a fully functional Mac OS X while their OS 9 machines are rebooting. Sure it's going to be hard to port some of those older apps.

So I have to go back to my initial thought when I read the article ... Why would Torvalds want to go on record with these statements?

I'm curious what you have to say about this.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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