October 28, 2003

Apple releases source code for Darwin 7.0

Author: Chris Preimesberger

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In sync with the release of Apple's latest and greatest operating system, Panther (aka Mac OS 10.3), the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has released the source code of Darwin 7.0. The code became available at 8 p.m. Oct. 24, and various versions are now available for free download at Opensource.Apple.com.

Darwin, originally released in 1999, is a version of the BSD UNIX operating system that offers advanced networking, services (such as the Apache Web server), and support for both Macintosh and UNIX file systems. It serves as the core of MacOS X.

Darwin's kernel is based on FreeBSD and Mach 3.0 technologies and provides protected memory and pre-emptive multitasking. Darwin runs on PowerPC-based Macintosh computers. A version also is available for Intel x86-compatible boxes.

In addition, said Anuj Nayar, manager of Mac OS X developer relations, the CVS repository
has been updated for gcc, gdb, cups, efax, gimp-print, tcl, Rendezvous, StreamingServer, and HeaderDoc.

Open source becoming a central Apple strategy

That Apple is turning so much more of its attention toward the open source community is an obvious overarching business strategy.

"Well, you know, we relied on proprietary systems for a long, long time, and you can see how that turned out," said a tongue-in-cheek Apple sales engineer Bill Lloyd, who was demonstrating the new Panther system Tuesday at the O'Reilly Mac OS X conference here at the Westin Hotel.

"Look at all the good (open source) work that's already out there," Lloyd said. "We (Apple) need to make sure we can leverage the open source community as best we can from now on. We're trying to make some friends."

Compiler is the central improvement

Lloyd said that the performance of the FSF's GCC compiler included in Mac OS 10.3 has been "way improved" over previous Mac OS versions.

"Our compiler team has spent a lot of time and effort on improving it on the back end," Lloyd said. "Panther runs about 25 percent faster than Jaguar (Mac OS 10.2), and this is largely due to the compiler itself."

Previously, the compiler had run noticeably better on Intel x86 boxes than on PowerPCs, Lloyd said, because "that's what it was designed for. C++ was never a problem, but the PowerPC code it generates now is much more efficient, and optimized, than before. Before, GCC had some trouble with shared libraries and binaries, things like that ... and now those issues are gone."

MacOS 10.3 and Darwin 7.0 include the Safari browser, but the rendering engine is based on Konqueror, the file manager/browser for K Desktop Environment (KDE). "Our browser group did a lot of work to optimize it for Mac OS 10.3, put it all back into Safari, and then released it all back to the open source community," Lloyd said.

Apple is also releasing a binary version of Darwin.
More background detail is available at http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/darwin/.

NewsForge is now featuring a review of Mac OS 10.3 by contributor Chris Gulker.

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