Dvorak's Own Goals

Yeah, I know he's just writing controversial stuff for the money. I mean, that's the only way anything penned by him is likely to make sense these days, right?

I also know it's a waste of time dissecting whatever Dvorak writes thoroughly (I don't have Gruber's staying power and panache) and that I'm basically dancing to his tune by even breaching the topic, but rather than ignoring him, I thought it would be interesting to try my hand at debunking the broader issues (as seen by him).

This all started when I just got my WWDC 2006 e-mail, actually. Despite my not having the time, cash (or, in fact, any real justification whatsoever) to go there to catch a glimpse of Leopard, I found it interesting reading about the OS Foundations Track within 30 seconds of noticing that Dvorak was spouting more inane drivel regarding Mac OS X going Open Source.

So the next thing I clicked was this link, which led me to Dvorak's latest.

Mark this moment, I am actually linking to his column...

Apparently, Mac OS X is not in risk of being replaced with Windows anymore. No, the way for Apple to annoy Microsoft and gain market share now involves running the convoy straight through the heart of wild penguin territory.

Erm. Hello? Has he ever heard of Darwin? Does he even know how Apple stopped releasing portions of the Intel Darwin source tree (especially XNU) in order to try to thwart all those people who were getting 10.4.3 to run on off-the-shelf PCs?

Is he even aware of the fact that you can't even compare Linux and Mac OS X in terms of the way they are defined? There are umpteen variants of Linux, a veritable thunderdome of distributions that come and go, coalescing around a few nodal points (such as RedHat, Debian, Slackware, etc.) and then breaking off again (Fedora, Ubuntu, etc.), squabbling for mind and market share.

There is no one Linux, regardless of how many script kiddies named Ne0 haunt IRC channels - despite its own (often self-inflicted) hype, it is by far the most diffuse UNIX-related concept out there right now once you step out of the kernel, and one of the reasons it has survived this long is precisely because it's a diffuse target.

However, there is one Mac OS X, same as there was one NeXTSTEP, and even though you could go out on a limb and compare Mach with the Linux kernel, the way the other bits are put together in either OS isn't comparable at all.

So, looking at those other bits, does Dvorak bite the bullet and state that Apple ought to release the Aqua source? No, he doesn't go there. He doesn't even breach that subject explicitly, or in any sort of acceptable detail. Why? Because it would be too obvious a mistake for them, and therefore for him to suggest - he likes to tickle your susceptibilities and get you to sponsor his publisher, and therefore knows how to stop before becoming too ridiculous.

Remember, he wants you to go back and read more of his column. Even better, to keep reading it now. So he builds on the Boot Camp hype to deflect the reader to the "Mac OS X on a beige PC" meme, first implying that Apple will go there after using the Boot Campers as guinea pigs (and a gauge for market interest) and then turning the table and looking at the opposite course of action.

Well, Mac OS X does run on off-the-shelf PCs. There is no shortage of them doing that out there, and if you have oodles of free time (or are simply unbelievably lucky with your hardware), you can, in fact, run 10.4.3 (and, according to the grapevine, even 10.4.5) on the bastard descendants of the Intel development kits Apple issued last year.

They will always be somewhat stunted machines, but the main point is that yes, you will be able to run Mac OS X on a generic machine - provided Apple somehow decides to perform hara-kiri and thrash their hardware business.

Likely? I think not. But Dvorak soldiers on, oblivious to the obviousness of this and several other points, in a daze reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote as the twin (ACME-issued) anvils of common sense and credibility crash to the ground around him.

Sadly, the anvils miss.

One of my particular gripes with this piece is the way he hints that Microsoft might actually be at risk from this - something that Cringely debunks at the beginning of his latest piece, before he too enters Looney Tunes territory at breakneck speed.

Cringely did, however, get the Burst suit somewhat right, so he's ahead in the score.

Then again, given that I have absolutely no idea how many own goals Dvorak has been scoring of late, that might not be too hard at all.