MacOS X x86 kernel source "in flux"

— 12:38 PM on May 18, 2006

InfoWorld reports that the open-source status of MacOS X's Darwin kernel for x86 systems is "in flux," according to Apple. The x86 version of the kernel was closed off after Apple's x86 switch in an effort to thwart users wishing to run OS X on standard PCs, but Apple may end up reconsidering this move after the upcoming release of its Intel-based server and workstation systems. According to InfoWorld, open OS kernels are currently popular in fields such as biosciences and meteorology, where users "hack OS kernels to slim them down, alter the balance between throughput and computing, and to open them to the resources of a massive grid."

Apple's current high-end workstation and server machines are still PowerPC-based, and since the PPC version of the Darwin kernel remains open, users are free to tweak it to their liking. However, Apple's announced move to x86 workstations and servers later this year will remove this opportunity, which could hurt the company's popularity in such demanding professional fields. Perhaps pressure from this market combined with the current "flux" situation could prompt Apple to change its mind and release the source for OS X's x86 kernel.

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