Jason's Blog

Archive for June 7th, 2005

The move of Apple from PowerPC to Intel

by on Jun.07, 2005, under General

First, a note. Let me say that I’ve been a massive Mac nut for the last 5 years or so. I switch back when OS X first came out, and haven’t looked back. At all. I’m still a heavy linux/windows user (mostly linux, but I need a gaming system), but for my “mainstream” work, I use a Mac. This includes all my programming and development work. I’ve been impressed with the stability, unix core, ability to use linux applications, scripting, etc. etc. etc. The reasons are numerous. With that, todays switch to Intel was somewhat of a shock.

Apple has been using PowerPC’s and NON-intel chips since the beginning. The fact that they’re switching to Intel after 20+ years is fairly amazing. Taken a step further, it’s like Ford saying Chevy’s engines are better and they’re going to start using them – a pretty big switch overall. It’s a massive, massive change. And, with that change there’s a lot of trepidation.

I was talking to Christian about it, and fairly well freaking out. Apple is switching to Intel…. what does this mean? Is it the end? It’s a cold day in hell, that’s for sure! Something I never dreamed of happening is finally coming about. I’ve done a LOT of thinking about it, and I’m still very… shocked? upset? Scared? Hell yes, scared – because I don’t know what will happen the next few years. I almost, but not quite, want to spend the $1500 to get the development system to try out OS X on an intel system. And, here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Let me first post a link from insidemacgames.com. They have a post of comments from various mac game developers. The post to look at is the one from Ryan Gordon – a MAJOR mac developer/porter of windows games to Mac. That alone made me stop and think, and wonder if this might not be a bad idea, long term.
  2. Another issue is that though Apple is switching to Intel, no other details exist on this yet. A major difference between the two systems has been OpenFirmware. I can’t help but suspect that you won’t be able to run OS X on any Intel hardware – you’ll need an OpenFirmware enabled system. And that’s going to be a major major change, long term. I’m waiting and seeing though, because who knows what other considerations there might be?
  3. Some other notes. IBM really has dropped the ball on this. I like IBM as a company, particularly for what they do for Linux, but they REALLY screwed up with how they worked with Apple. I can’t help but think Apple should sue the crap out of IBM for failing to deliver on their promise of a 3ghz G5 with-in the given time. That’s a MAJOR money loss, not to mention loss of face, and overall, that kinda thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I believe you keep your commitments. IBM failing here is saying to me that the company really can’t be trusted.
  4. What does this mean for Microsoft? This could be the BIG issue. What happens if you could order a machine with OS X or Windows? Frankly, for me, there’s NO comparison. I’d choose OS X in a heartbeat. And, I know a LOT of other people who would do so as well, they just didn’t want to have to buy the machine. SO, if all of a sudden you can get a commercial Operating System that runs on fairly cheap hardware, that you can build/upgrade/etc. yourself, windows really should be concerned.

I want to stress another point on the Microsoft side of things. The server side in particularly. Windows Server is one of the only, really “easily” installed server operating systems for Intel chips. OS X Server is a NICE server OS, allowing easy configuration of almost every server component. I’ve often wished for those admin tools to exist on linux systems. This could be a MAJOR challenge to Windows Server. Linux works REALLY well, and blows both away, performance wise, but configuration has always been a pain. Not to mention thinks like library issues and other problems getting software to work on Linux systems. I don’t mind myself – I have fun doing the configuration, and know what I’m doing. BUT, what about all those non-tech admins? Those who just want a simple system to maintain, easy to configure, not have to know a lot of details, etc.? Windows Server has been one of the only options. OS X Server could change a LOT in the server arena. And I do mean a LOT. Let’s take a quick look here:

Windows 2003 Server, Standard Edition retail, with 5 client access licenses runs something around the range of $1000. OS X Server right now, with UNLIMITED licenses runs that same price. For 5 licenses, it’s about half the price. And, considering it can pretty well replace without any difficulty, a windows 2003 server, and you’ve got a big change here. It’s all graphically based for all those normal users out there, easy to administer, etc. On top of that, you’ve got MAJOR Open Source server applications included, such as Apache, OpenLDAP, MySQL, etc. Some may not know what these are, but to give you an idea, about 60% (from memory – may be quite a bit more) of any sites you visit on the net run Apache. That’s a major web server in an easy to administer system running on a great platform, known for security and ease of use. Frankly, this is where Microsoft should be sweating.

Long term, who knows what will happen – I know I’m keeping my eyes and ears open, and hope to give that whole developer license system a good tryout smile God knows, I’d love to be able to run OS X on my home custom built AMD box (but, the AMD vs. Intel war is a whole different story, and one that hasn’t even been discussed in relation to OS X). For right now though, I’m looking on with trepidation, but also a lot of hope – hope for a future that’s far brighter than the one I’d seen with the dead end that IBM was giving out.

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