Free Software: Better on OS X?

by Ostatic Staff - May. 23, 2008

Ivan Krstić, once the Director of Security Architecture for the OLPC project, has written a rather pointed blog entry about the disarray that project has fallen into. While it serves as an excellent coda for the story (which we previously covered), that's not what caught my eye. Rather, I'm interested in his perspective - as a bonafide kernel hacker - in switching from Linux to OS X for his primary laptop. Linux doesn't come off all that well in the story.

Here's some of what Krstić had to say:

I switched to OS X and find it to be an overwhelmingly more enjoyable computing experience. I still have my free software UNIX shell, my free software programming language, my free software ports system, my free software editor, and I run a bunch of free software Linux virtual machines. The vast, near-total majority of computer users aren't programmers. Of the programmers, a vast, near-total majority don't dare in the Land o' Kernel tread. As one of the people who actually can hack my kernel to suit, I find that I don't miss the ability in the least. There, I said it. Hang me for treason.

Well, if they're going to hang him, I guess I'd best line up too - along with many, many other developers. We've previously looked at reasons why some development communities (like the one centered on Rails) gravitate to the Mac. Ivan also points out that the security community is largely Mac-based - and there are others out there beyond those two.

I think one of the real splits in the development community is not so much between those who favor open source and those who don't, but between those who want to be open source purists and those who prefer to choose the best tool for the job. Krstić suggests that "technical people, especially when younger, get a particular thrill out of dicking around with their software."

I'm not aware of any good studies of the demographics of the open source community, but it wouldn't be surprising if many of us mellow with age; that happens in politics as well. Personally, I'm happy to have some folks out there trying to change the world, even though I'm past that point in my life and just want software that works - whatever operating system it happens to run on.