Linus Torvalds has spoken. Apple's MacOS X, he says, is "a piece of crap".
To be fair, it's actually MacOS X's kernel, Mach, which the Linux creator so dislikes. The quote comes from Torvalds forthcoming autobiography, entitled Just for Fun, and continues: "[Mach] contains all the design mistakes you can make, and manages to even make up a few of its own."
That won't please Steve Jobs, who tried to get Torvalds working on the next-generation Mac operating system back in 1997, not long after taking over at Apple.
And it's particularly ironic given that one of MacOS X's selling points is that it's based on Unix. The OS' core, dubbed Darwin, is derived from BSD.
However, Torvalds' comments may not sting anyone who's using MacOS X. For all its touted "unprecedented stability and performance" (to quote the software's packaging) borne on its "industrial strength" Unix roots, many users have found it far from stable or fast. That's not expected until the summer when Apple rolls out MacOS X 10.1, codenamed Puma.
Arguments that it's only 1.0 software and 1.0 software's never perfect, while true, don't hold much water given how often Apple and its users (including this one) have slammed Microsoft for taking same line.
Apple deserves some brickbats for its MacOS X 10.0 release, which arguably hasn't delivered what the company promised, but Torvalds does sound like he's getting his own back after the numerous articles published in the press and around the Web suggesting that MacOS X will be the OS that brings Unix into the mainstream. To date, Linux has failed to do that.
Certainly that seems the basis for Jobs' approach to Torvalds back in 1997: to help make Unix mainstream. Torvalds criticises Jobs for assuming he'd rather do that with Apple than with Linux, though there's no reason why he couldn't do both. Did Jobs try and persuade Linus to leave Linux alone, we wonder? It's not hard to imagine Jobs, back in 1997, saying come on, Linus, it's time to leave your hobby behind and join a real, shipping OS.
If so, with hindsight, they have proved foolish words: Linux arguably has more users than Apple does. That said, it's questionable, pace Eazel, whether it will ever move out beyond its techie and server strongholds.
Apple has no cause to feel clever, though - how likely is it to move out of its niches? ®