Everything that's Apple that's not Apple
When I was spending a lot of time thinking deeply about networking, memorizing the http stack, playing with router simulation software, the works, my best friend was Red Hat. Discovering Linux in this way was some of the most worthwhile time I have spent away from family or music. During this time there was some SlashDot thread or other declaring that Apple would base its next operating system on Unix. I was thrilled! This new operating system promised to "bring it all together" for me. Combining the operating system I loved from my music life, with its incredible core audio, with the "flavor" of operating system that was fast becoming a mainstay of how I conceptualized computing...this was gonna be great! And it was great...for a time.
Eventually my computer life turned ever more deeply into working with open source software, and ever more contemplative on open source "mindfulness". There are many treatises, licenses, and whatnot that can effectively make the moral argument for FOSS, but for me just being able to make the mental connections needed as a software engineer...those connections are impeded when I encounter "proprietary smell".
This plagued me for several years as I drifted back and forth from OSX to Linux (typically Ubuntu) until I discovered, happily, that Apple was contributing upstream to various C libs that were central to POSIX. Combine that with the nagging reminder that WebKit was birthed from One Infinite Loop and I was beginning to feel better about spending some time in the walled garden.
The one thing I will say, however, is that when I spend a day or two or a week or more focusing my development time in Linux land, I tend to be more "aware" as a developer. That's just my experience.
I'm willing to keep an open mind, however. I'm willing to keep coming back to OSX for insight into a platform and company that has put computing at the forefront of popular culture and modern enterprise. Yet still I feel bitterness for the narrative arc of Apple, which seems so celebratory of design and "corporate theater" at the expense of celebrating the hard work and genius of the developers that craft the software behind all of this. Well, that too may simply be an insight into my psyche and my private demons.
Either way I'd be interested in the comments or offline communication with fellow developers, including Apple employees regarding the content of this post. (No corporate secrets or incriminating remarks expected or desired!) I want to unearth all the beauty and hard work that has gone into Apple software. Because I know it's there, but it seems astoundingly opaque. And the company PR seems to be concerned with projecting an impression of infallible design motivations, and I find that messaging unpalatable, at times.
But I want to change. ;-)