Apple is one of the most profitable and successful companies in the world today, and what most people don’t realize is that the Mac operating system is being driven by free software. These components are referred to as Darwin and comprise major parts of the operating system kernel, portions of the BSD Unix and also numerous drivers.
Apple has made these pieces of software available since their OS X 10.0 version and now they are making it available for Darwin. What’s also interesting is that Darwin isn’t the only Apple software that is open source for the company. Java for Mac is open source via a partnership with Oracle as well as the company’s newest program language, Swift. These factors show that Apple is definitely aware of the technological landscape surrounding them and they are embracing it as much as possible.*
Apple also has an open source webpage which they update routinely with source code from past releases of its OS. There is an open source reference library available, along with links to tools for developers to use when coding.
The open source code for Darwin is packed with several files including a reference library, tools, and server resources. The tradition of Apple releasing its OS code has been around for many years, and that tradition is carried on with the release of Darwin.
Apple has pushing iOS developers towards its own technologies that are created in house, versus third party technologies such as Adobe Flash; which it deems inefficient. Swift, Apples newest programming language has been made open source as well, and many other companies have adopted the same coding philosophy. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Mozilla have all released their programming languages to the public much like Apple.
Apple may also be trying to get ahead of their arch rival Microsoft by making Swift available on other operating systems. This means that Apples own open source code could be used to develop apps for competing companies like Android.
A large benefit of Apple or any other company doing this is it makes the company less susceptible to lawsuits based around programming. For example, Oracle and Google are currently in a lawsuit due to the fact that Oracle is claiming Google violated its intellectual property by creating its own Java-type programming. If the code was open source, Oracle could never make that claim.
This greatly decreases the possibility of lawsuits and developers can rest assured that the project they are working on won’t cause them to be served with legal documents in the future. Developers can instead focus on writing the best code possible and pushing the limits of the programming language beyond its ceiling.
Apple is sending a large message to the technology field by making its operating systems open source and the industry is taking notice. As previously mentioned, many other companies are beginning to do the same and a trend appears to be growing towards open source code. The benefits it presents are being realized as more and more companies adopt this mentality making the future for technology a bright one.