I understand the benefits, mentioned by the commenters to my last post, of the “Unix Bargain” that Apple struck when it bought NeXT.
I’m very happy about what it’s done for the platform:
The vastly improved underpinnings (fewer crashes, etc.) have prevented a complete exodus to Windows.
The ports of Unix-based developer infrastructure have allowed Macintosh developers to be more productive.
But my unease remains, so here’s my second attempt to explain why.
The way I see it, the reason the Mac received a Unix graft isn’t because it’s somehow the best of all possible worlds to piggyback on another platform, a platform with wildly different assumptions about its user base. It is because the Mac doesn’t have the marketshare to pay for or attract these benefits otherwise.
The tendency to think of the current situation as nirvana, rather than a compromise, blinds people to the costs of the compromise.
A parting thought I’ll come back to later: the Macintosh is not Unix with a pretty GUI on top. The more developers think like that, the more chance there is that OS X becomes just another Linux variant that happens to costs $129.
1/6: Edited for clarity