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What does Apple’s move mean for Linux?

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Now that the rumors have turned out to be true, what is this going to mean for Linux — if anything?

Well, let’s look at the facts that we have so far. Linux has taken off in large part because it runs on commodity hardware (Intel and Intel-compatible), and provides a Unix-like OS that’s great for a lot of tasks — and much cheaper than its proprietary Unix cousins. Linux has a solid presence in the server market, and is developing a presence in the desktop market.

Apple, on the other hand, is working on developing a presence in the server market and the desktop market. While it’s widely held that Apple has a wonderful desktop OS, it only runs on (pricey) PowerPC hardware from Apple and doesn’t run all the apps that people are used to from Windows.

Apple’s move to Intel isn’t going to change much. Firstly, Apple seems poised to continue its exclusionary stance, and will require users who want to run Mac OS X to buy the whole kit and kaboodle from Apple. The ZDNet piece quotes Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller as saying that "We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac." This means that Apple computers will still continue to carry a price premium that many users are unwilling to pay unless they’re already convinced they want to run Mac OS X. Even Apple’s low-end Mac Mini is still high-priced compared to similarly-equipped Dell computer. (Apple users can now abandon the "but PowerPC is so much better than Intel!" since even Apple is giving up that line of reasoning.)

On the other hand, users can try out Linux today on the computer they’re using to run Windows. No serious financial risk involved, download a few ISOs or buy a boxed set and they’re off and running. If it doesn’t work out, they can go back to Linux secure in the knowlege that they won’t have wasted much more than a few dollars and the time to test out Linux.

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