The movement toward open-source applications gained a member last week when Apple Computer announced it would release the source code for various components of its Mac OS X Server, which is now shipping.
As part of Apple's Darwin project -- so named because "it's about evolution" according to interim CEO Steve Jobs -- the company plans to release three components of Mac OS X Server: The Mach 2.5 microkernel, the BSD Unix 4.4 operating system, and the Apache Web server. Darwin also features core Apple technologies such as AppleTalk, HFS-Plus file system, and the NetInfo distributed database.
Other main components of Mac OS X Server -- Mac file services, NetBoot, and the WebObjects application server -- will not be open-sourced.
"Apple is the first major computer company to do this with an operating system," Jobs said.
Jobs said the decision to go forward with the open-source project was made six months ago.
"This is a path to get the most secure operating system and the most robust operating system in the quickest amount of time," Jobs said.
One analyst praised the move by Apple, which has been perceived as highly proprietary about its operating system and hardware.
"Steve [Jobs] has been the high priest of proprietary, so this is a good step," said Chris Le Tocq, an analyst at Dataquest.
During the presentation, Jobs announced that the price for Mac OS X Server had been reduced from $US999 to $US499.
The company will also sell a new high-end G3 system with Mac OS X Server for $US4999. The server is initially targeted primarily at educational institutions and small businesses, Jobs said.
The server operating system itself does not run any current Mac OS applications, and at present does not feature a mail server, although Jobs said one would be bundled in the future.
Darwin can be downloaded from http://www.apple.com/darwin.