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Better than Panther

After fifteen years, I'm paying for it. Sure, I could be patient, and maybe get it for free later, but I want it now -- and am willing to fork over cash to get it. So, with a satisfying click of the mouse, it's mine.

After fifteen years, I’m paying for it. Sure, I could be patient, and maybe get it for free later, but I want it now — and am willing to fork over cash to get it. So, with a satisfying click of the mouse, it’s mine.

What is it? It’s Panther, of course, the newest release of the Mac OS X operating system. I just pre-ordered my very own copy of Panther to arrive the day it’s released from Apple.

I’ve been running Panther (build 7B74) for a few weeks now, and it’s quite impressive. There are lots of little flourishes, and as I use it, I discover myself smiling at how much attention has been paid to the new release.

The biggest — and most pleasing — surprise is Panther’s speed. Panther is faster than Jaguar, even on my rather outmoded golem of a desktop machine. A little paranoid, I opted against installing the Panther seeds on my PowerBook, and instead upgraded my modified Blue and White (originally a G3, the machine now runs a G4 450 MHz ZIF upgrade with 640 MB of memory). Small hiccups and delays are now gone, and every application, whether Apple wrote it or not, starts faster. Panther’s granted salvation to a soon-to-be doorstop.

With Panther’s official release just a week away now, I find myself counting down the days, anxious to get the new OS onto my 1 GHz, 1 GB PowerBook to see what Panther can do there.

Yes, I’m a huge Mac fan. There it is. I’ve said it. The Mac has my lifetime loyalty.

Whoa. That’s a strange statement, isn’t it? I cannot think of many products that I pledge allegiance to. But certainly, the Mac is one — and Linux is the other.

To me, the two platforms are very similar, even beyond the shared heritage of the two kernels. Both are more than capable alternatives to Windows; both offer an enormous and varied selection of development tools; and both are lightning rods for innovation. Indeed, Macalites and Tuxies both consider themselves to be on the cutting-edge.

But we Tuxies may be out there even further. Because beyond Linux, Tuxies are also advocates of a radical new way of developing assets (not just products). Linux is a product, but it’s just one result of the Open Source method. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call Open Source a mantra, or even a mandate if you’re so inclined. Open Source is certainly a movement that’s having wide-ranging impacts on the craft of programming, the economics of computing, and even more incitive, attitudes towards intellectual property.

Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus and the Open Source Application Foundation (http://www.osafoundation.org), was recently quoted in Wired Magazine as saying, “In an economy where more and more value is in information — in bits, not atoms, economic schemes that rely on existing models of intellectual property laws for protection are going to do less and less well. If information wants to be free, then that’s true everywhere, not just in information technology.” Strong words and a call to action for other industries.

In the meantime, in our industry, Open Source is already subverting the status quo. 2003 was a remarkable year for Linux, but an even more remarkable one for Open Source. 2004 promises to be even more exciting as many open source technologies mature into enterprise stalwarts, new open source projects begin their lifecycle, and clever ingenuity blows our assumptions apart.

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Martin Streicher, Editor

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