Linux Magazine: ‘Linux interfaces pale besides the glory that is Mac OS X’s Aqua’

“For some reason, many Unix/Linux/BSD users seem slightly ashamed of MacOS X. Perhaps it’s because Apple built a great desktop Unix by going their own way. You’ll find none of the KDE/Gnome debates that eat up bandwidth in Linux discussion lists in Apple circles. Why should there be? The very best Linux interfaces pale besides the glory that is Aqua, the MacOS X user interface,” writes Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Linux Magazine’s December 2003 issue (we just now caught it thanks to Macworld UK).

Vaughan-Nichols writes, “MacOS X, of course, is the leading Unix desktop operating system of all time. It may not look like a Unix variant to you, but underneath its glossy exterior lays an operating system based on the 4.4BSD-Lite2 Open Source distribution and the Open Software Foundation Mach 3. MacOS X, while based on open source, isn’t open source itself. Darwin, its core operating system, is open source. You can download one version of it from the Gnu-Darwin home page at However, for MacOS X proper, there are many layers of proprietary software such as Cocoa, Quartz 2D, QuickTime, and OpenGL implementations for graphics, so you simply cannot download Gnu-Darwin and start running MacOS X on an x86 system.”

Full article here.


  1. Nice to see the word getting out into other circles.

    What’s really disappointing with the Linux GUI efforts is that all the really good stuff is being done on the fringes. The two main Desktop environments are just copies of windows with more tweakability (although I find them less annoying than XP). It would be much better if they actually supported the projects that would offer a compelling alternative.

  2. Well that’s true. I think that KDE 3.2 has brought the Linux GUI on par (if not better than) with anything in the Windows world though. The only issues I’ve had is with Kmultimedia, which I’ll hopefully get sorted

  3. Well, KDE and Gnome are indeed free….open source projects being contributed to by many people. They have no R&D department nor can they work with focus groups. And remember: apple only has to support limited graphics cards for quartz Xtreme (Mostly ATI and NVidia)

    Apple is a corporation and therefore can have a single vision.

    KDE/Gnome are community efforts.
    OSX interface better than Linux’?

    Well Duh.

  4. Others still prefer the command line over the GUI. The hardcore Linux users that I know. They actually think that the Mac is actually a proprietary 2nd rate OS. Unlike theirs?

  5. Linux has a long way to go before they can really have a good GUI. It’s way too buggy I’m afraid and rather annothing too. But I must say that it looks better than windows.

  6. Gnome is fantastic, and should get more kudos than this. Apple sure does lack kudos as well, the UI is amazing in Mac OS X, so it’s good to see *someone* talking about it, but at the expense of Gnome?!. I use both, and KDE puts me off because it tries to mimic Windows. I prefer Gnome, it’s cleaner, maybe not as powerful as KDE, and also seems to mimic Mac OS (white bar at the top with time at the right, etc… depending on the configuration). Gnome 2.5 even has panes, option panels that seem to mimic Mac OS X Panther.

    It runs incredibly fast on an 8 year old machine that has a Pentium II.
    The fact that it works on so many different combinations of hardware, old and new, is an amazing feat of engineering.

  7. Apple should get their AD agency off there backside and take advantage of the positive news out there.

    Apple should advertise to current Linux users and give them a discount to switch to Xserve and OS X and protect themselves from the SCO nonsense. Apple can take advantage of the SCO scare.

  8. hey guys.. this is the best advertising money (cannot) buy

    apple can tell people stuff, but that’s a biased viewpoint.. get it? people don’t listen to apple about how great apple is…except.. the proverbial ‘converted’..

    sooo…really Apple can just keep earning this amazing press. .that’s the best advertising there is..

  9. “. . . many Unix/Linux/BSD users seem slightly ashamed of MacOS X”.. is it just me, or did that sound (for a second) like they ashamed of Mac OSX itself, instead of being ashamed of themselves for not having aqua.. I dunno, the wording seems unnecessarily tricky..

  10. Don’t forget the main point of the article: to show the value of the whole BSD FAMILY–including OS X. One of its key strengths: BSD is on top for security.

  11. Sailfish, I don’t know why you bother with the geeky kiddies on Slashdot. I tend to find their discussions and “articles” neither fun nor informative (this place I classify as fun, not informative).

    But yes, I think there are a lot of OSS fans that are REALLY pissed off at Apple. After all, they’d been trying for years to make Unix user-friendly, and failed miserably for much of that time. They’ve only just reached MS usability. And then, along comes Apple, and shows how it’s done in OS X. Rather than a cobbled together windows UI copy slapped on top of an archaic display system (I do like the networking though) slapped on top of a CLI, OS Xs UI feels like a part of the system, has proper consistency between the apps, is technologically cutting edge and looks great to boot. It’s a pity they don’t learn from the best, it would be great if the OSS community could create a windows-killer that isn’t stymied by old prejudices. At least they’ve created an alternative that’s about as user-friendly as windows. But the technology is already available in the community, they’d just have to stop being so bloody geeky for once!

  12. Well if you really have to use Linux I recommend Windowmaker as Windowmanager, and if you really need a desktop to put stuff on and drives to appear on (NeXTSTEP didn’t have one either) you can still run the KDE file manager (or whatever it’s called now) alongside.

    Also don’t forget to install GNUstep with a bunch of GNUstep apps, and you almost have the glory of NeXTSTEP on your Linux box (or on your darwin box for that part…)

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.