mac comps

Antony Stone Antony at Soft-Solutions.co.uk
Fri Oct 18 03:42:23 PDT 2002


On Friday 18 October 2002 11:26 am, Ian Molton wrote:

> On Fri, 18 Oct 2002 03:48:46 +0000 (UTC)
>
> archaic at comcast.net (Archaic) wrote:
> > then began writing a kernel simply for
> > the purpose of knocking around with how it truly played out in his new
> > system. Therefore, Linux wouldn't exist as we know it if x86 wasn't
> > cheap.
>
> No. linux would exist as we know it, but its 'default' architecture, the
> one most maintained, wouldnt be X86. and Linus would have bought and
> Alpha or a PPC or whatever else turned out to be the commodity
> manufacturer.

I think the point people are trying to make here is that up until the time of 
the IBM PC - what has come to be known as the x86 architecture - there *was* 
no commodity manufacturer, and the appearance of one was not guaranteed.

In the early 80s everyone was building their own type of computer - Apple II, 
Act Sirius, Osborne, Commodore, Wordplex - to say nothing of all the home 
machines such as BBC, Sinclair, Atari, Dragon...

There was no predetermined reason to expect that one computer architecture 
was going to become the 'standard' way to build PCs - after all, Microsoft 
Basic was released to run on a variety of different systems, and the CP/M 
operating system was adapted for all sorts of different (and incompatible) 
hardware.

The fact that a single "generic design" of PC enabled an Open Source 
operating system to be developed on cheap and compatible systems by people 
working at home was by no means a foregone conclusion.

The computer industry might easily have continued to produce diverse 
machines, quite possibly running different versions of the same applications 
(eg Quark Xpress for Mac & PC), in much the same way as the motor car 
industry continues to make different makes of cars with incompatible 
components from different manufacturers.

I agree that Linux Torvalds would almost certainly have done what he did no 
matter happened to the rest of the industry, but without the "industry 
standardisation" on some architecture, Linux wouldn't have turned out to be 
what it is today - and that standardisation was by no means certain to happen.

Antony.

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