Mac OS X
Mac OS X is the latest version of the Mac OS operating system for Macintosh computers. Developed and published by Apple Computer, it provides the stability of a Unix operating environment and adds popular features of the traditional Macintosh user interface. The operating system was first commercially released in 2001.
The pronunciation of X as ten is favored by Apple, to emphasize continuity with previous Macintosh operating systems such as Mac OS 9. Some people pronounce it ex because of the presence of the roman numeral X in the name of the operating system, or to emphasize the relationship with Unix, or because Apple often refers to specific versions as "Mac OS X 10.4" or variants thereof.
Mac OS X consists of two parts: Darwin, an open source Unix-like environment which is based on the BSD source tree and the Mach microkernel, and a proprietary GUI named Aqua, developed by Apple Computer.
A server version of Mac OS X, named Mac OS X Server, is available. It is identical to the regular version except for the inclusion of tools to run various network services on a computer, such as a mail server, a Samba server, a directory server, and a domain name server.
Main article: Mac OS X history
Despite its branding as simply "version 10" of the Mac OS, it has a history largely independent of the earlier Mac OS releases. It is based on the Mach kernel and the BSD implementation of UNIX, which were incorporated into NeXTSTEP, the object-oriented operating system developed by Steve Jobs' NeXT company after he was forced from Apple in 1985. Meanwhile, Apple attempted to create a "next generation" operating system of their own (see Taligent and Copland), but with little success. Eventually, NeXT's OS - by then called OpenStep - was selected to form the basis for Apple's next OS, and the company purchased NeXT outright. Jobs was rehired, and later returned to the leadership of the company, shepherding the transformation of the programmer-friendly OpenStep into a system that would be welcomed by Apple's primary market of home users and creative professionals, as a project known as Rhapsody. After some missteps which threatened the loyalty of independent developers to Mac OS, and changes of strategy to ease the transition from Mac OS 9 to the new system, Rhapsody evolved into Mac OS X.
Many of Mac OS X's users consider its Aqua GUI to be the most attractive and functional in existence, though many older Macintosh users found the new interface to be "toy-like" and lacking in professional polish. It has been imitated by many others; there are Aqua lookalikes for other operating systems. In addition, interface skins imitating the Aqua look exist for many Microsoft Windows programs, such as Winamp.
This combination of GUI and kernel has recently become the most popular-selling Unix environment to date by sheer numbers.
(Note that Mac OS X is not officially a UNIX OS, as Apple has not sought The Open Group branding, claiming that the cost of certification would make the OS prohibitively expensive. The Open Group has sued Apple over alleged violation of the UNIX trademark and has stated that the maximum fee required to certify OS X as a UNIX would be US$110,000 total.)
Mac OS X is compatible with older Mac OS applications by using Classic, an application which allows users to run Mac OS 9.x within Mac OS X, so that most older applications, such as the ubiquitous SimpleText, etc., run as they would under Mac OS 9.x. In addition, the Carbon APIs were added to permit legacy code to be quickly ported to run natively on both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.x. The NeXTSTEP/OpenStep APIs are still available, but Apple now calls the technology Cocoa. You can see the NeXTSTEP heritage in the Cocoa APIs by the fact that class names mostly begin with "NS" (for NeXTSTEP). A fourth option for developers is to write applications in the Java platform, which OS X supports.
Mac OS X can run many BSD or Linux software packages once compiled for the platform. Compiled binaries are normally distributed as Mac OS X Packages; but may still require command-line configuration or compilation. Projects like Fink and DarwinPorts provide precompiled or preformatted packages for many standard packages.
Version 10.3 was the first to include Apple X11, Apple's version of the X11 graphical interface for Unix applications, as an optional component during install. Apple's implementation is based on XFree86 4.3 and X11R6.6, with its own window manager which mimics the native look, closer integration with Mac OS X and extensions to use the native Quartz rendering system and accelerate OpenGL.
On March 24 2001, Apple released Mac OS X 10.0 (codenamed Cheetah). It was praised for its completeness and stability at such an early point in its development (it being a total departure from previous Apple releases). Despite this, it was criticized for being slow, leading many (including Steve Jobs) to consider it an excellent beta release.
Later that year on September 25 2001, Mac OS X 10.1 (codenamed Puma) was released as a free update, increasing the speed and performance of the system as well as providing missing features, such as DVD playback.
On August 24 2002, Apple followed up with Mac OS X 10.2 (codenamed Jaguar), which brought profound performance enhancements, a newer, sleeker look, and many powerful enhancements (over 150, according to Apple).
Mac OS X 10.3, (codenamed Panther), was released on October 24, 2003, and in addition to providing much improved performance also incorporated the most extensive update to the user interface, Aqua. The update included as many or more new features as Jaguar the year before.
The current version of Mac OS X is version 10.3.6.
Detailed MacOS timeline (http://www.theapplemuseum.com/index.php?id=tam&page=timeline&subpage=os/) and MacOS X Build Numbers (http://www.theapplemuseum.com/index.php?id=tam&page=software&subpage=macosx_build/)
Main article: List of Macintosh software