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courtlandOS (An open-source operating system idea, developers wanted)


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First, mods, if you feel like that this thread belongs in a different board, feel free to move it.  The Darwin board seems dead, and I don't have the right permissions to post in the Developers Corner board.  There might be an even better fit, so feel free to move it to wherever this sort of thread fits.


When Apple announced this year that they would be switching to their own ARM processors at the WWDC, I was a bit disappointed.  Not surprised (the rumors of such a switch have been floating around since early 2018 if memory serves), but disappointed.  I would have rather seen Apple announce that select Macs would run on their own processors (like MacBooks and Mac Minis) while keeping the more professional line of Macs (like the Mac Pro) on Intel.  I'm even a bit skeptical that such a high-end Mac like the Mac Pro could appeal to that base of costumers with Apple Silicon powering the machine, as their workload is not exactly ideal for ARM processors.  And I also was disappointed to learn they wouldn't be seeing a way of allowing Windows 10 for ARM to run on their Macs via Boot Camp.  While the base that needs Windows on their Macs are small, I doubt people will be excited to go back to emulating the x86 architecture if they need to run Windows for anything.  To me, Apple's main objective in switching to ARM is just to kill off Hackintoshes for good and nothing more.  I foresee this move is going to hurt the Mac user base more than it helps.


But I digress.  I was (and still am) planning on creating a video that goes over the history of Hackintoshing from both a technological and legal perspective.  I was planning this out well before the announcement.  While researching the early days of Tiger Hackintoshing, I went down a rabbit hole surrounding OpenDarwin.  I knew when Apple killed OpenDarwin, PureDarwin popped up to attempt to fill in the gap.  But that was back in the days of Leopard, and I decided to see if there were any updates since that was technologically eons ago.  While PureDarwin Xmas is still a thing, they do have a beta PureDarwin build based on the High Sierra build of Darwin.  And that is when I had an epiphany.


PureDarwin has a more up-to-date build of the Darwin base, while another project called Darling is aimed at creating a Wine-like compatibility layer for macOS applications on Linux.  I've been following developments of Darling from a distance.  Indeed, it appears that basic GUI support has been implemented for Darling recently.  Both projects are free and open-source.  So I began to wonder: Would it be possible to modify and combine code from PureDarwin and Darling to create a 100% free and open-source operating system that is binary compatible with a somewhat recent Intel build of macOS?  And thus, my idea, tentatively named courtlandOS was born!  Think about it in this way: Wine is to ReactOS as Darling is to courtlandOS.  courtlandOS gets its name from another kind of apple called the Cortland (which is a hybrid of the McIntosh and Ben Davis apples).  And just like Apple changed the spelling of Macintosh to include an A, thus distinguishing it from the actual McIntosh apple, I added a U to Cortland to distinguish between the Cortland apple and courtlandOS.  I'm stylizing the name as courtlandOS to match Apple's OSes names like macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, etc.


courtlandOS would be a lot less in a legal gray area than Hackintoshing, as you wouldn't be violating Apple's EULA by running this OS instead of the actual macOS.  Hackintoshing would likely still have its appeal to those who want things like iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud, etc. integrated into their operating system, and Darling can appeal to those who are already running Linux on their systems.  But if you just need an operating system that can run Mac-only software and drivers on your PC, this could be a great alternative.  Plus, it could potentially keep Intel Mac software and drivers alive and still relevant well after Apple completes its transition to Apple Silicon.


One of the biggest challenges actually is license compatibility issues.  Darling is licensed under GPL, while many PureDarwin sources originally started under the APSL, which the Free Software Foundation says isn't GPL compatible.  I believe PureDarwin itself has its own license, but I'm not sure how different it is from the APSL.  Believe it or not, Darling developers are also dealing with this issue, but they seem to believe (which, if true, makes this a non-issue), that as long as there is no mixing of GPL-licensed source code with APSL-licensed source code, you can distribute the project together under multiple licenses without worrying about license compatibility, which is especially true with distributions of operating systems.  Technologically, the biggest challenge is expanding ACPI and driver support, as PureDarwin's driver stack is incomplete ever since Apple started closing down more source code for its various macOS drivers. And, of course, implementing Darling code to run on top of PureDarwin could be a challenge, not to mention porting over some kind of Linux graphical shell to run on Darwin to enable GUI support.  But I think these would be doable.


As I stated elsewhere on this forum, I am not a developer by any stretch of the imagination.  I also understand that it's not exactly ideal for a beginner developer to start working on an operating system right off the bat.  It's a steep learning curve, but I'm willing to learn, and I'd be more than happy to test any code for anyone.  But the reason I'm choosing to share this here is because I looked up the history of Wine and ReactOS and how they got started.  They both started when someone had the idea and shared it in Usenet groups (yes, what a throwback to old-school Internet users), and I figured one of the best ways to get this project started would be to emulate this approach on a popular Hackintosh forum that's the home to many developers already.  After all, the ideal developer would be someone who's already familiar with the inner workings of macOS and Hackintoshing in general, while also being skilled at low-level programming and development for both Mac and Linux platforms.  And most operating systems have a team of developers as opposed to being worked on by one lone developer.  I'd love to get a team together to work on this, and all projects have to start somewhere.


So, with all that said, any tips on how to move forward would be appreciated!  Also, if you're a developer interested in working on this project, feel free to reply to this thread as well.  Let's get this thing started!!

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  • 1 year later...

Looks like someone else had a similar idea and ran with it.  It uses FreeBSD as opposed to Darwin, but that works better from a hardware support perspective, and with what I know about Hackintoshing, I can fully appreciate that!  If anyone wants to contribute to the project, I suggest you check it out: https://airyx.org/


It's probably better that someone with significantly more coding experience take on such a project anyway.  I hope airyxOS takes off, and I wish the developers all the best!

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