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Darwin Plan

Alright, I admit it, I get some pretty crazy ideas sometimes. But here is one that I think might actually work, based off of some hard work other people have put into the area. I always hated Mac’s OS 9 and previous, mostly because they really did suck, crashed as much as PC’s, and weren’t at all logical. However, Apple released OS X, hired a couple of really nice designers, researched user flow, and put out an incredible product. Leo Laporte of The Screen Savers said �Once ya go Mac ya never go back!� and it is (frighteningly) proving true!
Unfortunately, even though it is great that Apple released iTunes and iPods to the Windows market, OS X hasn’t and probably won’t be released there. Technical details later. So here is my plan for getting Mac OS X (mostly) to run on an Intel-based PC. Crazy kid…

The Darwin Plan
The Overall Idea

Really quickly, here is a primer of how OS X works in half a nutshell. If you need a more detailed refresher, go to Apple’s site. OS X is based on several different technologies, the core of which is Darwin, the actualy operating system. Darwin is Open Source, because it is based off of FreeBSD, a Unix distribution. Anyone and everyone can get a hold of Darwin, which is great. However, the rest of OS X consists of Quartz, a UI rendering object, Cocoa and Carbon, application development objects, and Quicktime and Aqua, integrated with Quartz to produce the Aqua GUI that makes OS X so pretty. These parts are not Open Source, and Apple intends to keep them that way. So Apple won’t release OS X onto an Intel-based platform because it’s internal workings at the UI level (ie Quartz and Aqua) rely on specialty memory controllers only produced by Apple. And since Apple is kind and only allows themselves to produce such hardware and related matter, Quartz and Aqua won’t run on an Intel-based memory controller. This is why you cannot get OS X for your PC.

However, you can get Darwin, the base and core of OS X, as a port for an x86 (Intel) computer because it is Open Source and can be ported to such a platform. And that is where I come in. Did you notice my pretty graphic at the top of this? That is my roadmap to get wonderful OS X onto my PC! The plan is three-fold. First, get Darwin to run, then get KDE to run on Darwin, and then mod KDE sufficiently to resemble and act like Aqua. I’ve crossed out Quartz because Quartz is not available (sadly) for PC’s because of reasons given above. Visit the following resources
for more information about each object:

Darwin 7.0.1
Because Apple based the core of OS X off of Open Source, they are required to distribute the source code. This is a wonderful move for the rest of us and for Apple, because it allows everyone to collaborate and to work together to solve and improve huge amounts of code, and pave the way for greater OS’s in the future. A tad bit better than some other company’s â€?Innovationâ€? policies… Darwin is currently at version 7.0.1, which relates to the Mac OS 10.3 Panther release. The same ISO can be downloaded and burned to run for both PPC’s and x86’s. So I plan on grabbing this ISO and setting it all up on it’s own HFS partition on my hard drive. HFS is the filesystem that Darwin uses (for example, like NTFS or FAT32 for Windows) and it’s Hex code is 0xA8 for any of you who are wondering. Once Darwin is installed, I’m guessing that I will be left with an incredible shell, and that’s about it. No GUI, no nothin’. That’s where the next component comes in.


KDE is called a Window Manager, and is used extensively on Linux. It renders all those pretty little windows and toolbars and start buttons for you, so you don’t have to look at this all day long: bash user@a1-02-b3-92: user $ | Lucky for us/me, Linux is based on Unix, so there are people out there who are working on porting KDE from Linux to Unix/FreeBSD/Darwin. KDE will allow me to get past the Darwin shell, which, as totally comforting as it is, can get a little, um, texty. KDE is highly customizable in just about every fashion, and will replace Quartz and Aqua in the scheme of things. People have done some incredible things with KDE, including mimicking an OS X interface, which is in turn the next part of the struggle.

Modding the heck out of KDE

The final step, assuming I get this far, is to change just about every default facet of KDE. A new style, tons of add-on programs (Mosfet’s Liquid and SuperKaramba) new OS X icons, backgrounds, bars at the top and docks at the bottom, just about everything you can think of. I’m hoping that some Mac-fanatic out there has taken the time to also create a Finder-lookalike, so I can take advantage of that as well. Basically, everything in KDE will change, as well as some Darwin-level items too, since it is Open Source and customizable ;-).


So yes, this is going to be one heck of an insane mission. But I think once I get there, I will love it! The beauty and stability of OS X with the extendability of a PC! Hooray, the perfect marriage! For those of you wondering, I did leave out a bunch of technical details. For example, I didn’t mention the Fink project, or the Qt libraries I will probably need. If you are looking for more detailed instructions and ideas, hit the web, or give me a holler. Also, if any of you out there have made more progress than this, please, let me know! I would love for any of my work to be cut out for me! Good luck everyone! I’ll keep ya updated on the situation.
Later days…

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I am very ’swollowed’in your thoughts, and i do agree this may be a hard thing to do. if you do succeed in modding KDE would you send me an email? I would love to beta (or alpa ) test it for you. i think that if you make the finised product open source and stick it on a filesharig network everyone would soon be using it instead of the super nasty windoze. but thats not for me to decide, its your idea anyway. thanks in advance….
G. Stithers

December 24, 2004 10:11 pm