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The Road Ends in Mojave

It doesn't go to Big Sur.


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It's clear by now that Apple's 'Mac' operating system is not for the techies. What's relevant here is that many techies, or their companies, latched onto Apple as a premier Unix platform, only to get shafted in the end.

We were amongst them.

What's relevant here is that there are now many corporations and individuals who have invested considerable time and money into this platform, and they're not about to divest themselves of their financial investments by tomorrow.

For those who take their computing and their responsibilities seriously, there is only one way out. But the way out might be difficult to find.

The role of Rixstep in this situation is to continue to offer the type of software and tools that helps the programmer and admin alike. Rixstep's products have always been created with these two groups in mind, and now, more than ever, it's important to point this out.

The role of Rixstep is also, given that they're keen teachers, to continue to offer important information to these groups and to the public in general.

Rixstep plan to release a series of contingency software bundles in the coming months.

As for advice and information, let's start right now.

The Road Ends in Mojave

Things were getting critical there for quite some time, but Catalina clinched it: the road ends in Mojave. Do not under any circumstances update your hardware to Catalina or beyond, not unless a sea change occurs at Apple. And that's not likely to happen.

You will need to start looking for a new hardware and OS platform.

That's it. That's the cold hard truth.

Where's the New Road?

But where's the new road? That's the big question.

That it has to be Unix: that goes without saying. But which one?

Let's look a bit at some of the issues.

The microkernel is infinitely better than the monolithic kernel, but microkernels are not popular in the outside world of Unix. Linus disses the idea without explaining why. The microkernel exhibits stability that the monolithic kernel cannot achieve.

Red Hat is now owned by IBM. And if corporate stability is important to you, you might take time looking at Red Hat (or Fedora).

OpenBSD is acknowledged as the most bulletproof Unix going. They once moved their offices to Canada just so they could ship with adequate encryption. They employ special teams of code auditors whose sole task is to find bugs before they occur. They boast quite a lot about their track record, and that track record is that good. OpenBSD may be a bit scratchy for your corporate needs, so try it out on a machine or two to see first.

The big cruncher is in the user interfaces. This is something we at Rixstep have been aware of all along. Rixstep software is written to be 'modular' and component-based, so it's easier to see what's germane Unix and what's Apple (or NeXT) frills. Distinguishing between the model and the view, as one might say. Not putting platform-specific logic in parts of the code that should be as generic as possible. And so forth.

There's no debating the fact that NeXT's interfaces have it all over Gnome and KDE. These two popular Linux GUIs are lacking both in terms of usability and in terms of programmability. Using C++ as a coding language is just lame, and not using the simple extensions of the space age Objective-C is inexcusable. (Part of the resistance to use of Objective-C may be the stranglehold Apple once had on the language. It's not known how things stand today. Apple, like fools, went all-in with their klutzy Swift, which is purportedly in the public domain, so things may have changed with Objective-C as well.)

There are so many elements of the NeXT UI that can't be duplicated on other platforms.

√ The sheet. The sheet is impossible on other platforms because the concept is alien to them. The concept is alien because they're still following Microsoft. Why Microsoft did things that way, way back when, isn't known, for they seem to have misinterpreted what they spied on. You don't put menus on individual windows. You let applications have as many document windows as they want, all in the same address space. The sheet is a document-modal dialog. It attaches visually to a single document window. There is no such concept in Gnome or KDE.

Right there you have a hurdle that's almost impossible to get past. Rixstep's well-known CLIX, for example, cannot be ported 'as is' to any other Unix platform precisely for this reason.

√ You don't need a menu bar at the top, however. The menu bar up there is actually a bit retarded. NeXT had their menus coming out of the left side of the screen. That was both more efficient and way more intelligent. Pieces of menu could be 'yanked off' and moved anywhere on the screen, which, by the way, obsoleted the toolbar before it was even invented.

These and other aspects of what NeXT created make it difficult to transition to another Unix platform. Yet it must be done - for, with Apple, the road's come to an end.

For now? No worries. Just keep your hardware and OS (Mojave) up to date. Do not update to Catalina or anything later unless you hear something cataclysmic. (And that's not going to happen.)

Look around instead. Go window-shopping. Prepare now for the day when you will need to switch things around.

Apple is no more.

Why?

Most important is the question: Why? Why should anyone care? Are there any users, to speak of, users of actual (personal) computers, aside from the technical crowd?

There are more than one billion smartphones in circulation. Even some techies have them. (We do not.) So who's using 'computers' anymore?

Smartphones are certainly handy. They give the typical end-user all that's needed. Not too much typing (or the ability to type). Gestures, swiping, that's what it's all about. For over ten years now.

The mystery is: where are the computers, and where are their users? Do they even exist?

What happens now for computer users depends on whether they exist. Apple will continue to use computers, but they don't care much about the quality anymore. Big Tech will continue to use them, and they'll increasingly use Unix platforms that have nothing to do with Apple. Everyone else is likely to be swiping and typing with their thumbs.

And there's nothing you can do to discourage mobile use with mobile technology as it stands today. If there was, it would have happened already. The privacy and security concerns? They don't give a shit.

The prices of mobiles are off the charts, thanks to Apple who price-gouge like there's no tomorrow. The competition will simply follow suit, as they do today.

'We love the Mac. It's the tool we use to make all the products that we put out into the world.'
 - Alan Dye

Further Reading
Apple Special Event (Big Sur coming this autumn)

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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