My inlaws’ computer hard drive died the other day, so I offered to help them buy a new Windows computer at the local shop. The specs were easy: Windows, Core i5, 4GB RAM and ~500GB drive.

Going in, I expected lots of extra sell-ins. And there were. What I found to be a very funny options, was to have them de-install all the extra crap-ware that comes pre-installed on the system. That’s funny! They get probably a few bucks from the software guys to have that pre-installed, and then they get a few bucks from the customer to de-install the software. That must be a great deal for them ;-)

So Google’s admitted that Android is not open source. Some parts are, some parts are not. That’s the same with iOS. Many parts of iOS are from open source projects (I’ll mention cups, the printer stack on many Linux systems, that is very much supported by Apple, even though it’s GPL). Heck, even Microsoft Windows has components from open source projects (the ftp client being my favourite example). To me, it’s not so much about these projects being open source, as what do they give back to the open source projects.

The kernel and userland of both OS X and iOS is based on various BSD systems, I believe for the most part FreeBSD, and put into their own BSD system called Darwin. Darwin is open source and under the BSD license. Now, I’m sure Apple makes many changes that are so specific for their use and their scenarios that you don’t necessarily want these changes committed back as they may be a diversion from the project rather than something that’s good for the project. However, I’m sure they make great improvements to the OS, and for me the real benchmark of their openness is how fast these changes flow back to the originating changes and thus become a benefit for all parts. Unlike cups which is under GPL, Apple isn’t required to send this code back. I don’t mind that at all, but I still hold that my benchmark for their openness is how much useful code they volunteer back to the originating project.

I’d love to hear how many changes made by the Android development have benefitted the originating open source projects. I have an idea about how much Apple has committed back to the FreeBSD project, but I don’t have any solid facts at the moment, so if anyone does, that’d be great to hear. :-) Hey, even hearing how much Microsoft’s mobile offering has led to improved code being committed back to open source projects not originating at Microsoft would be great hearing about. I’m looking forward to reading your comments

The new AppleTV with iOS inside has me very excited as a developer and a media consumer. But, unfortunately, after the new AppleTV was announced, the old Apple TV is still on sale here in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. What gives, Apple? You neglect the most technophile part of Europe, both with the iPad and now with the AppleTV, without an obvious reason. I emailed support a few weeks ago, and they asked me to check back when the AppleTV started shipping. So now I guess we’ll have to drive to Germany to pick one up, just like with the iPad. Lucky for me that’s easier than for the Norwegians.