Open Source vs. Operating System – a dilemma

On a completely abstract level, if you had a choice between using proprietary software on OS X, or installing Windows in order to use some open source software which for some reason only runs on Windows, which would you do?

I suppose the answer might turn on how good you think OS X is (partially open source, prettier, easier to use, less crufty) and how much you hate Windows, but perhaps this question is more complicated than that?

15 thoughts on “Open Source vs. Operating System – a dilemma

    • In this case, yes, the software is eventually supposed to run on Linux, but it will not happen in the near future.

      To bring this out of the abstract, the use case is webcasting software which has a server that already runs on Linux, but the “client” or “capture station” currently requires Windows. When I complained about this to them, they said they intend to migrate to Linux as their primary platform, but it will be a major development project.

  1. I’d say OS X is not relevantly open source – Apple’s stuff is extremely closed, almost more so than MS on many fronts. But, I went for OS X because it’s just such a more effective interface for me to do most things.

    • You don’t think it’s relevant that Webkit upon which Safari is built is open source (or that it supports open standards and passes the Acid3 test)? You don’t think the BSD/Darwin core is open source, or that it ships with zillions of FOSS Unix utilities?

      While Apple likes having closed hardware and killing off 3rd party hardware developers, and attempting to lock 3rd party software developers out of e.g. the iPhone, they generally seem to be more cooperative with the open source community than M$.

  2. You are assuming here that everyone, uh, treats open source/proprietary as a moral decision.

    Which is cute. I voted based on the fact that I really hate using Windows.

    • That was the basis for my decision too. I don’t see this as a moral issue, but using open source software on Windows involves using Windows, and Windows is evil.

    • I think in the parlance my response is “+1”

      It’s pretty possible to have a very “free software” experience with OS X, if you don’t use a lot of the apple apps (which is mostly a good idea anyway), if you use the development builds of webkit/safari, etc, if you live in the terminal anyway, It’s also very possible to *not* do any of these things and not use very much open source. Your computer is what you make of it, and I like it when mine don’t have windows.

  3. If the issue is only free-software-ness and not aesthetics or ease of use or any of that, then it’s really obvious — an open-source app on Windows counts as far more open source than a proprietary app on OS X. As says, OS X is not open source. Darwin being open source doesn’t really change that.

    Moreover, if you really want to have some impact on the market or whatever, using or not using Windows is, at this moment in time, a tiny drop in the bucket that means very little to Microsoft, while using or not using a particular webcasting program probably actually matters in terms of market penetration.

    • That’s especially relevant considering that the company you’re talking to does plan to migrate to Linux, and whether they consider it worth their while to do so is probably dependent on how many people use them now, on Windows.

    • Agreed.

      Friendly white plastic overlords are still overlords; Apple may be better but they’re still not good, and you can’t trust them to be (slightly relatively) non-evil forever. Using a proprietary program on a proprietary OS has got to be worse than using a non-proprietary program on a proprietary OS. It’s possible that logistics will overcome values, e.g. if installing Windows is too expensive or too much of a pain.

  4. I voted for Windows just because I’ve never owned a mac, but for me it would depend on the hardware and the kind of software you want to use.

  5. It sounds like the use case in question involves already having OS X? In that case, it’s worth finding out if the open source client will run under CrossOver (a proprietary user-friendliness layer on top of Wine — they contribute a lot of changes to the Wine codebase, so paying for CrossOver deirectly supports open source development). Or if you don’t need the extra layer of user-friendliness, you could just try running it on Wine.

    • Ah, yeah I forgot that CrossOver or Wine might be an alternative to proprietary VMs.

      In other news, it seems that the poll is still in a 50/50 dead heat!

  6. Windows

    Because the question is effectively:

    Closed OS + Closed software
    Closed OS + Open software

    But this all theory. I won’t even use Adobe Flash because it’s closed source. I’d use whatever other open source software is available on Linux.

    And no, I don’t consider OSX open based on it’s use of BSD code. Because, you see, they re-closed the source, and is thus not open source anymore. Yes, they send WebKit patches back up to KHTML upstream, but that’s one small component. The vast majority is Apple-proprietary based on once-open BSD code.

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