With all the interest in the UNIX aspects of Mac OS X, Tenon Intersystems has several products that high-end users may wish to check out to better understand and take advantage of the possibilities of the OS X-UNIX connection.
“Our background, includes offering a complete UNIX OS on Mac OS for the last decade,” Anita Holmgren, Tenon’s vice president, told MacCentral. “The product is MachTen and it is actually the same flavor of UNIX as Apple’s OS X (a Mach kernel and a BSD execution environment). Having 10 years’ experience as a UNIX/Mac developer (and lots of previous UNIX experience) and having two Cocoa (read UNIX-style) applications on the OS X public beta, we have lots of expertise in this area.”
Holmgren said that MachTen is the only Mac product that combines UNIX and Mac OS functionality. It’s POSIX compliant and includes an industry-standard UNIX application programming interface (API). Applications that run on MachTen should be able to run on other platforms with a simple recompile. MachTen is implemented as a hyper-portable “UNIX virtual machine” for Mac OS, and runs on all Macintosh platforms (PowerPC and M68K).
The US$249 product enables you to develop applications in a Unix development environment, replete with the GNU development toolset. You can also program in Ada, C, C++, Objective C, Fortran, and more. MachTen also lets you run Xwindows applications from remote workstations or on your Mac; compile and run OpenGL applications; run lots of Unix applications; and run a high speed Internet server.
Also, an Apache, PHP, MySQL with management and configuration tools is available in a commercial package from Tenon: iTools (not to be confused with Apple’s Internet services of the same name). Tenon’s iTools is a Web server that takes advantage of the preemptive multitasking and memory protection of Mac OS X. An evolution of WebTen, iTools runs natively on the next generation operating system.
The iTools package is designed to complement and extend the Apache that’s included with OS X and to make it easy for Webmasters to set up and support sophisticated network servers. Using Apple’s bundled Apache as a point of departure and incorporating the latest open source protocol implementations of Apache, DNS, FTP and sendmail, iTools extends the OS X platform with a rich set of network services.
Included with iTools are a Web mail server, a domain name server, a multihoming FTP server, a SSL encryption engine with tiered-certificate support for e-commerce, a caching engine with proxy support, a Sherlock-savvy search engine, and FastCGI to provide high-performance Perl and CGI execution.
Tenon also offers Xtools, an X Window Server for OS X, which provides rootless X Windows on the Aqua desktop with no switching required, Holmgren said. Xtools is an integrated X Desktop for Mac OS X. (The X Window System is an open source, industry standard for displaying remote graphical applications.)
It not only allows remote X Window applications to be displayed on the Mac OS X desktop, but also includes complete set of X Window tools and libraries to support local execution of X applications and X games on OS X. Extending Mac OS X with an X Window porting environment will enable high-resolution 3D-modeling and animation, graphical visualization and image rendering applications to be built directly on Mac OS X, Holmgren said.
“Having an X Window Server on Apple’s new Mac OS X Aqua desktop will extend the reach and strength of Mac OS X,” she added. “Apple’s OS X will not only be the most appealing desktop, but by virtue of the strength of OS X itself and the power of the G4 platforms, with X Window support the new Macs can be the desktop of choice for all enterprise applications, be they local or remote.”
Xtools, based on the X11R6.4 X Window release, will include a suite of pre-compiled X client applications. Holmgren said that Tenon plans to work closely with the Mac OS X developer community to jointly produce a wide range of ported X applications and X window managers. Both iTools and Xtools are downloadable today for the Mac OS X public beta. The final versions will be available on March 30, although you can buy ’em now at pre-release prices. By the way, there’s also a free version of X available in the form of XFree86 for Darwin. It’s from the XFree86 Project and is a freely redistributable open-source implementation of the X Window System that runs on UNIX and UNIX-like (like Linux, the BSDs, Mac OS X/Darwin, and Solaris x86 series) operating systems and OS/2.
XFree86 is the underlying software that is between the hardware and graphical user interface (GUI) that people see and use. If you are using KDE, GNOME, Enlightenment, Blackbox, AfterStep, twm or fvwm then you are already using and running XFree86 as these run as the client.
Traditionally, The XFree86 Project has focused on Intel x86-based platforms — which is where the “86” in the name comes from — but the current release supports other platforms like the PowerPC, Alpha, Sparc and in-the-works MIPS CPU families. The folks at the XFree86 Project say their goal for XFree86 is to have X run on every platform available.