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Wednesday, 08 February 2012 10:50

Apple's secrecy stuffing up ARM development

Written by Nick Farrell

 

Intern moans


Apple's trademark secrecy has been stuffing up a company's intern's attempts to get the MacOS ported for ARM.

While the world+dog got all moist about reports about the fact that Apple seemed to be planning to stick ARM chips into its Ultrabook clone the MacBook Air, they seem to have missed the bigger story. When the intern who was assigned to port the MacOS to ARM he said that it was nearly impossible to do the work because Apple was pathologically secretive.

Tristan Schaap worked for 12 weeks, porting Darwin to the MV88F6281 - an ARMv5-compatible processor that's a couple of generations old now.

"The goal of this project was to get Darwin building and booting into a full multi-user prompt," Schaap wrote in the introduction that's generally visible on the DUT page.

This would mean that other teams can continue their work on this platform so that Apple can port Mac OS X to ARM, and thus giving itself fresh options if the ARM architecture starts offering the horsepower users need. Schaap got a boot into the multi-user setup before the end of his 12-week tenure. That may have helped him to get a job working with the Core OS team back in Cupertino. But he said that the secrecy that is inherent to working for Apple shapes the company and allows it to create some of the most innovative products on the market, it has a downside in that you aren?t allowed to talk about possible difficulties you?re facing with people that do not have clearance on your project. People that might have valuable insights or even solutions.

"Since a large portion of my project was about porting old code, I had to interact a lot with people who had written this code, he said. But a few occasions I had to be very cryptic about what I wanted or needed and this impeded his progress."

In otherwords the secrecy at Apple has reached such a state it is threatening the development of future projects. We can't say we are surprised.

Nick Farrell

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