A recent post on The Online Photographer (More Planned Obsolescence: Evil Lion) really chimed with me. Apple’s implacable opposition to virtualisation is a significant opportunity lost.
I’m a Windows user, spending much of the working week away from home. I get a vast amount of value from virtualisation. It allows me to carry just one PC with multiple “client specific” images, and enables me to keep running legacy software almost indefinitely. My main client uses the same technology to provide legacy support for essential software, which in long-cycle engineering businesses can easily be 20-30 years old, as physical assets in such businesses age many times more slowly than the computing equipment around them.
I also develop plugins for the Bibble RAW processor. The same code should work on Windows, Mac and Linux, but you have to compile and test on each platform to confirm this. I’ve recently added a Linux Virtual Machine to my kit. This was remarkably painless, just a few hours work, and I can now rapidly cross-compile and test my Windows-based developments under Linux. If there’s an issue which means having to support more than one flavour or version of Linux adding it would be trivial.
I just can’t do this for the Mac. I don’t want to buy and carry another laptop (which would be useless for any other purpose), and you can’t get virtualised OSX, either as a VM or as a service, through any legal and “safe” route. The result: as far as I am concerned OSX is a “third-class” OS, almost a “technical ghetto”, and I have to rely on the good offices of other developers to deliver my plugins for it.
People will put up with a lot in the name of love. Maybe Mac users “love” their computers enough to tolerate this behaviour. But looking in from outside I find Apple’s attitude perplexing and very annoying.
Update, March 2012. There’s still no way to do this which is supported by Apple and consistent with their licence agreement, but it turns out that it’s relatively easy to buy a legal copy of OSX and install it in a VM. At least that’s a work-around for “experimental” use…