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Beneath the appealing, easy-to-use interface of Mac OS X, you’ll find an industrial-strength, UNIX-based foundation, called Darwin, that is built from the ground up for superior stability and performance. Darwin evolved from a joint effort by Apple engineers and programmers in the Open Source software community. Together, they’ve created a robust, modern operating system foundation to help your Mac run faster and more reliably than ever.

Darwin features a protected memory architecture that allocates a unique space for each application. When applications are isolated in their own memory space, you don’t need to restart your computer if something goes wrong. Darwin simply shuts down the offending application, letting you continue working or playing without interruption.

Darwin also knows how to give priority to your primary application, but still crunch away at other jobs in the background. Previously, a complex task like rendering a transition in iMovie or compressing video — jobs that can take several minutes or even hours — would fully consume the processor until complete. But with Mac OS X preemptive multitasking, the system remains responsive, so you can still check email, work in another application or surf the web while processing the task in the background.

Darwin features a super-efficient virtual memory manager. So you no longer have to worry about how much memory an application such as Internet Explorer needs to use plug-ins. When an application needs memory, the virtual memory manager allocates precisely the amount needed by the application. Automatically.

Darwin offers built-in support for dual-processor Power Mac G4 computers. It might use one processor to run a complex image transformation and the other to create a new MP3 file. All applications benefit from the higher performance a second processor offers — and multithreaded, complex image transformations, video compression or MP3 encoding operations can run almost twice as fast using Mac OS X on a dual processor Power Mac G4.

At its core, Darwin uses BSD. If you’re a hardcore geek, you’ll like having a full command set available to you from the terminal. Developers will appreciate how easy it is to port existing UNIX applications to Mac OS X, since it’s POSIX-compliant. Plus, Mac OS X incorporates the time-tested BSD networking stack, the backbone of most TCP/IP implementations on the Internet today.

Best of all, Darwin is distributed under Apple’s Open Source license, so engineers around the world can help Apple make Mac OS X the best operating system on the planet.

Home > Mac OS X > Inside Mac OS X: Darwin

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