Sunday, February 12, 2017

What is the Darwin operating system? Try it with PureDarwin


Today is February 12, the "Darwin Day" , a naturalist famous for his theory of evolution. And what does this have to do with Apple? Little, truth, except for his name ...
Apple took the name of Darwin , in honor to Charles Darwin, to denominate its operating system. As discussed in the article "Are macOS and Linux related? Unix? Here's the truth, " Darwin is Apple's operating system that underlies macOS and iOS.

How to test Darwin in a virtual machine

What better day to test the Darwin operating system than on the anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Charles Darwin!
To test it we will use PureDarwin . PureDarwin is a community that decided to give continuity in 2007 to OpenDarwin, a project that wanted to bring the original Darwin to the public . So, this community created two different versions that allow us to test this great operating system of Apple, although with enough limitations.
And how did they do it? Very easy. Apple offers this operating system as free software . Yes! Do not go to think that Apple has a web from where to download the install or disk image. That's the hard work the PureDarwin community has to do.

Testing PureDarwin Nano

One of the versions that has made the community is this, PureDarwin Nano , which as its name indicates , is a very light version .
To test it we will use a virtual machine , because it is not a 100% functional operating system. And what application will we use? Unfortunately, being a bit old, we are quite limited. After several tests we came to the conclusion that the simplest way was through VMware (VirtualBox and Parallels give many problems).
Therefore , we must install VMware Fusion (or VMware Workstation) in the first place.

Installing PureDarwin Nano on VMware

The first step will be to download the prepared image provided by the PureDarwin community. Once we unzip it and it will output a * .vmwarevm file (if we do not have VMware installed it will output us as a folder).
To run it, simply drag the file to the VMware window .
Once this is done we will be able to boot the newly created virtual machine .
Now we can execute the command "uname -a" , and we will actually be in Darwin. In particular we are using Darwin 9 , a very old version that corresponds to Mac OS X Leopard.
And what is the current version? But ... why tell you, can you compare it yourself? To do this, just run the same command but on your Mac. For example, in MacOS Sierra we will get the version Darwin 16 , which is the last. It is also possible to run that same command on an iOS device (if we have access to the terminal itself).

Testing PureDarwin Xmas

This is the other version of PureDarwin that we discussed at first. This version is already heavier, and therefore brings more things.
What most calls to the eye is that here we have a graphical interface. In the previous version we had only the command line as a means of interaction, but this case we have a simple graphical interface .
PureDarwin Xmas has Window Maker , from the GNUstep project , for the graphical interface It is very reminiscent of NEXTSTEP, the operating system that NeXT developed before it was acquired by Apple. Although, if you want to test the graphical interface of that operating system, this is not the best option. For this, there are projects with several versions more functional than this (leave us in the comments if you want us to bring a tutorial on how to test the graphical interface of NEXTSTEP).

Installing PureDarwin Xmas on VMware

The process is very similar to the previous one. The first thing to do is to download the virtual machine provided by PureDarwin. Then we will unzip it and drag it to the main VMware screen to import it.
Once it is imported we will make a small change, increase the RAM . For this we will go to the settings of the virtual machine. There we will go to the configuration of Processor and Memory. There, we can put the amount of RAM that we want to allocate, which we recommend that is between 256 and 1024 MB (the number of processors will leave it in 1).
Once this is done, we will boot the virtual machine . We will soon see the Xmas desktop.
The interface is very simple to understand, although at first it may scare a little. To the right we will have what is now the "Dock", and to the left at the top we will have the different desks (which we would now access with the "Mission Control"). Below we will get the minimized applications, and if we right click we will not leave the context menu, but the main menu (the equivalent of the apple of today).
As before, here too we can execute the command "uname -a" to verify that we are actually in Darwin 9.

Conclusion

As we can see, the thing is complicated . Currently there is no project that attempts to seriously offer a version of Darwin to the general public. The closest thing to that is PureDarwin , but unfortunately the inactivity of the community prevents new versions from coming out.
Also, as we could see throughout this tutorial, PureDarwin is quite limited , and although it is possible to install MacPorts (which would allow us to install new programs), the process is very complicated and the result is not very good.
Are you going to try PureDarwin to satisfy your curiosity? Would you like us to bring new tutorials in the future so we can experience the past of the Apple and NeXT operating system with your own hands?
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