Linux Apps On Mac Os X

  1. Mac Os Vs Linux
  2. Mac Or Linux

Dec 10, 2019 The XQuartz project is an open-source effort to develop a version of the X.Org X Window System that runs on OS X. Together with supporting libraries and applications, it forms the that Apple shipped with OS X versions 10.5 through 10.7. Apple used to ship an X11 display server with Mac OS X, but at some point stopped. I've found the 'open' command in Mac OS X very handy in the command line. From 'man open': The open command opens a file (or a directory or URL), just as if you had double-clicked the file's icon. If no application name is specified, the default application as determined via LaunchServices is used to open the specified files.

Linux users who want to run Windows applications without switching operating systems have been able to do so for years with Wine, software that lets apps designed for Windows run on Unix-like systems.

There has been no robust equivalent allowing Mac applications to run on Linux, perhaps no surprise given that Windows is far and away the world's most widely used desktop operating system. A developer from Prague named Luboš Doležel is trying to change that with 'Darling,' an emulation layer for OS X.

'The aim is to achieve binary compatible support for Darwin/OS X applications on Linux, plus provide useful tools that will aid especially in application installation,' Doležel's project page states. Darwin is Apple's open source operating system, which provides some of the backend technology in OS X and iOS. The name 'Darling' combines Darwin and Linux. Darling works by 'pars[ing] executable files for the Darwin kernel.. load[ing] them into the memory.. and execut[ing] them.'

But there is a ways to go. 'Darling needs to provide an ABI-compatible [application binary interface] set of libraries and frameworks as available on OS X.. by either directly mapping functions to those available on Linux, wrapping native functions to bridge the ABI incompatibility, or providing a re-implementation on top of other native APIs,' the project page notes.

Doležel, who started Darling a year ago, described the project and its progress in an e-mail interview with Ars. Darling is in the early stages, able to run numerous console applications but not much else. 'These are indeed the easiest ones to get working, albeit 'easy' is not the right word to describe the amount of work required to achieve that,' Doležel said. 'Such applications include: Midnight Commander, Bash, VIM, or Apple's GCC [GNU Compiler Collection]. I know it doesn't sound all that great, but it proves that Darling provides a solid base for further work.'

Users must compile Darling from the source code and then 'use the 'dyld' command to run an OS X executable,' Doležel said. One roadblock is actually getting Mac .dmg and .pkg application files working on a Linux system. Because doing so isn't that straightforward, Doležel said, 'I've written a FUSE module that enables users to mount .dmg files under Linux directly and without root privileges. An installer for .pkg files is underway.'

Unix/Linux synergy

The fact that OS X is a Unix operating system provides advantages in the development process. 'This saved me a lot of work,' Doležel explained. 'Instead of implementing all the 'system' APIs, it was sufficient to create simple wrappers around the ones available on Linux. I had to check every function for ABI compatibility and then test whether my wrapper works, so it wasn't as easy as it may sound.'

Another lucky break not available to Wine developers is that Apple releases some of the low-level components of OS X as open source code, 'which helped a lot with the dynamic loader and Objective-C runtime support code,' Doležel noted.

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But of course, the project is an extremely difficult one. Doležel isn't the first to try it, as Darling was initially based on a separate project called 'maloader.' Doležel said he heard from another group of people 'who started a similar project before but abandoned the idea due to lack of time.'

Doležel was actually a novice to OS X development when he started Darling, being more familiar with OS X from a user's perspective than a developer's perspective. 'I have personally looked for something like Darling before, before I realized I would have to start working on it myself,' he said.

Darling relies heavily on GNUstep, an open source implementation of Apple's Cocoa API. GNUstep provides several core frameworks to Darling, and 'the answer to 'can it run this GUI app?' heavily depends on GNUstep,' Doležel said. Doležel is the only developer of Darling, using up all his spare time on the project.

No reverse-engineering

Doležel isn't reverse-engineering Apple code, noting that it could be problematic in terms of licensing and also that 'disassembling Apple's frameworks wouldn't be helpful at all because Darling and the environment it's running in is layered differently than OS X.'

The development process is a painstaking one, done one application at a time. Doležel explains:

To improve Darling, I first take or write an application I'd like to have running. If it is someone else's application, I first examine it with one of the tools that come with Darling to see what frameworks and APIs it requires. I look up the APIs that are missing in Apple's documentation; then I create stub functions for them and possibly for the rest of the framework, too. (Stub functions only print a warning when they are called but don't do any real work.)

The next step is to implement all the APIs according to the documentation and then see how the application reacts. I also add trace statements into important functions to have an insight into what's happening. I believe this is very much like what Wine developers do.

When things go wrong, I have to use GDB [GNU Debugger] to debug the original application.

It is rather unfortunate that Apple's documentation is often so poorly written; sometimes I have to experiment to figure out what the function really does. Many OS X applications seem to contain complete pieces of example code from Apple's documentation, presumably because one would have to spend a lot of time getting to understand how the APIs interact. This is why I appreciate open source so much—when the documentation is sketchy, you can always look into the code.

Years of development are needed. Similar to Wine, 'Having a list of applications known to be working is probably the best way to go,' Doležel said.

Darling should work on all Linux distributions, he said, with the catch that 'many apps for OS X are 32-bit only, and installing 32-bit packages on a 64-bit Linux system could be tricky depending on your distribution. I personally use Gentoo Linux, so I'm gradually creating a Portage overlay that would compile Darling and all dependencies for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.'

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Doležel would like to bring Angry Birds, other games, and multimedia applications to Linux. Darling could potentially 'be used to run applications compiled for iOS,' he writes on the project site. This will also be a challenge. 'The intention is to support the ARM platform on the lowest levels (the dynamic loader and the Objective-C runtime),' he writes. 'Rewriting the frameworks used on iOS is a whole different story, though.'

The UNIX Porting Guide is a first stop for UNIX developers coming to OS X. This document helps guide developers in bringing applications written for UNIX-based operating systems to OS X. It provides the background needed to understand the operating system. It touches on some of the design decisions, and it provides a listing and discussion of some of the main areas that you should be concerned with in bringing UNIX applications to OS X. It also points out some of the advanced features of OS X not available in traditional UNIX applications that you can add to your ported applications.

This document also provides an entry point for other documentation on various subjects that may be of interest if you are porting an application from a UNIX environment to OS X.

This document is an overview, not a tutorial. In many regards it is a companion to the more extensive Mac Technology Overview, but with a bias toward the UNIX developer.

This document also does not cover porting shell scripts to OS X. For more information about shell scripts and OS X, you should read Shell Scripting Primer.

Bringing UNIX Apps to OS X

The introduction of UNIX-like operating systems such as FreeBSD and Linux for personal computers was a great step in bringing the power and stability of UNIX to the mass market. Generally though, these projects were driven by power users and developers for their own use, without making design decisions that would make UNIX palatable to consumers. OS X, on the other hand, was designed from the beginning with end users in mind.

With this operating system, Apple builds its well-known strengths in simplicity and elegance of design on a UNIX-based foundation. Rather than reinventing what has already been done well, Apple is combining their strengths with the strengths brought about by many years of advancement by the UNIX community.

Who Should Read This Document?

Any UNIX developers can benefit from reading this book.

  • In-house corporate application developers

  • Commercial UNIX developers

  • Open source developers

  • Open source porters

  • Higher education faculty, staff, and students

  • Science and research developers

If you’re a commercial UNIX developer, you are already familiar with other UNIX-based systems and may want to understand the differences between other systems and OS X. You might be interested in porting the GUI from an X11 environment into a native graphics environment using Carbon or Cocoa. You may also have special needs such as direct hardware access, exclusive file access guarantees, and so on.

If you’re a corporate in-house developer (developing applications for internal use), you probably want to port applications with minimal code divergence.

If you’re an open source developer, you might want information about how to incorporate new technologies into your software, and may be interested in GUI porting, depending on your level of interest. Alternately, you might be interested only in quickly porting code to a new platform with minimal changes so that you can easily get your changes back into the official code base. If so, you may be more likely to use compatibility shims than to use new APIs.

No matter what “flavor” of developer you are, this book will provide information that is helpful to you and provide pointers to additional documents that may be of interest.

Important: If you are primarily interested in shell scripts and command-line compatibility, you should read Designing Scripts for Cross-Platform Deployment in Shell Scripting Primer. That document gives a more thorough overview of the shell environment in OS X, including common cross-platform compatibility issues.

Important: This document is not designed for pure Java developers. OS X has a full and robust Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) implementation. If you have a pure Java application already, it should run in OS X.

Organization of This Document

This document is a first stop for UNIX developers coming to OS X. It contains many links to more extensive documentation. Specific details of implementation are covered here only in cases where it is not adequately covered in other places in the documentation set.

To use this document most effectively, first read Overview of OS X to find out the basics about the Mac and to get some of the high-level information you need to begin your port. If you already have an application that builds on other UNIX-based platforms, Compiling Your Code in OS X will help you find out how to compile your code on OS X.

Most of your effort, however, should be spent towards making decisions concerning which, if any, graphical user interface to implement with your application. Choosing a Graphical Environment for Your Application helps you with this.

If you want to refactor your application to take advantage of the rich feature set of OS X, see Additional Features for examples of features available in OS X.

Mac Os Vs Linux

Once you have a complete application, read Distributing Your Application for information on getting your application to OS X users.

See Also

Developer documentation can be found at Apple’s developer website at This site contains reference, conceptual, and tutorial material for the many facets of development on OS X. The OS X Developer Tools CD includes a snapshot of the developer documentation, which can be searched for and viewed in Xcode’s doc viewer. The man pages are also included with the OS X Developer Tools.

Apple Developer Connection (ADC) offers a variety of membership levels to help you in your development. These range from free memberships that give you access to developer software, to paid memberships that provide support incidents as well as the possibility of software seeds. More information on memberships is available at

Once a year in early Summer, Apple hosts the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in the San Francisco, California Bay area. This is an extremely valuable resource for developers trying to get an overall picture of OS X as well as specific implementation details of individual technologies. Information on WWDC is available on the ADC website.

Apple hosts an extensive array of public mailing lists. These are available for public subscription and searching at The unix-porting list is highly recommended. The darwin-dev and darwinos-users lists also offer much help but less specific to the task of porting.

Mac Or Linux

In addition to Apple’s own resources, many external resources exist, for example, O’Reilly’s Mac DevCenter,

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