Discs, filesystems and Macs – Interview with Drew Thaler

Filed under: Hardware,People,Software

Best known for a recent series of posts on Sun’s ZFS filesystems, Drew Thaler has worked on many projects at Infinite Loop in the last decade. One of his areas of expertise is filesystems and optical discs, on which he is working right now at Sony but which also is the underlying theme on his blog, aptly titled “Recording artist”.

We contacted him to ask some questions and he very generously answered providing a lot of interesting and background info and tidbits on Apple and its technologies and inner workings.

Drew ThalerStories of Apple: Would you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what’s your connection with Apple?
Drew Thaler: Hi! My name is Drew Thaler, and I’m a low-level software engineer. I’ve spent most of my career working on Mac OS software, including an internship at Apple during college, and five years working at Apple.

SoA: What parts of the Mac OS did you work on?
DT: I started out in CPU Software working on drivers for new hardware: video acceleration, PCMCIA, hardware DVD playback, and more. Later, I was part of the small group of engineers that created Apple’s (Mac) OS 9 and (Mac) OS X CD and DVD burning solution, called DiscRecording.framework. And recently I spent just over a year contracting for the CoreOS filesystems group.

SoA:You also contributed to iTunes. When was that? And how was the perception at Apple of the app’s importance? Was the iPod + (Music) Store strategy already known?
DT:My friends and I developed the CD/DVD burning technology at a company outside of Apple, and we were acquired. It’s a little crazy to think about this, but iTunes had no support whatsoever for CD burning at the start of November 2000. The paperwork for the acquisition finished up in the middle of that month. Six frantic weeks of development later, we had integrated it into both iTunes and the Finder in Mac OS 9 in time for it to be shown at MacWorld San Francisco in January 2001. It shipped to customers later that month. I continued to work with the iTunes engineers until late 2003.

Wednesday 31 October 2007, 1:08 pm
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Slackintosh reborn – An Interview with Adrian Ulrich

Filed under: Hardware,People,Software

Slackintosh was a little-known PPC port of Slackware Linux which after some years of development was put on indefinite hiatus.

MacinTuxAdrian Ulrich has recently restarted the project and is again providing (together with Marco Bonetti) a Slackware distribution for Apple (and non-Apple) RISC-powered hardware. We contacted him for a short interview to ask him what happened, what is his role and what is the distribution’s status.

Stories of Apple: A couple of years ago Slackintosh seemed to have been shelved. What happened? How and when did you picked up the project? And is there any contact or relationship with the previous maintainer?
Adrian Ulrich: I’ve been using Slackintosh 8.1 (after ditching Yellow Dog Linux and Debian) and soon upgraded it to the unfinished 9.1 and started to build my own Packages for 9.1. Later i’ve realized that Russel had stopped working on the project so i contacted him via e-mail and offered my help. While waiting for a response i’ve started to rebuild everything from scratch using Slackware 10.1. After a few weeks, i still didn’t hear anything from Russel so i uploaded my stuff to a server i own and announced my 10.1 version in a newsgroup and a few slackware-related forums. (Well: I did get a response from Russel after 10.1 has been released ;-) )

SoA: What kind of user is Slackintosh for and how many are using it? And what are its perspectives and chances after Apple has switched from PPC to Intel CPUs?
AU: Slackintosh is made for experienced Linux-users and Slackware users who own PowerPC hardware.
It is still useful even after the switch to x86 CPUs: Apples PowerPC support for OSX is not infinite, but with a free Operating System (such as Slackintosh) support will be thereas long as people use the hardware.

SoA: What’s the best (i.e. most easy/supported) Apple hardware to try and use Slackintosh?
AU: Even without Apple there is still a lot of interesting PowerPC based
hardware. I’ve been using Slackware 10.2 on the Nintendo Gamecube a few months ago. A Wii port would be interesting…

SoA: How would you sum up these years as maintainer of the Slackintosh project?
AU: I’ve learned a lot about the ‘inner workings’ of a Linux/Unix system.
Building stuff like glibc, compilers and X.org is not much fun but educating :-)

Wednesday 19 September 2007, 1:06 pm
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