Can you give me a copy of Rhapsody?
The most frequently asked question I get is "Can you give me a copy of Rhapsody?"

And the answer is: No.

Beyond the fact that I think that software piracy is wrong, there is the fact that I strongly feel that anything that hurts Apple hurts me. As a computer consultant who works primarily with Apple Computers, Apple is the heart of my business. And as such, anything that harms Apple is (in effect) harming my business.

Also, I really don't think that Rhapsody is that hard to find (legally).

Yes, I know that the developer releases are rare, and that those were the only versions that ran on PCs, but thanks to the disposable mentality of the PC world, the hardware to run Rhapsody for PCs is almost as hard to find these days as Rhapsody itself.

As for how hard it is to find, this is what I've seen in the last six months on ebay:
April 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.0
Rhapsody DR1, DR2, Mac OS X DP1, DP2, DP3, DP4 and PB
May 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.1 (which is actually 1.0)
Mac OS X Server 1.2v3
June 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.2
July 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.2
August 2006
(I wasn't watching this month)
September 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.1 (which is actually 1.0)
October 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.1 (which is actually 1.0)
November 2006
Mac OS X Server 1.2
Mac OS X Server 1.1 (which is actually 1.0)
And it has been listed on Amazon here and here, and Mac OS X Server 1.2 was available until February 2006 here.

I always advise people to run one of the "Mac OS X Server" releases of Rhapsody. It was widely sold to the public and shows up on ebay once or twice a month, and on Amazon every so often too. Additionally, the Server versions of Rhapsody have far more software for them.

But the key factor in recommending the Server version of Rhapsody is the availability of hardware for running it. Macs (unlike PCs) have a much longer shelf life, so you can find great old Macs that will run Rhapsody without having to hunt down all sorts of parts and pieces.

Why doesn't Apple release Rhapsody for free?
Why won't Apple release old operating systems (NEXTSTEP, OPENSTEP, A/UX, Mac OS 8/9 or Rhapsody) for free?

The simple fact of the matter is that Apple can't offer these systems for free. They just don't have the rights to do this.

Lets look at a couple examples of barriers that Apple faces...

Rhapsody (like NEXTSTEP and OPENSTEP before it) uses a licensed version of BSD. This is to say, Rhapsody is using a pre-4.4BSD Lite version of BSD (where the restricted parts were removed). This limitation was one of the reasons that Apple created Darwin.

Darwin started out as the Rhapsody 5.2 kernel and then had all of the 4.3BSD and 4.4BSD (encumbered) elements removed and replaced with 4.4BSD Lite elements from FreeBSD (Rhapsody had already started using elements from OpenBSD and NetBSD). This is part of the reason why Apple could give away Darwin when it couldn't give away Rhapsody.

Also Rhapsody uses Display Postscript, which while it was co-developed by NeXT, is a product licensed to Apple by Adobe. Because Apple doesn't own this technology, they are not at liberty to give it away (same with NEXTSTEP and OPENSTEP). And Adobe was planning on charging so much for Display Postscript per copy of Mac OS X that Apple decided to create Display PDF as a license free replacement.

While A/UX may use System 6 and 7 as it's Macintosh application environment, the underlying system is based on System V Release 2.2 with elements from System V Release 3 and 4 and some elements from 4.3BSD. Anyone who has been following the SCO vs IBM case knows that System V is not a free OS and can not be given away.

If Apple were to attempt to give away copies of A/UX, they would be responsible for paying the license fees for each copy distributed based on their original license agreement (which would be several hundred dollars per copy).

When is an OS dead?
From Apple's point of view, any OS that can still be used to perform tasks that competes with their current OS is considered competition. This includes NEXTSTEP, OPENSTEP, A/UX, Mac OS 8/9 and Rhapsody.

Even though Apple is no longer selling NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP, they have given Black Hole, Inc. permission to sell them... with restrictions. If you buy a copy of NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP with the developer tools, you can not use those tools to make software that you charge for (but you can make freeware or donationware). The main reason for this is that NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP are still very good platforms for Enterprise Objects and WebObjects.

Similarly, Rhapsody (specially the Server versions) competes directly with the current version of Mac OS X Server in the area of web serving, file serving and netboot serving. And Mac OS X Server came with a copy of WebObjects 4.0.1 which (before Apple made WebObjects free) competed with WebObjects 5.

So in Apple's eyes NEXTSTEP, OPENSTEP and Rhapsody are all still very much alive.

Can you give me any software for Rhapsody?
I'm happy to provide copies or links to copies of freeware and demoware for Rhapsody. But if the software requires a license to run it, then you'll have to buy the license from the developer.

In the case of Rhapsody, because it is so close to Mac OS X many developers can't donate the license for the Rhapsody versions without compromising their Mac OS X software. So while I have been able to provide quite a few donated titles on my NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP site, most of the software for Rhapsody that requires a license still has to be purchased.

While many of these developers are friends of mine, I can assure you that I too had to pay for my licenses. Software developers make their living off selling their software, and paying them for their work is how we keep them making great software in the future.

But as software becomes available for the community, I'll post it here on this site.

Personally, the money I've spent on third party software for Rhapsody has been worth every cent.

Stone Design's Create(tm)
2006-09-24 15:08:48 -0500