TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apr 01 ADC Direct Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: ADC Direct

Darwin: Mac OS X’s Core OS

By John Signa

Beneath Mac OS X's user-friendly and attractive user interface, Aqua, and the application frameworks (Classic, Carbon and Cocoa) is Darwin: Mac OS X's core OS. Unseen by users, Darwin provides a strong yet flexible foundation with features like preemptive multitasking, protected memory and real-time support that make Mac OS X a truly modern operating system.

The focus of this article is to provide a brief overview of Darwin and its components as well as give an introduction to developing kernel extensions-modules that extend Darwin's functionality. For more in-depth information, you should read Inside Mac OS X: Kernel Environment which is available, along with other documents referred to in this article, on the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) web site in the Mac OS X Documentation section:

http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/macosx/macosx.html

ADC Programs and Mac OS X

Register today for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) from May 21-25, 2001 in San Jose, California. WWDC will feature more than 100 in-depth technical sessions and hands-on labs. You’ll have access to Apple engineers and technology experts to answer your software and hardware development questions.

Naturally, WWDC 2001 session topics will cover a full range of Apple development subjects: Mac OS X architecture (Darwin, Quartz, OpenGL, QuickTime, Carbon, Cocoa, Aqua), hardware, BSD UNIX, Java, WebObjects, development tools and much more.

Register now to attend the conference, network with peers and learn about all of the exciting technologies designed in Mac OS X. Pricing, detailed session information and registration information is available at:

http://www.apple.com/developer/wwdc2001/

Remember, ADC Select and Premier members receive special discounts. See you in May!

Most of the reference documents can be found in the /Developer/Documentation/ Kernel directory on any Mac OS X system with the Mac OS X Developer Tools package installed.

Components of Darwin

Just like in the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cups commercials ("You've got chocolate in my peanut butter... No, you've got peanut butter on my chocolate!"), Darwin blends a mixture of mature industry standard components such as Mach and BSD with Apple-engineered components to provide Mac OS X with a stable, reliable and extensible foundation. Darwin consists of five main components: Mach, I/O Kit, File System, Networking and BSD.

Mach

At the heart of Darwin is Mach, based on Mach 3.0 from Carnegie Mellon University. Mach manages processor resources such as CPU usage and memory, handles scheduling, provides memory protection and provides a messaging-centered infrastructure to the rest of the operating system layers. Mach provides Mac OS X with protected memory, preemptive multitasking, virtual memory and real-time support.

I/O Kit

Darwin provides an object-oriented framework, I/O Kit, for the development of device drivers. I/O Kit not only facilitates the creation of drivers for Mac OS X but also provides much of the infrastructure that drivers require. It consists of three major components: families, nubs and drivers.

A family defines a collection of software abstractions that are common to all devices of a particular category. Apple provides families for protocols such as USB, SCSI and FireWire, as well as for devices such as storage, HID and frame buffers. Mac OS X developers should rely upon these provided families-not create new families.

A nub is an I/O object that represents a device or logical service. A nub may represent a bus, a disk, a disk partition, a keyboard or any number of similar entities.

A driver is an object that manages a specific piece of hardware, implementing the appropriate I/O Kit abstractions for controlling that hardware. Mac OS X provides a collection of drivers that handle standard devices such as hard drives and human input devices. If your device complies with an industry standard but has additional functionality, then you simply need to subclass the provided driver and implement just the code that handles the uniqueness of your device.

Anyone working with I/O Kit-either as an application writer or a driver developer-should read Inside Mac OS X: I/O Kit Architecture to get more background on how I/O Kit works. Device driver developers should also read Mac OS X: Writing I/O Kit Drivers. Application developers should read Inside Mac OS X: Accessing Hardware from Applications. Both documents are available on the ADC web site in the Mac OS X Documentation section.

File System

The file system component of Darwin is based on an enhanced Virtual File System (VFS) design, which provides the ability to add in new file systems and enhance those already supported, including HFS, HFS+ UFS, and ISSO 9660. VFS stacks also allow you to create and layer new capabilities, such as file-based compression or encryption onto an existing file system type.

Networking

Mac OS X also provides an extensible networking system. By implementing Network Kernel Extensions (NKEs) developers can add support for additional networking protocols as well as enhance the networking functionality already provided. Developers who need to extend Mac OS X's networking capabilities should read Inside Mac OS X: Network Kernel Extensions for more details.

BSD

Darwin wraps a customized version of BSD 4.4 around the kernel. Darwin's implementation of BSD includes many of the POSIX APIs, exporting them to user-space, and abstracts Darwin's file system and networking. Darwin's BSD also provides Mac OS X's process model, basic security policies and threading support.

For developers, the biggest advantage of Darwin's BSD implementation is that it enables you to quickly port UNIX-style applications to Mac OS X. In some cases, developers have had their UNIX applications up and running on Mac OS X in a matter of hours. Because BSD does not provide GUI APIs, you will need to create a Carbon or Cocoa application to handle the user interface. Much of this work can be done using Interface Builder, Apple's user interface design tool available on the Mac OS X Developer Tools CD.

Developing Kernel Extensions

To handle enhancements to the kernel, Mac OS X provides the ability to dynamically load pieces of code, referred to as Kernel Extensions (KEXTs), without needing to recompile the kernel. All kernel extensions are implemented as "bundles"-folders that the Finder treats as single entities. In addition to having names that end in ".kext," all kernel extensions contain a property list (plist), which is an XML text file describing the KEXT's contents and requirements. Additionally, a KEXT will usually, but not always, include a module (KMOD) that contains the binary code that is actually loaded into the kernel and run. A KEXT can also contain additional resources such as icons for the Finder.

Before you dive into developing a KEXT, you must decide if you really need to run in the kernel space. Compared to code running at the user space, kernel extensions are more difficult to write and debug. Furthermore, bugs in kernel extensions can have far more severe consequences. For example, a memory access error in a user application can, at worst, cause that application to crash yet leave the rest of the OS functional. In contrast, a memory access error in a KEXT causes a system panic, crashing the entire operating system.

Project Builder Tips & Tricks

  • Regular expression searches are very powerful. If you use regular expressions with subexpressions, you can reference the subexpressions in your replace string using "\#" syntax where "#" is the index of the subexpression. For example, if you search for the regular expression "foo(.*)bar" and find an occurrence with is "fooabcdbar," a replace string of "bar\1foo" will change that match into "barabcdfoo."
  • Find Options Sets can make your batch searches much faster. Try defining a set that does not search framework headers and one that only searches framework headers, and swap between them depending on what you're looking for.
  • Lots of cool features are only available if you index your project. You have to index a project manually, the first time. After that, your index will be kept up to date automatically.

New Mac OS X Related Releases

The following software is available from the Download Software area of the ADC Member Site at: http://connect.apple.com/

  • CarbonLib 1.2.5 GM SDK
    The CarbonLib 1.2.5 SDK for Mac OS is now available to all developers. This SDK provides all the files needed to begin Carbon development. CarbonLib 1.2.5 supports Mac OS 8.6 and greater.
    http://developer.apple.com/technical/
  • CarbonLib 1.3d6 SDK
    The latest prerelease version of the CarbonLib 1.3 SDK for Mac OS is now available to all ADC Members.
    http://developer.apple.com/technical/

Developer Documentation

The following new and updated documentation is available to help you on your way to successful Mac OS X application and peripheral development at: http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/

  • iMac Developer Note (Update)
  • Inside Cocoa: Object-Oriented Programming and the Objective-C Language
  • Mac OS X: An Overview for Developers - A 10-page PDF document that explains the unique combination of technologies in Mac OS X and discusses the benefits of those technologies to developers.
    http://developer.apple.com/macosx/

TN1191 - USB Software Locator

QA1008 - WaitMouseUp documentation errata QA1001 - Detecting CD/DVD media types QA1006 - Displaying Help QA1005 - Open File Limits on Mac OS X QA1004 - Displaying the device tree in Mac OS X QA1003 - Enabling Macintosh-style Menu Bars

SAMPLECODE - QuickTime: Importers and Exporters: ElectricImageComponent SAMPLECODE - Human Interface Toolbox: ScrollingTextUserPane SAMPLECODE - Human Interface Toolbox: MLTEEditField SAMPLECODE - Human Interface Toolbox: HTMLUserPane SAMPLECODE - Human Interface Toolbox: HandyScrollingSample SAMPLECODE - Networking: URLAccessSample SAMPLECODE - Files: MoreFiles SAMPLECODE - Printing: PostScript Output Filters SAMPLECODE - Java: JNISample SAMPLECODE - Human Interface Toolbox: CarbonCustomList SAMPLECODE - Networking: OTLookupNameTest

Upcoming Seminars and Events

For more information on Apple developer events please visit the developer Events page at: http://developer.apple.com/events/

Training and Seminars

Programming with Cocoa
Taught by Aaron Hillegass at the Big Nerd Ranch, Ashville, NC and Atlanta, GA. Five-day classes are taught on developing web-based and Mac OS X applications. http://www.bignerdranch.com/when.html

Developer Related Conferences

National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference,
Las Vegas, NV
April 21-26

Produced annually by the National Association of Broadcasters, NAB2001 is the world's leading conference and exhibition for the converging electronic media communications industries. Apple will be exhibiting in Booth #M9131. http://www.nab.org/conventions/nab2001/

Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2001,
San Jose, CA
May 21-25

Register now for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2001, which takes place in San Jose, California from May 21-25. ADC Premier members receive a free pass to the conference and ADC Select members receive discounts for early registration. For schedules and other details check out: http://www.apple.com/developer/wwdc2001/

MacHack Conference, Dearborn, MI
June 21-23

MacHack, in its sixteenth year, remains centered around cutting edge software development. MacHack's uniqueness derives from the informal feel and the LIVE coding that occurs around-the-clock during the conference. http://www.machack.com/

When you are trying to decide if a piece of code should be a KEXT, the answer is generally no. Just because your code was a system extension in Mac OS 8 or 9, does not mean that it must necessarily be a kernel extension in Mac OS X. To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your code need to take a primary interrupt? That is, does something in the hardware need to interrupt the CPU?
  • Does the primary client of your code reside inside the kernel (for example, a hard drive whose primary client is the file system)?
  • Do a sufficiently large number of running applications require a resource that your code provides (for example, a file-system stack)?

If you answered "no" to all of the above, then you should consider developing your code as a library or a background application rather than as a kernel extension. You might also consider using one of the user level plug-in architectures provided by Mac OS X, such as QuickTime components or Printer Modules. However, if you are writing device drivers or code to support a new volume format or networking protocol, KEXTs may be the only solution.

Fortunately, while KEXTs are more difficult to write than user-space code, several tools and procedures are available to enhance the development and debugging process. Currently you'll need to use Apple's Project Builder IDE to create KEXTs and use GDB for debugging. For a quick introduction on creating and debugging KEXTs with Project Builder GDB, you should read Inside Mac OS X:Kernel Extensions Tutorial.

Open Source

In March, 1999, Apple announced the Darwin Open Source initiative, making Apple the first major computer company to make open-source development a key part of its ongoing software strategy. Apple has released the source code to virtually all of the components of Darwin to the developer community, providing you the ability to see how Apple has implemented Mac OS X's core OS. Not only is this helpful in understanding how the OS works, but it also allows you to utilize portions of Darwin within your own products. Before doing so you should review the Apple Public Source License to understand the limitations or obligations this entails. It can be found at:

http://opensource.apple.com/apsl/

Summary

Developing kernel code is never trivial, however Darwin's flexible architecture makes it easier than ever before to write drivers or add additional file systems for Mac OS X. By implementing such a flexible architecture in Darwin, Apple has provided a foundation that delivers the reliability and performance you'd expect from a modern operating system. Moreover, releasing Darwin to the open source community ensures that it will continue to evolve as a high-quality, interoperable system built on open standards.


John Signa is the Technology Manager for Mac OS X Core OS in Apple Worldwide Developer Relations. John first got involved in the Macintosh industry in 1988 writing software for Orange Micro's printing products. He later spent three years at SuperMac/Radius writing display and video drivers.

Did You Know?

Darwin: Document It!

You probably know that you can go to Apple's Open Source web site (www.opensource. apple.com) and download the binary and source code of Darwin and other Open Source projects. But did you know that you can get more than code? You can also obtain documentation as well. And you can add to this store of information.

That's because this documentation is created by developers in the Apple Open Source community for other developers. The Darwin Documentation project (also at www.opensource.apple.com) provides you with an assortment of tools and guides to help you compose professional-looking documents. These documents are of three types:

  • HeaderDoc-Reference documentation produced by a Perl tool that parses structured commentary embedded in C and C++ header files and produces rich HTML output from that commentary.
  • HOWTO documents-Conceptual and task-oriented information on specific programming topics. HOWTO documents are based on DocBook XML because from this format tools can process the document into multiple formats (HTML, PDF, etc.). The documentation project provides a template and instructions for creating HOWTO documents. You don't have to learn DocBook XML if you don't want to; you can submit the HOWTO as an HTML document and Apple will convert it to XML.
  • Manpages-Traditional UNIX-style documentation of command-line tools and utilities.

"Built of Mac OS X" Badge Now Available

Tell the world your product runs on Mac OS X! The artwork, licensing requirements and guidelines for use of the new “Built for Mac OS X” badge are now available on the ADC Software Licensing web site. Please note that this badge cannot be used for products that launch the Classic environment.

http://developer.apple.com/mkt/swl/agreements.html#macosx
 
AAPL
$97.67
Apple Inc.
+0.64
MSFT
$44.50
Microsoft Corpora
+0.10
GOOG
$589.02
Google Inc.
-4.33

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

TinkerTool 5.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Intermission 1.1.1 - Pause and rewind li...
Intermission allows you to pause and rewind live audio from any application on your Mac. Intermission will buffer up to 3 hours of audio, allowing users to skip through any assortment of audio... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.6 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
Airfoil 4.8.7 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.8 - Connect...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
xACT 2.30 - Audio compression toolkit. (...
xACT stands for X Aaudio Compression Toolkit, an application that encodes and decodes FLAC, SHN, Monkey’s Audio, TTA, Wavpack, and Apple Lossless files. It also can encode these formats to MP3, AAC... Read more
Firefox 31.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals... Read more
Little Snitch 3.3.3 - Alerts you to outg...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activityAs soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Thunderbird 31.0 - Email client from Moz...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Ep...
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Episode 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Jacob Jones is back in Episode 2 of one of Apples 'Best of 2013' games and an App Store... | Read more »
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New K...
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New Kind of Card Battler Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Out this Fall is a new kind of card battle game: Outcast Odyssey. | Read more »
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming...
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming to iOS this Fall Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Who loves lasagna? Me. Also everyone’s favorite grumpy fat cat, Garfield. | Read more »
Happy Flock Review
Happy Flock Review By Andrew Fisher on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: HERD IT ALL BEFOREUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Underneath the gloss of Happy Flock’s visuals is a game of very little substance. It’s cute, but... | Read more »
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Pay...
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Payments Posted by Ellis Spice on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Looking For Group – Hearthstone’s Curse...
For the first time since its release (which has thankfully been a much shorter window for iPad players than their PC counterparts), Blizzard’s wildly successful Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG is sporting some brand new content: the single... | Read more »
Poptile Review
Poptile Review By Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLY FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple yet a little bit glorious, Poptile is a satisfying entertaining puzzle game with oodles of the ‘one... | Read more »
Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review
Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review By Brittany Vincent on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: LESS QQ, MORE PEW PEWUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The fifth entry into the blockbuster Modern Combat series is what mobile... | Read more »
Watch and Share Mobile Gameplay Videos W...
Watch and Share Mobile Gameplay Videos With Kamcord Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
THE KING OF FIGHTERS '98 (Games)
THE KING OF FIGHTERS '98 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Series’ masterpiece “KOF ’98” finally joins the battle on iPhone! FEATURES:■ The best game balance in the “KOF”... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iMacs on sale for $150 off MSRP, $250 off for...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP, starting...
Best Buy has Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup. Prices are for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: 2.5GHz Mac mini: $499.99 2.3GHz... Read more
Global Tablet Market Grows 11% in Q2/14 Notwi...
Worldwide tablet sales grew 11.0 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation... Read more
New iPhone 6 Models to Have Staggered Release...
Digitimes’ Cage Chao and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed sources in Apple’s upstream iPhone supply chain, the new 5.5-inch iPhone will be released several months later than the new 4.7-... Read more
New iOS App Helps People Feel Good About thei...
Mobile shoppers looking for big savings at their favorite stores can turn to the Goodshop app, a new iOS app with the latest coupons and deals at more than 5,000 online stores. In addition to being a... Read more
Save on 5th generation refurbished iPod touch...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
What Should Apple’s Next MacBook Priority Be;...
Stabley Times’ Phil Moore says that after expanding its iMac lineup with a new low end model, Apple’s next Mac hardware decision will be how it wants to approach expanding its MacBook lineup as well... Read more
ArtRage For iPhone Painting App Free During C...
ArtRage for iPhone is currently being offered for free (regularly $1.99) during Comic-Con San Diego #SDCC, July 24-27, in celebration of the upcoming ArtRage 4.5 and other 64-bit versions of the... Read more
With The Apple/IBM Alliance, Is The iPad Now...
Almost since the iPad was rolled out in 2010, and especially after Apple made a 128 GB storage configuration available in 2012, there’s been debate over whether the iPad is a serious tool for... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale starting at $799, free s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Project Manager for *Apple* Campus 2 -...
…the design and construction of one building or building components of the New Apple Campus located in Cupertino, CA. They will provide project management oversight for Read more
WW Sales Program Manager, *Apple* Online St...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.