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Could this be achieved? It would have to be done legally, without infringing on Apple's copyrights.

Could it be built on a Darwin, FreeBSD or other base and then aim for binary compatibility with OS X software? Similarly to what React OS attempted, but perhaps with a greater chance of success?

Edit: The difference between this and the suggested duplicate is that the other question is about a particular software that already exists for existing operating systems (Linuxes). This question, on the other hand, is about the feasibility of building a whole new OS (possibly using a Darwin or FreeBSD base.)

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There is PureDarwin: http://www.puredarwin.org/

PureDarwin is the successor of OpenDarwin, and is a free, open source, community supported project to make Darwin more usable and compatible with non-Apple hardware.

In reference to this question, PureDarwin is binary compatible as long as you do not rely on a library or other feature that is only available in OS X. Most apps depend on OS X specific libraries, which in practice makes the ecosystem of apps that can be run on PureDarwin quite limited. It would be possible to build open source libraries for PureDarwin that can replace OS X's libraries and make PureDarwin fully or largely compatible with modern, popular OS X software. However, it would require a lot of time and patience, and it would be a daunting task for just a few developers. And as far as I can see PureDarwin lacks of code contributors. It would require a large team of dedicated, skilled developers with proper funding.

  • And most apps depend on OS X specific libraries, right? Which in practice makes the ecosystem of apps that can be run on PureDarwin quite limited? Is it feasible to build open source libraries for PureDarwin that can replace OS X's libraries and make PureDarwin fully or largely compatible with modern, popular OS X software? – Revetahw Apr 21 '16 at 14:30
  • Yes, that's possible (please remember that OSX can be installed on regular non-Apple hardware with some hacks, so in theory there isn't any hardware limitations), but it would require a lot of time and patience, and it would be a daunting task for just a few developers. And as far as I can see PureDarwin lacks of code contributors. – Luca D'Amico Apr 21 '16 at 14:38
  • Yes, I'm currently writing this from OS X running on a Dell laptop. But it's difficult to install and doesn't work on all computers. OK, so basically what you are saying is that it's doable, but it would require a large team of dedicated, skilled developers with proper funding? That sounds reasonable. It would be really cool though. – Revetahw Apr 21 '16 at 14:42
  • I expanded your answer with some relevant things we discussed in the comments. I hope you don't mind. – Revetahw Apr 21 '16 at 14:46
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    Yeah, you are right. And yes, the problem are mainly related to device drivers (aka Kext - Kernel Extensions). I'm not a fan of Apple, but having a free, opensource, not tied to Apple hardware, version of Darwin would be really cool. – Luca D'Amico Apr 21 '16 at 14:47

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