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Darwin is the open source core of OS X.


Darwin 0.1

In the beginning of the project it was a fork of OPENSTEP. As far as I've been able to track down there have been 3 public releases of this OPENSTEP Darwin. And there have been several more public releases, up to and including OS X Server 1.0 which was based on the OPENSTEP kernel. Further complicating things, Darwin 0.1 reports itself as Rhapsody 5.3, while Darwin 0.2 and 0.3 report themselves as Darwin 0.2/0.3

The following is a table of versions I've been able to put together with information from the Rhapsody Resource Page, and a mirror of the Darwin Q&A.

Kernel Version OS Name OS X Version Darwin Version Code name
5.0 Rhapsody Rhapsody Developer Release N/A Grail1Z4
5.1 Rhapsody Developer Release 2 N/A Titan1U
5.2 Rhapsody Rhapsody 1.0 N/A Unknown
5.3 Rhapsody Mac OS X Server 1.0 Darwin 0.1 Hera1O9
5.4 Rhapsody Mac OS X Server 1.0.1 Darwin 0.2? Loki1A2
5.5 Rhapsody Mac OS X Server 1.0.2 Darwin 0.3 Loki2G1
5.6 Rhapsody Mac OS X Server 1.2 N/A Pele1Q10
5.6 Rhapsody Mac OS X Server 1.2v3 N/A Medusa1E3

getting this to run

Darwin 0.x can be built using a Rhapsody/OS X Server 1.0 binary system as a starting point. However when it comes to emulation and physical hardware the EIDE driver has a problem losing interrupts. It is not only a problem with Darwin/Rhapsody but on physical machines as well. This poses a challenge to 'white box' builders to this day. However the emulator Qemu 0.90 can run Rhapsody albeit with a busmouse driver.

At this moment I have the following version of Darwin setup to run on Qemu:

* Darwin 0.3


Darwin 1.4.1

After the release of OS X Server 1.0, it was clear at this point that OS X was doomed, as 3rd party software vendors expressed no interest in porting applications to OPENSTEP/Cocoa API's. Instead Apple would have to go and create the Carbon framework, allowing traditional MacOS applications to use a subset of the toolbox API, and then be ported to OS X. Along the way the older OPENSTEP kernel was dropped in favor of a newer kernel based on Mach 3.0 and a C++ driver framework.

The Darwin OS includes both the XNU kernel, along with all the free tools.

As far as I recall it started being fully distributed in Darwin 1.0, which was a PowerPC only release, while later releases included native support for the x86.

Version Released Corresponds With
Darwin 1.0 April 2000 Mac OS X Developer Preview 4
Darwin 1.2 October 2000 Mac OS X Public Beta
Darwin 1.3.1 April 2001 Mac OS X 10.0.1
Darwin 1.4.1 Fall 2001 Mac OS X 10.1
Darwin 5.1-5.5 Mac OS X v.10.1.1-10.1.5
Darwin 6.0-6.8 Mac OS X v.10.2.0-10.2.8
Darwin 7.0-7.9 Mac OS X v.10.3.0-10.3.9
Darwin 8.0-8.11 Mac OS X v.10.4.0-10.4.11
Darwin 9.0-9.1 Mac OS X v.10.5.0-10.5.1

Versioning confusion

As mentioned over on this thread at nextcomputers.org, that although there was a released memo explaining the logic behind the version number changes so that way Darwin would match up to the build number of XNU, it lead to great confusion. However this letter at least sets it to the original intent.

New Darwin Versioning Scheme 

As of Software Update 1 for Mac OS X v10.1, we have moved to a new 
numbering policy for the Darwin portions of Mac OS X. It you type 
"uname -a" from the command-line, you will see that the Darwin version 
number has changed to "5.1" (actually 5.1.0), which better aligns 
Darwin's numbering scheme with our internal build processes. The "5" 
refers to the major release - "4" was Mac OS X v10.0, and the earlier 
numbers represented developer releases. The minor version '1' is 
generally the update number, and the final number (e.g, the "0" in 
5.1.0) represent 'variants'. For example, under the new scheme, the 
Darwin in Mac OS X v10.1 would've been '5.0.0' whereas the Open Source 
Darwin version released immediately afterwards (1.4.1) would've been 

We apologize for any disruption this may cause existing projects, and 
hope this change will enable us to provide greater consistency in the 

Ernie Prabhakar

The following releases can be downloaded here:

getting this to run

Compatibility is a mixed bag, and it was just as bad at the time, and on real hardware.

Darwin 1.4.1

Recently I've found that it will run using Qemu 2.7. I didn't have to do anything special and I've written about it here.

Darwin 8.0.1

Darwin 8.0.1 to run under Qemu 0.13.0. As far as I know 1.4.1, has some kind of CPU issue, and 6.0.1 and 7.0.1 all have ACPI issues. Installation is pretty simple, a config like this is more then enough to get going:

C:\qemu-0.13.0>qemu.exe -L pc-bios -m 256 -hda 4gc.disk -cdrom 801.iso -net nic,model=e1000 -net user -no-reboot -boot d

What runs