The movement toward open-source applications gained a new member when Apple Computer Inc. announced mid-March it would release the source code for various components of its Mac OS X Server, which is now shipping.

As part of Apple’s Darwin project — so named because “it’s about evolution,” according to interim CEO Steve Jobs — the company plans to release three components of Mac OS X Server: the Mach 2.5 microkernel, the BSD Unix 4.4 operating system and the Apache Web server. Darwin also features core Apple technologies such as AppleTalk, HFS-Plus file system and the NetInfo distributed database. Other main components of Mac OS X Server — Mac file services, NetBoot and the WebObjects application server — will not be open-sourced.

“Apple is the first major computer company to do this with an operating system,” Jobs said.

One analyst praised the move by Apple, which has been perceived as highly proprietary about its operating system and hardware. Steve [Jobs] has been the high priest of proprietary, so this is a good step,” said Chris Le Tocq, an analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, Calif.

Darwin can be downloaded from