Mac Enthusiast Sites Hosted on Linux, FreeBSD

A decision by MacDailyNews to shift its web site from Mac OS X to Linux has highlighted the fact that many prominent sites for Macintosh users are hosted on either Linux or FreeBSD.

Mac enthusiast sites hosted on Linux include MacDailyNews, MacWorld and MacCentral. Running on FreeBSD are MacintoshOS, MacMinute and the entire Mac News Network group of sites, including MacSurfer, Apple Insider, Mac Observer and the MacNN main site.

Only about 60K hostnames worldwide are currently hosted on the Mac OS, and just eight hosting firms house more than 1,000 Mac-based hostnames. The largest, with 4K hostnames, is Natel.net, an ISP in Fairfield, Iowa.

Mac sites' choice of hosting platform gained visibility when USA Today columnist Andrew Kantor noted MacDailyNews' recent switch to Linux. "I find this amusing — and telling," Kantor wrote on his blog.

MacDailyNews said its decision to leave MacDock hosting was spurred by growing traffic and a desire to manage the site with the Expression Engine blogging/CMS software. To accommodate that transition, MacDailyNews shifted to the Pmachine Hosting service, which is operated by the authors of Expression Engine.

"Our travels from server to server have nothing to do with operating systems and everything to do with the capacity to handle our growing traffic at sustainable rates," MacDailyNews told its readers. "We have also used Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and FreeBSD in the past. We probably will hit one or all of them again in the future — well, maybe not Mac OS 9."

Even Apple itself periodically uses Linux in its hosting infrastructure for the Mac.com domain, most likely for caching and load balancing rather than actually hosting the site. Open source operating systems - and FreeBSD in particular - are seen as a palatable option for many Mac enthusiasts because of the lineage of the Mac OS X, which is based on the BSD implementation of UNIX. Mac OS X can run many BSD or Linux software packages once compiled for the platform.

Nonetheless, there are limits to the flexibility shown by Mac enthusiast sites, few of whom seem likely to follow the lead of the MacWorld Expo and host on Windows Server 2003. "Notice that we have never used a Windows-based server, nor will we ever," said MacDailyNews.