Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I understand why you can't develop OS X apps on a Linux computer, but is there a good technical reason why you can't develop iPhone and iPad apps on Linux? Why isn't it possible to compile iOS source code into an iOS executable and run it in an iOS simulator on Linux or install it on a development iOS device?

Is it just because the XCode IDE is a Cocoa application?

You can develop Android apps on any kind of platform, it seems. I don't see why the same can't be true of iOS.

share|improve this question
I imagine the answer to this question, sadly, is going to be "no; Apple just said so". –  Jon Purdy Aug 5 '11 at 20:48
question closed for "blasphemy" ;) –  thorsten müller Aug 5 '11 at 20:56
On a side note, you can get "Mac Mini" machine. It is cheap not to mention it is really a fine machine. –  Chiron Aug 5 '11 at 22:47
@The Legend of 1982: I misread fine machine as time machine, and experienced an instant of simultaneous boyish excitement and contempt of Apple. –  Jon Purdy Aug 6 '11 at 0:55
@Jon Purdy Well Apple offers "Time Machine" and "Time Capsule" :) –  Chiron Aug 6 '11 at 1:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Mac OS X can only contractually be run on Apple Hardware. iOS requires the Cocoa framework and to have access to a Mac to sign the keychain. While you can use Objective-C on Linux using the OpenStep libraries, you can't push the applications you develop to iOS due to the lack of the correct Cocoa API libraries and while you can push to a jailbroken device without keychaining with a full developer account, in order to sell said app or even to have the public download it, you have play by Apple's rules.

share|improve this answer
"Mac OS X can only legally be run on Apple Hardware" -- I would be very surprised if that were true in any sane legal system. I know for a fact that it isn't true in Germany, because Microsoft tried to pull the same stunt, people ignored it, Microsoft sued, and lost. –  Jörg W Mittag Aug 5 '11 at 21:06
I'll change it to "contractually" for more precision. –  World Engineer Aug 5 '11 at 21:21
Violating the terms of the contract basically just strips you of support privileges. Apple wants to provide good customer service, and the simplest way to do that is to limit the space in which things can go wrong in the first place. If you're running their OS on non-Apple hardware, you're on your own. –  Jon Purdy Aug 5 '11 at 22:27

There's no particular technical reason, but the developer tools Apple provides only run on Macs, and I don't see them being in any hurry to change that.

With regards to third party developer tools, Apple very publicly dislikes them, and given Apple's absolute veto power over what gets in the App Store, it's not a great idea to invest any significant development time in making/using them.

(One of the development tools - the iOS Simulator - is very strongly tied to MacOS X for sound technical reasons. AFAIK it's actually a thin wrapper between iOS and the very similar MacOS X APIs, which it would be infinitely harder to do on another OS. You'd have to start again from scratch and likely end up with something as dog slow and horrible as the Android emulator)

share|improve this answer

It depends on what you mean by "technical reason"

Strictly speaking I don't believe there's a technical reason that iOS Apps couldn't be developed on Linux. It would require some entity, be it Apple or a group of enterprising/talented hackers, to author a toolchain for it (compilers, maybe an IDE, something to get it on the phone).

So if by "technical reason" you mean "something special about the Macintosh that's impossible and couldn't possibly exist on another platform" then no, I don't believe there is. There's not some special chip on the Macintosh that is required for this, for example.

If by "technical reason" you mean "something preventing me from being able to do it today" then yes, the entire signed code bit doesn't exist on Linux and unless Apple ports it over then that's the ball game.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.