Saturday, October 27, 2007

'fsck' Apple, I'll take my freedom!

<rant mode>
The newest version of OS X just came out, and my buddy was telling me about all its great new features. Many of those features have existed in the Linux world for years; some haven't.

He sent me email saying, "There is a big chasm and OS X is driving at 1000 miles an hour to close it on the Unix side. Now if Linux gets it's act together and does all the things OS X does correctly...cool!" Hmm, if "Linux gets its act together..."

Macs are nice. I won't deny that. However, let's face it. A big part of the success of OS X was that they were able to make use of existing software like FreeBSD, KHTML, bash, Python, gcc, etc. OS X can "drive a 1000 miles an hour" because there's so much outstanding open source code to draw on. The reason why the Linux world can't keep up with all the innovation in OS X is because things like Cocoa, Aqua, and Quartz aren't open source. Frankly, I'd love to take someone else's software, tweak it, package it up in a nice shiny box, and sell it for an exorbitant profit! Sure, they open sourced Darwin, but I need another derivation of BSD like I need another Python Web framework!

My response? 'fsck' Apple, I'll take my freedom!

I want the freedom to run my OS on the cheapest hardware I can find (aka my $375 Compaq).

I want to download my software from the Internet instead of wasting trees on packaging and time on a FedEx truck.

I want to share copies of my software with my buddies.

When it doesn't do what I want, I want to fix it myself so that it does.

When I'm trying to debug a problem in my code, I want to look at the source code for the library I'm using.

I want to write software for my phone without feeling like an outlaw, and I don't want to wait a year to do it.

I want to use my phone on whatever carrier is cheapest.

If I do switch carriers, I don't want to end up with a $300 iBrick.

Having been an open source advocate for years, I'm beginning to see that Stallman might be crazy, but he's also right. Open source software isn't always technically better. Sometimes it's a lot worse. Free software is about freedom.

'fsck' Apple, I'll take my freedom!
</rant mode>

20 comments:

Noah Gift said...

You are a commie! J/K :)

I don't want to take Shuttleworth's thunder from our interview with him, but it is really about "the business model". Until Linux gets as a business model that makes sense, it won't be as "consistent" and useable, although parts of it will be vastly superior to proprietary software.

Actually, I am finishing up our book this weekend. I probably shouldn't even be blogging :( Back to work!

ludo said...

Great rant.

Anonymous said...

A rant is a rant, but still...

Your stated priorities indicate that Linux is a better fit for you than Mac OS X. How does that equate to "fsck Apple"?

I want a machine that Just Works, with a good interface that I don't even need to think about. I don't want to spend my time screwing around with my tools; I want to get real work done. A Mac is a better fit for me. Yet anger at the success Linux has had doesn't really factor in for me.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> How does that equate to "fsck Apple"?

I was angry at my buddy's statement that Linux couldn't get its act together. Let's face it, the open source world has helped Apple a lot more profoundly than Apple has helped the open source world. I'm also angry at the way Apple consistently mistreats its customers, for instance by disallowing them to code applications for the iPhone in the same way the Treo permits.

gaspode said...

Of course, being the freedom loving person you are, you would *never* sell out and write closed source software, right? Surely you wouldn't stand on such a hypocritical foundation and yell about freedom and open source, then go back to writing closed source software all day?

:)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Gaspode, hahaha, touche!

Everything I use except the product itself is open source. I contribute to plenty of open source projects on the company's dime. If Apple wants to release closed source versions of their email client, address book, and music player, so be it. I'd be happy if they at least opened up Quartz, Cocoa, and Aqua.

gaspode said...

> Everything I use except the product itself is open source.

Right, so you're poised to build on the efforts of many, without contributing your final product back to the open-source world. I'm sure in RMS's ideal world, anyone using a free platform, wouldn't be allowed to use it to produce non-free products. ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Right, so you're poised to build on the efforts of many, without contributing your final product back to the open-source world.

That is correct. That's really the BSD approach.

> I'm sure in RMS's ideal world, anyone using a free platform, wouldn't be allowed to use it to produce non-free products. ;)

Well, surely you can use gcc to compile proprietary code ;)

To tell you the truth, I think I'd prefer to live in Stallman's world. However, I don't live in Stallman's world. Hence, I do the best I can with what I have. In some cases, I have indeed been allowed to open source the whole product. Sometimes I'm not allowed to. In those cases, I still contribute to the libraries as much as possible.

Martijn Faassen said...

Concerning Apple "just working", this entirely depends on what you are doing. For a developer using open source software, Apple takes quite a bit more installation than a Linux box does, unless you stick with what Apple ships. You sometimes run into the problem that you want to use a newer version of a library than the system ships, too.

A pet peeve of mine: Apple doesn't always "just work". New Mac Book Pros have serious (memory leak/lockup) problems with their nvidia 8600M GT cards. With Linux Gutsy Gibbon, this card actually works better. Apple seems to be in no hurry to ship a fix (we're talking months).

Second Life unstability issue

World of warcraft unstability issue

Anonymous said...

I publish a local newpaper using Indesign cs3 and Photoshop on Macs.

I'm ready to go open source and dump this proprietary stuff.

Point me in the right direction, bro.

Anonymous said...

>Let's face it, the open source world has helped Apple a lot more profoundly than Apple has helped the open source world.

Wow---so now you take offense that open source is priced too low? Everyone who uses open source is obliged to "pay" in some way that makes their net benefit zero?

That's clearly nonsense---any situation where a "customer" is not getting more benefit from a product than they expend on it is simply absurd. If there is a moral question here, it is a much simpler one: has Apple hurt the open source movement more than it has helped it?

The only real "hurt" I can identify is that a lot of people prefer Apple products over open source rivals. I can see an open-source developer seeing competition as a hurt (it's annoying), but strong competitors actually make open source projects themselves better. You've got to have very twisted logic to class competition as hurt.

In terms of "help", clearly Apple's kernel contributions haven't made much different. Their KHTML code might be considered more substantial (even if there have been political issues about how or whether their contributions get merged in). I'd claim that Apple's work on ease of use in general, and GUIs in particular, has been of *huge* benefit to many open source projects in terms of showing them how it can be done. I think history has shown that open source does a really great job at commoditizing technology others have already worked out.

>I'm also angry at the way Apple consistently mistreats its customers, for instance by disallowing them to code applications for the iPhone in the same way the Treo permits.

When I see your rant that you can't write your own programs for the Wii---or for your TiVo, for that matter---I'll be more impressed by your indignation. Apple has made it clear: you're buying a device that does what it does. Maybe there will be new features in the future, but Apple promises nothing. If what it does now isn't worth your money, don't buy it. I think this is a lot more honest than pretending an iPhone can do anything under the sun, and taking credit for work they assume other people will do to make applications.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Everyone who uses open source is obliged to "pay" in some way that makes their net benefit zero?

That's not what I'm trying to say at all. I'm just saying that Apple has a huge advantage in that they can read all of "our" GUI code, and we can't read any of theirs.

> You've got to have very twisted logic to class competition as hurt.

I never argued that they were hurting the Linux world.

> I'd claim that Apple's work on ease of use in general, and GUIs in particular, has been of *huge* benefit to many open source projects

You could probably say the same thing about Microsoft Outlook, when you consider Evolution. For some reason, I don't feel thankful.

> When I see your rant that you can't write your own programs for the Wii---or for your TiVo, for that matter---I'll be more impressed by your indignation.

I'm even angrier with Tivo. I don't know anything about the Wii.

> Apple has made it clear: you're buying a device that does what it does.

Sorry, but I think that's a lame excuse. Would anyone tolerate a laptop that couldn't be programmed? An iPhone is a small computer running OS X. There's no technical reason why I shouldn't be able to write apps for it. Imagine if they tried to pull this stunt with the original Apple computer.

Rob said...

Apple is *not* marketing the iPhone as a "computer", any more than a microwave is a computer. They've been completely honest about this; you just seem very ticked off that they're not selling some fantasy product you have imagined. There are lots of very good reasons Apple doesn't want amateur garbage on the iPhone, and they have now committed to third-party applications in just a few months. Do you think you're smarter than Apple, or just morally superior?

What if the original Mac hadn't had a public API? It would have been a great word processor, but would *not* have "ignited the personal computer revolution". Lots of killer apps---including much better word processors---would not have emerged, and all told the machine wouldn't have sold very well. But this is beside the point; the Mac was marketing as competing with DOS and Apple IIe machines where third-party development was the norm. The iPhone isn't marketed as a "smartphone". It just happens that you think it would make a great one.

Do you get upset that you can't change the fuel injection timing on your car? You can buy special aftermarket devices to get around the manufacturer's settings, but it's relatively expensive and can be very tough to figure out. I have a hard time viewing this as some kind of moral failing on Ford's part. They sold you a car that works a certain way. If that's not good enough for you I guess you can hack the thing, but you're on your own: they have no obligation to make your job easy. You knew what you were buying when you got the car.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Do you think you're smarter than Apple, or just morally superior?

Smarter, morally superior, and far more modest, but perhaps not better looking. None of us is perfect ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Maybe instead of an iPhone, I just need to wait for the gPhone:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071030-report-googles-linux-based-mobile-platform-coming-soon.html

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Hmm, broken link. Let me try again: gPhone

Jon Scott Stevens said...

shannon: stop your whining about closed platforms, the iphone will be an open platform in february. steve already announced that. the hackers won.

apple has linux beat on the desktop side. no question about it. its been that way for years now. give it up.

whitenoise said...

Completly agreee ;-)

Mark said...

Have you heard of trolltech greenphone? I did some coding on it, the development platform is Linux, I like it.

Although I am a huge fan of RMS and GNU, I believe RMS stands for a buddist's value of point, but I personal like Mac too, and I prefer Mac instead of Linux, Mac relieved all the pains using linux, now I just run linux with VMWARE Fusion on a Mac.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Have you heard of trolltech greenphone? I did some coding on it, the development platform is Linux, I like it.

Yep, neat device. I'm really looking forward to having an open-source, Linux-based phone, ideally running Android.