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Why We Must Fight for the Right to Repair Our Electronics (ieee.org)
866 points by sohkamyung 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 258 comments



What about the right to use our electronics? Google has been silently pushing their "SafetyNet" APIs into Android, including an "attestation" API[1] that dynamically fetches and runs an opaque binary program[2] served and signed by Google that collects whatever data they deem necessary to verify the "integrity" of a device.

Devices that are rooted will not fail to attest via the API. Devices where the user has chosen to install a custom ROM will fail to attest (even with a locked bootloader and no root). Apps from Google Play can use these APIs to decide whether to work on a user's device.

This is macOS SIP taken to a different level. You can't watch Netflix and whatever other app decides to use these APIs unless Google has complete control over your device, including the ability to remotely collect and transmit opaque and arbitrary data at any time. This is a dishonest attempt to disguise a draconian DRM scheme as pro-user, pro-safety, anti-virus/rootkit. We're at the point where you don't even own your own filesystem anymore on a Linux device. I think this is a step beyond traditional DRM, including traditional hardware content protection.

[1] https://developer.android.com/training/safetynet/attestation... [2] https://koz.io/inside-safetynet/


Yet another reason why we shouldn't accept being sold such proprietary garbage. SafetyNet is another attempt at creating a system similar to Treacherous Boot[1] -- similar to what people feared that UEFI's "Secure Boot" would become (luckily we avoided that fate on x86 systems, but all of the Windows RT devices are by definition "Treacherous Boot").

I would personally _love_ if we could get proprietary software to become illegal (or for there to be some sort of disincentive such as taxing proprietary software, or enforcing and extending warranties on proprietary software). But large proprietary software companies hold such sway in politics that hoping for that doesn't really help. It would be a much better idea to simply stop buying their crap, and helping others around you "break the shackles" (as it were). Digital Restrictions Management is something that I always mention when people talk about Netflix or other such streaming services -- because once you explain the issues with those kinds of services I find that most people are at least intrigued by alternatives (which usually have features that the DRM systems don't, because DRM has always been clunky as they're trying to accomplish something that is effectively not possible).

[1]: http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/drm.html


I feel like taxing proprietary software, or making it illegal would be awful. Many companies big to small run businesses off of proprietary software. You have the big players like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. Not sure how some of these compare in size, but you also have Github, Shopify, Squarespace, Reddit, Atlassian, Basecamp, robo advisor companies. Then you consider not purely based online companies like banks or retail stores that sell their products online, or give you the ability to trade ETFs. Some of those they could use open stuff instead, as they make money off of trades.

I do agree that making DRM is a losing battle, and they are transferring that cost to legitimate customers. Really though I don't have much other options for streaming. Amazon prime has the same setup, and CraveTV probably does too. Though Crave doesn't have much for content that I'm interested in.


> I feel like taxing proprietary software, or making it illegal would be awful.

Maybe taxing on the distribution of proprietary software would be more palatable? After all, software that is written can only become proprietary if you distribute it to other people under a non-free license. I personally think the warranty idea is much softer on companies (while still giving some more protection for end-users).

I don't think banks should be taxed for having propreitary systems. I do have a problem with SaaS[1] companies, and companies which make money of selling software which is proprietary -- because they are actively creating a monopoly on the expertise in and ability to support their particular software (known more politely as vendor lock-in). Not to mention that proprietary software developers incredibly often mistreat their users through a variety of schemes.

[1]: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/who-does-that-server-really-s...


That would then also apply to games. Anything that really runs on a device.

Really I think we just need better regulation around it all. So making sure that you are allowed to hack your own device if you wish. Able to extract your data. SaaS companies being required to give you data exports (unless unsafe to do so).


I'm not understanding why it matters what the software is. Modern games are already being used as a glorified way of getting more money out of their users (micro-transactions, "loot boxes", endless DLCs, multiple tiers, etc). It's not as though they'll stop making money (with "gambling simulators" and micro-transactions alone you can make hundreds of dollars out of any given user).

Taxing proprietary software distribution is a form of regulation. The ideas you propose are too piece-meal and won't actually solve the underlying problems -- namely that proprietary software is used as a tool to abuse its users. This is something that is inherent to the power dynamic between a developer and the users of proprietary software, regulation won't help.


A big part of proprietary software, especially when it comes to enterprise software, is support. When it comes to something like a bank, If I'm doing business with them I'd much rather they pay for proprietary software that comes with some level of support than leave them to their own devices with open source software.

"But what if the bank just hires their own staff to become experts at that open source software instead?" That could work, up until they need to make specific changes to the software for their business. So they fork the open source project and create their own variation of it.

Some of the banks profits now went into paying developers for the changes in the fork. Do you think the bank's executives will just want the money they put into the fork to potentially benefit all of their competitors by having them make a pull request to the original software? Probably not...and then you end up with proprietary software again. Only in this case it's worse than the proprietary software we started with, because every bank has their own fork of the original open project.


> Some of the banks profits now went into paying developers for the changes in the fork. Do you think the bank's executives will just want the money they put into the fork to potentially benefit all of their competitors by having them make a pull request to the original software?

Given that that is how they can avoid having to maintain a fork indefinitely, and that that is the fair thing to do after you profited from the gift of others who did the same: Erm, yes, they absolutely should want that, and most likely it is in their own best interest.


I agree with you from a programmer's perspective, but a banker who has limited knowledge of how open source works may not.


DRM is by far the bigger problem than proprietary software in general. There is nothing inherently problematic about paying money for software -- better to be the customer than the product.

The problem comes when rapacious companies decide it's a good idea to make people pay for the privilege of being the product, and use the law to restrict what people can do with the software, which is what DRM is really all about.


> There is nothing inherently problematic about paying money for software -- better to be the customer than the product.

You appear to be confusing what "proprietary software" means[1]. DRM is an example of something that is only possible with proprietary software.

[1]: https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/proprietary.en.html


I think if that were the case, they would stop selling the software on devices you can purchase. That is, devices would be something you rent but never own.


When you use such a device (with a 'custom' distribution) you need to go 'all the way' with regard to shunning software which depends on this 'verification'. This is the most logical course to take anyway as the assumption is that you want to use a device which only runs such software you know about, not things pushed by vendors with their own agendas. So, sad as it might be for some, the likes of Netflix (et al) will not run on devices which refuse to listen to their master's voice (i.e. to Google, Netflix, etc) but only do the bidding of the device owner.

I have no problems with this as I don't want to use such 'services' anyway. I keep my own digital library, on my own server, using free software. I have no problems foregoing the latest H*llywood 'blockbuster' to keep a semblance of control over what I consider to be my private sphere.


>>> I have no problems with this as I don't want to use such 'services' anyway. I keep my own digital library, on my own server, using free software.

Fortunately, we can still make that choice. I did the same. But sometimes I feel that we are so much a minority...


We are.

But as long as we still can do the things we want, I do not see it as a problem ... but well, yes, since we have to struggle hard to just controll our devices a bit, because the rest does not care and so they can allmost implement whatever spware they want - it is a problem .


you're right logically but kind of wrong socially.

let's say your friends are using WhatsApp, or Skype, via proprietary protocol, but you only use open sourced IM, then you are isolated from them.


Situations like these do arise, it is only with great care and some sacrifice you get to walk this path. Losing out on the discourse between those who use different messenger protocols or who communicate through the likes of Facebook or G+ is one of those sacrifices. You can try to convince them to join you on some other channel but the chance of this succeeding depends on those friends' attitude towards both the subject of personal privacy as well as your reputation - if you cry 'wolf' at every opportunity they'll soon consider you to be a tin-foil-hat wearing loonie.

Fortunately the evidence against just those actors - Facebook, Google and others - is getting more and more visible and palpable to all. Between Facebook's blatant censorship of content and Youtube 'demonitising' [1] 'controversial' videos and actors, it is getting hard to avoid noticing that they are flexing their opinion-influencing muscles. This should make it a bit easier to convince people to jump ship [2] but you won't get all of those people to forego on the delights of Spies'r'Us or CatVideoCentral. Still, once a few of them join you you'll no longer be out of the loop and that is what matters here.

[1] a good word in this context as it almost reads as 'demonising'

[1] ...and please tell them that moving from Facebook to VKontakte is not an effective move in this respect


Not to mention that the friends won't help stop bad laws from being passed because they don't understand how the laws affect them.


That's kind of what I was aiming at.

If some pass laws that make my choice to go outside FBook, Google or whatever-Internet-monster, then I'm screwed.

That my current nightmare. But I have not the faintest idea if this is close to reality or not. EFF zealots would probably very close while the very existence of ubiquitous free software says the opposite. Dunno...


Well, I don't think, there will be a law soon that requires an FB account or alike. But there have been cases, that people had to show their FB account at the border, or need it for school/University (or for job interviews )- so if there will be a structural disadvantage for people out if the corporate chain, then it will be a de facto law.


So if I want to keep watching Netflix I'll have to stick with the outdated and severely insecure Android version my manufacturer is shipping? The one where anyone in Bluetooth range has full access to my digital identity? And they're calling this feature SafetyNet?


War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength;


Yup — and this is the same Google who have conspired to prevent you from installing your own SSL certs, so that you can see what data that module is sending to them.


Specifically: User-installed TLS certificates are now in a separate keystore from system CAs, users can not disable system CAs, and apps can choose which keystore to trust, but the default is that user CAs are not trusted unless apps explicitly opt-in.

This is extremely user-hostile.


If you have root, can you not install SSL certificates?


I am totally ignorant of Android, but they could be pinning, and do so in such a way that it fails silently without sending data. As root you could probably detect this but you'd really have to know what you were looking for.


As root you could probably detect this but you'd really have to know what you were looking for.

I can think of two relatively easy and probably-not-secure (you were asking for freedom, not security...) ways to not only detect but also bypass this:

- Hook certificate verification APIs to always return true.

- Scan for certificates embedded in the binary and overwrite them dynamically. This will work if the app decides to use its own crypto but standard certificate formats.


And if you have root, then your device fails to attest. Who owns your device: Google or you?

This is about control.


You don't have root, that was a typo, sorry. I cannot go back and edit the post.


Not only mobiles, PC OEMs are going to extreme lengths to tie down the users into using whatever crap the manufacturer installs by default.


Care to explain what you mean by that? As far as I can tell, vendors ship crapware as software installed on Windows, and you can always remove it by reinstalling Windows or often just uninstalling the bundled software.

Do they ever go beyond that?


Lenovo used the UEFI/BIOS tables to load crapware back into a fresh retail user-installed windows setup. The bios table was named Window Platform Binary Table


Lenovo? That sucks. I was considering a Thinkpad to get out of Apple's stranglehold. I'd put Linux on it of course, but I'm still not happy buying from a company that pulls crap like that.


I’m not defending the shit Lenovo‘s been pulling these last few years, but it’s worth noting that none of it (neither the Superfish fiasco nor this) affected ThinkPads. Apparently their consumer line and ThinkPads are run quite separately. I hope that keeps them from messing up the ThinkPads...


Lenovo don't do this any more, and offers a way to remove the LSE: https://support.lenovo.com/au/en/product_security/lse_bios_n...

No excuses of course, and Microsoft can share the blame too.


That mechanism only works through cooperation of the OS installation process. It's actually the OS that asks the device whether there is any crapware it is supposed to ingest and then goes on to ingest it.

As long as you consent to that, everything is fine I guess. The software is doing its job as an agent of its users.


I wonder if russian or chinese or indian computers have that kind of annoying software...


Devices that are rooted will not fail to attest via the API.

Will not, as in you can theoretically get it to "say the right answers" if you have root? It seems like the best way to "crack" this protection would be something like virtualisation, where the binary is run in an environment that "looks good" to it. (This also reminds me of a lot of malware, which actively tries to determine if it's being run in a VM or otherwise being analysed.)


Oops, sorry, I missed that typo. Rooting will cause the device to fail to attest under both tests available[1].

[1] https://developer.android.com/training/safetynet/attestation... (note the table under "Possible attestation results". This is what I meant by you are not allowed to own your device's own filesystem (root access).


Currently you can use Magisk to get around this, which roots without changing the filesystem.

But Google is moving towards reading hardware fuses, and has been working together with OEMs to use secure enclaves to securely attest the status of the system in the future.

By requiring the attestation results to be signed by a key burnt into the CPU, they also prevent virtualisation.


And yet having a hardware enclave is necessary to secure private keys for device encryption and user privacy.

I'm not against, non-network, hardware-based security features. In fact, I think we need them. I would certainly desire a phone where someone can't simply access my private key with a soldering iron and flash programmer.

And I wouldn't mind a bootloader that is locked to prevent tampering with the device, as long as I can unlock it, and unlocking it wipes the device or something. I wouldn't mind using Android as intended without root access. But, I want control over the decision. I want to control the OS I run on my device. I want the freedom to increase its lifespan beyond whenever the manufacturer stops provided security updates. I want to have the ability to enable root to inspect my data on my device using my storage, without sacrificing my ability to watch movies on the $600 device I paid for that somehow has a better quality display than my monitor. And also, I want the ability to block ads that gulp down my expensive mobile data so that I can instead pay for a service like Netflix.


And I want the ability to lock the bootloader again, but with my own keys.


> It seems like the best way to "crack" this protection would be something like virtualisation.

Yep, I had the same thought. Can't wait to see full-system Android emulators running on a phone :)


The problem with android on the whole is that it got good enough, quick enough that it prevented any meaningfully open and consumer friendly alternatives to emerge. Safety net is a part of the play services, which on the whole is opaque and binary. So not much is new there.


Also it wore the skin of a free, open platform pretty well for quite a long while. It was only after it got popular that Google started subverting that and turning it into the creature it currently is.


> Devices that are rooted will not fail to attest via the API.

That should be "will fail", right?

> We're at the point where you don't even own your own filesystem anymore on a Linux device.

Is this really true? It seems to be of the form "if you decide to own your file system, then you are not given access to certain proprietary media resources or applications". That's a shame, and I'm not happy about it, but my access to Netflix is a convenience, not a fundamental right.


> That should be "will fail", right?

Yup. Sorry, typo, I can't edit it now. :(

With regard to your second comment, that was one perspective that I do consider. There are still plenty of media sources that do not use device attestation. But the trends are not showing in the right direction. Also, as you say, you could decide that maintaining root is more important than being able to consume movies or whatever other DRMd media on your device, but you are sacrificing some of the main features that were marketed to you during your purchase, while still paying full price.

Also, it's not just content-delivery apps that take advantage of the APIs, utility apps like Android Pay require their availability. Multiplayer mobile games are also beginning to implement them to "combat cheating" (correction: preserve the viability of microtransactions, but I'm just a cynic). I think the Android Pay case is a bit more understandable, but still, why not implement it as an optional feature a user can enable? If it is designed to save money from fraud, then why not give users a small financial incentive to enable it? Taking the choice away from the user is the enemy here.

Don't forget that the lockdown of software on mobile devices goes beyond these new attestation APIs. For 5+ years, phone manufacturers been shipping bootloaders that cannot be unlocked, devices that cannot be rooted, and firmware/OS that cannot be flashed. There is an attempt to ultimately control all the freedom a user has to install their own software. The technology to prevent user freedom is only going to get better and better, as exploits are covered up and manufacturers become smarter about code signing and secure hardware design.

So there is much more to the issue than I think is present at first glance. It affects everything, and it is only getting worse. Forget the closed-source firmware that can be delivered and installed at any time over the air and has unrestricted access to your device's unencrypted RAM... that's been going on forever. But now even Wi-Fi routers are being shipped with locked down bootloaders, killing any chance of upgrading or fixing security issues in your device once a manufacturer decides to stop supporting a device. Guess you'll just have to buy a one in two years. That new AC-2300! 802.11AC is going to be so much faster than that old measly AC-1900. Don't forget the crystal oscillators wear out over time, anyway. /s

Sorry to go on such a wild rant, but I'm pissed. I'll go on over to the AMD profits thread, and feel a little bit more optimistic about the future of freedom.


> Sorry to go on such a wild rant, but I'm pissed.

Not at all. You make a good point. I was reacting to your comment about Netflix as if that were the main issue, but your reply makes it clear that you meant it as just the easiest illustration of a fundamental shift in dynamic. Thank you for clarifying (civilly rather than angrily, despite your obvious passion on the subject!).


They had a link here about running Linux within a container on Android. Can they control processes in such a container? (they could ban this trick, couldn't they)


DRM is a corporate infection that has an opportunity to advertise to you, monitor your activity and gather intelligence on you.


Wow, I was not aware of those things and I thank you for bringing them to my attention. It sounds like we had better get busy busting that apart before the exemptions the SCOTUS gave to DMCA 1201 for fair use expire in a couple years.


This makes me sad...


On the one hand, this is kind of sad for device owners. On the other, it sounds really nice if you're making a game on Android with clientside aspects and want to stop cheaters.


It's proven pretty ineffective at that. Ingress and pokemon go use it to try to avoid cheating through spoofing your location and they're both still riddled with such cheaters.


Here's a related thought: what if the law stated something along the lines of, if DRM/hardware locks/etc prevent you or a 3rd party of your choosing from repairing, then the party who owns the lock should be responsible for the repairs (including costs)

Then a company can decide if they're in the business of licencing or selling, and make their decisions accordingly. it could also help establish a line between ownership of the device vs of the license.


DRM has always represented an attempt on the part of content owners to seize more territory than the framers of US copyright law intended. Copyright was supposed to be a bargain between the creators and the commons. In return for the rightsholder's agreement to release the material into the public domain upon expiration, the government would grant a temporary legal monopoly.

Unfortunately the first part of the copyright bargain is implicit, not part of the law. With DRM, rightsholders get to have their cake -- our cake -- and eat it too. Not only is the protection granted by copyright now effectively perpetual, but they've purchased additional legislation such as the DMCA and endless copyright term extensions that punish people who are trying to claim their half of the bargain.

IMHO copyright should not apply to anything with DRM. Rightsholders should be forced to decide whether they want a temporary legal monopoly with no technical protection, or a permanent technical monopoly with no legal protection.


Completely agree on all counts. Regarding your last paragraph, that's an interesting point and similar to the tradeoff that patent protection provides -- you either openly publish the invention in return for legal protection, or you can leave it unpatented as a trade secret but no legal protection.


Copyright is not, and never was, for creators. It's for publishers.


Copyright was for authors a very long time ago[1]. It's been slowly corrupted by the greed of publishers over a very long time, but it is important to remember where copyright actually comes from and to reject emotional arguments about the rights of publishers (in truth, they don't deserve rights over creators' works -- they abuse creators enough as-is).

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne


Uhhhh....

> These restrictions were enforced by the Stationers' Company, a guild of printers given the exclusive power to print—and the responsibility to censor—literary works.


If you read the full paragraph in context (and the following paragraph), it says:

> Prior to the statute's enactment in 1710, copying restrictions were authorized by the Licensing of the Press Act 1662. [Your quote about the Stationers' Company]. The censorship administered under the Licensing Act led to public protest; as the act had to be renewed at two-year intervals, authors and others sought to prevent its reauthorisation. In 1694, Parliament refused to renew the Licensing Act, ending the Stationers' monopoly and press restrictions. Over the next 10 years the Stationers repeatedly advocated bills to re-authorize the old licensing system, but Parliament declined to enact them. Faced with this failure, the Stationers decided to emphasise the benefits of licensing to authors rather than publishers, and the Stationers succeeded in getting Parliament to consider a new bill.

Which means that your quote is quite out-of-context. The Stationers' Company lost their monopoly over printing rights due to public outcry, and they failed to get a new law passed until they made a change to it that emphasised the protection of authors. That law was called the Statute of Anne.

Even earlier on, copyright "law" was used as a tool of censorship by the Queen of England (who was Mary at the time). Effectively, a publisher would ask the monarch for the exclusive right to publish a particular book, and a guild of printers (the Stationers' Company) was formed later that then enforced their own version of Copyright under these monopolies they were given.

The Statute of Anne was the first time copyright was actually a public law, that anyone could enforce -- and it was the first time that something you could call a "copyright system" was intended to protect _authors_.


More specifically, it's for copyright holders, who rarely might be creators, but are more often than not publishers.


If copyrighted status itself keeps getting extended into eternity, then the intent in expiration is lost anyway.


I like this idea. I think it strikes a good balance between the rights of both sides and provides incentives for opening things up (which I believe is important to consumer freedom). But if a company doesn't want to open it up, they still have a reasonable path forward.


Reminds me of how AT&T used to basically own your telephone and wouldn't allow other companies to make things you could attach to the phone to improve or augment it.


Could work for media as well:

DRM? Then you have to provide clients, including bugfixes and security upgrades for all paying customers on all platforms.

No DRM: Oh, you just sold a file? The customer can then run it in whatever SW they want.


So a person who wants to release a game on steam now has to provide support for windows Mac and Linux, and provide support for whatever flavours they’re running?


You can release DRM-free software on Steam.


What counts as a repair and how would properitary components be made available for the repair? Under what markup do components need to be made available?

An example: If I’m Apple and I’m supply constrained on fancy new FaceID sensors I’m not going to want to loose an iPhoneX sale because I have to make a sensor available to a repair depot (internal or external). And the customer that was supposed to get that sensor is not going to like waiting even longer for their phone.


> What counts as a repair and how would properitary components be made available for the repair? Under what markup do components need to be made available?

The bare minimum would be to require an infinite warranty. So free, and with compensation to the customer for the repair time.

Don't want to deal with that? Get rid of the damn locks already.


What is a lock and how does it prevent repair?

I think we would both agree that iPhone 7 is DRM laden. However iFixit, who is quoted in the parent article and gives iPhone a repairability score of 7 of 10, seems to think there are some things which are repairable at the component level on an iPhone 7 even to a layman at home. https://www.ifixit.com/Device/iPhone_7


Do they glue stuff in? Use special screws and connectors just for the hell of it? Use software checks to prevent the system from operating correctly if components have been replaced?


This answer provides designers with no insight on how they can improve products to make them more reparable, even if they intended to try to adhere to your world view.

How does one interpret this? No glue allowed at all in any product or subassembly? Do you seriously believe any iPhone engineer would say a connector or screw was there "for the hell of it"? You claim a software check prevents a device from working. I'm sure their software engineer would claim the check ensures it works as advertised (or safely or whatever) because they don't know what you just did to it.

Your reply very clearly shows you have not thought through the consequences of your request.


In such a world, if they can’t repair or replace a broken device, they should offer a full refund.


That does not fix the e-waste problem. E.g. Apple has always been willing to repair or replace under warranty.

See this item: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14175771


Apple has also fought consumer laws in other nations to ensure no more than a 12 month warranty.

If they feel like including DRM in this hypothetical law situation, require the warranty be twice as long as otherwise.


And there are many countries where iPhones are popular but there are still no official Apple-sanctioned repair centers.


Me: "My phone broke randomly"

Them: "You dropped it in water didn't you?"

Me: "No, I didn't"

Them: "Yes, you did"

Me: "Nope"

Them: "Yep"

Me: "Nope" .......


I don't see how it changes the situation. Even if the owner intentionally damaged the phone they would still be entitled to having it repaired for $parts + $labor.


Genuine replacement screen: $450 2 hours labour from highly trained apple certified screen replacement technician: $180.

"....but I shouldn't have to pay these exorbitant fees - I didnt drop it in water...."

"Yes you did"


Shouldn't a $1000 phone be waterproof?


Isn't this behind the point?

For one, still not all $1000 phones are waterproof, and second, this can apply to all kind of other devices, like laptops, who can't be or is very difficult to make waterproof without major compromises (e.g. heat dissipation).


<sarcasm because="Poe's law">

Owners of $1000 phones don't go near water or need cases. They never make mistakes.

</sarcasm>


Anecdote: dropped an iPhone 6 to the bottom of a pool. Failed spectacularly bringing it back up a few times. Total about 2-3 minutes submerged at around 2m.

Put the phone in a rice bag for 2 days, charged and it's working fine :)


I've seen the rice treatment work also, but chances for success are reportedly better if you do not try to turn the device on first.


That red strip on iDevices that changed in temporary high-humidity conditions. If Apple actually produced good PCBs and conformally-coated them and capped their JTAGs, water damage and corrosion would be much less likely.


Why do say they don't produce good PCB's?

Conformal coating introduces problems too and, moreover, makes repair intractable.

I don't know if conformal coating even works properly with the very fine pitch BGA's that cover much of the surface area of the PCB in an iPhone.


>If Apple actually produced good PCBs and conformally-coated them and capped their JTAGs, water damage and corrosion would be much less likely.

If? In what world they don't, and compared to which alternative?


Do iPhones still have the water sensitivity marker?


Yep. It became a lot more pertinent after the iPhone 7 was water resistant, as the markers seem less protected than the boards.


> (including costs)

How about at a rate of $parts + $labor? If the device was defective and broke then it would still be the manufacturer's responsibility to fix it. But if it breaks due to wear and tear, accidental damage, or intentional damage then the user should reasonably foot but bill (either out of pocket or with insurance).


The idea here is to make a clear split between owning and licensing. If the company decides they are selling the items themselves then the items should be repairable by the new owner. If the company decides they are merely selling the rights to use the items then it is reasonable for the user to be unable to repair it, provided the owner (the company) is willing to keep it in working condition.

That should absolutely include wear and tear as well as accidental damage. Intentional damage is an issue, but there shouldn't be much motivation for it under such a system.


That doesn't work for the simple reason that there is no market, therefore there is no way to determine that price. The whole point is essentially that the manufacturer can only have the monopoly on repairs if they are free, if they want to charge for it, they have to allow competition.

As for intentional damage, I think that should not be handled based on costs at all, but simply based on depreciation. Based on normal durability of the device, if you damage the device, you have to pay the remaining value in order to get a new device.


> As for intentional damage, I think that should not be handled based on costs at all, but simply based on depreciation. Based on normal durability of the device, if you damage the device, you have to pay the remaining value in order to get a new device.

I think I'm not understanding your proposal here.

It seems that under such a scheme I could take a $1000 phone that is reasonably expected to last 3 years, intentionally destroy it on day 1, and pay less than a dollar [1/(3*365)] to get a new device. How would manufacturers not be bled dry under such a system?


I think you have it back to front.

Breakage on day 1 would mean replacement at $999...


You're absolutely right. I misread. Thank you.


I wish people on hn wouldn't be so opposed to GPL and copy left licensing, because the four freedoms as presented by RMS really saw this coming a long time ago. The same principles apply to hardware.

I think its a salient point that the same companies opposed to or abusing copy left are the same ones locking users out from hardware repairs.


> RMS really saw this coming a long time ago

And one of the reasons for GPLv3: the anti-tivoisation clause. You should be allowed to install modified software in your own devices.

People have misconstrued anti-tivoisation that to mean that Apple can't keep malware out of your iPhone by key signatures, but that's not what it means, nor was it the primary reason why Apple wanted to prevent their users from installing unsigned software. It's about giving control to users and giving them both the key and the lock and letting them decide what goes on their own machines. Trying to paternalistically tell users what they can and cannot install has culminated in a method of control for repairs and obsolescence.


That isn't what it means but the problem with it is that it has extra knock on effects.

There is a reason GPL v2 was incredibly popular and GPLv3 basically killed all momentum and it wasn't because GPLv3 was better. At least not from a business point of view.

And that, at its core, is the issue. In a world where the only licence is GPLv3... it works. But in a world where people can choose other licenses - it won't be the choice of most.

It's a shame because I love the GPLv2 but I'll never use GPLv3 and honestly it's just less hassle to chose MIT for most companies.


You should stop looking things only from "a business point of view", often what is best for business is bad for the users - even if they don't understand it themselves to care enough about (at which point what the business is doing is little different from taking advantage of their users' lack of knowledge and should be shamed instead of used as an example for others to mimic).


Thinking like yours gave us GPLv3 and less subsequent adoption of copyleft licenses.

Which means you’ve got a lovely and ideologically pure hill to die on, but die you will.

In the real world code is useless without being adopted. The largest adopters? Businesses. They don’t want to use GPLv3? Less developers likely to use it (market forces I’m afraid).

So no, I’ll keep paying attention to what works and not be beholden to the idealistic notions of the FSF, thanks.


What business stay away from GPL3 that were OK with GPL2? The only one I can think of is apple and they're the type of free loaders that don't benefit the wider OSS community anyway. Most companies are still using linux with gnu tools so the version 3 hasn't affected them at all.


> is apple and they're the type of free loaders that don't benefit the wider OSS community anyway.

Forgetting about a little project called clang? Swift is open source, WebKit is open source (with a tarnished history).

I’m not claiming Apple are perfect, but saying they’re free loaders who don’t benefit is a flat out lie.


Linux is still GPL2 and some companies decided to stay with the GPL2-licensed versions of those GNU tools.


Back in 2008, a large "feature-phone" chip maker I used to work for decided the GPLv3 was a total no-go while the GPLv2 was kinda reluctantly accepted.


Long story short? Lots.


Why is the "business point of view" relevant here? It's the business point of view that got us DRM in the first place.


Because in the real world you get your products from said businesses. If your favorite vendors don't like the license, they wont adopt it, period.


The same business that will happily take anything that is MIT licensed, to reduce development costs by getting software at $0 and never contributing anything back.

When they do, is only a few bread crumbs to the villagers, while keeping the crown jewels behind their gates.

But hey, "they are contributing back see how nice they are!".

I used to be a big (L)GPL zealot during the 90's, nowadays I just reverted back to using commercial software, because the community just doesn't care about companies taking their work away.


>The same business that will happily take anything that is MIT licensed, to reduce development costs by getting software at $0 and never contributing anything back.

Isn't that part of what people chose MIT for? To allow businesses to adopt their project without having to "contribute anything back"?

>I used to be a big (L)GPL zealot during the 90's, nowadays I just reverted back to using commercial software, because the community just doesn't care about companies taking their work away.

Isn't that their own decision? Whether to worry about or not?

People chose MIT because they are OK with this scenario.


Yeah, but then they aren't entitled to complain that cannot get access to the fork used by company XYZ, that the *BSDs get less love than GNU/Linux, embedded OEMs don't publish their clang forks, Android devices are locked down to a specific version,.....


Right, and at least I am not aware of complaints like such. My experience rather is, that any larger customisations of open source software are usually propagated back to the project for the simple reason of saving the hassle of maintaining a fork of that software.


I imagine you don't have much experience with enterprise code.

They have piles of patches and team specific forks that are never going to go out of those Clearcase and TFS repositories.

Sony was the only company I ever saw doing a presentation at a LLVM summit, referring that keeping up with upstream as their main reason to get the PS4 clang code "partially" into clang. They did not contribute back any kind of optimizations that might reveal too much of PS4's architecture.

I guess some would say it is better than nothing.

OEMs using Android or BSD/Linux forks for embedded use, don't have any issue maintaining their own forks.


I am working at a very large software company, don't know whether that qualifies as enterprise code :). Yes, if you do customisations of open source software which could reveal trade secrets, I wouldn't expect this to be back-donated, and you could do that only with permissive licenses in the first place. But the large majority of open source software means just using it, and if it gets modified at all, it consists of bug fixes an small enhancements, that can and are back-donated to the projects. And as you wrote yourself, Sony tries to get the changes which don't disclose their trade secrets into upstream to reduce the merging load.


How many of those patches have non zero chance to be accepted and how much time would it take to actually hop through all obstacles to push them? My answers are 1.) a few 2.) a lot.

Majority of Linux contributions are paid by various companies. It is not volunteers working for free, it is companies paying.


I don't see apache or MIT projects or communities complaining about that. They seen to accept that as reality.

I see GPL communities talk about freeloaders a lot and complain about licenses they don't use (!) being freeloader.


GPLv3 has many, many improvements over GPLv2. In fact, there are several improvements that should make it _more_ favourable to companies:

1. The terms of section 8 (termination) are much "nicer" to people who make mistakes and infringe on the terms of the GPLv3. GPLv2 was very hard-line, and in principle the revocation of rights was immediate. This is something that companies should _like_ about GPLv3.

2. The text is written to be far similar to a legal document (GPLv2 uses non-standard formatting especially with regards to how definitions of terms are done), which makes it easier for lawyers to understand and argue about the license.

3. It is compatible with Apache-2.0 now, by having a patent protection clause that is similar to Apache-2.0 (but of course it's copyleft) -- most notably it only affects contributors (which includes people who distribution verbatim and modified works). Using the program doesn't add any patent requirements (other than the Apache-2.0-like patent revocation system).

4. The "tivoisation" clauses that people like to make a fuss over actually only state two key things. First, it states that no software licensed under GPLv3 "shall be deemed part of an effective technological measure" -- which effectively means that the DMCA cannot apply to GPLv3 licensed programs (this is good for both users and companies). Second, one of the requirements is that you must distribute tools and instructions (this includes things like keys if appropriate) for changing the software on a system. This second requirement may seem onerous, but it actually doesn't require you to ship the hardware signing keys if you have a way to disable the hardware signing (or a way to replace the signing keys without needing the original keys). This is also good for companies that buy hardware that has GPLv3 software (but it does place some additional burden on companies that ship said software).

While (4) might cause some angst, there are other very useful features of the GPLv3 that you seem to be ignoring. Not to mention you didn't actually specify what the issue you're talking about is. I presume it's got to do with the "tivoisation" clause, but that clause is not the most important part of GPLv3.

Not to mention that, depending who you ask, there is a "tivoisation" clause in GPLv2. In particular, GPLv2 states that "for an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable" (emphasis mine). Personally "the scripts used to control [...] installation" could include instructions on how to install an executable on a piece of hardware you've sold me (if that hardware has DRM, you have to tell me how to install the executable despite the DRM). This is still not entirely agreed upon in in the GPL conformance community (the SFC has not explicitly stated which way they go on this one either).


The question is not how many "improvements" GPLv3 has, as long as there exists any single clause which makes it incompatible with the business, it is ruled out as a base of operations.


GP said:

> GPLv3 basically killed all momentum and it wasn't because GPLv3 was better. At least not from a business point of view.

I was pointing out that this is not entirely correct. There are quite important improvements in GPLv3 that are "better" from a business point of view. Very few businesses care about the "tivoisation clause", and some businesses may actually benefit from not having to worry about being provided GPLvX software that they can't modify.


GPL3 is bad because Linus poopooed it? He had no choice, and V3 addresses real weaknesses with V2.


I never mentioned Linus. I don’t really care what he thinks.

It’s true it addresses weaknesses (more oversights) but it does it in the most overreaching and aggressive way. Which is a problem for adoption.


Absolutely. That's why GPL is so important (in software). A more permissive license paradoxically results in less freedom since it does not protect those four freedoms from being denied.


Except there isn't really anything paradoxical about it. A law that allows murder is more permissive and obviously does not increase freedom. It's simply a fallacy to think that not putting any limits on what any individual can do results in maximal freedom for society at large.


So, I work in obsolescence trying to support systems that operate for upwards of 20-30 years. It has been a real learning experience, as I have a much longer product lifecycle to support, and yet, we burn through material for repairs. There is very little actual board repair or similar, more pull out a entire assembly, toss it and put it an entire new assembly. Wasteful, just like Apple or similar saying to just throw out the entire device (or recycle it).

I don't like it, but ultimately I can see our disposable consumer culture really manifested through this situation. Most commercial-off-the-shelf components are not made to last for time to market, material and cost reasons. If they were, the pace of technological development might decrease and cost would probably increase.

Sometimes I wonder if we have progressed "enough" technologically to step back and use the power we have to build some long term support/sustainable technology infrastructure. Yet I fear unless our hand is forced, we will persist in the current trends of using a lot of energy and raw material to produce something that doesn't last long enough, and then sell "recycling" as the solution.

Can the recycling chain really make up for all the energy, and activity consumed and pollution/byproducts produced throughout the process?

Sometimes I wonder if we spent more time on modular, upgradeable designs, long term support components, etc. we might fair better. Easier said than done? Sustainable engineering/manufacturing is a complex, emerging science.

Still, obsolescence is a many headed hydra, whether you do long term support or planned obsolescence. I don't see any easy answers but I'm looking!


Interesting article coming from the IEEE, who has historically been very pro-DRM, anti-consumer.

Back in 2012, Toshiba told laptop repair tech Tim Hicks that he needed to remove 300 PDFs of Toshiba’s official repair manuals from his website, where he was offering the information for free. To avoid being sued, Hicks complied, and now fewer people have the guidance they need to repair Toshiba laptops.

Of course, you can still find the manuals if you know where to look, and even complete schematics --- no doubt leaked by those in the far East who actually have access. There's always been an underground repair movement, sharing manuals and other information and reverse-engineering as necessary[1][2]; but that's getting rarer as things get more "secure", and the sites themselves being DMCA'd or otherwise taken down. Perhaps LibGen/SciHub could start a subsidiary specifically for hosting such leaked/"samizdat" repair information, given how they seem to be staying alive despite copyright...

[1] https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=446

[2] https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=1970


> Interesting article coming from the IEEE, who has historically been very pro-DRM, anti-consumer.

The article was written by Kyle Wiens (from iFixit) and Gay Gordon-Byrne (from Repair.org ). It might not represent the opinions of IEEE Spectrum (the magazine which published the article).

Do you have a link or references to the 'pro DRM' or 'anti-consumer' stance of the IEEE? As an IEEE Member, I would like to know about such things about the organisation.


Not specifically about DRM, but just their general attitude towards transparency and implementability. Making standards non-public (as in, for anyone to look at on the web for free) is a pretty anti-consumer thing to do, as is creating standards that include patented technology. The usefulness of standards for the consumer is interoperability. Both of those things actively prevent interoperability.


I see. Yes, making standards 'non-public' is an issue. In the past, I had to pay to obtain some standards documents as reference materials for products that I was working on.

It would be much nicer if the standards were freely available, like those released by the IETF.

However, the IEEE isn't the only guilty one including patented technology in their standards. I believe the MPEG-LA also does the same thing (the MP3 and H.264 standards).


No, it's shockingly common, actually ... but it's still shocking how an organization of supposedly engineers obviously is incapable of recognizing and addressing an obvious massive structural flaw in their supposed solution to the problem of interoperability.


The fact that everyone does it doesn't make it okay for you to do it.

Be the change.


I was looking for an ISO standard and could find no free (illegal or otherwise) source for the standard (found outdated editions, but no way to know details of changes in the latest version). Was kind of amazed how well they police that, given that it's just a few MBs of a PDF as compared a multi-gig movie. $230+ for the document. My search efforts were admittedly limited to google and duckduckgo.

The particular standard was ISO 18004, after reading yesterday's article regarding reading a blurred QR code. Was basically looking to do a hobby project reinventing the wheel of making a QR code generator and then seeing what improvements to the standard might be possible and still compatible. Wanted to work from original source material, but wasn't looking to spend $200+ before even getting started. Found a 2006 (2015 is the latest) edition, so just going with it.

It felt strange and a little wrong to have the official standard for QR codes be closed source. Until 2015 when Denso Wave's patents expired, you actually were only licensed to use their patents on the tech so long as you followed the official spec 100%. Interesting position to be in: either risk patent infringement or buy a spec to ensure compatibility.

If my project gets anywhere, I'll happily spend the money on it. Was basically just annoying to hit that hurdle coming out of the gate. Some ISO specs are free, but only handful of the thousands in effect. And I'm not so idealistic to think that the ISO org itself can run on goodwill and attaboys, but there are known solutions with commercial vs. personal licenses.

------

Regarding the article at hand -- we absolutely need open access to standards in order to repair our devices. How can you repair or test an interface if you don't have access to the specs on how exactly it's supposed to work?


found outdated editions, but no way to know details of changes in the latest version

In the particular case of 18004, the changes are probably not significant enough from the 2006 version to matter for your project.


I'll just refer back to what I said about this a few months ago:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14583976


We must push for the right of comprehensible ownership, not the right to repair your electronics. We must stop the consumer trend of not really owning things, but instead buying a license to use something.

Consumers don't keep track of every little law or right, and must rely on intuition to guide their sense. Ignorance of the law is a most forgivable excuse to forgetting you have some right or protection in the first place, and a "license to use" breaks a lot of citizens understanding of their legal relationship to the goods they acquired from the market, and the kind of protections their society offers them.

Most citizens don't imagine that they cannot repair or break apart their Ikea furniture. Of course I'm not saying that ordinary people want to break open their phones or laptops, but they may want to take it to a repair shop.


The big problem is that manufacturers want to eat their cake and have it too. Imagine if the CPSC would require that they pitch accurately:

"And for just $699, you can sign up for an indefinite license to use this magnificent product, ladies and gentlemen! Yes, for that price, you'll be a lucky phone-renter!"

If you want to tap into people's desire to own a phone you can't tell them you're filling that desire and then turn around and say "well, what is ownership anyway?".


> Consumers don't keep track of every little law or right

This came up in a similar form in the discussion about IoT devices and privacy. We hold doctors and civil engineers to standards to protect the public, why shouldn't we do the same for software and hardware that could ruin your life? If you don't think this is a problem, or businesses have a "right" to pursue profits at all costs, you are a part of the problem and need to kindly find another industry to harm.


> If you don't think this is a problem, or businesses have a "right" to pursue profits at all costs, you are a part of the problem and need to kindly find another industry to harm.

You might have a romantic model of the medical system, but I certainly don't think that any business in any industry should be able to pursue profits without any moral restraint.


My Surface Pro 4 no longer detects its own internal drive. Is the connection loose? Do I need to replace the drive? I don't know because I can't open it up easily.

This is weird for me because I've always been able to reliably do my own repairs, even on my previous MacBook Pro. To now realize that my Surface is worthless unless I'm still barely within the warranty period is unsettling.


Unfortunately, Macbooks and Macbook Pros are like this now too :(

Apple will say it is necessary to make it as thin and efficient as possible. But that has a smell to it. My Dell XPS 15 9550 can be easily serviced : the SDD, Memory, wifi card and battery are all accessible and it doesn't sacrifice (much) thinness or weight to accomplish.

I sometimes wonder if the customer would be OK with Macbooks being 1mm thicker with user replaceable parts. There is only so thin you can go... If Apple wants claim to tell a sustainability story or to be "green" this planned obsolescence stuff needs to go.


Yeah, I brought up the MBP specifically because they've always been kind of unpleasant to work on. But at least you used to be able to.

My surface died yesterday and if I don't have a warranty still, it's dead to me. I'm not sure I'm even going to try opening it up based on what I've seen.


While it is true that Apple laptops have been getting thinner, the rest of your comment is severely out of step with reality.

MacBooks and MacBook Pros do have repair options. At least until they are obsolete. And since Apple caps the price the consumer pays for parts at a set per-model limit, the repairs can be surprisingly reasonable, especially if several major repairs are done at once. We had a top cover with keyboard, battery, motherboard, and MagSafe charging board all replaced with new ones for a total of under $400, a low price that was then waived because we had AppleCare.

As far as sustainability and being green, Apple takes computers for recycling at its stores. Where I live they also have a dedicated electronics drop off spot separate from the store, but then I am in Silicon Valley. They then have centers which break down the computers into parts, eventually recovering precious metals and reusable components and responsibly dealing with hazardous waste. I have visited this place and seen it happening with my own eyes. Not on some arranged fake tour, but from the back door, catching glimpses of what was going on inside, while dropping stuff off. They are being acclaimed for all this work they are doing. I'm not sure what other option you see, given that we all demand power upgrades with every new system we buy.

There is also the hacking risk which everyone on your side of this discussion loves to overlook. If it's easy to install bugging devices in a household member's laptop, then it will happen all the time. Apple is a big target. Instead of a hugely fragmented hardware ecosystem where makers of rogue, key logging, components don't even know which model to target, Apple presents a unified attack surface, and thus needs to be better defended. It really makes no sense for them to make it easy for me to hack your laptop so that I can destroy your privacy. It makes all the sense in the world for them to protect their user's hardware from unauthorized tampering.

I hate that I can't repair my own device. But there are some good, valid user-centric reasons for it, not just the profit-centric reason the outraged anti-Apple crowd assumes.


> unauthorized tampering

The rub is in who is doing the authorization? Increasingly it's the manufacturer, not the user.

That is a gaping chasm of a difference.

I don't think many people really want to punt on that to the manufacturer for the lifetime of the device; they just aren't thinking about the implications when they are purchasing it. The idea that they will almost certainly want to do something during the lifetime of that device, that the manufacturer might not want them to be able to, is a sort of buried and non-obvious risk, since what the manufacturer might allow is both subject to change and not necessarily clear upfront.


Point taken - I guess I should have said user serviceable for upgrades.

When you can do this you are able to get more life out of a laptop and avoid having to discard it for a new one. I'm pretty sure on Macbooks today you cannot upgrade the internals b/c they are sealed and permanently soldered to the mainboards. IMO I don't see huge advantage for it being any lighter or thinner than they are today in order to give up the option. I know I don't have a choice if I want to own a Mac and for the most part that's OK. However, as an Apple customer I wish they would engineer this in to allow people to easily extend the life/function of their products (thus reducing the load on landfills).

I was not trying to be anti-Apple fanboy - I do enjoy Macs (and have had several over the years). :)


I think you missed his main point:

> the SDD, Memory, wifi card and battery are all accessible

That means you don't need to bring it in to a certified repair center. I looked up his laptop model, all one needs is a standard Philips-head and a M2 x 3mm Torx screwdriver (I have a Torx kit from eBay that I got for ~8 Euro).

p.s. Apple laptops used to be user-serviceable. In fact, I recently upgraded a several older MacBooks with SSDs and only it took a couple minutes.


Yeah - that is sort of what prompted me to comment as well. I was able to do the same thing to an old 2008 Macbook unibody. After replacing the HDD with an SSD (easy to do and huge perf change) its a good box for everyday stuff.


Oh man, don't get me started on doing any repairs on the surface line. It took me FOREVER to safely replace the battery on my aunts old Surface RT because it bit the bullet, and the only choice for a replacement was an after market Chinese battery I don't fully trust. I warned her of the risks, but she didn't want to spend the money on a new device - so now I'm just hoping it doesn't catch fire before she finally replaces it.


Ouch, that's actually scary. Good luck.


To me what is frustrating is the planned obsolescence can just as easily be accomplished by just abandoning software support. Many older phones will never have new software because cendors cannot (or will not) allow electronics to upgrade to a new kernel, functionally limiting it to an old one and limiting what it can upgrade to. I would like to see some sort of law where if the electronic is abondoned, the software can be relased to allow consumers to update it.


In the case of iOS, update it to what? By the time Apple drops iOS support for a device, it's already starting to show its age. I have an old working 1st gen iPod Touch that can only handle simple web pages like HN and most apps that require a back end can't connect to the server like Netflix and YouTube.

My old 1st gen iPad fared a little better - you can still download "the last compatible version" of apps and use many of the streaming apps but it's crash prone trying to display complicated web pages.

Sooner or later smart phone advancement will get to the point where computers are now - a 10 year old computer * can run most modern non game software but we aren't there yet.

Neither of my old iOS devices needed "repairs". While I had long since abandoned my iPod Touch, I just replaced my first gen iPad as a PDF/Ebook reader with a 2017 iPad.

* My parents still use my 2006 era Core Duo 1.66 Mac Mini with Windows 7 and my current Plex Server is 2008 Dell Laptop 2.66Ghz Core 2 Duo running Windows 10.


"By the time Apple drops iOS support for a device, it's already starting to show its age"

Not really. My iPad3 no longer gets updates, but has great battery life, and runs common games and apps fine. It's fast enough for most web browsing, has retina screen and no reason whatsoever to be abandoned.

iOS Safari is not a great browser, it could be improved to run better on a device such as iPad3, but that doesn't suit Apple and their focus on native apps.

Now that Apple has stopped all updates for this device, my only option is to jailbreak and hope I can install an updated web browser. It's pathetic and irresponsible that Apple abandons its own products, no security patches, no nothing. They are like Facebook - they only care about "now" and "tomorrow". If you're a customer from yesterday, you are worthless.


Not really. My iPad3 no longer gets updates, but has great battery life, and runs common games and apps fine. It's fast enough for most web browsing, has retina screen and no reason whatsoever to be abandoned.

How has it been abandoned? My 1st gen iPad is still supported by iTunes (the computer app), all of Apple services (App Store, iCloud, iBooks, etc.) and starting in 2013, you've been able to download the last compatible version.

iOS Safari is not a great browser, it could be improved to run better on a device such as iPad3,

How? Which browser could handle today's web pages with 256MB (my iPad) or 512Mb RAM (the third gen iPad) and no virtual memory .

It's pathetic and irresponsible that Apple abandons its own products, no security patches, no nothing.*

The iPad 3 was introduced in 2012 and received its last update August of 2016. How many apps that you use every day have become unusable? If my iPad 1 can still run Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Spotify, all of Apple's productivity apps, etc. I'm assuming a 3rd generation iPad running iOS 9.3.5 would be more usable.

They are like Facebook - they only care about "now" and "tomorrow". If you're a customer from yesterday, you are worthless.

Apple has the best history of OS support in the industry. iOS 11 supports the iPhone 5S released in 2013. All of Apples services still support your iPad. What can't you do on your iPad that you want to do?


Your argument in defence of Apple's strategy is an odd line to take.

The point you've missed is that when Apple stops releasing OS updates, all the built-in apps and programs also suffer the same fate, such as Safari web browser.

Some websites are starting to use ES6 javascript in some circumstances. Certain ES6 methods are not supported in browsers older than 2017. Valve's Steam website is one example, the preview videos and slideshow on each game page do not load because the highlight player now uses ES6 javascript. Newer iPads see the player, "older" iPads do not.

There is absolutely no reason why this needs to be the case.

Browser updates and patches for some built-in programs should be offered even when the OS is no longer updated.


The point you've missed is that when Apple stops releasing OS updates, all the built-in apps and programs also suffer the same fate, such as Safari web browser.

You are saying Apple's programs --- which programs besides Safari need to be updated to support "modern" standards?

The mail client on my first gen iPad can still connect to any mail server - including Exchange servers. The same for the calendar app.

You can still download the last compatible version of apps from the App Store and download any music, movie, or book from the iTunes, iBook store.

The Podcast app that was a separate download for iOS 5, still syncs playlists as well (badly) as the newest version of iOS.

The iOS Maps app that originally used Google Map data still works. The Maps app still works with my first gen iPod Touch and has more updated satellite data than my brand new iPad using Apple Maps.

Apple even hacked in a way to support two factor authentication in older iOS devices that wouldn't show a separate field for the authentication code - you enter your password+authentication code.

All of their productivity apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes still work, you can still save documents and open them with the newest version on the newest Macs via iCloud.

You can still Airplay from a 1st gen iPad to a brand new Apple TV.

As far as Safari, if it crashes on complicated sites now and is unusable with iPads with low memory now, don't you think it would be more crash prone trying to render more complicated sites?

I'm using the worse case scenario - having the first generation iPad with the least memory (256Mb of RAM).

I've used my 2017 iPad next to my 2010 iPad. The only real difference in Apple's built in apps as far as usability is that Web pages render a lot faster, Safari doesn't crash and you can keep multiple tabs open without constant reloading -- all due to hardware improvements -- not "patching" the browser.


scarface, you're defending the indefensible. Stop trying to justify Apple's scheduled technology obsolescence.

I'm not talking iPad 1st gen, which was always slow. Soon after release it was clear that iPad first gen was underpowered.

I'm talking about iPad 3rd gen, which has 1 GB RAM, a retina display, and does not crash when loading web pages. It has enough RAM to load any web page. "Hardware improvements" are not needed on this device. Software improvements ARE needed including updating the browser to cater for things like ES6 which does NOT require better hardware, only a minor updated browser software.

You don't think Apple should update the software, and instead I should... go to the store and buy a new iPad to get a slightly better web browser? You are part of the "throw away" culture problem, you are not helping.

Let's take a look at Apple's glossy "helping the planet" page...

https://www.apple.com/environment/

"To ask less of the planet we ask more of ourselves."

Nothing about extending product life, it's all fluffy feel-good futuristic gazing pre-packaged catch phrases. Well I'm asking more of Apple too, like software updates for an iPad3. Asking more of ourselves is not enough, we also need to act on those questions, not just copy and paste the slogans on a "helping the planet" page.


> My old 1st gen iPad fared a little better

My iPad 2 runs on iOS6 and has perfect battery time, and runs as fast as in 2011. Only some ad-laden websites crash the browser from time to time, but that's a problem with all 512MB memory devices (both iOS and Android). Everyone that upgraded their iPad 2-4 and iPad Mini 1 to iOS7+ regretted doing so. iOS7 was a major slowdown for those hardware devices. It basically got unusable slow. iOS6 on the other hand works great and fast, but most apps on the AppStore don't work anymore (apps that require iOS7). Yet all old installed apps still work fine. On a Samsung Android tablet from the same year (2011) you still can install the latest apps, and get the latest AppStore and Google app updates (but stuck in old Android 4.x) - those AppStore updates slow down the device more and more. So it's not black and white.


The fact that third party apps abandoned older OS version is the "fault" of the app maker. If you're an app maker and can support all devices introduced since 2013 by only supporting the latest OS, why wouldn't you? The reason Android app makers still support older OS versions is a function of the abysmal state of os updates for android devices.


I would argue maybe not iOS, but if they abandoned it, it would be nice to be able to run something on it, whether it be Android or some or Linux variant.

I still have an old iPod loaded with Rockbox and an SD card that holds 256 GB. I replaced the battery myself, and the thing still runs great. I also have a Novena laptop that unfortunately has not received an official update in a year and a half, so I ported over the Linux patches to a newer kernel and it runs great as well.


While you can't install Linux. Most of the older iOS devices have had easy to use Jailbreaks for years. But if you just want to use an old iOS device (pre iOS 5) for music you can still sync with iTunes. A device that runs at least iOS 5 (any iPad and any iPhone released since since 2009) can still run most modern streaming services - both audio and video.


"Bowing to public pressure, Apple apologized and fixed the broken phones with a new [software] update. But a precedent had been set. Previously, Apple had made it difficult for people to fix its products by restricting access to parts and service information."

"When you buy such a machine, the hardware becomes yours. But if you ask manufacturers, theyll say that the software inside still belongs to them."

Apple's strategy has been to make repair difficult by restricting information and access to parts.

They can send C&D letters to anyone who publishes information about repair.

But what about users, who are not publishing information about repair?

Apple cannot send C&D letters to users, who are free to use the hardware however they wish.

Apple may have IP covering manufacture and modifications to the hardware, they may have IP covering information about the hardware, but they have no IP on the use of the hardware that they could assert against users.

However because users rely on Apple-controlled software, Apple could manipulate the use of the device via automatic software updates. And that is exactly what they did.

The solution for the user is to select hardware that allows users to install their own choice of open source software instead of giving away control over the hardware to a corporation via corporate-controlled software and "automatic updates".


Well that's the point of iFixit — we have hundreds of thousands of people around the world writing their own repair info to fill the void that the manufacturers left. It's working out pretty well so far.


The pressure from consumers is in the favor of slimmer, sleeker gadgets. This causes manufacturers to use production techniques that make repairing impossible.

So even if companies made every little detail about the internals of the product public, it's gonna be of not much use to repair today's cellphones that are held together essentially by glue.

I understand what the EFF is trying to say, but frankly, consumers have chosen with their wallets on this one.


> consumers have chosen with their wallets on this one.

There are plenty of situations where we do not simply let the default selection made by consumers stand, because often that choice is suboptimal or intensely shortsighted. Particularly when economies of scale often push the preferences of a small number of early-adopter consumers onto the rest of the market, whether they have the same preferences or not.

More generally, expecting a consumer operating with very limited information, limited time, and limited interest and incentives, to make a purchasing decision that may have substantial unaccounted (and unpriced!) externalities is foolish.

We should stop treating the consumer's off-the-cuff decision of what to purchase as holy writ, given the many examples of consumers happily trading away the "right" to purchase shitty products in an unregulated market for higher quality products in a regulated one.


Hmm, I think it's more that the companies drive a view of "thinner" and "high resolution" as more fashionable, they laud it and advertise it. It's something they can use to "inform" consumers that what the people already own is now "deficient", they can advertise to show how much people would love and accept us if only we had a slight higher resolution, slightly slimmer phone ...

Once they've spent $100M convincing us that we'll be pariahs without their new items then people "want" those items.

If the companies advertised how we could save the planet if we bought more conscientiously and didn't throw away working electronics, etc., then all of a sudden people wouldn't "want" those other phones.

Your version only works if you can show advertising/media doesn't work.

So once they've convinced us to buy what they can make, to force us towards buying again every year, then they make sure it will break and be unrepairable and blame the consumer fashion - the very fashion they spent so much money creating.

Then people blame the consumer.


> The pressure from consumers is in the favor of slimmer, sleeker gadgets. This causes manufacturers to use production techniques that make repairing impossible.

How does that apply to the John Deere tractors or your next car?


It doesn't. People don't crave from slimmer, slicker tractors to the point that you can't have repairable components in them.


"for slimmer"


> The pressure from consumers is in the favor of slimmer, sleeker gadgets. This causes manufacturers to use production techniques that make repairing impossible.

Is anyone actually crying out for thinner devices? Or do we just keep getting them foist upon us as the result of some pointless thin-ness arms race manufacturers have gotten themselves into.

I strongly suspect it's the latter: we keep buying thinner (and this is wrongly perceived as demand for thinner devices) because the only options we get are for thinner devices.


>Is anyone actually crying out for thinner devices? Or do we just keep getting them foist upon us as the result of some pointless thin-ness arms race manufacturers have gotten themselves into.

Yes, they are. There have always been bulkier alternatives for every device on offer (smartphones, laptops etc) -- the thinner ones sell better. Not to mention whole categories where being small and thin is part of their main purpose (ultrabooks, wearables).

And here's a certain Linus Torvalds:

  I’m have to admit being a bit baffled by how nobody else seems to 
  have done what Apple did with the Macbook Air – even several years 
  after the first release, the other notebook vendors continue to push 
  those ugly and *clunky* things. Yes, there are vendors that have 
  tried to emulate it, but usually pretty badly. 

  I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring my laptop to be thin and 
  light.

  (...) I’m personally just hoping that I’m ahead of the curve in my 
  strict requirement for “small and silent”. (...) A notebook that 
  weighs more than a kilo is simply not a good thing.


"The pressure from consumers is in the favor of slimmer, sleeker gadgets. This causes manufacturers to use production techniques that make repairing impossible."

I am not sure: we can only choose from what the manufacturers decide to build. At some point, Apple seem to have become obsessive about trying to make every model of device thinner than the previous generation, and it sometimes seems like executives in other companies are fixated on Apple. AFAIK, no manufacturer tried to buck the trend and ship a relatively "fatter" device marketed as having longer battery life, replaceable batteries etc. as features.


Thinner is a visually marketable change, such things are easier to sell as fashion and so enable a short product re-purchase cycle.

Apple's controlling influencers, et al., don't care two shits if we Earthlings destroy the planet - if they can drive our greed and desire to present ourselves as better than others to make themselves a hefty profit then they're doing it. That's Capitalism.


Seems laughably unlikely.

Would be nice is somebody like the EU at least required a user replacable battery. Seems insane to replace a top spec phone made out of aluminum and glass just because a battery has died.

Imagine if cars (starting at only 10-12 times as expensive) were thrown away when they needed an oil change. They would last just about as long as phones do.


Eh, batteries on the iPhone are "user" replaceable (from personal experience, up to the iPhone 7). It's not the same as swapping a battery out of a plastic case like my old Nokia, but you certainly don't have to throw the whole phone away if the battery dies.

However, I think modern phones will suffer other issues before the battery dies.


Sure, me too, but what percentage of the population actually does this, let alone knows it is possible?


I have a friend who works at a battery/electronics chain, and replacing phone batteries (and screens) has become a substantial part of their business. I couldn't say what percentage of the population knows it's possible but, when your phone breaks or the battery dies, I'd bet a fair number of people google repair options, and from there going to third parties seems fairly common.


Almost everybody using one? At least in Europe are third party stores that replace iPhone batteries (and repair other such damages) all around the towns.


It should be noted that Apple has always been very against third-party stores, and have tried to punish consumers that use third-party stores in an attempt to discourage people from using third-party stores. Not to mention that Apple intentionally makes it hard for third-party stores (not selling parts or even providing information about parts).


And one can likely use that to gauge the public’s demand for repairing.


If you want to buy a phone with a replaceable battery, then do that. Why force everyone to put up with the extra bulk and weight? And at least with apple, replacing the battery does not require replacing the phone.


The "bulk and weight" FUD needs to stop. There is no reason that user replaceable batteries need to be heavier and bulkier than soldered batteries.


Perfect example:

http://www.gizchina.com/2013/09/18/exclusive-hands-video-sta...

http://www.gizchina.com/2013/09/24/jiayu-g5-teardown/

Almost identical in dimensions and appearance to an iPhone 5, yet has expandable storage and a 50% more capacity removable battery. If some small Chinese company can make such a phone, so could Apple, but they deliberately chose not to.


How many g5 batteries exploded on their owners with third party batteries, most of which are crappy?

It's easy to make anything if you have lax enough standards.


How many Samsung devices exploded on their owners with first-party batteries? This is a ridiculous argument -- what aspect of a "non crappy" battery will result in a replaceable version being more bulky?


Obviously the part where non-replaceable batteries are also more expensive designs created to balance maximizing energy while minimizing heat dissipation for a specific model, and studied by the company's own expert teams to specifically fit in the phone they're added in.

Random third party from lowest price manufacturers are usually not.

In fact, as you've shown, even first-party batteries can be dangerous if rushed -- like in the Samsung case you noted.


I don't think it's FUD. I didn't do extensive research, but I quickly googled phones with replaceable batteries and found these two from LG:

LG V20 - 5.7” display, 3200mAh battery, 174g LG V10 - 5.7” display, 3000mAh battery, 192g

And here's a phone from the same manufacturer with a soldered in battery:

LG V30 - 6” display, 3300mAh battery, 159g

That's a bigger display, a bigger battery and an overall lighter weight.

It's easy for me to believe that manufacturers are soldering in batteries to deliver thinner, lighter phones since that's what they claim, and that's what they seem to deliver. But I'm happy to look at your numbers.


FYI, the display is bigger, but the phone is actually smaller due to the "bezelless" design of the LG V30.

The difference in weight is mostly due to the reduced body size, so less materials used.

A thinner phone also generally weighs less due to less material.

The combination of soldered battery (so thinner phone) and "bezelless" design could explain a large part of the difference in weight due to less materials used.

[LG V20 specs] https://www.gsmarena.com/lg_v20-8238.php

[LG V30 specs] https://www.gsmarena.com/lg_v30-8712.php


Yes there is a reason. It is called safety. There is a big difference in making a battery in phone safe to handle and separate stand-alone battery safe to handle. This includes things like puncture resistance, heat dissipation, vibration and shock test. This results in thicker/heavier housings for the replaceable batteries.

"Safe to handle" here does not mean "looks good to me," but tested against mandatory standards.


Battery acid isn't safe to handle, so it's shipped in a container. Same for a battery, if it were unsafe external to the device then there could just be a shipping caddy - remove the battery from caddy, place old battery in caddy and take for recycling. That would probably be safer than the current situation.


There is no reason to suppose that making the battery easy to replace increases bulk and weight to a degree you are capable of detecting in a blind test given identical hardware.

Its about decreasing the lifespan of devices to sell more.


It does increase size a little, as you need to account for the extra thickness used to make the compartment wall and the inside wall of the battery pack. Additional constraints are that these compartments generally have to be straight-walled; you can't realisitically 'build through and around' a modular compartment like you can with an inbuilt component.


I have been living in rural Kentucky for 4 months and casually asking farmers about the issues with John Deere tractors. They are all familiar with the problem but the ones I have spoken to seem to think it is necessary. I think these are smaller scale farmers, though. The heavy machinery mechanic next door disagrees, and says the company he works for buys a certification for the right to repair. I got the impression they somewhat depend on it. At least, he doesn't seem to put up a fuss. He is a neighbor so I didn't put him on the spot.


What is it that locks them into buying John Deere products? They seem to be mostly NA focused so I assume there are international competitors even if there aren't local ones. Most of the worthwhile patents should be decades old, etc.


> the ones I have spoken to seem to think it is necessary

Why do they think it is necessary?


2 of the 3 here said they own equipment that only John Deere can work on and they do not like it. Their impression appears to be that “nowadays” the tractors have computers in them, which necessitates a technician with skills beyond that of a country mechanic. I get the sense they either have bigger problems or that they just feel helpless so would rather not know. In the case of the latter, they are probably right but I don’t think I have the heart to tell them. Similar to the neighbor, I see these guys at the local cafe somewhat regularly. I am very much a city folk haha, just visiting.


I know a few people who bought Smart TVs from various manufacturers a few years ago and the Smart functions have one by one been withdrawn as the manufacturers no longer supports them. E.G. YouTube, Netflix and other media player apps. Eventually you are left with a TV with a pretty basic, slow and probably insecure web browser. We got nearly 30 years out of Teletext, nowadays expecting a Smart TV app to be supported for five years is being optimistic.

And will the manufactures open up their TV OSes to allow 3rd parties to offer support. Of course not, but they will helpfully let you know how great their new TVs are.


> I know a few people who bought Smart TVs from various manufacturers a few years ago and the Smart functions have one by one been withdrawn as the manufacturers no longer supports them.

This is the #1 reason I restricted myself to purchasing a Smart TV which uses Android TV rather than something written by the OEM.


I wish I could install whatever I want on my phone without jailbreaking it. Let us have an option hidden in the settings (just like developer options) so we can install anything we want without permission or without the app expiring in a few days.

It's my damn phone!


>It's my damn phone!

Correction: it should be your damn phone. As it stands, it's their damn phone; they're merely being gracious enough to let you use it in the limits they prescribe. And you're paying for the privilege!


You can install any piece of code you want on your phone. If it's open source, you can download XCode, compile from source and put it on your own device without paying for a developer's license.

I'm not going to install some random piece of closed source software that couldn't make it through Apple's review process. No I'm not treating my phone differently than my computer. I have no random software on my computer from untrusted sources. I even bought my last Dell from the Microsoft store so I wouldn't have random crapware on it.


> I even bought my last Dell from the Microsoft store so I wouldn't have random crapware on it.

... Yet Microsoft's retail version of Windows 10 still comes with PUPs, like the nigh-impossible-to-uninstall Candy Crush Saga.

You would assume then that Microsoft must have well-vetted CCS. However, it's been a vector of attacks, including a time when it dumped a trojan out during it's reinstall process.


You can install anything you want supposing the developer releases it in the wild as source with no hope of making money off AND no hope of normal users making use of it.

Doesn't sound useful to me.


How much money do you really think a developer can make without going through the App Store?

Can you name one successful profitable Android app that isn't sold in the Google Play Store even though Android devices have been able to sideload for years?


> How much money do you really think a developer can make without going through the App Store?

A lot. Your mistake here is in thinking that all software is direct to consumer. Being able to install software without going through a store is very important for a lot of small to medium business that have custom or customized software. You can do it with android, you could do it with windows mobile in the 90's, it's mostly just apple that want to exert so much control over you.



Thanks IEEE. While we're at it, we'd also like it if you opened your standards process, and included the general public and especially security researchers in all your drafts.


Fair point! I wrote this long before the KRACK vuln but I've been very uncomfortable with the closed nature of IEEE standards that I've participated in. But I've still contributed, so I reckon I'm still complicit.

For what it's worth, that's why we published essentially the entire oManual spec for free online so you can build compatible products to IEEE 1874 without having to purchase the standard. http://www.omanual.org/


It's a shame that none of the policy suggestions for something like this would leave Apple's Activation Lock unscathed.

Activation lock caused something like a sustained 50% drop in phone thefts the year it was implemented. Before that, stealing phones was starting to look like stealing shoes in the 90's. It even had its own slang, "apple picking".


>Activation lock caused something like a sustained 50% drop in phone thefts the year it was implemented

I'm extremely skeptical about that. Can you post sources?

And why do you say that these proposals are not compatible with Activation Lock-style schemes?



> Thefts involving smartphones have declined dramatically in three major cities since manufacturers began implementing “kill switches” that allow the phones to be turned off remotely if they are stolen, authorities said on Tuesday.

> Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman were among numerous officials arguing for new laws mandating the kill switches.

So phone theft decreased in cities considering mandating remote kill switches.

That seems less Activation Lock, and more:

> So far, Apple, Samsung and Google have implemented kill switches on their smartphones, and Microsoft is expected to release an operating system for its Windows phones that has one this year

... the fact that everyone is bringing such a technology to market at similar timelines.

---

As for the claimed 50% drop:

> The number of stolen iPhones dropped by 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York in the 12 months after Apple Inc added a kill switch to its devices in September 2013. In London, smartphone theft dropped by half, according to an announcement by officials in the three cities.

That's an average below 40%, but those aren't stats. They're rounded figures. And only in three cities, over the whole world.


> It's a shame that none of the policy suggestions for something like this would leave Apple's Activation Lock unscathed.

How so? Maybe I'm misunderstanding but Activation Lock is tied to the Logic Board as far as I know. You wouldn't replace individual parts on your Logic Board. Everything else can be perfectly replaced without interfering in todays' iPhones. Even the Touch ID Sensor.


Making replacement parts and repair manuals available wouldn't meaningfully hurt device activation schemes. Sure, somebody could buy and replace the logic board in a stolen phone, but criminals are already able to do that with used or stolen parts.


> Activation lock caused something like a sustained 50% drop in phone thefts the year it was implemented.

I think those stats sound fishy, but even if they aren't... Activation Lock came around the same time as the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act [0], which probably accounts much more for such a stunning decrease.

[0] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr4065/text


Activation Lock was introduced in September 2013.

The bill (not law) you reference was first referred to the House five months later, but as far as I can tell was never passed in the Senate.

Unless you’re arguing the mere existence of a bill caused phone theft to drop precipitously, I think the argument stands that credit is due to Activation Lock (or whatever the equivalent is for Android, about which I am ignorant).


> Activation Lock (or whatever the equivalent is for Android, about which I am ignorant).

That's a different argument. One technology by one company, or the existence of a remote kill switch?

Android's ADM gained that ability in October 2013.

> The bill (not law) you reference was first referred to the House five months later, but as far as I can tell was never passed in the Senate.

Some states have implemented it, however [0], and the bill is still going back and forth federally. [1] THe upshot being phones manufactured in California have required a remote kill switch since 2013.

The mere existence of that law should cast doubt on the claim:

> Activation lock caused something like a sustained 50% drop in phone thefts the year it was implemented.

[0] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml...

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5834


If you want to influence lawmakers, you have to bring their attention to the issue when they are running for office.

MAKE IT A CAMPAIGN ISSUE!


I have mixed feelings about this.

Somehow people think they have the right to buy the brand they like. But this is not how the market works. You can always choose not to buy it.

Don't like how Apple solders everything to the main board and glues the screen glass to the body? Just don't buy Apple.

But this can be a difficult decision because of things like 'status', vendor lock in, greed, and what not.

The feeling that you can't live without Apple, Facebook, Android, Instagram, and so on, is a strange thing. And it's one of the things I don't like about todays society.


I would love to see a company whose business model is making generic and standard consumer electronics parts that are small and powerful, with options to boot. I would love it if I could build & maintain my own mobile computer (AKA smartphone) just as I would build my own PC. Since taking my kindle voyage apart, I realize that this must be very doable. That thing is way less sophisticated than a raspberry pi, it just happens to be a form factor that I like to hold.


Probably not what you are looking for but I'm keeping an eye on Fairphone [1], a company that tries to ethically source for phone parts and ensures that you can repair the phone you buy from them.

[1] https://www.fairphone.com/en/


I would love it if I could build & maintain my own mobile computer (AKA smartphone) just as I would build my own PC.

I would love to build and maintain my own PC, but I assume that Intel Management Engine (ME) or the equivilent is going to come with the CPU for the PC I build.


There's a huge gap between an ereader and a smartphone.


1. small

2. powerful

3. with options

4. easy to work on without special (possibly custom) equipment

choose two


I would rather have a larger handheld device than my Nexus 5x if it meant I control the hardware and software on it. 2/3/4 I think can be worked out by the consumer market as long as standards can be crafted for modularity.


Why not better educate people about the fact that some devices are easier to repair than others?. If they care about it, they will naturally buy stuff that's repair-friendly, even if it's a niche market.

I care about repairing my stuff, and avoid buying anything that is intentionally designed to being unrepairable. I've specifically not bought any Apple product because of that.


> Why not better educate people about the fact that some devices are easier to repair than others?

People are far more likely to care more about devices that are easy to use than ones that are easy to repair.

My father, for instance, just barely has sufficient skill to make use of his iPhone, but it has considerably improved his life. I don't imagine anyone could convince or train him to use something different solely on the basis of it being easy to repair.

He's going to have to pay someone to repair it for him anyway, so what does it matter if it's Apple or someone else? I imagine he'd happily exchange it for whatever the latest model is if a technician were to imply that an upgrade would fix his hypothetical problem.

One important consideration here is that smartphones are of use to a market which includes people willfully resistant to relearning.


There are so many rights we have to fight for first (saying from a company that builds open source hardware products).

+ The right to have your data not being used in ways you wouldn't give permission for.

+ The right to have your data and devices properly protected against malignant actors

+ The right to be able to use your devices as you want, resell them, use them years after you bought them

+ The right to expect standards to apply. If you are relying on 110V, it should not be 180V.

By the way, just standardization for power plugs/outlets would already save more money and resources than you can probably imagine. Especially if we enforce same grid voltage and freq everywhere in the world. Electrical engineering is too important to leave to individual nation states.

There are other non-rights, like usability, look and feel, and prestige that are much more important to everybody than anything w.r.t. fiddling around with your stuff.


What about the right to repair our software?

Running a electronics engineering house here and we can easily see 9:1 ratio of software:hardware people-time ratio in bringing a device to the market. Varies heavily from project to project, but solutions in SW tend to scale better.


Is it so hard for a company nowadays to produce average phones in a sustainable way and that are consumer-oriented?

I think this is what’s missing: a player that simply reads about frustrated users and creates product for them. I am quite sure it won’t be as successful as Apple but not as bad as the last failed company.

I read recently that material costs for a Samsung phone increased of 10% in 5 years. Now, why can’t a phone be sold for 400 usd and be respectful for consumers? I get it that companies live out ot money, but i can’t believe that there is not a single company doing differently!


The problem is that such measures aren't important to the 'average' user, which means your market for such libre phones aren't going to recover the capital costs needed to invest to start-up the operation!


It would be interesting to have numbers here, because I think that people are becoming more and more aware and tired of buying a 3-400 euro phone every 2 years. What are the improvements these new phones carry along? I have a relatively old phone, but the only features I see with newer phones are the following:

- better hardware, like more cpu, more ram, better camera - support for fingerprints - android updates

There is actually an alternative, I wasn't aware of it: https://fairphone.com/en/

But hell, no, 2017 and they still offer Android 6.0! And it seems that they are more related to "fairness" in production, etc. It's the "eco" phone which is probably sponsored by green parties :) That's not actually what I meant in the parent comment, where I was asking for a company that produces simply "average" consumer-oriented phones. If these guys do it, why can't another company do the same?


I’m curious: when everything electronic is printed in a level 4 clean room and printed together at nanoscale, will this even be relevant?

For instance, computers went from chips on boards (think Apple II) to basically just chips (any cellphone).

What happens when thins are even further integrated? Will this even matter?

I honestly don’t know the answer. Maybe we all just hack chips with our local x-ray fab down the block.

The future is getting weirder.


The way the situation is evolving is that they are NOT 'our' electronics. We think we are buying them to own them, but in reality what it gets you is the right to use the device only for as long manufacturer wants, and only in a manner deemed appropriate by the manufacturer. It's more than a fight about tinkering or repairing, it's a fight about ownership.


Can someone from the American Libertarian cadre on HN chime in on this? I see some examples of people talking about how this might be 'necessary' (see gt_'s comment(s)) but I'm interested in an ideological assessment of this situation.


There are many, many varied beliefs in Libertarianism - even within America and within the Libertarian Party. On the political compass, it is opposite authoritarianism. Taken to extremes, it is anarchy. It can have left or right components. It's quite a spectrum.

That said, the commons must be protected. The right to repair would qualify as the commons. At the same time, forcing companies to excessive standards isn't always the best answer. In a perfect world, we'd have perfect information and rational buyers. We don't have that.

As the other poster suggested, getting rid of the DMCA would be a good start. I'd say companies should not be allowed to actively prevent repair or modification, but doing so renders the warranty invalid.

I'm pretty far over in the left side. I'm probably best defined as a libertarian socialist, not too far from the social democrats of Europe.


> I'd say companies should not be allowed to actively prevent repair or modification, but doing so renders the warranty invalid.

I absolutely don't agree. Why should the fact that I use your product in ways that you didn't explicitly allow mean that you are not responsible for defects in your product? A really important aspect of ownership is that I can actually do with what I own whatever I want to do, and not just in the sense that it is legal to do so, but in the sense that it causes no disadvantage for me. Just because I install an additional wall socket in my house, does not mean that you can disclaim responsibility for all defects in the house that I paid you to build, and the same should apply to IT devices. You are obviously not responsible for any defects that I cause by modifying your product, but that's it, you should still be fully responsible for the quality of your product.


Asking to be free from the consequences of your decisions is really not reasonable IMHO. I think it's perfectly reasonable to demand freedom to do what you want with your own device (and I do), but to also demand that somebody else pay for it when you break it would make providing a warranty a suicide-operation, meaning few companies would do it. And the answer to that problem (created by government in the first place) would be more government in the form of forcing companies to provide warranties, which would result in nobody shipping anything cause it's too damn expensive, or else charging insane markup to cover warranty repair costs. Then the government would have to institute price controls...


How is a pre-existing manufacturing defect in a device a consequence of me competently modifying the device, so that that would then justify that I have to pay to replace the defective product?


It's not. But if you try to flash some incompatible custom rom and end up bricking your device, that isn't the manufacturers fault. Yet you seem to be arguing that they should foot the bill for it.


Where do you think I said anything like that?


I re-read your posts carefully, and I concede that you did not actually state or imply that an incompetent modification should be covered.

I think I'm actually in complete agreement with what you've said (at least in this thread, can't speak to other threads ATM cause I haven't read them all). Perhaps our only disagreement may be on whether governments should enforce this, or whether companies should do it on their own. I fully agree with the latter (in fact I bought a phone from OnePlus specifically for this reason).


Too difficult to judge once it has been tampered with. The courts don't have time to judge each case on its merits and there's no reasonable surety that your modification didn't harm the product.

The line has to be drawn somewhere.


Who defines what counts as "tampering"? I didn't tamper with anything, I simply used the product the way I wanted to use it. I don't see how it's even remotely reasonable to allow the manufacturer to set rules as to how you may use the product, and if you don't follow those rules they disclaim all responsibility for delivering a non-defective product by claiming that it's "tampering".

And how is the potential problem that some things are difficult to judge for a court a reason to therefore allow one party to dictate the judgement? And why would that party be the manufacturer? Why don't I as the customer get to dictate the outcome?

Is there any reasonable surety that the manufacturer did do their quality control properly?

How could it possibly be reasonable to assume that I am at fault because the manufacturer says so?

How is it possibly a reasonable solution to the supposed problem that courts lack resources to simply declare one party the winner by law?

And no, the line does not have to be drawn anywhere, why would it?

If I am willing and able to prove to any sufficiently competent person in the matter that a defect existed when the product was delivered ... what could possibly be a reason to "draw the line" somewhere and ignore the evidence? How is it not obvious that at the very least, if I can demonstrate that a defect existed when the product was delivered, it should be completely irrelevant whether I also modified the product?


We aren't going to fill the courts with that. If there's a manufacturing defect, return it before tampering with it. If it is a common defect, it will be covered by a recall and not a warranty.

Sorry, the line has to be drawn somewhere. You may be competent and I believe you are. However, Joe I Can Solder This With A Lighter is not qualified. We aren't going to tie up the courts determining the difference between you and him.

It's just reality. In principle, I would love to agree with you. However, much like we can't assume perfect information, we're not going to assume perfect repairs. The courts are too valuable to be wasted with frivolity.


> We aren't going to fill the courts with that.

Why not?

> If there's a manufacturing defect, return it before tampering with it.

What if I discover the defect only after I have started using it? (Please stop calling using my property "tampering", or explain what you mean by "tampering" if that is not what you mean.)

> Sorry, the line has to be drawn somewhere.

Why? Just repeating this claims does nothing to justify it.

> You may be competent and I believe you are. However, Joe I Can Solder This With A Lighter is not qualified. We aren't going to tie up the courts determining the difference between you and him.

So, what are we going to do instead then? Let the manufacturer decide what they want to pay for?

> However, much like we can't assume perfect information, we're not going to assume perfect repairs.

Who is "assuming perfect repairs"?

> The courts are too valuable to be wasted with frivolity.

How is holding manufacturers responsible for defects in their products frivolity?


> Why not?

From your post above...

> whatever I want to do

I think we are done here. That's not how society works. You don't just get to do whatever you want to do and expect the manufacturer to still cover the warranty. They warranty it for an express set of conditions, for express purposes, as is understood by a reasonable person (a legal concept). If you tamper, see a dictionary, with the device then it is not their responsibility to cover it. That's actually pretty much how the law already is. Your house example is kinda silly. It's a house, not an electronic device.

I'd love to agree with you but reality suggests otherwise. If you overclock your CPU, as a rough example, they aren't gonna let you RMA it. I don't blame them. Swapping out user serviceable parts, as a reasonable person might do, is an obvious exception. You might want to try looking at it as a reasonable person (the legal concept) would.

You really seem to have a bit emotionally invested in this so I'm going to respectfully bow out now.


> I think we are done here. That's not how society works. You don't just get to do whatever you want to do and expect the manufacturer to still cover the warranty.

Well, yes, actually, I do. And not only do I expect it, it's actually the law over here.

> If you tamper, see a dictionary, with the device then it is not their responsibility to cover it.

Well, OK, let me quote a dictionary:

| a :to interfere so as to weaken or change for the worse —used with with

| b :to try foolish or dangerous experiments —used with with

| c :to render something harmful or dangerous by altering its structure or composition

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tamper)

So, according to the dictionary definition, competently repairing or modifying the phone certainly would not fall under tampering, do you agree?

> That's actually pretty much how the law already is.

Actually, I doubt that it is, assuming that you are talking about the US.

> Your house example is kinda silly. It's a house, not an electronic device.

I agree that a house is not an electronic device. Why do you think that different rules should apply in the case of electronic devices?

> I'd love to agree with you but reality suggests otherwise.

Why?

> If you overclock your CPU, as a rough example, they aren't gonna let you RMA it.

Whether they "let me" anything really is not the question. The question is what their legal responsibilities are, i.e., what I can enforce via the judicial system if they do not voluntarily "let me".

> I don't blame them.

I think I got your standpoint. What's still missing is the justification.

> Swapping out user serviceable parts, as a reasonable person might do, is an obvious exception. You might want to try looking at it as a reasonable person (the legal concept) would.

You do understand that that is not a meaningful use of the legal term "reasonable person", right? That is about figuring out the intent of a contract if things are not spelled out.

> You really seem to have a bit emotionally invested in this so I'm going to respectfully bow out now.

Unfortunately, that is not really a justification for your standpoint either.


See, now you're just being dishonest. I'm not even sure why?

I really, really shouldn't engage you further, but I'll try one more time.

No, the law isn't that 'over there.' The law isn't that anywhere. Nowhere on the planet can you modify your electronic devices 'however you want' and have it covered by warranty. To give a really simplistic example, you can not just start swapping out resistors and replacing them with alternatives and be covered under any legal system on the planet. Go ahead, run 440 volts into your phone and tell 'em you expect it to be covered by warranty. I'll wait for your court case. Provide documentation.

Yes, tampering. I'm now even more certain of my use of the word. The very first definition works just wonderfully. Yes, when you crack open that phone case and think you're a master at reflow with your toaster oven, you're making it worse.

I'm really, really trying to be charitable. At this point, you've been openly dishonest and made outlandish claims. No, no your legal system doesn't allow that. Go ahead, snap a few resistors off, pump 12v AC into your phone, and try for a warranty claim. I'll wait.

Seriously, that's not even a moral arguement to be made. You can't just do 'whatever you want' and expect warranty coverage - anywhere on the planet. Not in my country, not in your country. If you think you can do it in your country, consult a qualified legal professional.

Whatever you want includes things like smashing it open with a hammer and hooking it up to your car's alternator in a crazed PCP frenzy. That ain't legal anywhere.


> No, the law isn't that 'over there.' The law isn't that anywhere. Nowhere on the planet can you modify your electronic devices 'however you want' and have it covered by warranty.

Well, great that you believe that ... but that does not really change the reality of it.

> To give a really simplistic example, you can not just start swapping out resistors and replacing them with alternatives and be covered under any legal system on the planet.

Well ... except, yes, you can.

> Go ahead, run 440 volts into your phone and tell 'em you expect it to be covered by warranty. I'll wait for your court case. Provide documentation.

Why the heck would I want to do that? Why would I possibly want to apply 440 volts to my phone, in the process most likely damaging it irreparably, before requesting repair of a pre-existing defect under warranty, the repair of which is extremely unlikely to make the phone work again?! I mean, apart from the fact that applying 440 volts to a phone PCB would probably make it impossible to prove that the claimed defect existed beforehand, at least if it's a defect in the electronics. And even in the first six months, when the seller has to prove that the defect wasn't there on delivery to escape liability, the damage from that most likely would be sufficient to shift the burden of proof to me.

But, well, yes, legally I could sort-of enforce that here, if I somehow did manage to prove that the defect existed on delivery. Though chances are it would be completely futile because the court would probably find that the actual damage that I suffered in that situation is non-existent (because the phone is worthless whether they do/pay for the repair or not), so while I would formally win the case, I wouldn't really get anything out of it.

> Yes, tampering. I'm now even more certain of my use of the word. The very first definition works just wonderfully. Yes, when you crack open that phone case and think you're a master at reflow with your toaster oven, you're making it worse.

Speaking of dishonesty: How is it honest to pick a scenario that you consider to be an incompetent repair or modification as an example of a competent repair or modification?

> I'm really, really trying to be charitable. At this point, you've been openly dishonest and made outlandish claims. No, no your legal system doesn't allow that. Go ahead, snap a few resistors off, pump 12v AC into your phone, and try for a warranty claim. I'll wait.

Well see above. But to maybe show a case where that would work out just fine: Let's say I do all that to my new phone, and then I discover that the SIM socket is missing. Then I absolutely could successfully sue for receiving the missing SIM socket. Probably not for getting it soldered in, though, unless I could show that that actually increases the value of the phone.

But why are you constantly going for such intentionally massively destructive scenarios?! Obviously, that's likely to make any claims on pre-existing defects moot, if the destructive action would have destroyed the previously defective component anyway, so there is no legal damage anymore.

> Whatever you want includes things like smashing it open with a hammer and hooking it up to your car's alternator in a crazed PCP frenzy. That ain't legal anywhere.

Well, yes, it actually is, that is what the concept of "property" means. As long as it's not harming you, you don't get any say in what I do with my property, and that includes if you are the manufacturer of what is now my property. And not getting any say in it includes that you cannot disclaim responsibility to deliver a non-defective product unless I do with my property what you want me to do with my property.


Please don't comment here anymore, I just want to hear liberterian POVs.


Why do you think I should stop discussing in this public forum with people who are interested because you are not interested in what we are discussing?


I agree. I would also rather have clear rules up front than have to rely on the (often arbitrary and subjective) decision of the judge.


So, you prefer clear rules that say "fuck you" over unclear rules that say "whoever caused the damage has to bear the costs"?


No, but thanks for consistently straw-manning my arguments.

I prefer clear rules that say, "You can unlock your bootloader and flash whatever you want to the device, but if you do we aren't going to fix your screw-up"

If it's a hardware defect that has nothing to do with flashing software, that's a different story. But the libertarian perspective (which is what was asked for) is that it's between you and the company. If it's not a mutually beneficial exchange of goods (money for a product) then it shouldn't take place. If you don't like the rules, you should buy from a different manufacturer.


> I prefer clear rules that say, "You can unlock your bootloader and flash whatever you want to the device, but if you do we aren't going to fix your screw-up"

Well, except that at least my point was about laws, and this is not a useful law. The question is not what rules you would like to see from manufacturers, but what meta-rules you would like to see from the government that define how manufacturers can make rules that apply to you.

> If it's a hardware defect that has nothing to do with flashing software, that's a different story.

Why should there be any difference between the two? If either of them is defective as delivered, why should it not always be the responsibility ot the manufacturer/seller to fix the problem, and why should it play any role whether I modified the product, be it in software or in hardware, as long as my modification is not the cause for the defect?

> But the libertarian perspective (which is what was asked for) is that it's between you and the company.

Well, except it isn't, because whatever is between me and the company is ultimately governed by the framework provided by laws, and thus enforced by the government. An agreement that cannot be enforced is ultimately worthless. So, the interesting question is: What rules should the government enforce and which should it make effectively worthless by not enforcing them?


Sorry, I specified American Liberterian to differentiate from anarchists, leftists, anti-hierarchicalists, and Keynesians. Pretty much just specifically looking for right-wing anti-collectivist perspectives here.


This is an issue that kind of splits Libertarians. However there are a few fairly commonly accepted points:

1. This is a big issue because of DMCA requirements, and DMCA should not exist (that is enough to address the problem according to many Libertarians)

2. The government should not be getting in between transactions between two private entities (public corporations are considered private entities in this context, because they are not government controlled), unless there are externalities that warrant such intrusion.

It could well be argued that there are externalities in this (the waste created as a result of it is a great example), though I think that's a slightly different argument.

Here's a couple of brief but interesting discussions on reddit:

1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Libertarian/comments/4spfwf/the_fig...

2. https://www.reddit.com/r/Libertarian/comments/36c857/thought...


A lot of the issues people have seem to relate to two things: licensing as opposed to ownership, and IP law. Some licensing schemes may just count as ownership under common law, so would be unenforceable. The really awful ones only exist because of a lack of competition, most likely due to patents and copyright, which I holistically oppose, along with copyright and most copyright law (some exceptions, like certain trademarks, exist because they are essentially fraud).


I'm happy that IEEE is recognizing this, but there's a reason I'm no longer a member: IEEE supports software patents. Might want to remove that beam from their own eye first . . .


The article and some other comments here honestly just made me nostalgic for the first Apple computer I owned, an early generation "unibody" cast aluminum MacBook Pro.

It was, bar none, the easiest modern laptop to open up and service I've ever worked on, and I did that professionally for several years. Simple screws, minimal variation in screw size, solid steel parts, no silly plastic tabs, and nothing that felt like "this didn't need to be taped in, but using tape/glue/whatever sure makes it easy for official warranty support people to tell if you've been tinkering around in there."

Replacing entire logic boards, or doing even trickier work like re-cementing CPU heatsinks, was incredibly easy and intuitive even without a manual (which was fortunate, since the official maintenance/manual documentation was pretty expensive to get access to legally).

Apple gets a lot of crap for the declining serviceability of their laptops, but remember that it wasn't always this way. Things have gotten way worse, and for pretty transparently dumb reasons.

The "tamper-proof" screws were the stick that broke the camel's back for me; I was willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt regarding hyper-restrictive hardware compatibility checks and proprietary connectors, but when they made the physical tooling itself pointlessly expensive/difficult to get (torx was already a widespread standard; why give pentalobe, already a bastard stepchild, more market share?), I started being a lot more suspicious. Where were the people surreptitiously opening up laptops and stealing RAM? Or installing hardware keyloggers? Instead, "tamperer" turned out to be basically the same as "hobbyist", "non-blessed repairman", or "curious kid who wants to know what the inside of their computer looks like".

And the party line I've heard from colleagues who work for Apple is inane: "it damages the reliability of the brand to let anyone poke around inside; they can break stuff!" Any hobbyist, aspiring geek, or unsanctioned technician knows what they're getting into. Anyone in those groups, or anyone handing their computer over to such a person, isn't going to blame Apple when tinkering/inspection causes issues (if they do, they'll be laughed at by anyone who hears them). Either it was broken and the maintenance/tinkering fixed it, it wasn't broken and it was after being opened up, or it was broken and remained that way.

Sigh. End rant. I miss the good old days, I guess. Snow Leopard and hardware that was elegant, simple, and easy to fix and use.

I'll go back to working on my lawn now, so I can tell kids to get off of it. Monsanto considers it an illegal modification and TOS violation to water the MiracleGrass I planted, so now it's all dead and I have to seed it again.




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