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Every year Stallman sounds less crazy. I used to think it didn't matter what tools I chose as a lone developer making consumer tech products and DSP audio applications. But over time, I saw that consumers rely on frontier-makers more than you think, even though they may lag behind by a few years.

I reluctantly switched to Firefox because it still has add-ons and since Chrome's web tools are so good. With Mozilla's Rust adoption, Firefox got fast. This means my web products work a little better on Firefox, intentional or not. When enough people make that choice, a tipping point forms in the future. Paul Graham wrote about this in "The Return of the Mac" [^1].

Don't underestimate the power of your choice at the frontier, even if it takes a while to reverberate through time.

[^1]: http://www.paulgraham.com/mac.html

What’s frightening is that most people agreed with his views, but weren’t willing to commit to them because of practicality. I of course am one of them.

Decades later, I think we are still at a point where following his ideas come at a very steep price in performance and day to day usage.

For instance any dev that touches an iOs app in any way or form (even if it’s just to run in on test devices) is better off with a mac.

There’s ton of prevalent android apps that won’t work without the Play Store, and even rooting the phone is already seen as an hostile act from many vendors.

The list goes on and on, keeping hardware or software free is still an insane move that needs sizeable sacrifices. And it’s scary there’s no indication of the situation to change for the better.

If you are willing to try, microg mimics play store and apps will work without it. Happy user for ~2 years.


Read faq.

Thanks for the heads up. Definitely checking it out.

Footnote in pg's article makes me wonder what the stats are today. I'd guess Windows down, Mac way up, Linux/FreeBSD about flat [maybe slightly up], but I have no idea.

[2] Y Combinator is (we hope) visited mostly by hackers. The proportions of OSes are: Windows 66.4%, Macintosh 18.8%, Linux 11.4%, and FreeBSD 1.5%. The Mac number is a big change from what it would have been five years ago.

Wow, that the majority is Windows is a bit unexpected to me. Really shows how powerful and omnipresent Windows actually still is - something that is often forgotten when living in certain tech bubbles.

Linux with 11% is quite high, I like that. What seems lower then expected are the Mac numbers to me.

Thanks for sharing.

The linked article, and its footnote quoted above, are from 2005.

Yes, I would expect unix/linux to be the majority now, since that is what people are running on their phones.

At this point in time, there's hundres of real world exmples of every single "crazy" warning given by Stallman.

The difficulty is that many of those examples are also doing useful things that the more open/free alternatives aren't.

We are developing an unfortunate dichotomy between commercially supported, closed ecosystems with lock-in and rapid update cycles that provide superior functionality and more community-driven, open ecosystems with standards and future-proofing but inferior functionality.

If the open versions aren't too far behind the closed ones in functionality and performance, that's just another form of competition and perhaps a healthy one. But if we start to get too much lock-in, which is inherently a one-way process favouring the closed systems in this situation, and in particular if important data or external systems become accessible only from the closed systems, then we have a more serious problem, as we're seeing ever more clearly with the worlds of mobile devices, IoT and "evergreen" software.

That's the choice we each have to make for ourselves. Be a serf in corporate walled garden for short term convenience, or help build and improve the open ecosystem so it can catch up.

> Be a serf in corporate walled garden for short term convenience...

There is a spectrum from the cathedral to the bazaar. And there are only so many hours in the day. You could become a serf to principles, spending time others have for social activities or relaxing instead on maintaining a purely libre work flow.

There's a fundamental difference between you owning your tools and somebody else loaning them to you. You can save some time in the short term. However once the company starts going in a direction that doesn't work for you, then you end up getting screwed. I've been burned enough times over the years that I'd much rather use open source tools whenever possible. The beauty of open source tools is that they're not driven by need for profit. As long as there's a community of users who want to use a tool then it's going to keep being maintained and working the way the users want. It doesn't need to be profitable or grow it's market share.

So I'd much rather be a serf to principles and have control over my life than be a serf to a bunch of companies with their own goals and agendas. That's just me though.

However once the company starts going in a direction that doesn't work for you, then you end up getting screwed.

That is true, but if the more free/open alternatives were never at the same starting point in the first place, you were probably screwed that way too. Neither option let you start in a good place and then move in a good direction, and this is the unfortunate reality I was commenting on above.

I think open source does let you move in a good direction though. I switched from a Mac to Manjaro Linux for my main desktop, and I haven't missed anything so far. Latest Gnome and KDE are both really nice desktops, there are apps for everything I need, and the OS is rock solid.

I've used Linux on the desktop previously and it left me wanting, so the fact that I haven't gone back tells me that things are indeed improving.

Meanwhile, OS X hasn't added a single feature I use since 10.6. All I've experienced over the years is that it kept getting more bloated, slower, and flakier.

That's the choice we each have to make for ourselves.

Yes it is, but the reality is that if almost everyone is making the other choice, we stand to lose a huge amount by not following the crowd. That's not a price that most people are willing to pay, which limits the interest in and contributions to the open alternatives, and thus the vicious circle is closed.

It's not about the total users you have or marketshare. The only thing that's important for open source is that there are enough users to keep it going. And that's certainly been the case for many years now. The fact that most people use something else doesn't affect me one bit vast majority of the time.

> With Mozilla's Rust adoption, Firefox got fast.

Those are unrelated.

Stylo was attempted in C++ twice. Both times it was too buggy and had to be thrown out.

The third time, they used Rust. And it worked.

Most of recent Firefox performance come from parelelization in servo.

Mozilla research said rush enabled them doing safe multuthreading.

Well, it got faster because of Servo, which is written in Rust, so not completely unrelated, but yes, it did not get fast because of Rust the language.

I wonder why people make such bold wrong claims.

I think in this case it’s probably because the person in question is simply mistaken. The other possibility is that they are some kind of Rust evangelist and they are actively trying to deceive people. I doubt it. Could we please approach each other with the benefit of the doubt? Could we please gently, constructively correct errors? I see no need to be so aggressive, especially in our current social/political climate.

What current social/political climate? Moreover, the problem is that he claimed without research. And this is what bothers me. How can people be certain of something they have never seen confirmed anywhere.

I tried switching to Firefox about two years ago and went straight back to Chrome because it was so slow. It would lag when I opened a new tab and started typing to get to another site. Many times, the first few characters off a hostname or search would get dropped.

Tried again about six months ago, and I haven't looked back. Firefox is great again. Not sure if the Rust adoption happened between those two points in time.

I still have to use Chrome for Hangouts for work. And still trying to figure out a way around this.

There have been a lot of incremental changes, but the big one was "Firefox Quantum" in November 2017


IIRC hangout works with firefox if you spoof user agent

Thanks! I'll try that.

I think Rust adoption has more to do with developer productivity than speed:

- People preferring the compiler to yell at them to fix their Type mistakes before they hit the "run tests" button.

- Getting a better IR for better error messages.

Amongst others...

Perhaps increased developer productivity provides more developer hours for performance tuning.

Rust is slower than C++. Firefox got faster because it got optimized, not because of Rust.

This is a common misconception. In key benchmarks, it is the same speed (a few still lag, but not due to inherent weaknesses in the language). Earlier versions of rust were slower because the compiler didn't have the insane optimizations that many C++ compilers have.

In fact, it may be easier for developers to write code that runs faster with rust than C++, thanks to much error and exception handling code that you simply do not need in Rust.

Most importantly, however, is finding Rust developers who are experienced enough to write high-performance Rust. I would imagine that it's a lot easier to find C++ devs.

> Rust is slower than C++

It may be, but there's also the concurrency aspect which is hard to get right in C++. That's where the performance gains come from, partially, because 'fearless concurrency' is one of the Rust's tenets.

> Rust is slower than C++.

That's a bold claim to make without any justification!

Most come from concurrency. Rust make them easier.

Stallman was right all along.

Agree!! I used to find his claims amusing but I’m paying the price now.

I did the switch to Firefox too but can't help notice during frontend (Angular and React) development that Chrome reload my apps significantly faster.

Cache disabled when dev tools open in FF but not Chrome?

Cache is disabled in chrome when dev tools are open.

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