Yeah, Apple and their ecosystem aren't saints, and their position on right-to-repair policies is reprehensible, but neither is Android, which runs on a Linux kernel, and from a privacy perspective, reasonable people could argue that Apple's doing a better job than Google is with Android.
GNU unfortunately doesn't see the other dimension here -- usability. There's basically nothing that's come out of GNU in recent memory that's been competitive in terms of usability and mass-market appeal (discounting coreutils, which are the de-facto usability standard for loads of command-line UIs, but their mass market are developers, sysadmins, and power users).
As long as GNU keeps preaching this kind of absolutist position where the downsides of corporate-owned software ecosystems exist in a vacuum, they'll come off as doomsayers to many observers.
Having said all that, DRM does suck and I believe their position there is fully justified.
The same goes for Ubuntu which runs Amazon Ads and sends usage statistics by default.
> As long as GNU keeps preaching this kind of absolutist position where the downsides of corporate-owned software ecosystems exist in a vacuum, they'll come off as doomsayers to many observers.
The FSF was absolutely spot on of raising privacy issues and that has forced a privacy overhaul throughout the entire tech industry. However it is still a shame at how they still cannot convince users to stop using non-free OSes or applications since they don't understand that most end users aren't willing to put the effort into migrating to another platform or to sacrifice convenience over freedom.
The only audience that seems to get the message are software engineers but not the average Joe or Jenny.
I say this as a former full-time user of a pretty huge chunk of their software offering, from emacs, to GCC, to screen -- over the years, I realised that many of their APIs or feature sets aren't modern, and better alternatives exist.
I love FSF's products, contribute to them frequently, and use them every day for my job. But it is laughable to even dream that the alternative they present would be better for the average user, for almost any definition of "better" other than the most restricted FSF definition regarding no-compromise of any sort of "better freedom".
Would I love it if there were more free, "better" alternatives to Apple, Microsoft and Google? You betcha. But there isn't one, and there is no viable path to one, and hasn't been since Stallman first rode out of the desert.
But that's what allows them to exist this long. A clear consistent message that is both unusual and takes no prisoners.
And yet almost everyone I know in tech knows about it, even my non-tech friends that use mastodon and pleroma have heard jokes about it. So given the exposure it's got them, it was pretty good for marketing.
I could be wrong on that, but my personal anecdata is that noone who doesn't already care about free software is really aware of their message about free software.
Some anecdata: My ex, whose parent is interested in computers but she herself does not have much of an interest and only barely knows what Linux is, joined mastodon before me, and the majority of her three hundred-odd follows do not know what Linux is.
Most cishet groups don't have a clue about mastodon or won't budge from facebook because they don't have a reason. The blatantly fascist-supporting twitter moderators, and the hostility of facebook's real name policy has given that incentive to queer people.
Mac OSX is built upon FreeBSD with a custom kernel.
Yes, it does, but you can make the exact same kind of argument here that it is a necessary evil in the real world. Content creators really do have the right to enforce their copyrights, and it's clear that the honor system is not good enough to accomplish this. Just look at the reaction on HN whenever an article is posted that is behind a paywall. Many people simply feel somehow entitled to consume content without paying for it.
> In MacOS and iOS, the procedure for converting images from the Photos format to a free format is so tedious and time-consuming that users just give up if they have a lot of them.
First, there is no "Photos" format. The Photos apps are just catalog viewers. On macOS, the original files are easily accessible on disk organized inside the .photoslibrary file.
There are a few proprietary aspects:
- As of iOS 11, iPhones will store photos using the patent-encumbered HEVC codec. This can be disabled.
- Live Photos are undocumented but nothing special: a still frame bundled with a short video. (The video likely uses proprietary codecs.)
- Adjustments to images are nondestructive and stored separately from the file, in an opaque way.
Exporting a photo to a free format is trivial. The system usually does it automatically whenever you share the photo. Otherwise, it's literally just File > Export or even dragging to another app.
This is also rich, coming from the FSF:
> “Dark patterns” are user interfaces designed to mislead users, or make option settings hard to find. This allows a company such as Apple to say, “We allow users to turn this off” while ensuring that few will understand how to actually turn it off.
Yes, because open source software is widely celebrated for the ease with which the everyday user can figure out how to change settings or modify source code.
(I agree Apple buried the ad tracking setting in a counter-intuitive place. But it's now in the top-level Privacy settings, where it belongs.)
I agree with the premise, but this article is a little bit of a mess. Things like this don't help convince people. Were it shorter and more cleaned up, and devoid of things like "cr...app store" it might actually help people realize the importance of Free Software.
The view that freedom is always preferable over, say, the sense of security that folks get from having an avuncular corporation ensure that the tools in their lives have a limited range of use -- that someone is literally managing the possibilities of their personal devices, pruning them of (supposedly) dangerous apps and ensuring that they are within certain expectations, is a great comfort to people who are already used to their lives being managed in precisely this way by any number of powerful actors.
Stuff like this from the FSF makes me think they just don't understand the user. The user is typically is not an engineer. The customer is not interested in the responsibility that comes with that kind of power, and would pay good money to trade it off for predictability.
And the success of nerfed, general-computing-incapable devices is market validation of this hypothesis.
I'm uncomfortable with this facet of human nature too, and it runs contrary to the prevailing narrative of our industry and even of the Enlightenment itself, but until we accept that many folks just want to be taken care of, we will keep being surprised.
Customer obsession means appreciating all the data, not just the data that is comfortable to behold.
There are a few things on the list universally hated, though, such as pervasive DRM (even non-techies hate lack of repairability and lack of compatibility with non-Apple branded peripherals).
At any rate, I hated the feeling of being locked into a walled ecosystem that was hard to escape from, so I never bought another Apple product after the iPhone 4S.
But the saw needs to be connected to the internet all the time for it to work, and ToolCorp can remotely disable your saw if they detect you are using it to cut something other than wood, and ToolCorp will only let you buy ToolCorp brand blades, even though CompetitorCorp makes high quality cheaper blades that have the same shape. Furthermore, your new saw has a computer that can be used to program it to cut different patterns, but all patterns must be approved by ToolCorp and indeed they can remotely go in and delete unauthorized patterns if they want to (remember, your saw needs to be connected to the internet all the time). Also, you'll probably need a "ToolCorp Hardwood Premium" monthly subscription if you want to use hardwood cutting features.
The complaint here isn't that Apple is making tools. It's that they are making tools that act in the interests of its creators more than in the interests of its users.
You wouldn't buy a hammer from home depot that failed to work if your interests didn't align with HammerCorp's interests, would you?
Are you implying that people buy iPhones because Apple stops them from sideloading apps? Because I don't think that's true at all.
A more accurate statement might be: Most non-techie users don't mind having their freedom taken away. If Apple allowed sideloading tomorrow a la Android, nothing would change for the 95%+ portion of iPhone users who prefer the App Store.
I'm glad that this attack vector is not realistic for my iPhone. I'm also glad that my relatives won't accidentally(?) install a sideloaded malware too. That's why I kinda like app signature checks in MacOS too.
I don't want to deal with calls asking me to help with their computer. When 1 hour in they remember they clicked on something in a suspicious website.
I guess they kinda like their computers and phones working without interferences for years too. Makes family events better too :)
Out of curiosity what phone do you use now? And how do you feel about that ecosystem in terms of malware, tracking, advertising etc?
> And how do you feel about that ecosystem in terms of malware, tracking, advertising etc?
Out-of-sight, out-of-mind honestly. I like having all my media and everything in common formats I can download and move around as I wish. I have no loyalty to android and could easily switch to the next best thing that comes along.
I lost a lot of music and videos when I switched to Android though because Apple makes it really hard to decouple the media you own from their ecosystem (iTunes at the time).
I select one or more photos in the Photos application on my Mac, and drag them to a folder window in Finder. That exports them as JPEGs.
It is important to be accurate.
You can access APFS from Windows or Linux at at least Paragon APFS for Windows, and Paragon APFS for Linux. There is also an experimental AFFS FUSE driver.
This can actually be important in case of forensics.
Not saying they’re wrong exactly, but the argument would be stronger if they kept up with the times.
So whether it's about software coming from GNU or FSF (or something endorsed by Google) doesn't really matter, in this context.