It’s possible we took that for granted and assumed that openness was a given in personal computing.
The reality is that most devices, from cars to refrigerators, to video games, to cameras, etc are closed and proprietary ecosystems. PCs, due to a few happy accidents, were one of the rare things that enabled a vibrant, free from restriction, 3rd party ecosystem in both hardware and software.
Apple may be inadvertently teaching us all a lesson about not taking the things we currently enjoy for granted as they are often not guarantees in the future
But looking back I see that they gave us all an enormous windfall in the form of comoditized hardware with decades of hardware growth. (hardware is the complement of OS software, so drive hardware costs down and OS sales go up)
You would think Apple as a hardware company would open up software to increase hardware sales, but instead it seems to try to control everything so it is fighting a battle on multiple fronts.
Purely on the business perspective, Apple has seen tremendous benefit with their locked ecosystem and vertical integration. Bringing that strategy to the PC market was bound to happen and it's likely going to work extraordinarily well for their share holders if performance/productivity benefits (from Apple Silicon) at low-mid end forces traditional PC consumers to Mac.
On the consumer perspective, Would we accept a $1000 PC couple of years back with no means to install other Operating System (Officially), Only 3-5 years of updates(if lucky), Use only manufacturer approved apps, Repair only at their approved centres?
Then why did we accept it to be a norm for >$1000 smartphones?
We made them smell money with our consumer decisions to trade 'freedom in computation' in smartphones and it's now coming to haunt us with personal computers. The line between Smartphones and PCs have been blurred with Apple Silicon, Google will do it with their Chromebooks(which was already happening even without their custom silicon [Update cycle, Locked boot-loaders etc.]) and Microsoft with their Surface line up.
Users don’t care about if the platform is “open” or if they can install Linux. In fact, in many cases, the things are a massive source of pain to end users that want devices that just work, which the iPhone and iPad largely do.
It’s also, by the way, never been easier to build your own hardware from ready-made components and platforms.
I don’t know why we should lament users choosing devices that are easy, fun and reliable to use, and that provide them with single tap access to massive software libraries and entice them to pay for that software. Seems like an absolute win to me.
I'm finding it difficult to see this as an absolute win given that Apple's absolute control over these devices facilitates human rights abuses and a general trend towards censorship and authoritarianism all over the world.
As a developer I don't see it as an absolute win if my distribution channels are dominated by an oligopoly of two all powerful gatekeepers. But I completely understand that consumers don't care about that or even like it.
I also understand that consumers don't care much about Apple's cultural anti-porn bias. It's all on the web anyway.
But what about human and civil rights? Can we really celebrate something as an absolute win if it hands absolute control over our access to encryption to anyone who happens to control Apple?
How exactly is Apple going to ban encryption? Isn't HTTPS outside of Apple's control?
And how would Apple manage to "ban encryption" on Windows, Linux, or Android devices?
It‘s not going to be up to individual users to decide wether or not to use it anyway and perhaps fight for their constitutional rights in the courts.
If you don't like it, it's never been easier to build a replacement, or install a dev certificate on your iPhone and load whatever you want.
Unfortunately we've failed them & ourself with our consumer decisions.
Computers back then were far too expensive for them to be anything but reliant on capitalism. It was only with the commoditization of hardware that free and open computing really even became an option.
(I find that this is an under-explored option in discussions of socialism-vs-anarchism-vs-capitalism these days. State-controlled corporations seems to have a very good track record. But I haven't seriously studied this.)
TBF, the first few iPhone releases were arguably better and more open than anything before them. Apple refused to bow to carriers and provided a standard development platform for the first time. Then the Appstore, again bypassing carriers, increased developer access to mobile platforms by 1000x or more.
Sadly, both consumers and developers then failed to push for even more open alternatives, to the point where Apple and Google managed to entrench themselves too deeply to address this problem through simple market mechanisms. It's time for authorities to step in, hopefully we're seeing that (slowly) happening.
Symbian also changed drastically from featurephone to featurephone. WinCE was a bit more consistent but nobody used it on actual phones, it was largely a PDA os and PDAs were a very small market.
At the end of the day, buying a Computer is a tradeoff. A lot of people would very happily tradeoff freedom for other values if the value proposition is good.
I have a 2013 15” MBP that I babied and kept in immaculate condition. It also worked great until some RAM failed a couple of weeks ago. It’s a brick now
There was nothing open about NuBus, Quicktime, QuickDraw, QuickDraw 3D,....
Apple's platforms like every other 16 bit computer, with exception of IBM PC clones, was always its own eco-system.
Microsoft forced PC buyers to use their software by making deals with OEMs to preinstall it on every PC, hiding the cost of the software from the consumer. Most consumers did not purchase a PC with no software installed, and then purchase a license to Windows separately; the software and license came with the computer.
There are probably more similarities between Apple and Microsoft than there are differences, however tempting it may be to focus on the differences.
People love to criticise the RPi. It has its flaws and shortcomings. Nevertheless, it is a rare example of a computer that does not come with an "OS" preinstalled. Buyers can choose from a variety of OS and make their own bootable SD cards.
Care to outline what you mean by that? Ubuntu has official support for most of the newest RPi models.
In fact, I’m running Ubuntu 20.04 on my RPi 3B+ right now.
How is it not fully supported? What am I missing?
Documentation of a lot of it has been published, but only a partial drivers have been developed by the community.
for example, I think mesa has some opengl hardware acceleration and I know kodi does hardware video decoding. I also believe there's some work on u-boot.
“The idea of acquiring Atari was considered, but rejected in favor of a proposal by Lowe that by forming an independent internal working group and abandoning all traditional IBM methods, a design could be delivered within a year, and a prototype within 30 days. The prototype worked poorly, but was presented with a detailed business plan which proposed that the new computer have an open architecture, use non-proprietary components and software, and be sold through retail stores, all contrary to IBM practice”
That was before even the choice for a CPU was made (makes me wonder how prototypical that prototype was), so I don’t see how Microsoft would have been involved at the time.
IBM gets some credit, for making the IBM-PC with commodity components, which set the stage. But it was the clone makers (with Compaq being first, but certainly not last) that ultimately caused the standardization around the IBM-PC style systems. And the clone makers were driven by the fact that, at the time, the market (esp. businesses supplying their users) wanted to be compatible with the IBM-PC, while saving costs over buying an actual IBM-PC from IBM. MS benefited from the explosion in sales of IBM-PC clones by being the OS provider for the IBM-PC, so as a clone maker, to be fully compatible, you also needed MS's OS on your clone.
The standardization process occurred some years later once the market had clearly moved towards the IBM-PC architecture. And MS likely had some hand in guiding that process, given their monopoly at that time in the OS that every clone maker wanted to use. But by the time MS was powerful enough to begin any guiding (or "forcing") the market itself had already "standardized" because of the huge sales potential of being "IBM compatible".
(and they tried to close the barn door with the ps/2, microchannel and os/2 but failed pretty miserably)
Meanwhile Microsoft with its non-exclusive software agreement courted hardware vendors and made MS-DOS and soon windows work with a multitude of hardware products. It fostered hardware competition and drove down the price.
They are probably of the opinion that opening up software would decrease their target customer satisfaction and subsequently decrease sales.
Apple is now (primarily) a software-service company, and from that point of view, a locked-up platform makes a lot of business sense (unfortunately). Selling hardware is only the first step in locking customers into their service-ecosystem. In this new Apple world, app-developers are essentially Uber/Lyft-style gig-workers, not independent businesses.
They like to tell everyone that, but it's still very much a lie. More than 50% of their revenues come straight from iPhone hardware sales. Services are barely under 18%, and that includes absolutely everything they can throw in there (icloud, appstore, etc). Everything else is hardware.
Apple is a hardware company that is desperately trying to ensure their future when, inevitably, they'll get a few iPhones wrong and consumers will move on. It's a bit like Persian Gulf countries investing in airlines and anything else to ensure they'll have a future when oil runs out.
(a recent longer explanation of this principle, for anyone who cares, is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25130956)
I would say they have transitioned to depend more on folks like samsung and tsmc.
Apple just released their first laptops with custom silicon cpu/gpu, declaring their independence from Intel.
They dropped Nvidia ten years ago.
From memory, Apple haven't used Nvidia in any of their products in years due to bad Nvidia behaviour ages ago.
But more than that, Nvidia needs Apple. Apple selling ARM macs to developers means that all developer tool chains are being updated to support ARM. This is vital to Nvidia’s plans of ARM server chips. It would never have been a reality without the M1 or something like it.
Given large enough and open enough markets, there’s niches for multiple approaches, whether that was the DOS/Windows approach of proprietary software and commoditized hardware, the Apple approach of proprietary hardware and software that uses open standards (which was also more or less the Unix workstation approach), the Amazon approach of commoditized compute and storage, or the FOSS approach of commoditized software on commoditized hardware which has further subdivisions that gave rise to Linux, GNU/Linux and multiple BSDs. Even MINIX and L4 have niches that they can and do fill, and isn’t QNX used in a bunch of cars?
The economy, American, Global, European, wherever you want to draw your lines, supports all of these approaches simultaneously because they all have benefits and drawbacks. Not the most exciting statement to make, so as an idea I feel like it just gets overlooked. People will use what they will wherever it makes sense and others will look at them funny and wish they did something different.
Still, it’s something to behold that the same decade that saw Apple make more money while locking down and shedding supplier relationships and most of the open standards they used to support also saw Raspberry Pis, Android replace at least three major mobile OSs, the web become more closed off (compared to the prior decades), RISC-V, Microsoft buying GitHub, and Raptor Computing Systems selling open POWER9 workstations. I don’t pay them much mind but I hear System 76 is doing well for itself selling good Linux PCs.
I wouldn’t worry about computers becoming more locked down. Even second and third rate machines in their class are pretty good these days.
Apple "lost" the PC war because they were trying to sell slow computers for more money than the fastest available PCs. People bitch about the Apple tax now, but the premium for modern Macs is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. (And from the early signs, bang for the buck the M1 Macs are ahead of the PC industry)
Part of me really misses how fun an inventive hardware was between the 90s and mid-2000s. Things feel very stale these days and maybe M1 is the push that this industry needs to get innovating on new platforms again?
edit: if Dell or Lenovo would do an ARM variant of the XPS13 or X1C that was capable of running Linux, I'd buy the hell out of it.
Owning the profit is great, but owning the market means longevity.
Besides, if they did win smartphone marketshare too hard, they risk regulation on the amount of control they enjoy of their platforms, which might harm their profits.
All other 16 bit platforms were just like the Macs back then.
Virtually every mobile device today uses a touch-sensitive display (and a Unix-derived OS)... like the iPhone.
Apple Inc. is the most valuable company in human history.
Tell me again how Apple lost the PC wars? ;-)
There were many valuable companies in the past but they are not anymore. Apple must not push its customers limits too much or it may backfire.
I fear everyday that the arm "revolution" will make open computing a thing of the past. Look at the arm laptops that are released. Not a single one can run Linux.
That’s not completely true. They seem to be open to Windows.
Craig Federighi has stated that Windows could run on M1 hardware, but Microsoft’s licensing doesn’t allow the ARM version to be installed in a non-exclusive manner.
He seems to be saying that the lack of Bootcamp is because Microsoft is unwilling to allow it (rather than Apple).
ARM servers use UEFI, and have enumerable buses for hardware detection, while most ARM SoCs require a custom bootloader or a forked open source one, and can't enumerate over hardware, thus requiring something like the DeviceTree in Linux.
Here's an idea of what kind of work ARM SoCs need for Linux to run on them.
Edit: and also uboot, which bootstraps the kernel, and hands it a dtb.
My ARM Chromebook which boots into Linux would beg to differ.
Here are the directions I used for my Samsung ARM Chromebook. These directions are probably obsolete for more modern hardware, so take them with a grain of salt:
Some of the earliest ARM laptops ran Chrome OS, which is an image based Linux distro (vs package based).
People have been running more recognizable distros on some of these models for a long time, with varying degrees of success.
Take it easy on the hyperbole. There are definitely options.
Now that I look at it, it looks like this is the case for some ARM Chromebooks, too, in that they are stuck having to use the specific ChromeOS kernels that ship with images for their Chromebook models.
You have it backwards. Around the time, everything was open and well documented and hackable. PC, Amiga, ST, Archimedes... It was Macintosh that was uniquely closed.
But the reality is things are different now. The threat model is different.
You can’t just copy a “cdrom” full of 200 shareware titles you got in the mail and let your kids randomly run executables.
I used to sell anti virus, and the threat models for some of the clients were Eye opening.
These machines dialed up bbs. No internet, no volumes of personal data like hd video and photos.
You didn’t have bank websites or online payment tools you could use people’s data to defraud.
My point is there no fitting the days of pc clones over today and having some direct comparison around “openness.”
Win 3.1 audio drivers under dosbox are a bit beyond my current capacity for tinkering though.
PinePhone, other open smartphones are not available in my country due to embargo; So Moto G4 Play was the obvious second choice for PostmarketOS due to availability of robust mainline kernel(MSM8916).
But guess what, Motorola removed unlocking support for older devices from their portal! So even though G4 Play is available widely in the used market it's useless for any aftermarket OS efforts. There's absolutely no explanation for this decision from Motorola, other than making people buy their latest devices. So, it seems that the devices unlocked(hacked) by the community is still a better choice in the long run just because the manufacturers cannot be trusted for the devices 'we own?'.
This is simply not true. Some of their devices provide that but many don't. Research carefully before purchasing.
I agree totally with ipadlinux.org!
> Obsolete iPads could be affordable personal computers and useful for project builds. We believe Linux is the key to bring new life to these devices.
On Windows, any Windows 7/8/8.1 users got a free upgrade to Windows 10, and the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are the same as Windows 7 (other than for disk space, Windows 10 requires less). So that's any Windows PC in the last 11 years can still get an OS with security updates. And of course, you can always install Linux on a Windows PC.
The Apple side doesn't go quite as far back, but still most 2012 macs can install Catalina which will be supported until 2022. And Linux is pretty well supported on the non-T2 macs (pre-2015) as well.
The big thing that makes really old iPads not worthwhile to reuse is the battery. It often becomes cost ineffective to replace them. I’m looking at my 9.7” Pro with a cracked corner of its screen. Replacing the battery will damage the screen more causing a replacement for that, too. PCs don’t have the same expectation of parts wearing out - many easily can run 10 years with no hardware maintenance.
An iPad or iPhone would do much of the same, and in some ways better or for different uses. It uses less power. It could be used as an in-wall display. It could be a WiFi repeater, or an access point given a USB ethernet adapter. People are creative, if you give them the chance. And none of those things really care if the battery is flat.
My parents used their Mac SE at least weekly from 1989 until about 2005, and it still works great today (but hasn’t been turned on in a few years).
The practical minimum for a modern distro is probably a Core 2 Duo (2006). You will likely need a lightweight DE on such a system if using it as a desktop.
Some mainstream distros (e.g. Ubuntu) set their requirements higher than that.
The Linux kernel supports the 486 CPU (also used to support the 386, but it was dropped, although it's probably possible to restore it with some work - the 286 can't be easily supported because it lacks 32-bit registers).
If only this were the case. Common websites have become script ridden monstrosities that aggressively consume RAM and CPU. I routinely have 50+ tabs open; even on fairly recent hardware that can easily cause problems depending on which pages they contain.
opera did gracefully open 100+ tabs in 2005 on a dualcore with a gig of ram.
Meanwhile, FreeNAS worked and booted fine on it. Even though it only had 5GB ram. ;)
Even with the base OS software, you've still got a great music player, a great video player, a multi-function timer/stopwatch/alarm clock, a web browser, a camera, digital maps, a calendar, email, etc.
Oh they do, people have managed to get Big Sur running on Mac Pro 4.1 machines from 2009.
The problem with keeping Mac Pros usable is the GPU side since one is forced to use AMD, but the new drivers for new cards IIRC require AVX support on the CPU.
Hurts, because the hardware still works.
Sounds like a great feature!
Recently we had a post about websites smaller than 1MB, I think this is a much better metric: "Will load on iPad 2 in <10s". Or "Will load on a Pentium II without OOM"
The expensive part is labour. If you're willing to risk some time and money on failure you can have a go yourself, there are excellent guides online.
I have an iPad 2 that I bought new long ago and have since given to my young children. Unsurprisingly one of them dropped it and the screen stopped working. I ordered the kit, opened it up, and reseated the LCD. Would have gone flawlessly if I'd been more careful while opening it up, as it stands I now need to replace the digitiser, but it's still much cheaper than a new tablet, especially while my elder daughter is in a phase of thinking she is smarter than us and can ignore warnings like "if you balance that on your knees it will fall off and break."
I just installed gcc, Java, and Python on my iPad Pro. I can also install Ruby, PHP, etc. I can do most of my work now from my iPad without using Remote Desktop. Game changer. This app should be included on iPad Pro by default.
I love that it can access files (your iCloud files for instance) from the system but mounting them within "Linux" with a simple "mount -t ios . /mnt". The other way is also possible, accessing is files from the files app.
Try doing a git clone of a large project, it takes forever and the phone gets uncomfortably hot. Also if you don't keep the phone from locking you will have to restart the (possibly 20-30 minute long) process. You can do this by turning on location tracking (this is something apple mandated) which probably turns on the GPS RF amplifier and is one of the fastest ways to drain the battery. I've had the phone shut down while charging leaving the GPS running with another CPU intensive app before (Spotify I think.)
But on the iPad this is just about the only choice.
From this my only reaction is: why even bother with Apple hardware? You can't build on the brand, it's just a too unreliable path to take.
1. It's nice hardware (slim, good build quality). 2. Linux often supports hardware well after official support ends, prolonging its usefulness and keeping more gear out of the landfill.
But buying a new such device doesn't sound like a good idea, even if the hardware is somewhat better. You'd be supporting Apple and this means that (if lots of people have this behavior) the competition falls even more behind. There might come a day when there will be no more exploits left on Apple hardware, and then we're stuck with the choice of going to the competition which might then be worse because of the shortsightedness in our purchasing behavior, or buying into Apple's walled garden.
Making purchases based on marginally better products (following the gradient of quality) may be satisfying in the moment, but is not very wise on the long term.
See “iDevice Compatibility” on this page: https://pangu8.com/jailbreak/checkm8/
They also have downloads and stuff available but obviously the official sources of such tools should be preferred!
The phone contains no apps other than the pre-installed ones, and no data other than the video I'm capturing. After moving the videos to my computer, I remove them from the phone.
I’d be interested in running a real Linux on my old iPad hardware.
Richard Stallman was quite correct to call it GNU/Linux, as much as I dislike the guy.
Maybe we should pay more attention to what he says!
Anything not white listed on the LinuxSE and seccomp configurations, just has as outcome killing the "naughty" app.
That’s my point - when people say Linux they generally mean GNU/Linux not Android.
Equally, people are generally not talking about only the kernel, when they say Linux. Usually when someone is talking about only the kernel they say ‘the Linux kernel’.
GNU/Linux usually only gets used by the FSF or during discussions of this kind.
“Many Linux distributions use the word "Linux" in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.” 
They do both use bash tho ;)
There it clarifies that it is "mostly" FreeBSD. The Mach being used also differs significantly from CMU Mach and what you might find by looking for Mach3/4 source dumps.
One of the biggest challenges in "converting" NeXTSTEP (MacOS's predecessor) to OS X was both updating software to newer versions and eliminating expensive licenses from AT&T and Adobe.
NeXTSTEP was a "capital U" UNIX with AT&T proprietary code, based on 4.3/4.4BSD (encumbered). Every copy needed a UNIX license and royalties to AT&T.
NeXT was based on Mach2, which had 4.3BSD deeply integrated into the kernel source tree. Device drivers were both native BSD ones along with a "DriverKit" interface that used Mach messages to write userland device drivers.
CMU Mach v3 and v4 cut out all the BSD code and put it into a userland "UX Server", a model incompatible with NeXT. So instead, Apple took the OSF/1 Mach kernel, derived from Mach 2.5, and replaced the BSD subsystem code with 4.4BSD-lite, gradually updating its subsystems with FreeBSD ones.
So TLDR, Darwin/XNU has both a BSD userland and essentially a FreeBSD kernel. When you make a "UNIX-y" syscall from C in MacOS, you're "talking" to a "FreeBSD kernel".
It's a completely different approach from iSH (a couple of precompiled binaries and the capability to execute WASM/WASI "binaries", rather than userspace x86 and Linux syscall emulation) but complements it quite nicely in my experience.
Do you realize that maybe some people desire things that are locked down and curated, and perhaps that may be the reason why Apple is richer than Scrooge McDuck?
And indeed, PC is the odd one out here; Apple have been locked down since before 1984 like the Commodores and Atari STs they grew up with.
Why can’t we have both? The current balance is perfect: Apple for those who like Appleness and PCs/Androids/etc. for everyone else.
By insisting your dogma upon upon those who don’t want it you’re yourself becoming the monsters you profess to combat.
Although yes, I too would like the iPad to be more open. iOS is such a painful gimping of such beautiful hardware.
That is: the iphone app store doesn't improve upon the OSX security situation.
Also, at least the commador64 had publicly available schematics (I think they may have been included with the machine.) The only modern phone doing this that I'm aware of is the PinePhone.
I don't think most Apple users desire this when they're making a purchase. It's more that they don't particularly care as long as the device does what they need it to do.
The desire for devices to be open for tinkering is more from technical users who are already used to open platforms.
Apple could just as well make devices to satisfy both groups, but it's not in their financial interest to do so.
It's more of a PC, but that's an advantage I think.
It's linked on Reddit, but the new UI makes it hard to find.
Disclaimer: I'm one of the authors
What I can say for sure is that any Bluetooth keyboard works, so, as long as you find a folio-fitting one you should be fine.
Haven’t used one. I like the pinebook pro.
1 - https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Devices
The ipad is now blocked. I would love to install linux on it just to get it working, but I can't find any way of unbricking it. I also don't know what to search for on Google.
Do I have any chance with it?
There is precisely one exception: if you have a copy of the original purchase receipt/invoice which shows the serial number, contact Apple Support and request that Activation Lock be disabled.
It says "This iPad is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password used to set up this iPad"
Obviously I don't have the receipt.
However, you might have to manually start it at each reboot or something.
The checkmk8 jailbreak seemed promising, and it given all the crazy talented people in the world, it wouldn't be completely unexpected to see a useful Android port soon.
I wonder, though, why use Linux kernel? This feels like one of those 10-year projects that will never reach any semblance of a usable state because reverse engineering hardware enough to write drivers is quite an insurmountable task for a project that runs on sheer enthusiasm. Wouldn't it be much easier to use the original Darwin kernel with its 100% working drivers and port the Android userspace to run on top of it, including the .so loader and any necessary shims?
props to apple for pushing linux (just kidding)
Tablets of and by themselves are pretty, but not especially useful. aa folio keyboard combination (case with integrated keyboard) is a game-changer ... but must be specifically fit to every individual tablet size, which Android device manufacturers have insisted on not standardising. Desktop systems need only agree on connector ports, tablet design requires agreement on all dimensions of the tablet. And nobody's doing that in Android land.
(There are othher grievous problems with Android, I'm focusing on the physical here.)
Apple's iPads, at least, offer a set of fixed sizes and are (for now) ensuring matching keyboards through third-party vendors. Many of those keyboards are crippled for Linux use (missing critical keys, such as esc, or entire rows, as with function or numeric keys), but there are at least a few options.
Apple are also providing extensive onboard storage up to 1 TB or more), where Android offerings are still often only a few GB. The latter is insufficient for my primary use: as a portable text library. (128 GB is about the minimum useful storage for this). Audio, image, or video work is even more constrained.
The reader function is where tablets shine over laptops, at least in form. The latter have compute power and flexibility, but displays are unsuited to reading, especially at 9:16 ratios: too short to read portrait, too small to display 2-up readably, and incapable of rotating in most cases. A tablet in portrait mode is a reasonably good reading device. Except that the OS and app infrastructure are utterly unsuited.
This is a long-standing complaint, and I'm seeing little progress. Google have no interest in breaking free of advertising-based captive markets, Apple ... I don't know why, but are similarly brain damaged.
It's the war on general-purpose computing. From at least two fronts.