OS X and iOS are not free, and Apple led by Jobs changed the way that people thought about installing Applications on desktop operating systems as something that requires manufacturer approval (App Store), which led the way for others like Intel to make AppUp, etc. This restricts what the user has access to install is more of a setback for the free software movement than anything Microsoft ever did.
Jobs also changed the licensing program for Macintosh clones, making it too costly for the manufacturers to continue making machines. If there were Mac clones, then eventually perhaps freedom would have flourished.
Basically, Jobs was the ultimate technology monarchist and Stallman the ultimate technology anarchist. (I almost said capitalist and communist, but Stallman is all about free, not about centralized distribution and control.)
I'm not saying I agree with the man, but this is what he means by jail.
Where Stallman falls short is in supposing that open, hackable systems are an unmitigated good. "Just works" and "highly configurable" are often antonyms, rather than synonyms.
Should open, hackable systems always exist or be developed as a check on Tivoization? Yes. Are they ever going to get a dominant market share, in the sense that the masses making voluntary decisions will choose Free software/hardware? No.
more of a setback for the free software movement than
anything Microsoft ever did.
iOS exists because it can make tons of money to pay back its development costs. Android exists for the same reason.
And at some point, a true mobile/touch Linux (perhaps a fork of Android) will also exist, and the free knockoff will owe a great deal to the hundreds of billions in dollars in capital plant installed worldwide by the for-profit, closed originals.
Indeed, Linux itself exists because of the fact that AT&T could make a profit off Unix, and that IBM could make money off selling computers.
So: iOS is not a setback for the free software movement. In the long term it's a massive boost in the arm.
It's not really about "good". As far as Stallman is concerned, potential user freedom simply trumps everything else, including the ability to actually use a device of piece of software due to technical incompetence.
And I respect the man, not necessarily because I agree with him but because he's never (as far as I know) hurt anything but feelings (you've got to admit the guy is not exactly diplomat material) and he actually walks the walk (how many "open-source rha rha" zealots do you see trying their damnest to use open-source and free everything — including hardware — even if it limits their choices and the intrinsic quality of what they end up with? RMS does)
> So: iOS is not a setback for the free software movement. In the long term it's a massive boost in the arm.
You're doing yourself a disservice by thinking Stallman cares about software that much. Non-free hardware is just as big (if not even bigger) a deal for him, and on that point Apple is an even bigger sticking point than on software: non-serviceable, non-replaceable devices galore (the Mac side has gotten better but the devices side has not), non-free everything, generally in support of more semi-proprietary to proprietary (and freedom-restricting, such as DRM and "trusted") technologies, ...
The iPhone and iPad, and their popularity, only make things worse as far as RMS is concerned, as they flood the world with devices neither free in hardware nor in software and beholden to the "mothership". Likewise, I don't think RMS sees anything cloud with a teary eye for any reason than the loss of user freedom it translates into for him.
more of a setback for the free software movement than
anything Microsoft ever did.
How you think software should be developed doesn't really come into at this level. It's just a question of how you deal with people and that's where Stallman's fallen short here.
Only technology monarchism has been able to deliver a good user experience.
The organized chaos of OSS has delivered excellent technology but a piss-poor user experience by comparison. I can't imagine using Linux as anything other than a web-netbook without having a thorough understanding of it, and the UI still blows by comparison with anything by Apple.
Microsoft's UIs aren't that great, but that's because Microsoft's corporate culture is a lot less monarchistic than Apple's. Too many cooks in the kitchen. A fundamental requirement of good aesthetics is to have someone who can say "no" repeatedly to "ideas" that just clutter everything up. Minimal is a synonym for good.
Freedom for 0.1% does not trump freedom for the masses and RMS is just engaging in shameless self-promotion.
You can have freedom to install what you want, the way you want... only a minority ultimately knows how to. The rest is left without a clue in front of their supposed freedom.
When the iPad is presented to people, of course it's no "revolution" to most of us. But for the regular person, it's an easy way to access something which they could have had difficulties to access, before. At this point, choice matters less than the actual possibility to use something, even if this thing is framed and safely guarded, for most.
Better not let your important data get locked up in any non-portable formats though. A literal prison is far easier to release someone from.
And yes, important data should not be locked in non-portable formats. At the same time, I've never found myself in a situation where I simply could not extract important data from a non-portable format into a more portable one.
If you are a shareholder it is a legitimate point, but the FSF's concerns are far deeper.
This "dead people are off limits" thing is a relic from the superstitious dark ages. If we can praise the actions of dead people, we can criticize them too.
I think XKCD had it right -- people should have to listen to their comments read aloud before they're published on the internet.
Freedom to express isn't freedom from bad responses.
It certainly seems like the divide between computer consumers and computer developers is getting ever wider. One side has their computer experience made ever simpler, whereas the other has to deal with ever more complexity (cf. Ryan Dahl rant).
The ultimate revolution might be to simplify programming to the point where anyone can do it.
Still, Stallman, as a public figure should have remained silent. These kind of comments don't help anybody, specially not the community.
Now I do understand his point of view, what I do not understand is why he can't see the whole picture. That is all. He should have remained silent if he had nothing good to say. His comments have no value at all to anybody.
We don't go to Stallman for sensitivity (you're a dolt if you do), we go to him for the truth, no matter how painful. We can all do with that sometimes - http://www.skepticblog.org/2011/10/06/steve-jobs-succumbs-to...
Stallman represents the strain of computer nerds who want to view their hobby as the bold movement of a freedom fighter. They are out-of-touch and don't understand what normal people think and feel. They want their nerd playground to remain in place because it's a world they have control in.
To paraphrase you, it's sad but true.
Stallman represents what a lot of people would think if they really though about software freedom - it is in fact the only common sense approach. Computer software runs the world (along with JP Morgan ;) so it is very important that is adheres to these common sense, though rather hard-to-think-about ideals.
Maybe the iPhone will ultimately be inconsequential in historical terms, but it should adhere to the same principles; everything should.
Isn't jailbreak an accepted term now to root an iphone?
Stallman is right. Computer-as-a-jail is Jobs' legacy and I too hope it dies with him.
vvv Edit vvv
Look at it this way: Jobs and Apple did truly amazing things in the usability department. For that they should be rightly praised.
But none of that requires jailed computing. Most of that happened before the lockdown got underway in earnest with the iPhone.
It would be a total tragedy if all the good and the bad concepts got conflated here.
I submit two examples:
1. The Apple Mac was unquestioningly a pioneer in computer usability. Yet it didn't need a kernel that refused to run apps that weren't "approved" with a cryptographic signature from some central authority. (Yes the original Mac case was closed but there was a high voltage monitor in there and it had no upgrade plan anyway. Most later models were expandable.)
2. I have Google Nexus S running Android that's every bit as usable, even for nontechnical folks, as an iPhone. It's not carrier locked and the OS is predominantly open-source, much of it even GPL. It doesn't need rooting or jailbreaking because there's no jail to break. And guess what: there are way more people "actually using" Android phones than the jailed ones from Apple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Smartphone_share_current.p...
Jobs was good at many things: leading Apple, leading product development, advancing quality and usability, making products people want to buy, making great profit margins. He was an incredible guy.
But just because the same person and company also embraced jailed computing doesn't mean that it's somehow a necessary condition for usability, any more than the dictator is a necessary condition for the trains to run on time.
In fact, I think the evidence points to the contrary and it would be a shame for this confusion to send computing on a step backwards in one direction or another.
Not a requirement, but there is a correlation. Programming for an unjailed ecosystem takes more effort to support the vastly wider environments on the devices. Classic example (in an industry largely orthogonal to Apple, to factor Apple out of the discussion): game programming for a PC versus a console. The PC game company has to support a million different combinations of video and sound and input hardware and operating system, which takes mountains of effort (or cost) that the console company can put into the actual game experience instead (or save the costs.)
This happens at smaller scales too. An iPhone developer has to support exactly one form factor, exactly one screen size, exactly one input method. An Android developer needs to contend with a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions and keyboards and touch responsitivity. Sure, it's possible for the Android developer to accommodate all those devices. But we live in the reality of the capitalist market, where the resources to make that investment of time and effort may not be available.
Taking choice away from the user, imposing a jailed environment, can indeed lead to a better experience overall, in that the content producers can focus more tightly.
I do not think that requiring all computers have only one display resolution for the convenience of software developers ends up being a winning strategy in the long run. It may be a winning strategy for Apple's business of course, at least until Apple decides to do an iPad or a "retina display" or for whatever other reason decides that a different form factor is in their own interest.
It's the first time I've seen his political blog. I'm always disheartened when I find out guys who used to do cool stuff now just spend their days tweeting or blogging about politics. It's like visiting your grandpa who used to do woodworking and finding out he now just watches Fox News all day.
He could have said nothing at all.
I used to admire him a lot, but he is really not here anymore, he lives in a place far far away from reality.
Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.
Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.
Or we could stop calling each other psychopaths.
No, psychopaths don't feel kinship with anything but themselves.
If Stallmans "dream" of "everythings free" truly prevailed. Most of the technology that we use would never have been invented anyway. The capitalist nature of society demands returns for injections of investment, and indeed, this is how investment generates advancement and so on. Stallman continually criticises closed environments - and while I do applaud what he is trying to advocate in terms of "open source" computing - I do strongly disagree with "we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing."
Really ? That "malign influence" across 4 decades is what has shaped computing. Indeed, the typefaces representing the letters in your poorly timed comment, Mr. Stallman, wouldn't even align. Malign indeed.
It's really hard to explain to someone who doesn't get it why death is a big issue but if you don't take into account that death is a sad thing for some people you just end up looking like a dick at the funeral.
For example, I violently disagree with RMS on a lot of things, but I still believe he is a visionary, and Open Source is a valuable concept that will always be an important part of my life. And I won't be "glad he's gone" when his time comes. Too bad he can't do exactly that for Steve Jobs and give the man some respect. What he displays here is nothing but irrational hate, a mean and low move on RMSs part.
Yep. Certainly not for people that hire lobbyists though. Nothing wrong with paying people to do something despicable, its not like you're actually doing it yourself.
Edit: obviously, I should not have used hyperbole to imply that whenever a lobbyist dies, the world is a better place. That was rather stupid of me. I do believe the world would gain something if lobbyism didn't exist though. So if Steve Jobs had done nothing else in his life but paying lobbyists...
Or perhaps the hope should be to make more "effective" free software instead of having ill wishes towards your competitors. I mean, Stallman can really preach about free software all he wants, but most people in the consumer world probably wont turn down a superior closed source product based on that merit alone. The biggest factor in deciding winners or losers here is the quality of the products being created by the two methodologies, and I am yet to be convinced that the free software approach consistently creates the better product.
Nobody cares about free software. Free software then becomes the domain of technical folks paid by big companies and amateurs. Because of this, nobody cares about free software, so it remains the domain of:
From end-note 2. "Stallman considers himself afflicted, to some degree, by autism: a condition that, he says, makes it difficult for him to interact with people."
In any movement, you need people to set the goalpost so far away that others can seem reasonable by comparison. They serve a purpose to the movement, but they themselves risk being ostracized and marginalized.
On the facts, I think he's wrong about Jobs -- Apple has done a lot to make it possible for free alternatives of some important software to exist. What they are doing to make the web (HTML5) a reasonable alternative to Flash is almost enough. In fact, closing iOS to Flash is the main reason that it's happening.
Why is convincing people the be-all and end-all of communication? Doesn't just being right count for something?
Obviously you need a lot of people who are willing to do the work of convincing folks, but you also need other people who are willing to be right whether it's popular or not. Every book I have ever read on selling change within organizations says that you need to start by talking with the people who are the most receptive to new ideas, regardless of where they are in the hierarchy.
That's not to say that it's not worth convincing people who don't care about the truth, but rather that you need different kinds of people willing to play different kinds of roles in order to create social change. Just because Stallman isn't going to be the guy who convinces the masses doesn't mean that what he's doing (in general) isn't vital to the movement.
I consider this another fitting tribute. To be despised by Stallman in this way is something to be proud of -- IMO, it means you probably did something right.
Richard's statement may seem in some ways including timing somewhat harsh, but it's entirely consistent with his position and it is a valuable counterpoint to the notion, and sentimentality, of Jobs as a savior of the technical -- and broader, in various definitions (U.S. industry, design, personal achievement, etc., etc.) -- world.
I felt that HN's front page organically filling with Jobs posts was a fitting, and moving, tribute. But this is also HN, where we analyze and discuss things critically. And I would expect the stories and comments to move to a full and varied spectrum of views.
The resurrection of the Mac, and of Apple, was built in good part upon BSD. Safari was born of Webkit. There is not just an either or in this story, there is a co-opting and commercial progression that is quite worthy of consideration and discussion.
There is also the fact that UNIX/Linux systems remained and remain expensive in the commercial sphere and difficult for the typical end user to manage in the free sphere. More and more people have been appreciating Apple products because, for they most part, they can plug them in, turn them on, and they "just work". It's a relief to have someone else managing "that security stuff" (whatever latent and perhaps nascent weakenesses may as yet remain largely unknown to the general public). And to have someone else deciding, we won't cheapen the design and manufacturing further, to the point where things break in six months or are uncomfortable to use.
Most of us never knew Steve, personally. It's a mark of his influence how we nonetheless feel the effect of his passing on our lives -- at a personal level.
But there needs to be room for a larger conversation. In part precisely because and as a reflection of this influence, there are important matter to discuss. Not all aspects will be flattering of Mr. Jobs. But that is the nature of the position he inhabited and the decisions he made.
So, lets make some room for that discourse.
For my part, "free" vs "walled garden" is a critical distinction playing out right now in the computational and communcations space. What Apple has done and offers really does need close consideration. Monitors and controls are general tools, readily turned to the purpose of the hand that wields them. So, what really will work for us, on this spectrum from "anarchy" to "jail"? Is it really a spectrum, or is it a slippery slope leading inevitably to one extreme or the other?
Steve Jobs made some important decisions and executed them superbly. Were they -- will they be -- the right ones?
I generally don't agree with Stallman's viewpoint, but his voice is important. I would neither like to see an all encompassing Jobs-world nor a Stallman-world. As long as the one exists with the other we all have more opportunity. The Jobs approach enables mass consumption of technology. The Stallman approach enables fully detailed exploration of technology. Either, on their own, severely restricts access to technology. In the case of the former, through disseminating technology by fiat. In the case of the latter, through disseminating technology only to the dedicated and skillful.
I don't see how either one can disappear and leave the other as the complete dominating implementation of technology. It doesn't appear to be a possibility. Even with market domination of the walled-garden approach, the hacker will always have the opportunity and capability to start from scratch. There's nothing stopping anyone from building a better mobile OS.
You said this well, but it's been said better:
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Additionally, OS X was created from NeXTSTEP, which - again, if I recall correctly - was built on a licensed, proprietary UNIX, so claiming that using BSD for the underlying system in some way took something away or co-opted it, as opposed to made use of it as the license allowed, seems slightly inaccurate.
That said, while I am a big fan of Apple's APIs I am astoundingly opposed to the App Store's walled garden - I surprise even myself, a self-professed fan of many things Apple - with the complete and utter disdain with which I view the terms of the App Store. It really is a jail, and it's a huge problem for the company I work at. Other than the BS about how some of our content might offend sensibilities according to some nebulous standard of western values (disclosure: I work at a company that streams anime), the policies applied seem to do little else than stifle competition.
With Siri, I see something bad as well. It seems that controlling the user experience of search - the user experience, the anointed services - leads down a path where it is not the search providers with the best results or presentation which win, but the one which Apple anoints with their approval. Apple seems to think that producing the device entitles them to applying rules which enable Apple to step in and compete with an advantage on things which are not their core competencies. I think this is dangerously close to anti-trust territory, in which a monopoly (not bad by itself) could be abused to foster anti-competitive acts.
I seem to recall that OS X ultimately picked up -- sigh, I'm getting old; was/is it the Open variant? -- BSD when Apple's own kernel efforts became too unwieldy. Yes, portions of the "higher" ecosystem are in more significant degree Apple -- and NeXT -- productions, but the root of it all, so to speak, became BSD. Unless I'm wrong -- corrections welcome.
How many of us remember, with the "walled garden", a few years ago a number of... "appeals" reaching Jobs personally, who not entirely infrequently intervened to override a bureaucratic decision made by the organization? That is a significant factor with this walled garden. Whatever else one thinks about him, Steve had really good taste in these matter. The walled garden worked as well as it did, in once sense, because ultimately it was Steve's garden.
With Steve's passing, that oversight passes to a fairly walled off organization. And we all know, or should know, how well organizations do with such decision making, over time. And have at least a nagging intuition about the coincidence of increased secrecy with increasingly bad decisions.
This is one aspect that, I think, bothers a lot of people about Steve's passing, whether consciously or sub-consciously. Steve developed an organization that worked very well for Steve and with Steve at the helm, the ultimate arbiter. With him gone, it's not at all clear that this direction -- and effectiveness -- can continue.
Judge the value of statements on their merit, not on how their writer surfs the web.
I can't believe I actually need to say that.