EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Freedom and the Fallacy of Market Share

Posted in Apple, DRM, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Headline on F/OSS

Summary: Discussion about a misunderstanding of the real goals, especially in light of the latest news

FREE SOFTWARE is a different game from most. Its purpose is to cater for those in need of a free (libre) operating system that they truly control, unlike Android for example. A victory is defined in those market-agnostic terms, not in terms of how many people use a variant that makes considerable concessions.

It is understandable that various people who work for commercial companies see the success of F/OSS as measured in terms like “money” or “market share”; there is a fundamental difference here due to indoctrinators of a “takers” mentality and the likes of them. Free software is about sharing (giving) and thus it may clash with profit through scarcity; Free software thrives in abundant, independent markets. That is how revenue gets generated and savings made through autonomy.

The biggest threat to Freedom (the “F” in F/OSS) is arguably not proprietary software but people who lose sight of what’s achievable. To make so many compromises is to end up with another Mac OS X, to kiss freedom goodbye, and to wonder what the heck F/OSS [sic] was trying to achieve in the first place.

Richard Stallman has just published a short new essay to remind people of the many problems with Mac OS X.

In 2005, Apple made users install version 4.7 of iTunes in order to continue using the iTunes music store. This “upgrade” was billed by Apple as fixing a “security hole.” What the update actually did was change the iTunes system of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to make PyMusique stop working. PyMusique was free software that allowed GNU/Linux users to access the iTunes store. (See http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-03/22/content_2728356.htm and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/22/apple_blocks_pymusique/.)

Apple similarly imposed other incompatible iTunes changes later in 2005, and in 2006: users could not play music purchased using newer versions of iTunes in older versions of iTunes. So users had to update iTunes on all of their computers that they wanted to play their own music on, not just on the computer that they used to actually purchase the DRM-afflicted music. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairPlay.)

In 2008, Apple snuck a new DRM malfeature into Quicktime in an update advertised as adding a feature for renting movies. This malfeature stopped users from playing video files they themselves had made. (See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/26/quicktime_drm_cripples_adobe_programs/.)

If Mac OS X does not have a backdoor to forcibly install changes, that does not make it ethical. It has other malicious features, such as Digital Restrictions Management (see http://defectivebydesign.org/apple).

Some reporters concentrate on a retraction from Stallman, but that is not the point of the essay/blog post, which was followed by an update to Stallman’s article on Microsoft [via Bruno Miguel]. From Heise:

He also criticises the proprietary nature of Mac OS X. Stallman refers to various updates of iTunes and QuickTime, where security updates were used to close holes that allowed the DRM system to be overridden or where a bug was introduced in the process of updating the software to support new DRM functions. He ends saying “I don’t withdraw my condemnation of Mac OS. But I do withdraw the claim it has a known backdoor”. Stallman does not say in his message what prompted this withdrawal.

Wired Magazine has this new article which continues to show Apple’s misuse of power and control of people’s expression:

Developer: Apple Denied Health Care App for Political Reasons

Apple rejected a free iPhone application that advocated a single-payer health system, calling the application “politically charged,” according to the app’s developer.

This application may indeed be “political”, but what’s wrong with that? Is technology now limiting people’s freedom of expression rather than facilitating it? Is technology truly respectful when it is hindering instead of advancing and empowering? As in tiered Web, DRM, and kill switches?

“This philosophy did not prevent GNU from attaining commercial acceptance.”Michael Gratton, for instance prefers to ignore more political issues, whereas others realise that ignoring these issues is not an option. Problems will not go away if they are ignored; au contraire — things would typically exacerbate lacking vigilance.

Is GNU politically charged? Well, it has always been the case. The GNU philosophy is intrinsically political in that sense that it is rather libertarian. This philosophy did not prevent GNU from attaining commercial acceptance. When it comes to market share, traditional analysts can often be ignored. The Gartner Group, for example, counts only preinstalls, knowing damn well that these figures will not be representative of the real share of GNU/Linux on a worldwide basis. The numbers are also based on a sample from just a few large vendors like HP and IBM. It is prone to considerable error in judgment, and possibly by design. That in its own right is a political and ethical issue that should not be ignored.

“Forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux…”

Steve Ballmer (September 2008)

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 30, 2009 at 9:48 am


    “To make so many compromises is to end up with another Mac OS X”
    Well, note that Mac OS X has most of the GUI being completely proprietary software. Anyone remember Darwin? That was Mac OS X with the proprietary GUI completely stripped. I remember GNU-Darwin, which was a distro of Darwin that do not rely on the proprietary GUI.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 30, 2009 at 9:50 am


    Another classic example is the X Window System, which was not copyleft, thus most Unix vendors bundling them made it proprietary. Why? You guessed it, popularity

    David Gerard Reply:

    What’s happening with X now is that the proprietary vendors are going back to the Xorg mainline, e.g. Sun (Alan Coopersmith from Sun is one of the main X devs, OpenSolaris uses Xorg rather than Xsun) and Apple (X11.app is a polished snapshot of Xquartz, which is finally compiling cleanly from Xorg)!

    In that case, Xorg got people onside by being the place to be, the place where the development was happening, rather than by being copyleft.

    That said, copyleft may well have accelerated the process.

What Else is New

  1. More Back Doors Found in Microsoft's Entrapments (Proprietary Software)

    Security flaws and even blatantly obvious loopholes for surveillance are identified in several of Microsoft's so-called 'products', which turn users (and their data) into the real product (to be sold to private companies or shared with spies)

  2. NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

    Criticism of NASA's habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

  3. The Coup D'état of Benoît Battistelli Follows an Imperialist Model, Threatens Opposition and Dissent

    SUEPO, the staff union, and boards that are independent from the EPO are both under attack and are constantly threatened by Benoît Battistelli and his goons

  4. Links 8/10/2015: Manjaro Linux Releases, Linksys WRT1900ACS, FOSS at NHS

    Links for the day

  5. Links 8/10/2015: KDE Plasma 5.4.2 Released, Linux Drama Queens

    Links for the day

  6. EPO Staff to Disrupt Administrative Council Meeting With Public Demonstration That Raises Awareness of Abuses

    The perception of collusion between the Administrative Council (AC) and the European Patent Office (EPO) leads to staff actions demanding investigation of illegal Board of Appeal (BoA) suspension/s (among many other things)

  7. OIN Turns 10, IDG Floods the Web With Puff Pieces That 'Normalise' Software Patents

    The Open Invention Network (OIN) commissions or helps produce puff pieces in the corporate media because it has an anniversary and corporate interests to push forth (including the idea that software patents can coexist with Linux)

  8. Hypocrite Forks the Linux Kernel Because of Cultural Characteristics That He Himself is Guilty of

    Forking of Linux is misleadingly reported in the media because of a couple of very loud people, who are not even quitting their jobs

  9. Željko Topić Attacks EPO Staff for 'Daring' to Legally Challenge the EPO's Management Over Its Gross Abuses in Europe

    Benoît Battistelli's right-hand man, Željko Topić, is under the false impression that yet more threats against staff of the EPO will help contain the crisis rather than further inflame it

  10. Media Reports Based on New Patents Suggest That Microsoft Continues to Attack Google and Android/Linux, Trying to Tax and Delete Android

    Reports and patent applications serve to show that Microsoft not only tries to infiltrate ("embrace") Android to put its apps there ("extend") but ultimately to delete ("extinguish") Android

  11. Commenters Provide Possible Explanations for Mr Van der Eijk Being on Unlimited Sick Leave

    Rumours are swirling around Wim Van der Eijk's absence, suggesting that he too may be a victim of Benoît Battistelli's iron fist

  12. Links 6/10/2015: Linux 4.3 RC4, HP OpenSwitch, Wind River Linux 8

    Links for the day

  13. With Software Patents in Europe (and Pushes for the Same Thing in Australia and India) Patent Trolls Now Come to Europe, Attack Android/Linux

    Worst-case scenarios are becoming a reality as Android backers officially attacked by patent trolls using standard-essential patents in London, England

  14. New Information on Limbo in the Enlarged Board, Courtesy of Illegal Actions by the EPO's Benoît Battistelli

    Battistelli's bullying of people whom he is not even allowed to bully turns out to have gone on for a lot longer than promised, and there is no sign of light at the end of this tunnel

  15. Microsoft Customers Complain About 'Inevitable' Vista 10 Because Microsoft Nearly Forces Botched 'Upgrades'

    In a desperate effort to spread Vista 10, sometimes even against people's will, Microsoft really upsets loyal customers, who are eventually eager to explore alternatives

  16. Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna Explains Why the UPC (“Unitary Patent“ System) is an Undemocratic Sham Whilst UPC Silently Advanced by Patent Lawyers and Politicians

    European patent laws are being covertly overridden so as to allow broader scope of litigation, higher financial damages, speedy injunctions, and even software patents; the European public is intentionally kept in the dark about it, hence kept unable to express scepticism or issue truly effective objections

  17. IRC Proceedings: September 13th, 2015 – October 3rd, 2015

    Many IRC logs

  18. Article Explains Why SUEPO Went Silent Well Over a Week Ago: Nobody is Allowed to Talk to Journalists Without Permission From Battistelli

    More threats from Benoît Battistelli (threats of termination and legal actions on top of it) help hide the abuses of Battistelli and his fellow thugs at the EPO

  19. A Linux World: After Billions of Dollars in Losses Microsoft Changes How It Reports Financial Results

    The abusive monopolist is trying very hard to hide its growing difficulties, especially in an effort to bamboozle non-technical shareholders who cannot understand how Linux has essentially taken over

  20. Microsoft Continues to Extort Linux and Android OEMs Using Software Patents, This Time ASUS (Forced to Pre-Install Microsoft Spyware With OOXML)

    A roundup of news illustrating that Microsoft is still very much in a total war against Android, (mis)using federal regulators and even software patents to get its way

  21. Links 4/10/2015: Linux 4.2.3 , 4.1.10; MPlayer 1.2 released

    Links for the day

  22. Links 2/10/2015: Qubes 3.0, Linux.Wifatch

    Links for the day

  23. Microsoft-Connected Firm Net Applications Used to Mislead About Vista 10 Share and Mock GNU/Linux

    People who are connected to Microsoft (some being former staff) link to a firm that is connected to Microsoft in order to create the illusion that Vista 10 market share grew to 6.63%

  24. Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3 Suspiciously on Unlimited Sick Leave After Benoît Battistelli's Unprecedented Attacks on Other EBoA Staff

    Rumours suggest that Benoît Battistelli's affairs at the EPO may have something to do with Wim Van der Eijk's longterm absence

  25. Microsoft's Secret Special Relationship With EPO Illustrates Serious Corruption at Microsoft and the EPO

    A big story about the EPO and Microsoft working in a sort of collusion-type setup so as to serve Microsoft's patent agenda, which involves aggression, even against European software that is Free (as in freedom)

  26. Links 1/10/2015: LFS 7.8, Calculate Linux 15 Released

    Links for the day

  27. The 'Microsoft Loves Linux' Baloney is Still Being Floated in the Media While Microsoft Attacks Linux With Patents, New Lawsuits Reported

    Despite Microsoft's continued assault on Linux and on Android (using software patents, which it still discreetly lobbies for), some figures in the media are perpetually peddling the Microsoft-serving lie that 'Microsoft loves Linux'

  28. The Microsoft Botnet Goes Bonkers and ATMs Running Windows Spew Out Cash

    The terrible security (by design) of Microsoft Windows is causing all sorts of very serious and collectively expensive issues

  29. Black Duck Continues to Pile FUD on Free/Libre Software

    Having spent nearly a decade promoting the fear of Free software licensing, Black Duck now does the same regarding Free software security

  30. Links 30/9/2015: New Kernels, Nexus Devices

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts