02.21.09

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If You Care About Freedom, Don’t Support Apple

Posted in Apple, DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DRM trap
Picture contributed by twitter

“IF you want freedom don’t follow Linus Torvalds,” Stallman was sort of quoted as arguing in a rather sensationalist headline from an IDG interview a year and a half ago. But Torvalds is hardly the problem at all. His views may not be as ‘strong’ as Stallman’s, but Torvalds is not the enemy.

Ideally, as Stallman might put it, we must not remain “helpless and divided” because imposition of such constraints is the condition on which crowd control is hinged, where one dissenter is un/able to attract followers and turn consensus upside down. In pursuing morality, it’s important to collaborate with those who do not view freedom as hostile. The Linux Foundation and the OSI, for example, are not adverse to Freedom, they just emphasise it less.

“Steve was daemonising freedom at the time, turning it into an argument of cost.”It therefore becomes important to identify the real ferocious forces which disseminate tools that separate people. They restrict collaboration/sharing and in some circumstances stir up infighting [1, 2, 3].

So who are these people or forces which compare collaboration to evilness? In reference to “Linux” (meaning GNU/Linux in this context), Steve Ballmer once said that “it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.” Steve was daemonising freedom at the time, turning it into an argument of cost. Another Steve, Steve Wozniak, was claimed to have slammed Free software last year. A third Steve, Steve Jobs, has never shown much affinity for Free software either, with the exception of use (BSD) where freedom is defined differently. In fact, iPhone engineers wanted to pick Linux for the iPhone but it was Jobs who resisted it* and intercepted the idea because Linux is free as in Freedom (GPL) — the same licence that Gates insists “we disagree with”.

Further to this post from two days ago and the many supportive references, it is essential to remember that Apple is now ruining Linux-based gadgets using patents. In regards to Apple’s behaviour in general, opines one blogger:

These moves suggest to me that Apples fears competition, and I’m wondering why.

Another writer, Sam Varghese, remarked about “The ugly side of Apple.”

Apple Computer has a beautiful side to its operations. That’s the side which comes out with some of the sexiest design in the tech world, the side which crafts those breathtaking interfaces, the side which gives you those applications that a five-year-old finds easy to master in the course of a morning’s exploration.

[...]

The argument runs thus: if I’m doing something that doesn’t cut into my profits, I must be doing the right thing.

But even Apple should realise that people will ultimately come to the conclusion that golden handcuffs are also a means of restricting choice.

The author refers to a couple of new examples where Apple takes away not only its own customers’ freedom; it harms the freedoms of others too, casting them “irrelevant”.

A month ago we explained how Apple had helped Microsoft's OOXML and looking at some newer evidence, as stated in one of the comments about Apple’s office suite, “Whereas the OpenDocument standards are well-documented, xml-based, platform-independent and reasonably mature. So, I’m not sure why Apple wants to reinvent the wheel with their own proprietary document formats (though I have a theory, see below). [...] My personal theory is that Microsoft slipped some kind of document-format stipulation into a contract with Apple, forbidding them from using or promoting OpenDocument. (If you’ve done any reading on the kinds of behind-the-scenes shenanigans Microsoft has pulled over the years, this will sound very plausible.) This would also explain Apple’s otherwise inexplicable support for OOXML during its ISO standardization debacle (where no doubt a lot of other behind-the-scenes shenanigans were going on).

Remember ThinkFree?
___
* This is a revelation that came through the grapevine about a year ago.

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10 Comments

  1. max stirner said,

    February 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

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    +1 :)

  2. Bob said,

    February 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm

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    I agree with the ultimate sentiment that is, don’t support Apple if you care for freedom. My nitpick would be your claim about liberal free software licences (such as the BSD licences) having a different definition of freedom. Liberal licences are equally as free as copyleft licences. The difference is that recipients of liberally licensed free software are not compelled to grant freedom to downstream recipients. The intent of copyleft licences is to ensure that all downstream recipients will maintain their freedom. To do this, they compel the downstream distributors to grant freedom to the downstream recipients.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm

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    Yes, here is a good post on the subject.

  4. Bob said,

    February 21, 2009 at 7:31 pm

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    Thanks for the link, Roy. After reading that, I want to state this for the sake of accuracy: liberally licensed free software is more free than copyleft software by the virtue of dictating fewer rules.

    In other words, I do agree with your initial assertion that liberally licensed free software has a different definition to copyleft free software – one has a laissez-faire approach to freedom while the other has a rule-by-law approach to freedom.

  5. Shane Coyle said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

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    The other day, Bruce (Perens) had posted a bit re: BSD code being GPL’ed, and how – in his view (I happen to agree, but who the hell am I?) it’s somewhat unethical for BSD’ers to complain that their code is ‘hijacked’ into a gpl’ed project, but (since they never can be sure) have no reaction to their code being proprietized, since it’s so ‘free’.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, just adding to the discussion….

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:34 pm

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    Yes, that one’s a classic!

    Maybe they are jealous or afraid of GNU/GPL whereas Apple does not intimidate them.

  7. Shane Coyle said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:40 pm

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    I think it’s usually a genuine, visceral, reaction to seeing their code being further restricted than the license under which they originally released it, just the point is – when a proprietary company adopts and modifies it (assuming they even do that), you can’t necessarily tell so it’s not as noticeable, cuz it’s hidden in a binary release…

  8. Shane Coyle said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm

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    I guess, what I’m trying to say is, that yes – GPL is more restrictive than BSD in terms of downstream licensees, but in a well-intentioned way (note I’m not saying a "good" way – since that is mostly subjective).

    Some developers have faith in the goodness of human nature, the rest use the GPL (or worse). ;^ )

  9. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 5, 2009 at 1:55 am

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    Yep, Apple and Macs has many advantages, but freedom is certainly not one of them.

  10. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 5, 2009 at 2:01 am

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    In fact, it would be interesting to watch the politics inside Apple relating to open source. For example, the quest to prevent Mac OS X from running on non-Apple hardware, and Apple’s copy of Vista’s protected processes called PT_DENY_ATTACH (often mentioned in context of but not limited to DTrace) and the fact that since XNU is open source anyone can patch it out. Also on Apple’s troubles with the GPLv3 caused by the iPhone.
    “In fact, iPhone engineers wanted to pick Linux for the iPhone but it was Jobs who resisted it* and intercepted the idea because Linux is free as in Freedom (GPL) — the same licence that Gates insists “we disagree with”. ”
    I don’t think this is true however. As I remember, Linux was not Apple’s own OS.

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