Where is the community in this? Where are user’s freedoms?

Edd Dumbill, a programmer, wrote about moving from a GNU/Linux system to MacOS X, a proprietary operating system. His complaints about GNU/Linux will resonate most deeply with the open source audience because a free software user will note the absence of software freedom discussion.

Dumbill notes that fonts look better on MacOS X. I find this to be chiefly a matter of taste, but it’s also worth noting that Apple holds patents on algorithms which prohibit free software users from rendering fonts in the same way (particularly at small sizes, like the sizes one uses on the desktop). Thus, competition is averted and Apple is hovering over any free software developer who dares to even activate routines which make fonts look the same (merely using software can put one in danger of losing a patent infringement lawsuit as Apple knows very well).

Which programs are better is also chiefly a matter of taste, but perhaps there is a need for a free software replacement for the programs Dumbill notes.

Hardware for Apple ought to work perfectly all the time because Apple has so little of it to “support” (quotes here because Apple has a history of not telling their users how to provide their own support for said hardware even when Apple stops manufacturing it, like in the case of the Apple Newton. I believe there is something comparable going on with making CDs that can boot straight into a non-MacOS system for so-called “old world” Mac hardware). This history ought to make anyone wary of buying Apple hardware.

Restricting playing movies fullscreen to those willing to pay seems funny to me because I’ve been playing movies fullscreen with free software. When Dumbill notes “video conferencing that works” he must not mean across platforms on open standards. Apple has a strong history of developing things that only work with other MacOS users (not including working between MacOS pre-X and MacOS X). When free software advocates develop software that only really works on free platforms, they’re accused of being insular and needlessly restrictive (usually by open source advocates). Funny how the same doesn’t seem to apply to proprietors. It’s almost expected or desired that they’ll make a system that only talks to itself.

Finally, the idea of using what’s best for one’s job is chiefly an open source argument—again freedom is left out of the debate entirely, one should pick among a restricted set of choices based on nothing more than one’s own immediate needs. No sense of building community need apply.

I think this is yet another illustration of how free software and open source advocates see things differently.

One thought on “Where is the community in this? Where are user’s freedoms?

  1. I feel pretty bad about moving away from using free software as my main desktop, though I still use it as the substrate of all my other work and infrastructure. As I note, the moment I can move back, I will.

    I made a not insubstantial personal investment in GNOME, starting off the GNOME Bluetooth project. But in the end, the applications I needed to support my business life just weren’t ready yet on Linux. Additionally I maintained the Bluetooth support in Debian Linux for several years.

    So, my credentials aren’t in doubt, but the amount of free time I had to give to free software disappeared.

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