Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mac computers are restrictive.

Now that University classes have started I see a lot of students with new Apple laptops. It seems that half of the student population own a Mac. Few years back you would never see so many Apple computers as you do today on campus. Mac's are definitely very popular especially with the University crowd. I do understand that Apple is very good at marketing their products. There is a big appeal to the Apple brand as cool and chic. I am amazed how huge Mac's have become. It seems that a lot of people want to get their hands on these sleek and aesthetically attractive computers. In a certain way I am happy that Apple is having such success because they are taking market share away from Microsoft Windows. However, I am not sure if this is all a good thing. The GNU/Linux community is always getting at Microsoft and we seldom talk about Apple. I personally think that Apple computers might be a bad direction that we are heading into. Yes, Mac's are very cool and stylish but coming from the free and open source software community Apple is wrong on many levels. Most of the Apple software is proprietary, expensive and restrictive to the user. Not only is Apple very protective about its market they often mistreat others who would like a chance as well. They have banned a lot of applications from the app store for the most ridiculous reasons. The success of Apple computers is good in a certain way but detrimental to the free and open source community. Apple not only creates its own software but also all the hardware. It controls almost everything in the manufacturing process. Microsoft Windows on the other hand is just an operating system and the hardware is provided from someone else. This distributes the power to several companies.

Personally I am not very happy that people are easily manipulated and are jumping on the fad of having a Mac. It does not give them freedom as an end user and costs way too much. A person is buying into the brand rather than actual need of the user. There are amazing PC laptop computers that you can buy for $600 comparing to Apple latops that are usually around $1300 and more. Apple computers are overpriced, proprietary, restrictive and protectionist. This might not be a good direction to be heading into. Could Apple prove to be even more restrictive and opressive than Microsoft?

I would like to hear your opinion on the success of Apple. It seems that Mac's are selling like hot cakes and the market share is increasing quite a bit. Do you think this is good or a bad thing for the free and open source community?

23 comments:

  1. I wish you checked the facts stating that "All of the Apple software is proprietary, expensive and restrictive to the user". Check out things like WebKit, or CUPS, or gcc. Visiting http://www.macosforge.org/ might help too.
    And nobody holds your hand from installing macports on your Mac.

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  2. You can run open source software on a Mac just as easily as a PC, so as long as enough people care about FOSS I don't imagine the growing popularity of Macs will affect the FOSS crowd any more than the dominance of MS for the last couple of decades :)

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  3. This is a lot of worry about something that is of little serious threat. As popular as Apple has managed to make Macs, with the prices they command it is unlikely they will ever manage to get the market share necessary to become the kind of oppressive 800lb gorilla that Microsoft is. Even if Apple is that ambitious, hard working and smart, it just isn't going to happen.

    On the other hand, if Microsoft is ever reduced to the point where even a combination of MacOSX, Linux and possibly some other competitor pushes Microsoft to significantly less than their current 90+% market share (realizing that the whole market is > 100% because of re-OSed Windows to Linux, dual boot, and virtualization) that it has the potential to change the landscape. When anyone else gets enough market share that Joe Sixpack realizes there are other credible alternatives then Microsoft may finally be forced to change their tactics and the marketplace landscape which has been nearly a total monoculture over the past 15-20 years may be changed.

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  4. You are wrong here. Apple really isn't a software developer, Apple is a hardware vendor. Apple writes software because it must, but is also happy to let others write software. Apple used to call upon the talents of Microsoft. Apple now calls on the talents of NextStep, BSD, GNU, KDE and a few other groups' software. Much of Apple's software is opensource, and only very specific pieces of the Apple software stack are closed.

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  5. I have said in earlier articles on other sites that I now personally believe Apple to be the equivalent of Microsoft in the "Unix world". A year or so ago, I used to recommend an Apple computer to those who wanted to break from Windows but were not really computer savvy.......I would never, never do that now. Ubuntu has solved that problem....Apple is only going to replace one monopoly with another and it is bad, just plain bad in the direction it is taking. Yes, I know they work well, but I do NOT approve of what they are doing or the company ethics...It reeks of Microsoft all over again.

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  6. The enemy of an enemy is a friend (at least for the moment).

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  7. Mac OS is proprietary with some open source components and overall is closed source. You need a license if you want to install it on more than one computer. It is definitely not free and open source.

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  8. The Mac OS has and probably will always be proprietary. In the early days, they were a hardware designer, but not the last decade or so. They NEVER manufactured the PPC processor, and obviously not the Intel processors in use now. I run OSx86 on my Aspire One, and it works great for browsing the web and using FROSTWIRE, but the OS fights anything and everything I do. Can't install GIMP, MacPorts, or anything thats not Apple without having to jump through hoops. Makes me glad I didn't pay for OSx86.

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  9. In and of itself, I think there is a certain amount of danger in Apple for the reasons you stated (despite a few things you glossed over -- such as Apple's open source contributions). In the broader picture, increased OSX use is strategically good for free software for several reasons:
    - It helps break the Microsoft monopoly. Breaking the technology industry of the "everyone uses Windows" mindset is crucial to the success of GNU/Linux or other free platforms, no matter how good the actual OS is.
    - It familiarizes users with a Unix environment and UNIX concepts used in GNU/Linux, BSD, and other free platforms.
    - Increased use of the free components of OSX like CUPS and WebKit (also used on FOSS platforms and apps) means these components will be better and more compatible for all platforms that use them.

    Finally, I think Apple is less of a threat to free software because of their protective, restrictive policies over hardware. It means that as the public increasingly demands an alternative to Windows, the folks at Dell, HP, Lenovo, et al cannot offer them OSX. But... they can (and now do!) offer them a Linux distro.

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  10. I used to work for apple. I can tell you from first hand experience that what apple does right is create rigid developer guidelines that focuses tightly on the end user, reminding the developer who they are programing for. Something, that Microsoft developers could learn from, and that Canonical is pushing developers to start thinking about (with mixed results, I can give you 15 cases).

    Now with that being said, I don't much enjoy the idea of a company committing the selfish act of not letting me decide for myself what hardware I should/shouldn't install their OS on. So in that manner you *could* make the argument that Microsoft is the lesser of two evils. And what I mean by that is, Microsoft as the unbelievably hard job of making sure their software work on millions of computers with millions of possible configurations. That's got to be a bitch to manage.

    It's not like they have the community support/debugging/committing/releasing powerhouse that *nix systems provide.

    When you have a set of proprietary hardwares, like Apple, quality control is much easier, to the benefit of the end user. Something that both Linux and Microsoft lack in larger doses. Like a double edged sword, the drawback is freedom of hardware.

    Propriatism will only hurt everyone in the end. Software/Hardware freedom is the only logical choice when we place our racing blinders on and start focusing in on the long run ahead.

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  11. i have both a mac powerbook $2000 and an hp dv7 $970. not joking. they both have the same hardware specs. one costs a grand more. go figure. for serious computing and gaming i use my hp laptop w/ windows vista 64, for internet browsing i use my mac powerbook. my hp gets much more attention.

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  12. I own an imac, acer aspire notebook, and an ipod touch. I can run Fedora 11 easily in Sun's VirtualBox on the imac and acer; too bad the touch can't run linux. I hope college students will consider buying a good netbook or notebook that can run Fedora or Ubuntu or openSUSE easily!!!

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  13. Most of the people flocking to Mac don't have a clue what free software is. The kind of people that go out an blow $1500 on a Mac because they are cool aren't very likely to load up free software because it isn't what the Mac came with. I don't see open source having very much penetration in that type of market anyway.

    What got me to switch off proprietary software was the freedom issue. I knew what computers could do and I knew that there had to be something better than what the proprietary software would let me do. Instead of downloading pirated copies of software that let me do something I wanted to do I switched my OS and with that learned about FOSS. Without an advertising campaign I don't see many users switching over to FOSS without arriving at a similar conclusion and looking for another answer.

    I'd buy a used Mac but their business practices disgust me to the point where I wouldn't directly give them any money.

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  14. I agree with what you are saying about Apple being a freedom hating company. This dose not change that they make good hardware and I wouldn't compare the 600 dollar PC with the 1300 dollar MAC.

    There is no contest there.

    I'm not a MAC fan-boy I just think that they make good hardware. I wish I could buy hardware as good with a different OS.

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  15. (Apple) controls almost everything in the manufacturing process. Microsoft Windows on the other hand is just an operating system and the hardware is provided from someone else. This distributes the power to several companies.

    So? Has this distribution of power ever helped people who use Linux? No. Can we get drivers for hardware? Almost Never. So what does it matter. Microsoft keeps Intel AMD ATI Nvidia HP Dell on a short leash. Who has come thru for the FOSS community? ASUS and Google. So let Apple break Microsofts back. At least when Apple achieves success they deserve it.

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  16. I have a macbook pro 17 unibody, T60P, Iphone 3G.
    T60P is a very expensive computer, so is the mac but there is a very huge difference between them, my mac is not made with crap material like plastic, the overall hardware is finely chosen (except maybe the video card which should be more powerful for 3D rendering for some people, we should at least havec a choice for that), that's an high end professional computer, whereas for me the T60P (P stands for professional) is just a worth an 900€ asus (speaking of those which were sold when I bought the T60P of course). The only brand I know which is worth apple's quality is sony, and the price is quite the same...
    The question is, do you need this quality ?
    That's mainly why I bought an apple, because I need something reliable, comfortable to use on a daily basis of 10 hours(sometimes even more). I use Mac OS because I found it more convenient than windows (I like when the memory is somehow well managed so that you haven't to reboot every day or format...), I won't pay for a windows(prefer to install something else), but I may pay for MacOS because they don't bother me with license key and validation and constant updates slowing down the system.

    I think MacOS is a bridge between porprietary software and free software because the unix base can be used to install linux/bsd software on it with some tweaks, the overall system is well designed and simple.

    The benefit of apple is also in compatibility, choosing apple, you'll be able to buy everything you need from them with their quality and the latest technological advances. The main drawback is that you'll often need some adapters for displays and the overall cost of the hardware.

    For now, my two favorite systems are debian and MacOS, one as server, the other as client. I never use windows except for debugging my friends and I'm happy with it.

    I really think MacOS is not a threat, or at least not a higher threat than windows is. Even if it replace windows, with 90% market shares, the overall product is better than is windows. More than it, software will be more compatible from mac to linux and we should have more sources for free software (free as in beer at least) than we should be able to compile on linux / BSD. The very same should happen for drivers so that linux drivers won't have optimization problems and that a system certified mac capable will be linux capable automatically.
    But I don't think mac will replace windows, the price is enough to justify that and the few harware won't be sufficient to get all the market, this will be possible if mac decides to get a wide range of machines out or to allow macOS to be installed on non-apple computers, and I don't think this will happen with steve jobs in apple's headquarters.

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  17. The only reason why Apple is currently the lesser of the two evils is marketshare. Fortunately the culture at Apple will preclude them from gaining the marketshare that would give them the kind of monopoly that Microsoft has enjoyed. They refuse to make low-end/low-cost products, instead insisting that users pay a premium for the tight integration/controls and the "coolness" of their products.

    But all one has to do is look at what is happening with the iPhone, and one can see the danger of ever hoping Apple will gain a monopoly in any space. And we should all be very happy that Google came along to offer an attractive alternative in Android that can compete toe to toe with the tightly controlled system that is the iPhone (in which Apple controls the hardware, software, applications, content, and delivery system).

    I shudder to think of a world in which Apple has the kind of monopoly that Microsoft has had.

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  18. You honestly think people using MACS exposes them to BSD et al...not a chance. The people who use macs who have no idea about computers, will not know or care what they are being exposed to or anything like this, just like if they had a windows computer and you said "ahh so now you know about the registry". It's just fuzzy BS with a different name. Hey, download from itunes, but you can only use on an ipod...ermm yeah, you tell me what part of the FOSS community is behind that.

    Another thing, there was the IE and WMP coming with Windows court cases, how long before Apple is put up there with the software their OS comes bundled with?

    Generally, most people don't give a shit what they are using. As long as they are "cool" get on dfb, youtube, download the next manufactured shitty band they don't give a fuck.

    I think the big issue with the geek community, is too many people think that the general public knows or cares about computers more then they actually do

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  19. I'm considering buying a Mac laptop because I love the hardware and I can run GNU/Linux on it. I think Mac laptops are built better than most (all?) of the PC laptop hardware I've seen. Would be nice if some PC manufacturer started to build laptops designed and built like Apple. I am NOT looking forward to plunking down a grand or better on one. I wonder if I can buy a new one without the OS and save a little money? I think Apple wouldn't allow it.

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  20. I want to see what happens to Macs once Steve Jobs is no longer present ditto for MS with Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.
    Linux on the other hand is not driven solely by Linus Torvalds, there are far too many successors to Torvalds to even name.

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  21. I've owned a Macintosh since the days of System 6.0.4. And while I've often liked the products, I've never liked the company. Nor was I overly fond of the mutual admiration society that grew up around their products. Many of the Mac community reminded me of what it was like trying to talk to those kids at college who drove sports cars, took their spring break in Europe, and generally felt superior to the rest of us because of it.

    Apple is utterly psychotic. In a way, shamelessness is no longer a fault - its a feature! And you do almost have to admire Apple for how successfully they get away with saying one thing while doing the complete opposite.

    For a company that always preached freedom, they're more insular and restrictive than IBM would have ever dared be, even back in the days when IBM was absolute.

    But isn't that the American Way? If you have a lovely face - and a full time attitude - you can get away with pretty much anything.

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  22. The problem with Apple is, I strongly believe, not so much in their products as in their culture. True, Apple does use (and even produce) some Open Source programs. However, when you take a hard look at it, Apple is about as free as Bush administration, namely, In Name Only.

    Apple's culture is about control. Steve Jobs is all famous for his ridiculous attitude, and the whole company reflects this. True, they are geniuses, but so what? They deny others of their own geniuses. How many software vendors stupid enough to produce software for Mac OS has Apple thrown away? At least Microsoft recognizes the important of ISV (Independent Software Vendor). Apple treats ISV like trash, and this is a tradition dates back long before the scandals of iPhone. Mac OS has the tradition of breaking ties with old software for as long as I can remember, and whenever some software succeeds, Apple will immediately produce something emulate that, and take away the poor software market share.

    How about their open source stuffs, you ask? First, gcc is not something of Apple. It has always been the best compiler for Unixes (so much for "proprietary software has higher quality), and Apple simply took and used it. WebKit is much better as a story. I heard that when Apple first copied out KHTML, they dumped (the person told this story used 'dump', not 'contribute') the code out in a way such that the KHTML teams gave up on improving, and gradually used Webkit instead. Yeah, that's so open. Oh, yeah, the kernel is open. As if that matters (the number of Apple users who actually benefit from that thing being open can be counted on one hand).

    All in all, Apple is dangerous. More so than Microsoft. I think people have just not realized that.

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  23. Although you cannot find as much software for Mac if you look at it from an open-minded view you will see that Mac's software is only professional or very well built software not the crap that Windows has.

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