Home "computers" which only run signed software?
Posted Apr 24, 2003 19:02 UTC (Thu) by iabervon
In reply to: Home "computers" which only run signed software?
Parent article: Linus on digital rights management
I think that all such devices are inherently limited in usefulness, because they can't be used for purposes that the key holder doesn't intend them to be used for. Now, that's perfectly fine. My refridgerator can't run code I write, and neither can my VCR. Now, general purpose computing is getting cheap and, well, general, so you can make a VCR-replacement that has a general purpose computer inside; in fact, the best VCR for the cost (depending on what you want from a VCR) is based on a computer. The thing is that people don't want to have each device appear to be a general purpose computer, even if that's how it works inside.
So the situation is really that computer-based devices are replacing non-computer-based devices, and, in some cases, devices are becoming sufficiently capable that people who needed a computer before can now use a device that doesn't seem to be a computer, and thus don't need an overt computer at all. But then there are people who actually want computers, and these people won't be satisfied with a fridge or a VCR or a car, even if these are really a computer inside.
The thing about general-purpose computers is that you can specialize them, and this may be better than building a special-purpose device from scratch, but it's just different from having a general-purpose computer able to run arbitrary software.
to post comments)