Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 8, 2012 17:47 UTC (Sun) by rqosa
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
> Which basically implies that people who don't want to learn how to build Linux systems and care for them should be considered defective and don't deserve lenience.
It implies nothing of the sort.
> It's one thing to empower people by giving them access to human knowledge.
That is what I've been saying all along: if people don't have sufficient knowledge about the technologies they depend on, they are disempowered. And things like locked-down hardware and source-unavailable software have the effect of disempowering people by excluding them from access to this knowledge. Therefore, what you said earlier — locked-down hardware is "good for them!" — can't be true (and is totally contrary to the core ideals of the FSF and the FLOSS community at large).
> They failed in the sames sense Linux desktop has failed.
The way I see it, the Linux desktop is successful today and getting better all the time — and there's no reason why it has to be used by the majority to be "successful".
(There's an old saying: "Unix is user-friendly, it's just selective about who its friends are." It was true then, and it's still true now.)
> When Sharp switched to Windows CE itself in 2007 OPIE and GPE lost the momentum, too.
Like I already said, the real reason why OPIE and GPE lost momentum was because the whole "PDA" device class was supplanted by smartphones and tablets.
> It's one thing to circumvent the bootloader and few unique components. It's another thing to port Linux to the hardware which has no public specification and which was never designed with Linux in mind.
The Windows CE devices were never designed with Linux in mind, and yet OPIE and GPE ran on them.
And for another example: the BeagleBoard / PandaBoard / RaspberryPi / IGEPv2 class of devices probably would never have existed if it weren't for both:
- The rise of the smartphone / tablet market that began 4-5 years ago (because these devices use CPUs and GPUs that are primarily sold to smartphone/tablet manufacturers), with most such smartphones / tablets not designed with Linux in mind until Android took the lead in marketshare; and
- The existence of enough people who do care about having fully-programmable hardware devices.
What this tells us is: if enough people demand computing devices that let the user (= owner) have full control over them, then the manufacturers will meet the demand with devices made from whatever commodity hardware components are currently on the market. That's why the FLOSS community must convince as many people as possible that unlocked hardware is a desirable thing (and this doesn't have to be a majority of people, it just has to be enough for the manufacturers to take notice).
> This way was tried and it just does not work.
It did work — that's why we've got the PandaBoard et al., and the Nexus series, and probably also why the threat posed by EFI was defeated (at least it looks that way currently).
> This means that FOSS long-term survival is guaranteed only if FOSS community will learn to create toys used by general public. If they will be threatened then you you can mobilize millions if not billions in a case of danger.
The problem is that they won't be threatened (or at least they won't perceive any threat) by the unlocked hardware going out of production or the destruction of the FLOSS ecosystem. If the Nexus and whatever other unlocked Android devices all were discontinued today, the majority of Android users would barely even notice. You said so much yourself: "Of course not! It's good for them! This is what they want!"
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