Possibilities for commercial software?

David Schlesinger david.schlesinger at palmsource.com
Sun Jan 28 20:26:05 CET 2007

On 1/28/07 10:15 AM, "Paul Wouters" <paul at xelerance.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 26 Jan 2007, David Schlesinger wrote:
>> I still don't see how trying to limit people's choices is "more free" than
>> letting them make their own choices.
> You are leaving out one important issue here. The "free" market is in fact
> already forcing non-free decisions on you. You can try to avoid all of those
> forced decisions, but like you said, you wouldn't be able to live a normal
> life.

Life has always been full of compromise. I don't see that changing any time
soon, I'm afraid.

> Look at how apple used BSD code to trap users into not running their own
> software on the apple hardware. Is it their freedom to enforce that upon
> us? Or has freedom been taken away from us? Look at Fairplay/itunes, and
> realise that Fairplay is proprietary code, which is probably using a lot
> of BSD code in there. Is that the "freedom" we wanted to give when writing
> BSD code? I guess it is, which is why I am a GPL person, despite the
> fact that I do own an OSX laptop.

I don't see that Apple's "trapped" anyone: no one's being made to buy Apple
hardware or run iTunes at gunpoint. If you want to run any of a variety of
Linux-based operating systems on your Apple hardware, there's nothing to
stop you. Yellowdog and Ubuntu, at least, work right out of the box on
PowerPC systems.

If you want to take advantage of the features of OS X, then, yes, you need
to run OS X. This seems unsurprising to me. OS X is proprietary, in large
part. Apple likes it that way. That's their right: they invested a lot of
time, money and effort into it.

I can't presuppose whether or how much BSD code is in either Fairplay or
iTunes, but if there is, that's a freedom that the license grants. Just as
free speech demands that you tolerate the speech of others even when it
offends you, this sort of thing can potentially happen. Freedom can
sometimes include the freedom to do things that make some people unhappy and
gratify others. You can't really complain about the use which someone makes
of an outright gift.

If you don't like Fairplay, don't buy your music from the iTunes Music
Store. I don't, for a bunch of reasons: I rip CDs and buy tracks from
eMusic, and throw 'em all into iTunes on an old Mac Cube I have. There's
possibly a bunch of BSD code on my iPod, for that matter, who can tell...?

My iPod still does a good job of aggregating my MP3s and iTunes still does a
good job of organizing my MP3s and pulling down the podcasts I want to
listen to. I could make it all work on a Linux system  with nothing but open
source software--at the cost of some personal effort, which could range from
a little to a lot--but what I get out of the box from Apple works just fine.

Am I somehow "less free" for using the iPod, and iTunes, for this purpose?
If so, how does this diminished freedom manifest itself in my life? I'd say
that spending an hour, say, to pull down and configure the various pieces
I'd need to manage my library, subscribe to my podcasts, and sync my iPod
would diminish my freedom: it'd be an hour (or more) in which I could have
been doing something else. What's the benefit of spending that hour, in
practical terms?

(This is all assuming I didn't want to go whole hog and make the iPod itself
run Linux, too, which would increase the time by a couple orders of
magnitude, maybe.)

> So to answer your question, are you "more free" due to BSD code in apple
> products, or "less free"? I believe you are less free.

I don't see how it impacts my freedom at all. If Apple and all of its
software, BSD-derived or not, were to vanish from the universe tomorrow, the
range of free software available to me would be pretty much the same as it
is today.

Again, if I'm "less free" as a result of this, or society at large is, there
has to be some concrete diminishment of some range of possible actions for
me, or for somebody. What is it can't be done as a result of Apple's
(supposed) use of BSD code in Fairplay that could be done if they didn't use
BSD code there, but wrote it all from scratch?

(Yes, you might argue that I can't for instance, fix bugs on my iPod. In
practical terms, my more likely recourse--since all my tracks are backed up
in iTunes--would be to reinitialize the iPod and reload my library on it.
It'd likely be faster than tracking down the problem, fixing it, and then
rebuilding and reinstalling the OS on my MP3 player... Vanishingly few end
users are capable of doing this, so this "freedom" is even more theoretical
for them...)

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