Sunday, 24 February 2013

No laughing matter


There's been a lot of PowerPC Linux talk on Macrumors lately, and the other day a frequent poster had this to say:

" Eh, at least Leopard actually works ;) Linux is not for newbies. Linux is not for a regular Mac "power user". Linux on PPC is inferior to Leopard on PPC, PPC for desktop computing was an uncommon platform at the peak of Apple's PPC days, and now it's basically a relic. The most devoted PowerPC developers are working for the Mac side of things."

This sentiment is both somewhat correct, and completely wrong. As Zen has noted recently there are many things that OS X just plain does better than Linux right now, particularly in the area of media creation. However, there will come a day, not that far off, when using PowerPC OS X will be like using OS 9 is today. Tenfourfox will no doubt still be around in some form, because Dr. Kaiser is one hardcore son of a vet. At that juncture we will have three choices, stay obsolete on PowerPC, go Intel, or go Linux. Ok, you could also go MorphOS, but that is....just really hella obscure. But at least you will have an excellent browser to watch Madonna videos with.

Rather than compare Linux directly to OS X or Windows, I think it's extremely useful to recall that OS X and Windows have two of the world's wealthiest and largest corporations behind them and Linux has....mostly ordinary people behind it. Imagine if you woke up one day and people like you and me were building the open source equivalents of Boeing's 767's, that could fly you around the world, safely, for a fraction the cost, or even for free. That's not a bad analogy, and in the future some predict it will actually happen. Why? Because open source is the future of the world. Free software is like freedom in general, it may take time, but it will eventually destroy every closed, totalitarian system or technology it comes into contact with. Yes, even North Korea will be free one day too. It's inevitable, and hopefully it won't involve any dawns that are brighter than a thousand suns.

I will confess it took me awhile (22 years to be precise), but one day I put down the Kool Aid and realized that Apple was, like North Korea, a totalitarian entity. In other words, once you get drawn into its eco-sytem Apple will control the totality of your technological life (the user "experience" which lets face it, is a very nice one), so it can suck its upgrade tithe out of you every 18-24 months. Apple does this by terrifying their cowering customer/citizens with loss of "support", and lack of new "features". Quick thought experiment: Imagine you bought the Beatles White Album, but in order to keep listening to it every two years you had to buy a completely new record or CD player. And a new copy of the White album, which would  have a couple brand new, not very good tracks on it from Sir Paul and Ringo. No one would do it. Why do we tolerate this kind of larceny when it comes to computers and technology? The same reason they do in North Korea: Fear, and the proper conditioning.

How do you break free from this fear based life? Like us you can become one of the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels who buck the system, resist the urge to upgrade and stay with older hardware and OS'es as long as you can. You're definitely better off, but you still aren't really....free. Not to get all Richard Stahllman on you, but today the only real path to technological freedom is Linux. PowerPC Linux developers are in fact doing amazing work keeping up with x86 Linux, despite an ever aging hardware base. I believe in PowerPC Linux. I believe Macrumors poster Wildy will actually get his Crunchbang PowerPC port completed and released to the wild. I believe the dual core Power P-cubed board from Servergy will get out there and have a RaspberryPi like effect on PowerPC in general. When all these things happen Linux on PowerPC will...suck less, be more newbie friendly, less techie centered. A reboot of Mac-on-Linux would be the final straw. Run your PowerPC mac apps while booted into a completely modern Lubuntu? Now that is some freedom talk.

But this will take smart, freedom-loving people (like us) using PowerPC Linux, not just dissing it. And freedom....is no laughing matter.

4 comments:

  1. Very good post, dr.dave. You make many very important and valid points about the limits of Apple and Microsoft along with the endless possibilities that come with a truly open OS.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, I was beginning to wonder if anyone read my Apple=North Korea (ok, a real reach, but there are a few comparable points) rant. I need to get back to writing techinical posts that help people rather than purely philosophical posts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I REALLY want to use Crunchbang on some PowerPC Macs. We do have a lot of choice in the Linux world now. Lubuntu or MintPPC are both very nice but MintPPC makes itself a pain to access.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every distro you just listed is based on Debian so why not give the real thing a try?

      Delete