foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


And you thought your computer would do what YOU wanted...

, posted: 20-May-2008 06:39

Just another reminder of why DRM and closed software is bad. You end up with a situation where your own computer doesn't do what you want anymore. Instead, it follows the bidding of the software vendor. You bought the system, you paid for it, you think you'd be in control, right?

Well, not anymore. With closed-source software, you have no idea what is going to happen. In this case, the Windows Vista Media Center stopped recording certain TV programs, because the broadcaster (NBC in this case) set the 'broadcast flag' on those programs. Since the software is closed-source, you cannot fix this bug. This wouldn't have happened with open source software...

BTW, this is not a discussion about whether it is right to record copyrighted material. This is simply about how control over what you can and cannot do with your own computer is taken away from you by closed-source software without a means to correct this behaviour, or to possibly know in advance what kinds of rules will be enforced on you.

Computers run our lives, whether we like it or not. They govern our lives and what we can and cannot do. Closed source software represents rules and regulations ('laws' in effect) that cannot be examined or modified, even by broad consent of the general public. Why would we want to do this to ourselves? Why would we want to yield control over our own lives to profit-oriented corporations, whose only interest is their own bottom line? There's nothing wrong with being a profit-oriented corporation, but I don't want them to determine what I can and cannot do. Especially with my own things, my own computer and my own data.

Don't let vendors determine your freedoms and liberties. Don't let someone else take control over the ever more important computers that run our lives. We need to know what these computers are doing with our data, what they allow us to do, and we need the right to modify this if we as free people deem it necessary to do so. Just like we have the right to change the laws (with due process) in a democracy, so we have to have the right to change what our computers are doing with our stuff. Not being able to do so means not being free!

Closed-source software inherently takes away control and insight into the rules that govern your life. Free and open source software is the answer to that problem.

Other related posts:
PC World: Move your business to Linux, not Vista
The great 'Windows collapse' of 2011?
Firefox and Google at Microsoft








Comment by JamesHip, on 20-May-2008 07:35

Anarchist! But seriously, you raise a good point. Personal responsiblity and free will are the definitions of liberties that are worth keeping; which JFK said required "constant vigilence" lest others attempt to take it away.


Author's note by foobar, on 20-May-2008 10:17

@JamesHip: Exactly right. People let down their guard, didn't have constant vigilance, and allowed others (in this case Microsoft and the content-providers to which for some reason Microsoft caters) to take those liberties away.

I can't claim these points about free software and personal liberty to be my own invention, though. That has been the message of the FSF and Richard Stallman for a long time already. Think about him what you will, he is absolutely right on target with this particular point.


Comment by mobygeek, on 20-May-2008 15:34

How do you know open source software doesn't have hidden agendas, though?


Author's note by foobar, on 20-May-2008 15:54

@mobygeek: Well, it's open! You can't hide anything, including agendas. Ok, that's simplified, but you get the idea. Let's say a company releases some (truly) open source software, and has an agenda about maybe locking in users later on, or imposing some DRM stuff on them.

Well, in the moment that happens, you are free to continue to use the old code (no kind of open source license can disallow that). There is no mandatory upgrade of any kind. Furthermore, if the system is popular enough, it will be forked by someone at that moment, the 'bugs' will be removed and you can still enjoy it without any such restrictions.

Open source is really bad for hidden agendas. For the most part, open source companies tend to be very transparent in the way they do business, and very up front with their customers.


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foobar's profile

 
New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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