Viewing posts from February, 2017

Freedom From Microsoft v1.01

Freedom From Microsoft v1.01

It seems that with each passing year, corporations design more and more to take the common customer as a resource to be exploited - “owned” even. Why would I say this? As a direct analogy let's take a look at our Personal Computer – the PC – and its software.
 
The “Personal Computer” - the very name describes an object that is an extension of ourselves. The myth is that our PC functions to empower us - with memory, processing power, personal and social communication. The PC was idolized even before the Internet; but with the coming of the Internet, ownership of a PC became immensely popular, and even necessary. Microsoft rapidly accrued an immense fortune furthering the networked development of the newly popular PC. But even then there were signs that something was wrong.
 
Not long before the advent of the PC there was another, less-noted revolution – the revolution of the Minicomputer (“mini” as relative to the “mainframe”). Minicomputers offered affordable computer power to small organizations - academic institutions, research facilities, laboratories, development teams, small and large businesses, all took advantage of the new machine. System manufacturing firms such as DEC, SUN, PRIME prospered. And one thing the minicomputer offered was community – a minicomputer was a shared resource for multiple users. And most of the software that was available at that time was offered as program source code (text), as well as pre-compiled. It was in just such a community that Richard M. Stallman – RMS came into his own.
 
RMS, and many others like him, developed software to be shared on the Minicomputer. It is true that Richard inhabited something of an ivory tower, MIT to be exact, but MIT was really just a leading-edge example of the kind of computing that was being done in many places at the time. Anyway, a day came when RMS needed to be able to modify some of the driving software for a new printer attached to the lab minicomputer, in order to communicate messages of printer-jams to other users. To his amazement and utter frustration, Richard found that the program source code to the printer software was strictly NOT available, and he was unable to address the lab's problem.

 

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