Security and Control

Warning: This is a geeky post that will not interest about 95% of the people out there.

I like to try out new things. And that's especially true when it comes to computers and software. I'm typing this message on a Mac Mini running OS X. A while ago I ran both Linux, on a tower-PC and OS X. But then my tower-PC broke down, so I have been OS X-exclusive for several months now. I absolutely love the hardware, and OS X is a very easy operating system to like. It looks good, things (usually) just works, and everything is very smooth. Different apps are nicely integrated with each other (like slideshows in Mail, with option of adding those photos to iPhoto, sharing of content between different iLife-apps etc. etc.). I can easily see why so many people love this thing. Hell, I like it as well! Of course, no system is perfect, and there are things in OS X that annoy me. But I'm not going to list them here.

That said, I have decided to abandon OS X. I will be moving back to Linux. In many ways, Linux is just as good, if not better than OS X. But that's not the reason for the switch. The reason is security and control. Now, to most computer-users those two are not that important reason for choosing their OS, but they are to me.

What is "security and control" in this context? No, "security" does not refer to safety from viruses this time (although, you do get that with both OS X and Linux). What it refers to is simple, really. OS X is made by Apple Computer. They made it, and they are calling the shots. They tell you what you can and can't do with it. They can change the terms of the license if they want to (they have done that with iTunes for example). They set the rules, and the user either accepts the rules, or uses something else.

In a way, it's like living in a total dictatorship, but that dictatorship gives you entertainment and safety from crime. Does that mean that such dictatorship is actually a good idea?

For me, the choice of my OS boils down to simple question really: "Do I sacrifice my long-term security for short-term comfort?". Well, do I? In the absolute short-term, things might be easier with OS X. But even that might change. But what doesn't seem to be changing is the fact that OS X (and any other proprietary software for that matter) has been designed to give it's creator (Apple, Microsoft, you name it) maximum benefits. Everything has been designed so that the creator-company benefits. With Linux and other Free software, the license of the software has been designed so that the USER gets the maximum benefits. With Linux, the user can be absolutely sure that no-one can march in and say "We changed the rules, you need to give us money, and you must stop doing this thing here". And the user can be sure, that no company will march in and prevent the user from doing something with the system. Want to change it? Want to share it with your friends? Go ahead.

That is what "Security and control" means.

However, I'm a realist. Most users don't really care about those kinds of things. And I wouldn't have any problems recommending OS X to people. It IS, after all, order of magnitude better than Windows. Not only is it designed better, but it's not a monopoly either. But in the long-term, I feel that Linux (and Free software in general) is the one true way forward.

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