everything wrong with free software

 "free as in speech"

### the-end-of-the-free-software-era---chapter-04---computing-vs-marketing *originally posted:* sep 2022 imagine you go to a car dealership; after buying a car, the dealer says "and when you run low on petrol, just bring it to a dealer and theyll sell you more!" fuel may not be the best metaphor for software, but it is worth noting that you buy it from a petrol station, not from the car manufacturer. you decide what brand of fuel to put in your car, and the idea of having to use specific brands for specific cars is more or less ridiculous. even small planes tend to use the same fuel truck, regardless of who makes them. computers were designed originally for individual tasks (numeric and data processing) followed by programs with rudimentary instructions, and eventually operating systems were created. while computers can do jobs without operating systems, software has become a consumer industry-- the makers of software would rather you think of your computer as being tied to the os, or better yet think of it as the os itself. in this fiction created to sell software, you dont have a computer, you have a windows computer or an apple (mac) computer. so what are dell and lenovo in this imaginary world? types of windows computers, also known as a "pc"-- and what is a pc? a computer that runs windows! as mentioned in the previous chapter, microsoft has reinforced this illusion by making deals with manufacturers that made it difficult for them to offer choices in terms of what os a computer came with. apple has simply tied their os directly to their own hardware products. its possible, though difficult-- to run macos on a computer that apple didnt sell. its also possible to run a different os on a computer that apple sold. but these companies would prefer to tie your hardware to their software, as if theyre the same thing. its (more or less) true that your computer wont do much without an operating system. since the 1960s if not earlier, various institutions and companies have worked to create software platforms that allow the computer to handle more than one program, even more than one user-- at the same time. while the modest computing power of early 8-bit consumer devices was put to better use running a single program at once, by the time ibm introduced the at (80286) model with enough ram for more tasks, it was possible and increasingly desirable to manage more than one task simultaneously. it is helpful to disrupt this illusion of the os as the computer. if you have a decent quality laptop, and it isnt one of the almost hermetically sealed aluminum capsules that apple makes, you may find a panel on the bottom of your laptop (on some older models its even on the side) that allows you to remove the drive from your computer. this is mostly a thought experiment, so dont feel the need to get out your screwdriver unless youve done this before-- or have a laptop you dont care about. the danger to your laptop could be small, but we dont want to presume anything without other details. after turning off and unplugging your computer, its possible to remove the drive. i had one very inexpensive laptop without a drive-- instead it had a small module that contained the equivalent of a usb stick which served as the drive. if you have a desktop, there is usually an entire side of the case you can remove-- the drive will probably be larger. laptops and desktops have a variety of components inside, but in a laptop and especially the desktop, the ones most relevant to this chapter are typically in black or silver boxes, ranging from the size of your palm to the size of your hand. the box with the most wires is the power supply-- thats the most dangerous part of the computer, and you can figure out where it is very easily, because on the outside of the case is the power cable that goes to it. usually its located near the top and towards the back, but sometimes it is placed near the bottom of the case. immediately on the other side of where you put dvds (or possibly cds or blu-ray discs) into the computer, youll find the optical drive. on desktops they are larger than hard drives, and on laptops they are larger than laptop hard drives. a few models of laptop will make drive access difficult, but most are better than that. you usually dont need to remove the drive to change the os-- normally you wont have to open the computer at all. but inside your computer is a little silver and/or black metal box, which holds all your files, software and the os. some desktops even have more than one. if you detach the two cables going to that box, (or slide it out of the laptop) your computer will be os-free. it wont have any files or operating system when you turn it on. you can erase everything on that little box and have no operating system (or files) when you put it back, and the computer will still be a computer. what happens then if you turn it on? the first thing youll notice is that it still puts something on the screen. typically this will be the oem logo-- dell if you have a dell, lenovo if you have lenovo, acer if you have that, etc. this is not part of the os, instead like the basic interpreter that starts when you switch on the c64, this logo is stored on a chip on the computer. you should also be able to get to the bios settings. technically it isnt called bios anymore, the new term is uefi-- but lots of people still call it bios (perhaps because its only two syllables, and "bi-ohs" doesnt sound as stupid as "yoofee"). the bios lets you configure certain hardware settings, including which device to look on first for an operating system. this is something they should teach in computer classes, and they do if you take a repair class. but this isnt just a repair task, its a fairly basic computer skill. at any rate, the rule for bios settings is write down anything you change (especially what you changed it FROM-- what you change it to is slightly less important on average) and avoid changing bios settings you dont understand. that will help save you an expensive trip to a technician. to get to these settings, you normally have to press a key on startup. these keys vary from machine to machine, but are usually one of the f1-f10 keys, with f1, f2 and f10 being popular-- or ins or del. often it will say on the screen which key goes to the bios or "setup". if you press nothing, the computer will most likely proceed to look for an operating system on the hard drive. if you removed it, or erased the drive, it may say something like "operating system not found" and stop. this also may happen if your bootloader (on the hard drive) is not installed. oftentimes, installing an operating system is nearly as simple as putting the right usb into the computer, turning it on and hitting enter several times. dont know what a bootloader is? doesnt matter, one will most likely be installed by default. of course that depends on having the right usb stick and bios settings (you may well have the right bios settings already) and the right bootable usb stick is something you can learn to make yourself. the important lesson here is that windows is NOT a computer-- it is actually a horrible thing that people DO to a computer, and to themselves. if you have windows installed, it is ultimately going to run updates when microsoft wants it to; it is ultimately going to install what microsoft wants. it will talk to microsoft when they want it to. all kinds of things that put microsoft more in control of your computer than you are, are right there, on that little silver and/or black box inside your machine. dont throw that box away though, it can be put to much nicer purposes after it is erased. license: 0-clause bsd ``` # 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 # # Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any # purpose with or without fee is hereby granted. # # THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES # WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF # MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR # ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES # WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN # ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF # OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE. ``` => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org