So just announced their plan to kill general purpose computing.

They're switching to their own ARM-based SoCs and while I have no love for Intel or x86 in general, Apple's solution is designed to ensure you won't be able to run anything but signed images on the hardware you supposedly own.

Native ? Forget it. But don't worry, you'll still be able to run it in a VM for those pesky containers you're using at work.

is going to be a permanent second stringer there.

Combine this with what is doing with and the strategy from proprietary vendors seems to be "out of sight, out of mind".

will be something that spins up transparently for the cases where it's necessary, but most won't know or notice, so over time Linux won't even be in the running when thinking about switching OSes for many, simply because it will be a lot less front of mind.

I guess it's just another phrase in the eternal battle for software freedom, all is not lost.

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@MatejLach Notably the absence of a mentioning of Bootcamp for Windows as well (Windows runs on ARM, the instruction set is not the problem).

@MatejLach uhm… you do know it's perfectly possible to run Linux on a whole lot of other hardware without asking Apple or caring about their opinion? :-)

@MatejLach to clarify, they don't own general-purpose computing in the first place in order to be able to kill it.

@isagalaev They won't kill it completely, they won't kill it for you or me, there's always going to be options, but that's not the goal.

It's about how easy it will be to try Linux for the ever increasing number of Apple customers. Right now it's still fairly simple and so it is an option to at least try on an existing Mac HW when macOS frustrates and optionally transition fully if they like the experience, (personal experience with dozens), however if it doesn't boot because of a T3 chip etc.

@isagalaev A lot more people will simply give up.

It's not a problem for me, but am already here. If however back when I first tried Linux I couldn't simply plug in a live USB to try it, I don't know if I will be on Linux today, but at least I wouldn't be on it for as long as I am now, because the barrier to entry would've been so much higher.

Repurposing your existing hardware to try things you're unfamiliar and uncertain about is a great way to discover with minimal investment.

@MatejLach @isagalaev It also kills any re-sale or re-use market. I've never *bought* an Apple laptop but have had two #Debian laptops on "old" apple hardware that friends or family didn't want anymore ("too slow" etc).

@MatejLach @isagalaev , I think Ivan is right here. Consumers have the choice to buy an Apple Fun Machine or general purpose computers.

I agree Matej that going from general purpose to specific purpose appliance (because that's what it'll end up being in the end) is not nice, but I think Apple can only go so far until they start shooting their feet.

I'm not defending Apple, just giving an observation. I'm a diehard Debian user.

I don't disagree per se, but I also think this underestimates the power of "default", Windows has majority market share because it's the "default". Many get Macs at work by "default" and as an extension end up with personal machines also being Macs.

Many buy Mac as a fashion/status symbol etc. too.

The realization that you now have a special-purpose machine vs a general purpose computer will take a while to sink in, maybe a good while.


@indirection @isagalaev

What I've also seen, even among technical audiences, is to resort to blaming Linux, rather than the vendor, even after evidence is presented that being incompatible design decision was made explicitly and purposely by the vendor.

I think this will result in many more "well, Linux doesn't even boot on my machine, so fuck Linux" forum threads than we have now.

It won't block anyone who is already determined to run Linux anyway, but that's not the point of it.

@MatejLach @isagalaev , I agree that it will ultimately mean less Linux users.

I agree that it furthers vendor lock-in.

But thinking about it, these users would've never lasted on Linux. They may want to try Linux, but they'll want it to behave like a Mac (or Windows). Linux is just not user friendly yet, but we are getting there!

@MatejLach @isagalaev , and not only is it not user friendly, but it's still not industry friendly.

Linux (or anything other than Mac or Windows) is for users who are tired of certain aspects of computing, and will put in the time to get what the want.

For some this means re-paying for Windows every 5 years. For others this means customization. For others, a consistent, stable interface that will never change until they die.

@indirection @isagalaev

Not in mass numbers, sure. But I have a dozen personal examples of friends and family who stayed. But getting them to try it in the first place was actually the hardest bit. If it's pretty much guaranteed to not even boot, well then...

@MatejLach @isagalaev , luckily with $60 you can have an RPI with Linux ready to meet all your standard user needs 🙂

This is what I mean by Apple must be careful in how they proceed here. We think mass general purpose computing has started? Not even; there may be 1 billion smartphones but the majority of these users are not using them for general computing. It takes 1 company to start producing stupid cheap computers.

@MatejLach @isagalaev , seriously, all we need is a single company to make an amazing user experience, amazing branding, and the market is cooked.

@indirection @isagalaev

Or via an analogy; the point of the GFW isn't to block those capable enough to circumvent it from doing so, they're already gone ideologically.

The point is to stop the vast majority of mostly of average people from doing so and it's rather successful at doing that, many times simply by circumvention attempts being super frustrating to pull off, rather than completely impossible.

@MatejLach @isagalaev , I'll be devil's advocate here and say: but is it really a negative if the "default" works for the majority?

When the default of something doesn't work for someone, or a group, they create an alternative.

Sure it isn't ideal...or is it? Maybe the ideal world is choice. But then you say "but that's what we're talking about, it threatens choice". Does it really though?

We can get really philosophical here. I'll end this with saying, we still have choice. 🙂

@MatejLach @indirection "The realization that you now have a special-purpose machine vs a general purpose computer will take a while to sink in, maybe a good while."

I think it's pretty well understood already by consumers, and they do want it. We should agree that "general purpose computing" is a historical phase when having a computer meant understanding it. Progress always goes towards closed-off appliances. Most people don't fix their cars and don't darn their socks anymore.

@isagalaev @indirection

Right, but just because something is happening doesn't mean it's a good thing or nothing could/should be done to stop/slow it etc.

I mean the trend you described is exactly why you now have a whole new "right to repair" movement, which wasn't needed even 30 years ago.

You now have coffee machines and even tractors with built in DRM and the like.

While many don't fix their cars, there's still a vibrant class of people that do and who complain that's getting harder.

@MatejLach @isagalaev Yeah, I'm not saying it's good, it's just things typically "work out". This probably has something to do with Game Theory, where you have some actors who only care about X, and another, smaller group of actors who only care about Y, and both get what they want because the smaller group has the expertise to make it happen or something...

@indirection @isagalaev

The trend has been well described in the classic by Tim Wu, The Master Switch, which describes the evolution of the radio from an open, almost internet-like platform to a closed ecosystem.

But one of the things I don't want to do is know about this and just sit here, awaiting the outcome. That's not what RMS and many others of FLOSS pioneers did either.

@indirection @isagalaev

Having said all that, it's not like I am particularly happy about the whole x86 situation with the Management Engine either.

@MatejLach @isagalaev , well the outcome seems to be that HAM is the equivalent to FOSS, no?

Also, for what it's worth, you can build your own 8-bit computer. *Also* for what it's worth, turing completeness is kind of hard to stop. It almost doesn't matter how locked down a CPU is, if any software exposes a turing complete language, the system is "open".

There are a lot of workarounds 😛

Well, I think FLOSS is a lot more "mainstream" than HAM is, but my point is precisely that worst case it could end up just like HAM.


@MatejLach but HAM operators seem happy with their outcome? They have their own communities, just like FOSS does? (I honestly don't know)

@indirection I am not part of that community, so don't know, but I'd assume they've come to terms with it by now rather than being outright "happy".

I am sure they're happy that the hobby exists at all, sure, but am fairly certain they'd be more happy if it was more "visible", more accepted, more marketable, more vibrant if you will. If it was an actual, viable competitor to commercial radio.

I assume that simply because of the fact that many more people would appreciate their work then.

@isagalaev @indirection

My point being, I don't think the vast majority of people mind or think it's a loss, but I do think there will be people on the brink of discovering FLOSS, maybe a future career in CS etc. who will have the new Mac from school, their parents, work etc. and who this kind of thing will at best slow down, at worst stop.

@MatejLach @isagalaev , well thankfully the Internet is a thing to show them there's a whole FLOSS world out there 🙂 Once again I totally agree that the better world is about true ownership of your things, and we should aim for it.

We're certainly in interesting times. It's really hard to say what the outcome of everything will be! It'll all happen way past our lives.

@MatejLach @isagalaev @indirection
not sure if this is true, but something I've thought lately (inspired by Cory Doctorow): It's the popular demand for internet-Video, in particular (and thereby the DRM it came with) that killed GP computing. MP3s and ebooks eventually realized DRM wasn't necessary; but video will never concede (possibly because it's much more expensive to produce?): so tech companies will have to submit to their pro-DRM/anti-GP-computing requirements. Here's hoping I'm wrong, though…

@mvp @MatejLach @isagalaev , this relates back to what was said: we will have computers which drift to a specific usage. See: Amazon Fire Stick for DRM-required video, etc.

@mvp @MatejLach @isagalaev @indirection I'll interpret this as another call to start recommending DRM-free movies.

I really like Man From Earth, that's an interesting story-telling experience, & ReelHouse looks like a good source.

Haven't before because I didn't have the money & didn't want to encourage want to encourage further saturation of Internet bandwidth over the lockdown.

@MatejLach i would hope not, but based on what they do with iPhones and iPads i'm not optimistic

@MatejLach Thankfully we there are a fair few hardware vendors making sure we can run Linux directly, rather than via Mac/Windows!

I have no plans to replace my laptop anytime soon, but when I do I'll order it online.

@MatejLach People buying a Mac probably don't want to run anything else, though... 🤷‍♀️

@sindastra True, not initially. But the key here is that eventually macOS frustrates enough for you to want to give something else a try. I know from personal experience and some of my friends.

If it's easy, no fuss, to give Linux a spin, many will at least take a look.

If the new Apple security chips they build into their ARM-based SoCs block Linux or make it a total hell, many will give up before even trying.

won't prevent EVERYONE from switching, but that's not the goal.

@sindastra Mac will basically be an iPad with a different interface as far as booting alternative OSes is concerned.

That's why they explicitly mentioned Linux in VMs. They know developers need it and that there won't be another way to install it, (unless you jailbreak your own HW I suppose).

@MatejLach To be honest, new Macs (yes Intel based ones) already have the T2 security chips which already makes it "a hell for Linux". I have a MacBook Pro, the last version before they implemented the T2 security chip AFAIK and while Linux runs on it, it's useless because Wi-Fi can't work (driver is there but Broadcom refuses to release a fixed firmware). And other things don't work right or at all either, and I guess Linux devevelopers don't focus on Apple hardware anyway? 🤷‍♀️

@MatejLach I guess what I'm saying is, Linux on a Mac isn't really a thing even now with x86 Macs...

@sindastra Agreed in general, but worth noting that Macs up to 2015 run rather well with and there's a lot of them out there. Progress is also being made, slowly, on the newer models.

To give a concrete example I have a 2015 model MBP that I have transitioned to Linux years ago and it works great out of the box to this day.

Even Linus Torvalds had one.

As bad as the experience is now with the newer models, with this transition it will get even worse.

But I do get your point.

@MatejLach I do get your point too. And I actually am following the progress of Linux on Macs and I'm fully aware that it runs great on older models. I have a MacBook Air from 2014 or so which runs perfectly with Linux, for example. My MacBook Pro can run Linux but Wi-Fi, sound, the touch bar and some other things won't work. I'm not sure if headphones would work but you could use an external Wi-Fi dongle but that's... Not so nice. I'm also not sure about energy efficiency (didn't try for long).

@MatejLach It did strike me in a pretty menacing way when they managed to present the switch to ARM without even really explaining it as ARM. They just call it "Apple silicon" as if it's something new and unique.

We really are headed for a future where computers are less general purpose and more whatever Apple/Microsoft thinks you should be able to do.

"They just call it "Apple ____" as if it's something new and unique."

Ain't that the entire business model by now?


I don't think a few Apple users not being able to try open source alternatives is that big a deal, because the barrier to entry is lower than ever today. When I installed Linux first time 15yrs ago it was off of a CD I bought because my internet was too slow. Now you can play most big name games on it.

@cadadr @MatejLach I mean, it's very Apple-esque... but it's still creepy to someone who's grown up in a time where basically every device ran standard x86_64 or ARM and could reasonably run any OS you could think of.

@rune @MatejLach IMHO that's the channel with the most potential and Linux is better than MaCoS (or however it's written these days...) at it.

Gamer folk is way more open minded than your average or above average Apple person.

Apple knows this and caters to two populations: 1) users who'll happily pay $$$$ in a blink of an eye for things you take for granted elsewhere and 2) developers who want to cater to that folk. Nobody else is relevant to them.

@rune @MatejLach

It kinda is new and unique. ARM doesn't sell CPUs. Instead, they license reference designs for their CPU cores, and the licensees then add additional instructions, features, GPUs, and so on, to build a custom CPU for fabrication. In the case of Apple, they'll likely be integrating the T2 security chip, neural engine and SEP secure enclave, as well as a GPU.

Sure, but in that sense every CPU is new and unique. Icelake is new and unique when compared to what came before. But it's still x86 and not fundamentally novel.


@MatejLach @rune
There are x86 SoC designs that are new and unique, like the ones that incorporate unique onboard AI coprocessors:

That's like what Apple is doing, they're taking a reference ARM design and adding their AI coprocessor, secure enclave, etc.

Amazon have done the same, taken a reference design, added to and adjusted it, and then fabbed it themselves.

Identical Icelake CPUs are not that. The same design of CPU is sold to everyone, manufactured by Intel.

@MatejLach @rune
Basically, it's not the CPU part that makes it new and unique. It rarely is these days, nobody wants a wholly new and unique CPU instruction set in their SoC.

You're not wring, but also all Apple has in its chips was done before. So the only truly unique thing I can think of is bringing ARM to the desktop, but the original Acorn did that too.

So then maybe the combination of a performant ARM core on the desktop together with the AI co-processor etc.? Maybe.


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