bfix wrote:Take the Linux operating system. It is far and away the best designed operating system. It continues to improve because a vast army of "design-led" developers are trying to make it better.
Now take Apple. Like Linux developers, Apple developers want to make a good product. But unlike with Linux, Apple is ruthless about protecting its property rights. That's how Apple makes money.
For instance, an Apple computer is certainly well-made ... probably better than any other brand of computer. As such, it is "useful". But consider if there was a company that churned out computers that were identical to Apple's, but did not have the eponymous Apple symbol on them. The generic apple computer would be just as "useful", just as well made as the brand-name one. But would it be as desirable? Probably not.
I am not sure Linux is the best designed
operating system. Both Linux and macOS are essentially Unix, an OS design from the early 1970s for the then new mainframe computers with many restrictions of its age. More interestingly, Linux was created and continues to be developed by hackers for hackers but not for the computer-illiterate masses, whereas Apple's products are the opposite in that Apple tries to shield the OS from the user, not so much by actual technical restrictions, but with its neat user interface which makes ordinary users not even want
to look into the machine.
I think that there are two topics of interest here.
One is the observation that today the preferred way of control and management of people is by comfort/discomfort rather than by authoritarian forces (police, security, etc.). I realized that around 2005 in the new Hamburg airport: After the usual check-in and security there is the mall and all the catering with a view on the airfield, all in pleasant light, comfort, helpful service. Then you could go down some corridor: no borders, staff or signs saying you should not go here, but the atmosphere became darker, unpleasant - clearly no longer were you are supposed to be, and indeed you do not want
to go any further, there is nothing interesting. In an interview about his 2012 film
about a consulting agency the German filmmaker Harun Farocki
observed that in todays workplace the enterprise tries to engage the employees, make them responsible and uses religious language ("vision", "eternity", "meaning"), whereas in the past day laborers would sell their "work force" but remain mentally absent and resistant and would only
do what they were directly and sometimes violently ordered to do.
As to Linux there were grand debates about free software, copyright, the free internet, etc. at the end of the 1990s. The big enemy then was Mircosoft. That was before the reemergence of Apple. At times it looked as if Linux could win the OS war against Windows. It never happened, at least not in the end user market. There was certainly a lot sabotage from Microsoft, but that was helped by the inability of the hacker community to look beyond their own interest and take a societal view. In the end most of them weren't anticapitalists. Wau Holland
, founder of the Chaos Computer Club (the most famous of its kind in Germany), always complained about this shortsightedness of the community and that it worked against their own interests since a mass produces Linux computer, integrated with hardware as Macs are, would be a much better environment even for hackers. The lesson is perhaps, that even the most creative and free people need outside direction if they should create something for the common good rather than just for themselves.
NB. The best designed
OS is arguably Wirth's Oberon
, a lesson in minimalism and efficiency. And the integratedness, openess and yet conceptual simplicity of a Smalltalk
system, created at Xerox Park
in the 1970s, is still ahead of today in some respects (for a modern version see Pharo