The drop is always movingYou know that saying about standing on the shoulders of giants? Drupal is standing on a huge pile of midgetsAll content management systems suck, Drupal just happens to suck less.Popular open source software is more secure than unpopular open source software, because insecure software becomes unpopular fast. [That doesn't happen for proprietary software.]Drupal makes sandwiches happen.There is a module for that

The iPad, the AmigaOne X1000 and the future of freedom

Submitted by nk on Thu, 2010-07-01 18:35

When I was a little kid, we had these eight bit home computers. To start anything you needed to type a BASIC command. The machine had a BASIC interpreter in it and came with a BASIC manual. If you had the smallest inclination towards programming, it was shockingly easy to go ahead and hack a program together. And then the BASIC interpreters have disappeared from the machines. The proliferation of GUIs made coding a little bit harder but still you could add something like Delphi to your Windows PC and hack ahead happily.

Now, I would like to point out two devices which are made available to the generic public in 2010: the Apple iPad brings computing to people who have never used (or certainly disliked) computers before. This is the first mainstream computer that lacks a physical keyboard (Windows Tablet PC devices need not apply, they are kludgy niche devices, not mainstream) and so the very thought of hacking together something on them will not even appear. As it's mostly a consumer device the thought of scripting / automating is unlikely to appear either. You need to pay money to Apple and have another "real" computer to become an iPad developer and you need to get your program approved. Kids trying "hello world" are certainly not welcome.

The other end is the AmigaOne X1000. It's an extreme niche computer with a co-processor hackable on levels unseen before. It really is an "X", an unknown of what cool stuff you can do with it. It also costs more than the most expensive iPads and runs an obscure (cool, but still) operating system. Mark my words my developer colleague: this is your future PC. Cool, obscure and expensive.

There is more than hackability at stake here. This is your very freedom. I was telling people in May (at DrupalCon San Francisco) that I see the iPad as a very important milestone on a road which leads to computers that can only run sanctioned apps. Throughout history, the "average Joe" had no saying in the world and the highly hackable personal computer have changed this. The mindset is what's important. The very thought that anyone alone can make a change was unconceivable before. This short lived era is what's coming to an end. I suspected it will take decades. A mere month later, however, rumours are abound that Windows 8 will feature an app store. This should be downright frightening especially coupled with the fact that Windows 7 came with a Windows XP virtual machine. Microsoft can end Windows compatibility any day, relegate old Windows programs to the virtual machine and make it so that any new app needs to be sanctioned. Apple, obviously can easily follow or even do it before Microsoft.

I am not alone saying this. I only learned after DCSF that at SXSF Douglas Rushkoff had a session called Program or be Programmed.

Where does this leave us programmers? Are we going to be the ruling elite who controls the world? Do not be so naive. We will be hated by the powers that be because we still have that spark and because they rely on us to program the masses. The unwashed masses are going to look at us with suspicion because we think so differently. Hated by everyone, weeping for the lost freedom, that's our future.

Submitted by Jeff Geerling (not verified) on Thu, 2010-07-01 21:31.

I don't know if I'd be so negative here... Something like the iPad is not really ideal for hacking, as it is, in many ways, a niche device. Similar to the iPod or iPhone, it is really made for consumption, not creation (although some people do both on it...).

Plus, if you really feel the need to hack on it, you can always jailbreak the device and download a terminal app.

I don't see the huge issue here :-/

Submitted by nk on Fri, 2010-07-02 02:28.

That's the point. Most won't.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-24 13:09.

I'm really having troubles trying to understand what this post is actually about.
What a waste of time...

Submitted by Moshe Weitzman (not verified) on Wed, 2011-09-21 18:12.

Yeah, there is a real march toward less open ecosystems now. It is what companies want (more $$$), and it is apparently what customers want as well. They love the extremely polished experiences that highly coordinated teams like companies provide. The "many pieces, loosely joined" approach is losing in the user experience battle. The desktop OS is in some ways a "many pieces, loosely joined" approach. The IPad/Iphone smokes it in UX.

I don't see much programmers can do about any of this. We can try to get people to care more about ecosystems and balance of power but that is challenging for sure.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 2011-10-29 21:46.

You could also tell that you can get 6 iPads on price of one X1000.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 2012-05-18 18:37.

Exactly. The X1000 was dead at the gates because its price is absurd for the level of technology you are getting. (I used to own an Amiga 1000, 500 and 2500HD years ago)

Submitted by LinuxSysGod (not verified) on Fri, 2012-07-13 12:47.

I've been hacking away since the Atari 800. I'm now on a PC with dreams of owning another Amiga. I can now do almost everything I was doing on my old Amiga 2000 running kickstart 2.04 hacked on a 1.3 rom machine. It has taken years for the PC to get to this point... I can now run winuae and piccasso emulation on a 68040 machine with the entire TOSEC collection. I've rooted my androind droid3 and can share my entire music and movie collection from my PC Server to my phone anywhere I go. I believe that you cannot control the hacker... the market may dictate polished devices but we are curious little monkeys who are never satisfied.... and until they give us a system that is infinately variable capable of anything and everything the hacker will continue to make life better for us all.... God Bless the Hacker!

Submitted by LinuxSysGod (not verified) on Fri, 2012-07-13 13:07.

I've installed the Android SDK and emulation and will (I'm a procrastinator) eventually start porting linux apps to the android.... and yes if I find a niche that really interests me I may even have some apps for shareware on android play. The development continues and the freedom still exists but you have to be fast to keep up... I'm a dinosaur having worked my way through 500 different languages on a list of computers that pretty much defines the last 30 years. List: Atari 800,65xe,800xl,400, Commodore Vic 20, C64, 128, Amiga 500, 2000, Ti 99, CocoII, adam, IBM pcjr, 8086,80286, 80386, 80486, pentium, I,II,III, IV, Mac Plus sheesh I don't remember them all. I currently work with an asus motherboard with a quad core phenom 6gig ram and 11TB hard drive space ( all full:-( ) with a potential for 28TB drive space on one machine... I remember slaving 21 scsi drives on an amiga with a second pc power supply no case (it wouldn't fit) for a grand total of 635meg hd space. My android is as powerful with it's dual core as was my amiga 2000. The future looks good.... Hack on it's only getting Better!