3x47: Fallacious Piece of History

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News music: Long Live Blind Joe by Robbero, used with attribution.

Thank you to Marius Quabeck and NerdZoom Media for being our audio producers!

On the USB-C issue, it surprises me a bit that nobody brought up UEFI and Secureboot. When Microsoft announced it, they talked about withholding Windows certification from any vendor allowing uncertifed operating systems, and didn’t have a plan in place to certify anything but Windows. They made a few compromises, but they could have easily locked Linux to old machines and small, expensive vendors.

Maybe that story resonates with me, because that fiasco brought me to Linux. I knew about it long before that, close to the beginning when people at my college spent more time recompiling kernels than actually using their computers, but the refusal to assure people that Microsoft wouldn’t use Secureboot to choke Free Software convinced me to finally give Linux a real look, which has spiraled into an (almost) all-Linux house and an increasing interest in Open Hardware and Free Culture material.

I think that this gets at the question of the difference between corporate edicts and government regulation: It takes time and effort, but we can campaign to change regulations, by influencing or replacing elected officials. Companies do that all the time. But hardware manufacturers are beholden to Microsoft (if they want to move volume) and Microsoft is beholden to its shareholders, who don’t care that a handful of affluent nerds buy their computers from System 76 or wherever. “Vote with your wallet” does work for certain cases near a tipping point, but when a company has the power to influence almost all of manufacturing except the low-volume/high-price market, that doesn’t work as well. It didn’t work when Microsoft pushed every manufacturer to install MS-DOS, and it wouldn’t work today if the major manufacturers blocked Linux entirely to retain their Windows Certification…

This is what anti-monopoly regulation is for, indeed. However, that gets watered down a lot by lawmakers who think that money should buy the right to do what you like.

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