Is this something we (as consumers of FreeBSD) need to be aware of?

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Wed Jun 6 17:55:36 UTC 2012

On 06/06/2012 17:21, Polytropon wrote:
> On Wed, 06 Jun 2012 11:47:11 +0100, Matthew Seaman wrote:
>> Having to pay Verisign instead of Microsoft makes no difference: the
>> point is why should I have to pay anything to a third party in order to
>> run whatever OS I want on a piece of hardware I own?
> Maybe a common marketing and sales model comes from software
> to hardware too: You don't actually own the hardware! When
> you give money to the manufacturer (maybe through vendors
> or retailers), you receive hardware _plus_ a limited set
> of rights which you may exercise on that hardware, maybe
> for a limited time. By purchasing the hardware that way,
> you may even have "implicitely signed" a kind of agreement
> (cf. EULA) that you accept those "licensing of hardware".
> You do _not_ own it in order to exercise your free will
> on it, like "I have the right to wipe 'Windows' and install
> something else", which might result in a loss of warranty.
> You may only run what the manufacturer allows you to run
> (by providing the proper boot mechanism for it that "just
> works"). If the manufacturer may decide that you shouldn't
> boot that system you bought anymore, he can retract the
> permissions and the device you paid money for will be
> rendered into a shiny brick.

Sure, manufacturers can propose that if they wish -- and I guess a lot
of mobile phone contracts are like that.

However, I'd never touch server hardware under those sort of terms.
Quite apart from such considerations as not letting disks that have held
confidential data out of my control unless they have been securely
destroyed -- would I be allowed to do that to a disk I didn't actually
own?  The idea that a third party could effectively hold a business to
ransom by withdrawing permission to choose what operating system is run
is completely unacceptable.  No sane business would accept that.

Also, I think you'll find that such actions are already illegal
certainly in the UK, and I believe EU wide.

> This _is_ possible, and as human nature teaches: Everything
> that is possible _will_ be done, no matter if we recognize
> it immediately or not. And the worst solution prevails, so
> whatever we may assume about the future, the future will be
> much worse. :-)

Umm... corporations will always try it on, and politicians will always
act in whatever way they think will work out best (and being on good
terms with an important corporation that can also happen to pay for an
overwhelmingly large lobbying effort does tend to make it seem like a
no-brainer to our elected representatives).

Corporations should be reminded that they are subject to exactly the
same laws as everybody else, regardless of their wealth.  Politicians
should be reminded that their best interest is precisely the best
interest of the people that vote them into office, and no one else.

Or in other words, the worst will only happen if we let it.

> Note that flats are a familiar example of this model.
> You may live in the flat, but by paying a rent you don't
> own it. What you may do is limited.

No idea what the law is in Germany, but in the UK this applies to any
property that you might buy of any type.  You don't get ownership
per-se, just various rights over the property, like residence and
access.  Should you find that your property contains, say, a large
natural gas source, you won't get any return from it, as mineral rights
are not part of the usual property deal.

I own my flat, and I do pay ground rent.  Officially one peppercorn per
year, but I've never seen anyone angrily shaking an empty pepper pot at
me in all the years I've been here.  I also pay a service charge for
maintaining the common areas, which could in theory get me evicted
should I fail to pay it for a sufficiently long time, and so could be
confused with rent -- but it really isn't.

> Another valid interpretation of this problem is of course
> "defective by design" and "planned obsolescense".

The big advantage of the rental model of acquiring shiny toys is that
once the shine has worn off, it's up to the leasing company to fulfil
all the weee regulations and dispose of the dead kit.  That's pretty
expensive otherwise.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                   7 Priory Courtyard
                                                  Flat 3
PGP:     Ramsgate
JID: matthew at               Kent, CT11 9PW

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