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Time to Leave the Apple & Microsoft Plantations


Linux: Leaving the Digital Plantation
As a lifelong leftist Ive always found the idea of Linux irresistible. Like Windows and the Mac OS, Linux is a full-fledged computer operating system, meaning that it's a sort of master program that provides the resources and services all your other programs need to run. The big difference though, is that an enormous, greedy, soulless corporation named Microsoft owns Windows, and an equally rapacious corporate entity named Apple owns the Mac OS. Commercial software is “intellectual private property, theirs not yours. Linux is yours, mine,everybody's.

I could write a few paragraphs here about the rapacious business practices of Apple and Microsoft , how over the years they've squelched and stolen the work of independent developers and warped their own product development processes in the name of ever-increasing rent extraction, but others have written whole libraries on this.

Linux is “open source software” which means that property rights over it are exercised by nobody. A Finnish grad student named Linus Torvalds needed a version of Unix to run on his laptop, and spent a summer tinkering with it. Summer over, he uploaded his work to the net, and people have been expanding and improving upon it every since. Suppose you're a hotshot programmer and you need something that Mac or Windows OS won't do. Chances are you cannot do it the most efficient way because you can't look into the guts of the Windows or Mac OS code. That's private property and secret unless you sign a non-disclosure agreement. Not so with Linux. You can peep the source code yourself, write and test your application. After it's done you can sell it or give it away, upload its source to the net and thousands of hobbyists and engineers will try to break it. If they fail, it may be in the next version. You can put that on your resume and ask an extra $15 or $20 a year on your next contract gig.

Write that application for Windows or the Mac OS and if you're lotto-lucky they'll buy you out. If not, Microsoft and Apple will simply reverse-engineer its functionality, charge extra rent for the new feature, tweak their operating system so that it breaks when your version is used with it, and sue you. Ain't free enterprise wonderful?

You will pay a license fee for each and every computer you install your Apple or Microsoft operating system on, license fees for your word processing and spreadsheet and anti-virus software, a license fee for Photoshop if you use that, or Garage Band or Final Cut or Adobe Premiere or whatever. Most software built for the Linux operating system is, like Linux, free and/or open source. If you're connected to the internet you simply download and install the programs you want.

Flash and audio/video support are no problems, really. Install the latest version of Ubuntu on your box and Google “things to do after installing Ubuntu” and you'll find two dozen pages covering the same ground, telling you how to reach out over the net and get Open Office which does everything MS Office does and reads and writes MS Office files, Google Picasa, GIMP, which does everything Photoshop does and reads and writes Photoshop files, along with MP3, Flash and Quicktime support.

You can install these and hundreds more free applications with Mac and Windows-like graphical tools, or you can use simple commands to get the job done. Want ThatProgramOverThere? Open up a command window and type

sudo apt-get install thatprogramoverthere

and it's done. Can your Windows or Mac do that?

Linux is stable, it's mature, it's at least as pretty as Windows or the Mac, and it doesn't make a greedy corporation richer. Its graphical interfaces are enough like Windows and the Mac so that a thoughtful person who doesn't feel the need to stay on the plantation can work through it. Linux was a good idea in 1997 but it wasn't ready for ordinary desktop users. It was still a good idea in 2005 but not there yet. It's fully baked now.

You've been duly notified. Your cell doors are open and unlocked. All you gotta do is let Pharoah go. Yes, you'll have to learn some new stuff. That just proves you're not dead yet. Get over it.

Every PC you get at Best Buy or anyplace else has Windows already installed. Keep it. Your Ubuntu disk will walk you through dividing your hard drive, shrinking the Windows partition so that if you ever need it it's still there. This is called a “dual boot” arrangement, in which your computer every time it starts up gives you a choice, Windows or Linux. Really, you have to do this if you've got AT&T for your internet provider, because the first time you connect to them from your home they demand you use an Active X app for them to recognize your computer. Active X does NOT run on Linux. After you make the intial connection, you can go back to booting up in Linux. But if you ever need to call AT&T for tech support, you'll need Windows or they won't even talk to you without an astronomical hourly support fee.

Harriett Tubman used to say, recounting her experiences on the Underground Railroad, that she could have freed a lot more slaves but many had to be convinced first that they were indeed slaves. What's your excuse? Why are you still on the Windows/Mac plantation?

No votes yet


Submitted by dirac on

Great article. I agree Apple is rapacious especially when you consider the slave labor and exploitation from raw materials extraction (in other words: rape, genocide, environmental contamination) all the way up to manufacturing used to make their devices. But I can do something similar to the "sudo apt-get" on the Mac if there is a Darwin port. Apple based it on BSD which is a *nix flavor. Recently a lot of OpenSource software has spilled over even to Windows because those utilities are a lot better. For example, I can run emacs on Windows; which is probably sinful to OSS purists.

Submitted by brucedixon on

I guess in proportion to their size, of running slave labor plants in the far east, and colluding in whatever it took to get some of the rare minerals from places like the Congo there.

Apple is also guilty of price fixing on music.... the prices iTunes charges have nothing to do with what it costs to actually bring you the noise.... they are just whatever Apple suits imagine the traffic will bear. This alone is worth billions every month, I understand.

And yes, there are increasing amounts of open source software in the Windoze world as well..... GIMP, Open Office, Filezilla, Scribus, you name it.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Apple had to get in bed with the entertainment industry to accomplish iTunes. A lot of the features that are the most infuriating, like the digital rights management and the prices, were there to entice the publishers to get onboard.

I think just about anyone who isn't in the music or video industry would just as soon have a place they could go to find whatever they want, download it wherever they want, for a reasonable fee. Unfortunately, the publishers don't seem to be able to get past being able to charge $10 for an album or $20 for a DVD that cost them almost nothing to produce.

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

...Linux your grandmother can use.

Thanks Bruce, fine article (as usual). Small quibble: replace OpenOffice with LibreOffice.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Something like this?. I ask because I was thinking that for this techno-phobe, it might be easier or at least less frustrating to start on a system that is not my primary system and see how it goes. Then once I get it down, move it over to my main system. Baby steps.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Linux distributions have been available for the EePC for some time. That link is rather dated (for instance, what was Eebuntu is now called "Aurora"), but it provides examples of EePC-based Linux distros, with links you can take to find out what's going on now.

Submitted by lambert on

... make the "non-primary" machine a cheaper PC laptop rather than a Netbook. The object is to test a mainstream distribution, and so the Netbook distribution introduces an extra variable. CraigsList the laptop...

Submitted by brucedixon on

But yeah, see above.... Ubuntu 11.04 runs on netbooks, they say. The hardware is convergent, there aren't any NEW things you can do with a netbook you can't do with a laptop except put it in a smaller bag.

Serviceable Acer and other low-end laptops with 15 inch screens, dual core Intel 2Ghz processors with 2 GB of RAM are $399. Why do I need a "netbook"?

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

because I haven't looked at Windows machines in years and it was my understanding they were cheap. My confusion between netbooks and cheap laptops should make it clear that I don't know much about computers.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

That is, slower chips which aren't able to handle as many processes, less system memory, smaller hard drives, etc., etc. Which is fine if what you want one for is writing or web surfing.

The relevance to this discussion is that Win7 or Vista needs close to a gigabyte (1GB) of system memory just for the operating system. Anything you actually want to do requires more memory on top of that. 2GB is pretty much a minimum.

Ubuntu, on the other hand, needs 0.383GB (or 383 megabytes) to run. So that nice light, but weak, netbook can really hum using linux, but be a dog for Windows.

There are even smaller and lighter linuxes, such as Puppy Linux, which runs in 128MB of system memory. They're generally a bit less easy to use.

Submitted by hipparchia on

that's one i hadn't heard of.

i love love love my netbook, but it IS easily overwhelmed. should i install puppy linux? will it run libre office?

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

If you have enough to run Linux Mint (about 512 MB or more), then that one is easier. (Or ubuntu, but they're going in a weird-ish direction, so I'd stick with their long term release, for now.) Puppy Linux has no trouble running Libre Office, but that is itself a memory hungry application. So if you have very little memory (say 256 MB for the system), then I don't think it would work.

The other question is, how much empty space do you have on your hard drive? If you have more than 5 - 10 GB or so, then the easiest way to find out how all these things work is to make a dual boot system. (BD mentioned that in his post or a comment.)

Download, put the download on a usb to make what's called a "LiveUSB" which you can then boot from. You can try whichever flavor of linux you want that way, or go further and use their install routine to follow menus that allow you to carve out some of your empty space for the new OS. After that, you get a choice at bootup for which operating system you want to boot into.

Submitted by hipparchia on

sounds like i can try mint, puppy, and ubuntu: ram = 1gb, hard drive = >100gb free. and the liveusb route looks easy enough.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

with a 100 free GB, you can go crazy. Make ten partitions and put a different linux on each one! :D (Just kidding.) When you download, just make sure to follow the instructions for turning that into a LiveUSB. It's not complicated these days (although I'm not sure how Puppy handles it since I haven't tried using a LiveUSB for that), but there can be minor differences that turn into annoying showstoppers if it's done wrong.

Submitted by hipparchia on

for me at least, portable has got to mean portable and computer means bigger than a smartphone..

Submitted by Lex on

I want one for a single reason, to sit on top the stereo receiver. Fill it full of music and use it to access spotify, pandora, etc. on the internet. With it, you'd only need the receiver and speakers while maintaining just about the largest audio collection possible.

(eg., want to listen to a Dead show, has pretty much all of them. Stream some random jazz and find artists that you didn't know existed. Podcasts without the download and transfer...i just download to my phone, but using that as a music player plugged into the stereo means that the phone's unavailable and my music will fade out before i get my text alert through the stereo system every time someone wants to tell me something i don't care about.)

Submitted by brucedixon on

Linux WILL talk to IT, and can see the files and stuff thereon. You can even pull the pictures you take with it off if you know where to look, and put them on your computer. But forget about file synching or moving anything from the computer to the phone. Apple needs to keep you on the plantation, and so does not allow its products to interact with computers not running iTunes. And iTunes doesn't run on Linux. All you can do with your iPhone hooked to a Linux box is charge it.

All the more reason to drop that iPhone and get an Android.

While the Android OS is not open source either, it is Linux-derived and at least offers you the possibility of achieving root access on your device, something that the Ale OS simply does not allow. Think about it.

A smart phone is a little computer in your purse or pocket. A computer that broadcasts your whereabouts to the world, but one on which you are NOT allowed to even see, let along choose, which programs are running and what they do. Something has to be wrong with that.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Wouldn't have a smart phone (too expensive for how little I use it and the security issues), but one of the main things I do use my computer for is music and podcasts and transferring same to my iPod. Otherwise, how would I listen to Black Agenda Radio on my commute?

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

You can simply copy the podcasts or whatever from your computer, or wherever the download is, to your player. Although I gather Apple makes it as difficult as possible. Make your next player a straight mp3 one and shake off Apple's shackles. Seriously.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I've always shied away from Linux precisely because of how technical it seemed to be. If it's been made more user-friendly I'd be happy to make the jump. I'm not very tech-savvy, but I can learn processes well enough.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Several of the different versions of linux are super-easy. The simplest of them all, I'd say, is Linux Mint (based on ubuntu).

Submitted by brucedixon on

Ubuntu was running a separate netbook version. But earlier this year they folded that into their standard 11.04 version, saying that convergent hardware and the rest is so similar that it was do-able that way.

Microsoft of course, would really really really wanna keep a separate version for netbooks. Better for the rent extraction model.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

I have a perfectly good MacBook that is pretty new to me. Will Linux run on this machine, or would I have to buy a different (PC) laptop?

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

The Mac operating system these days is actually a relative of unix (BSD, to be precise), just as linux is. All the *nix systems have versions that run on practically any chip there is. So the short answer is, as BD says, hell, yes, it'll run on a macbook.

Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

There just seems to be too much Windows software that I like to be able to switch to linux, even though I'd like to.

For example, iTunes. I like to rent my movies through Itunes on my desktop, which is connected to my TV.

Then there's Windows Live Movie maker, which lets me record videos with my webcam, and do basic editing with ease.

I use Pinnacle Studio for editing videos that I create with my cam-corder. It works well. For linux, there's open movie editor. But I'm not sure if that is comparable.

I also use Kindle PC software for reading books on my laptop. Apparently that's not available for Linux

And does Linux have a suitable replacement for microsoft excel?

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I'll just add that I've had little trouble reading Excel spreadsheets in the last few years. Every once in a while, Microsoft will change the format of the files, and then it will take a bit of time for OO and other free office suites to catch up. I also can export readable, albeit simple Excel spreadsheet files, too.

That's largely true of Power Point files, too. They're usually readable, though every once in a while I still run into a hiccup.

Submitted by brucedixon on

as I have said earlier, and will have an article about that soon, are in EVERY way comparable to MS Office. Which is to say that where MS Office has MS Excel, Open Office has Calc. Calc reads, writes and saves MS Excel files as well as its own native format.

Now if you've got MS Office and Excel macros written in MS Visual Basic, I dunno what to tell you. But the Open Office / Libre Office suites have analogs for MS Word, Excel and Power Point, along with the ability to read and create files in those formats.

For video editing there are a number of Linux choices, but by far the most capable is Cinelerra. I used to use Adobe Premiere, and it's more than comparable. It even leverages other Linux transcoding programs, and allows you to create render farms. Got a half written article on that too coming for this space.

I'm staying away from e-books, Kindle and all that on principle. You can have them. My understanding is that if I buy an e-book when I finish reading it I can't shoot it to my next door neighbor or my daughter in Dallas to read, that it's only readable on the device I downloaded it to without another rent payment to somebody. Screw that. I'm sticking to paper, that I can read sitting on the can, riding the bus or wherever, and leave on my bookshelf for somebody to borrow later on without another toll booth.

But if your e-book is in PDF or some accessible format and not locked down, you can sure read it in Linux.

For Netflix there is no solution yet, except to preserve your ability to dual boot into Windows to watch your movies.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on


sure, i'm fucked right now because the Mac i bought way back in the 90s isn't compatible with today's web apps and the like. but i got what? 10, 12 years out of this machine, and it's still fucking going fine. and you should understand: i'm a Slob. i spill food, wine, cat hair, hippy lettuce, etc., on my machine daily. contrast this with my cleanliness-obsessed PC using sister. she has to "rebuild" and "update" her hardware like, every year or so. i'm all about cost. $1200 in 1999 until today; or (adjust for inflation) ~$200+, minimum, every other year? obviously, the former has worked for me.

maybe things have changed, and Apple is pure evil nowadays. but quality matters; in shoes, dogs, lovers and computers. "you get what you pay for" is a motto of mine, esp when it comes to the tools with which I make a living. i will hold out for a Mac as long as i can, before i buy a McDondald's grade PC made by starving slaves in asia. car lovers bitch about Jags, because when they don't work, it's damn hard to fix them. but when they do, which is most of the time, they purr like the animal for whom they're named. Macs, in my experience, as mostly the same.

Submitted by brucedixon on

but made in the very same slave labor factories used by all the rest of the PC makers under the same conditions. And Mac software is sold under the same conditions ---- they "own" it, even when it's on "your" computer, they extract rent every time you install it, and sometimes even when you upgrade.

You must know dear heart, that there was never an hour when Apple has been any less evil than HP, Dell, Microsoft, Toshiba and all the rest. They just had slicker commercials, better PR and a higher price point.

That said, IMHO the hardware quality gap between Apple and everybody else has narrowed significantly in recent years but not closed. My Acer laptop is a full four years old, been used every day and is still working just fine, thank you. I've bought used, off-lease desktop PCs at retail for $200 apiece (--- deeper volume discounts available, though) and had them last three and four years without so much as a hiccup, thank you very much, both in my home and in the offices of clients where I installed them. You can open them up every few months and blow the dust out, that's all.

I can imagine a software rebuild on a Windows box every six months, cleaning viruses, malware, Trojans... but a semi annual hardware rebuild? Can't imagine what your sister is doing. Does she live in a sandstorm? If everybody had to do that it would be a different world. Generic used keyboards are $2-$5 apiece, generic mice the same. Monitors $100 new, $50 and up used. Hard drive upgrades or additions start at $40. All commodity items, reasonably dependable.

And the software ---- Linux --- is free.

Dunno what else I can tell you. The fixation on Apple products may be... well... marketing. Marketing is selling people stuff based not on the facts but on touchy-feelies factors that operate beneath the mark's --- I mean the customer's conscious threshold. I got no answer for that except that at some point you gotta let Pharaoh go. Or not.

So if you've got $500 to spend, including software, and you don't wanna think about this again for at least three years, visit your local Best Buy, or Micro Center or Frys. Get the $300 special with the $100 warranty and spend another $100 on the RAM. Leave Windows on it, but shrink the Windows partition so you can install Linux on two-thirds of that drive space, and dual boot.

Whenever you're ready to leave the plantation we'll be here.

Submitted by lambert on

A mid-priced laptop and the Best Buy guarantee will do that.

As for cleanliness, I don't exactly live in the cleanest bachelor pad in the world. I don't have cats, but I do have wood stove with ash and smoke, and I eat while I work. If you're really worried about spills, get one of those plastic keyboard cover thingies.

Incidentally, my previous laptop was a bottom of the line Powerbook that I just loved. I dropped it on a concrete floor once, no problem. However, when it was three years old, the wire connecting the body to the screen through the hinge frayed, and that was not repairable for less then the cost of a new computer. So that was that. So for the ten years, either they don't build 'em like they used to, you're very lucky, or you're not as messy as you think.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

So, like most of this is above my head. Not your fault.

Because of my academic situation I am stuck in the PC/ Mac divide. Always had PCs, because in the environment at that time, the person who ruled the choices was pro PC. So, like 20 years using PCs. And, like 10 years of friends outside academia telling me "get a Mac, stupid".

Issue at present is that I really have to make a choice between Mac and PC as to how to show Powerpoint lectures in classroom. Oh, along with some f*ing technology that involves "clickers".

I recently bought a used Mac iBook G4 on ebay for $200. So, I could/ can learn my way around the Mac world. I had previously bought a Mac laptop from the same ebay seller for $200 so that I could have internet access when I went to Morocco for 3 weeks, end of December last. I ended up giving it to the riad housekeeper for her son to use.

I know this question is very basic, and aside from the point, but it has to do with my teaching stuff. Most profs take laptops to classroom to show ppts already composed, instead of downloading ppts to "dongle" or whatever it's called. I don't have a suitable laptop, but use a flashdrive. It would be like a "Cruzer USB Flash Drive" Sandisk 8GB that I bought at BigLots (Atlanta) for $15.00.

Any advice as to where to buy a basic cheapie PC laptop? As in similar to the $200 iBook G4 I bought on ebay for $200?

Yeah, okay, maybe this doesn't make sense, because I compressed a lot of details.



quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

New, not used, low end Acer laptops go for around $275. That's just one example. They're not super quality, but they're no worse than any other run of the mill laptop. Laptops are all made by one of four manufacturers in Taiwan or China. Really. The difference is how much markup is slapped on by the folks in between you and the factory. is one place you could start. Or just search for "cheap laptops."

The only laptops I've come across with truly noticeable build quality are the Thinkpads. (And that includes the Macs. Those are somewhat better than average, but not like Thinkpads.) Of course, Thinkpads cost the earth. But they're so well built it may be worth your while to check out used or refurbed machines.

Submitted by windy on

Unfortunately we're still paying that "Windows tax" on those new computers, so it's not a completely rent-free option. So you're correct that we might as well hang on to it as a dual boot.

Another option besides that cheap new laptop is to get a refurbished one with a warranty. The price difference is not that great, but there are a lot of lightly used 'business' laptops available that usually have good durability. Also, the 'exploitation footprint' is smaller than with a brand new computer.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

Linux is fine for those of us old hackers who can understand it. It's great for backbone servers that only programmers have to service. There's just not enough profit motive to incent user-friendly apps like the big boys have. What's wrong with some standardization and ease of use provided by the popular platforms? They're not wholly evil.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't want to spend any more time crapping around with config files than I have to. (Sure, for cutting edge stuff, but not the basics). And with Ubuntu I don't have to. For ease of use, Ubuntu is already easier than Windows. And it approaches the Mac, at a far lower price point. Plus, you get to kick the rentiers in the stones. What's not to like?

Submitted by brucedixon on

for which no Linux analogs exist?

I mean I just wanna know. Not your standard office productivity workhorses... not word processing or spreadsheets or database software. Not audio or video editing software. Not image and photo management and retouching software or vector drawing. Not email client software either. Certainly not web browsers, uploading, messaging, downloading or desktop publishing software.

Apart from iTunes and Netflix, the Windows-based development environments for Flash and MS Visual Basic, and some games, exactly what is left? Which standard, easy to use "user friendly apps like the big boys have" are you talking about? Just asking....

Linux has pretty much closed the "ease of use" gap as well. After some initial setup things that you don't have to do in Windows, like downloading MP3 and video codecs and Microsoft True Type fonts, which cannot legally be given away free, the gap is closed absolutely. Seriously.... which apps are left?

The contention that you have to be an old geek to use Linux for your everyday computing tasks.... playing music and video, answering email, browsing the web, basic audio and video editing, photo and image management and such is soooo year before last. Its no longer accurate. Ubuntu 11.04 is is not your father's Linux, it's not the Linux I discovered in the mid or late 1990s (Red Hat 5). It's not the Linux of 2006 (Open Suse 8 or 9). It's not even last years. This one is fully baked and cost nothing to try.

All you gotta do is go to, among other places, and download & burn the live CD. More RAM makes it run a little faster, Live CD distributions always are a bit slow because everything is stored in RAM. But a live CD lets you try it without installing to your hard drive. Pharaoh needs you more than you need him. Open source computing, like taking your own food security into your own hands, is another way to let Pharaoh go. And like Roberta Flack used to say/sing all you gotta do to let him go.... is let him go.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

I enjoy your column and I value your perspective. However I believe that
your singling out of Apple for criticism does a disservice to the truth. I ask that you read the inclosed information I have gathered on the subject.

This evaluation of Apples worldwide efforts toward a socially responsible workplace comes from a source I trust.

Apple suppliers: Child labor, bribery, suicides • The Register


. . . the depth of detail in the 2011 Progress Report – and such nuggets as "Of the suppliers Apple audited in 2010, more than 40 percent stated that Apple was the first company ever to have audited their facility for social responsibility compliance" – gives even the hardened cynics here at Vulture Annex cause for pause.

From what we read in Apple's report, it's a jungle out there. And Cupertino is to be commended for hacking away at it, even if motivated by the desire to burnish their reputation. ®

Apple - Supplier Responsibility - Auditing for Compliance
Auditing for Compliance

At the center of our supplier responsibility program is the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct, specifying everything from fair hiring practices and work-hour limits to safe working conditions. We execute an aggressive compliance monitoring program that includes factory audits, corrective action plans, and verification measures.

Each year, Apple audits more suppliers across our supply base. We select facilities based on risk factors so that we focus our efforts where they can have the greatest impact.

Comprehensive audit
An Apple auditor leads every audit, supported by local third-party auditors. Each of these experts is thoroughly trained to use Apple’s detailed protocol and to assess requirements specified in our Code.

During the audit, Apple cross-references data from multiple sources. We review hundreds of records and conduct physical inspections of manufacturing facilities as well as factory-managed dormitories and dining areas. We also conduct interviews with workers and senior management in relevant functional areas.

Our auditors grade the facility’s level of compliance with every line item in the Code. At the same time, we evaluate the strength of the underlying management systems and identify areas for improvement. Management systems include policies and procedures, clear roles and responsibilities, and training programs for workers, line supervisors, and managers.

Corrective action
Apple reviews all audit findings with the factory’s senior management team. When a violation is found, we require the facility to implement a corrective action plan that addresses not only the specific violation but also the underlying management system improvements needed to prevent its recurrence.

We track completion of all corrective and preventive action plans, with an expectation that they will be closed within 90 days of the audit. Apple performs a verification audit to confirm that actions have been executed. If we find issues that have been inadequately addressed, we continue to collaborate with the supplier toward further improvement.

For information about Apple’s recent supplier audits, see the Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report.

Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report
Details about Apple’s efforts to improve worker protections and factory conditions, including the results of recent audits, are provided in our latest report.
2011 Report
Historical Reports
These reports provide information on our program and audit results from prior years.
2010 Report2009 Report2008 Report
2007 Report
Supplier Code of Conduct
The Supplier Code of Conduct requires our suppliers to ensure safe working conditions, treat their workers with dignity and respect, and establish and maintain environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.
The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct
Committed to the Environment
At Apple, we recognize our responsibility to minimize the environmental impact of our operations and products.
Apple and the Environment
The Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition
Apple is actively engaged with the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a group of electronics firms that work together to voluntarily improve working conditions and environmental stewardship throughout the electronics supply chain.

Submitted by mwfolsom on

I recently got sick of always cleaning up the roomies Windo$e box and asked him to give Linux a try - he agreed and I slapped OpenSuse on his box and he's been a happy camper ever since -

When he came sputtering about some web site that says his pc is infected I just told him no it isn't just ignore it. And no it wasn't infect and still isn't.

The only additional configuration I did was add stuff so he can play videos in his web browser. I was even able to move his email from Thunderbird in Windoze to his new Linux system.

While I know its a bit scary at first once you are over the "hump" life gets easier quick.

By the by, in many cities local Linux groups hold Install Parties to help newbies get their first box up and running.

For full disclosure I'm a Unix/Linux systems admin and have been using Linux for many years. Also, I support OpenSuse because I like its history and parentage and frankly the guy who owns Ubuntu strikes me as a bit of a creep.

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

I come at it from a different pov I guess. I worked at Apple (Texas assembly plant) in the early 80s -- and then it was the 2e and cheap, quality personal computing and bringing it to schools and the working class. Played basketball in the warehouse with Steve Jobs once... and it all died the day the mac showed up. But for a couple of reasons. Even for the Apple 2 line, they didn't license their operating system, they didn't give up control of the product. So IBM pcs and clones, with Windows as the op sys, took over the market. And market demand drove what programmers would produce for and Apple ended up on the margins because of that for quite awhile. And that "control" aspect has been part and parcel of Apple from the very beginning. It has always had the "big brother" complex -- and part of that is quality control and part of it was ideological.

So the upside and the downsides. Yes. I went off Apples for about 15 years because honestly I couldn't afford a Mac. I could scratch build a nice clone and load it up for next to nothing. But increasingly the viruses and worm attacks, and the investment in firewalls and protection software that bogged everything to the point of a crawl... just made me crazy. Having to constantly tweak windows configs, and the constant rebooting... I went and bought an imac. And due to the control that Apple exerts I've not had a single virus, bug, or moment of down time in 10 years. The video quality is exceptional, the programs just load up and run. There is a distinct quality difference still, there is a vision of computing that remains just ahead of the pack and an Apple product integration that is awesome. The downside of innovation is that the turnover in technology means that the processor limits will obsolete that really expensive iMac in five years as far as "new" things are concerned.

But yes, Apple's control issues have burgeoned into paranoia, censorship and extremely poor ethical decisions. It was always the risk, always right there waiting to explode. And now it has market share, and power. It isn't different from any other corporation today that I can see. But if you think the circuit board in your Linux loaded pc is any less produced by slave labor in horrific conditions you are lying to yourself. It's just harder to see since the sourcing of components is so much more hazy and back door as PC companies buy from subcontractors all over. Whereas with Apple it's still one company producing and controlling parts and product so a much easier target. And the post above about Apple's quality control efforts isn't propaganda -- they know that they cannot afford the bad publicity they've been getting, it's particularly devastating for them since they are still controlling the product so completely. No blaming it on bad subcontractors. They own it, all the way. And they know it.

What is crashing everything media and computer-wise, and creating panic and paranoia, is the very clear fact that upcoming millenials don't buy things. They don't buy music or video. And once you start down that path to a true system of "sharing" corporations don't really stand a chance. But they are trying with every ounce of effort to hold on to what they have now. It's why everything seems so coercive. And it will all fail... eventually. It's the one reason I have hope at all. The kids have the right idea -- the systems in place now cannot support this and must change or fail. So the move to Linux should be predicated on the fact that the future starts now. And when I have to buy the next computer I will do my best to find "green" and "ethical" as much as I can, and open source software and adapt and deal with the growing pains, and the viruses and crashes and stupid shit. Because in time maybe Apple will have to adapt to the new way -- I have more faith in them than just about anyone else that they can be brought to the trough to drink. Apple started there, with the 2. Or they fail. Simple as that.

Submitted by lambert on

I wish you'd expand on that idea, Kathryn. I can see how it would apply to digital products, but everything? And what about college debt?

* * *

And thanks for the personally history. Maybe, er, you could write a post on how to build a clone with parts not sourced from slave labor.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

As I type this on my iPad, I am reflecting on how Steve Jobs vision of accessible technology has helped people like me to become what used to be called "computer literate." That said, I don't think they should get a pass on anything that we Lefties routinely speak out against; but as the commenter above pointed out linux pc are built in China too. I will continue to try to be vigilant and seek to make responsible purchase decisions.

PS Just came across this news story :

Amazon Reportedly Sourcing Foxconn For Android Tablet
This wouldn’t be the first time that Amazon and Foxconn have cooked up something beautiful however, the manufacturer is set to produce over 12 million Kindles this year and has worked well with Amazon previously.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

And another thing: The in notion that Apple's business model is somehow equivalent to Microsoft's, you don't really make a case. 

Remember when my man Bill Climton went after Bill Gates and Co?

From our files:
The Microsoft case is not about "unfair competition" or "market dominance." It is about a carefully planned and executed campaign of predation to prevent equally or more efficient firms from mounting a challenge to the operating system monopoly.

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Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Was Johannes Gutenberg the Steve Jobs of his day? All I know is that no matters what Johann’s goal was, it revolutionized the church and humanity in general via the ability to mass reproduce words via ink on paper. Jobs and his Macintosh also spurred the Desktop Publishing revolution, which turns 25 this year even! And naturally mobile devices, like these media readers, such as the iPad, are well positioned to further advance this revolution. No, Johannes Gutenberg was not the Steve Jobs of his day, but both men will go down in publishing and printing history.

Submitted by brucedixon on

Coca Cola, Bank of America and certainly just as much as all the other bloodstained manufacturers of computers and cell phones and small electronics. Foxconn's enormous plant where a lot of workers committed suicide last year, will produce something like 80% of all iPhones worldwide, according to the link you sent us above.

Here's another tidbit written by an undercover Chinese reporter inside your model factory.

In the real world, it's safe to assume that every bit of electronics we carry around in our bags and purses and pockets and lives on our desktops is assembled by other less privileged humans under atrocious conditions ---- overworked, underpaid and unsafe, often using raw materials that were extracted under even more brutal circumstances --- mass murder, depopulation.

This is who and where we, and corporate entities like Apple, Amazon, and such are. It' called the global market, capitalism. Time to wake up and smell the non-fair trade coffee.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Regarding capitalism and the victimization of the worker. I can't(won't?) see my really cutting the chord to the extent that I avoid the charge of aiding and abetting this inhuman system.

Further reading and reflecting:

The works of Laura Ingalls Wilder