Stay Away from the Fancy Tools

4 min

I’ve been using macOS for about 8 years. When I first bought a MacBook, I was attracted by Apple’s industrial design. Since then, I’ve bought many Apple products and recommended Apple to my family and friends. Apple’s products are excellent, their quality and after-sales service are better than those of other brands, and their devices are beautifully designed.

However, the entire iOS ecosystem is very closed. You can’t install applications on your iPhone without the App Store, and software distribution is fully controlled by the App Store. The payment system corners users and developers, allowing Apple to take a share of the profit (even wanting a share of WeChat article rewards). You might say, “It’s none of my business; I just want a beautiful device, keep away from the garbage apps, and ensure my information doesn’t leak.” But are these expectations realistic? Can you really escape the surveillance of big data on your iPhone? Even though Apple claimed to reject the FBI’s demand to scan a victim’s iPhone, they recently proposed limiting the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) by scanning users’ photos in iCloud. They claim this protects children from abuse content and promise not to read the source photos, using some hash-matching technologies instead.

Do you really trust Apple’s CSAM policy?

I don’t. I don’t care how powerful their hash technologies are. My data is mine, not owned by anyone or any organization. What I store is my freedom. I paid for the device, so I should have full control over it.

Over the years, Apple hasn’t just introduced the CSAM policy; they’ve employed many tactics that benefit their business, often without users noticing.

Apple’s M1 CPU is fast and powerful. However, they sell the M1 MacBook with only 8GB or 16GB of memory, which is insufficient. Many smartphones today have 8GB of RAM, and Electron apps are everywhere, making 8GB or 16GB of memory inadequate for many users. This is why many MacBook users complain about excessive disk writing for swap memory.

Apple removed the 3.5mm earphone jack, pushing users to buy Bluetooth AirPods, which need to be replaced every two years due to non-replaceable batteries. They soldered the disk and memory, preventing users from upgrading them on their own. If you want an upgrade, you must pay a premium price to customize it. They removed most ports and still haven’t adopted USB-C for iPhones, forcing users to buy expensive accessories.

If you need to repair your device, you must go to the Genius Bar, and Apple wants you to shop at their glasshouse stores to buy more products.

There are many alternatives to expensive Apple devices, such as Windows, Android, and Linux, which have all significantly improved in recent years. I bought a PC three years ago for coding and general use. For common users, there is no need to spend so much money on Apple devices without privacy.

Microsoft has developed many tools for developers, such as VSCode and WSL. However, every operating system has its weaknesses. Windows is still not developer-friendly. If I encounter problems in WSL, it’s hard to find solutions online because Windows is not open-source. When I tried coding on Windows, I faced many issues, especially with WSL2, which had many unknown and unsolvable problems. So, I switched to Linux for development. The Linux desktop is not perfect and has many minor bugs, but it’s very developer-friendly. Some issues can be avoided by using specific software, and if the software isn’t necessary, I choose not to install it. Most of my time is spent on the web browser and command line. If the web browser works well, I can listen to music, watch videos, and read text. This also means Electron applications work well on Linux. We don’t need to worry about the lack of applications supporting Linux. When you switch to Linux, I recommend avoiding extensive configurations and focusing on getting everything to work. You should tolerate some bugs and small problems and learn skills to maintain your machine. Stable software is more important than fancy appearances.

When I started using an open-source system, I felt like the host of my tools, not a guest of big companies (I still don’t fully trust Microsoft). With a closed system, I don’t have the freedom to install or remove software. I can’t be sure where hidden applications are scanning my device and collecting my personal information for ads. Some organizations might quietly use tools to profit from big data. Fully controlling your device is important and natural. Even though open-source software can’t guarantee absolute security, the community will inform us of any security issues, unlike big organizations that may hide problems.

Linux gives me more choices than Windows. I can buy my computer as a laptop, tiny PC, mini PC, or big PC, all at a lower cost. Linux doesn’t need many hardware resources, so I don’t worry about my computer slowing down after a few years. I can freely upgrade the hardware and fix simple problems myself. It’s like my father, who bought a TV that lasted more than ten years and could fix simple issues himself. Replacing electronic devices every two years isn’t normal. There is no free lunch in the world. Fancy tools require many resources to make. If software is free or cheap, they must be making money elsewhere (likely from your personal data or privacy).

I don’t recommend switching to Linux immediately. Some business software is still not Linux-friendly, and Linux has many traps that an unprofessional user may struggle with. However, if you don’t rely on specific software or use a web browser most of the time, Linux can work well. You should give yourself more choices. An open-source system can support your favorite hardware, and you can freely fix some problems. Consider whether you really need certain software or why you spend so much time on your smartphone. Life should be simple, and time is our most valuable resource. We should use it wisely in the most important areas.


Note: This post was originally published on liyafu.com (One of our makers' personal blog)