OSX and iOS are not jails

I’ve always had a problem with the term jailbreaking when it comes to Apple’s mobile devices. The term jail came into usage long before iOS in reference to isolated user-space instances, but that old meaning seems to have been obscured through both overuse and continued attempts to paint Apple as a dictatorial company interested only in hamstringing users of its devices. I’ve let jailbreaking slide until now because even though I think it’s a loaded term, it’s also a nice, short way to describe the act of opening the device to greater customization than Apple offers out of the box. It’s also a better term than Android’s “rooting,” which sounds a bit rude in my part of the world.

In the wake of Richard Stallman’s epically tasteless diatribe against Steve Jobs last week (Google for it if you’re truly curious, I’m not serving him any page views), I’ve decided I can’t let this slide any more. In addition to saying he was glad Steve is gone, Stallman also called Jobs “the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom.” So according to him, Mac users, iPhone users, iPod and iPad owners are all imprisoned and too stupid to realise it.

It’s at this point that I have to wonder whether Stallman or any of the other members of the free software movement have ever spent any appreciable amount of time in an actual jail or jail-like environment. I’m betting that few if any of them have. If they had, they’d see as I do just how full of hyperbole (and something else that rhymes with chit) the jail metaphor is — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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