Free Software Foundation

How to open (free) up an iMac"
Blog 034 - 19 May 2013

Apple iMac

After I had received my new Apple iMac (A gift from my dear wife.) and set ut up, I once again reached for the O'Reilly Programming Android book I am trying to get into. I say "get into", as it involves setting up an environment on my iMac within which I can learn how to develop applications for the Android platform. This required Apple's Xcode Developer's Toolbox and Eclipse. Doing so reminded me that I have for some time also wanted to get my favourite drawing application, xfig, running on my iMac again.

To do that I had to get a suitable variant of the X Windows" system running on my new iMac. This time I chose Fink". Fink brings Open Source UNIX to the iMac XOS (UNIX derivative) environment. Well it took chunks out of two early morning sessions on my iMac to get it done. The big plus being that besides being able to use "xfig" again, I can relatively easily install other "Open Source Software" on my iMac.

I have to admit that as I sat and watched the messages generated by scripts running in a terminal window, it stirred memories. I have been doing this sort of thing since 1992, when I was first converted to Linux. It also reminded me that with Microsoft's Windows Operating System, lots of things are easy. There are however plenty that are also impossible. With UNIX, and certainly before the days of the X Windows System, lots of stuff was tricky/difficult, but almost everything was doable.

So, as a result of initiatives such as Open Source Software, most of the stuff you need is already available, much the same as a text book in a library. You simply reach out and use what you need without any major financial sacrifice. If you do that, you are obliged to conform to Richard Stallman's CopyLeft Policy. Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation and launched the GNU Project. His passion for free software was and remains such that he sacrificed his Physics PhD for Free Software. He has been given plenty of (honorary) doctorats since.

I close with another memory of an author's foreword I once read in a university text book. In it he said something along these lines, "This is not my book, it is our book, as I have learned much from others". Not unlike Isaac Newton, who only saw further than others because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.

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