Isn't it supposed to be your computer?

posted: 2013-Feb-25

This post came up recently on Dave Winer’s Scripting News site. I’ve seen him speak about this before a couple of times. The basic problem is this: Apple, with OSX Lion, has apparently removed the arrow buttons from the top and bottom of scrollbars. And I can sympathize with the feeling that maybe this was a less-than-ideal decision.

Even though I use an arguably very strange window manager as compared to KDE or Gnome, when I use a scrollbar, it’s the expected kind. Meanwhile, this new-age scrollbar business has been creeping into websites everywhere. Just take a look at Google Reader or the Contacts interface in Gmail. No scrollbar arrows.

But none of this is why I’m writing about it. Also, I do like a lot of the new things that have been developed. Two-finger scrolling works perfectly in Linux and I love it.

The point is this. There’s always a lot of carrying on that Linux users prefer some kind of inferior system, or don’t like nice things or whatever. What I can’t understand is how, as an Apple or Microsoft user, you can stand them being in such tight control over your system. It doesn’t really matter what the particular feature is that you’re sorely missing. It’s likely that, sooner or later, they will do something that you don’t want that you’re also powerless to stop them from doing. It’s the nature of the closed world.

I don’t know, maybe there’s an open-source desktop environment or window manager where they took away the scrollbar buttons and made the scrollbars disappear. It’s more likely than not somebody thinks it’s The Way It Should Be and has done it. It makes no difference to me either way because I decide what happens on my system. And there are a LOT of desktop interfaces to try out until you find something that works for you.

Don’t let anybody bullshit you that it’s hard to change this stuff. Let’s suppose you go the really easy route and install Ubuntu or perhaps Linux Mint on your system. It’s very easy to change the desktop interface. Google search for ‘linux mint ubuntu “change desktop environment”’ and the first result looks quite helpful.

What are you gaining by letting Apple and Microsoft dictate how you use your computer? I suspect it’s less than you think. Don’t let them treat you like a tenant. You bought it, isn’t it supposed to be your computer?