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    This is less “right to repair” and more “right to modularity”.

    The key aspect of most right to repair legislation is that companies aren’t allowed to abuse their IP rights and market position to artificially restrict components - like a $5 headphone board that they switched the channel on, just so they could tell the manufacturer they couldn’t sell to anyone else.

    That is not a technical problem. That’s purely a legal/economic problem and none of this link’s technical arguments apply to it.

    Plenty of fair points on the “ right to modularity” argument though.

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      I don’t see why we can’t have secure and open systems. Doesn’t open source show this is just as feasible as security through obscurity?

      It’s great that you are happy to have Apple repair your device. I’ve chosen this myself in the past. But just as I wouldn’t want to be forced to take my car to the dealer, I don’t want to be forced to go to Apple to repair my phone.

      Sorry, but I don’t find you arguments compelling. We should have parts and specifications regardless of how long devices last and how beneficial it is to integrate components.

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        It’s not security through obscurity, it’s security through physical barriers. If it’s harder to get to the components, it’s harder for an attacker to mess with them. That’s why a Trusted Computing Module that holds keys is in the CPU package instead of being a separate component. If an SSD or RAM can’t be pulled out of its socket, that prevents some attacks on it, or at least makes them a lot more difficult and time-consuming; meaning you’ve blocked evil-maid attacks and probably evil-semi-skilled-police-forensics-lab attacks.

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          Ok, but how does a manufacturer providing third parties components negate any of this? If they provide a security module, it won’t have the original keys. If they integrate RAM into the CPU, they can still provide a replacement for those components.

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        To be honest, I doubt that right to repair always implies that it is all doable by a normal person without proper tooling? It always seemed to me that the question was more about the availability of documentation and chips.

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          Even bus width can be impacted; you’d need a lot of slots to match the bandwidth possible with soldered-down LPDDR. I think it’s a fair compromise.

          I’m sorry, but what? Do you have any source to back that up?

          Physics does get involved with high speed memory, but I’m pretty sure the pros and cons of soldered RAM vs memory slots are not related to bandwidth.

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            It definitely is on Apple’s M1 Pro/Max machines. They have a completely non-standard memory layout with DRAM chips on-package instead of soldered SO-DIMMS, and have 256/512-bit bus interfaces which would require 4/8 channels to match. The ability to solder the BGA packages directly onto the SoC package also means that signal lines to the DRAM are significantly shorter, which allows signalling frequencies significantly higher than the same modules could achieve spread out over a wider area due to physical limitations needed to route to 8 individual modular slots.

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            This is less related to reliability, and more about how upgrading systems just isn’t like how it used to be. Computers were obsolete out of the box and became less useful over the years quickly, especially during times like the gigahertz war. Back then, upgrading was likely to be done out of necessity. Nowadays, you can use a decade (if not older!) computer on the web.

            This is a reasonable point, but I think it’s either overlooking or downplaying some history. The Apple II+ (1979) could snappily run most of the software that was released for that platform right up until the early 90s. The Apple IIe continued to be sold in a configuration that only got very mild enhancements from 1983-1993.

            So while I agree very much that systems are now outliving their early 2000s counterparts significantly, I would say they’re just getting back to how long they used to last. Prior to the late 90s, it was entirely reasonable to stick with a system from 1979 - 1994. And even though a 2012 ThinkPad still works fine, it’s unimaginable that it could be still manufactured and sold for 10 years the way those early PCs were.

            (That held as well for the early Macs. I was routinely repairing Mac Pluses in 1997 for people who’d purchased them in 1986. And I repaired more than one Mac IIfx in 2000, which might be about the point where, IMO, longevity really started to fall down.)

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              I’d also note that, during that time, a lot of people were using and upgrading desktops which were fairly “open” to being worked on piecemeal. More and more consumers are now considering a laptop, tablet, or phone as a primary device and although you can run a decade old computer on the web, it simply is not as snappy. Before, that might be upgrading the RAM a bit for the forced OS upgrade to have more room to load, or putting in a better graphics card, now people are being sent over to buying the latest model of X.

              Right to repair will hopefully help us get to a better place where people might simply “upgrade” their device, not chuck it out to get a new one (particularly thinking of not needing special tooling to work on it).

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              None of the points in this article are points against Right to Repair.

              Right to Repair doesn’t mean “repair should be so easy, anyone can do it”. It’s about putting an end to artificially restricting the supply of replacement parts, and making schematics available, so repair is possible, given the proper tools and skill set. So, is it more annoying to open a waterproof phone and repair it? Sure, probably, but Right to Repair doesn’t say your phone should be easy to repair, so this is really a red herring.

              One point might be worth addressing:

              Some devices pair parts for security purposes.

              The problem is, they don’t. The pairing is trivially bypassable for a determined attacker. All this pairing does is provide the manufacturers a revenue stream.

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                I have a perfectly functioning iPad 3rd generation, and an iPhone 5 here. None of the components need replacing. However, the operating systems are so old that in the case of the iPhone 5, it can’t run some of the apps I’d like to run on it, and in the case of the iPad 3rd gen, it can’t even visit a lot of websites anymore.

                I do agree with the article that there might be some trade-offs that can justify making it harder to physically open up the device and replace defective or outdated components. This might be a bit besides the point that the author is trying to make, but I cannot imagine a single technical reason why the device should refuse being updated to anything but the newest supported operating system from its manufacturer, without an override setting for me.

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                  I would propose we take right to repair even further and demand openness after a device is no longer supported. When a manufacturer decides to roll a device off of support, they need to provide a mechanism to unlock it and a base set of specifications. Then others could take those specs and provide a longer lifespan using open source (or even not open!).

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                    Supporting older hardware is actually very hard, just because you don’t see a difference doesn’t mean the actual internals are different. For example there simply is no 32bit version of macOS or ios, and there hasn’t been for years. The apple CPUs literally do not have 32bit hardware.

                    Supporting older hardware can mean holding back OS security models because old hardware has components that are no longer supported by the original vendors, or hardware that is simply incompatible with more modern system architectures. Supporting such can mean holding back the security on new systems, etc

                    Again, supporting old hardware is not free, and often can be as much work as bringing up new hardware.

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                      I have a 10 year old iPad mini. Works absolutely fine. After the last update the Disney+ app doesn’t work on it and I can’t get Disney+ on the browser. Made me furious at Disney+ but not enough to walk away, so in the end I was not the change I hoped to be.

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                      These are all the same arguments. Some of us want to be able to swap out the battery in our phone, some of us would rather it be waterproof.

                      Right-to-repair legislation should it exist needs to be about DRM that exists for breaking compatibility rather than protecting media, and parts availability. Not about what features you can or can not put in a phone you’re making.

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                        The software support is the biggest reason. iPhones get years of security and feature updates. I can’t think of any Android phone that gets updates as long as an iPhone 6S.

                        Neither of those platforms offer real user ‘repair’ of the software so the comparison is not a useful one here. You might argue that you can more easily write software for your android phone than an iphone, or that it is possible even to create your own version of android or install one from someone else. The reality however is that this is hard and complicated. It is definitely not an option that the average consumer has available. For most people android is exactly as much of a walled garden as ios. I am a programmer but when I tried getting an operating system I had control over on a samsung years back I gave up in frustration after hours of failures. I also soft bricked it because of vendor lock-in measures.

                        Compare this with an actual right to repair phone, such as the pine phone. I got one to test it out and although I would not recommend it to my parents, I was able to flash the os and try out a bunch of different distros. I think I could even teach my parents to flash a pine phone, I just don’t think that is something they want to do. I can use ubuntu, debian, arch, just to name some big ones. I am not afraid that there will no longer be a supported OS for my phone in 10 years. I might not have the newest developments but the archived images will still work and the full functionality the phone currently has it will have until it falls apart. Also I can write my own software for it as trivially as making a .py file.

                        What apple and google call ‘support’ I neither want nor need. I also feel that support is a massive euphemism for what they really offer which is more like a combination of big brother and nanny. I want to own my devices not rent them from a megacorp.

                        I feel this also reflects the general tone of the article. Rather than focusing on what right to repair could mean if applied sensibly, it merely lists a few ways in which it could be applied that are not very effective or useful.

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                          The same line rubs me the wrong way. The iPhone 6S was released 5 years ago, as was the FairPhone 2; they’re both officially supported during the same time. Looking at older generations to see how long support might go for (there’s no commitment from Apple that I can find), the iPhone 5 was released in 2012 and had its last software update in 2019. 7 years is very good for official support, and does beat any Android device thus far, but the difference is that there is still support and security updates available for the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S3 (both released 2012) via third parties such as e.foundation. Those updates are expected to continue as well.

                          As noted, not everyone has an interest or the ability to install a third party ROM, but the availability of them means that it’s reasonable to keep these old devices running well beyond the official manufacturer’s intent, which is something that is not possible with iPhones. Once Apple gives up on them, they’re done.

                          I agree that the Pinephone (and Librem 5) are likely to be even better for longevity, and I hope that postmarketOS matures on those platforms and then the gains can be brought to other (mainly Android) devices through community support.

                          I appreciate the emphasis on trade-offs that the article tries to make, but I also agree that it appears to be unbalanced in the focus on somewhat strawman arguments over particular technology choices. It’s good to think about some of these potential issues (which I think was the intent) but then the tone of the article and the solutions provided end up taking away from that point.

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                            What apple and google call ‘support’ I neither want nor need. I also feel that support is a massive euphemism for what they really offer which is more like a combination of big brother and nanny. I want to own my devices not rent them from a megacorp.

                            Absolutely. But…

                            I think I could even teach my parents to flash a pine phone, I just don’t think that is something they want to do.

                            And it’s not just parents. Programmers also tend to hate “yak shaving”. There are so many cases people are too lazy/uninterested to even want to exercise the control they could potentially have, it’s not a huge market. The mass marketed devices all have no control and people are just fine with it. The second-order effects that this lack of control brings might be a problem, but most people aren’t aware that this is how it works, and just shrug and buy a new gadget.

                            I guess I’m just getting old and cynical, but I see very little hope for things really improving.

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                              I guess I’m just getting old and cynical, but I see very little hope for things really improving.

                              Actually the right to repair train has a lot of momentum in the European parliament and some companies that sell to Europe are already taking steps to comply. If you live in the US there might be more grounds for cynicism, but then again you can always buy your tech from European companies.

                              It is not about the majority that might not be interested in a particular freedom, it is about the few who are. Not many people use mechanical typewriters or listen to Blind Melon but the government should still protect the right to do so. Also most people do get a bit upset when they find out the phone they paid 1k for has a dead battery and they are not legally allowed or practically able to replace it. People also would love to be able to go to a repair shop and pay a reasonable price for a basic component replacement. Most of them may have forgotten that that was ever a thing but they would pick it up again pretty fast.

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                            The problem is companies got addicted to their upgrade and repair income and have now become dependent on it. Just like all addictions, it’s a hard, messy break-up when it happens. Inkjet printers come to mind as a great example, they got so addicted, they broke their product on purpose to ensure their addiction continues.

                            I think the verdict is still out on if the addiction will end and how. All these right-to-repair laws and rules don’t really fix the addiction problem directly.