[OS X TeX] TeXpad (LaTeX iPad editor app) dev's blog post on Mac OS X appstore sandboxing

David Derbes loki at uchicago.edu
Wed Apr 4 20:35:37 CEST 2012

On Apr 4, 2012, at 1:10 PM, Chris Goedde wrote:

> On Apr 4, 2012, at 1:00 PM, Richard Koch wrote:
>> However, I don't think that would be permitted because of the GPL software license
>> under which many components of TeX are released. Note that the Free Software
>> Foundation doesn't allow GPL apps on the iPad for that reason.
> Yep. This is very important, and I've thought about this (but forgot about in today's discussion). I think it's very unfortunate, and I find it very ironic that the GPL would be used as a cudgel in this way to keep so-called open software off of politically-incorrect platforms.
>> I am NOT among the relatively small number of people who think that sandboxing
>> might eventually be required of all programs. The Mac is not the same as the iPad.
>> Apple wouldn't shoot themselves in the foot that way.
> The problem of future-proofing LaTeX isn't so much that sandboxing might become required for the Mac, it's that the Mac will become increasingly irrelevant. I think that last year Apple sold more iOS devices than it has sold Macs in its entire history, and this discrepancy is only going to get larger and larger. Getting LaTeX to the scientists and mathematicians of the future probably means porting it to iOS, or having the LaTeX back-end run on a server and the front end on iOS, or something like that.
> Chris

I guess I disagree about the fate of computing, but of course, as Niels Bohr is alleged to have said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

Tthere is a lot of push toward cloud computing. I doubt that we will see anytime soon an iPad with sufficient storage and processing power to run a local copy of Mathematica; though surely Real Soon Now (if not already available) there are clients that can be run on an iPad to call a remote kernel. More and more people seem to want me to use Google Docs rather than MS Office (or equivalent) on my laptop. 

I regard this as a return to centralization, and I think it's a terrible idea. I well remember doing computing circa 1972, walking down to the computer lab at 3 AM (the only time undergraduates could run their dinky little FORTRAN code) and waiting for the results to come back. I much prefer my own machine with my own applications on it, one or two I've actually written and compiled. I don't look forward to the day when my instructions have to be executed on a distant piece of big iron, which is where this whole cloud-based computing seems to be going. It's time-sharing all over again, a return to the bad old days.

About five years ago I broke the family piggy bank and bought a top of the line Mac Pro which has served me very faithfully since. Now it appears that maybe the Mac Pro line will not be refreshed. It's not like my computer will suddenly stop working, but there is a suggestion at least that perhaps Mountain Lion won't run on it. There are hints that the personal computer with its local applications and files is on its way out. 

The iPad is a wonderful device (I bought one for my 87 year old father in law, and I've taken it on trips as an alternative to a MacBook.) But there are jobs that seem to me to require greater horsepower than is now available (or likely to be available any time soon) on a tablet. The bandwidth that will be necessary if everything is to be run remotely is staggering. And finally, not to sound like I'm wearing an aluminum foil hat, I do not like being at the mercy of the other guy's computer. At some point, there may be fees to be paid (or at least advertisements to be read) to run a spreadsheet on somebody else's server. I'd rather own than rent. YMMV.

If Apple decides that it won't sell self-contained computers (for want of a better term) any more, someone else will. I'll be sorry to leave this wonderful platform behind, but surely alternatives will be available. 

David Derbes
U of Chicago Laboratory Schools

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