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One such example in source code files open-sourced by Apple:

 * Everything in this file is for Apple Internal use only.
 * These will change in arbitrary OS updates and in unpredictable ways.
 * When your program breaks, you get to keep both pieces.

The warning basically means the source code is internal to Apple and is subject to change. Software developers who use these files should not expect the 'interface' to stay the same between version. If the interface is indeed changed, any program that depends on the file will be broken.

What I do not quite understand are:

1) Is the phrase When <something> breaks, you get to keep both pieces a common one? If so, how is it usually used?

2) Does 'both pieces' means 'two pieces' here?

3) Is it supposed to be playful in tone? Is there any other implied meaning based on the context?

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It's like: when you ruin the program, you keep the program. We're not fixing it... it's yours now. You can keep both pieces (i.e., you broke it in half, so it's not ours anymore). –  Jeremy Jul 8 '13 at 12:47
A fairly common saying in America that is seen occasionally in a publicly displayed sign in retail stores that sell delicate breakables (such as antiques, dishes, pottery, vases, glassware, etc.): "IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU BOUGHT IT," meaning if you insist on handling the merchandise and happen to drop it and break it, you are obligated to pay for it. It's a good rule, I guess, especially for those shoppers who like to "see" with their "hands"! –  rhetorician Jul 9 '13 at 1:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted
  1. I have read this phrase before. I'd say it's common among programmers who are writing their own warnings or licenses for software.

  2. Yes. I believe the metaphor relates to an object that is broken in two, as if software could break in this manner.

  3. Yes, it is playful. It's terse and sarcastic: it seems it may be a criticism of the verbosity of legalese in software licenses.

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You get to keep both [useless] pieces. –  bib Jul 8 '13 at 13:09

It's just another way of saying that we are not responsible of anything, but in a funnier way.

A variation of the sentence above is "you get to keep both halves", as seen in https://launchpad.net/~gnome3-team/+archive/ubuntu/gnome3-staging:

If they break your system, you get to keep both halves.

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This does not provide an answer to the question. Try rewriting your answer so that it answers the question asked by the user, rather than providing additional (and interesting, I might add) information. –  Nick2253 Oct 24 '14 at 14:13
I wanted to post it as a comment, but could not due to my low reputation. Still, I thought it was a relevant addition and relevant to the question, so I just posted it in the only way I could. –  Jose Gómez Oct 24 '14 at 18:55

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