Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

iPhone SDK and Free Software Don't Match

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the hey-now-wait-a-minute dept.

Technology (Apple) 304

kookjr writes "Are you planning to develop software for the iPhone? If you want to develop Free Software, Linux.com (Shares corp overlord w/ Slashdot) has a good review of the conflicts between Apple's Registered iPhone Developer Agreement and licenses like the GPL. This is important for people who may not read all the agreements they click Agree to."

cancel ×

304 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Why is it still a case where (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091198)

companies are issuing SDKs and don't tell you what license is actually compatible in a common sense, non-legalese way?

It seems only logical that this should fall in the 'system requirements' type category of the install documentation...

Sure, when you start your car there is no beeping alarm and a warning sign to use ONLY unleaded gas, but then they go to extra efforts to warn you at the gas fill spot, and make the neck of the gas fill tube so that only unleaded fuel and siphon hoses will fit.

This license thing is like letting you believe you can pour diesel fuel right on in the tank, no worries.

I like car analogies :)

Re:Why is it still a case where (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091224)

I've been devoloping software fro the iPhone since the day it came out. i don't see any problem.

Re:Why is it still a case where (5, Funny)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092194)

STOP THE PRESSES, FOLKS! This guy doesn't see any problems. There must not be any!

Re:Why is it still a case where (1, Offtopic)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091802)

My last car (a 1996 Eclipse) said right under the speedometer "UNLEADED FUEL ONLY." So did my first car (1988 Accord).

Re:Why is it still a case where (2, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091978)

There are a handful of different popular vehicle fuels.

There are thousands of different licenses.

Fuel compatibility is based on verifiable engineering principles.

License compatibility is based on legal opinion.

Re:Why is it still a case where (4, Funny)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092272)

There are a handful of different popular vehicle fuels.

Yes, but it met the Slashdot requirement of being a car analogy.

Apple haters be damned! (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091202)

It seems Apple haters are coming out of the wood work just to attack poor defenseless Apple! Apple does things they way they do them because they work. And the proof of that is illustrated perfectly in how cool and popular Apple stuff is... and by extension, anyone who uses Apple stuff is also cool and popular. So why can't people stop reading all these legal issues and get back to fun and sunshine!

Re:Apple haters be damned! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091328)

Exactly. Nobody can beat Apple in terms of how cool their product look and function. Who cares about licensing and compatibility when you can just use their SDK to build products for their phones etc? People are buying Apple products in droves - that's clear sign that Apple is the winner here. As a developer, I would just sign EULA and get down to building some cool software rather than just worrying about GPL.

Apple is just another company in the market to make money. Why should they bother with Open source? I want my ipod and iphone to have cool apps, no matter what.

Go Apple! Ignore all the hater. They are just jealous whiners.

Sarcasm (4, Funny)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092032)

You do not has it.

Re:Apple haters be damned! (3, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091684)

iScream! uScream! we all scream for iScream!

Uh, 'scuse me while iRead this iSummons from Apple's iLawyer. Who isn't so iCool or iPopular. But nothing's as iCool as iScream!

Did iMention that iGot an iOperation [slashdot.org] last week?

iKid, iKid! ok iGo now.

Why is this a surprise? (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091218)

I thought we already knew that the iPhone SDK license might be unfriendly to free software. It shouldn't really surprise anyone should it?

People should really read what they agree to but of course they don't most of the time. Of course, the /. crowd as a whole probably does so far more than most demographics.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (5, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091266)

People should really read what they agree to but of course they don't most of the time. Of course, the /. crowd as a whole probably does so far more than most demographics.

And if the ability of /.ers to RTFA (not just this one, but any FA) is any example to go on, then it's a completely hopeless situation...

Re:Why is this a surprise? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091312)

Excellent point! However, speaking only for myself of course, I RTFA about half the time, and I read licenses/EULA's 100% of the time.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (5, Insightful)

EricR86 (1144023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091502)

It might be considered a surprise considering you can release your software for free (as in beer). But you can't really release the source for free (as in speech) under a GPL.

If want to release "free" software, it's hard to believe you have to do so restrictively.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091528)

I guess I am just not surprised even a little. I love their products and own a few, but I am getting to like Apple the company less and less. I've *never* liked Jobs but I recognize his effectiveness over the years and respect him for it.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (-1, Offtopic)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092336)

I've *never* liked Jobs but I recognize his effectiveness over the years and respect him for it.

How do you feel about Pol Pot?

Re:Why is this a surprise? (0)

imamac (1083405) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091576)

There is nothing preventing free software to be distrubuted from the iPhone App Store. I'm working on one to release, probably for free. The barriers are for Open Source Software, which just happens to usually be free.

Gratis or libre? (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091726)

There is nothing preventing free software to be distrubuted from the iPhone App Store. I'm working on one to release, probably for free. The barriers are for Open Source Software, which just happens to usually be free.
Except the term free software [wikipedia.org] is commonly used as a synonym for open source software [wikipedia.org] (or vice versa). Are you thinking of freeware [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Gratis or libre? (1, Troll)

imamac (1083405) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092156)

And a Kleenex is a type of facial tissue, but many people use it to refer to all types of facial tissue. Similarly, OSS is a type of free software, just as free ware is a type of free software. 2 categories of the same group.

So far, anyway, (3, Insightful)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092190)

we can still jailbreak, and there's no reason we can't continue to develop free software with the community toolchain.

Slsahdot (-1, Offtopic)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091232)

Salsadot...

"Duh duh... duh duh... duh duh... Salsa shark! We're gonna need a bigger boat! Man goes into cage, cage goes into salsa. Shark's in the salsa. Our shark."

Re:Slsahdot (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091546)

The submitter spelled the name of the site wrong. The Slashdot editor didn't catch the mistake.

How is pointing that out Off-Topic? At the very least, it should be Funny or Over-rated (since spelling corrections usually fall into one of these two camps.

Tag article: slsahdot, and continue with the relevant conversation. :)

A new low (5, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091280)

"...If you want to develop Free Software, Linux.com (Shares corp overlord w/ Slsahdot )..."

Wow, /. editors can't even spell their own name? Somebody should give them a pointy hat and make them go sit in the corner for a bit ;)

A pointy hat (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091416)

Somebody should give them a pointy hat and make them go sit in the corner for a bit ;)
I put on my robe and wizard hat [albinoblacksheep.com] .

Leave Salsadot alone! (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091794)

"...If you want to develop Free Software, Linux.com (Shares corp overlord w/ Slsahdot )..." Wow, /. editors can't even spell their own name? Somebody should give them a pointy hat and make them go sit in the corner for a bit ;)
Leave Salsadot alone!

Mmmmm, "Dancing for Nerds. Spicy food you pay for twice."

Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091326)

The Not FUD: The iPhone is incompatible with GPLv3.

If you ask Apple, thats a feature.

If you ask the Free Software Foundation, thats a feature.

The Maby FUD: Is code which uses the iPhone APIs confidential information under the NDA? No answer yet.

The Total FUD: It only affects SOME Free liscences. Even if the APIs are confidential, this does NOT stop BSD code, but only viral liscences like GPL.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (2, Insightful)

Blaze74 (523522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091448)

If I had mod points, you would get them. GPLv2 software is perfectly fine on the iPhone, it's only GPLv3 software.

GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (5, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091592)

Actually, GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible, if the answer is "code which uses the iPhone APIs contains confidential information". In that case, you could only distribute the code to other registered developers, not everyone, which means Berkeley liscence is fine but GPL is not.

Also, apple's method of distribution MAY BE GPLv2 incompatible, because Apple might not want to also be responsible for distributing the source code and some GPLv2 authors may not like derivitive works where a different party distributes the source code compared to the binary (because the developer could always host the code if its not confidential), and the GPLv2 as written says it is the binary distributer's responsibility to distribute the source code.

We don't know yet, but if the distribution is not GPLv2 friendly:
If you ask the Free Software Foundation, that would be a feature.
If you ask Apple, that would be a feature.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092014)

If you ask the Free Software Foundation, that would be a feature.
If you ask Apple, that would be a feature.
Ah yes. At least it's only the users who lose.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (2, Insightful)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092236)

By buying the iPhone in the first place, you've lost, at least in the ways the FSF cares about.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (5, Informative)

kithrup (778358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092022)

The normal ADC NDA says the same thing, and that has never prevented anyone from distributing application source code. (One can argue that the third-party books which describe the API cover this -- but books always lag behind, and I've never seen anyone worried that they'll be sued by Apple for distributing their application source code before any third-party books describing the APIs they're using are out.)

Of course, I'm neither a lawyer nor Apple (and certainly not an Apple lawyer), so I can't speak definitively... but common sense seems to say this is a red herring.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092186)


Apple doesn't have to distribute the source code for you though... couldn't you provide it on your own web site and just provide a link with the binary?

Obviously the question of the API being confidential would be an issue for GPL v2 but I don't think the code distribution issue is a real one. Plenty of people seem to provide binaries with just a link to the source code if you want it.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (1)

_fuzz_ (111591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092212)

the GPLv2 as written says it is the binary distributer's responsibility to distribute the source code.
Not exactly. If the distributor does not modify the work, they just have to pass on the offer of the source code that they got. So Apple wouldn't have to actually distribute the source code, just tell you that you can get it from xyz.

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092266)

But by signing the binary, they ARE modifying it...

So a copyright-holder of a GPLv2 app where someone else makes an iPhone derivitive COULD object, even if the derivitive author distributes the code (because Apple doesn't).

Re:GPLv2 MAY BE incompatible... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092230)

Also, you forgot to mention that just because a software program carries a GPLv2 license, that doesn't mean that it meets the Free Software Definition. For some folks, this makes a very big difference in whether or not they'll use the software.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091484)

From TFA, it may affect the publishing of source code under any license. The BSD license isn't going to get you very far if you could be violating the Apple NDA by publishing the source code. Furthermore, even if you did / could publish it legally, it won't do anyone else much good if they can't compile it for the iPhone because they haven't paid Apple $99 and gotten the magical seal of approval.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (3, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091666)

You CAN distribute code under the BSD liscence, just you can only distribute to other registered developers.

Since registering as a developer for the SDK is $0.00, and a registered devolper with a dev key is $100, AND is needed if you want to modify the code, Big Frakin Deal: you can only distribute the code to people who are able to use it, as the jailbreak dev-kits don't use the same APIs (and if they did, then you can distribute to your hearts content because its clearly no longer confidential information).

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091984)

The BSD license isn't going to get you very far if you could be violating the Apple NDA by publishing the source code.

Why? You don't need to publish the source code to be in compliance with the BSD license. All you need to do is credit the authors. Heck, Windows incorporates (or used to) a BSD licensed TCP/IP stack. The fact that you don't need to publish the code is the main difference between the GPL and BSD licenses.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (2, Informative)

Bazar (778572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091504)

The Total FUD: It only affects SOME Free liscences. Even if the APIs are confidential, this does NOT stop BSD code, but only viral liscences like GPL.
There is free as in beer, and free as in speech.

When they are talking about you can't alter it and then use it, their talking about how the software isn't free of restriction. They are not talking about its price.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091670)

The iPhone is perfectly compatible with version 3 of the GPL. The iPhone SDK and installing software via Apple are not. However, GPLv2 works both with the iPhone SDK (Apple's installation method) and the iPhone itself.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (1)

mr_death (106532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091768)

>The Not FUD: The iPhone is incompatible with GPLv3.

Use GPLv2, and be happy. IMHO, the anti-tivo rantings and virtues of GPLv3 are wildly overplayed.

Also, you should get your own legal advice concerning this topic. FSF's Smith may have an ax to grind.

Re:Combined FUD, Maby-FUD and Not-FUD... (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092252)

Keep in mind that while he doesn't say so explicitely, the author means "software that meets the FSF's definition of 'free'" when he says "free software" -- not merely "software released under a license that people associate with free software".

You can see this when he talks about GLPv2 -- when talking about the code-signing requirement, he acknowledges that it wouldn't hinder GLPv2, but says that still the code wouldn't be "free software".

My gut reaction is to agree that the NDA thing has a FUD feel to it, but it's hard to say. Given enough code that uses an SDK, can I construct information about the SDK? Probably. You'd probably have to be careful what you spell out in the comments, at any rate...

But here's the bigger question I have about this story -- and it reflects my general disinterest in GPLv3: Who ever claimed that the iPhone was meant to be a general-purpose computing platform?

The FSF often takes a tone that sounds extreme to me. At least when talking about software for a general-purpose computer, I can see where their coming from. But really, if I don't control every aspect of my iPhone then it controls me? So, like, my little Samsung cell phone, for which I have no ability to program at all, must be dominating me entirely!

It is good to know. (1, Flamebait)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091346)

That the GPL and simular licenense are the only way for you to make free software.
It is just to bad there arn't other licenses out there were we can make free software.
Oh Wait their are, So if I want to make Free Software for the iPhone I just don't make it GPL...

I Sware you guys are so fixated on the GPL and not about Free Software, RMS could alter the GPL in ways that prevent you making programing to do particular functions that he thinks is bad, and you will smile think about it and justify it as for the greater good.

The GPL isn't the only way to do free software some licenses are more Open then the GPL is or others are just as Open but different. Or on the most extream use you could make your own!

Re:It is good to know. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091682)

Oh Wait their are, So if I want to make Free Software for the iPhone I just don't make it GPL...

No, actually, the point of the article is that the NDA you agree to when you sign up is written in such a way that the source code might be considered "confidential" to Apple, which the NDA would prevent you from sharing under ANY license. The article also points out specific parts of the agreement that would prevent you from distributing code under GPL3 if Apple does clarify their NDA to make it so that your code isn't covered.

Re:It is good to know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091972)

The GPL isn't the only way to do free software some licenses are more Open then the GPL is or others are just as Open but different. Or on the most extream use you could make your own!
I would love to know which license is more open than the GPL? Really. As I understand it you cannot legally close the source to a GPL project. What is more open than that? BSD? I don't think so.

Re:It is good to know. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092094)

Public Domain. Do whatever you want with it. We don't care.

'Free software' or just the GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091368)

Looks like they were just talking about the GPLv3.

The BSD license is 'free' too and should be compatible with the iPhone SDK, no? (especially considering the iPhone SDK is made up of a lot of BSD licensed code)

Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (5, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091370)

Enough said really, why should everything strive to be GPL compatible? I've often wondered this in the past when <Insert Random Project Here> has its license suddenly decreed to be 'GPL incompatible' to a great outcry here on Slashdot, when at the same time the GPL itself doesn't strive for great compatibility with others.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091486)

Projects in general, I agree. If some particular project is not GPL compatible, so what. You can deal with it, work around the issue.

Hardware on the other hand, not so much. What's needed to develop on hardware should be license agnostic.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (5, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091512)

when at the same time the GPL itself doesn't strive for great compatibility with others.

A great amount of effort went into writing GPLv3 in such a way that it would be compatible with Apache License v2.0 and other Free licenses.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091552)

Because there's a lot of GPL software out there, and people are going to want to run it on their devices. If a device cannot legally run GPL software, that's a really good reason not to get that device.

You're right that the GPL doesn't strive for great compatibility with other license. It strives to be the most free. Sometimes that causes problems with proprietary systems. It's not the GPLs fault that it can't be compatible with licenses that remove your freedoms.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (3, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091712)

It strives to be the most free. Sometimes that causes problems with proprietary systems.
I don't think it strives to be the most free. At least I don't see it that way. I think it strives to propagate freedom. And that's what sometimes conflicts with proprietary systems.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (5, Insightful)

daveewart (66895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091732)

[The GPL] strives to be the most free.

Not quite. It strives to stay free. Most people consider BSD-licensed code to be more free than GPL-licensed code, simply because there are fewer restrictions.

I'm not commenting on whether "being more free" or "staying free" is "better" (whatever that might mean in this context), simply that there's a difference.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091924)

The only restrictions on GPL code is that you can't impose restrictions on anyone else. Can you seriously argue that you're less free because you cannot remove the freedoms of others? That's like saying the 13th amendment makes you less free because it takes away your right to hold slaves.

I think it's pretty clear that we are more free with the 13th amendment than without, and similarly that code is more free with the GPL than without.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

jinxidoru (743428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092140)

If not supporting the GPL hurts iPhone sales significantly, then Apple will adjust their license to permit GPL code. Honestly though, average Joe Shmoe probably ain't going to care very much that the iPhone can't run GPL'ed code. It's only going to bother the geeks, which probably isn't Apple's key demographic.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091634)

There is a big difference with an individual software package not being GPL compatible and an entire platform being so. Locking out free software may not have been Apple's actual intent but they have done so.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091926)

"but they have done so"

They may have done so. They almost certainly aren't compatible with the much less popular GPLv3, but I don't think many people are losing sleep over that one. Most folks use GPLv2, which they could definitely stay compatible with.

The thing isn't even being released for two months, so it's all just speculation at this point.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (2, Insightful)

EricR86 (1144023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091690)

Why can't we license software we write anyway we choose?

If I've written a software which, by default, I already own the copyright to, why can't I choose which license to release it under? You might be using other software under a different license to support your own. But having that 3rd party software restrict which license you can choose seems absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary. Please, someone enlighten me why this happens

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091720)

It shoudln't GPL License is only a tool for developers who want to develop their software. One of the reasons why Linux is GPL was because there were so many people who helped with it that the GPL was only the available solution without having to make a new license agreement.

But for most projects where developed by a small team the GPL is just a Polical Statement not anything useful. The GPL is a very strict licence for the developers, this is the reason why companies are not GPL friendly, not because they don't want to be good citizans but because they Can't make it GPL.

Apple is in the hardware business and the SDK has a good deal of closed source stuff in it. Just because they don't want iPhone software working on non-iPhone. They are OK if they take the iPhone software and port it to a non-iphone but they don't want univeral compatiblity. Why? because they make their money selling the product if they open up competition it would kill their effort. And companies like Apple are first movers in this tech, meaning they do a lot of upfront R&D and design that costs Apple a lot of extra money. After they realease the product it takes other companies who have a followers stradigy a month or so to reverse engineere and make their version of the product. So for Apple to survive they need to keep a competive advantage over the clones. Having a closed SDK allows for this competive advantage, saying we have the software and you don't.

Look at IBM and the once IBM PC. By being open with their standards and rather loose licensing with Microsft killed the IBM PC Dominate market. With the (1980s term) IBM Compatible PCs. Later just called PC. Because other companies sold more Units then IBM did. If IBM did a stronger contract with Microsoft and kept things closed, it would be a differnt world.
Linux may have a larger following. There will be no PC as we see them now but different OS's and platforms and CPU Competing with each other. No Microsoft monopoly. This competition will have more better designed systems.

Open hardware helped, not hurt, IBM (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092290)

Look at IBM and the once IBM PC. By being open with their standards and rather loose licensing with Microsft killed the IBM PC Dominate market.

Well, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. IBM's opening up of the PC caused the PC market to expand overall, and IBM clearly benefited from the expansion of PCs. However, IBM made some big missteps along the way that caused its own offerings to gradually lose market share.

1) IBM was beaten to the punch by Compaq on the 386. That's a big ouch. IBM PC ATs were running 286's, which, really were a failed part. Compaq was way ahead of the curve on 386s. IBM, you see, was trying to hold 386s for some more "advanced" offerings and trying to defend the rest of its product line, but Compaq had no such inhibitions.

2) IBM really blew it with the PCjr. PCjr wasn't a bad home computer, but IBM was famous for its keyboards and the chiclet keyboard threw that advantage out the window.

3) IBM really blew it with PS/2. First, IBM closed off PS/2, trying to correct what they saw was a mistake in the PC. In other words, they weren't going to let anyone else do Microchannel motherboards. However, there was a huge aftermarket already for PC cards, and none of that would work with PS/2, so, instead, people went back to the likes of Compaq and Dell.

4) IBM really, really blew it with OS/2. IBM's original SDK prices for OS/2 were out of this world, and furthermore, IBM was already trying to tie OS/2 to its PS/2, frightening developers away with the promise of writing for only a hardware platform that nobody wanted.

The bottom line is, had IBM said that OS/2 would be open, and had shared PS/2 hardware specs with third parties and opened the platform up, quite likely, whatever bus we would be using would be called Microchannel Express, rather than PCI Express, and we would quite likely be running OS/2, rather than Windows.

The moral of the story is, when building hardware, open-ness matters. The more your hardware is open, the more people can connect to it, having partners making clones speeds the adoption of your technology, and it places you much more firmly in the driver's seat. Sure, Apple might look good by making IPhones as closed appliances, but you can bet that when Microsoft finally gets its act together, and rallies around a dozen hardware vendors along a common platform, then Apple is going to get smoked, just as it was when, well, PCs slaughtered Apple the first time around.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (0)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091744)

The GPL is the most User friendly license. It screams "Use this however you like". For mature software, this is a major boon for users. Thus, the outcry is because anything that is not GPL has a tendency to be guaranteed to be less user-friendly to any potential GPL competitor once a mature GPL competitor is available.

The outcry from developers is much less understandable, since GPL software is much more difficult to monetize than proprietary software and developers need to be able to earn a living from their craft.

But yeah, if you are a user who needs software and there is a mature GPL version of something that does what you need... you will almost always be better off going for the GPL option. It is cheaper than proprietary software, and safer then pirated software.

Wrong license... (2, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091766)

The GPL is the most User friendly license. It screams "Use this however you like".

I think you misspelled "BSD" or "MIT"...

Re:Wrong license... (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091956)

And you assumed that I was talking about people who cared about monetizing the development of a software product. That was addressed in my second paragraph.

Hell, I think Windows still has some BSD code in it.

Re:Wrong license... (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092134)

And you assumed that I was talking about people who cared about monetizing the development of a software product. That was addressed in my second paragraph.
Or maybe he assumed when you said "use this however you like" you actually meant "use this however you like, as constrained by the GPL license." There's no argument--BSD license has fewer restrictions than GPLv2/GPLv3/LPGL/etc. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is another question.

Hell, I think Windows still has some BSD code in it.
I think not since 2k/xp--or possibly NT4 (I think you're talking about the TCP/IP stack)--but I don't know for sure.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23092052)

The GPL is the most User friendly license. It screams "Use this however you like".*

*Just don't try to use it in a way that we find disagreeable.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091932)

Because if it's not GPL compatible, it's not easy to piece it together with other code. GPL is kinda the baseline of copyright compatibility. If I want to make a project that makes a useful wrapper for doing X and Y together, I generally will search out a project that already does X, and one that already does Y. If I want to use those as a baseline, they've got to have licenses compatible with each other, and with what I eventually want to license my work under. The GPL is the de-facto standard for this.

Re:Why should *everything* be GPL compatible? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092154)

I just want to always be able to run modified code on my device. GPL 3 compatibility would ensure that I could. Its not a mere technicality, where I could just choose to ignore one of the clauses and make it work anyways. There is no way for me to change the code that runs on my (hypothetical) iphone.

Does this conflict with GPL 2 or just GPL3? (3, Informative)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091422)

This seems to conflict with GPL 3, but it's a stretch to say that it conflicts with v2. If I distribute code that uses an API, am I disclosing the API? IANAL so I guess someone could make that argument. I'm glad apple will be pushed to clarify this, but it's probably ok. Is Apple trying to make sure nobody ports an iphone app to the andriod [google.com] ?

Re:Does this conflict with GPL 2 or just GPL3? (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092116)

Yah, I suspect that apple is really trying to avoid the situation where someone takes the development kit and disassembles it in some manner to reveal internal secrets (e.g. how to unlock various features of the iphone). Including this language in their licence covers their ass so they can demand any company who discovers such information not distribute it.

History Repeating (0, Troll)

bostongraf (1216362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091432)

With Apple's history of preventing anyone from building hardware/software without paying licensing fees, is this at all surprising? They loosened the grip a little bit in the early 90's, but clinched right up once they started to lose a bit more of the market share. Now they have shown that their locked down system will keep (improve) their share. Why would they change? Apple and Microsoft really are quite similar in this, the main difference being that Apple actually makes good, innovative products on platforms for which only they can build (sell) the hardware. Apple keeping a tight reign on licensing is just SOP.

Re:History Repeating (2, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091874)

Not to completely debunk your post, but Apple charges a total of $0 for Xcode (the IDE for OSX) and associated tools, and lets you do whatever the hell you want with the resulting source and binaries.

Slsadot? (2, Funny)

martin_henry (1032656) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091490)

Slsahdot

Would you like some chips with that?

Re:Slsadot? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091710)

Is it just me, or is this especially funny seeing as how it was edited by CmdrTaco? Makes you wonder what was on his mind. Hmm, I know what's on my mind right now...

Captcha: inverted

To hell with those iPhones! (0, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091514)

Heck I just want a phone, period! A device to make calls, store my contacts and a calendar maybe. But these days, what one sees are these bloated gadgets that have proven [to me], to be more hindering than helpful. Is it possible to buy a new cell phone without the bloat these days?

Re:To hell with those iPhones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091574)

stop your whining.

Re:To hell with those iPhones! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091672)

get a barebones basic TracFone...

http://www.tracfone.com/ [tracfone.com]

Re:To hell with those iPhones! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091678)

I have the phone for you [jitterbug.com] !

Without knowing your provider it's hard to say but there is the Verizon Wireless CDM 8905 [verizonwireless.com] which is pretty bare bones in comparison with most of today's offerings.

Re:To hell with those iPhones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091730)

Of course. Just get the cheapie phone they offer for free with plan activation. Turn down the fancy one they'll try to steer you to, and say (in your best grandpa the curmudgeon voice) "I don't need all that newfangled stuff. Just give me a telephone!"

The clerk will nod sagely and wrap up the sale as soon as he can because there's no money to be had from you. But you'll get your phone-only phone!

I did!

Re:To hell with those iPhones! (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091904)

Assuming you're on a GSM network, hunt down either the Nokia 1100 (and descendants) or the Motorola MOTOFONE F3. AFAIK, both run around $50 brand new, no contract

soooo basically (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091532)

Apple's developmental stuff is not compatible with the GPL... and thats a issue against making free software how?

I thought the whole IDEA of the GPL was to not be as big of assholes as companies where with their licensing? No NOW we have people acting for the GPL EXACTLY like companies where with their licensing too and this false idea that if its not GPL its not free even though everyone knows thats a load of tin-foil hat bullshit...

Sometimes people with good intentions can be their own worse enemy.

Not reading the agreements you "click to..." (1)

CatOne (655161) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091640)

This is signing up for the SDK... I'd hope you'd know what you're getting into when you agree to DEVELOP an application for the platform.

Also this isn't about free software, it's about GPLv3 software. There are many license agreements for open source... there's BSD, there's GPLv2, there's GPLv3, there's the Apple's agreement... they all have different views of what things mean. GPLv3 is the most "preachy" in that it's as much religion and Stallman dogma as it is an agreement, and not everyone who is in business thinks it makes sense.

Code Signing (3, Insightful)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091728)

Simply put, there are three problems:

  1. Code signing - this conflicts with GPLv3's "anti-Tivoization" clause. As others posted, both sides will see this as a feature, not a bug.
  2. It's not "free". This is true; much as you cannot download the Tivo source code and have it compile and work on your Tivo, you cannot just download available source code and run it on your iPhone. This goes back to the signing issues above.
  3. NDA provisions. I'm willing to bet this is purely during the beta period. All of Apple's other tools, documentation, etc are freely available, and I expect this will continue once it is released. After all, signing up for this program gives access to beta software (the iPhone firmware 2.0), and Apple similarly restricts access to OS X and other beta software. Once it's final, these restrictions are lifted.
Ultimately, this all boils down to code signing and what you think of it. The problems presented by this are fairly specific to GPLv3; anyone is free to distribute their code under (for example) the MIT/BSD license, or even GPLv2.

As for GPLv3 it's far from widespread, and with prominent projects such as the Linux kernel avoiding it, I'm not sure how much traction it will gain over GPLv2. Much like Windows Vista has to compete with XP, GPLv3 has to compete with GPLv2.

Not everyone wants GPL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091788)

I don't see the GPL as a good thing, I see it as a very bad thing, so if the iPhone SDK isn't compatible with it it's a no brainer. For all who do care about GPL and wants to have its babies, buy another mobile device. Vote with your money! If you want a LinuxPhone, go build one, the source is GPL.

No SimCity/Micropolis for iPhone (4, Insightful)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091796)

I keep getting asked if I'll port SimCity (Micropolis) [google.com] to the iPhone.

Now I know the answer: NO! Because it's licensed under GPL 3 [google.com] .

It's a lot easier to port software to the Windows CE on the PocketPC, anyway. And then I can give it away for free, instead of charging for it and forking over money to Apple.

-Don

Except (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092280)

That doesn't actually seem to happen. There is a sad dearth of free software on PPC.

Re:No SimCity/Micropolis for iPhone (1)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092316)

You can give it away for free via iTunes for the iPhone too. Apple lets you set any price including free.

The NDA issue may only exist because of the beta nature of the SDK. Past MacOS-X betas have has similar NDAs that were lifted when the final product shipped.

Then no cell phone is compatible. (5, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091816)

There are three points of contention:

(1) You must have your application signed before it will run on any cell phone,
(2) Your application must be delivered via the Apple iTunes store, and
(3) Your usage of the beta version of Apple's development kit subjects you to an NDA.

Well, the NDA part of the beta program struck me as a little odd, as it takes about no effort for any idiot to sign up and download the SDK for free--however, this seems to be a standard tactic by Apple for all its beta SDKs. The NDA will be gone, however, by the time the SDK is out of beta--so the whole "you must sign an NDA and that is incompatible with the GPL" thing will be gone by summer.

So what is left is the fact that you have to sign your application before it will run on the iPhone.

As someone who has written cell phone software before, I can tell you that Symbian and Windows Mobile also require application signing before allowing your programs to run on their platforms. It's very common in the cell phone industry to use certificate signing--and at $99/year, Apple is the cheapest to obtain a signing key. Further, from the sounds of it, by the time the SDK goes out of beta, anyone with $99 can get a signing key and sign as many apps as he wishes. (By contrast, for Windows Mobile you pay VeriSign $350 for 10 signing events [verisign.com] , meaning you can only sign 10 applications or different versions of the same application. (Actually a signing event means you sign one executable.) Symbian is even more of a pain in the neck. [verisign.com] And let's not talk about Android until real Android-based phones start showing up on the market and we learn what sort of package signing requirements the cell phone manufacturers impose on Android applications.

While I appreciate the need for authors to fill column space in order to get paid, it seems to be a little early to start complaining about GPL incompatibility and pointing the fingers solely at Apple because you're too lazy to compare and contrast with the other mobile operating systems out there.

Re:Then no cell phone is compatible. (2, Interesting)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091916)

Though with Windows Mobile, your application can run just peachy on a Pocket PC with the exact same code without being signed at all. Can iPhone apps run unsigned on an Ipod Touch? (actual, honest question).

Re:Then no cell phone is compatible. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23092284)

no. the iphone sdk is used for both iphone and ipod touch, and apps must be signed for both (it's the same os, just slightly different hardware).

Re:Then no cell phone is compatible. (3, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091988)

To be sure, Apple is the only one that requires signing before the application can even be loaded and run. Both Symbian and Windows Mobile will run unsigned applications, but their access to phone capabilities will be restricted to some degree.

Re:Then no cell phone is compatible. (1)

Asuranceturix (1265166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092070)

The fact that other vendors are even worse than Apple in this respect does not make Apple's attitude right!

They may say that code signing is there to protect me and to make sure that my phone does not crash because of a badly-made application, but I would rather be given the choice.

I mean, all they have to do is refuse technical support on any iPhone with unsigned software installed onto it and provide a reasonable way to restore any iPhone to its initial state in case something I install turns out to make the handset misbehave. I do not need further protection and, what is more, do not want it!

Re:Then no cell phone is compatible. (2, Insightful)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092078)

You can sign your own programs for Symbian. You don't have to authenticate with a certificate authority unless you have a specific reason to do so. You also don't have to use some vendor approved web store, as a simple USB connection is enough. I don't see how the situations are comparable at all.

Simple Fix... (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091936)

There is an easy fix, don't write software for Apple's Marketing 'technology'.

Instead write your code for an OSS phone or/and port it to Windows Mobile, there are far more Windows Mobile phones than iPhones, so you even get a bigger market.

In addition to more features, without restrictions, as you can write ANYTHING for the other platforms with no Big Brother approval from Nokia, Microsoft, etc.

Other cellphone companies and Microsoft made ONE mistake with their Mobile OSes, they didn't market the media features to the general public, even though people have been using them for MP3/WMA/WMV/MPEG4 for YEARS now, with the same level of features and more than the freaking iPhone. (Even my old 715 Motorola from 2004 has more media features than a freaking iPhone - it even has an 8GB storage device that was available back in 2004)

Isn't it time we actually stand up to Apple and the Apple Marketing machine. Apple isn't about technology or even good quality product or innovation anymore, they are the best Technology marketing company in the world. (And oddly their marketing team uses methods other marketing companies won't even use as they are considered dangerous because of the cult level of induction.)

Ok, now for fanboi/fangurls to mark my post down because the truth is scary...

Re:Simple Fix... (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092246)

Instead write your code for an OSS phone or/and port it to Windows Mobile, there are far more Windows Mobile phones than iPhones, so you even get a bigger market.

4th Quarter 2007 and the iPhone was in 3rd place in the US market behind Nokia and RIM. So yes you are right that its currently a larger market, but you'd be better off writing for Symbian or RIM to get an even bigger market and writing in Java to get the biggest market of all.

Other cellphone companies and Microsoft made ONE mistake with their Mobile OSes, they didn't market the media features to the general public

You are aware that Sony Ericsson tied up a few years ago around just this area and that Nokia have been selling these media features as a plus point for several years as well? Now if you are saying that Microsoft haven't done this then you are correct, but as they are a minor part of the smartphone market that really isn't significant.

Apple isn't about technology or even good quality product or innovation anymore,

So Microsoft are about quality, technology and innovation? In the mobile market?

Ok, now for fanboi/fangurls to mark my post down because the truth is scary...

Nope, I think you should be marked down because you don't know anything about the mobile phone market and the fact that it is primarily driven from a consumer products perspective rather than as a technology innovation area. Mobile phones are a commodity item which means that the differentiation has ceased to be around tariffs and has shifted onto devices. This means that the fashion of a device is more important than the features of the device. Having the most features isn't what is required, it is about having the most impact for the features that people want. Nokia were the first to dominate in mobile phones by having the best User Interface, which gave them the most impact for the features (because people could use them easily) this is the competition that Apple are in.

Usability and Fashion are the game in consumer products, not support for a given codec.

FSF Doesn't Get To Define Free Software (3, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091990)

I have great respect for the FSF and the goals they are trying to accomplish but when I see claims like, "But the result still would not qualify as free software, since no one could alter your source code and run the modified result on their phone," it irks me.

More accurately it would not meet the FSF's definition of free software. I would call freely released source code that I could load into the iphone simulator (or with $99 an iphone itself) free software. But whether or not you agree with my usage of the term isn't the point. 'Free software' is a term like 'free country.' It's part of the language and no one entity can dictate it's meaning just because it thinks that is what the term should mean.

To be clear I have no dispute with the FSF. Just as various activist groups might offer their own definitions of free countries that differ so too is it reasonable for the FSF to offer their own definition of free software and to try to convince us it is the correct one. However, journalistic pieces like the one at linux.com shouldn't assume that the FSF can define by fiat what words in our language mean. Instead they should tell us that this would not qualify as free software under the FSF definition.

Re:FSF Doesn't Get To Define Free Software (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092354)

More accurately it would not meet the FSF's definition of free software. I would call freely released source code that I could load into the iphone simulator (or with $99 an iphone itself) free software. But whether or not you agree with my usage of the term isn't the point. 'Free software' is a term like 'free country.' It's part of the language and no one entity can dictate it's meaning just because it thinks that is what the term should mean.
Let's say I invent a new programming language X and sell a proprietary compiler for it for $99. You could write software in the X programming language and try to distribute it under the GPL, but users could only recompile the source code if they bought my X compiler for $99. Apparently this would be a problem. But it gets worse: Users can only recompile the source code if they buy a computer, which costs a lot more than $99. But doesn't that apply to basically all the software?

Nokia N810 (1)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092056)

There's an alternative to the iPod Touch, anyway: the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet [nokiausa.com] . It's about the same size as the Touch but has a slide-out mini keyboard. It runs a pared-down Linux called Maemo. I just got one of these instead of a Touch because I wanted the keyboard, and I wanted a truly open platform (and I didn't want it to be a phone; it isn't).

Capsule review: the hardware design is brilliant. The software, though, is still rather rough. I'd love it if some of these people who are so eager to write code for the Touch, but are turned off by the SDK licensing (and the fact that Apple wants to control app distribution) would come over to the N810 instead. The N810 has real potential, much of which remains unrealized as yet.

Need to go through what Apple provide (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092144)

to see if the iPhone or the SDK actually depend upon any GPL software here...

time for some good hackers to start searching for giveaway strings in the code...

GPLv3 not really a problem? (2, Insightful)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092168)

FSF Licensing Compliance Officer Brett Smith syas:

The FSF's Smith says the fact that the author of the program (i.e., you) and the distributor of the binary (i.e., Apple) are unrelated entities makes no difference. "If a program is meant to be installed on a particular User Product, GPLv3 imposes the same requirements about providing Installation Information whether the software is directly installed on the device or conveyed separately."


The Actual GPLv3 License says:

If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied by the Installation Information.


IANAL, but it looks to me like the only person who would be restricted from distributing GPLv3 code for the iPhone would be Apple, and even they could do so safely as long as they don't bundle it into the same transaction in which you buy the iPhone itself. You or I ought to be able to just provide a link to the source code in our app, or otherwise embed the source code in a readable fashion, and be safe from that clause while still distributing our app through iTunes.

So where's the problem Mr Smith?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>