×

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!

Open Source Licensing and the App Store Model

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the free-as-in-mumblemumble dept.

Cellphones 251

snydeq writes "Savio Rodrigues sheds light on the limitations open source software faces in app stores, a problem that will only increase as the app store model proliferates. 'In effect, in the context of a GPLv2 license, an Apple App Store item that abides by Apple's terms of service is deemed to be restricting usage and imposing further limitation on usage rights than were envisioned by the original licensor of the open source code,' Rodrigues writes. 'Far from being an abstract example, this situation is precisely why the popular VLC media player was removed from the App Store.' Microsoft, for its part, disallows the use of GPLv2 altogether. 'With the vast amount of GPLv2 code available for use, the incompatibility between the App Store's (and Windows Marketplace's) terms of service on one hand and GPLv2 on the other is a problem in need of a fix.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

251 comments

What about Xcode? (2)

df5ea (227427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468064)

Apple's Xcode is included in the Mac App Store. It includes GPLed stuff like GCC. Can this be a problem like VLC?

Or are the rules for the Mac App Store different from those of the iOS App Store?

Re:What about Xcode? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468090)

No, that stuff is actually owned by SCO, until a judge decides otherwise. So it is a big problem.

Re:What about Xcode? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468094)

Apple's Xcode is included in the Mac App Store. It includes GPLed stuff like GCC. Can this be a problem like VLC?

Or are the rules for the Mac App Store different from those of the iOS App Store?

Rules?!?

We make dee steenkeen rules and day done apply to uz!

--- The Management, Apple, Inc.

Re:What about Xcode? (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468170)

VLC wasn't a problem until a single contributor (and nokia employee) complained to Apple to have it removed.

Apple makes their gcc/etc source code available [apple.com] and the app store version of the gcc binary doesn't have any DRM and can be copied/modified so the FSF shouldn't have any reason to complain.

Re:What about Xcode? (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468478)

VLC wasn't a problem until a single contributor (and nokia employee) complained to Apple to have it removed.

Apple makes their gcc/etc source code available [apple.com] and the app store version of the gcc binary doesn't have any DRM and can be copied/modified so the FSF shouldn't have any reason to complain.

No need to mention DRM, since DRM does not inherently conflict with GPLv2. The problem with GPLv2 and app stores is with the terms of services of the app stores.

Re:What about Xcode? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468872)

DRM does inherently conflict with the GPL. DRM is specifically about preventing users from exercising some of the rights that the GPL provides. As in it's there to prevent you from copying the code. Now, I suppose that you could recompile the software without the DRM, but that's really reaching.

Re:What about Xcode? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468172)

Xcode is distributed by Apple itself, so they place no additional burden (with respect to providing source code on request etc) by putting it in the app store.

Re:What about Xcode? (4, Interesting)

Trolan (42526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468186)

The problem that had been noted with VLC was that you had to go to a 'third party' site for the source, and you couldn't build the actual app and install it without additional hurdles. In this case the Xcode application itself isn't GPLd, LLVM (the default C/C++/Obj-C compiler) is similar to the BSD license, and any GPL source elements are available from Apple (http://opensource.apple.com/).

Xcode4 is kind of an odd duck in that it doesn't conform specifically to OSX AppStore guidelines (installs outside of /Applications, isn't a single .app file, etc)

Re:What about Xcode? (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468488)

The problem that had been noted with VLC was that you had to go to a 'third party' site for the source, and you couldn't build the actual app and install it without additional hurdles.

No, none of those were the problem with VLC. The problem with VLC was that the terms of service of the App Store, which users must agree to in order to be allowed to download and install the app, conflict with GPLv2.

LLVM is not the default (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468724)

Although LLVM now ships with XCode, a combination of LLVM and GCC is still the default compiler for new iPhone projects. LLVM for the whole compile chain is an option but not the default.

Re:What about Xcode? (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468568)

Apple's Xcode is included in the Mac App Store. It includes GPLed stuff like GCC. Can this be a problem like VLC?

Or are the rules for the Mac App Store different from those of the iOS App Store?

Completely different. The Mac App Store is simply another way of getting software on your Mac. On iOS, the App Store is the only way of getting software.

Wrong, two other ways (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468728)

Completely different. The Mac App Store is simply another way of getting software on your Mac. On iOS, the App Store is the only way of getting software.

That is untrue. The first way is jailbreaking; but lets ignore that for the moment.

The second way is compiling and installing yourself. Which is something you would be able to do with the developer tools, which you would need anyway once you get access to the source.

Anyone who can make use of the source can also get a build onto the device, in two different but equally effective ways.

Limited problem. (3, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468112)

First, this article is a pitch for OpenLogic's software.

The problem has a limited number of causes:

  • Apple's App Store forces users to agree to a ToS that applies extra restrictions on the software delivered that is explicitly prohibited by the GPL.
  • The devices provide no means whatsoever for a user to load software on the device without going through the App Store.

Were the second case not true, this wouldn't be an issue. If the first case were not true, this would probably not be an issue either. Both cases being true make Open Source (or rather, Free Software) unwelcome on both Microsoft and Apple's mobile platforms, which is exactly how they want it.

Re:Limited problem. (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468182)

The question really is why does Apple force a ToS that prohibit the use of GPL code.

The second question is if the benefit of GPL and other free code is strong enough to make these closed platforms uncompetative.
In some cases it will be better to simply use the GPL code and not realase on platforms that don't allow GPL code.

Re:Limited problem. (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468224)

he question really is why does Apple force a ToS that prohibit the use of GPL code.

It's a side effect of their desire to lay terms and conditions on the users of the App Store. The Apple philosophy seems to be control, regardless of what side-effects it has.

This feeds into the desire for a solid experience, but I think it's become a ridiculous and punitive obsession.

The second question is if the benefit of GPL and other free code is strong enough to make these closed platforms uncompetative.

People are trying, of course. But no vendor seems to have the wherewithal to create a truly good experience, or try and generate the hype necessary to counter Apple. And Apple could undermine that by allowing end-users to load software freely without the App Store.

And I don't at all count Google as the savior here, since going with them basically means you're throwing the existing world of open source and Free Software on a bonfire (which is expected, when you're conforming to design decisions made for what was supposed to be closed source software.)

Re:Limited problem. (1, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468598)

And I don't at all count Google as the savior here, since going with them basically means you're throwing the existing world of open source and Free Software on a bonfire (which is expected, when you're conforming to design decisions made for what was supposed to be closed source software.)

I don't know... Android is clearly not the supreme platform for open source software, but it's still the best of all the viable alternatives. And if it wins in the marketplace then we're on much stronger footing because getting a fully-open solution working which is compatible with the dominant platform is much easier when the dominant platform is mostly open and Linux-based.

App Store Model? (-1, Flamebait)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468648)

Who in the hell is going to be foolish enough to get locked into an app store model?

Real geeks roll their own code. App stores are for those who can't program but like to be seen wearing bling.

Re:App Store Model? (2)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468798)

I agree, but we're apparently in the extreme minority. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out by not having a Facebook page, an iPhone/Android, meaningless sex with chicks from bars, and a big screen television that gets 2000 channels. Then I usually come to my senses and start to hate that shit again.

Re:Limited problem. (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468702)

The question really is why does Apple force a ToS that prohibit the use of GPL code.

Because they are free to choose whatever ToS they desire for whatever reason they desire. It's their app store, their platform and their customers voting with their wallets.

The second question is if the benefit of GPL and other free code is strong enough to make these closed platforms uncompetative.
In some cases it will be better to simply use the GPL code and not realase on platforms that don't allow GPL code.

No. The ToS presents an artificial barrier that favors apps that abide by their ToS. Since there is a profit incentive to be a successful app and no profit incentive to be a ideologically pure app, I suspect that the ToS-compliant apps and their platforms will survive nicely (lot's of people don't care about FOSS ideology) and GPL apps will never be allowed to compete in those official app stores.

Re:Limited problem. (0)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468202)

Oh and Slashdot should remove the <ul> and <li> tags from the list of permitted HTMl if they're going to strip the bullets. Yet another hole in Slashdot 2.0.

Oh yay, 5 minute delay. What the fuck, Taco.

Re:Limited problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468264)

I don't think your bullets were stripped by Slashdot. I can see them. If you cannot see them, perhaps one of our browsers is not rendering it properly. I'm using FF 3.6.15 on Ubuntu. What are you using?

Re:Limited problem. (1)

number6x (626555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468278)

If the source were included (or included as an option) in the download, would that resolve the issue? Most people would not include the optional extra, but providing it could resolve the issue.

Re:Limited problem. (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468304)

If the source were included (or included as an option) in the download, would that resolve the issue?

Inclusion of the source code would not resolve the issue, because it still places restrictions on how the App can be used. Not that it would help, since the user can't rebuild/load it anyway without violating the Apple EULA.

Re:Limited problem. (0)

Snocone (158524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468354)

If the source were included (or included as an option) in the download,

That's exactly how id does it for instance, pop open the Wolf3D.ipa iTunes installed and hey presto there it is.

> would that resolve the issue?

No, the alleged issue -- the biggest, anyways, there's a few more -- is that you can't redistribute the binary (well, you can to jailbroken devices or developers who can run codesign themselves, but in the general case you can't). Source doesn't come into it at all; anyone who claims source distribution is an issue should be gently corrected that there is no impediment to including all GPL-required assets in the .ipa iTunes provides, and pointed at the live example of Wolf3D should they need to prove so to themselves.

Since there is no way in hell ... and nor should there be, anyone who is sane enough to recognize security concerns attendant on any responsible smartphone provider will accept ... that Apple will ever allow unsigned binaries access to their devices, this issue is effectively unresolvable until the FSF pulls its head out and accepts that the general public really, truly, should have code signing protection, remote malware killswitch, etc. for their smartphone devices; there's just too much personal and financial information available there for any responsible company to not do their best to lock down the platform.

And if you're not the general public, you can go right ahead and take the developer option mentioned above, and for the foreseeable future you'll probably be able to take advantage of the jailbreak option too. So there really is no issue here, to people who are reasonable enough to consider the user instead of just their rabid Apple-hating zealotry. 'Tis strange indeed that whilst the TOS of Android Market are similarly infringing in all the ways that are alleged to matter wrt remote kill and so forth, the Apple-bad crowd never seem to notice...

Where do you get that out of GPL v3? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468532)

No, the alleged issue -- the biggest, anyways, there's a few more -- is that you can't redistribute the binary (well, you can to jailbroken devices or developers who can run codesign themselves, but in the general case you can't). Source doesn't come into it at all; anyone who claims source distribution is an issue should be gently corrected

To me this seems exactly backwards. The whole section six of the GPLv3 is all about various forms of binary distribution can provide a way to get to the source. The GPL doesn't really care about the binary, the whole point of the thing is to get people source so that they can modify and make new versions.

There's nothing at all about the App Store that prevents this, as long as your provide all of the code for your project somewhere everyone can get to.

Since there is no way in hell ... and nor should there be, anyone who is sane enough to recognize security concerns attendant on any responsible smartphone provider will accept ... that Apple will ever allow unsigned binaries access to their devices

You don't need unsigned binaries since any developer could build and run the source. Just as the GPL does not require that you buy a computer for someone wanting to compile your source, it does not mandate that the person acquiring the source does not have to buy whatever is required to compile it.

Re:Where do you get that out of GPL v3? (0)

Snocone (158524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468638)

"There's nothing at all about the App Store that prevents this, as long as your provide all of the code for your project somewhere everyone can get to."

You appear to utterly misunderstand the FSF's position. From the PC Magazine article on the VLC flap:

"The GPL gives Apple permission to distribute this software through the App Store. All they would have to do is follow the license's conditions to help keep the software free," wrote the Free Software Federation's Brett Smith earlier this year. "Instead, Apple has decided that they prefer to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary legal terms on all programs in the App Store."

You see "source" mentioned anywhere there? Nope. That's because it's not about the source. It's about restricting distribution to signed binaries, and about reserving the rights to remote kill malware and suchlike. There is no issue with source, as my Wolf3D example shows nicely. The issue is that the FSF refuses to accept that a consumer device capable of exploiting the user's personal and financial information really does need to have its access curated, and although sure Apple's current policies could use significant tweaking, there's no way that they can ever both satisfy the FSF and be responsible to their nontechnical users.

Try paying attention to the LEGALITY (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468706)

You appear to utterly misunderstand the FSF's position. From the PC Magazine article on the VLC flap:

Well excuse me for studying the legal language of the GPL instead of the "position" of the FSF.

I mean, I've only been carefully reading through variants of the GPL and thinking about the wording for 20 years but whatever.

You see "source" mentioned anywhere there? Nope. That's because it's not about the source.

It might not be in the "position" but far more relevant is what an application must do to abide by the GPL.

I know what the FSF is saying, I just don't see it in the license which in fact talks at great length about SOURCE. And the point of the GPL is that you have access to the SOURCE. Free as in speech, remember? And I did in fact mention section six, which you didn't bother to read whatsoever I gather? Because that's where it goes on and on about SOURCE in relation to the binary, which it treats as an afterthought.

Can you (or since you are unwilling, anyone else) point to where in the license the FSF position is codified in legal language instead of baboon like posturing (and know here that I am a card-carrying member of the FSF, can you say the same?)

Re:Try paying attention to the LEGALITY (0)

Snocone (158524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468836)

"Can you (or since you are unwilling, anyone else) point to where in the license the FSF position is codified in legal language instead of baboon like posturing"

I quoted the "baboon like posturing" of the Free Software Federation's Brett Smith, which is the reason VLC is not in the App Store today.

Or perhaps you have an explanation of why VLC is not in the App Store today that is not reliant on the "baboon like posturing" of the Free Software Federation's Brett Smith? Absent that, I will take his "baboon like posturing" and the consequent removal of VLC from the App Store as being conclusive evidence of the actual issues at hand, and your blathering as of no consequence.

Re:Limited problem. (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468642)

Since there is no way in hell ... and nor should there be, anyone who is sane enough to recognize security concerns attendant on any responsible smartphone provider will accept ... that Apple will ever allow unsigned binaries access to their devices, this issue is effectively unresolvable until the FSF pulls its head out and accepts that the general public really, truly, should have code signing protection, remote malware killswitch, etc. for their smartphone devices; there's just too much personal and financial information available there for any responsible company to not do their best to lock down the platform.

There is nothing preventing the GPL from being compatible with those things if implemented properly. The key is that you have to make installing unsigned software obnoxious but not impossible, so that anybody who wants to can do it but at the same time nobody will do it lightly or by accident. The developer option would probably be fine if you didn't have to pay anything or buy a Mac to exercise it.

'Tis strange indeed that whilst the TOS of Android Market are similarly infringing in all the ways that are alleged to matter wrt remote kill and so forth, the Apple-bad crowd never seem to notice...

Because you can install Android apps that aren't from the Android Market?

Why does that make a difference? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468736)

The developer option would probably be fine if you didn't have to pay anything or buy a Mac to exercise it.

I'm not seeing why that is the sticking point, when you have to buy a computer at all to compile anything. Buying a Mac or a developer account (which BTW is not 100% required since you could also jailbreak and deploy that way) seems like variations on a theme instead of a major difference.

Re:Limited problem. (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468668)

Your comment is absolutely stupid.

You attack the FSF for no reason whatsoever. Since when is code-signing GPL-incompatible? What's incompatible is DRM. You don't need DRM to sign your code. All distros sign their code, that's what GPG is for, it's external to the actual app, and it's not in violation of the GPL.

The problem is that Apple wants to control everything. Not any FSF-related issue.

BTW: Nothing in the Android Market is in violation of the GPL. The remote kill switch and the TOS are compliant, and most importantly, you can override them (You can install anything you want, outside the market or otherwise). Some specific manufacturers do break the GPL, but not google.

Re:Limited problem. (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468912)

It's likely that Apple's distribution of X-code with GPLv2 components is illegal if the AppStore terms of service restrict redistribution of the downloaded software. If those terms exist, it doesn't matter if source code were included, because the person downloading Xcode would be restricted from redistributing in either source or binary form. Simple as that. For distribution to be stopped, one of the GCC copyright holders would need to complain.

Re:Limited problem. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468390)

Apple is against all software they can't control. The GPL encourages tinkering, experimentation, and in some cases forking. Apple is the enemy of the Free Software Foundation, make no mistake. Your freedom cuts into their profits.

Re:Limited problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468616)

Then you should probably tell that to Apple. They open source many of their projects, and tend to give back to the open source community. Things like CUPS, Webkit, OpenCL, OpenStep, etc.

They even have a website specifically for that purpose. Hard to control something that you open source....

http://www.opensource.apple.com/ [apple.com]

Re:Limited problem. (-1, Troll)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468398)

Both cases being true make Open Source (or rather, Free Software) unwelcome on both Microsoft and Apple's mobile platforms, which is exactly how they want it.

Meh - the majority of Open Source Licenses don't have a dogma stick up their ass, and are fully compatible with the App Store.

My app got booted from it as well (0, Troll)

happyhacker7 (2012748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468132)

Apple just boots everything they want,and apply double standards everywhere.
I for example wrote small application that allows you to create a list of items you are going to buy,
see how much money you will need, search the web for cheaper alternatives, and many more features.
You can see it on my blog [tinyurl.com].
I didn't even got a reason why it was removed.

Do not follow this link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468298)

Why would anyone need to use tinyurl to shorten something simple like gw001.dyndns-blog.com? Because it redirects to goatse.ru?

Do not follow this link

Clarification Needed (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468154)

Maybe the Free Software Foundation and Apple needs to sit down together, so we open source developers can find out where they stand.

Myself, I have no issue paying for open source, especially when it helps the developers, but it would be nice to be able to have open source software on the app store. What do companies like Apple have to fear?

Re:Clarification Needed (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468234)

It'll never happen. Apple would have to give up some control over the platform and they'll NEVER let that happen.

Re:Clarification Needed (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468362)

I'm just surprised that Steve allows Apple users to keep their keyboards, mouses and touchscreen. I'm thinking their getting dangerously inventing something like this: Apple's goal invention. [wikipedia.org]

Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (4, Insightful)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468192)

Problem fixed.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468200)

Yeah, that'll solve the problem. Cause FOSS has such an easy time with distribution now, it don't need no steenking app store.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (2)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468246)

"Yeah, that'll solve the problem. Cause FOSS has such an easy time with distribution now, it don't need no steenking app store."

Maybe it doesn't need no stinking *Apple* app store if other contenders (I'm looking at you, Android) are clever enough to offer better conditions to open source developers.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468294)

Maybe it doesn't need no stinking *Apple* app store if other contenders (I'm looking at you, Android) are clever enough to offer better conditions to open source developers.

It doesn't matter that the shelves are filled if the store is empty.

No customers.

iPad to grab up to 80 percent of the 2011 tablet market share, report claims [phonedog.com]

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468314)

isn't 80% in 2011 actually a considerable loss from 2010?

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468672)

It doesn't matter that the shelves are filled if the store is empty.

No customers.

Android market share now exceeds iOS market share. And that's with Apple still riding the first to market advantage on the iPad, so we'll see if that lasts once there are a few dozen Android tablet models on the market.

Correction on marketshare (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468744)

Android market share now exceeds iOS market share. And that's with Apple still riding the first to market advantage on the iPad

It is my understanding that if you think of it in those terms, the numbers of total iOS devices when you include iPad and Touch units have Apple still leading in marketshare.

Also until this year the iPhone was carrier limited in the US so the device marketshare may change somewhat this year.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468316)

Dude, apt-get get is like the mother of all app stores.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468372)

Don't use the GPL problem fixed.

Then buy what instead? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468482)

You recommended not buying any computing appliance with lockdown comparable to an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad. But say I want to buy a device for playing video games, in genres other than FPS or RTS, on the living room TV with a housemate or visiting friends. Microsoft's device has lockdown comparable to Apple's. Nintendo's device and Sony's device have even more restrictive lockdown, and any jailbreaks that do exist will evaporate in the next system software update. What make and model would you recommend, and which video games would you recommend to play on it? Or do you just recommend doing without video games?

Re:Then buy what instead? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468590)

If there was a massive existing library of excellent, best of breed open source games which worked fine on your console but were not allowed by the manufacturer for licensing reasons, I could see people being upset about it.

Re:Then buy what instead? (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468682)

A) You can still buy an Android phone even if you buy a Wii.
B) They have a device called a "PC" which is mostly open and runs a lot of video games.

Single-player devices (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468740)

But say I want to buy a device for playing video games, in genres other than FPS or RTS, on the living room TV with a housemate or visiting friends.

You can still buy an Android phone even if you buy a Wii.

Android-powered phones are single-player. Sure, some newer Android-powered devices have TV output, but I'm not aware of anything in the Android API allowing gamepad input; if there is something, it's well HID-den. Even if a game supports WLAN play, is the host expected to buy phones and copies of each game for players 2, 3, and 4 to use?

They have a device called a "PC" which is mostly open and runs a lot of video games.

I'm aware of this. But most developers of PC games appear to be under the impression that the PC is single-player, ignoring the possibility of four gamepads and an HDTV monitor. Even if a game supports LAN play, is the host expected to buy phones and copies of each game for players 2, 3, and 4 to use?

Re:Single-player devices (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468898)

Even if a game supports WLAN play, is the host expected to buy phones and copies of each game for players 2, 3, and 4 to use?

Of course not. Each player can supply their own device and copy of the game like any other LAN party.

That's actually a pretty good idea: Using a touchscreen phone as a game controller and then hooking one of the phones up to a TV, with multiplayer over 802.11. I hope that catches on.

But most developers of PC games appear to be under the impression that the PC is single-player, ignoring the possibility of four gamepads and an HDTV monitor.

That's because it mostly is, or at least the usual model is that each player has their own PC. But what's wrong with that? It's easier than ever because modern laptops are fast enough to play almost all PC games, so you don't even have to lug a bunch of desktops and CRTs into the same room if everybody has their own laptop.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468832)

Problem fixed.

Number of replies to this story: 88 (as of 10:45 PM ET, March 12)

4.5 Million Tablets Were Sold in Q3 2010; 4.2 Million Were iPads [allthingsd.com]

You do the math.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468882)

Problem fixed.

Or just take advantage of the large amount of non-copyleft yet open source code available. Then you don't have to take an option off the table entirely, ironically. People who work hard on their projects and want to restrict distribution in accordance with the ideals of the GPL should (and do) have that choice; there is plenty of free stuff (and more) available to those who choose not to be so rigid.

Re:Don't buy anything that uses such an App store (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468942)

I don't see how forgoing all copyleft software is solving the problem mentioned in this story (since this story is specifically about the problem with using that software), regardless of if you use other software or not.

OTOH, if you stick to devices which don't impose restrictions on the software you can run, you do in fact solve the problem, if only for yourself.

Maybe the market will fix the problem? (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468238)

Why buy devices locked to proprietary standards and licensing? I'd bet a six pack of micro brew the most open market will win the most customers. Android anyone?

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468494)

Why buy devices locked to proprietary standards and licensing? I'd bet a six pack of micro brew the most open market will win the most customers. Android anyone?

Because they work really well, and are extremely reliable and secure. Unlike Android. Last summer I was genuinely of the opinion that my next phone would be an Android. But then I accidentally smashed my iPhone 3 and had to get a replacement right away and got an iPhone 4 (yes, locked in by dependecy on certain apps) so that's put it back a bit. With the recent story about infected apps on the Android Market, I am having second thoughts about switching at all.

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (0)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468624)

"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."

-Benjamin Franklin

*He said something like that, no one seems to know exactly what the specific quote is, this is one possible wording. In any case I strongly agree with his meaning.

Correction on misquote (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468768)

Ben franklin is rolling over in his grave now and your misquote. The full quote goes:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

With the iPhone you are giving up zero liberty since it only ships closed and you can open it if you like and have a need to.

The real problem with your version of the quote is the omission of TEMPORARY. For most users moving to iOS is not a "little temporary safety", it is defacto a safer platform to operate from, as we have seen even in these early days of mobile security issues. Apple has more (read: any) safegaurds around who or what can go in the App Store than does Android. The fact is that prevention ahead of time is always percentage-wise ahead of playing cleanup for disasters you find after the fact. The fact is that Apple has removed a whole vector of attack (Flash) from the web which again lowers the percentage risk of a successful attack.

That is not temporary. That is a permanent advancement for the state of security in computing, and I wish not to simply move the status quo of PC security forward into the next mass realm of computing.

Re:Correction on misquote (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468834)

Ok, forget Ben. I can't say it as simply, but I'll say it in my own words.

"Trading freedom for safety is a bad deal, and I want no part of it. To think that citizens of a county where thousands have died to create and protect our freedom would so easily give up the right to do what they want to do with a device they own in exchange for an illusion of safety created by a company who's only true motive is profit (and rightly so, not blaming them for that part) makes me sick."

-Lod, 2011

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468666)

Would you even know if your iPhone was rootkitted via a webpage?

I think the only reason Android apps were detected is because you can open them up in any ZIP viewer and see whether they bundle known rooting programs. And I believe the app needs the 'system tools' permission to execute them, making it an obvious attack method.

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468700)

With the recent story about infected apps on the Android Market, I am having second thoughts about switching at all.

I guess FUD works.

You know you could get an Android phone and just not install shady apps.

Incidentally, has someone ported Synaptic or the like to Android yet? It would be incredibly convenient to have an "app store" app which is full of free software. Especially because then you could have repositories run by people you trust who make sure nothing in them is malicious. And get all the advantages of the walled garden, but without the walls -- because hey, if I want to install the app my college buddy wrote, I still can.

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468730)

not sure if there is anything like synaptic, but it certainly could be done. AFAIK anyone can create a market, several exist.
if there is any real value in the walled garden, anyone could make one for Android and provide a limited experience for those who desired it.

Re:Maybe the market will fix the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468864)

Isn't that what Amazon was doing?

IMO Android needs not only an open market but a better distribution -- one with a more complete Linux and userland; one which doesn't cater to phones with only 1GB internal storage. I want to see Debian running on my phone :p.

What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468254)

Why would FOSS developers care whether users who buy into company A's platform can use the software?

Isn't this something the people who bought company A's stuff should be talking to company A about, since the users are the ones at a disadvantage and company A's restrictive model is the reason?

Re:What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468274)

Why would FOSS developers care whether users who buy into company A's platform can use the software?

Because Company A is making the arbitrary decision that users should not be allowed to use FOSS, and banking on them not caring because they don't know.

Re:What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468280)

I get that, I agree with you... but.. why would FOSS care what company A does or if it's users can use FOSS? What does FOSS have to gain here?

Re:What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (0)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468504)

Just like any other religion, FOSS seeks to gain new followers.

Every new Ballmer voodoo doll makes Microsoft weaker.

Re:What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468512)

It's not arbitrary. Apple have locked down their devices, and for (IMO) good reasons. The GPL forbids distribution of locked down derivatives, so it isn't Apple's doing, it's the GPL's. Same for Microsoft.

Re:What does GPLv2 code have to gain here? (4, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468708)

It's not arbitrary. Apple have locked down their devices, and for (IMO) good reasons. The GPL forbids distribution of locked down derivatives, so it isn't Apple's doing, it's the GPL's. Same for Microsoft.

Citation needed. Give us the specific clause int he GPL Version 2 that states exactly that. Put up or shut up. The GPL Version 2 is a "source" license. Version 3 tries to go beyond that and specify what you can and cannot do with the binary. I'm not sure if those are enforceable but the author can always resort to copyright to block distribution.

Not incompatible (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468324)

the incompatibility between the App Store's (and Windows Marketplace's) terms of service on one hand and GPLv2 on the other is a problem in need of a fix.'"

No, the app store model does not need a fix, because it's not inherently incompatible. Source code can still be provided, with download instructions.

What's in need of a fix are the fact that phones are locked down to prevent the user from modifying and installing any application they want, without crypto signing and the manufacturer's approval.

App store providers can fix it if they insert a clause in their license terms requiring the user be allowed to modify, compile, and install any application they want on their own, without requiring any crypto signatures.

Without the "cannot install your own app restrictions"; the app store is just a convenient installation program. Many GPL software applications use proprietary installers, such as InstallShield or MSI based installers, without source code provided to the installer; without GPL-violating DRM on the phone, the app store is just a fancy installer program that can install files directly from an URL or remote location.

Re:Not incompatible (3, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468514)

What's in need of a fix are the fact that phones are locked down to prevent the user from modifying and installing any application they want, without crypto signing and the manufacturer's approval.

The GPLv2 does not require that devices honor modifications, only that the user is free to download the source and the binary and modify and redistribute them. That was the entire lesson of TiVo and the motivation for GPLv3.

I would have thought that a reasonable way to solve this would be for a GPLv2 application distributed in the App Store to have a link to a web page where you can download the source and the binary. There would be a sort of philosophical question, given that you can't access the copy that's on your phone but I don't think the GPLv2 requires such pedantic exactitude. So long as you can get a copy of the source used to build that binary, I think the license is met.

And, of course, if you don't want software that you write to be used in such a fashion, use the GPLv3. I don't find anything wrong with that at all -- the author ought to decide based on what he or she feels is right.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tivoization [wikipedia.org]

Finally someone is thinking. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468790)

I would have thought that a reasonable way to solve this would be for a GPLv2 application distributed in the App Store to have a link to a web page where you can download the source and the binary.

Finally someone with some sense.

What I would were I building a GPL app would provide a link to the source and one of many innumerable pirate sites that strip the DRM from a binary. Then it wouldn't even be a pedantic thing, you'd be giving access to an open version of the binary.

Heck, technically the actual "binary" can be taken out of the IPA and put up all by itself, since if you have the project you also have all the other components that get wrapped with the binary for distribution.

Re:Not incompatible (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468582)

Lets see. Check the check box allowing third party app sources. There! I cracked the complex lock down system!

Course thats for Android phones...

Re:Not incompatible (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468634)


the incompatibility between the App Store's (and Windows Marketplace's) terms of service on one hand and GPLv2 on the other is a problem in need of a fix.'"

No, the app store model does not need a fix, because it's not inherently incompatible. Source code can still be provided, with download instructions.

What's in need of a fix are the fact that phones are locked down to prevent the user from modifying and installing any application they want, without crypto signing and the manufacturer's approval.

App store providers can fix it if they insert a clause in their license terms requiring the user be allowed to modify, compile, and install any application they want
on their own, without requiring any crypto signatures.

So, anyone can sign up to be an iOS developer [apple.com] for $99 a year, and then test their modified version [apple.com] to their heart's content. They can then do ad hoc distribution [apple.com] to 100 others. That's iOS development in a nutshell.

I'm trying to see how Apple could relax those restrictions without iOS being slammed with malware. If anyone other than Apple can sign an app for general use, iOS will be slammed. If you can sign an app for only your account, it's hardly better than the current situation.

The only realistic way of beating malware is white-listing, and the App Store model is the only realistic way to do white-listing. The alternative, which is the state of the typical PC, is that your system is constantly owned by someone else. So it seems that most users are going to be owned, whether it's by a big corporation or a script kiddie, it doesn't make much difference in terms of freedom.

Re:Not incompatible (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468678)

The only realistic way of beating malware is white-listing, and the App Store model is the only realistic way to do white-listing.

Having said that, you could have an oligarchy of white-listers instead of the Apple monarchy. But that's like certificate authorities: all I know when I visit foocorp.com is that it really is the site of Foo Corp. and that they really did shell out $50 for a business license.

Re:Not incompatible (1)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468698)

The only realistic way of beating malware is white-listing

No, you just have to design an operating system where beating malware is actually a design goal, rather than an afterthought.

Re:Not incompatible (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468764)

So, anyone can sign up to be an iOS developer [apple.com] for $99 a year, and then test their modified version [apple.com] to their heart's content.

If Apple modified maters so anyone could be an iOS developer without paying extra to Apple, without contacting Apple, without signing up or executing another agreement with Apple, then the software could be GPL compliant.

The GPL does not allow additional restrictions to be added to compliant software (for example, a requirement that you contact the software author and ask for permission before you can modify and load modified code, would make the software GPL-incompatible).

Re:Not incompatible (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468788)

I'm trying to see how Apple could relax those restrictions without iOS being slammed with malware. If anyone other than Apple can sign an app for general use, iOS will be slammed. If you can sign an app for only your account, it's hardly better than the current situation.

They need to allow a way to load an App with no signing at all; to avoid the GPLv3 requirement that secret keys be published.

They can print all the warnings they want to dissuade non-technical users from using the facility to install malicious software on the phone.

They can bury the option and require typing something or popping the cover off the phone and flipping a switch.

My point is... they can satisfy the GPL requirements and allow users to tinker: all without risking that a clueless user will naively activate 'unsigned code installation' and shoot themself in the foot, with the tinkerers' GPL-compliance backdoor.

Limitations of the app stores (1)

malevo (952162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468402)

Isn't it a limitation of the Apple and Microsoft app stores? The Ubuntu apt store works fine with GPL software.

There, I fixed it without duct tape! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468436)

My fix is not buying Apple or Microsoft products. Not owning or using either eliminates the conflict with GPL.

not our problem (1)

tonytraductor (1284978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468446)

The limitation, or problem, is not that of open source. The limitation/problem is that of the app store.

Re:not our problem (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468612)

Completely agree. Open source software has been around much longer than these apps stores, and has been usable on practically all if not all general purpose computing platforms prior to the introduction of the app store scheme. Additionally, the world's most popular smartphone platform has shown that it is quite possible to allow GPL software in an app store model, while MS at least has taken steps to specifically forbid it. This is a self imposed limitation for the app store owners, and while it is entirely their decision to make, any negative effects are also soley their responsibility.

Rumors (-1, Troll)

happyhacker8 (2012750) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468470)

There are rumors that apple will force App Store on Macs as well, Don't belive? Read here [goo.gl]
They aready have it, you know!

Re:Rumors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468510)

Beware -- this is a goatse link.

Use a more liberal OSS license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468484)

The solution is to abandon GPL/GPLv2 code. If you want to release an app that is both Open Source and can comply with the various App Store regulations, just use an Apache, BSD/MIT or other more liberal OSS license; or even LGPL code. The problem is the GPL/GPLv2 imposes restrictions that are designed to hinder code usage in ways that are, in many circumstances, not really an issue. But when the code has to mingle with other licensing schemes those additional restrictions become a huge pain in the ass. The GPL/GPLv2 is for Free Software zealots who have proven to be less than agreeable with the rest of the OSS community.

GPLv2 is not incompatible... (1, Informative)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468554)

The issue is not GPLv2 because its wording is silent on the issues that people are claiming incompatibility. GPLv3 is incompatible because it has explicit language which is unfriendly towards commercial use so it can prevent third parties from publishing in the Appstore. Neither GPLv2 or GPLv3 trump the copyright of the author or authors. When all authors agree to distribute on the app store, then there is no problem. The problem arrises when one of the contributors disagrees and exerts their copyright to block submission to the app store. It is a copyright issue only. The GPLV2 itself is not the stumbling block. Please stop spreading FUD whether it be in support of the FSF's own FUD or against the GPL. It is just a license and it does not trump copyright nor is it a living document which is why it is versioned.

Let me put this in as simply as possible. No license be it GPLv2, GPLv3 can prevent an application from being published on the appstore by the author or authors. The incompatibility in GPLV3 only applies to third parties publishing an application because the GPL has no power to remove the original copyrights of the author(s).

BS article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35468562)

What a load of BS and FOSS scaremongering. Providing the source will allow users to build the apps they want and upload them under their own dev key or to their nicely jailbroken phones. Is it that difficult to provide a link to downloadable source? No. Stupid article.

What about Apache or other license? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468722)

Is the iOS app store compatible with other open source licenses? I am curious, because I was working on a project I was planning to port to iOS. Maybe I'll have to stick to Android, if I can't find an open-source way to license it for iPhone.

Many open source libraries used in iOS development (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468808)

Actually it's not even incompatible with the GPL as some are claiming, if you read the licenses.

But if you don't want to get into the GPL think many iOS libraries use a variant of the BSD or Apache licenses which are more liberal about use in commercial products without releasing source.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...