FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL
Posted Jul 22, 2010 14:09 UTC (Thu) by anselm
In reply to: FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL
Parent article: FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL
In that case, a really cheap hack to get around the whole mess would be to have Apple's store capable of requesting the download from the original publisher's website, rather than storing the file themselves and copying as needed.
This would be nice in theory, but in practice the iPhone App Store is all about Apple controlling what software is available on the device. Therefore it is highly unlikely that they will allow iPhone users to download stuff from servers that Apple doesn't own – otherwise there would be no need to have the App Store in the first place, except as a convenience for naive users.
Figuratively this would leave the user empowered to do anything they could with ordinary free software; the fact that the presently running copy can't be modified in situ ceases to restrict their actions in any meaningful way.
One of the main ideas behind free software is for people to be able to change the software that they're actually running. Being able to look at the source code is nice but iPhone users can have that now without Apple's cooperation (there is nothing that keeps the authors of GPL software from adding a link to the source code to, say, the »About« dialog or moral equivalent thereof), and not being able to actually run a tweaked version of the program sort of defies the purpose of free software. Of course, fixing this would mean opening the iPhone to any old code from anybody, which as we know is not what the iPhone is traditionally about, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.
to post comments)