User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jul 22, 2010 13:14 UTC (Thu) by smowton (guest, #57076)
In reply to: FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL by speaker2animals
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. That way memcpy(3) is invoked on a machine owned by the publisher and, in the required sense, the copy is being made by somebody not the distributor. In a similar sense, Best Buy could order boxed copies of Ubuntu on demand, as customers ask for them, and if Ubuntu were kind enough to set up a desk in the parking lot, that "just-in-time" copy would take time comparable to a download request.

Overall however this seems to show a shortcoming of the legal framework around this stuff; it wouldn't be unreasonable for it to be possible for the author of some program to accept responsibility for copies made by Apple.

A separate problem seems to be the issue of restriction. This is a little thornier. I wonder would it be enough for the program, when downloaded (direct from the publisher's servers, using the App Store as nothing but a directory), for the program to show a notice saying "this is free software; source code is at X along with instructions for running it on this and other platforms"? 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.


(Log in to post comments)

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jul 22, 2010 14:09 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

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.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jul 23, 2010 11:01 UTC (Fri) by smowton (guest, #57076) [Link]

Ah hang on, I was under the impression that users could run arbitrary crap on their local phone, just not distribute it. It turns out this is not so unless you jailbreak it and thus void your warranty or pay for a developer's license to permit "testing".

The download thing can still be got around though -- there's nothing to stop Apple retrieving the download by way of the publisher but checksumming the download as it goes through (or modifying the app store client to check that the checksum matches one handed down by the Store servers) in order to ensure that the right thing is being distributed.

Now then what about what seems to be the core problem: is it ever possible to honour free licenses on a locked-down platform? What if Apple offered an Android-style "authorised" jailbreak, in which the phone permits you to download software but breaks your warranty for doing so? Is Apple imposing illegal conditions in that way? If so, doesn't the Android similarly prevent you from replacing core system components without such a jailbreak and so break the license attached to the kernel?

Unfortunately I'd guess that Apple don't want the support headache from people who followed a HOWTO online and have screwed up their phone, their policy generally being to save people from their own ineptitude...


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds