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Locked-Down Tablets Endanger FLOSS For End Users 242

Posted by timothy
from the debian-friendliness-as-coal-mine-canary dept.
itwbennett writes "If you buy into the idea that tablets (and ultrabooks, and smartphones) in the enterprise are nothing more than glorified thin clients, then Microsoft's Surface presentation seemed more flashback than future. And if you're a fan of free software, the announcement might also have struck fear in your heart. While Microsoft has never locked out apps based on license, it's not impossible that they might chose a more locked-down Apple-esque approach for Surface, writes blogger Brian Proffitt. 'And that could put free software for end users very much at risk.'"
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Locked-Down Tablets Endanger FLOSS For End Users

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  • Re:Lock Out (Score:5, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:15AM (#40385591)

    Apple doesn't ban giving out the source code. I've downloaded the source to numerous iOS apps in Apple's store.

  • Re:waste of time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:21AM (#40385665)

    Metro is 100% locked, regardless of CPU architecture. Microsoft wants all future development to take place using Metro, and it isn't hard to see why.

  • No, it's Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:35AM (#40385867)
    There is nothing inherent to the repository / app store model that is incompatible with the GPL. It's Apple's policies that are incompatible with the GPL, whic was a deliberate decision on the part of Apple to maintain their power over users.
  • Re:Lock Out (Score:4, Informative)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:37AM (#40385907)
    Not even that. The problem is that some copyright holders of GPL licensed software _claimed_ that having software based on their code was against the GPL license, and threatened to sue Apple. Whether that claim is true or not is up for debate, but clearly these people didn't _want_ their code on the App Store, and the _threat_ of being sued was enough for Apple to remove the software.

    If the copyright holders agree that their GPL licensed software may be distributed through the App Store then there is no problem.

    And in practice, when GPL licensed software appears on the App Store, anyone can get the source code (you can even include it in the application package), you can make the application available to anyone else who wants it by telling them where to download it, you can create derived works. It's exactly the opposite of the Tivo situation where you had code that followed the letter of the GPL but violated the spirit - on the App Store, you can in practice do all the things that GPL is supposed to allow you, even if the letter of the GPL license isn't followed.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by berashith (222128) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:41AM (#40385965)

    Why would this happen? Today there are two players in the market that are well ahead of MS, and seem to be standing strong where MS is trying to break in. One of these players encourages a lot of free and open apps, and has plenty of hardware industry support as well as an original enabler of the entire platform with possibly deeper pockets than microsoft.

    I would not expect a former monopoly holder on last decades technology who is well behind in the current fields to be able to re-assert itself into the same position as it had enjoyed previously.

  • by MrWin2kMan (918702) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:56AM (#40386183) Homepage
    This article is obviously written by someone who hasn't bothered to take a look at Metro development on Windows Phone. Having a locked-down environment does not prevent anyone from placing free apps in the Marketplace nor providing the source code. Marketplace, like iTunes, does have some control of what can get published, as all apps have to meet established criteria. Tell me, do we really need to tout 500,000 apps, when 100,000 have some sort of flatulence sound as their reason for being? Not having Chrome or Firefox or Opera on Windows Phone bothers me not a bit. The environment is web-based, and the evermore slight variations in the way the different browsers present the display can wreak havoc on the user experience. Microsoft is right to control this. The fact that API's are not available to allow an alternative browser to function on Windows Phone/Windows RT as it would on a full Windows 7/Windows 8 client probably points more to the relative youth of the OS. For once, Microsoft is taking direct control over its future, and following in the footsteps of the beloved Jobs. Windows RT tablets will directly compete with the iPad, and offer pretty much the same user experience. If you want something more robust, use Windows 8. If you want to write more robust applications and provide you sourcecode, write for Windows 8. It will be a much larger audience anyway.
  • Re:Lock Out (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .999mahoj.> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:03PM (#40387853)

    Your comment only applies to GPLv3 - and that was not Apple's doing.

    GPLv2 code is fine on the app store (and there's a fair bit of it on there). Apple even changed their terms and conditions after the VLC incident to clarify the issue. There's nothing stopping you from releasing a GPLv2 app on the store and distributing the binaries and the source via other means (or even within the app).

    The "hostility" comes in the form of the GPLv3, written seemingly in a fit of nerd rage that while the Tivo box was technically using the code legally, the spirit of the licence wasn't being followed, thus the highly restrictive v3 was born. I can totally understand why it was written, but to try and claim that the reason you can't use GPLv3 code on the app store is *Apple* hostility is just not painting the true picture. The v3 licence is simply incompatible by design *of the writers of the licence* to be hostile to App Store and Tivo-type business models.

    Again, I can understand and respect that position, but it's not all on Apple for "being totally anti freedom".

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