EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.23.13

Keeping Free Software Free (Libre)

Posted in GNOME, Google at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smartphone

Summary: The real danger that the leading Linux-based operating system (Android) will cease to be free/libre

Autonomy of a nation depends on various factors which need to be pursued and assured. If your country is under the surveillance of another, then it is being controlled — determination-wise — by another. If the surveillance is bi-directional, as in the case of Russia and the United States for example, then neither country is in charge of another. Here in the UK we have at least two NSA bases (the ones we know about), whereas Britain has no army or surveillance bases in the US. It helps show who is in control. Today I travelled to Yorkshire, where protesters habitually go to an NSA base where they denounce US imperialism.

This rule extends to software. If the programmer can watch the user but the user cannot see the programmer or even the program’s code, then the user is essentially occupied. He or she has no control and the possibility of self determination is lowered. Espionage makes it possible for the software owner to weaken the user. Think how Google would cope if its infrastructure was Windows-based. It is not just a matter of immediate monetary cost. The hidden costs are rarely taken into account, but they matter.

Earlier this month Google and Qualcomm found themselves in hot water following a public resignation over the closing of Android. Google has since then retracted an apparent decision to go along with Qualcomm, but there is still no assurance that source code will be free in the future. This is a serious cause for concern.

Back in the days it seemed inevitable that one Linux-based platform or another would dominate the mobile world [1] and even expand to desktops [2]. It was hard to tell which one because several multi-vendor alliances were created, decoupled, merged, etc. Some platforms, like WebOS for instance, were proprietary (except the kernel, Linux). Some had GNU, some did not [3,4]. Some were Web-oriented, whereas others encouraged development of native applications. Google clearly won this race and is, for now, the market leader. Almost a dozen other Linux-based platforms are still contenders and all of them are now Free software (or claim to be, even if source code is not yet publicly available).

Earlier this week there was a discussion on the Web about whether or not Android qualifies as a “Linux distro” (can’t add “GNU” in this case). Some said that proprietary programs on Android disqualify it. Whatever the case is, Android itself — the platform — is Free software in a very weird, Google-like sense. Like other FOSS projects from Google, development is done privately and code released periodically. If new versions of Android can be ‘leaked’, then we know development is not quite so open to the community (non-OHA parties).

The final point to be made here is that in order to empower users and developers now that Android is a universal platform (or rapidly getting there) we should keep pressure on Google to keep Android free/libre. The wider the usage of Android, the smaller the proportion of users who care about freedom will get. Then, Google will be able to reason about de-emphasising FOSS and community participation in the same way canonical did. Currently, the only reason Android is somewhat respectful of some technology rights like privacy is that its free nature permits derivatives like Replicant to compete on key terms and compel OHA partners to catch up. If Android was ever to shut out ‘foreign’ developers, then we would expect Android to become more user-hostile and therein lies a principal argument for software freedom. If malicious features can be removed, one developer or another will make sure they do get removed. This limits what companies like Google can get away with.

Free software is not about price or even about enabling every single user to modify his or her software. Software freedom helps us assure that competition acts as a regulator against malicious features. The less free/libre the software is, the more menacing the software will become over time. Just watch what Vista did with DRM and Vista 8 does with restricted boot and other malicious ‘features’ which treat the user like an enemy.

From the news:

  1. Open Source Mobile OS: The Four Contenders

    Google and Apple currently enjoy a virtual duopoly in the worldwide smartphone market, with Android and iOS commanding 79 percent and 14.2 percent of sales respectively, according to Gartner.

    Their nearest challenger is Windows Phone with 3.3 percent and BlackBerry is back further still, but such dominance has not been enough to dissuade four new mobile operating systems from believing they can upset the market leaders.

  2. HDMI-stick mini-PC runs Android on quad-core ARM SoC

    China-based Ugoos announced a quad-core, HDMI-stick style mini-PC available for a special price of $65 (normally $100). The Ugoos UM2 runs Android 4.2 on a quad-core Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 SoC, offers an HDMI port, WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0, and provides dual USB 2.0 host ports for external peripheral connection.

  3. MeeGo Startup Jolla Closes Pre-Sales Campaign For Its First Phone, Booking Orders Of Up To 50,000 Units

    Jolla, the Finnish startup comprised of ex-Nokians that’s building its own MeeGo-based smartphone platform and phone hardware has closed out a pre-sales campaign for the device it showed off in May. Thing is, it’s not saying how many phones are in this first pre-order batch — so it’s not really saying very much about the level of demand it’s seeing (or not seeing).

  4. Tizen, your next HTML5 mobile operating system

    The open source Tizen operating system could be your next mobile device experience.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. More of Bill Gates' Investments in GMO and Mass Indoctrination Under the Disguise of 'Donations'

    Microsoft's arrogant and famously corrupt co-founder is taken to task by those whom he is trying to bamboozle for monopoly, unlimited cross-generational power, and never-ending profit without risk



  2. Home Depot Confirmed a Victim of Microsoft's Bad Security, Microsoft Lays Off Security-Related Staff

    News reports circulate showing that Home Depot was knowingly careless with its Windows dependency while Microsoft lays off staff focused on security



  3. European Patent Office/Organisation - Suspicion of Improper Collusion Between EPO President and Chairman of the Administrative Council: Part III

    A preliminary look at Battistelli's reign and how regulatory powers got abolished, leaving the EPO reckless and largely unaccountable



  4. Links 21/9/2014: xorg-server 1.16.1, Linux Kernel 3.16.3

    Links for the day



  5. Links 20/9/2014: GNOME 3.13.92, Android L

    Links for the day



  6. Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

    MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States



  7. If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

    A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair



  8. The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

    Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling



  9. Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

    Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia



  10. Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

    Links for the day



  11. Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  12. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  13. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  14. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  15. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  16. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  17. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  18. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  19. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  20. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  21. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism



  22. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  23. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  24. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  25. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  26. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  27. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  28. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  29. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  30. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts