Bonum Certa Men Certa

Keeping Free Software Free (Libre)

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.


Recent Techrights' Posts

A Response to Bill Maher's Senseless Attacks on Julian Assange and Wikileaks
published a few hours ago
The List of Sites or Sources for Linux News is Getting Shorter Over Time (Despite GNU and Linux Steadily Growing in Usage)
A lack of publishing begets lack of educated, informed population (a return to Dark Ages where rulers leverage mass ignorance)
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 13, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, July 13, 2024
Julian Assange’s Brother Gabriel Shipton Explains the Logistics of 'Smuggling' Julian Out of the United Kingdom
a lot of new information and prison stories
[Video] Why Wikileaks Publishing War-Related Documents Was Both Important and Justified
It's important to remember the principle which says privacy is for the powerless, whereas the powerful (like those with the power to kill) deserve not privacy but transparency
[Meme] Attacking the "G" in GNOME (Since 2009) Was a Mistake
Spending 50,000 pounds to sue women of racial minority
 
GNOME Foundation Welcomes Dolly
It didn't work out with Molly and Holly
Links 14/07/2024: Perils for AI PC Hype Train, Further Attacks on Freedom of the Press
Links for the day
The Number of Web Servers Has Gone Down
Cloud fatigue deux?
[Meme] GNOME Foundation's Relationship With Women
Lots more coming soon, so stay tuned
The Smugness of "I'm a Journalist"
Attacking women for expressing their opinions (for example, about the abuse they received) isn't unprecedented
It Takes No Courage to Become Another Corporate Stooge
transition to spam
Why Techrights Has Just Programmatically Blacklisted ZDNet
Even their "Linux" writers are AWOL
Gemini Links 14/07/2024: The Stress of 24/7 Notifications and FOSS tools for Sipeed Tang Nano 1K
Links for the day
Windows Already Down to 10% in Lao (It was 96% a Decade and a Half Ago), Vista 11 Adoption Has Stalled
And GNU/Linux is topping a 1-year high in Loa
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Links 13/07/2024: Patent Trolls in UK Court of Appeal, Eric Schmidt Continues so Show Womanising at Google
Links for the day
Links 13/07/2024: Not Quite Dead Yet After All and Unfederated E-mail
Links for the day
Holly Million, GNOME Foundation departure after Albanian whistleblower revelations
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
[Meme] Like They Got Rid of Molly (and Now Holly)
Pay over 100,000 dollars a year for someone without any background in tech (to "lead" a tech project)
Microsoft Windows Falls to Almost 10% in Palestine (It Was Measured at 100% Just 15 Years Ago)
quite a big drop
Guardianship of the Licence is Not Enough (the Case of Systemd and Microsoft)
Whether the GPL gets enforced or not, if people adopt lousy software, that will have negative consequences
Speaking Out and Spreading the Message of GNU
Free Software Foundation (FSF) got 112 new members since 2.5 weeks ago
3.5 Years in Gemini
It's important to speak about and spread the word (about software freedom, BSD, GNU/Linux, patents etc.) in a medium that's strategic and growing
[Meme] Whoever in GNOME Decided to Attack the G (GNU), It Was a Foolish Miscalculation
How could they expect any outcome other than GNOME's own collapse?
Windows Down to Unprecedented Low in Czech Republic, Android Rises to New Record
From 98% in July 2009 (15 years ago) Windows is down to all-time low of 38% and well below Android
GNOME Foundation Lost Nearly a Million Dollars in 2 Years, IBM and GAFAM Won't Bail It Out Anymore
Seems like a suicide mission
Google News Has Become a Big Pile of Garbage
The issue predates chatbots, but these SEO tricks were accelerated somewhat by slop
OpenAI and ChatGPT Could Very Well Collapse and Shut Down Later This Year (Huge Losses, Sagging Usage Levels, and Massive Debt)
we illuminate the suppressed observations that Microsoft-sponsored publishers and cheaply-made slop (LLM spew disguised as "news") try to distract from
Difficult Times in GNOME Foundation
GNOME Foundation is in "crisis management" or "face-saving" or "damage control" mode
Links 13/07/2024: TikTok Interferences, YouTube Throttled in Russia
Links for the day
Kathy Lette on Julian Assange Staying at Her Attic, Why His Release Matters So Much, and Jen Robinson Staying Over Yesterday
They talk a lot about politics, but the segment mentions publishers, including Rushdie
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 12, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, July 12, 2024
Microsoft Windows Down to a New Low in Canada (Only a Third)
Very steep decline a decade ago
Links 12/07/2024: EU/China Tensions and Ukraine War Updates
Links for the day
EPO Staff Reps: "Until now, Mr Campinos is still leaving the appellants in the dark about the exact content of the opinion of the Appeals Committee on the EPO salary adjustment procedure."
Campinos chooses to lawyer up rather than listen up
EPO Staff Representatives Say It Has Gotten Very Hard to Get Promoted (Forget About Getting Rewarded for Hard Work)
This has long been a problem
[Meme] That Time EPO Workers Were Panicking Because the Elevators Kept Getting Stuck
Many people forgot that
Occupational Health, Safety and Ergonomics Committee (LOHSEC) at the European Patent Office (EPO)
nobody in EPO management ever gets punished for crimes, no matter how severe
[Video] Julian Assange's Brother Gabriel Shipton on How the Convoy to the Airport Was Arranged, Being at the Beach With Julian Assange After Release (He's Doing Well), and How Taylor Swift Has 'Helped' Julian
At the airport he was greeted by many press crews, but they were not there for him. They were there because of Taylor Swift.
[Meme] Financial Disinformation From Chatbots Controlled by the Manipulator (Rigger)
ChatGPT, the media is starting to say you're all hype...
Microsoft is Actually Quite Worthless, Its Valuation is Based on Lies and Consistently Defrauding Shareholders
Microsoft's future is not what Wall Street "tells" us
Links 12/07/2024: Nations That Already Ban TikTok and Russia's 'Shadow War' Online
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/07/2024: Changing and the WIPO Lunacy
Links for the day
Let's Encrypt Continues to Collapse in Geminispace and That's Good News for Free Speech (Among Other Things)
due to the way modern Web browsers work, many sites have no option but to use Let's Encrypt or pay for some other CA to issue some worthless-but-glorified bytes
Microsoft Falls Below 20% in Montenegro - Plunging to All-Time Low
sharp drop
[Meme] The Free Speech Absolutist From Apartheid South Africa
What will it take for all sensible people to quit X/Twitter?
The Final Demise of Social Control Media May be Upon Us (It Ought to be Collectively Abandoned for Society's Sake)
If it keeps going down, prospects of a turnaround or rebound are slim
Linux is Displacing Microsoft and Replacing Windows in Germany (Android Surge and New Highs for ChromeOS+GNU/Linux in Germany)
Germany is upgrading to GNU/Linux, not to latest Windows
The Latest NDAA Amendment Can (or Should) Allow the United States to Remove Microsoft Even Faster From Its Infrastructure (Which Routinely Gets Cracked Completely by Russia and China, Thanks to Microsoft)
It's time to move!
Reorganising for Better Efficiency and More Publication (Original Material)
XBox "journalism" these days is mostly slop (chatbot spew disguised as news), so studying this matter isn't easy
Software Freedom is Still the FSF
At the moment the best advocacy group for Software Freedom is the FSF
Links 12/07/2024: XBox in Trouble, Crackdowns in UAE
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/07/2024: Make Tea Not War, Considering Guix
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 11, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, July 11, 2024