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Software Open Source Technology

Filtering By License Should Be Possible in App Markets 57

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the virtual-rms-is-watching-you dept.
tonymercmobily writes "With the latest news from Microsoft, which will allow open source apps in their store, we will see more and more an abundance of per-pay applications mixed with license-free ones. What if you can't tell between free and non-free anymore? Even now, a quick search on the Android market is just not telling enough. But what do you do then when Ubuntu has the same problem?" For Android there's always the F-Droid market that exclusively lists Free Software (it's small, but I've found it pretty useful).
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Filtering By License Should Be Possible in App Markets

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  • Wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @11:42AM (#38585296)
    Except in Apples: There's no free as in freedom there.
    • FWIW, the most useful list of software I've found recently is Hyper Jeff's OS X (Native) Applications list:

      http://osx.hyperjeff.net/Apps/apps.php?w=1 [hyperjeff.net]

      which allows filtering by license type.

      That said, there's not much useful new software coming out (I'd love to be proven wrong w/ download links) --- mostly it's just up-dates to stuff I've already d/l'd and installed:

      LyX
      Scribus
      Inkscape

      I'd love to find a modern alternative / successor to Zoomracks (I want a freeform database which allows calculations on informa

    • Except in Apples: There's no free as in freedom there.

      If that's true, how is it possible there are all these open source [maniacdev.com] applications?

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      How did this get Insightful?

      Oh, right. I forgot the groupthink. Apple bad. rar. Microsoft evil. rar.

      Facts: not necessary to form viable opinions any more.

  • by WillerZ (814133)

    The story here is what?

    If you're using precompiled software what does it matter? Unless you build from source you have no evidence that the source on offer in any way corresponds to the binary you're running anyway.

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      I believe the story is that there's a lot of freetards out there who will take non-functional free software over functional non-free software, without even a thought for what the licensing gets them... They just know "buh, GPL good, closed bad".

    • Can you really trust your pre-compiled compiler?

      Reflections on Trusting Trust [bell-labs.com].

      The thing I like about Open Source/Free Software, in the end, isn't so much that I have to, myself, inspect and compile every program. I trust the pre-compiled binaries because I know that if someone *does* try to sneak something in, someone else will find it, probably pretty quickly.

      So, I guess what I'm saying is, I'm glad there's very technical and very paranoid people out there double checking everything so I don't have to.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm glad there's very technical and very paranoid people out there double checking everything so I don't have to.

        This is why I don't vote. I'm glad there are rational, educated, and logical individuals weighing all the options and making great choices. I get to kick back, drink and play games, and watch my country soar into prosperity.

    • by polymeris (902231)

      I almost always use precompiled FOSS. Why? Because in the event that something breaks, e.g. with a change of hardware or a software update, or if I need a new feature, I can then download the source and fix/improve it, without needing to look for and get used to a new program.

      Games are an example of this for me. I hadn't played any propietary ones till the Humble Bundle came out-- decided to give indie games a try. A frustrating experience, quickly noticed how useful it is to have access to the source when

      • by gknoy (899301)

        What the heck platform do you run on that the Humble Bundle games don't work? (I'm genuinely curious, as I didn't realize they had non-Windows versions?)

        • by polymeris (902231)

          Debian x86_64 on a relatively old PC.

          I'm genuinely curious, as I didn't realize they had non-Windows versions?

          Being cross-platform is supposedly one of their major selling points. In practice, for many games, Linux (and probably mac) support comes as an afterthought.

          Approximately half of the game simply don't work. Some run but are unresponsive (Flash stuff). Some work only using the windows versions through wine. The "Frozenbyte" bundle was the worst, ZERO of the games work, and they still haven't even released one of them, Splot.

          Even in the better cases, like the excelent Dung

  • When I was temporarily using my fathers android phone, I wanted a way to sort by price. I could, at the time, find no way to do this. This was really annoying because I had to look through tons of search results to find any of the free apps. It doesn't make me want to get my own android device because finding the free stuff to try out is nearly impossible.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      There's no way to sort by price, but there are way to select free-as-in-beer apps only, I don't have an android device nearby at the moment, but I remember it being very easy to do.

      But that is rather non-sequetor (sp?) to the matter at hand, which is a desire for software with Open Source licenses.

  • by Carik (205890) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @11:56AM (#38585456)

    ...but here's what I do:

    I use the software that does what I need most effectively. My needs are rarely served by refusing to use a piece of software just because it's not open source. I often find that the open source software is a better value (for my needs, GIMP is a better choice than Photoshop, and it's starting to look like it's also a better choice than Lightroom), but not always.

    The simple fact is, most people just don't care what license their software is. You can complain as much as you want that other people are just uneducated, but it doesn't matter.

    To address one point directly from the article:

    Are we really approaching a world where "free" could mean "under a free license", or "proprietary and crippled in terms of features", or "proprietary but ad-supported"? Really?

    No. We're not approaching that. We're STILL at that. Free, to the vast run of humanity, means "you don't have to pay for it." It means "This doesn't cost anything." To a relatively small number, it may also mean "I have set this product free, and you may do whatever you want with it," but that's not the majority view.

    Google knows that. That's why the free label on Android means "no charge." So does Canonical. They've come closer than anyone else to marketing linux in a way that appealed to ordinary consumers. Those ordinary consumers don't really care whether an app or application is open source. They care whether they'll have to pay for it or not. That's not a failing on their part. That's good business sense. It's rarely a worthwhile business technique to annoy your consumers with ideology: it's a much better technique to offer them stuff they don't have to pay for, if they'll just buy this one expensive thing from you.

    • Then what English word does mean "I have set this product free, and you may do whatever you want with it"?
      • by Carik (205890)

        Well, "FOSS" seems to work pretty well. For people who know what it means, it works great. For everyone else, they can look it up.

        Any word with multiple meanings confuses people once in a while. Using "free" for both software that's under an open source license and software that costs nothing has always seemed like a pitfall someone early on in the FOSS movement should have avoided to me. It makes it really hard to explain to people who don't already know what you're talking about, and leads to confusio

        • by tepples (727027)
          FOSS is an initialism including "open source", a term that isn't perfect either [gnu.org]. The term "open source" might get confused with a program whose source code is available but under a license forbidding commercial distribution or distribution of derivatives or even distribution at all. In fact, I've seen exactly this confusion happen at my last employer.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The term "open source" might get confused with a program whose source code is available but under a license forbidding commercial distribution or distribution of derivatives or even distribution at all.

            That's not confusing, that's open source! It's not Free Software, which is why we need such a thing. We were calling stuff "Open" before we were calling it "Open Source" and Caldera is actually the first case where we can find someone using the term Open Source... for OpenDOS. OpenDOS source code derivatives bay be redistributed only for "non-commerical purposes" [sic] and thus it is Open Source but not Free Software, though still more "free" than as in your example above.

            • OpenDOS source code derivatives bay be redistributed only for "non-commerical purposes" [sic] and thus it is Open Source but not Free Software.

              Umm... this is just wrong. Open Source is a trademark of the Open Source Initiative. Their criteria [opensource.org] for open source software explicitly prohibits restrictions on fields of use (such as the one no commercial activity clause in OpenDOS's proprietary license).

              Think of Open Source as a form of brand identity for Free Software. They are both useful terms, but the latter lacks (1) a logo, (2) a single, specific formalization, (3) a license certification process, (4) important legal protections, and (5) marketa

              • by unixisc (2429386)
                #5 above - aside from the marketability - is also ultimately an issue of integrity. If you tell someone that something is free, that person has every right to expect that its price is $0.00. If he later on finds out that it's not, he would be pretty justified in feeling cheated.

                It's more of a coincidence that most 'free' software is actually free of cost, making it even more confusing. In other words, a 'free software' could be free without being free, or could be free without being free. Get what I
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                OpenDOS source code derivatives bay be redistributed only for "non-commerical purposes" [sic] and thus it is Open Source but not Free Software.

                Umm... this is just wrong. Open Source is a trademark of the Open Source Initiative.

                No, it isn't. The rest of your comment is invalid. When you know something [hyperlogos.org] you may come back and make another comment.

      • by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:28PM (#38586538)
        Answer to your headline question, it absolutely should! Hey, call it 'Liberated Software' for crying out loud, nobody will mistake that to mean price = $0.00. Use the right words in the right places. Any Tom, Dick or Harry one asks will, if asked about free software, think that a CD that he can just pick up, insert into his PC and install what's there, contains it. He's not likely to know about the source code and all that.

        Really, the best term for that is 'Open Source', but that's for those who are focussed on a devlopment methodology, and not a cult. For those who are absolutely hung up on RMS's concepts of 'liberty' as opposed to development methodology, call it something like 'Liberated Software' or 'Software Liberty'. There is no reason to stick to the term 'Free Software' like a leech, particularly when it's such a misleading term. And yeah, that implies that the FSF should change its name. Drop terms like 'Free Software' or 'Software Freedom' and call it 'Liberated Software' or 'Software Liberty' if one likes. And rename the FSF as LSF or Liberated Software Foundation, or something along those lines.

        Or alternatively, why not make use of the GNU brand, and call it GNU Software Foundation, or GSF? At least, it ties it w/ GNU, and doesn't confuse it w/ other such projects such as Debian, KDE and so on.
    • My needs are rarely served by refusing to use a piece of software just because it's not open source.

      But what if your needs include long-term maintenance (last-sorting to Do_It/Hire_Someone Yourself, if you have to) or the software being designed to never work against your interests? Free Software isn't the only software that can give you those things, but it's the only software where you know ahead of time that you're getting those things. When you get those things with proprietary software, it's a matte

  • Oh dear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gaspyy (514539) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:08PM (#38585584)

    OK, I'm a software developer and graphic designer. I know all about GPL and Creative Commons and I released plenty of my stuff under open and proprietary licenses as well.

    However, when I buy or download an app (in "consumer mode"), I simply don't care about its license. What matters if it works as advertised, if it contains malware and if it's fun (for games). That's it. I couldn't care less if, say, "Smart Tools" is GPL v3 or Apache or proprietary. It does the job. 99.999% people think the same.

    If you want to have only open source software on your tablet or phone, pat yourself on the back, you're so special.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      99.999 % of people would never dream about even downloading the source code to Firefox, yet what makes the difference long-term is that 0.001 % do.

      Netscape also did the job back in the 90's.

      • Actually, I think Firefox is the clearest manifestation of the "big overstatement" of open source (I think calling it the "big lie" would be an overstatement itself, and not really fair to the FOSS community). Other than debian's re-branding, I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything like a fork of Firefox. I know just from slashdot that I'm not the only one who loathes their new broken-web-design UI and horrible usability decisions, but no one has forked it to put the old UI back (and no, extensions don'

        • by walshy007 (906710)
          With gpl software you are pretty much guaranteed long term stability, as the worst case scenario is it simply stagnates. With proprietary software at any moment the company can pull the rug from underneath you and no longer support your platform, change functionality in a negative way whereby you can no longer access the older version, etc etc. The benefits are numerous.
          • Except that, with the exception of access to older versions (which is not unique to FOSS. I can still download WinAmp 2.x, for example), Firefox is showing all of the problems you just listed for proprietary software. There is no stability, especially in a frigging 3-week release cycle and with no one to take up the mantle of making a non-braindead version, it's just as much a dead-end as it would be if it was closed source.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Mozilla is Netscape. They didn't actually do the job back in the 90s, they failed spectacularly and Microsoft proceeded to whip their asses.

        Sun and AOL infused a bunch of money in the Netscape rejects that went on to reform Mozilla, and Mozilla is doing exactly the same thing as Netscape did.

        The only difference is that now Mozilla releases the source, which the original Netscape did not, even though their source came from publicly funded research at a university.

        The source to firefox is worthless for all p

    • It depends on the app. If it's something like a game, where it's basically throw-away code that I hope works now and may not care much if it stops working in six months, then I agree. On the other hand, if it's something that I want to use long-term, then I do care. For example, I bought OmniGraffle for OS X for my PowerBook. It came as a PowerPC binary. OS X 10.7 doesn't include the PowerPC emulator, so if I want to open any of the OmniGraffle files then I have to either buy a new version, run OS X 10

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        $100 says that your statement is 100% false in every example you can give me.

        What you have stated is the theoretical premise of why Open Source rocks.

        The reality of it is, that old software thats out of data probably won't even compile and build on your new OS, its certain that you're going to have shared library dependancies missing.

        You're claiming 'I can run old Open Source software', when what you mean is 'I can go get a free updated copy of an old Open Source program that is still maintained and get THA

        • $100 says that your statement is 100% false in every example you can give me.

          I'll take that bet. Two projects: gnuplot and pdflatex. I have the versions that I used for my PhD thesis in 2006 on my PowerPC Mac. I recompiled the same versions on my first MacBook Pro. This copy still works on my new MacBook Pro running 10.7 (I didn't upgrade, the new machine came with it, so no Rosetta - even if you do copy if from the old machine, you don't have the PowerPC libraries and it won't actually work, so that's more nonsense in your post).

  • Not enough people care about software licenses to warrant adding an option to filter. Just type include GPL in search box and you will find the desired results

    The developers who care about software licenses will include the information in the description as a selling point.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Google should know the license so that if the issue of some software needing to be treated differently comes up in the future they know which is which without an audit. Then they could express this information in an advanced search form at little to no cost. Indeed, it should lower their costs over time, since people would be spending less time looking at apps they don't want anyway.

  • This really sounds like a feature request. I want to filter my searches in a way that is not provided and get information in the results that is not provided. I don't know what to say I'm faced with apps everyday that don't have all the features I would like and is weighted down with features I never use. I would have submitted it to the manufacture not /.

  • There are plenty of people who will pay the .99 cents to not have to compile the source but being able to take the source and compile your own is about as close as we can get to trusted applications.

  • But what do you do then when Ubuntu has the same problem?"

    If there was enough demand I think you would find 'filter by license' already there. But I don't think it needs to be there cluttering up already limited screen space (on my Android phone) when it is only demanded by a very, very small group of dogmatics.

    Personally I don't give a shit if an app is open source or not. If I am installing an application, it is for a purpose. Whether it is open source or not is moot. And I am certain that I am in the maj

  • A Good Start... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sigmabody (1099541) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:27PM (#38586530)

    I do think this is valuable information, but it doesn't go far enough. You should be able to filter apps by permissions as well, on platforms which support per-operation permissions for applications.

    You know what would be even better, though? If the per-operation permissions were settable on a per-application basis, and then spoofed/failed if the app can't work without it. There are plenty of apps that I want to use, but require extraneous permissions for things I don't care about, and/or don't want the app to access. If someone could build a platform which put the permission usage into the user's hands (even as an Android variant, for example), that would be awesome.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      https://market.android.com/details?id=com.stericson.permissions#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDUwMSwiY29tLnN0ZXJpY3Nvbi5wZXJtaXNzaW9ucyJd

      Permissions Denied

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