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Jolla's Sailfish OS Ported To The Gemini PDA

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  • #21
    Originally posted by DrYak View Post

    The current trend on such platforms (where the source happens to be visible for technical reasons), which started back with Palm's webOS (mostly local HTML5 webapps) and is continued with Jolla's Sailfish OS (mostly QML apps), is *NOT* to release modified version of the code (that could be problematic due to the lack of licensing), *BUT* to release the modifications : basically a patch (but with some extra packaging sugar around). That's how first webOS and then later Sailfish evolved a patch system (see PatchManager).

    Such patch only contain *the modification* that the developers wrotes. i.e.: lines that they have written and upon which they control the licensing. And not the original unlicensed app.
    (patches end up being licensed under some permissive license such as MIT)
    There is no legal danger to the developers if they ever only release lines that they've written.

    --
    The Open Source patches and PatchManager is interesting. It's a nice workaround. It still doesn't match proper FOSS software though. Some scenarios that might not be handled by it:

    - the user wants to pay a developer to improve their software. How does the developer get the closed source but source available (CSBSA) software? The license for the closed source software may explicitly prohibit making copies or sharing copies with other people. The license may say that only the original purchaser can have access to it.
    - multiple users are running slightly different versions of the same CSBSA software. The Open Source patch that user A developed to improve his software might not work with the slightly different version of the CSBSA software that user B is running. How does user B reconcile this issue?
    - a very obvious problem: what if a CSBSA software user simply wants to share their CSBSA software with another user? They probably can't.

    I'm sure there are loads of other potential issues too.

    I definitely appreciate that it's better when the source code is available even if it's restricted by a closed source license. I also think this Open Source patching idea is a nice workaround to improve the situation. However, I think there are considerable advantages to having actual Open Source software as opposed to CSBSA software. If Jolla do ever Open Source all software and apps, then the users will be far more protected now and in the future even if Putin, Obama & the Queen of England buy out Jolla and attempt to impose some nefarious plot on the old Jolla users.

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    • #22
      Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
      The Open Source patches and PatchManager is interesting. It's a nice workaround. It still doesn't match proper FOSS software though.
      Yup, it's a good temporary workaround until all the interesting bits get properly opensourced.
      (But as most of the funds coming into Jolla come from their B2B partners, and as these businesses are interested into entirely different features and don' give a damn about opensourceing, Jolla will still need to do any opensourcing on their spare time/spare resources for any foreseeable future. So don't expect it to land tomorrow)

      Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
      Some scenarios that might not be handled by it:
      - the user wants to pay a developer to improve their software. How does the developer get the closed source but source available (CSBSA) software? The license for the closed source software may explicitly prohibit making copies or sharing copies with other people. The license may say that only the original purchaser can have access to it.
      {...}
      - a very obvious problem: what if a CSBSA software user simply wants to share their CSBSA software with another user? They probably can't.
      This was a legal limitation for webOS (even if neither Palm, HP or LG have seemed to prosecuted anyone for having downloaded one of the easy to download image. If I remember correctly, the SDK has been made available for free, no purchase required, so getting the SDK and the emulator might be a viable option. Palm have always been fond of having an active community and have always made best effort to make such thing possible. Then by the time of HP/LG's openWebOS and LuneOS effort, much more bits got opensourced).

      For the SailfishOS part, Jolla has explicitly addressed the situation : Only a few specific bits require original purchase : Myriad's AlienDalvik compatibility layer, T9 prediction Keyboard, Sync plugin for Microsoft-Exchange servers. That's it.
      Everything else is explicitly available for free-as-in-beer to the community. This has brought to life tons of community ports to a multitude of devices (the Fairphone 2 being a good example). In fact some ports (like Sailfish X on Sony Xperia X and the current undergoing Gemini) have been possible thank to collaboration with the community.
      (Just like Palm with their PalmOS and webOS, back when they were part of Nokia, the people that wrote Meamo/Meego were very happy to have an active community. Of course nowadays they'll be keeping the same spirit within Jolla).

      Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
      - multiple users are running slightly different versions of the same CSBSA software. The Open Source patch that user A developed to improve his software might not work with the slightly different version of the CSBSA software that user B is running. How does user B reconcile this issue?
      It is indeed a slightly problematic situation: whenever you upgrade your copy of Sailfish, you need to also upgrade the patches to the latest version too.
      And it was a set back in the webOS era, with new devices coming out running new versions of the OS that wasn't supported (officially) by older devices.
      (Palm Pre was officially stuck at webOS 1, though some community managed to backport webOS 2. Palm Pre+ Pre2 and HP Pre3 were stuck at webOS 2. HP TouchPad had the newest webOS (3, I think ?) )

      In the specific case of Jolla's Sailfish, we're a little bit more lucky. Jolla is making special effort to make sure that their OS is availble on *all* of their past devices
      (the SailfishOS version 3.0 coming up for Gemini will also be released even for their first Jolla 1 phone from 2013). Having an extremely light-weight OS thanks to QML helps a lot in that direction.

      So in most case, everyone end up running version B and the user A will upgrade their patch, if they still use the platform (or somebody else could fork it and do it).

      The only limitation are devices released by 3rd party who are in charge of their own platforms. (I.e.: Jolla will also release Sailfish 3 for their own Jolla C. Wheter Intex will decide to make the download available for Aquafish (Same hardware) owners or whether their devices will get blocked is entirely Intex' decision).
      But having an asshole provider that locks your device is going to be problematic anyway, no matter if the OS is opensourced (see AOSP as an example).

      Again. It's not perfect (it's not 100% GPL or even BSD code) but it's a good enough workaround until Jolla eventually finishes fulfilling their open-sourcing promises.

      Currently, it works functionally mostly as good as if it was opensourced for the key points that interests me :
      there's a large community around it, lots of 3rd party development is going on, etc.
      And I get a full blown, fully opensourced GNU/Linux *under the hood* (a.k.a. Mer Core)
      I don't mind if the paint job isn't GPL yet (a.k.a. Jolla Lipstick and a few apps).

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      • #23
        Thanks for the info DrYak

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