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Apple Delays Release of LGPL WebKit Code 209

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hey-now-wait-a-minute dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Ever since Apple forked the KHTML project to create WebKit, the rendering engine at the core of Safari, the company has been a good open source citizen, releasing the code back to the community after updates. But that suddenly stopped in March, with no code releases for the last two updates to the iOS version of the browser, for reasons unknown. This might remind you of Google's failure to release the Honeycomb source code. But at least Google announced that it was holding the code back, and Android is under a license that allows for a delay; the LGPL'd WebKit isn't." Update: 05/09 21:21 GMT by S : Reader Shin-LaC points out that Apple has now released the relevant source code.
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Apple Delays Release of LGPL WebKit Code

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  • CUPERTINO, Transylvania, Friday — After bricking unlocked iPhones, kicking applications off the iPhone store that might even slightly compete with iTunes in the far future, "delaying" the release of GPL source code and filing a wave of patents on basic well-known computer science, Apple Inc. today filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it was openly adopting Evil [newstechnica.com] as a corporate policy.

    "Fuck it," said Steve Jobs to an audience of soul-mortgaged thralls, "we're evil. But our stuff is sooo good. You'll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It's shiny and it's pretty and it's cool and it works. It's not like you'll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

    Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was incensed at the news. "Our evil is better than anyone's evil! No-one sweats the details of evil like Microsoft! Where's your antitrust trial, you polo-necked bozo? We've worked hard on our evil! Our Zune's as evil as an iPod any day! I won't let my kids use a lesser evil! We're going to do an ad about that! I'll be in it! With Jerry Seinfeld! Beat that! Asshole.”

    "Of course, we're still not evil," said Sergey Brin of Google. "You can trust us on this. Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it's not like you're going to use Bing. Ha! Ha! I'm sorry, that's my ‘spreading good cheer' laugh. Really."

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#36072778) Journal
    Here's the download webpage. [apple.com] Presumably Apple intends to release it eventually (based on what is written on that web page), who knows why they haven't yet.
    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:20PM (#36072902) Homepage Journal

      Seems like jumping the gun a bit. There other FOSS code dumps are current and it is only the beginning of may. For all we know they are searching the source to make sure they don't have any patent issues with the code. Which is just wrong but if I was Apple I would triple check it just to be sure.

    • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:42PM (#36073794)

      It would really be fun if Apple decided not to release it and there were a class action lawsuit by all iDevice users, to whom Apple owes source for any LGPL parts of Webkit. Google would definitely back that.

  • DHS to the rescue? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hweimer (709734) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:18PM (#36072874) Homepage

    So we have a case of blatant copyright violation, which is even perpetrated for commercial gain. So I guess the DHS will step in and seize the apple.com domain as they have done before in similar cases, right?

  • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:19PM (#36072894) Homepage Journal

    Other than some underlying systems bits that's copyleft (Linux kernel, Bluez, some system utils), or BSD licensed, Google generally own most of the Android code outright. So Google don't ever have to release Honeycomb. It's their code, they don't have to give source if they don't want to. (That said, I reckon their bluetooth stack depends sufficiently on BlueZ that their userspace becomes derived from that GPL code - stuffing IPC between your code and GPL code does NOT, of itself, mean your code escapes from the GPL; but that still doesn't mean they'd have to release their code).

    Apple OTOH started WebKit/WebCore as a fork of KHTML, which is LGPL. So it wasn't their code at all to start with and, unless they're rewritten ALL the code since the fork AND gotten appropriate grants from the other contributors to WebKit, Apple are obliged to honour the *other* copyright holders and follow the LGPL licence.

    • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:15PM (#36074168)

      (That said, I reckon their bluetooth stack depends sufficiently on BlueZ that their userspace becomes derived from that GPL code - stuffing IPC between your code and GPL code does NOT, of itself, mean your code escapes from the GPL; but that still doesn't mean they'd have to release their code).

      "Stuffing IPC" between something under the GPL and something under a different license certainly does isolate the other-licensed code from the GPL. If that weren't the case, it would be nearly impossible to distribute anything under a GPL-incompatible license to run on a GNU/Linux system. Any time you piped output from Bash into the incompatibly-license program, you'd violate the GPL. Thankfully, the GPL is not viral in that way. In fact, it's always been perfectly acceptable to run proprietary programs on GNU/Linux systems, linked with GlibC, which is under the LGPL and communicating with Linux, which is under the GPL.

    • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:46PM (#36075902)

      Isn't the whole runtime of Android based on Apache Harmony? therefore reliant on a big chunk of open source code.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:36PM (#36073066)

    Forgive the line numbers, I grabbed it from the webkit Trac [webkit.org]

    Here's the license.

    1
    2 Copyright (C) 2005, 2006, 2007 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
    3
    4 Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
    5 modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
    6 are met:
    7
    8 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
    9 notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
    10 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
    11 notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
    12 documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
    13 3. Neither the name of Apple Computer, Inc. ("Apple") nor the names of
    14 its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived
    15 from this software without specific prior written permission.
    16
    17 THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY APPLE AND ITS CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY
    18 EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
    19 WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
    20 DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL APPLE OR ITS CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY
    21 DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
    22 (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
    23 LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
    24 ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
    25 (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF
    26 THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
    27
    28

    In other words, "We'll release the source when we're damn well good and ready."

    • by Octorian (14086) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:46PM (#36073162) Homepage

      Why does that look more like a BSD license than the LGPL?

    • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:28PM (#36074306)

      In other words, "We'll release the source when we're damn well good and ready."

      If that's what their attitude has become, they're itching for a fight, since they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries. If they don't make the sources available, any iPhone owner could take them to court. Apple and Steve Jobs are no strangers GPL violation. NeXT wrote an Objective C frontend for GCC and didn't want to release the source for it, but were eventually forced to do so. Apple bought NeXT and got Jobs and all the NeXT code and used it as the basis for OSX and Xcode. You'd think they'd have learned their lesson by now.

      • by SETIGuy (33768) on Monday May 09, 2011 @03:54PM (#36075260) Homepage

        they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries

        You need to read your licenses better, or stop believing people who don't know what they are talking about. The only provision in the LGPL for only giving source to people you have given binaries to is if you give the source and binaries together. If you don't give source and binaries together, then you are required to give source to any party that requests it.

        • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:10PM (#36075436)

          they are legally required to make available source code of any LGPL-licensed components to whomever they have distributed binaries

          You need to read your licenses better, or stop believing people who don't know what they are talking about. The only provision in the LGPL for only giving source to people you have given binaries to is if you give the source and binaries together. If you don't give source and binaries together, then you are required to give source to any party that requests it.

          I'm not entirely sure what your point is or what you're disputing, but I think you're saying that distributing a binary of an LGPL-licensed library to anyone requires the distributor to offer to source to everyone. This is not the case. The relevant section from LGPL 2.1 [gnu.org]:

          4. You may copy and distribute the Library (or a portion or derivative of it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange.

          If distribution of object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place satisfies the requirement to distribute the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

          "Offering access to copy from a designated place" does not imply a public web site, though that's obviously the most common method. There is nothing saying that source must be provided to anyone who did not receive a binary. For example, a password-protected FTP account would fulfill the requirement if the person who received the binary had the password for the FTP account.

          • by SETIGuy (33768) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:34PM (#36076450) Homepage
            You're right. I didn't notice that the LGPL had "the same user" where the standard GPL has "any third party," and made a bad assumption. Yet another reason not to choose LGPL.
            • by Jonner (189691) on Monday May 09, 2011 @06:12PM (#36076900)

              You're right. I didn't notice that the LGPL had "the same user" where the standard GPL has "any third party," and made a bad assumption. Yet another reason not to choose LGPL.

              The GPL v2 [gnu.org] doesn't say that distributing one binary of a GPL-licensed work to one person requires the distributor to offer the source to everyone in the world either. The Official FAQ [gnu.org] explains this. Though distributing a binary of a GPL work implicitly grants a license to everyone, it does not require the distributor to offer source to everyone, but only those who received a binary from the distributor, either directly or indirectly.

              Though LGPL 2.1 and GPL 2.0 have different wording, it's pretty clear that the neither is intended to require a distributor to provide source to those who did not receive a binary, which would be an unreasonable burden. In the typical case, it is not difficult to provide sources on a public website to everyone, but no FSF license has ever required this AFAIK.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:40PM (#36073108)

    Apple is INSANELY cool and that's all I care about.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:46PM (#36073160)
    Saying "Google does it too!", doesn't make it right.
  • by Wovel (964431) on Monday May 09, 2011 @12:52PM (#36073246) Homepage

    I seem to recall when this story came out a couple of weeks ago that the speculation centered on the updated JS engine. Apple may be determining if that code needs to be released.

  • by gabriel (2115) on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:19PM (#36073560)

    Can anyone point me to the Android web browser code used in Honeycomb? Seeing it also uses the same LGPL WebCore and JavaScriptCore modules I'd like to have a look. I've tried via the http://source.android.com/ [android.com] but couldn't get any of the updates that may have been introduced in Honeycomb.

    Thanks.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#36073566)
    Am I the only to see a very simple explanation that the author has missed? To recap here is what the author is saying:
    • WebKit is LGPL so updates should be released
    • Apple has released iOS 4.3, 4.3.1,4.3.2, and 4.3.3 without any updates to WebKit
    • Therefore Apple is holding back WebKit updates.

    Am I the only one to see the major flaw in logic? iOS updates may include Safari updates which may include WebKit updates but iOS updates are not necessarily WebKit updates. If you look at the actual 4.3 updates [slashdot.org] that the author describes, the vast majority of changes have nothing to do with Safari. Even if they did, remember Safari is WebKit + Apple's browser code just like Chrome = WebKit + Google's code. The few changes around Safari seem to imply fixes to Safari not WebKit. Also if the author did any deep analysis, in 4.2, Apple updated Safari to use WebKit 533.17.9 whereas the newest stable version if WebKit is 534.20.

  • Found it. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:54PM (#36073934)

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/tarballs/WebCore/WebCore-955.66.tar.gz
    Also see:
    http://www.opensource.apple.com/tarballs/

  • by Shadowmist (57488) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:35PM (#36074378)
    That Apple simply has nothing new to release?
  • What's missing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:26PM (#36075624)

    Nobody seems to have been clear on what is supposed to be published but isn't. The WebKit source [webkit.org] has had checkins as recently as 2 minutes ago, so it doesn't look like Apple have stopped publishing the source to me.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday May 09, 2011 @05:47PM (#36076610)

    Anyone know?

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