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FSF Response To Steve Jobs's Letter 572

boilednut writes "Steve Jobs's recent missive on the deficiencies of Adobe's Flash is still reverberating around the Internet. In this editorial, John Sullivan of the Free Software Foundation responds, arguing that Apple is presenting users with a false choice between Adobe's proprietary software and Apple's walled garden."
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FSF Response To Steve Jobs's Letter

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  • Re:And Theora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:27PM (#32060336)

    I'd be more interested in a response from Xiph on Job's email concerning Theora.

    They have a comment from him here [slashdot.org].

  • Re:And Theora? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:31PM (#32060354)

    Xiph's Gregory Maxwell wrote a couple of responses on the Theora mailing list:

    http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2010-April/003766.html [xiph.org]
    http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2010-April/003769.html [xiph.org]

  • Re:Why not .... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:50PM (#32060470) Homepage

    The problem with letting the market decide on fascism is that you no longer get to choose anything else.

    That is what closed standards do.

    Between a Flash app and an Apple app, the Apple app is the one that is more closed.

    Plus, with an Apple app it's not just the proprietary API but the whole walled garden that comes with it.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @09:54PM (#32060488) Homepage

    "free software guys" make some of the most popular Mac downloads actually.

    So clearly there is an interest there from "Apple users". Even members of the flock tend to stray when they are given the liberty.

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:09PM (#32060596)

    apple needs to drop the App Store censorship too!!

    That is likely why no flash.

  • by Q-Hack! ( 37846 ) * on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:37PM (#32060750)

    H.264 is NOT an "open standard."


    This may just be semantics, but it is an 'open standard' what it is not is 'open source'. There is a difference.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @10:55PM (#32060856)

    > It is a real choice, but there are obviously more options to chose from than the enumerated two.

    It's called "false choice [wikipedia.org]" because the limit on the number of choices is artificial. The fact that you actually can choose one of the options is irrelevant. The important part is that you have more than just the choices presented to you and someone is using false rhetoric to distract you from that fact.

    So no, it really is a false choice, even though you really can choose one of the options presented to you (as well as other options not shown).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @11:28PM (#32061032)
    Respect the HTML5 Spec? The HTML5 Era, since 2007? Are you fucking insane?

    HTML5 is still a draft standard, and if people are throwing around the video tag on a few sites (not Facebook), that is no more remarkable than former support for IE- and Netscape-specific extensions back in the 90s. HTML5 is a long way from replacing the functionality of Flash on the internet.

    Since when does the FSF support Flash? I guess even 5-digit UID users can be inveterate Apple fellators.
  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @12:29AM (#32061356)

    Microsoft is restricted both by custom and the threat of government retribution from using the kind of strongarm tactics that Apple is getting away with in the market where it is most dominant, mobile "app" sales.

    This comparison is specious. Microsoft positioned itself as the default OS and software for a whole industry, to be implemented on third-party hardware. Microsoft abused this position by forcing those third-parties to only support their software, and no others. This was but one of their anti-trust abuses.

    Apple, on the other hand, make their own hardware and software ecosystem. They don't manipulate third parties to do anything, or prevent them from making products on other platforms.

    Your idea that Microsoft is "restricted" is absurd. Yes, they had some impotent lawsuits leveled against them, but they certainly weren't holding back on abusing their monopoly in the 1990s. And what about gaming systems? The Xbox is more dominant in gaming consoles than Apple is in mobile phones, yet you rarely hear anybody decrying the closed Xbox platform.

  • by Kristoph ( 242780 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @12:41AM (#32061432)

    Your argument might make sense if it were not for the fact that you can, in fact, watch YouTube videos in the iPhone os browser :-)


  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:17AM (#32061596)

    You do know that Flash video can and frequently does use H.264, right?

  • by oiron ( 697563 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:22AM (#32061626) Homepage

    And Mozilla users don't get the option of H.264 on their platform. So, why no outrage at Mozila and Firefox?

    I think that should be obvious - Mozilla has literally no way of offering H.264 without illegally implementing patented code.

    And yet Firefox supports the proprietary Flash plugins. Outside of certain sites, the web isn't particularly "free."

    Not support so much as allow; something that Apple refuses to do on the iPad and iPhone...

  • by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:25AM (#32061636) Journal

    HTML5 is infact just a red herring.

    HTML5 isn't going to replace Flash.[...]

    I wouldn't bet on that.

    One of Adobe's biggest Flash users is YouTube; however, for the last six months or so it's been possible to view YouTube videos using HTML5 if one chooses. Go try it out some time. It's still in beta and there's a few bugs in it but it works and doesn't cause the fan on my laptop to run the entire time like it used to when I was viewing in Flash.

    Forget about all the other bullshit about Apple and Steve Jobs and Adobe. Flash is a resource hog, it requires software available from only one source to view and very expensive software to develop. The Web will be better for everybody once it's gone. Well, everybody but Flash developers, and I suspect that they're the people who are currently rushing to its defense.

  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:31AM (#32061662) Homepage
    Who modded this insightful? YouTube now supports direct H.264 video without the Flash wrapper. It works fine!
  • by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:41AM (#32061714)

    "Apple prohibits any product which competes with their own."

    Sweeping statement and not true. Want faster downloading? Get Opera and use that instead of Safari.


  • Re:And Theora? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, 2010 @01:49AM (#32061742)

    And here: http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2010-April/003766.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, 2010 @02:24AM (#32061892)

    The fact is that open standard doesn't have one definition, but no, it doesn't ever have to do with whether there are patents. The OSI demands they be royalty-free for unrestricted-use licenses or under a legally binding promise of non-assertion toward open source software. H.264 meets that until at least 2016.

  • by eluusive ( 642298 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @02:40AM (#32061942)
    Yes it does. http://www.youtube.com/html5 [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, 2010 @02:55AM (#32062018)

    Its news for me because Apple got an operating system for free (BSD and Mach underlie OSX) because of those free software guys.

    I hardly think they got it for free. The best software in the world is no good if you don't know how to use it, and they've hired a bunch of the biggest contributors to open source projects.

    They hired Avie Tevanian, an author of Mach. They hired Jordan Hubbard, an author of FreeBSD. They hired Dominic Giampaolo, though his work on BeOS wasn't open sourced. They hired Michael Sweet and bought CUPS off him.

    They actually didn't get a whole lot from the freedom fanatics: GNU libc? No. Linux? No. GCC? After contributing to GCC, they're actually trying to escape from further involvement in that project. I don't personally remember them paying for Apache, but the Apache folks are hardly ideological. Furthermore, their independent contributions like mdnsd and libdispatch are rejected as being not free enough, even when they're free enough for the FreeBSD project to adopt.

    I don't think there's a lot of lost love between Apple and the freedom fighters.

  • by dhobbit ( 152517 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @03:40AM (#32062140)

    I'm glad you pointed out something so oft-overlooked.

    It wasn't just the kernel: they got a top-notch compiler (GCC) and toolchain (GNU bintuils) for free. And an HTML rendering engine (KHTML/WebKit). And garden-variety utilities like a decent shell and scripting languages and build tools and ...

    In other words, stuff that would have delayed the first usable versions of OS X for years and years if Apple had to write them from scratch. Stuff that might have taken so long to re-write that Apple may not have survived its near-death experience.

    Most of OS comes from NextStep which already used gcc and bsd binutils. Actually most the system utils are from bsd not gnu. Apple is also replacing gcc with llvm/clang which are also gpl and developed in house.

    Apple took KHTML fixed, cleaned it up and released it as WebKit which ultimately replaced the core of KHTML.

    It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Apple survived and is prospering today at least partly because it had been able to fold so much free software into its codebase early on. For them to turn around afterward and build a closed software stack counter to the principles of openness that saved them really feels like a betrayal of sorts.

    Actually the "openness" that saved them was bsd and the bsd definition of free software. And Apple is in true sprit of that legacy. The free/open source forms the foundation on which Apple is standing. Apple is a good open source citizen and contributes code back and in a lot of case have created new projects that it released into the open. I guess I don't see the betrayal.

  • by Yfrwlf ( 998822 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @04:13AM (#32062254)
    ...and SWFdec, and others...but the reason they are all "far from implementing the full spec" is that it's closed, and the new specifications in the next version of Flash will never be implemented by the open ones. Thus, Adobe will always "lead", because they are the masters of Flash, and "the others" will always follow, and perpetually be "not as good". The thing is, many sites will always be upgrading to the newer versions of Flash as well, so part of Adobe's tactic is that by getting most sites to upgrade, they will keep the Flash world fractured and Adobe Flash will always be the "reliable one that always works with every site" while Gnash and SWFdec will always be the unreliable, crappy version.

    It's pretty similar to the .NET/Mono tactic too no doubt.
  • by Amarantine ( 1100187 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @06:21AM (#32062646)

    Windows 7 mobile - since when do you need Microsoft's involvement to release an app for that? I haven't used windows 7, but previous stuff, like windows CE, was an open platform - not FOSS, but you could do whatever you wanted with what you had.

    Since, well, Windows 7 mobile. Quoting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Mobile_7 [wikipedia.org] : "Windows Phone 7 will only run applications that have first been approved by Microsoft and will only be available via the Windows Phone Marketplace."

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Sunday May 02, 2010 @07:15AM (#32062786)

    I think that should be obvious - Mozilla has literally no way of offering H.264 without illegally implementing patented code.

    Why would they have to implement H.264 itself, rather than allow the user to add it via a plug-in, just as with Flash?

    Besides, your statement is not true - what's to stop Mozilla licensing H.264 just like everybody else does?

    Not support so much as allow;

    Yet this is what Mozilla is saying - they won't allow H.264 support via the HTML5 video tag. So, if you're upset about Apple not allowing Flash on the iPhone, it would be hypocritical to also not be upset at Mozilla for not allowing H.264 in Firefox.

  • by FredHStein ( 1627977 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @12:45AM (#32069278)

    Steve said "We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers."

    Yet, that is the same situation he imposes on all iDevelopers. That, my friend, is hypocrisy.

    Go back and read Steve's statement. He doesn't want someone else to control "his" developers. He is blatantly pursuing his self-interest. Is that hypocrisy? iPhone/iPad developers and customer are not forced into this. They opt in. My last count says iPhone has about 1% of the world's cell phones and less than 20% of the "Smart" phones.

  • by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @02:33AM (#32069774) Journal

    You can write completely free apps for the iPhone using XCode too. Sure you have to join the developer program, but $99 a year for tools is cheap compared any equivalent flash tools.

    Oh, yeah, certainly. And the tools are actually a free download, the yearly fee is strictly for access to the App Store. The limitation for apps built in this way is that you have to distribute them via Apple's App Store. That's the one advantage to building Web apps--you can distribute them freely on the Web.

    In any case, either sort of iPhone development is way cheaper than Flash ($599 for the authoring tools) or WiMo development, where not only do you have to buy the tools ($799 for Visual Studio) and pay a $99 yearly fee, you have to pay a $99 application fee for each app you wish to distribute in addition to the 30% cut Microsoft takes.

  • by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @02:35AM (#32069782) Journal

    Correction: the $99 yearly fee for iPhone development is for the signing key needed to distribute apps, not strictly for access to the App Store. You do get that as well, though.

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