Bangarang – a media player

February 2, 2012

Free Software Is Just Fine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — jamboarder @ 11:40 am
So I see there is yet one more person babbling on about how Google is killing free software.  This is tiresome.
I fully support vigilance in our FOSS efforts. However, it strikes me as odd that so many take such a narrow view.  FOSS is supported in many ways:
  • Open source – Make the source openly available.
  • Open standards – Use or create common available specifications.
  • Open development – Accept development contributions (source, review, test) from outside contributors.
  • Data ownership – Allow users to maintain ownership of their data by being able to move their data between their choice of solutions or remove their data entirely.
It is NOT all or nothing and we do ourselves a disservice to pretend it is.  There was a time when we just begged for companies to use open standards. Now, with few exceptions, I can open any one of those Google web-based apps (and most sites on the web) in any standards compliant open source browser, including rekonq, firefox and chromium.  For all your data in those apps, you can take your data out and go somewhere else. Google Docs uses the Open Document Format, Google Chat uses XMPP and Youtube uses WebM. Google Summer of Code exists.  And then there are the myths surrounding personalized search. Personalized search can be useful to me, so I use it.  But there are many times when it is not useful and the many on-point concerns raised about the “content bubble” articulate those times well.  Personalized search can be disabled with a button right there on the results page *and* can be turned off permanently. Personalized ads can be disabled permanently.  I could keep going but I think I already sound enough like a Google salesperson and I’m not trying to convince anyone to use Google’s solutions in lieu of others that better suit your needs.

As a hobby hacker I am excited that Android is open source.  Yes, Android is open source, not open development. No one claimed otherwise and it hardly means it’s all for naught. Open development for Android would be great, but the *fact* is that there are potential downsides including incompatible devices using unreleased code and fragmenting the ecosystem even more. It might not be a big deal for me personally, but I can certainly see how it could be big deal for others (including Android app developers).  Pretending there are no downsides isn’t being honest.  No Honeycomb was not open sourced for good reasons AND Google was rightfully taken to task for it.  Yes, both can be true.  Ice Cream Sandwich is open source.  I’m excited by the precedent that the success of Android set for device manufacturers to look more seriously at open source. I love that I have a hackable device in my hands with so much capability.  I love that we’ll be able to purchase a Spark with Plasma Active. I love the precedent that the Spark sets for future devices with a Free software stack.

We cannot be so myopic to pretend that unless we have everything, nothing matters.  I love that the KDE community lives up to every one of those bullet points above in both words and deeds. Yes, no one gets a free pass and we must be uncompromisingly vigilant in pointing out to Google and others the specific areas they fall short.   It  is both this vigilance and the recognition we provide when companies do the right thing, that has gotten us to where we are today.  However, these Tourette’s-like outbursts declaring the end of the world is nigh, are actually counterproductive.  Why? Because when we use the exact same words to describe far worse offenders, it drains those words of any meaning and it deprives the rest of the community of the rhetorical tools we need to fight for the goals of this movement.



  1. I do take it that you have not read or understood my blog post. In fact, you have not even tried to look at my argument and instead selected to only quote the title and then ramble on about something else. For your convenience, here’s my statement again:

    “Google is the greatest danger to the Free Software movement at the current time.”

    Note that Google doing awesome stuff for Open Source is completely orthogonal to this. In fact, I was arguing about the Free Software movement, not about Google. While you are talking about Google, and not Free Software at all.

    Comment by Benjamin Otte — February 2, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    • Actually I read your blog post in its entirety. The hyperbole of your headline and in your restatement are just that: hyperbole. As I’ve made clear here, I accept that there is legitimate criticism for Google. I’ve made them myself. I don’t need to regurgitate the points ably made by commenters there about how bare-of-substance your positions about “View Source” are. That *may* be the only credible criticism of consequence in your post. I don’t even object to you characterizing Google as “scumbags”. Hey you don’t like Google, fine. I’m not trying to convince you or anyone else to like them. Nor am I interested in a pissing contest about who talks about Free Software more.

      But let’s be clear, you chose to title your blog post “Google is killing free software”. You chose to post that “Google is the greatest danger to the free software movement”. I’m calling it out for what it is: hyperbole.

      Comment by jamboarder — February 2, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

      • Actually, that was very serious. I _do_ consider Google to be the greatest danger. You just chose to interpret it as hyperbole because you probably cannot imagine Google being that bad. Which underlines my point about why Google is so dangerous: Everybody fanbois them scumbagging their way through the Open Source community.
        Microsoft could not ever be that dangerous, because everybody assumes bad things about them and treats them carefully.

        Comment by Benjamin Otte — February 2, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

      • I can imagine Google being bad just fine. But I assume your concern wasn’t about my imagination, was it? So let me see if I get this: Google is the greatest danger to free software because they earned some trust with the FOSS community by doing many of the things for which we advocate (scumbagging you call it) and because some in the community rightfully praise them for doing so (fanbois you call them). This is what makes them the greatest threat?

        Look if you wanted to remind people to be vigilant about Google and not give them a free pass if/when they do something wrong, then for goodness sake just say so. I have said as much here. I’m glad you want to be vigilant. I’m likely better off for it. However, when there are credible and urgent threats like software patents, DMCA, ACTA, Oracle and the like out there depriving people of the real liberties that people in this movement fight for everyday, please don’t expect me to swallow this “Google is the greatest threat” stuff. It is hyperbole. It is crying wolf and much like that cautionary tale, it can actually be counterproductive.

        Comment by jamboarder — February 2, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  2. I absolutely agree with jamboarder. Otte’s post is plain stupid. I just explained it in a comment at the post, but just in case it doesn’t pass moderation: stupidity is what’s killing free software. I think the word “freetard” was invented to define people like you, Otte, living in a parallel universe where the biggest corporate contributor to free software is actually accussed of being its “killer”.

    Tiresome can’t just start describing it.

    Comment by Aleve Sicofante — February 2, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

  3. Both have a bit of right and wrong, otte is right when he says that trusting too much in google might not be a good idea, and that they try to buy their way to geeks, but jamboarder has the reason when he says there are a lot of much mayor threats.
    Caring about google being evil or not is a good thing, but saying it’s THE worse it’s not, because there are worse opponents.

    Comment by Tim — February 2, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

  4. Threat or not, but if we take open-source companies and projects, Google currently has the best enginineers, and produces the best code, period. I consider being hired as a programmer by Google to be the highest acknowledgement for a programmer at the moment, Microsoft and Apple being second (they had probably been the number ones before google started extensive coding and development of various projects and products, that is, a few years ago. But even before that, the guys who had produced the search engine and algorithms were the elite of programming engineers.)

    Comment by isemenov — February 3, 2012 @ 1:31 am

  5. “With any standards compliant browser”… except Opera, which Google tries to kill by not supporting it as client to their websites/webapps.

    Comment by blueget — February 3, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    • Google should rightfully be taken to task for this, especially if Opera works fine with user agent spoofing. For that you’ll get my uncompromising support.

      There lies the root of Free software’s demise? Not so much.

      Comment by jamboarder — February 3, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    • While I don’t give a darn about Opera (it’s proprietary software!), Konqueror/KHTML is also one of those many browsers considered “unsupported” by several of Google’s web apps. Since that’s my everyday browser, that’s another reason (next to the fact that they’re proprietary software) why I avoid Google’s web apps like the plague.

      Comment by Kevin Kofler — February 3, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  6. […] Free Software Is Just Fine FOSS is supported in many ways: […]

    Pingback by Links 3/2/2012: BT Vision Goes for Linux, Linux 3.3 With Android | Techrights — February 3, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  7. It is silly to say that Google is bad for Open Source….

    But it is naive to say that Google is as well best for Open Source.
    ‘As even the GNU is bad for Open Source (and I meant that, not just Free Software) as their own lies and propaganda.

    Android is Open Source, but if Open Handset Alliance does not accept the code what someone sends to them, it is not Google’s fault or anyone else. It just does not fit to that project plans. It is just simple as that. If someone don’t like the project, because it is Open Source, they are free to modify and re-distribute that modified code as separate project. Don’t let them to start whining if mainstream does not develop to direction where OTHERS want.

    If you know better, then make the change…. Don’t demand someone else would do it as it is their project.
    It can take time but if you have clear vision and you can argue well, you can turn project leaders heads toward your ideas. But you need to be good and calm and spend lots of time to discussion.

    Comment by Fri13 — February 4, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  8. Hello, as much as it’s pretty much offtopic question regarding this blog post, I’d like to ask it since I cannot find an answer and it’s always the best to ask at the source.
    I preordered and will buy the Spark tablet, and the player of choice for the Spark OS will, as I see, be Bangarang. As I don’t use the player, I’d like to know whether scrobbling is supported in it? I was trying to find the option in the Plasma Active touch-friendly version of the player via VirtualBox but couldn’t find it, hence the question.

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Kuba — March 7, 2012 @ 3:39 am

    • scrobbling is not supported in the currently released versions of Bangarang. May be something to consider for upcoming versions.

      Comment by jamboarder — March 7, 2012 @ 9:57 am

  9. Tihs is soo COOL !!!…

    Comment by Evin — September 13, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

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