Doom 3 might not have blown away interactive storytelling standards when it launched on the PC back in 2004, but it definitely raised the bar as far as visuals were concerned. Despite the awesome eye candy, the Internet quickly filled with mildly disgruntled gamers who griped that they could have made a better game by, say, changing up the monster closet-filled gameplay and adding a flashlight to weapons. Well, big talkers, here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is: yesterday, iD finally released Doom 3’s source code, nearly seven years after the game launched.
Microsoft’s controversial decision to ban certain types of open source software had the company defending itself last week from both from the blogging community, and embarrassingly enough, their own internal legal department who was forced to admit they would have to kick themselves out to be in compliance with the new marketplace rules.
If you're a user of iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad, you might want to snap up VLC for your chosen device before it's gone forever. Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of the principal developers of VLC, explained that VideoLAN (the foundation that supports VLC) is not pleased with how the app is distributed. They have filed a notice of copyright infringement with Apple that may force the removal of the app.
As it turns out, VLC for iOS is developed by a 3rd party developer called Applidium. Apple's iTunes terms allow VLC to only be installed on 5 devices. This is a form of DRM, and as you may know, VLC is open source and distributed under the GPL. That means Apple's DRM scheme is unacceptable to the VideoLAN foundation.
Apple has, in the past, simply removed apps that fall into a similar category. It's spectacularly unlikely that they'd modify their terms for this one app, even if it is so high profile. Denis-Courmont contends that open source software would not be where it is today if not for licenses like GPL, and perhaps users should be looking for apps on more open platforms.
I'll admit, I was a little bit excited when I read earlier this week that Netgear was launching a quote-unquote open-source router. It's not very often--well, hardly ever--that one sees a larger corporate manufacturer of computer hardware so brazenly embrace the ideals (and code) of the open-source enthusiasts. If anything, it seems that companies in the networking space tend to go a little out of their way to ensure that one can't add or tweak a store-bought device with unofficial firmware. I think they'd much prefer to up-sell you additional features than watch you unlock them yourself, but that's just me.
And yet, here we are! An open-source router! Just the kind of thing you want to bring home, install into your network, and begin updating with the best DD-WRT, OpenWRT, or Tomato firmware you can get your hands on. Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the new features you might be able to play around with! Imagine the joy in your family's eyes when you tell 'em how you've transformed your Jekyll of a local area network into an beastly, unrestrained Hyde. They'll talk about this day for the next five family gatherings at least!
I exaggerate, but only because it seems that the marketing team for Netgear's WNR3500L gigabit router is probably benefiting the most from this "switch" to open-source. I can't see average consumers using this device to its fullest potential, if that's even possible to begin with. The WNR3500L isn't actually open-source all the way. By incorporating closed-source drivers into the product--and triumphing third-party firmware that may or may not run afoul of the GPL itself--Netgear could actually be costing consumers valuable security and functionality.
That being the case, why would one ever want to switch to open-source?
Hell hath no fury like an open-source developer scorned. In the red corner, we have Portable Apps and its developer, John Haller. In the blue corner, we have LiberKey and project manager Christophe Peuch. Both programs are suites of applications that can sit on your USB key for portable use. Both offer a number of open-source or freeware apps that assist you in your everyday PC tasks without costing you a single penny. At one point, it was argued that both shared an identical design, layout, and operation. But that's just one of the many charges being heaved across the battleground--its accuracy, along with the others, is subject to dispute.
I wrote a while back about the confusing issues surrounding open-source and freeware licensing. They haven't changed. The controversy over LiberKey is a perfect example of the confusion--enough so, that Maximum PC itself removed a mention of the suite from one of our freeware roundups after allegations of wrongdoing on the developer's part. But is this piece of software as guilty of the violations as the Internet chatter would have you believe? Or has LiberKey done its fair share to eliminate the liabilities caused by its inclusion of open-source and freeware apps into a large package manager?
Why should you care? That's the easiest answer of them all. Supporting applications that stick to the legal guidelines of trademark, permissions, and licensing ensures you're downloading stable, safe, and secure packages that foster the spirit of open source software. If you support software that flaunts the rules, you disrespect the work of those who contribute their works to the greater community. And I wouldn't want to lose these developers--nor their awesome (usually) free applications.
Click the jump to find out the full details on LiberKey!
Open-source licensing can be a tricky beast. But it's not just aspiring software developers that need be concerned about the nuances of OSS licensing (or freeware licensing, for that matter). If you offer up apps on a CD or a Web site for others to grab, you're just as impacted by the parameters of licensing as anyone else. If you're just a downloader who's thinking, "why me? I just install cool programs," it behooves you to understand the differences between legitimate and illegal distribution models for the programs you fancy. While you, yourself, cannot be held accountable for another's licensing violation when you go to download software, you shouldn't encourage their efforts either. Playing by the rules is the only way to keep the spirit of open source alive.
That doesn't make open-source licensing any less confusing, however. Click the jump to find out why!
Microsoft’s open-source Microsoft Public License (MS-PL) is increasingly becoming popular with open-source developers. The MS-PL is still in its infancy having been approved by the Open Source Initiative only a couple of years ago, but it has steadily risen to take the 10th spot among open-source licenses (ranked according to popularity). Around 1.02 percent of all open-source projects are currently licensed under the MS-PL. If it continues in the same vein, it will leave the Mozilla Public License (MPL) behind in the popularity stakes very soon. Microsoft's open-source code hosting service Codeplex is a key force driving the rising popularity of the Microsoft Public License.
I ran across a site that’s selling something called Opal Office. The site, OfficeBestDeal.com, says the suite is compatible with Microsoft Office, but in reality it’s just OpenOffice! You can find that out when you open the program and it says on the first line of text, “OpenOffice.” Apparently, they’re charging $11.95 for it. Is this even legal?
— Marion Randall
Good question, Marion! Answer, as always, lies after the jump.
Microsoft's sponsorship is at the Platinum level ($100,000/year), where it joins Google and Yahoo!
Not Just Money, Patches for Open Source Projects
These sources also report that Microsoft is also providing a patch that provides ADOdb database abstraction layer support for the PHP SQL driver developed in conjunction with Zend Technologies. What may be more significant to open-source advocates is that Microsoft is licensing the patch under the Free Software Foundation's lesser GPL (LGPL) licensing terms. This appears to be the first time that Microsoft has licensed code using a FSF licensing agreement.
What's In It for Microsoft?
According to The Register:
The decision to work on PHP fits with the overall strategy of improving the language's interoperability with Windows and stemming the loss of PHP application deployments to Linux. LGPL allows code to be used with proprietary programs - such as SQL Server - unlike its GPL cousin.
For your chance to give us your thoughts, catch us after the jump.