You know how it goes. There are times when you just need access to one of your favorite apps, but you haven’t got the time or ability to install them on whatever computer you happen to be sitting at. The Portable Apps suite has saved the day on those instances for many. Just today, Portable Apps has announced two welcome additions. You can now get portable versions of Skype and Google Chrome.
This is notable because these apps aren’t technically open-source, as previous additions to Portable Apps have been. The decision to include freeware software may not seem like a big deal, and to most it isn’t, but some open-source supporters may take issue. The new freeware apps aren’t included by default in the package, though. Like it or not, it’s nice to have choices.
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!