Linux Outlaws 290 – Window or Aisle?

We interview Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Conservancy and Free as in Freedom on several licensing-related topics.

Bradley Kuhn

Song: Eclipse by INTHECISOS from their self-titled album (licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0)



  1. Next Of Kin says:

    Just finished listening to the episode (great topic by the way) and wanted to provide some feedback.

    Dan asked the question, is there some way to get free software onto the platforms without Apple and/or Google changing their policies?

    The answer is that Android devices already do. As far as I know, all Android devices have an option to allow the user to install apps from sources other than the Play Store (Amazon has a similar feature on their Kindle Fire devices). The great thing about this feature is that you don’t even have to root your device in order to take advantage of it. Apple device users are out of luck, but that’s just one more advantage of Android devices.

    However, Fab pointed out that people, particularly on mobile devices, are getting trained to get all of their software from one place. I couldn’t agree more with Fab on this. It’s not only a problem with users, but developers, too.

    I recently wrote the “aWallet” developer and asked that he make the app available on the Amazon app store as I really like the app on my Android smartphone. He didn’t want to publish the app on the Amazon app store because Amazon requires an annual developer fee of $99. Since he was offering a version of the app for free, he would have no way of making up the annual $99 fee unless he could find a way to charge users. I have no problem with his logic, so I suggested that he simply make the software available for download from his website so that he wouldn’t have to pay the developer fee. His response was “As aWallet has pro feature upgrade which will not be accessible on Kindle (as Pro upgrade requires Google Play). It might be better to release customized version to Amazon App Store. I’ll consider this after new app aWallet Cloud is released to Google Play.”

    My problem with this explanation is that, for some reason, he seems to think you can only make money from creating apps by posting your apps to an app store. Ridiculous! As Fab pointed out, desktop users are trained to go out to the web to get their software. Android offers that same functionality but people and developers have been brainwashed by Appstores to think you have to go through an app store. Aaaaaaaaagh!

    Don’t the developers realize that, if they publish the app themselves, they don’t have to pay a developer’s fee or give 30% of the sale to an appstore?

    I realize some people will try to claim that appstores provide users with better app security, but I think that is a bunch of FUD. Security comes in layers and nobody should rely 100% on an appstore review policy. If you want to rely on someone else to tell you whether an app is safe or not, install a security app and get the software from wherever you want instead of someplace that has a vested interested in telling you where to get your software from. I don’t mind buying apps from an appstore, but I don’t want to HAVE TO buy my software from an appstore.

    That’s all. Thanks for the great podcast.

    Wyoming. Go Pokes!

  2. Dan Lynch says:

    Hi Next Of Kin,

    Thanks for the comment on the show. I think you may have misunderstood my question to Bradley though. I probably didn’t phrase it that well. I know you can install any APK files on Android devices and elect to use other software sources.

    By platforms I meant the app stores themselves, not the devices. I’ve heard many people complain it’s difficult to release an app under the GPL on these stores because of the terms you have to agree to as a developer. I wanted to know if their policies prohibit this specifically, would they need to change?

    Things like F-Droid are great initiatives and I hope they continue to grow. I do worry though that if we can’t distribute software properly under the licenses we prefer on major app stores we’re missing out. The standard answer is “just don’t use the app stores and do your own thing”. A laudable goal in itself but 99% of the world will never even know our software exists and we need to find an effective answer to that problem. Education I suppose. That’s a much larger and more difficult issue.

    Hope that clarifies my rambling a little bit :)


  3. Next Of Kin says:

    Thanks, Dan. That does clarify as I did misunderstand that by “platforms” you meant app store and not device.

    Good to know. Thanks for the show!


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