Typically the author leaves a subtle clue in the story, but apart from the standard article date there's nothing in this piece to suggest it is in fact an April Fool (yes it is a silly story but then it is about about the FSF, so who knows...)
Maybe the FSF forgot something, but there is no mechanism by which Gmail users can upload modifications to the code, even if they had the means and knowhow to edit them.
I agree it'd be nice if all code could be "free" (libre) but here it's just not practical. In this case, it'd mean Google having to store one copy of the Gmail API for each user who wanted to "tinker" with their installation. There's no way in hell it'd be wise to just let all users mess with the Gmail instance that all users rely on, as one malicious user could insert some code to screw it for all Gmail users. It'd be a security nightmare and I fully understand why Google would be reluctant to do this.
That said, since there is IMAP, nothing stops you setting up your own web server somewhere (or buying web space), then installing an open-source web mail client such as RoundCube to access your GMail accounts.
Perhaps the FSF could get into the advertising/web search market themselves with some decent search engine and set up their own competing service? Good luck to them I say.
No one is asking google to let users put their customisations on google servers - you can simply use a local proxy server or a browser plugin for swapping the code; it's more about philosophy - Stallman likes gmail, so he wants it consistent with his principles. He also may want to run an open source version on his own server.
I don't think google will release gmail js as free software because there's not much incentive to do so except PR - they arguably have the best webmail interface you can find and some of their business depends on selling it as a service (google apps). They are unlikely to lose much if they released it under some copyleft or "non-commercial use" license so they might do it to remove bad smell coming from honeycomb.
If someone wanted to access Gmail with a modified JS interface, all they would have to do is use a proxy or browser extension to swap out Google's standard script for a custom one.
I don't think anyone is asking Google for unrealistic commendations like you describe. All they want is Google to say "Okay, it's Free, do what you want with it." It's mostly a matter of principle as far as I can tell.
why are you obsessed with security in software development projects and released code, when it is oh so obvious that you do not know the slightest about software development cycles and processes?
1st of April is meant to play jokes on world+dog. It is, however, not meant to show world+dog ...
oh forget it...
...but do you honestly expect a multibillion dollar company to release all it's coding secrets, allowing any regular Joe to steal away a slice of their very profitable pie? Or how about those coders with malicious intent? You think they won't have a field day with Google code?
Nice try and all that. But we're a long way from peace and love and good happiness stuff. As long as there's someone who is perceived as competition or a threat to Google, you'll never get all of Google's code. Even if you only refer to web apps.
The FSF tells you they are all about being "free". Well the last time I checked my dictionary "free" had something to do with "not under the control or in the power of another". The FSF sure likes to tell companies and people how they should be doing things. Is that freedom? To me, it surely does not seem very "free".
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I was originally going to post a comment suggesting a new elReg unit of measure, "the Stallman" as a measure of nuttyness, but then I realized it would be a moving target as he seems to be getting crazier by the year.
Frankly the FSF's "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too" attitude is getting old.
The only free software is in the public domain.
by design open source? You download the source code to run it. Sure it may be obfuscated in some way, but it's still source code. It may not be free due to copyright, but it does meet a basic definition of open source.
That's probably why FSF is stressing "free" in this case -- they know the source code is by design available so they want to focus on the other aspects of free software (i.e, reuse and community contributions.)
Obfuscated code is only slightly more readable than decompiled machine code. And the important feature of open-source is the legal right to modify and redistribute.
I really don't understand this attitude. As a programmer, I feel that the author of a given piece of code should be able to determine what they want to do with it. What business does anyone else have telling people how to use their own code?
If Google want to release the code, that's great - I'm not against open source. However, no one should try to force others to release their code just because they have some political belief, it's absurd. Google invested considerable time and resources into writing that code, and if they want to keep it to themselves they should be well within their rights to do it.
What have the FSF invested in that code exactly? Nothing. Google is a business, they employ people who want paying and in order to do that they need to make money, if their business model means they can't/don't want to release the code, that's fine.
"I really don't understand this attitude. As a programmer..........",
The FSF promotes Free Software. You presumably wouldn't have a problem with people in other areas of life encouraging corporations to be community-spirited and build things like children's play areas for the public or lobbying for disabled access to premises, or other things that contribute to communities - why is it a problem when it comes to software?
"What have the FSF invested in that code exactly? Nothing."
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"That's right, it wants the code open sourced, but this being the Free Software Foundation, it prefers the term free software."
Why can't even writers for IT publications get the difference between "Open-Source" and "Free Software"? - it's clear as day.
Mild mocking of RMS et. al based on an erroneous postulate is a bit lame. You think promoting free software is a stupid idea?, fine - make your case on that instead.
Source code staring you in the face doesn't make the code open source!
As much as I like your (implicit) definition of "free software", for a piece of software to be open source, people have to have the ability to submit modifications. Otherwise it is just unobfuscated source code...
I would mostly disagree with that definition of "Open" - I prefer a narrower definition. Sure there are various degrees of "open" and various degrees of "free" - and often in the world of software these definitions overlap. But the ability to contribute to development I would count as a "freedom" . The reasoning behind this is that taking the converse "closed-source" generally means that the source-code is unavailable to the general public.
"Open-source" should be used as an antonym to "closed-source" and "Free Software" should be used more as an antonym to "proprietary", I suppose.
be to avoid GMail?
I'm a supporter of open source and FOSS, but I'm really not comfortable with the FSF getting on their high-horse and telling Google to open source their application code simply because an FSF zealot wants to use a Google service without experiencing a moral crisis.
MS own the code for Outlook. If you want to use Outlook, you have to agree to the MS license. If you don't like the license for idealogical reasons, then don't use MS Outlook - there are plenty of Free Software e-mail clients.
Google own the code for GMail. If you want to use GMail, you have to agree to Google's license. If you don't like the license for idealogical reasons, then don't use GMail - there are plenty of Free Software e-mail clients.
And if you think that GMail is better than the Free Software e-mail clients, then why is that Google's problem?
The FSF basically goes and tells corporations "If you don't free up the code, we won't play".
"Well then, don't play! We 'll just play with the rest of the kids, and you can stay alone in your corner"
In fact, many FSF believers (i say 'believers' because free software is obviously a cult) think it's cool to isolate themselves from awesome technology like the PS3 or Mac OS X, just because it isn't "free".
Well dear FSF believers, Sony and Apple don't care. They have better customers that don't mind about all that "free" fluff.
Oh, and btw, proprietary software isn't immoral just because some bitter old man with a beard declared it is. DRMed software might be, but non-DRMed proprietary software is not.
In the same way that women who don't cover their faces are not immoral just because some believes of Islam say the are.
I respect the FSF's mission, but think that this tactic is misplaced.
Google wrote its own email protocol because POP and IMAP, while standard, do not meet the needs of what people really want to do today. By throwing out the standards, they build a better end-user experience. This is not so different from the way Microsoft built its own proprietary email protocols in the past.
The most valuable thing the FSF could do here would be to:
1. Get people talking about standardized advanced-functionality email protocols, beyond POP/IMAP. Then we could all start building advanced email clients and servers with the great features that GMail has.
The GMail back-end is what would really be interesting. But I sincerely doubt Google would even THINK of open-sourcing the GMail back-end. FSF should just start a project to write that kind of stuff itself.
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