29 Dec 2011 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

Warp Life to be GPLed Real Soon Now

As I promised a couple days ago, I will be placing my iOS App Warp Life under the GPLv3 license, and will not release it through the Apple App Store, but instead will require users to jailbreak their devices to install it.

There's nothing about Warp Life that would lead Apple to reject it from the App Store. There are perhaps eight competing Apps that also implement Conway's Game of Life. Rather, I am rejecting the App Store because I object to Apple's way of doing business.

However, it will be a few more days before the actual release of the code.

Besides replacing the "All Rights Reserved" notice in all the sources, I need to place a license notice in the Credits screen, with a button that brings up the full text of the GPLv3. I also need to drop the COPYING file - that same GPLv3 text - into the user's Documents folder, so they may retrieve it via iTunes File Sharing. I may also enable the user to send it via email, which for most people would be quite a lot easier to deal with than the incredibly poorly designed and highly counterintuitive iTunes File Sharing.

Because my company Solving the Software Problem owns the copyright on the code, I don't actually need to do that to comply with the GPLv3 myself. But anyone who redistributes my code or creates a derivative work would have to do all that.

It is plainly apparent to me that the vast majority of coders who claim to know what Free Software is all about have never actually read the full text of the GPL, let alone understand how to comply with it. That's why so many of those who claim yet fail to be Dirty GNU Hippies get so self-righteously outraged when they see someone charging money for GPLed code, despite that not only does the GPL specifically permit one to do so, but even Richard Stallman says it's OK to sell Free Software.

One of the requirements of all versions of the GPL is that the Credits Screen, About Box, or output from the command line state the license - "This is Free Software, etc." - and that it say the full text of the license be in an accompanying document, typically named COPYING or COPYING.txt. If the COPYING file is missing, the user is advised to request it from The Free Software Foundation.

I have no doubt that if I did not have that all set up before I released Warp Life's code under the GPLv3, some clueless newbie would damn near instantaneously violate the GPL by redistributing it without all that stuff. That would not be intentional evil as with HTC's failure to release the source to the GPLed portion of its Android codebase, but simple stupidity that I wish to prevent.

There are also a couple bugs I'd like to fix before release, but those are far less important. If their fixes are not immediately apparent, I'll put them off until after the release.

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