GPL and the Mac App Store

Moses Lei bugs at
Wed Jan 12 22:24:25 UTC 2011

I mentioned these points on IRC yesterday, but for the benefit of list
members, I'd like to present these two points:

1) For various reasons mentioned above, we will never be able to go through
the normal Mac App Store distribution channel. I think that the only way we
could be on the App Store is if Apple decided to implement downloading of
external, non-App Store applications that aren't bound by App Store
distribution rules. (Similar to's links to outside websites.)
This is at the very least months away, possibly never.

2) There is a lot of history in the iPhone/iOS community of alternative app
stores such as Cydia, which take money but do not have onerous distribution
rules. In fact, the folks behind Cydia have already announced their intent
to have an alternative Mac App Store[1].

I believe it's in Adium's best interest to get on something like that--
something which actively allows free software, and is almost as easy to
install/use as the Mac App Store. Macs (and Windows) have long lacked the
kind of central application installer that is the norm on Linux OSes, and as
we have seen, the iOS App Store is popular (not to say there's an
alternative, but it has been very successful at distributing apps), but
Cydia for iOS is also very popular-- showing that people want to be able to
go to a central source and find what apps they need.

It's too early to tell how Cydia for Mac will pan out, but we should keep a
close eye on it. Cydia has a good reputation in the iOS community and Adium
is a popular Mac application, so perhaps it might be an arrangement that
would be mutually beneficial.



On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM, Colin Barrett
<colin at>wrote:

> On Jan 12, 2011, at 9:58 AM, Zachary West wrote:
> > Additionally, the EULA you are forced to add on your application requires
> a non-transferrable license, while the GPL is explicitly transferrable.
> This gets at the heart of the philosophical clash between GPL and the App
> Store. From the Free Software Definition (not a legal document but it lays
> out the philosophy of Free Software):
> > - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
> (freedom 2).
> > [...]
> > The freedom to redistribute copies must include binary or executable
> forms of the program, as well as source code, for both modified and
> unmodified versions.
> Legal language aside, the code signing and receipt system is tied to each
> individual machine, even for free applications. It's possible a legal eagle
> might be able to work something out, but this is the fundamental conflict
> we're dealing with: Apple wants you to buy / download copies of applications
> through their online store which not an onerous requirement these days but
> the GPLv2 at least was written and designed in a world where most software
> came on floppies and ordering another copy might take weeks thus their
> insistence on being able to distribute binary copies to "help your
> neighbor".
> Personally, I find that particular Free Software freedom to be increasingly
> outdated, but my opinion does not hold much weight with the FSF ;)
> -Colin
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