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Open Source in Commercial (Audio) Products.

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Hi bloodhound - You should at least be happy Roon has published a list of open source code it uses :~)




Just got this reply from Chris in the Roon impressions thread. No need to clutter that thread so I'll just answer in this thread instead. For the record my inital post in that thread had nothing to do with open source software or anything. I guess Chris just couldn't help himself taking a quasi cheap shot at me. I have no problems with that, it's all in good sport.


It's a good thing that they publish a list and even the sourcecode itself of the OSS they use. Only problem is that Chris might give the impression that I somehow have something against (re)using OSS libraries. That couldn't be farther from the truth. The libraries are made to be used, even in commercial projects. No need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. And to my knowledge all the libraries used are either licensed under LGPL, BSD or similar and that they comply to those licenses. Anything else would be a potential suicide. So enough about that.


But there is a distinct difference between using free LGPL/BSD libraries, and repackaging a main GPL program, and it's the latter I'm not too fond of.


Let's say that Jriver became OSS and licensed under the GPL, and a lot of people contributed and improved the program. Now suddenly another company forks the sourcecode, modifies the code and UI, and builds a hardware server around this very program, and nothing but "Custom Linux OS" is mentioned in the marketing. They get rave reviews and sell it for serious cash. Since they forked a GPL program, they are also required to document the source code and the changes they made. Instead, no mentioning of the forked program is seen anywhere, and the source code is nowhere to be seen. Obviously, mentioning that their $$$$$ server is based on some open source programs kinda destroys the mystique and aura the products have gotten from the supposedly rave reviews and their likewise high pricetag. Still, it doesn't make it right, does it?


When I became aware that two* popular (albeit one has not admitted publicly yet) and highly regarded companies were doing just that, I started a thread about it (actually one of the threads Chris started by copying my post from another thead as the first post). Surely I could have worded myself a little more diplomatic, but the main reaction I got was mostly people defending these companies and that I had no proof etc. A couple of flames here and there were also received. The same people were speaking from their hearts and were keen to protect their investments instead of argueing the case.


I'm not going to beat a dying horse, but I suspect that since the forked program was relatively unknown somehow that made it easier to accept what those companies are doing. If this had happened with Jriver or another known program, then the public opinion on this board might have been quite the opposite.


*one of the companies have stated that they intend to honor requests for the sourcecode.


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