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Apple releases iOS 4.3 WebKit source code after complaints from developers

post #1 of 22
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After complaints about Apple's delayed compliance with open source licensing requirements for WebKit began gaining traction, Apple released the iOS 4.3 WebKit source code on Monday.

Last week, Harald Welte of GPL Violations called out Apple for a delay in releasing the source code for WebKit in iOS 4.3. Welte's complaint was picked up by IT World on Monday in a report also highlighting the more than two month delay. Apple released iOS 4.3 in March and iOS 4.3.3 last week.

The Cupertino, Calif., iPhone maker is obligated to simultaneously release the binary and source code for WebKit because it uses code licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License.

"It cannot be a simple oversight, as multiple inquiries have been made to Apple by interested developers. However, the source code yet has to be released," wrote Welte.

As noted by TUAW, Apple released the code for the iOS 4.3.3 version of WebKit on its open source resource site late Monday.

Given the recent public calls for the release of the source code, the timing of the release prompted speculation that Apple had waited until developers complained before releasing the code. Some internet commenters have suggested that the iOS team's source code release policy is to do nothing until someone complains. Apple reportedly took six months to release open source portions of iOS 4.1, waiting until prominent jailbreakers Comex and Saurik complained about the company's non-compliance.

However, John Gruber of Daring Fireball speculated last week that the delay may have had "something to do with the introduction of the Nitro JavaScript engine for MobileSafari, and the security implications of granting MobileSafari and only MobileSafari an exception to the system-wide ban on marking memory pages as executable."

iOS 4.3 brought Apple's Nitro JavaScript engine over from Mac OS X, resulting in performance more than twice as fast as previous versions of Mobile Safari.

Apple's delays have prompted comparisons to Google's decision to temporarily close the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code. In March, Google closed availability of the Honeycomb source code for "the foreseeable future" because the software wasn't ready for smartphones. Android chief Andy Rubin responded to criticism regarding the decision by promising that the code would be released once the Android team finished porting features from the tablet-specific release to smartphones.
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Given the recent public calls for the release of the source code, the timing of the release prompted speculation that Apple had waited until developers complained before releasing the code. Some internet commenters have suggested that the iOS team's source code release policy is to do nothing until someone complains. Apple reportedly took six months to release open source portions of iOS 4.1, waiting until prominent jailbreakers Comex and Saurik complained about the company's non-compliance.

The notion that recent complaints triggered the release when develops have been complaining for awhile seems to be a post hoc, ergo propter hoc coincidental correlation.

For WebKit in iOS 4.1 did no developer complain for the first 6 months? I find that improbable.
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post #3 of 22
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... Apple's delays have prompted comparisons to Google's decision to temporarily close the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code. In March, Google closed availability of the Honeycomb source code for "the foreseeable future" because the software wasn't ready for smartphones. ...

yet Apple has gotten far more flak than Google has even though Google's "violation" is arguably much worse.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

yet Apple has gotten far more flak than Google has even though Google's "violation" is arguably much worse.

In what universe?

From TUAW:

Quote:
Often the only requirement is that you continue to credit the people you took the code from. These include the MIT, BSD and Apache licenses, amongst many others.
.....
the GNU Public License (GPL) and, a close cousin, the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL). The details of how these work are very complicated (and often maligned), but the overall principle is actually quite simple: If you give someone a copy of a program licensed under the GPL or the LGPL, you have to also give them a copy of the source code if they ask for it.
.....
Most of Android is under the first type of license, which is why Google could choose to not release the Honeycomb code. The people who wrote KHTML, however -- some of them bedroom programmers working on their own time, remember -- didn't want to get ripped off, so they licensed it under the LGPL. This means that when Apple took the project and built upon it, WebKit was also required to be under the LGPL -- and hence, under the letter of the law, any user of an iOS device should be entitled to a copy of the source code.

Quote:
I think it's interesting that Google can choose to withhold BSD-licensed Android source code and be widely pilloried in the tech press, whilst Apple has been quietly failing to meet the spirit and possibly the letter of its GPL obligations on iOS releases for years without anyone raising a stink about it. Hopefully, this post will help to redress that balance a little. Pull your socks up, Apple!
post #5 of 22
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Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post

In what universe?

No one expects Googles non-search products to be that good, thought out, or reliable. Apple is like the smart kid that gets scolded for getting an A-, whilst Google is the dumb kid that gets the pizza party just for getting C.
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post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

No one expects Googles non-search products to be that good, thought out, or reliable. Apple is like the smart kid that gets scolded for getting an A-, whilst Google is the dumb kid that gets the pizza party just for getting C.

post #7 of 22
Meh. Just take webkit private again.
JavaScript core and webcore would still be open source.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

No one expects Googles non-search products to be that good, thought out, or reliable. Apple is like the smart kid that gets scolded for getting an A-, whilst Google is the dumb kid that gets the pizza party just for getting C.

There may be some here who don't expect them to follow the same rules either. Not unusual for the 'good student" to have some indiscretions overlooked while the worst is often expected from the student with a bad rep, eh Solipsism?

Nor do I have any idea on what basis you claim no one expects any quality from Google's non-search products.

Would that include GMail, or Google Docs? What about Google Voice, and even Android itself?
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post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Meh. Just take webkit private again.
JavaScript core and webcore would still be open source.

WebKit contains some code that wasn't authored by Apple, and therefore isn't owned by Apple. The license under which Apple uses that code prohibits it from being taken "private". The only way Apple could legally take it "private" at this point, would be to expunge code owned by 3rd parties and write a new clean-room replacement. (Depending on how meticulous their source attribution system is, it may be rather simple to identify all such 3rd-party code, or else it may be quite time consuming.)

[edit] Ah -- I see that Apple has already done the work of separating out the LGPL-licensed portions of WebKit into sub-components: webcore and javascriptcore, as you already noted. It would, of course, be fine to close up the BSD-licensed remainder. I wonder how much of the mission-critical code that would actually amount to?[/edit]
post #10 of 22
Facetime is not available either
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sciwiz View Post

In what universe?

From TUAW:

You do make some good points here - and on a technical level they definitely have merit.

However - Apple does not go around bludgeoning Android about how Android is a terrible horrible closed system, and bragging that Apple is open open open.

No - it is Google that repeatedly says this about Apple. So - while technically you have important points, and Apple deserves to be called on the carpet for it, it is the glaring hypocrisy of Google that makes it "arguably worse infraction."
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmmx View Post

However - Apple does not go around bludgeoning Android about how Android is a terrible horrible closed system, and bragging that Apple is open open open.

No - it is Google that repeatedly says this about Apple. So - while technically you have important points, and Apple deserves to be called on the carpet for it, it is the glaring hypocrisy of Google that makes it "arguably worse infraction."

And you might have an important point if Google really did repeatedly bludgeon Apple about anything. They don't. Denigrating comments from Google about competitors are rare, and seldom ever occur at an official corporate media event. Can Apple's corporate leadership claim the same?

This is another one of those "everyone knows" Google comments with no basis in fact. There's lots of things to whip Google with without resorting to imaginary issues.
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post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The notion that recent complaints triggered the release when develops have been complaining for awhile seems to be a post hoc, ergo propter hoc coincidental correlation.

For WebKit in iOS 4.1 did no developer complain for the first 6 months? I find that improbable.

Or maybe Apple isn't all magical unicorn-loving goodness? Of course the thought of Apple being anything less than pure and perfect would cause a fanboi's head to explore into 1000 pieces of glittery, magic dust
post #14 of 22
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post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

yet Apple has gotten far more flak than Google has even though Google's "violation" is arguably much worse.

What violation? Android 3.0's license allows Google to temporarily close the source code. WebKit's license does not allow Apple to drag their feet on releasing the source code.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Denigrating comments from Google about competitors are rare, and seldom ever occur at an official corporate media event.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_584622.html

" Google announced a slew of new products and technologies at the two-day Google I/O developer conference earlier this week. What's notable is not only what Google introduced--but how they introduced it.

Google I/O attendees, like Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land or Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch, were struck by Google's repeated, open criticism of Apple during a keynote presentation.

Sullivan tweeted, "Wow, yet another slam at Apple during Google I/O keynote." "





Quote:
This is another one of those "everyone knows" Google comments with no basis in fact.

No. What this is you, yet again, attempting to counter facts with your own opinions.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by piot View Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_584622.html

" Google announced a slew of new products and technologies at the two-day Google I/O developer conference earlier this week. What's notable is not only what Google introduced--but how they introduced it.

Google I/O attendees, like Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land or Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch, were struck by Google's repeated, open criticism of Apple during a keynote presentation.

Sullivan tweeted, "Wow, yet another slam at Apple during Google I/O keynote."


No. What this is you, yet again, attempting to counter facts with your own opinions.

Ah, Piot, the "Vic Gundotra " episode again. That was the rare occasion I had in mind when I posted.

If you have several actual quotes where Google exec's slam Apple rather than a Huff-post with no examples, feel free to post them. If there's several over a period of time showing it's not rare, I'll be happy to admit I'm wrong, as I'm sure you would be if you can't produce them.
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post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Ah, Piot, the "Vic Gundotra " episode again. That was the rare occasion I had in mind when I posted.

If you have several actual quotes where Google exec's slam Apple rather than a Huff-post with no examples, feel free to post them. If there's several over a period of time showing it's not rare, I'll be happy to admit I'm wrong, as I'm sure you would be if you can't produce them.

Video is available online (I believe this is the same event I have watched.)
Folks can do their own web search. It was full of many direct Apple references as I remember.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

A little history:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

What violation? Android 3.0's license allows Google to temporarily close the source code. WebKit's license does not allow Apple to drag their feet on releasing the source code.

To be clear:
WebKit has several components, some of which are LGPL and others of which are BSD licensed.

The WebCore and JavaScriptCore components of Webkit are LGPL-licensed, and presumably contain code from 3rd party copyright holders. If there are 3rd-party copyright holders, then Apple cannot close the source code to WebCore or to JavaScriptCore, and Apple must release the source code updates to WebCore and JavaScriptCore at the same time as they release binary updates.

If Apple has managed to expunge any remaining vestiges of 3rd-party code (and therefeore 3rd-party copyright holders) from the source code of WebCore and JavaScriptCore, then they, as sole copyright holder, have the luxury of holding themselves to a different standard than any downstream recipients, with respect to source code distribution: They would be able to require any arbitrary mix of downstream recipients (according to their own arbitrary whim) to abide by the LGPL, while simultaneously not requiring certain other arbitrary recipients to abide by the license. And they themselves would never have to abide by the license, because they, as sole copyright holder, would never file suit against themselves for infringement.

As for the BSD-licensed subset of WebKit ... well, they really don't have to release any source code for that component.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The notion that recent complaints triggered the release when develops have been complaining for awhile seems to be a post hoc, ergo propter hoc coincidental correlation.

For WebKit in iOS 4.1 did no developer complain for the first 6 months? I find that improbable.

I think it is FAR MORE LIKELY, that this really was a SECURITY ISSUE.

There are also complaints about the new WebKit not being available to speed up third-party applications. This was misconstrued by the "freak-out about anything Apple" press as "Apple slows down non-Apple applications."

The techniques for speed-up, combined with how 3G phones pass data, sounds like it is non-trivial. And the SECURITY implications are; running an "image" of code without verifying. So, could another application put cache "code in memory" that had not been sandboxed in place of the Accelerated JavaScript? Maybe that is the reason Apple was holding off releasing Webkit updates - until they could find a way to make it difficult to sneak in arbitrary code.... I'm not sure.


>> But this follows on the heals of "Apple tracks users!" -- when they'd been giving away "find my iPhone" -- of COURSE their servers know where your phone is -- how do you think Google maps can find "restaurants in your area?" The IMPORTANT bit is; does this become marketing data, and does someone abuse my personal information? -- apparently, NO.


So my guess is, that THIS new complaint about WebKit, is not about Apple trying to make it tougher on the Open Source community, but that Apple has a lot of "buns in the oven" and they'd rather be spending time on the Lion OS, than in making WebKit hackers happy. Since the WebKit people complained -- they spent time and money on WebKit (instead of Lion).

>> SO IN ALL HONESTY, Now, should Apple spend MORE money on R&D and WebKit as well as Lion? Sure. But do they want to SPEND MONEY on things that don't make them money? No.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

To be clear:
WebKit has several components, some of which are LGPL and others of which are BSD licensed.

The WebCore and JavaScriptCore components of Webkit are LGPL-licensed, and presumably contain code from 3rd party copyright holders. If there are 3rd-party copyright holders, then Apple cannot close the source code to WebCore or to JavaScriptCore, and Apple must release the source code updates to WebCore and JavaScriptCore at the same time as they release binary updates.

If Apple has managed to expunge any remaining vestiges of 3rd-party code (and therefeore 3rd-party copyright holders) from the source code of WebCore and JavaScriptCore, then they, as sole copyright holder, have the luxury of holding themselves to a different standard than any downstream recipients, with respect to source code distribution: They would be able to require any arbitrary mix of downstream recipients (according to their own arbitrary whim) to abide by the LGPL, while simultaneously not requiring certain other arbitrary recipients to abide by the license. And they themselves would never have to abide by the license, because they, as sole copyright holder, would never file suit against themselves for infringement.

As for the BSD-licensed subset of WebKit ... well, they really don't have to release any source code for that component.


>> I was making a point about the insertion of "arbitrary code" into the Nitro engine -- but YEAH, your point about a licensing nightmare is ALSO very likely.

My guess is that the NITRO code is licensed and NOT able to be put in Open Source -- it might even build on OTHER proprietary code. The WebKit javascript core is pointing to that engine -- so there is a disconnect in licensing models.

I don't think it's BREAKING Webkit and the various licenses to point to a CLOSED SOURCE execution engine (but I'm not an expert on this). I just think it's going to be a juggling act for lawyers.


>> There needs to be more BSD-like or non-restrictive licenses -- the NO-Proprietary ANYTHING just isn't workable if you want profit-seeking companies to help things improve.

If you want to worry about Abuse -- just look at how Google is closing off Android. But of course, they HAVE TO. The Chinese, hackers, and miscreant developers are tacking out parts and inserting "non advertisement generating code" into it. Google's "advertisement subsidized" paradigm, cannot survive the Open Source nature of their OS -- also, users cannot long survive getting applications from a thousand and one websites -- any one of which could be adding a root kit.

I don't expect Google to ship a fully open code version of Android 3.0 any time soon -- but I could be surprised.

>> And hopefully, Apple will be able to improve Webkit, without getting sued for having proprietary and closed portions of it. But we will see.
post #22 of 22
Considering how many devices and browsers use WebKit now, and how much Apple has contributed to its strengths and success, and how Apple releases its products - I don't find that delay too significant. Quite often even after extensive testing when a new Apple product is released, an update or patch is released shortly thereafter. To make millions of a device and get it into production and into consumers hands, the hardware tooling and fabrication process has to be in place well before Steve shows the device off on stage. The same goes with the software included. And Apple does not have all its coders sitting around worrying about reviewing, editing and packaging up software for open source release. They are worried about getting the product right. After the product is released they are still working over the code. And probably deserve a vacation too. Any code that is released to the public probably goes through extensive reviews, including lawyers. To think Apple is going to release the code the same day they release the product is pretty stupid and short-sided. But me thinks, Harald Welte is just a community organizer with nothing productive to add to society - his job is to complain about the behavior of people who actually create something. If Apple had not been contributing so much to WebKit in the past AND releasing the code to others, he might have a valid complaint. I would venture a guess that WebKit is one of the most widely used open source projects out there - considering how millions of devices it is going on now - not just iOS devices, but other mobile and desktop systems, it might be that Webkit is more used than Linux or Apache web server. And even GNU C.
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