Convincing companies/organizations to open source their apps and submit them to F-Droid


#1

I’ve asked today on mastodon but let’s make this a forum thread to gather ideas.

The question is about what to write to an organization if you want to convince them to 1) open source their app and 2) submit them to f-droid.

In this case this was about an app for easier configuration of eduroam wifi for one university: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.fu.zedat.EduroamConfig&hl=en_US

In my opinion there should be absolutely no reason to not open source this app but the question is how to make the university see that. :slight_smile:

When I have some more time I’ll likely draft some things here, but open to hearing other people’s ideas as well.

We can also use this thread to list some more easy or not so easy candidates of apps where we could try to convince people to open source it.


#2

Here is another one I came across a while ago: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.aid.android.ernaehrungspyramide&hl=de

It’s from seom federal agency in Germany, there is no commercial interest and it really should be open source.


#3

#4

I think that the letter should contain some words about the value of the software. You should thank the developer in some way, like “I found your app useful and I believe that people on F-Droid will do as well”. You should list the benefits of open-sourcing also. For companies it can be higher level of trust (it’s hard to trust closed-source software especially with dangerous permissions). For individuals(as me) publishing to F-Droid means more exposure -> more translations, suggestions, bug fixes, etc -> faster and easier development. It is important to tell people that publishing on F-Droid is not that hard and to offer some help during the submission process.


#5

I believe it’s important that you clearly explain what you want and why anyone would care about. Do not assume that people know anything. Random people on the street do not know the relations between Google, Android and the Play Store, they never heard about the possibility of alternative app stores and they are clueless about the meaning of free software.


#6

I hope we can figure out some strategies to help push this. There are a bunch of government sponsored apps in Vienna that are not free software. They are always downloadable without having to pay, so on the surface, it seems that it is a simple question to switch it to free software.

What happens is that the government contracts a company to write the apps. Those companies like to lock in customers, so they combine their own proprietary code with these apps, so that they are not 100% produced by the government funds. That means the government does not own 100% of the copyright of those apps, the apps include code licensed from the companies. So it is not a simple thing to release them as free software.

That is why free software campaigns are about doing things on “request for proposal” phase of when governments are requesting that companies bid for the contract. Then it is technically easy and little work to include a clause that requires it to be free software. The hard part is then just the political question. The established companies and relationships will not just lightly agree to it. They will say things like it’ll make the contract more expensive, since they have to rewrite the proprietary code owned by the company as free software.

What is a less exciting but easier case is making governments require unrestricted redistribution of the apps, e.g. that anyone is free to include the APKs in their own repo, etc.

Here is an example of advocating contracting policies:


#7

Concerning national agencies & administrations specifically, they all look heavily glued between all possible "Open Source Archetypes of open communities in their strategic contexts": https://blog.mozilla.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/MZOTS_OS_Archetypes_report_ext_scr.pdf#page=28.
Thus they decide, in the short run, to go for ‘disposable’ closed source apk (?). Except frontal aggressive Public Money? Public Code! , there is not even real interlocutor to discuss with.

imho, Green computing really fits F-Droid logo and disposals: What lessons can “green” computing learn from open source ?

Hope tomorrow European Parliament vote, for Copyright in the Digital Single Market, won’t hurt fdroid full process …

-Amendment 41 Proposal for a directive Recital 37 a (new) && 42/38
…Online content sharing service providers perform an act of communication to the public and therefore are responsible for their content…


#8

An actual example of a for-profit company working to release an app on F-Droid:

I think the concerns raised by the employee in charge of the release will be mirrored by most corporate entities.