tobias_platen's blog

Just another GNUstep users blog


December 13th, 2012

All major record labels have given up trying to enforce DRM schemes on music, but most DoujinOngakuka still do not have freedom and privacy until today:

- Miselu Neiro runs nonfree software such as VOCALOID and uses a proprietery YAMAHA DSP.
- Services like SoundCloud suggest Adobe Flash Player.
- Storing your data in centralized online services exposes you to surveillance.
- There is no portable, net-enabled social music device that Respects Your Freedom yet.

But Hackers and Makers are working on free alternatives:

- Arduino is a freedom-friendly platform that can be used to synthesize sounds.
- FreedomBox is a Debian based platform for distributed applications.
- OLinuXino is hackable hardware that runs FreedomBox.
- Fritzing and free FPGA-toolchains allow the community to build their own solutions.

Moe.FM clients for GNU/Linux and Android

November 3rd, 2012 is a streaming service for Japanese Indie Music (Doujin Ongaku). There are two free clients at GitHub. ( and Unlike mobile there is no DRM. (see


Open Source Culture and Free Cultural Works

October 5th, 2012

Works of authorship(such as music and software) should be free, and by freedom we mean:
the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

Hatsune Miku is a proprietery soundfont for the proprietery VOCALOID software.
VOCALOID is a singing synthesizer based on sample concatenation.
Users of VOCALOID often share there their works with others, sometimes under Creative Commons licenses.
Because VOCALOID is so popular, Ameya/Ayame created UTAU that allows users to record their own samples.
Unlike VOCALOID, UTAU can be used with freely licenced samples and a free synthesizer backend.
But the frontend written in Microsoft Visual Basic is propriertery.

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation believes that software should be free.
When he speaks of “free software”, he’s talking about freedom, not price.
He co-authored the GNU General Public Licenses that are intended to guarantee your freedom to share.
If one of the four freedoms is missing the program is nonfree. Copyleft guarantees that a free program remains free.
To understand how a program works you need more than just the compiled computer code; you also need access to the human-readable source code.
Some people call this “Open Source” but Open Source misses the point of Free Software.

Matt Lee, one of the authors of GNU FM, is the campaigns manager at the Free Software Foundation.
He also thinks that music should be free. The Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license is a copyleft license that can be used for music.
A recording of music made with physical instruments such as a human voice or an acoustic guitar can distributed music under a free license under a free format such as Ogg Vorbis. In this case there is no source code for the music. When using software for making music there is a source code that is part of that work. So it might be better to share your work under the GNU GPL. There should be no restrictions that prevent you from sharing soundfonts and using them with free software.

Why you should not upgrade to Mac OS X Lion

June 23rd, 2012

Recently I heard that an iTunes update breaks the Xiph QuickTime components that allow you to play Ogg Vorbis files with iTunes.
Apple decided to rewrite iTunes as a 64 bit Cocoa application that supports the full screen mode. This will break the 32 bit Vorbis plugin for iTunes.
So I wrote a python script that converts iTunes playlists to m3u playlists:

The Apple Lossless Audio Codec is now available as an open source project, but Apple does not sell any Music in this format.
Using this codec with your iPad does not give you freedom. The Free Lossless Audio Codec is free as in freedom.
Please read Richard Stallman’s article:

iCloud and the App Store pose the problem of Software as a Service.
Both depend on a server set up by Apple.

Recently I switched to Trisqel GNU/Linux which is fully free and decided to write a free replacement for Mac OS X, the GNUstep Libre system.
GNUstep Libre is based on GNUstep and GNU Linux-libre, but later versions might use the GNU HURD.

Hardware freedom

May 5th, 2012

Ten companies that do support free software, in some cases the hardware is free too:
1    Lemote sells netbooks with a free BIOS
2    ThinkPenguin sells Hardware with GNU Linux-libre support
3    Via makes Mainboards compatible with coreboot
4    Qi hardware makes  Copyleft hardware
5    XESS makes Hard and Software licensed under GPL and Creative Commons licenses
6    Fritzing Fab allows you to create your own hardware
7    Golden Delicious Computers is not Defective by Design
8    OLIMEX makes Arduino Clones and embedded GNU/Linux hardware
9    Make Play Live makes GNU/Linux based tablets
10   Archos sells Android and GNU/Linux tablets

No free Software (except some HID devices)
1   Apple iPad is Defective By Design
2   Nintendo DSi is Defective by DESiGN
3   Microsoft has it’s Windows 7 Sins
4   Sony PlayStation 3 is incompatible with free software and ran Open Source Linux
5   OpenPandora is incompatible with free software and runs Open Source Linux

Instead of using Open Source Software with Open Hardware, it is better to use copylefted free hard and software.

Reasons to avoid HD+ and Blu-Ray

May 4th, 2012

On April 30th, 2012 the analogue transmission of TV and radio programs via satellite reached its end.
With digital TV it is now possible to watch HDTV, but most products support Digital Restrictions Management

To watch private TV programs in HDTV an HD+ enabled receiver and a smartcard is needed. Your TV set must support HDCP to be able to watch DRMed HD content. The smartcard will cost you 50 Euros per year. The DRM is used to prevent users from skipping advertisings.

Because DRM-free Blu-ray movies do not exist, you should not buy a Blu-ray player such as the PlayStation 3.
TV sets that are HD ready do support DRMed HDTV, and some have a build-in HD+ receiver. Be carefull when buying a new TV set.

But DRM-free HDTV also exists. In Germany the public legal TV programs (such as ARTE and 3SAT) decided not to use DRM.
You can watch them with free software such as mplayer without using proprietery plugins. Without DRM you can skip advertisings, but there are no advertisings in ARTE and 3SAT.

Mac OS X is obsolete

November 21st, 2011

„About eight month ago, when I cought myself fighting yet another battle with suspend/resume on my Linux-running laptop, I got so furious that I went to the nearest Apple store and bought a MacBook. After 12 years of almost exclusive use of free software, I switched to Mac OS X“
Ivan Kritic

After people at Rockiger read this cite, the decided to bring up a notebook that comes with Ubuntu preinstalled.
Their SatchBook is based on components that work with Ubuntu out of the box. If you are used to Mac OS X you can install Étoilé and reuse most free Mac Apps.

Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach, by Amit Singh – is this book useful in a fully free world.

October 24th, 2011

Mac OS X is a non-free operating system! This means it takes away your freedoms to use, study, share and improve the software.
Some people try to claim their freedom back by installing Mac OS X on a PC, ignoring the EULA and breaking copyright laws.
This is possible because the kernel of Mac OS X is free software under the Apple Public Source License. The DRM used to lock Mac OS X to Apple Hardware is described in the osxbook.

Mac OS X is based on the Mach kernel and uses components of FreeBSD,NetBSD and GNU. The Hurd, GNU’s kernel, is based on Mach 3.0. Before Mac OS X was released, Apple has contributed to a free software project called mkLinux.
The Mach kernel was ported to the PowerPC platform and used as a base for Mac OS X. Apple released Darwin under the APSL which is a free software license. Mac OS X without its non-free GUI is Darwin. GNU-Darwin was an attempt to help Mac users to enjoy the benefits of software freedom. GNU-Darwin replaces the non-free GUI with X11. Ironically the Bootable Installer CD of GNU-Darwin includes proprietary drivers.

The Mac OS X Internals book describes the architecture of Mac OS X and Darwin. GNU/Hurd is not mentioned in the book, but it shares parts of its architecture with Mac OS X. FreeBSD is used as a reference implementation by Apple. Most free operating systems ship with Webkit, CUPS ,and Grand Central Dispatch. Cocoa Programming on Mac OS X, Second Edition by Aaron Hillegass has a chapter about GNUstep and can be used with only free software. Both books can be used as a starting point for a free operating system compatible to Mac OS X.

Free replacement for UTAU

October 22nd, 2011

UTAU is a non-free singing synthesis software that can be used only on Windows.Most music made with UTAU is more or less free and created by users. Some Vocebanks can be used on the Mac, but this platform has the same problem, that Windows has. Even if UTAU runs on GNU/Linux using wine with a patch, it wont be usable in a fully free distro.

So the only option is to rewrite a free replacement for UTAU from scratch. I’ve written a GNUstep based frontend for the Festival Speech Sythesis system. You will find the sourcecode at Google Code

This example also shows that it is possible to port Mac OS X Apps to GNU/Linux using GNUstep.