Home » Issues » 30
Music Players
submitted by SirGrant, 18:45, 30 November 2010
TOPIC: new categories of hardware
STATUS: opened
We could have a section for Portable Music Players. Something like: Manufacturer: Foo Model: Bar Free Formats Supported: Ogg Vorbis; WebM; ect. Free Program to access Player: Banshee; Totem Music Player; ect.

I could be a good idea, but it has to be analyzed carefully. We should assure that:

  1. the device could also work with a free operating system and does not deny users access to install or run modified versions of the operating system inside them
  2. it could be accessed (upload and download of files) by means of free programs
  3. it also supports formats that do not restrict the user or the developer, for example Ogg Vorbis

The first point could lead to some difficulties. For example we should define what operating systems currently used for music players (and similar, more complex, devices) are free and what devices allow the user to modify those operating system. For example Ipod is a music player that makes use of a non-free operating system, even if it could be accessed by free software (I don't know if Ipod supports Ogg). Android and Symbian are two more operating systems used for mobile phones (that can be used as Music Players).

It could be difficult to separate simple Music Players (that have perhaps an integrated and not-accessible micro-operating-system) from complex portable devices (such as Apple devices)

I think that this topic is critical and very important since more and more of such devices are commercialized nowadays. As you have proposed, we should start to make a selection.

What do you think?

submitted by tonicucoz, 06:00, 1 December 2010
Point 1 is tricky. Point 3 too. My answer lies with the objective of the project "The h-node project aims at the construction of a database of all the hardware that works with a fully free operating system. The h-node.com website is structured like a wiki in which all the users can modify or insert new contents. " I own an ipod (it does not support ogg btw). I regret getting it but I bought years ago before I ever knew about free software. However, it still works with a fully free OS. I have Trisquel GNU/Linux running and I am able to access it, upload and download music from it all using free software. However, I would hardly call the ipod free software friendly. So yes, this is an interesting point of debate. The ipod meets h-nodes objectives. The hardware works with a fully free distro. However, the software on the device is not free software so how should we list it. If anyone has any ideas feel free to post up.
submitted by SirGrant, 04:17, 2 December 2010

SirGrant, thanks for the answer.

I own an Ipod too (as you, I have bought it before I ever knew about free software). I think that we should also point out our attention on the operating system, not only on the software that could be used to handle the device.

For example, the Macbook is sold with a non-free operating system, but that operating system can be replaced (a part from BIOS that is a problem of most of the notebooks). So the notebook can work with a free operating system.

I think that, in the case of portable devices (if the software inside them is accessible), we should consider those device as computers that have to give the possibility to install (inside them) a free (even if simple) operating system. The fact that they can be managed by means of free software I'm afraid is not enough. Anyway, I don't know if Ipod has an accessible operating system or not.

Also, I'm not completely sure that the fact that the operating system of the device is accessible or not-accessible is the right way to distinguish

I think we could start a discussion about the operating systems that run on such portable devices and then create a list of the ones that are free software. Then we could allow users to insert devices only if they have tested those devices with one of the accepted operating systems. This is more or less what is done for the notebooks.

Perhaps there are better ways to operate. I don't know how it could be possible to distinguish (automatically, i.e. by the h-node users) between those devices that have a non-accessible operating system and the ones that have an accessible operating system. In the last case, I think, we should assure that the operating system is free.

submitted by tonicucoz, 05:15, 2 December 2010

I would only be able to distinguish between a simple device that can only be used to listen music from a complex portable device that could also be used to listen music (for example Iphone). In the first case, perhaps, it is not so fundamental that the operating system is free (perhaps it can't be called operating-system), in the second case it is (because Iphone is a computer, not only a device that work with a fully free OS such as, for example, a printer).

submitted by tonicucoz, 05:31, 2 December 2010
Rockbbox, does the trick doesn't it?
submitted by Ark74, 13:45, 6 December 2010
very interesting.. I should try Rockbox on my Ipod (I don't have used it for many years..). Perhaps we could ask the users to test their MusicPlayer with Rockbox and other similar firmware.. Are there other similar projects? We should also list those Music Players that have a free firmware by default (that are sold with a free firmware)
submitted by tonicucoz, 05:38, 7 December 2010
Maybe we should have 2 categories: 1) Accessible w/ free software (e.g. banshee, totem) 2) Loadable w/ 100% free software (e.g. replicant). I mean this site is a database. For example lets say I'm a user who wants to switch to a free distro like trisquel. But I already own an ipod lets say. I would want to know if it works before switching. I think we should be able to tell the user if it does or not. Then secondly we should be able to tell the user if it is loadable w/ fully free software. Also I think anything that can make phone calls should maybe have it's own section under phones.
submitted by SirGrant, 02:53, 11 December 2010

This issue is very tricky. In my point of view, since Ipod is a stand-alone (and not so simple) device, it should have a free firmware/operating system, or it should let the user to load a free (and working) firmware/operating system. If this is not the case then it shouldn't be listed on h-node.

"Also I think anything that can make phone calls should maybe have it's own section under phones"

I think you are right. We should start a discussion about such devices in order to list the ones that work with a free operating system. For example: is Android really free software? I mean: free software like linux-libre, without any non-free firmware? I would like to know.

I think we shouldn't take risks and proceed with caution. There are a lot of questions I wouldn't be able, at the moment, to deal with, since there are many aspects that have to be evaluated. Anyway I think it is positive to start dealing with these issues.

submitted by tonicucoz, 17:41, 11 December 2010
Well on a side note about the phones. Android/Linux is MOSTLY free software. However it wouldn't meet the FSF free distro guidelines. A few pieces of firmware are non-free and it recommends non-free apps through their marketplace. There is a project called replicant (http://replicant.us/) making a 100% free version. It only works on a couple phones as far as I know with root access. As far as the ipod goes then I still think it should be "listed" but just noted that it doesn't work. Because we put printers that don't work w/ free software on here. We just say that they don't work so users can make informed choices.
submitted by SirGrant, 16:10, 13 December 2010

The Replicant project seems very cool! Perhaps we could build a new section about phones with a list of allowed distributions for mobile-phones. At the moment the only one allowed should be Replicant. Is replicant in some way certified/approved by fsf?

About Ipod: it seems it can work with rockbox, so we could ask people to test it with that operating system

submitted by tonicucoz, 17:44, 13 December 2010
I think the Replicant project hasn't been officially endorsed by the FSF. They have a few articles on cell phones (Building a free software smartphone )(Free software and cellphones )(Free software for Android ) which seem to show that they are encouraging the replicant project.
submitted by SirGrant, 03:43, 14 December 2010

Ok I think we could insert a new category of hardware: phones. I also think the replicant project could be listed on h-node.com. Anyway, I need some time to code this improvement and I would like to discuss further about this issue. It is a new topic and I have to study more about mobile-phones and free-software. I don't own any of such devices :)

I'm currently working in order to complete i18n. I hope I will be able to complete this task in a few days...

Since the title of this issue is about Music Players it could be better to open a new issue for phones. I think we could continue this discussion inside that page :)

submitted by tonicucoz, 03:29, 15 December 2010
Here is the new issue
submitted by tonicucoz, 03:39, 15 December 2010
Adding support for "Music player" is complicated. In one hand, some are purely "computers" and could go inside the laptop category once it has been renamed as computer as explained in this bugreport: https://h-node.org/issues/view/en/297/1/8a737f9d18f8cf131922283571674bc5 . However we'd need FSDG compliant distributions or Debian for them. For instance Replicant or Parabola could probably work on some devices, but Rockbox may not be FSDG compliant (the project would need to be checked and added to the list of FSDG compliant distributions). As for using them as peripherals, this is where it can get complicated. A device with a nonfree OS could interact with a laptop running Trisquel for instance.
submitted by GNUtoo, 11:48, 26 June 2020

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