[nycbug-talk] Fw: Extreme mobile BSD

Trish Lynch trish at bsdunix.net
Sat Dec 22 15:41:09 EST 2007

On Sat, 22 Dec 2007, Miles Nordin wrote:

> Are these apps ``blessed'' by RIM in any way?  What I mean is, can I
> * download the source to LJ2ME,
> * change it,
> * and then distribute it to my RIM-using friends in the same
>   easy-to-install format as the unmodified LJ2ME that I first
>   downloaded?
> if so, that fixes my ``won't touch it''-level objection from last time
> I dealt with this world.

In that specific example, LJ2ME, its freeware for non-commercial use, and 
for pay for commercial use, negotiated with the author, however, lets use 
some other app thats even more useful to us:

Now, just for clarification, there is J2ME apps, and MIDlets, MIDlets run 
on Java ME, and J2ME, is Java 2 ME, not much of a difference, the 
development toolkit is licensed by Sun under the same licenses that each 
version of java represented is under.

So lets use the MIDlet, midpssh, midpssh is a ssh client implementation 
written for Java ME that runs on several types of phones. Now some 
providers do "cripple" their phones (the one who comes to mind is verizon, 
which is why I don't use them), but some don't, and allow you to run any 
app, even "unsigned" (which is not a RIM or provider signing, its a 
cryptographic signing that is signed with a key that is blessed by the 
root key, similar to SSL, its like running a Java applet signed or 

But on uncrippled phones, especially the Blackberries (and there are 
several different underlying OS's, I'm going to talk about the later 3.x 
and 4.x RIM OS bundles), you can run several different types of 
applications: MIDlets, J2ME apps, or the apps developed with the 
Blackberry specific APIs and toolkits provided by RIM. Obviously the 
MIDlets and J2ME apps look more "egeneric" because its supposed to be a 
"write once, run on multiple platform" thing.

But midpssh is open source, in fact, most of it is GNU licensed.

They can be installed a couple ways (and my experience is under 
and RIM, not any other provider), OTA (over the air), "over the wire" or 
via a standard USB A to USB B mini cable using the "loader" that came with 
the device, for free. Also on later OS's and RIM devices with a microSD 
card, you can copy the apps to the microSD card and install it from there 
through the USB cable (it sees it as a mass-storage device. The main issue 
is that the "app loader" that makes it easy to move data directly to the 
built-in-storage on the device does not run on linux or BSD natively, 
though I 
know people that have gotten it all to work on linux using some windows 
emulation library, and I know it works under some *BSD's as well

And yes, you can change midpssh (in fact there are several different 
earlier iterations and forks), and distrivute it in the same ways...

> The only other thing I'd add, is that while I had Nextel, I talked
> about this problem with other J2ME-excited friends, and they always
> incorrectly told me ``no, you can do that, you can do whatever you
> want.''  Then when I started talking about cables, codes, and
> developer kits, they glazed over and showed me how to download blessed
> apps from Nextel and said ``see?''
> But since you've actually built some apps, you probably know where
> they didn't.  How do you distribute the ones you've built---is it a
> second-class method to the way mainstream apps are distributed?  Can
> they be widely-distributed to everyone without RIM's
> consent/involvement?

Not really, essentially you can distribute in any standard archive file on 
any website, or offer a .jad package OTA download off your website... RIM 
has no involvement with midpssh whatsoever.

> as far as lesser objections, I wonder if you have experience with:
> * do they limit your access to peripherals to prevent bits from
>   escaping the phone, like probably intending to prevent you from
>   writing a Java version of Slirp?  You can't use bluetooth or irda
>   or a serial port or anything else that could connect you to a
>   laptop?

Some providers do this, I have not experienced this with Cingular/AT&T 
*that much* I did experience is with the fact that bluetooth was crippled 
on Cingular's version of the OS, however loading the generic OS from RIM 
on there, it worked fine, it just didn;t come with the Cingular apps (that 
I don;t use, like Telenav or the MEdia Net WAP setup (I use the native IP 
stack instead). You can even tether it, without paying for the tehtering 
plan, its just without the "tethering plan" on Cingular/AT&T, they can 
charge you for going through the "tethering access point", some people get 
around this by sneaking through the WAP gateway, but they limit the type 
of traffic allowed through the WAP gateway, so you're stuck with 
essentially web traffic, and small amounts of other ports/protocols. I 
decided just to bite the bullet and pay for the tethering, so I didn;t 
have any hassle. Its Cingular's service model, they can do what they like, 
its not RIM charging though, its Cingular/AT&T, because they have every 
right to chage you money for thier services.

>   They used to do this.  It was annoying because you couldn't write
>   your own Java apps that connect to GPS pods.

You can connect to the GPS unit in the phone, or even triangulate based on 
cell tower locations, however, I don;t know how to do this personally, but 
its not crippled on the phone by RIM or even Cingular.

> * do they let you use the GPS built into the phone, or are they still
>   trying to charge a few cents ``per location fix''?

Nope, I pay nothing extra for the GPS in my phone. Some apps try and 
charge you for thier map usage, but there are free apps out there (Yahoo! 
GO!, InfoSpace FindIT, Google Maps Mobile, and Blackberry Maps, all of 
which are free.) that do the same things.

> * do you have to use their IDE to upload the apps over some special
>   cable, or use it to install some proprietary RIM ``header'' onto
>   the app file, or can you build them with any working J2ME DK you
>   like on your OS of choice and download them over-the-air?

The second choice, you can use any J2ME DK, and dl over the wire or over 
the air.

> * what is the Internet connection like?

Essentially the "unlimited data plan" on Cingular/AT&T is designed to be 
"WAPserved" if its only on the device, and never meant to use anything 
more complicated like ssh or google's map product or jabber/direct IM 
programs. However Cing/AT&T's "Blackberry Tethering product" allows you to 
use the normal facilitated IP stack and allows your serial/IMEI to use the 
ISPDA access point (not the standard WAP access point), which enables you 
pretty much clear access to the net, in fact its even got its own 
addressable IP. IN fact I'm pretty sure its not NAt'd at all. I;ve been 
able to tether and do pretty dann near anything, including sshing back to 
my own box. I have no problem with Cingular/AT&T charging to use that 
access point, but the facility is within the dvice to use pretty much wide 
open access to the net via wireless facilities over GPRS/EDGE.

>   Nextel's connection---the super expensive unlimited use Golden
>   Packet Spray plan you were explicitly _allowed_ to use with
>   laptops, not even anything where I was ``cheating'' or working
>   around some stumbling block---had this NAT that seemed to quietly
>   kill connections if it detected packet loss.  so IM was useless
>   unless you were standing still.  I started with a cheaper metered
>   plan, there was no NAT, and I didn't have this problem.  but the
>   packet meter in the phone never matched my bill, and I calculated
>   it would cost $1000 to download firefox over the air, so I
>   switched.  This difference between the plans was never disclosed or
>   discussed, and it took hours on hold and a couple weeks of no
>   internet because of their mistakes to switch between ``plans.''  It
>   was endlessly frustrating.

Lets just say, in the 3.5 years I've been using my blackberry for data, 
I've never had this issue.

>   For you, Jabber actually works, and works as well as the bundled IM
>   tools they give you?  or are they giving you some brokeass
>   Internet, or Internet that can only work well by talking to a
>   Sidekick-style proxy server which has to be on their LAN?

Nope, it works extremely well, as long as its going theough the straight 
ISPDA access point and not the WAP one. Like I said, the difference is the 
rate plan you use, you are allowed to use *both* if you get the tethering 
plan (which keeps coming down in price every year), but the WAP access 
point explicitly blocks some things, its not for users like you and I but 
for users like my mother or father that don't need facilities like that, 
just unlimited data through the WaP access point.

>   I mean, if they've improved upon the AIM protocol to make some kind
>   of RIMAIM, then installed a RIMAIM<->AIM bridge on their network,
>   that seems fair _as long as you can install a RIMJABBER<->Jabber
>   bridge on the regular Internet._ but, like, in my Nextel example,
>   they would probably put their bridge in front of the goofy NAT,
>   while your bridge would have to go behind it and thus maybe could
>   never work as well.

They have thier own PIN-to-PIN messaging system (which is fucking cool, if 
you ask me), but they haven;t improved on other IM platforms. But I use 
jabber, AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, google talk, and other IM platforms on there, 
the only things I don;t have working on are smaller ones with proprietary 
code (ie. Paltalk, but being an ex-employee, why would I *want* that?)

> so there.  now someone scream at me for being a hypocrite because I
> also talk sometimes like a fourteen year old girl, and a retired model
> train hobbyist, and use unfree instant messaging tools, and yet
> simultaneously lament these facts.  OMG!  The contradiction!

Lameting wasn;t my issue, as much as the overt anger, that seemed to come 
off as insulting to people who did use these tools, and got use out of 
them. In fact my blackberry has made my life better and easier, and I 
don;t always have to cart my laptop around. For someone with chronic 
fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, and fibromyalgia, not having to cart 
a backpack/laptop around makes a huge difference. I've done everything to 
setting up compiles of kernela and userlands for upgrades to actually 
troubleshooting issues. Having an ssh client and a windows terminal server 
client has been eminently helpful, never mind nice objects such as the 
"Manhattan Cross Street Calculator" and other minor tools

>    ys> don't wanna pour more oil onto the flame, but I'm curious
>    ys> about what do you mean by "BSDish" in this context,
> The restrictions on the Nextel J2ME phone I had seven years ago, on
> the iPhone, and the Sidekick squash these possibilities.  not sure
> about RIM yet---we kinda brought in this new phone half way through
> the argument.

Not sure about the iPhone, but as far as I can see, the apps going on the 
iphone don't have to be signed or blessed by Apple, do they? can you not 
install stuff arbitrarily OTA? If not, I have the wrong impression and I'm 
sorry, That just backs up my conviction that buying the Blackberry 8800 
over the iphone was not only more inexpensive, but the better choice 
because I can do more on my own with it.

> Most of this new IM, socialnetworking, fancyphone stuff is about
> herding people from one fad to the next, which means things should
> change quickly but be very enticing, and that members of the old fad
> need to be excluded or else there's no reason to declare your new
> allegiance.  The protocol is your own damn business, no one else's.
> And if someone's offended it must be because of the fad's ``success,''
> not because he has to be centrally logged and pay twenty cents to ask
> what color of squash is preferred tonight, and that no one ever really
> chose this situation, just sort of got railroaded into it.

I disagree, the "smartphone" stuff for me is about actually having a 
portable net connection and tools that are useful to me and my job, and my 
every day life. THe PDA's usefulness is amazing. For a little more on PDAs 
and theier usefulness to SysAdmins in general see TOm Limoncelli's book 
_Time_Management_for_Systems_Administration_. Its made a huge difference 
in how I get things done, and how fact and efficient I am.

> for me it's hilarious to see how the debate starts to pan out when
> confronted with reality.  It's like everyone's being mocked.
>    tl> Honestly - yes I am a Libertarian and Objectivist, but rants
>    tl> liike yours (Miles) come out to people who aren't staunch
>    tl> capitalists like I am as if you're a crazy socialist
>    tl> zealot.
> In this case, you're not even objecting to my talking about something
> technical that hazily involves some of your political ideas---you're
> objecting to my particular political ideas themselves.

Actually I'm objecting to how you are appklying your political ideas to 
something that clearly has a different political idea behind it. Its like 
the perversion of selling copies of _The _Communist_Manifesto_.... its so 
backwards to criticize those taking advantage of a license that clearly 
encourages one to keep thier intellectual property closed if they so 
choose, to make money on it. They don;t even have to "repay" or "give 
back", in fact the biggest "giving back" Apple could have done is just 
acknoledge that some of the under the hood stuff in OS X, and the new 
iPhone and iPods is BSD code and tools. They did that, they aren;t 
obligated to do that, they aren;t obligated to give us developers, they 
aren;t obligated to give us code back, they aren't obligated to hire out 
of our deveopment pool. The licensing of the BSD tools does not require 
them to do ANYTHING other than acknwledge they are using it (and even 
then, later versions have taken that out)

> We could continue this discussion on the libertarian list or the
> objectivist list, or the staunch capitalist list, if I were subscribed
> to those.  Or we could continue on nettime-bold, if you were
> subscribed to that.  However, (surprise!)  we don't seem to subscribe
> to the same political lists.  So what if my ideas do come out to you
> that way?  I certainly don't care to tell you how you're coming across
> to me. :) This isn't the place for you to ``correct'' my politics (or
> me yours!).

However it is a place to talk about the specific politics of Open Source 
licensing, which is exactly what I'm doing. The GPL is software socialism 
(I'd venture more to say software communism), while the BSD license is 
software libertarianism, Its one major reason why I climbed on board, some 
of the others include the peer review, and the fact that the development 
model was clearly more organized than keeping notes on scraps of 

> I do have some political opinions, but don't think I should have to
> put up with being baited to talk about them where it's OT by someone
> calling me a child repeatedly.  Please, knock it off!  I offer once
> again that, for nycbug-l, our politics ought to be framed into some
> topical technical issue.  At least then we can argue about it in a way
> that's not obnoxious for everyone else.

They *were*.... or at least mine was... not sure about yours, you just 
sortof made a judgement on a group of people using tools and/or toys that 
you *preferred* not to use, however, the judgements you made were somewhat 
offensive and in anger. I essentially asked you: why do you do that, its 
not the first tiome you've come off as bitter, nasty, and 
ultra-curmudgeonly (except I like curmudgeons for the most part) regarding 
how you think the software world should be. Its not like that, in fact the 
BSD license does not encourage that amount of open-ness. Like I said, you 
want that, l;ook towards the FSF. (again, on-topic)


Trish Lynch					   trish at bsdunix.net
Key fingerprint = 781D 2B47 AA4B FC88 B919  0CD6 26B2 1D62 6FC1 FF16

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