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You are here: Home FSF News FSF demonstrates iPhone's incompatibility with free software and GPLv3

FSF demonstrates iPhone's incompatibility with free software and GPLv3

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Jul 31, 2008 01:13 PM

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, July 31, 2008 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published a statement exposing Apple's hostile position towards free software on its iPhone mobile computing platform.

The statement contrasts the iPhone with other proprietary computer operating platforms that have allowed free software access, saying "For many years, we have been suffering from Microsoft's PC monopoly; a platform that has allowed Microsoft to inflict untold harm on computer users and the computing industry. The free software community has been working for many years to give people an opportunity to escape to GNU/Linux from Windows, but the iPhone would allow no such escape route."

FSF operations manager John Sullivan explained, "The severity of the restrictions imposed by Apple's iPhone are contingent on the idea that you see it as just a phone. But that justification is an attempt to whitewash ethical standards that have been intrinsic to general-purpose computers. Apple's new restrictive model gives them unprecedented and unjust control over iPhone users. We should reject the iPhone and the model it represents, and instead support companies that respect and encourage our freedom."

Other mobile computing companies are in fact embracing the free software community and ensuring that users and developers have full access to improve and share their software. The statement cites the Neo FreeRunner as a prime example of this approach, and encourages the free software community to support it. The Free Software Foundation is also calling for people to contact Apple's CEO Steve Jobs, asking him to change Apple's stance and allow free software on the iPhone.

Published at, "Why free software and Apple's iPhone don't mix" is one of a series of articles detailing the threats posed by Apple's iPhone to the free software community. It focuses specifically on Apple's "tivoization" model of requiring every application installed on the iPhone to have an approved cryptographic signature, a restriction which is incompatible with version 3 of the GNU General Public License and with user freedoms to share and modify free software in general.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

John Sullivan
Operations Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942


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