[aprssig] are write-only APRS-IS clients valid?

John Gorkos jgorkos at gmail.com
Mon Dec 2 11:34:37 CST 2013

I agree with you, Steve.  I think that's a great argument that works for 
software in general.  But I think amateur radio software lives on a 
slightly different plane in the FOSS pantheon.  Amateur radio is 
predicated on shared knowledge.  Based on open-source, public domain 
knowledge, I can create an FM modulator.  Based on that same knowledge, 
you can create a FM discriminator and demodulator.  Because physics just 
works, I can talk and you can hear me.   A radio made by one company can 
communicate (in the ham bands, at least) by one made by a competing 
company, because they both agree on a standard, and that standard is 
public domain.  That doesn't prevent Icom from making money, nor does it 
preclude Kenwood from selling radios.  Ham radio works, and works 
worldwide, because of common protocols and reference implementations of 
those protocols and devices.

My argument is that, if Pete is going to hold his software out as the de 
facto standard, and say "this is the right way to do X", and the APRS 
community wants to (or has to) use that standard, then the community 
ought to demand to see how it's done.  Especially when the community is 
given comments like "That's just how it works."  Note that I haven't 
called for you to release the code to FindU.  I've read your thoughts on 
that, and I respect your decision with your intellectual property.  The 
fact is, anyone can (and has) made similar (call them competing, if 
you'd like) web sites, and that diversity is good.
But what Pete is talking about is the core way traffic is handled in the 
core APRS servers.  It's a business-rules topic.  A protocol, if you 
will.  In that case, there can be no ambiguity.  It's a foundation to 
what all the other software authors in the APRS world need to have a 
core understanding of, and I'm arguing that a link to a website and a 
"that's how it is because that's how it is" is insufficient.

To expand on what you said, I would LOVE for the Sprouls to release 
their code, especially for the Mac.  I think the state of APRS "on the 
desktop" would be 10 years further along had they not lost interest.  Do 
you really think that, had they released the code, that no one would 
have picked up the banner and moved MacAPRS forward?  They got trapped 
by the "we charged people money for this, and they're gonna be pissed if 
we give it away for free, so we'll just stop doing anything" mentality.

Open source is a Darwinian playing field, in many cases more so than the 
commercial world.  Well-written, well-engineered code is 'rewarded' by 
gaining advocates and maintainers.  If it dies, it dies because the 
community decided it wasn't worth keeping alive (aprsd), not because one 
man (or one company) decided they were over it, or bored, or it wasn't 
making enough money, or they shuffled off this mortal coil.  All I'm 
asking Pete to do is give his software that chance, and in my opinion, 
it's important because javAPRSSrv is a core component of a world-wide 
volunteer communications network.  People shouldn't have to reverse 
engineer it or interpret his implementation documentation on the web to 
make similar software.  Most "open" protocols have a reference 
implementation and then optimized versions come along later, either from 
the same or different authors.  IMHO, APRS-IS should follow this model.

(FWIW, my code is pretty far down the food chain in terms of community 
support.  But there are key parts of it that were vastly improved by 
people that wanted to use it, but felt it needed work.  I appreciate 
their efforts, and I'm a better programmer from the examples.)

John Gorkos

On 12/2/13, 12:01 PM, Steve Dimse wrote:
> On Dec 2, 2013, at 10:49 AM, John Gorkos <jgorkos at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Seriously, look around.  The Europeans have all embraced an open source model, Andrew's done it with YAAC, my libraries and web sites are all published on github, Bob made his DOS code available.  What are you gaining by taking your work to the grave with you?  What are you preventing, other than a the free exchange of ideas in a public service community, and ability of future coders to build on past success instead of continually reinventing the wheel?
> Gee, wasn’t one good argument today enough?
> It is up to each person to make a decision about his or her own intellectual product. There are some good reasons on both sides, but it ultimately is a personal decision and I don’t think this sort of pressure is fair.
> Besides, open source is not the panacea that is often claimed. aprsd was open source for more than a decade, yet javAPRSvr is vastly superior which is why aprsd has little popularity. xastir has been around almost as long, but its interface and ease of use still does not match the MacAPRS of 1996. findU would have been impossible without open source software, as would google, and amazon, and a thousand other modern day conveniences. Open source is great, for the right problem and with the right leader and team. For other situations closed source is a better answer. That is just the way it is.
> Steve K4HG
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