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Android Cellphones Handhelds Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Best Free and Open Source Apps For Android? 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-the-best dept.
First time accepted submitter aNonnyMouseCowered writes "One of my favorite freeware Android applications has been pulled from the Google Play app store. While I found a replacement for the app, I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely because of the developer's whim or lack of interest. With the exception of games, which I don't deem essential for work, I don't want to install potential abandonware even if they cost the pauperly sum of $0.00. My decision has thus far meant installing a relatively crude text editor like BusyBox's version of vi, rather than any one of those full-blown mobile office suites. I've found a short list of open source Android apps at Wikipedia, including the usual suspects, Firefox and the VLC media player. There are also links to two other sites at the end of the article. But even the more comprehensive listings have large gaps in them even when compared 'merely' to the programs available in a typical GNU/Linux repository. So can anyone recommend useful or even just fun Free, Libre and Open Source Software for an Android smartphone or tablet? Free virtual beer to those that can find links for FLOSS programs for editing audiovisual media (Blender for Android?) and documents more sophisticated than HTML."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Free and Open Source Apps For Android?

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  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:40AM (#42714895) Homepage

    I wonder what the app was that got pulled. Why it was pulled would be good to know too.

    • http://f-droid.org/ (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrops (927562) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:11AM (#42715171)

      That is your one stop shop for all open source android software. You won't find the f-droid app in the play store, but you can install it from http://f-droid.org/ [f-droid.org]

      Other than that, two of my favorite are AirDroid and Skifta.

      Plex is disqualified as its not free, but its great.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        skifta is open source??? The OP is not looking for "free as in beer"

        That said, it's an excellent app but doesn't meet the OP's needs.

        OSMAnd is a bit of an oddball - if you want precompiled auto-updatable APKs, you need to pay a few dollars for OSMAnd+

        However, you can grab the source and compile the free unrestricted version on your own if you want. Personally, I paid due to laziness. ;)

        RetroArch is a new (as in released 2-3 days ago) emulator that is mostly opensource. Some of the specific emulator cores

        • OSMAnd is a bit of an oddball - if you want precompiled auto-updatable APKs, you need to pay a few dollars for OSMAnd+

          If you have F-Droid installed, then they have OSMAnd~, which is OSMAnd compiled by them from the upstream sources. I never bought OSMAnd+, but I sent them a donation once I discovered OSMAnd~ (of more than the cost of OSMAnd+, even before Google takes their cut). It's incredibly useful.

          • by Andy Dodd (701)

            My experience was that OSMAnd~ had the same limitations as free OSMAnd from the Play Store. (I believe they did this out of respect for the developer.)

            It's possible to build an unrestricted version of OSMAnd from source, but I'm lazy. :)

            • OSMAnd~, at least on the device where I've tried it, has no download limits and can show offline wikipedia entries. The unlimited downloads thing was what made me donate.
      • You won't find the f-droid app in the play store, but you can install it from...

        You know, my mind automatically inserted an "ucking" into the above sentence, presuming you were at work or too polite to spell it out. Off topic, sorry, but that's all I'll every think about that app now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://code.google.com/p/bitcoin-wallet/ i find this pretty nice. hopefully it will become also useful when bitcoin will become more popular. (i know you probably don't give a damn about it, but this post with no comments was so sad)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      No one uses bitcoin anymore, its all about litecoin now.
    • Except there virtually no app that can meet his requirement, which that the app will be developed/supported indefintely.

      Developers get new jobs, or move or get sick or don't want to work on the app any more, companies plans change, whatever.

      IMHO, it's stupid to think like this [that I won't install an app unless it'll always be there]. Apps get dropped by, well, everyone, from individuals who could no longer be bothered with it, to the largest companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple.

      It would probably be

      • by pmontra (738736)
        +100!
  • NetHack :)

  • It seems arrogant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpbrede (820514) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:45AM (#42714945)
    To imply that you can predict (or ask others to predict) which applications will become abandonware. Free, open-source program repositories are littered with abandonware. That is one of the real hurdles for open-source adoption in enterprises. Android will be no different. Besides, some programs will work fine even if they never get updated again.
    • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:5, Informative)

      by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:52AM (#42715019)

      Even if the author abandoned an FOSS program, he can keep a copy of the apk and install it on whatever devices he wants to. If the author pulls an app from play.google.com, he is out of lock.

      For this reason I only use programs for which I can download an apk file for any device.

      • It's trivial to create a backup apk file of just about any installed app, FOSS or not.

        • Are not APKs from play.google.com restricted to a single device?

          • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:5, Informative)

            by David_Hart (1184661) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:34AM (#42715389)

            The answer is, it depends. Some apps tie themselves to the system ID. Most will just re-download and re-install if your system ID changes. I recently unlocked my Asus TF700T tablet and one of the things that the Asus unlock tool does is change the system ID. Fortunately, I had Titanium Backup Pro installed and it allowed me to revert back to the original system ID.

          • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:5, Informative)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:36PM (#42716907)

            Are not APKs from play.google.com restricted to a single device?

            Depends. If your device is a pre-4.2 Android, there is no DRM in the APK (Play for Android 4.2 added DRM on APKs to prevent ripping and distributing).

            An older one is where an APK will use Google APIs to get a license, but I believe the APK can still be ripped from your Android and moved to another, as long as it's still associated with your account. It just "can't" be moved to another Android phone and used pirated.

            I say "can't" as there are many Android APK patchers that can remove the license check - often they have a heuristic scan to work in most cases, and some require extra patching to work properly.

            It's been a reason why Android piracy tends to be fairly large - and why Google still hasn't made it possible to just get the APK on your PC without involving your Android device so you can have a backup.

            • It's not just the license or DRM you have to wory about. Davlik performs some install time optimisiation and linking, eg: translates integer byte orders into machine native format and links with system libs. This means you need the installable APK, not a ripped version. The ripped APK may not be compatible with the next system you restore it onto -- different byte order, etc. In this way Davlik trades compatibility for speed vs the Java VM (which performs such linking and optimisations at run-time ins

        • by Anonymous Coward

          >It's trivial to create a backup apk file of just about any installed app, FOSS or not.

          OK, you nailed it. The user just needs the awareness to hold onto an apk and self-install, so there is no problem here.

      • Even if the author abandoned an FOSS program, he can keep a copy of the apk and install it on whatever devices he wants to. If the author pulls an app from play.google.com, he is out of luck.

        For this reason I only use programs for which I can download an apk file for any device.

        This is one reason you should have at least one rooted device.

        With a rooted device, you have access to the apk you downloaded, and with an app like Titanium Backup (on a rooted device), you can maintain backups of your apps, so if you don't like an App update for some reason, you can always revert back to its previous version.

        To the few of you with Google TVs, having a rooted phone in your case also means you can send your Google TVs apks that were not officially released on Google TV, but that work just fi

    • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:4, Informative)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:52AM (#42715023)

      Its a "new device" problem. So you get a new device and you want to re-install XYZ, but the dev discontinued it and pulled it from the marketplace. Works fine, just got pulled / sold / merged into something you don't want / whatever.

      If its OS I think you can assume it'll be downloadable forever as a .apk from "somewhere" perhaps your own desktop if nowhere else. May never be updated, but who cares if it works.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Its a "new device" problem. So you get a new device and you want to re-install XYZ, but the dev discontinued it and pulled it from the marketplace. Works fine, just got pulled / sold / merged into something you don't want / whatever.

        If its OS I think you can assume it'll be downloadable forever as a .apk from "somewhere" perhaps your own desktop if nowhere else. May never be updated, but who cares if it works.

        This raises (for me at least) the interesting question of what causes an app to be pulled from the marketplace... Seems that since there is no cost to leaving it there, that it will stay forever unless the developer is just tired of getting emails about how old\/buggy it is. There are plenty of apps in plain sight in the play store that are years old.

        I do think Google could do a better job at inspiring/enforcing open source licenses, given that they have the means to repo the source code quite easily and

        • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:4, Informative)

          by Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:55AM (#42715619)
          Without knowing which app, we can't know for sure if it was pulled. The App Store filters (by default) apps based on whether they are compatible with your device(s) -- if you de-registered your old device and only have the new device registered,then incompatible apps will not be shown.
          • by ArhcAngel (247594)
            Or you can go to the Play store on your PC and see all the listings. The infobar to the left will tell you whether the devices you currently have registered are compatible or not.
        • by vlm (69642)

          This raises (for me at least) the interesting question of what causes an app to be pulled from the marketplace...

          Up there for awhile, no one cares, Oprah / MSM discovers it and oh oh creepy gotta pull it (that girl radar thing for 4sq)

          I wrote this myself for learning purposes, now I got a great job where "da man" says I am not allowed to directly compete with his line of work

          You know how I said this was free? Well I wanna dollar now.

          You can look at arbitrary files with this. Oh apple noticed that pr0n is a subset of arbitrary files. Pulled.

          Don't devs have to pay money to be listed on the store? That kinda sets a h

      • by allo (1728082)

        and when i bought it? Doesn't i have a right to reinstall it to new devices, independed from the author removing it from the store (for new sales)?!

    • Re:It seems arrogant (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rknop (240417) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:33AM (#42715377) Homepage

      Free, open-source program repositories are littered with abandonware. That is one of the real hurdles for open-source adoption in enterprises

      While strictly true, there is a difference. If something is proprietary, and the developer either goes out of business or decides not to update it any more, and if the developer doesn't sell or otherwise give away the rights, that's it. You're done. The app cannot legally be updated any more, and often can't even legally be available.

      With free software, however, there's no guarantee that it will continue to be updated. However, it's at least possible. This is a huge difference. This is why it was so great that Blender went Free Software when it's company gave up on it; there would be no Blender now if it weren't for the fact that it went free.

    • by slim (1652)

      Closed-source abandonware can't be rescued. Sure, you can keep hold of binaries, but it'll never see another bug fix or new feature. It'll never get ported to another OS. If a change to the OS breaks it, it'll stay broken -- short of editing the binary, which is a fairly rare skill.

      Open source abandonware can be rescued. If a bug needs fixing, or you want a feature, you can make it happen -- either by hacking at it yourself, or by paying someone else to do it for you.

  • by cerberusss (660701) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:46AM (#42714957) Homepage Journal

    F-Droid is the Android open source repository.

    http://f-droid.org/ [f-droid.org]

    • All the other comments really just sort of become unnecessary when you consider the capability of F-Droid.

      You can run your own repos with it, it's not just a gateway to the website.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        All the other comments really just sort of become unnecessary when you consider the capability of F-Droid.

        Most of the other comments were unnecessary anyway, considering that most of them are focused on questioning the author's motives/capabilities/intelligence, because plenty of Slashdot denizens are dicks like that.

    • Ah, neat. If you only see a dozen odd apps, click on 'What's New' and change that to 'All'. It wasn't clearly obvious to me (brand new JB install) that this was a menu widget.

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Android security software is largely organized by guardianproject.info [guardianproject.info].

    • by Trogre (513942)

      This. It's always one of the first apps I install on new 'droids.

  • is an appstore with just FLOSS applications and it's growing.

    • It's not an "appstore" unless by "store" you mean "repository" instead of "shop" - F-Droid is more accurately a repository client, that ships with the F-Droid FLOSS Repository pre-configured.

      You can run your OWN repository; some people use this to back up purchased .APKs, as F-Droid supports versioning.

  • This is just an exercise in futility. Most software gets abandoned at some point. One usually owns a cell phone for two years. If it works for that time period, who cares if it is abandoned later? This is not an attack on open source solutions (I'm all for them), I just feel that restricting yourself to only open source for fear of abandonment is a little bit like a single guy staying away from all girls because one dumped him once.
    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday January 28, 2013 @10:53AM (#42715041)

      If an application is no longer available from play.google.com, he cannot download it to his next phone. If he downloaded an unrestricted APK from the author or f-droid, he can install it on his next phone.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      The assumption is that in 2 years, you'll get a new phone......of the same platform (Android in this case). And the first thing you'll do is try to install all of the applications that you had on your old phone. If the app has been pulled between original install and new phone, you're out of luck -- and if that app is part of your daily flow, your flow is now disrupted until you find a suitable replacement.

      Of course, I'm more interested in features, so I'd use the closed source app and then deal with the

      • by Benanov (583592)

        And actually, F-Droid *works* for that scenario. You can run your own repo, so you can back up your .APKs to that.

      • by sootman (158191)

        > If the app has been pulled between original install
        > and new phone, you're out of luck

        Really? Is Android's store really that restricted, or do people depend on "the cloud" too much? People bitch a lot about Apple, but BY DEFAULT it will make local copies of your apps when syncing/backing up. I've never lost an iOS app, and there are a handful I use that aren't in the store that have survived multiple rounds of backup/restore and new phone purchases. The only bad thing I've run into is old apps that

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          I'm not running Android, so I can't say for sure (well, my original Kindle Fire is, but it's on an island compared to most Android installs), but you aren't going to just back-up and restore from say an HTC to a Motorola phone because you are not only changing OS versions but also changing hardware vendors. So your natural path would be to go back to the app store and click "install". If the app has been pulled, that path isn't available. You might resort to copying the APK from one to the other, but "yo

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      restricting yourself to only open source for fear of abandonment is a little bit like a single guy staying away from all girls because one dumped him once.

      This is slashdot, jeez. Car metaphor (simile) please.

  • MuseScore Player [google.com]
    Partly closed but based on MuseScore from the same people.

    EbookDroid [google.com] Nice PDF reader.

  • The Guardian Project develops and maintains a list of great security and privacy tools (Tor for android, secure chat, encrypted VOIP, PGP support for email... ). They're generally cross-posted on f-droid, and you can find play, f-droid and source links here: https://guardianproject.info/apps/ [guardianproject.info]

  • There are loads of free apps but not many open source ones, which is a shame but many developers give away apps in order to entice you to a paid version.

    For developers that hope to make money from apps you may find it forked and sold. A shame really as there is a lot to be learnt from working code.

    However wouldn't applications like titanium backup allow you to create your own local repository of applications.

    Just one further thing in the play store it used to be possible to sort out your application history

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dude, the quest to avoid "abandonware" on the android or linux platforms is almost pointless. If you find a useful application, install it. Do not worry that this latest text editor will go obsolete (most likely since the developer has to get a real job), just use what you have.

    The android marketplace (and also Apple's) have economic issues where the application price is not really enough to cover multiple years of support for an application.

    But there are a great deal of free applications that are good e

    • by tepples (727027)

      If you find a useful application, install it.

      The problem here involves finding a useful application, replacing one's device, and being unable to reinstall it because it has been removed from the repository.

      • So backup your apps from the device you originally installed them on. Some apps are restricted from being backed up without a rooted device, but 90% of them are not.

      • by Wookact (2804191)
        It is real easy to use any of the backup tools on the app store to create apks of installed apps. I used this to keep a copy of the local newspaper app that became bloated and full of ads. I was even easily able to copy the app to other devices to install it there.
  • Freeciv. Clunky and old but graphics don't make or break civ games.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:00AM (#42715099)

    You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

    Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda. Smart phones and tablets are cool devices. In particular smart phones because it means you can get e-mail, web, etc anywhere you are. That is really useful. However they are really only good at content consumption. A touch screen interface is not very efficient for most software out there, at least at this point, and isn't very good for most creation in general since you hand obscure what you are working on.

    The bigger problem is just power. For example I have a Galaxy Note II, one of the most powerful smartphones you can get right now. For all that it features 2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit processor that gets maybe 2 MIPS per MHz per core in the real world, and 16GB of total storage. Compare that to my desktop, which is not all that pricey, that has 2GB just for video RAM, 16GB of system RAM a 3.6GHz 64-bit processor that pulls 114 GIPS no problem on a real world benchmark and has a few TB of storage.

    For A/V work, you really, really, want a real system. Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system. A tablet is fine for watching a video, it would suck for editing one. A smartphone is fine for reading a website, but I sure wouldn't want tot type this post out on one.

    Also, perhaps you should define your desired use better, since Blender is really a 3D creation program, not an A/V editor. Sony Vegas would be an example of an A/V editor.

    If you are just fishing for programs, well then stop. There's no reason. Programs on any platform, smartphone, desktop, whatever, exist to solve problems, to do things we need done. So figure out what it is you need to do, then you can ask about software.

    However keep it realistic. If you want a suggestion for something to read eBooks, I can give you a good one. If you want an SSH or RDP client, I can suggest one though you'll find they are really good for emergencies only, real work is best done on a computer. If you want to cut a movie, then put down the tablet, and grab a real system.

    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MacDork (560499) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:24AM (#42715277) Journal

      they are really only good at content consumption

      I've installed ubuntu on my SGSIII. With a bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and 23' TV, it makes a half decent desktop. I'm looking forward to the faster processors this year. If they're fast enough, I may ditch my laptop. A padphone type device with a keyboard would be ideal.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Talking about perspective, we have been editing video in computers from quite a long time now; I remember a a friend of my father who filmed weedings and such and edited the video in a couple of amigas. about then years later my brother edited his videos in a Pentium III desktop not very far in specs from your phone. I don't see the problem here.

    • Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system. A tablet is fine for watching a video, it would suck for editing one.

      Ummm. No. This is knee-jerk conservatism. There are already video editing apps for the iPad, one of them by Avid, 3d modeling apps from players like Autodesk, and absolutely no end of audio apps, some of them being used to crank out pro-quality product.

      Sure, a full-blown workstation will provide more screen real-estate, storage and processing power - but those little phones have mo

    • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:37AM (#42715431) Homepage Journal

      You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

      Yes. A cell phone includes a camcorder, and based on my sample, a growing number of people choose to own only a cell phone and not a desktop computer.

      However they are really only good at content consumption.

      I'll assume that by "content consumption" you mean "viewing works created by others". Being able to do limited creation on a pocket computer eases the barrier to entry for people who want to step up from viewing to creating. See my other comment about upward mobility [slashdot.org].

      The bigger problem is just power.

      The "2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit [multicore] processor" is more than a lot of PC owners had during the Windows XP era.

      Heck for pretty much any creation, you want a real system.

      Not everybody has the money to spare in the checking account to buy "a real system" today. An application for a phone or tablet lets the user get started with creation while saving up for "a real system". As more people choose to buy only a smartphone and/or a tablet instead of "a real system", the economies of scale that currently make desktop PCs affordable are likely to evaporate. Look at how the price of a small laptop has shot up over the past couple months.

      A smartphone is fine for reading a website, but I sure wouldn't want tot type this post out on one.

      I've typed Slashdot posts on a Bluetooth keyboard paired to a tablet whose screen isn't much bigger than a Galaxy Note "phablet".

      • "The "2GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz 32-bit [multicore] processor" is more than a lot of PC owners had during the Windows XP era."

        You try editing video on a desktop back in that era? You were only doing SD, and it was rather painful. You did a lot of waiting, a lot of bouncing to disk. Hence you saw professional work done almost exclusively on hardware assisted systems. Now? Not too bad to edit HD video on a desktop, particularly if you have a GPU to assist with rendering.

        Technology progresses, what we can do with it

        • You try editing video on a desktop back in that era?

          Yes.

          You were only doing SD, and it was rather painful. You did a lot of waiting, a lot of bouncing to disk.

          You also do "a lot of waiting" while you save up hundreds of dollars of your disposable income for a PC.

          A processor- and memory-efficient editor will make a copy of the source videos scaled down to LD (e.g. 240p), let the user manipulate those videos, and save the user's edit decision list [wikipedia.org] for later rendering to SD or HD. Even if the full-resolution render takes overnight while the phone is on the charger, it's still better than having to wait until you've bought a PC.

        • Depends on what you mean with "editing" video. If this means cutting and putting pieces together: This is very easy on the hardware. Especially if you have a fast HD/flash.

          If you mean actually editing the content of the frames, not so much. But cutting videos into pieces and putting them together again and putting something in between etc. this is dirt-cheap in terms of hardware requirements. Surely most halfway decent smartphones or tablets are totally capable of that (having your flash in form of SD cards

    • At the Montreal International Game Summit last fall, I believe it was Tim Sweeney that told the audience that the quickest growth in system power was going to be in the area of cell phones. He stated that in a very short time the average smart phone would be as powerful as our current desktops.

      Given power like that is coming down the pipe fast, I expect MANY people will be editing videos on their smart phones in the near future.

    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:00PM (#42716449)

      You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

      Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda.

      I think you need to step forward and see what people are doing on iPads and iPhones today. There are a lot of video CREATION and editing applications.

      Why should Android users have to suffer with lower capabilities just because the technical elite deem some task silly, or only fit for "real computers"?

      It's the worst form of technical snobbery to claim that device X "cannot do" Y, and undermines the very sprit of hacking itself that anything should be possible on ANYTHING with enough effort.

      • by CCarrot (1562079)

        You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

        Ok I think you need to step back for a glass of perspective and soda.

        I think you need to step forward and see what people are doing on iPads and iPhones today. There are a lot of video CREATION and editing applications.

        Why should Android users have to suffer with lower capabilities just because the technical elite deem some task silly, or only fit for "real computers"?

        It's the worst form of technical snobbery to claim that device X "cannot do" Y, and undermines the very sprit of hacking itself that anything should be possible on ANYTHING with enough effort.

        Hmmm...I was leaning towards the OP's position at first, but you make a very good point.

        You also reminded me of one of my own pet peeves: the fact that the Handbrake developers decided that people should not be able to use their software on a netbook, despite the interface being pretty much completely scalable. They even throw in a snotty little dialog box that tells people that Handbrake won't work for screen resolutions under 1024x620...but it can operate just fine as long as you take out that artificial

        • So I suppose video editing on a tablet or phone should be just as possible, within limitations, as it is on a netbook.

          Yes, exactly, who cares if it takes a long time, or you have more difficult controls to do some things?

          There are lots of people with nothing but time to burn, to them it does not matter they could have done the same thing in a fraction of the time on a "real" system.

    • by slim (1652)

      You want to edit A/V stuff... on a cell phone?

      My Samsung S2 (so, last gen) has a video editing app as standard.

      It's pretty basic - string together a series of videos or stills from the gallery - stuff you've filmed on your phone, or imported in - add transition effects and a soundtrack - tell it to render then upload it to YouTube. But it works. It's more intuitive than iMovie; it would be fine for the video equivalent of the holiday photo album.

    • "The bigger problem is just power."

      I have a very simple solution to that: a DC power apaptor. As for your comments about A/V, I'll grant that Blender's a bad example for video editing. But Blender does have a video editing mode or whatever that's called. Just Google for Blender video editing. Here's the first hit I got:

      "Video Editing with Blender, part 1 - YouTube
      www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sODml0PBlo5
      Feb 2011 - 7 min - Uploaded by OpticalVampire
      A short video showing a start to finish cycle of editing video wi

  • > I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely
    > because of the developer's whim or lack of interest... I don't want to
    > install potential abandonware...

    Life is full of uncertainty. Just as "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all", I'd rather use a helpful app and then lose it than not have ever used it at all. If it's important, then by all means, do what you can to keep your data usable if the worst should happen, but even OSS apps can become ab

  • by Frightened_Turtle (592418) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:33AM (#42715371)

    Programs will come and go, whether commercial or not. What was more important to me was that the data I created was easily accessible by other programs should the need arise to replace what I was using. I've been burned a few times by using a word processor that was discontinued, and being stuck for trying to get my writings out of the files in which my work contained. Going from Wordperfect to Word to other word processors has been a pain. Whenever many programs are updated, their proprietary file formats also undergo a change that often means no backwards compatibility. This, too, can be a pain. Image processing programs (e.g. Photoshop, GIMP, Painter, etc.) have the same issues.

    I finally learned to focus on programs that save in a format that is openly accessible to other programs. Or even better, store that data in a "human readable" format such as XML. When XML-based, it is a simple matter to write a script in PHP or Python to strip my data from the file and save it in another format that another program can use.

    Learn to save backup files in formats that are open for other programs to access. Focus on programs that save to open formats that can either be used by other programs or in the event of an emergency, you can extract your work from the file manually. A good example of this in a word processor is Redler's Mellel [redlers.com]. Their "native" format is a zip-compressed XML file, similar in concept to an EPUB file. Microsoft's DOCX file is also an XML file that can have the data extracted by a shell script if needed.

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:37AM (#42715423)

    Slightly off-topic, but sometimes I wish there weren't updates - or, rather, that the authors did a better job of keeping in mind the ramifications of their updates. Google's Play store doesn't help, though.

    Just to venture on-topic for a moment.. keep the APK files around. Even if there's never an update, at least you'll still have the app. If the app also relies on a service, and that service goes down, you're still screwed. (F/L)OSS can help there, but only if you feel like compiling things yourself and actually know how the service worked.

    Back off-topic.. an example of a bad update, Flightradar24 (Pro). I'm not even talking about the recent breaking of features, I'm sure that will be fixed. I am, however, talking about the 10MB+ that the app now is thanks to high resolution graphics for 'retina display' tablets getting included. For the top of the line phones, that doesn't matter - especially if they're running Android 4.whatever. For anything else, 10MB+ over the 2MB it used to be means you may have to juggle things around to get 20MB+ of free space before you can grab the app and have it not complain about free space. Even for the phones that don't have that problem, though, that's a bunch of resources being used for no particularly good reason.
    One solution would be to split this out to different apps. But then of course the popularity of the app gets split out (which means you rank lower in Google Play, etc.), users end up downloading wrong versions, etc. So I can understand why most developers don't (some do split out HD versions, usually with a higher price on that version).

    Another solution would be for the Play store to actually only serve up an APK with resources applicable to your device. It already knows whether an app can or cannot run on it, based on hardware specifications, the APK already has resources split out to various resolutions, and not too long ago the Play store started serving up update 'patches' rather than the full APK if the app is already installed. Would be nice if they put these things to good use.

    Time for a '(system) storage is cheap'-phone upgrade, I suppose.

    • I am not familiar with this particular app, but I would say that this is totally the fault of the developer. The Android/Google Play Store is capable of and designed to have separate optionally downloadable resource content from the main apk. Many games do this by downloading the appropriate resolution of graphics for the device that they are installed on after the main apk has been installed. If the developer is just lumping all of their HD graphics into the same apk they are probably just being lazy or

  • by sanosuke001 (640243) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:39AM (#42715447)
    How about you don't worry about abandonware and, instead, keep a backup of all your apps (and any associated data) using something like Titanium Backup? Then, if something is pulled off the store you still have an apk you can install from if necessary. I know this doesn't handle new features but it would let you keep using something you really like.
  • To avoid abandonware you have to look for software developed by a strong group of well-organized developers that have a history of maintaining their software. The most reliable may be open-source developers or they may be commercial. If a project like VLC is abandoned, are you really going to take over developing VLC yourself, fixing all the bugs when the new version of Android comes out? Is that really better than just learning whatever video player has replaced VLC?
  • The Simple Directmedia Library (SDL) is a cross-platform library which there are many apps for, especially games. These games are ofte cross platform for Windows, Mac and Linux, and there are some fairly popular ones.

    There is a lot of software out there under SDL 1.2 and before. SDL 1.3 and on was completely rewritten, relicensed and there is not anywhere near as much software out there using it. There are ports of both to Android - the SDL team did a 1.3 and on port, a fellow named Sergii Pylypenko port

    • by dolmen.fr (583400)

      You're wondering why Lili Hop is not popular?

      It's just a game. Why does that shit want to know my phone number or my IMEI ?

  • Total Commander (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frederic54 (3788) on Monday January 28, 2013 @11:50AM (#42715553) Journal
    20 years ago I used NortonCommander aka NC in MSDOS, in Windows 3 I started using WindowsCommander, a NC clone running in Windows. It has been renamed TotalCommander years ago because of TM.

    It is still being developped, and is avalaible for free in Android. Best app ever.
    • by daern (526012)

      20 years ago I used NortonCommander aka NC in MSDOS, in Windows 3 I started using WindowsCommander, a NC clone running in Windows. It has been renamed TotalCommander years ago because of TM. It is still being developped, and is avalaible for free in Android. Best app ever.

      Same story, but I ended up with Altap Salamander. I simply can't manage without it these days, which I think is why I don't find Windows 8 that offensive - I never actually see the GUI as I spend my days staring at Chrome and Salamander :)

      One of the advantages of being old is that I'm now in charge of my own infrastructure...and we push out Salamander to every Windows server in the company by policy :)

      I'll check out TC on Android though. Thanks for the hint.

      • I am used to TC in windows, and in Android I use Ghost Commander. Didn't see TC on android though, will search for it. And will give Altap Salamander a try someday, maybe it's better than TC somehow -- I like TC a lot, but feel that it is "aging out" somehow, I like breadcrumbs and shiny new things to try are always cool.

  • The OP is living in a fantasy world, and needs some mental help. Seriously.

    So he's going to spend his life maintaining software for himself. I mean REALLY? And what happens when he simply CAN'T do the updating, due to lack of skill or time? VLC, Firefox, and anything but the simplest of other packages typically require a whole group of developers to maintain them, so goo luck with that!

    Also, with things like VLC and Firefox, the "world" itself, that is to say things like CODECs used, HTML versions, etc.
    • A most insightful comment. I can only add that I don't intend to maintain an app past the point when its security holes is as large a meteor crater. I just want to have some time to prepare before I migrate to another app or live the life of a Luddite.

      Abandoned apps can be salvaged by having apk back-ups, as a number of posters have already pointed out. That's another avenue worth exploring.

      RE: "Also, with things like VLC and Firefox, the "world" itself, that is to say things like CODECs used, HTML versions

  • Check out Andor's Trail [google.com] by Oskar Wiksten and Scott Devaney (primary devs, others have also contributed of course). It's also available through the Play store. [google.com]

    If you're a fan of old-school hack & slash RPG's like Legend of Zelda, this is a delightful variant with hours (and hours and hours) of addicting gameplay :o)

    • by godrik (1287354)

      Well, I played andor's trail a year ago. I pretty much finished it, in the sense that there was nothing more to do. The game was not complete at this point. It did not take me hours and hours and hours to finish it: maybe a week of playing before going to bed.

      It is definitely worth checking out and maybe there is more content now. But if you are going for hours and hours of content, one will be disappointed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you have a (freeware, open source) OwnCloud (private cloud) server, you may want the following for Android.
    OwnCloud client - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync files with OwnCloud.
    CardDav-sync - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync contacts with OwnCloud into your contact managers.
    CalDav-sync - (a few bucks, open source, free if you build it yourself) sync calendars in OwnCloud into your calender apps.
    Just Player - (freeware, open source) sync musi

  • "I've decided to install only apps that won't become obsolete merely because of the developer's whim or lack of interest. With the exception of games, which I don't deem essential for work, I don't want to install potential abandonware even if they cost the pauperly sum of $0.00." Why are you so angry at people that give you stuff for free? Your tone is really unappreciative; developers often make OSS for FREE.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just forget about crappy Android apps and write a proper Qt one with Necessitas [kde.org] ! :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The dropbox app is excellent. Really, it is. Free. Great features. Works wonderfully. No complaints on that score.
    The dropbox android app permissions are excessive and unreasonable. It has the ability to read and change your google account password. It has the ability to allow for your google phone and account to be easily taken over. This, to have access to your files in the cloud on your phone. It is not worth it. Doesn't stop lots of people using the app, but I do wonder if they know that they are one st

  • "Can you please recommend some new apps for me to trojan that won't be pulled as quickly? KTHX."

  • by petenz (946161)
    A great replacement for google maps that allows you to download the Openstreetmap vector data to your phone. Perfect if you'll be out of 3G/data coverage but still need to get around. Very actively developed too.
  • I remember reading that LibreOffice has a HTML5 edition of its Writer (or perhaps entire suit). Should be possible to run in a HTML5 friendly browser.

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