Libretro (aka: RetroArch) Has Meltdown, Causes BB10 Port to Die


A developers confusion over his own licensing caused updates to a ported version of RetroArch to be cancelled on BlackBerry 10

… A fist fight to the death, a little bit of blood loss, but back to business as usual.

Edit #2:  Status has resumed on the port. 

Update here: it looks like the issues have been resolved.  And both parties are moving forward together.  (Yay team… build_an_emulator).


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I’m not sure if I would be embarrassed to be this guy, or ashamed about not understanding licensing.  But the explosive nature of the primary developer for RetroArch (which is really just a front-end for other peoples emulator work) clearly launched an unexpected attack from left field on BlackBerry this morning – resulting in developers working on the port to simply walk away dumbfounded.

It takes a special kind of person to kill support for their own application, because of a dislike or inability to build for an operating system.

Disclaimer:  I did get attacked a few times during the conversation, so I may have a biased opinion.  But the following is from my personal view only.  I wish RetroArch the best, and hope that one day they will become part of the BlackBerry family on their own accord.

History (for Context)

The main developer started a port for the PlayBook himself about a year ago, handing the reigns over to CatalystG to complete the BlackBerry 10 ports.  This port was never really stable in later BlackBerry releases and CatalystG eventually turned the reigns over to Jtokarchuk.

Unofficially, anyone can build a port because the project was built using GPL and sits on Github (providing they meet GPL licensing).  But Jtokarchuk & CatalystG have been very visible about the project – leaving source on github and doing their best for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

What is GPL and Why Does it Matter?

GPL is a special licensing.  It lets developers create “copies” of the original source code (typically on github) and use that source code to create their own applications (or even exact copies) and even monetize them.  It also means the new developer gets a lot of decision making power on their own port of the popular app – where the lead developer for the root application becomes involved only to the extent both parties agree.  In most cases, they aren’t involved at all.

That is the core nature and point of GPL.

This isn’t super  important, but helps highlight why a confused developer may have gone on a rampage against BlackBerry developers this morning.  This confusion seems to have caused him significant problems in the past – and will probably be a source of confusion for him going forward.

Several people (including me) have recommended he consider changing his licensing going forward – after all, if he wants to have control over all distributions – he has the option of making it proprietary software.  But this is all beside the point, and just explaining what GPL means and where things stand in “reality”.

Adverts or Donations

After Libretro abandoned the release for BlackBerry, it fell to other developers to fill that void.  This often left BlackBerry with long periods of RetroArch being broken.

JTokarchuk, who has been leading the front for a long time, wanted to pose an idea forward.  Query the community about monetization wants and requirements.  And if they approve, query the original developer.  The intent was simple, gather approval from the community, then gather approval from RetroArch.

After discussion on the forums it was announced early on by JTokarchuk that the decision to monetize is a no-go, the topic was closed, and it became yesterdays news…  Or so it appeared.

The Micheal Myers Moment


That unexpectedly changed very quickly this morning.  CrackBerry is a unique entity and it has a relatively close user group (almost everyone in the thread is on my BBM).  So when Libretro came out of left field, and unexpectedly jumped into the thread, it came as a shock.

His first post (all of his posts are now edited) was quite vile and targeted at JTokarchuk.  However, when the community tried to explain that advertisements were “yesterdays news”, Libretro stepped up and started spouting vile hatred at everyone in the thread.  At one point even seemed to be taking attacks at BlackBerry, and sending reuqests for the immediate deletion of source code.  All the while taking shots at the one or two people who were trying to stand by him.

A few quotes as available on CrackBerry:

“I don’t give a damn what that makes you think of me – Libretro”

“And the reason for anybody not wanting to do this should be very simple – because I DO NOT WANT you to do this. – Libretro”

“App stores and the mobile markets are a disgusting spectacle of ripoff artists – Libretro”

” I will take the appropriate steps to make sure this kind of thing will end – Libretro”

It is interesting to mention that these statements were made long after advertising was discussed.  And it caused quite a ruckus, as technically, GPL allows advertising.  And GPL is the licensing he chose.

“I enjoy your software and respect your wishes. you would have been consulted before such a change. – JTokarchuk”

“Please contact me at [email_address] to work out some details as I would rather collaborate with you. – JTokarchuk”

“I hope he takes a long – deep breath. And realizes we are willing to work with them. – KermEd”

JTokarchuk and folks on the thread actually handled themselves well and seemed to try and work hard with Libretro while trying to calm him down.  But it seemed the developer just kept going off on everyone until the JTokarchuk, and related developers, finally had enough and just walked away from the discussion.

The reason I raise this up, is I see he eventually wrote an mangled mess of a post on his blog attacking advertisements on BlackBerry (which never existed, and wasn’t going to exist).  Continuing to be a little off the wall crazy – which is his right to do.

Closing notes

Talk about a drama queen!  If he lived near me, I would buy him the prettiest pink tiara I could find.

This raises a series of interesting questions – first of all, why release your application as GPL?  There are many other licensing options available, including just creating your own.  And with his hatred towards any other developers building for iOS and BlackBerry – why not simply port the application himself?  The source is available on github.

The truth is, this is a case of another person likely working their way through school.  And unclear on the licensing they chose for their software.  It is abundantly clear that this has nothing to do with advertising (as it was a closed discussion from yester-year) and that the developer personally wants to kill the project on BlackBerry in retaliation for… something.

Now before you start feeling bad for this guy, checkout how he trolled MAME for hours on end.  Or how he claims to be set against any possibility of a kickstarter as part of the Mission Statement itself for RetroArch, yet he suggested the very thing on iOS as one of his aliases Squarepusher.  Belittling users that just ask questions is common place and generally considered rude or trolling everywhere he goes even with Ouya.  In fact, all you have to do is google RetroArch or Libretro & Rude to see how much time he spends complaining.

With that!  I would like to say good bye RetroArch, it was nice knowing you!  (As an application at least).  And its too bad your lead developer is a psycho killer.