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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.


6 thoughts on “Libretro (aka: RetroArch) Has Meltdown, Causes BB10 Port to Die

  1. The main issue was monetization. The lead dev for Libretro is very much against monetization, and there have already been several forks which are designed for profit. He’s a bit of a hothead, but at least try to understand his frustration. He is very much a GNU Linux style developer, who believes in Free as in Freedom AND free lunch. You can read more of this here: Now, discussion of monetization of their RetroArch port was done as recently as April 21st: “jtokarchuk: Ps: would anyone have an objection to an advert on app open? This would allow me to devote more time to the project and incorporate updates faster. “EchoesFX: Personally I don’t mind, but they don’t seem to like that very much… “jtokarchuk: While that’s their view, their open source license allows for this. The source is free. You are allowed to profit from your work. They are free to step up and support bb10.” So saying that it is something that was off the table is simply not true. The Libretro dev has a tendency to be blunt and to the point. Dutch tend to be like that, and it rubs people the wrong way. But understand his point. I’m just some end user, and I don’t speak for their project. But I think he’s right. There’s far too many people engaged in trying to make a quick buck off of other people’s work. Too much thinking that if something is legal, then it’s right. We need to close these loopholes. Snes9x and MAME have non-commercial clauses, and I think they were right. They were thinking ahead. Many emulators however are GPL, and some people have taken those GPL emulators, ported them to Android and are selling them on the store. They should not profit off of the hard work of the original developers who made the console and the games. They should not profit from the years of hard work that emulator devs put into making their emulator. I think they should change the license to a non-commercial one to prevent this in the future. I believe the RetroArch frontend is entirely of their own creation, and can have whatever license they desire. The emulation cores are ports and would keep whatever license they have. He’s also posted a new blog post about this and other things:

    1. Thanks for the comment, It looks like the groups have made some kind of peace. I’ve put an update at the top to redirect. Be cautious with quotes though from either side, there are a lot of conversations in the background I think from both groups. I have a lot of these folks on chat on the BlackBerry side. What you read online is rarely the whole story 😉 I know these guys quite wel, it wasn’t going to be added without say so from a higher authority. There is a section of context that was missing above where it was discussed they would reach out to the main creator after they collected feedback from the users. And that several folks felt the mission statement [although potentially impacting] was targeted towards another group that didn’t “check in” with the mothership first. They had discussed that as part of the plan via chat so it wasn’t really a concern for them. It all doesn’t much matter though. It looks like the team has uprooted, and a go-forward plan is available for future developers with RetroArch should someone step up to help out. I agree the comments are interpreted by the average person to mean they are ignoring the creator (but I also know they weren’t and just hadn’t reached out to him yet) Anyway I’m not here to moderate you and you should be free to post whatever you feel like below now. The moderation is a lazy way to prevent the endless spam that comes with wordpress.

  2. Here is a screencap of the discussion of monetization. Apparently many of the posts are now deleted and there was further discussion of this.

  3. The MAME people didn’t come out of the debate looking particularly good, especially Arbee: Squarepusher: But the end result is going to be the same anyway – MAME/MESS/UME will continue being a library, it will continue being usable in applications that have nothing to do with MAME, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that. Arbee: I think you’d be surprised how quickly MAMEdev and Haze can agree on new license terms if you want to keep playing that kind of chicken. Squarepusher: So what do you want to do? Disallow MAME from being usable in separate frontends? You’re batshit insane if you think that is what is in order here, and BTW – since you’re already dual-licensing – this would never fly in court – the GPL would certainly never allow you to do this, so better go and remove all the GPL portions out of it as well. I have to say you people are simply unbelievable. Why don’t you go and make your entire project closed-source to begin with? Sounds like that is what you want to do. But see – you can’t – because you didn’t even make this thing – Nicola did – before you were even involved. Good luck with the relicensing effort of getting permission from every single contributor to do that. Good luck also with the FSF not coming down on your ass and demanding you to remove every single GPL codeblock out of your codebase. Seriously, did you take your meds today? What is wrong with you people? Why are you against alternative frontends being made around MAME? Arbee: “So what do you want to do? Disallow MAME from being usable in separate frontends?” Not at all. We love frontend authors who respect our work and don’t attempt to rain shit on us for made up slights like Haze not posting binaries for machines he doesn’t own. So you’d still be able to run MAME, you’d just have to call out to an executable we provide like normal frontends do. (QMC2 even can pull MAME’s audio/video/input into it’s own window without our having to do anything, it’s a neat trick). Squarepusher: There’s no possible way such a license change would fly and how you could possibly enforce that. You might as well make the project closed-source if you’re going down that road – oh yeah, and add an EULA as well to it. Fact is – you don’t believe in opensource. You believe in proprietary software and in your own kind of virulent licensing. Arbee: “Good luck with the relicensing effort of getting permission from every single contributor to do that.” Every dev who’s seen your antics on this thread has tentatively agreed to such a license change. Every single one. Seriously, no sales pitch is required, they just read your words and they’re on board. Other RA/LR authors, if there are any: you guys agree with Squarepusher’s decision to antagonize MAMEdev and byuu? Squarepusher: Then you are simply batshit insane. I’m sorry but that is what you are. Seriously – just start calling yourself “proprietary software” from now on and stop calling yourself “open-source”. You don’t want any of it. BTW – your recent license change is still considered by many to be illegal. You started antagonizing me – I don’t antagonize you guys. It was one of you people that started hurling insults at something that was seen as a “foreign threat”. Seriously, start calling yourself ‘proprietary software with a bit of lip-service to ‘preservation”. You fit in well with the Exodus projects of this world from now on where everybody has to sign an NDA to even get to see sourcecode. Mymy, how the mighty have fallen. A good project gone to shit because of unstable devs imposing illegal license changes that wouldn’t ever fly in court. Arbee: > “Fact is – you don’t believe in opensource. You believe in proprietary software and in your own kind of virulent licensing.” Nope. We were willing to ignore you and let you do anything you like. We might even have accepted your OSD as a submit. But that was before you decided that Haze’s inability to post binaries for machines he doesn’t own meant you needed to insult MAMEdev. (And wait’ll byuu sees this thread…) Let me be very clear: anything that happens is going to be your fault, and your fault alone. You can still untangle your project from the consequences of your mouth by apologizing, but that’s not a window that will be open forever.

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