Switch Scene Dev Stupidity: blawar
Let's... talk about the Switch scene again. Yeah, great topic I know. Always so friendly and non-drama filled. That was a lie. The Switch scene is a dumpster fire of two groups at this point, one of which being notoriously more irritating than the other, so let's dig in.
This isn't gonna be another post shitting on Team Xecuter, I promise. But like how fresh turds attract flies, Team Xecuter is involved in this story.
So let's talk about this guy. Blawar, full name Blake Warner (to anyone asking –> this is public knowledge on his GitHub) is a developer in the Switch homebrew scene. If that were the end of it, we wouldn't be here, so let's examine his portofolio.
We're gonna start by talking about DZ... uh I mean Tinfoil, uh I mean SX Installer uh... what is the correct name here? Blawar would have me insist that Tinfoil is the correct name. So much so, that he claims to have a trademark on it.
Lets talk about what a trademark is and what it entails.
— As you should be aware by now, IANAL, this ain't legal advice, speak to a lawyer for serious legal advice.
Let's say you're Coca Cola. You have made the most famous diet coke in the country, you're the company that popularized Santa Claus's general concept in modern society, in short; you're kind of a big deal. Your name means something to people. If someone sees Coca Cola, they'll recognize that as belonging to you and they expect some form of quality from it.
Then a different company starts selling their own diet coke. And they too call it Coca Cola. Now, while they don't use your logos directly (since those are protected by copyright), it's still marketed as a Coca Cola product. You obviously don't want this, as this ends up causing confusion. In order to help you protect this from occuring, we invented this thing called “Trademark rights”.
A Trademark is the right to a specific word or word group in a certain context. ie. i'm lovin' it is trademarked to MacDonalds for use in the catering industry. No other restaurant can put i'm lovin' it in their marketing or advertise them as such without MacDonalds's active approval.
This can lead to odd situations (the word Edge got copyrighted by EA (for Mirrors Edge), which caused the game Edge to find itself in legal trouble, or the word Candy by King (Candy Crush Saga)), but in general, a trademark serves a purpose to prevent impersonation.
Now we get to the fucky parts of the law. First, in order to be able to enforce a trademark, you must register it. While all companies have innate trademark rights on their branding, in order to be able to enforce it, you need to register it at a trademark office. Registration fees for a trademark vary between statewide and nationwide, but registering a trademark is important to be able to enforce it.
Secondly, you need to actively maintain a trademark once you have it. If you don't maintain your trademark rights, you will lose your right to that trademark, as the trademark will be deemed to have fallen into common use to describe a group of products or brands. —
Got all that? Good. Now, let's see if blawar has done what needs to be able to enforce a trademark, which is registering it. Luckily for us, the Trademark Electronic Search System is public! So, bear with me as we enter the word “tinfoil” into it.
Go to Basic Word Mark Search, select only “Live” trademarks (dead trademarks cannot be enforced without renewing them, in which case they become alive) and enter tinfoil in the search box.
I personally got two results! Unfortunately, one seems to be for a clothing store named Tinfoil Hats and the other is for a sunglasses store.
Hrmm... something tells me that neither of these is what this “Tinfoil” offers in functionality, so I doubt either is registered by blawar.
So why does blawar pretend he has an iron grip on the name Tinfoil and gets to dictate who can use it?
Now, a lot of that previous part was showing off, but let's drop the act for now. Blawars “Tinfoil” was originally named DZ. DZ is a NSP installer for the Nintendo Switch. It's been ripe with drama from the start, hence why it's impossible to find any GBATemp discussion thread for it, as the original thread got locked and either deleted or hidden from the public.
There are roughly two major issues in general with DZ, the first being that it is closed source. Now, this is appealing (unfortunately) to the niche, since there's an overwhelming majority of people that don't really care if what they're using is open source or not... but let me explain my motivations for why this is important before you villify me.
Homebrew as it is, always for the most part has been open source. This is for good reason, as you're basically running code that hasn't been authorized by the console manufacturer on your device. Just like on Windows, any program you run with full permissions will have the ability to seriously mess with your personal data. This is why it's important, especially on Homebrew, which should always be assumed to run on a degree of permissions that risk messing with personal data, to have all Homebrew be open source.
I won't go as far to say that all Homebrew should be FOSS, but the GNU GPL is one of the best open source licenses out there.
This argument won't appeal to the masses though, so let me bring up the other argument... allegations of code theft.
If you go to the Tinfoil GitHub repo, you might notice something odd in the Credits section. “Ideas from Adubbz”. Well, that's a tad... odd to say the least. Ideas means Adubbz has apparently inspired blawar or something?
Oh. Yeah, that puts things in a different light.
So let me connect these dots for you again. The original title installer for the Nintendo Switch is also called Tinfoil (hence why I from now on will call blawars program DZ). Tinfoil is made by, you guessed it, Adubbz. Adubbz originally had the intention of permanently working on Tinfoil, but lost interest after a fork of his work called dOPUS was made with no interest of backporting the changes into Tinfoil. Call Adubbz petty or not, thats beyond the point.
What blawar is doing here is intentionally avoiding directly having to credit Adubbz for his work on Tinfoil. This seems a bit odd, as the original Tinfoil is under the MIT, which means he's only disadvantaging himself by saying he didn't use parts of Tinfoil in DZ (fwiw, he likely did, but more on that later).
Anyway, Adubbz then handed over Tinfoil to XorTroll, who initially started working on it... up until blawar renamed DZ to “Tinfoil” and claimed he had a trademark on the name.
As we previously established, blawar has no registered trademark on the name Tinfoil for this situation, so he basically has no enforceable rights on this claim. Yet he did pressure XorTroll enough to force a change to the name of Tinfoil to Goldleaf.
Still with me? Let me quickly list the current state of affairs:
- Adubbz made the original Tinfoil.
- Blawar made a title installer called DZ.
- Adubbz loses interest in working on Tinfoil, officially hands codebase over to XorTroll.
- Blawar renames DZ to Tinfoil.
- Blawar proceeds to force XorTroll to rename his project to Goldleaf, claiming effectively non-existent trademark rights on the name Tinfoil.
Now pardon my language, but this is a tad fucked don't you think?
No sweat though, it gets worse.
We're gonna involve another asshole group into the discussion. Say hello to everyones favorite turdstain, Team Xecuter. Let's skip past their behavior for the most part and let me explain what they have to do with blawar here.
See, blawar has sold DZ to Team Xecuter. Team Xecuter of course readily accepted (this is public enough knowledge and neither blawar or Team Xecuter denies this.)
This project is called SX Installer, and aside from being able to launch XCIs and Homebrew, the only noticeably different feature at launch was the ability to launch any RetroArch core. That might seem odd, but becomes less odd when you also know that Team Xecuter had been trying to bribe m4xw. This is their way of giving m4xw the middle finger. It technically doesn't violate licenses, but it's still very obvious what the intent is.
Unfortunately, this did cause m4xw to shed some more... detailed light on the matters. I'll leave those posts to speak for themselves, lest I misinterpret anything from there, but those are the current crux of allegations that DZ steals code.
Let's move on to the next program in his portofolio.
Released only a few days ago, Incognito claims to let you wipe your console identifying data from the PRODINFO partition (PRODINFO is a partition that contains critical data for the Switch to function, including your certificate for connecting to Nintendos servers).
First, this is bad because it'll result in users being stuck with the wiped PRODINFO, should they ever lose their backup. Which speaking as someone who has some experience helping people in the scene, this is much more common than you think.
Secondly... wait what's this?
a) So your switch can go online without worrying about a ban or using random dogdy DNS servers that are also likely to get you banned.
How oddly specific. This is a very thinly veiled attack against the popular 90DNS DNS servers that block all Nintendo servers (one he later confirmed in the thread).
The “likely to get you banned” claim refers to a couple of unsubstantiated claims of users who say they got banned while 90DNS was on, but upon further investigation accidentally connected without it being configured properly or their ISP hijacking the connection.
I don't see much need to elaborate here, let's continue.
The latest in this little shitstorm of bad homebrew, Lithium is... wait is this fucking DZ again?
Claiming to be a “simpler” version of DZ, Lithium is a program I can only see two discernible benefits for creating.
- Getting a new GBATemp thread after DZs was unceremoniously hidden or removed.
- The chance to dunk on Goldleaf.
- If you are looking for Goldleaf, this is Goldleaf's safer and way more extended evolution. If you are a current Goldleaf user, you need Lithium!
If the attack on 90DNS was thinly veiled, this is it's obvious variant. This is an outright attack, and many people, including me, called his bluff.
- Wanting to enter his entire project in the GBATemp homebrew bounty, arguing about the rules. This netted him zero votes in the actual bounty.
- Pulling a gun on his wife and one year old kid (web.archive.org link for GDPR blocked readers).
- Claiming GBATemp is “fake news” after nobody voted for him in the aforementioned bounty and called the entire thing a sham.
- Planning on donating the money he could've won from the bounty to the Trump Foundation, basing it on the fact that another entrant had a political statement in it too. Said political statement was a pride flag.
Once again, the homebrew scene has found itself someone utterly vile to idolize. At least blawar isn't a pedophile or a harasser. At least, he isn't to my knowledge. So that's a net improvement I suppose.
Also, Tinfoil isn't trademarked and to prove that, have this.