Android openness, was Re: Android codebase - Patch set #1

Jason openmoko at
Thu Oct 23 23:04:22 CEST 2008

Sean McNeil wrote:
> Sorry for the additional post, but I wanted to clarify:
> Jason wrote:
>> Sean McNeil wrote:
>> [...]
>>> flamma at wrote:
>>>> Excuse me if I'm going a little out of topic, but, will some polemic
>>>> features like [1] and [2] be removed, so the platform is a bit "more
>>>> free"?
>>>> [1]
>>> This is related to phones from companies that need or want to control
>>> access to their hardware. Google has nothing to do with this except to
>>> provide for security through certificates. This is a good idea and I
>>> think OM will have one, but it doesn't mean there will be anything
>>> closed source on the OM phones. It will remain open.
>> We have different definitions of open, then.  ;-)  By yours, Tivo is
>> open because it uses linux.  By my definition, open means you can change
>> the device to your liking.  My main concern is this article:
> I think our definitions are pretty much the same. I am saying Android is
> open just like Linux. I'm saying that just because Tivo uses Linux
> doesn't mean it has to be completely open. Neither does anyone using
> Android have to have their phone open.

Regrettably, from a business stance, I agree.  However, from a "I paid
for it, it's mine to do what I want with it" consumer pov, I don't like
the _active_ blocking that's taking place in more and more products.
Just void my warranty and move on.  If I break it, I own both halves.

> Google chose a more business friendly model, however, in that they use
> the Apache license which is a lot like BSD. If I make a product, I don't
> have to provide you with all the sources or changes I make to have
> Android run on that product (unlike what GPL is attempting to do).

True.  I guess what's more important to me is the ability to throw
something else entirely on a device.  If I don't like Android, I don't
care if I have the source as long as I can rip it out and boot a vanilla
linux kernel.

A great example is the NSLU2.  It was running a 2.4.x linux kernel.  I
have no idea what was on it, the first thing I did was solder on a pin
header and access Reboot.  Then I booted my first cross-compiled 2.6.x
kernel (I forget which version it was) on it and never looked back.

It makes it really hard (for us self-taught types) to learn if we can't
swap out the kernel and build from there.  Yes, openocd and jtags are
next on the list. Then, building bootloaders... :-)

> Regardless, OM will always make their code freely available and let you
> put whatever software you like on their phone. This is the OM way.
And I'm very thankful for it.  Learning by example is a thousand times
easier than poking in the dark.  ;-)


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