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Android Honeycomb Will Not Be Open Sourced 295

Posted by timothy
from the hard-to-see-the-harm-really dept.
At the ongoing Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google today officially announced the next version of Android, named Ice Cream Sandwich, as well as Android 3.1, an "incremental platform release" of Honeycomb. An anonymous reader writes "In an effort to understand the landscape for developers, Andy Rubin was asked if, since Ice Cream Sandwich would be open, Android 3.0 and/or 3.1 will be granted the same courtesy. Rubin answered definitively in the negative. Honeycomb on its own would not be open, because its phone functionality is very broken. Ice Cream Sandwich will take all of the Honeycomb functionality and open source it alongside code that is much more universally friendly."
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Android Honeycomb Will Not Be Open Sourced

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  • User perception (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @10:11PM (#36090050)

    I remember a while ago when Google announced Honeycomb would not be open sourced for the time being. A lot of people on Slashdot were unsurprisingly up in arms and, equally unsurprisingly, for all the wrong reasons. From a FOSS standpoint it's a terrible move on their part, but what many didn't understand was the reasoning:

    Android has an extremely vast community of amateurs that create custom builds of AOSP. These are people with little to no coding experience, distributing specialized "ROMs" to an even greater amount of curious users who are barely a shade above the average user. So what would happen if Honeycomb were opened? There'd be a very quick uptake by those users and, given the Tablet oriented state of Honeycomb, a really really bad user experience. As pretty as Honeycomb is, that would have reflected badly on Google -- worse than what many jumping the gun on /. thought when Google initially delayed the source release.

    With that in mind, I'm glad that they are deferring the code until Ice Cream Sandwich where it seems they will "do it right."

  • by William Ager (1157031) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @10:17PM (#36090096)

    These comments seem very much to indicate that the source code issue, as I think most people expected, is less of a "we don't want people using this code for their purposes" and more of a "we think this code is horrible and don't want anyone laughing at it." That really suggests that, rather than be upset about the lack of open sources, people should be concerned as to why Google felt it reasonable to release software they're reluctant to release sources to because they're embarrassed.

    Open source also opens organizations to criticism when they try to push out code that isn’t ready, and I think this is very much a problem for Google with Honeycomb.

  • Is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @10:34PM (#36090154)
    I'm not well-versed in Android, nor a lawyer, but I do know that if you release anything that uses modified GPL code, you have to release the code under the GPL as well. And I find it hard to believe that Android didn't modify any of the GNU/Linux/whatever code they used. Anyone more knowledgeable in the subject care to comment?
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @10:37PM (#36090168) Homepage Journal
    Like Apple and MS building a user base, open with was young generations bait.
    Now that an average developer is using their systems, this could be a test, just how closed can Google go?
    As for quality, this is the efforts of a for profit effort with strong branding and open code connections.
    Why the functionality gap? Its their code, they are funded... Did the ipad2 cpu/gpu jump their roadmap? Has Windows suddenly got better in some area?
  • In related news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @11:08PM (#36090308)

    $CompanyOtherThanGoogle has announced they will not release their source, based heavily on GPL code, until they, and only they decide its "ready".

    Replace the Google with Redhat, and Android with "Enterprise Linux 6.1" and see how many people start getting upset, threaten to boycott, etc..
    why is it okay when Google does it?

  • Re:User perception (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @11:24PM (#36090366) Journal

    Uh huh, I'd say the REAL goal is a slow but sure march towards TiVoization [linfo.org] which I said would happen for...oh about a year now. Once Google said they wouldn't allow any GPL V3 (which RMS wrote to specifically keeping companies from TiVoing GPL software) I figured it was only a matter of time.

    You watch these early moves are 'feelers" to see how big of a stink it causes in places other than Linux forums. When Google sees the fanbois are all onboard and making with the excuses and Joe Consumer frankly doesn't care they trot out a nice "its for security!" statement (probably timed right after some Android malware hits the news) and it'll be code signing or eFuses all the way.

    As much as I don't agree with RMS on ...well hell pretty much everything, he was right on this. Once TiVo showed the corps how to run right around GPL V2 it became for all intents and purposes useless. Anybody using GPL V2 now might as well be using BSD or PD for all the "freedom" it protects now. After all what good is the code if you aren't allowed to modify it or run it on the device for which its intended?

    I just hope moves like this teach the community two important lessons: 1.-There is no such thing as a "friendly" corp. They can come up with little slogans like do no evil, they can make shiny devices, it frankly doesn't matter what they do, because if it comes down to making more money and/or gaining more power or not fucking you? Well bend over pal, because here it comes. 2.- GPL V2 needs to be dumped ASAP and replaced with GPL V3, because as it is using GPL V2 is simply giving corps your labor for free while they don't have to give you ANYTHING in return. eFuses and code signing cost almost nothing and gives the corp all the control of proprietary while at the same time gaining all the effort that has been put into embedded Linux by the community.

  • Re:User perception (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @11:32PM (#36090386)

    Whilst tivoisation is a problem and is already happening I see another motive here - only approved partners get to release a properly functional tablet, for an entire year.

    By not releasing this to the general public, Google has tight control over releases and android tablet, and that way can exercise a form of quality control they otherwise couldn't. This could be a (misguided, IMHO) attempt to compete with the iPad on consistency of user experience.

  • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @11:34PM (#36090396) Homepage Journal
    This may very well be true, but the fact that it is crappy code made for a specific merely indicates why the google model is not open. One can argue a key ingredient in the OS model, what makes is superior to closed source, is there is potentially objective eyeballs on the proces. Opening the software when it is done is little better than closed source code. It is one reason why people freaked when Oracle got a hold of OO.org and created libreoffice.

    Then of course this proves that Google is not creating software that is meant to be used by the community. It is creating software for a specific prorpietary hardware manufacture, and then, if other manufacturers behave, will release the code to them. Like Apple, only the kernal/stack is OSS while all the stuff that makes the phone cool to use requires Google blessing. One can't use competing product like would be possible with true OSS software. One can't rework the product to meet end users needs. The phone exists to serve the interests of Google and the mobile provider, just like any average proprietary phone. Sure the Android can be broken in to just like any other phone, but why should this be necessary for an allegedly open phone. And sure Apps can be downloaded from any site, but if google were fully open to open source why would they not want to hast any software that wasn't malicious?

    At the end of the day if Android were in fact open source and in fact freely available, none of the Google equivocating would be necessary..

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @11:44PM (#36090444)

    http://twitter.com/#!/arubin/status/27808662429 [twitter.com]

    the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

    So has his definition changed or have we always been at war with Eastasia?

  • Re:Is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drb226 (1938360) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @12:36AM (#36090632)
    Yes, the rest is under the Apache Licence 2.0 [wikipedia.org] which apparently allows proprietary modification. Thus we see (yet again) that RMS was right, even though he sounds like an old cook.
  • Re:User perception (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arkhan_jg (618674) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:47AM (#36090918)

    Except that it just means the 'unapproved' tablet makers will continue using 2.2 and 2.3 as the basis for their tablets, which is a worse tablet experience than honeycomb - I tried out an archos 101, and despite loving my rooted gingerbread galaxy S to death, froyo really doesn't scale well to a 10" touchscreen.

    If they want android to get a reputation as a shitty ipad knock-off in the tablet arena, they're doing a fairly good job of it by stopping honeycomb seeing wider release. I personally think gingerbread is significantly better than iOS on a smartphone, but I have to admit that iOS is whupping our arse in usability when it comes to the iPad.

  • Re:TFA is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy.Lakeman@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @03:17AM (#36091232)

    When they release Ice Cream Sandwich, the Honeycomb source will be in the patch history

    No, that's not necessarily true. While you can configure a server to only allow new patches to be added to the end of the commit log, that isn't mandatory. Even with bog standard out of the box git commands, they could squash the commit history into one big commit and throw away their current history. Or review every change again, and only cherry pick the ones they wish to keep. git's history is not set in stone and can easily be changed. The only limitation is that all contributors must voluntarily accept your revised history as their new baseline.

  • Re:Is that legal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dzfoo (772245) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:28AM (#36091492)

    Please read your own argument again and try to see the paradox in it.

    "Honeycomb source will be opened up in the future, when it is actually ready for commercial use."

    I'd say that Google felt it was "ready for commercial use" since they released it as a commercial product.

    Android 3 is either ready for commercial use, or not. In the latter case, it should not be released, or released as a prototype or "test" product. Its source code cannot be considered as an independent and unrelated attribute of the product, for there is a direct correlation between source code and compiled object code.

                -dZ.

  • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:02AM (#36091844)

    "Google refuses to release embarrassing code to a world of incompetents who could potentially ruin Android's reputation by shoehorning Honeycomb into devices it was never meant to be shoehorned into". Sometimes openness just needs to take a backseat in order to protect reputation.

    Seems like Google doesn't have any problem providing the Motorola's, Samsungs and LG's of the world with this 'embarrassing code' and let them sell half-baked, buggy devides running an OS that nobody can modify or improve with. Apparently 'protecting their reputation' means a lot more to them than user experience for their customers, or being 'open'.

    I really don't care the least bit about what Google does with the Honeycomb sourcecode, probably they are right about holding it back because it was a rush job and not pretty to look at. That said, I think we can all safely put the hollow 'Android open, Android free!' nonsense behind us. Android is only open to the manufacturers and carriers, and Google has its priorities with them, not with you who was suckered into buying a tablet running beta software.

    I'm still amazed that so many people keep up with this, if I pay $500 for a device that is not explicitly marketed as beta, as a curiosity for the adventurous, I expect it to work as advertised, including the software. If the software is so messy even Google doesn't want you to see it, ffing clean it up and make it better, before selling products based on it.

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