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Are Third-Party Android Vendors Violating the GPL? 132

Posted by timothy
from the checking-it-twice dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Google's refusal to not release Honeycomb source code is kosher because the code in question is released under the Apache license. But the kernel at the heart of Android is GPL'd, which means that code must be released. Google has actually been a good citizen in this regard — but many third-party Android vendors, not so much. While Asus has released their code, there are a host of companies that seem to have not done so, and Matthew Garrett is maintaining a list."
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Are Third-Party Android Vendors Violating the GPL?

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  • Re:Android (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2011 @07:32PM (#36223098)

    Seriously. Every day there is story about some new Android problems. Malware, GPL violations, rooted phones being blocked, Google not releasing the source code for new versions, people pirating apps so developing apps is useless, hardware fragmentation, phones saving location data and leaking all of your stuff to Google. Seriously just do a search for "android" on slashdot. Every freaking day something.

    Well it is the biggest smartphone platform in the world. iOS is a close second and naturally there are always stories about it too, the arbitrary app approval process, changing app guidelines, security issues, phones saving location data, hardware issues (odd since they maintain so few different configurations).

  • Re:Kosher code? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2011 @07:33PM (#36223108)

    It means the code is not written with mixing meat and milk.

  • by wrook (134116) on Monday May 23, 2011 @07:46PM (#36223240) Homepage

    The GPL specifies very clearly when the source code has to be released. The vendor has a few choices:

    1) They can release the source code with the binary
    2) They can accompany the binary with a written offer to supply the souce code on request for a period of not less than 2 years.

    Generally, vendors tend to do the second, but I have a couple of devices where I was given a CD containing the source code along with the device. Free software projects usually provide the source code and binary download at the same time.

    My understanding is that these vendors are neither supplying the source code with the binary nor accompanying the binary with a written offer for the source code. If that is true, then they are in violation of the GPL. The reason for requiring the source code at the same time as the binary is that offering the source code at some indefinite point in the future is useless. If I have a problem that requires the source code, waiting an indefinite amount of time doesn't help me.

  • by Junta (36770) on Monday May 23, 2011 @07:48PM (#36223258)

    I understand that the GPL allows some recoup of costs for development and distribution, but at all times the source must be available for free.

    Actually, you only *need* to provide source to those who you provide binaries. So if your binaries require 20 dollars, you must provide the source to anyone who legitimately gets your binaries, but no more.

    Of course, they can subsequently turn around and redistribute your source at will.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

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