Android, is it even 'open-source' anymore?

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#1 Posted by deleteduser198 (25 posts) -

Found an interesting article here that chronicles the beginnings of Android being touted as "open-source," and the strange dichotomy of its actual reality.

The most popular comment on this article details the following as well:

"Abusing the word "open" is an understatement. They've really stripped meaning from the word, and redefined it to benefit Android from iOS, no matter how dishonest it is. And that's really a shame, because truly open source projects have made substantial impacts on the industry. One of them being Webkit, ironically an Apple open source project. But you don't see Apple touting that as some marketing gimmick to imply righteousness or freedom. Apple never even mentions Webkit in the mainstream.

I've always said Android was UNMODERATED, and that's the only true effect consumers feel from it. But that has nothing to do with freely distributed source code, and is completely irrelevant to "open." It simply means Google doesn't screen apps into its store, which can be a double edged sword for average consumers.

Google needs to embrace the fact that Android is controlled by Google behind the scenes, and quit living this false reality. And also quit using it as propaganda and marketing, having no respect to the real open source community. They also need to make all their Google die hards understand that closed is not a bad thing, it's a necessary aspect of maintaining control over your platform."

So what do you think? Do you think Android is as "open" as Google made it out to be, only to quietly seize more and more control over the years to "unify" the OS?

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#2 Posted by mystic_knight (13801 posts) -
Interesting article. Its definitely not a true open source project but in saying that it it is more open source than any other mobile OS. Look at how many people modify the source code and change the way their UI works. The custom rom world is still big and strong. I admit i don't know why the aliyun project was rejected. It seems a little ridiculous to me. Maybe they should have the separate android segments or as the editor wrote, android and androidium :P
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#3 Posted by osan0 (14949 posts) -
i see 2 things google are doing wrong in that article 1) preventing the alternative location system. 2) telling companies they cant make fake android devices and stay in the OHA. I suspect there is confusion between opensource and open though (which could be the reason point 2 occoured). To put this in linux terms: I can take the linux kernel source code, modify it and release it. however i cant then claim that is the linux kernel. I can say its a modified linux kernel or i can call it something else but thats it. to have my code in the linux kernel i would need to submit it through the proper channels. Same with distros. I cant take Ubuntu, tinker with it and call it ubuntu. I can claim its based on ubuntu but its not ubuntu. Android is not an open brand, so to speak, and google are absolutely right to stop companies who modify android and plonk it on with no QA from google to claim its android. Android is googles brand which means if something gets messed up its google that have to answer for it. What if one of the modifications another company makes introduces a massive security flaw? what if they change something that makes it incompatible with android apps. companies have the freedom to do that but if its still branded android then, through no fault of their own, google will get an awful slap.Their name is on that OS. Its also the reason the store can not be supported on modified android could cause app stability hell. this i suspect is the reason for googles reaction to companies branding modified android as android (though its a complete over reaction). Having the 2 brands is not a bad idea. Android for android and androidium for any device that uses a custom version of it. or ideally just call it something completly different so people dont associate it with android at all. Thats how it works in the linux world basically. People and companies gather a bunch of software together (could be an existing distro or something from scratch), they modify it as they see fit and then release it under its own brand. mint linux is based on ubuntu for example. it started as ubuntu with a different theme and an easy way to install extra codecs (at the time not as simple on ubuntu). canonical have absolutely no claim on mint, dont have anything to do with it nor do they support it in any way. If something ever goes horribly wrong with mint (even if a patch for ubuntu inadvertently caused it) canonical would provide exactly 0 official support as its not their distro. It is up to the mint organisation to support their own store, their own packages and so on.
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#4 Posted by Gambler_3 (7736 posts) -

ACER willfully joined the OHA nobody forced them to. The company making the other OS didnt do no wrong but acer broke their agreement with google.

Devices like the kindle fire dont benefit google or the ecosystem so they are trying to "discourage" such devices. There is a big difference between discouraging something and "stopping" something, amazon is not part of the OHA and thus is free to do whatever the hell they want to.

The members of the OHA are simply restricted from making a device for a competing OS thats built on the android framework. They are free to make windows, symbian and other devices.