Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Jan 2013 18:29 UTC
Google A blog post on the Free Software Foundation Europe site is making the rounds around the web. The blog post, written by Torsten Grote, claims that 'the Android SDK is now proprietary', because upon download, you have to agree to terms and conditions which are clearly not compatible with free and/or open source software. What Grote fails to mention - one, these terms have mostly always been here, and two, they only apply to the SDK binaries. The source is still freely available.
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v No.
by Nelson on Fri 4th Jan 2013 18:37 UTC
RE: No.
by nej_simon on Fri 4th Jan 2013 18:57 UTC in reply to "No."
nej_simon Member since:
2011-02-11
RE[2]: No.
by Nelson on Fri 4th Jan 2013 19:05 UTC in reply to "RE: No."
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Good catch. Does this make the Android SDK any less proprietary (who cares?)

If the distinction disappears when you check out the source (which you can presumably modify however you'd like) then is it safe to call what you check out "Android"?

I think the blog post is correct in saying the Android SDK is non free (in his crazy fanatical definition of free)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: No.
by linux-lover on Fri 4th Jan 2013 19:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No."
linux-lover Member since:
2011-04-25

Yes it is. The source code is same line for line when you check it out. It doesn't magically turn it into something new. Google reserves the right to protect their brand and trademark. Just like Mozilla reserves the right to protect the firefox brand and trademark. Mozilla's license around the Firefox brand is why Debian calls their version of the browser Iceweasel.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: No.
by Nelson on Sat 5th Jan 2013 01:31 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: No."
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Fair enough.

Reply Score: 2

RE: No.
by Drumhellar on Fri 4th Jan 2013 18:59 UTC in reply to "No."
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

From the Replicant page:

Replicant provides its own SDK, built from source, since the Android SDK as released by Google is distributed under a non-free license and suggests installing non-free plug-ins such as the Google APIs.

After downloading the Replicant SDK from the ReplicantSDK page, it should work the same as the Android SDK as provided by Google except that the Replicant SDK already contains a built and ready to use emulator image.


If you had bothered to follow the link to the Replicant page, you'd see that they offer the same SDK without Google's restrictions, built from the same source. Emulator included.

But, no. It's more satisfying to remain wrong and believe you were right the entire time.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: No.
by Nelson on Fri 4th Jan 2013 19:00 UTC in reply to "RE: No."
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

The Replicant SDK is not the Android SDK. It is an offshoot SDK for an offshoot distribution to Android. The owner of the project agrees with me.

The Android SDK, which is exactly what is being criticized, contains a license agreement you need to agree upon to be able to use.

Not that I care, it's stupid to complain about agreeing to a license agreement. This is much ado about nothing.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: No.
by bassbeast on Mon 7th Jan 2013 10:14 UTC in reply to "RE: No."
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

But has anybody compared it to what Google has in its SDK? Because if all they wanted was to protect its copyrights like Mozilla why wouldn't they just use something like the MPL, why go to all this extra mess and BS?

So before I'd say "oh the source is there and its the same" I'd want somebody to do a comparison, after all it wouldn't be the first time a company has given some but not all of the code.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Fri 4th Jan 2013 19:15 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Protection of trademarks is important even for companies that aren't trying to profit from OSS.

Mozilla reserves the rights associated with the Firefox brand, so Debian brands their browser Iceweasel so they can extend trademark rights to their users.

Even FreeBSD once had to shutdown a distributor who was pressing and selling his own FreeBSD disks. They rightly felt that since they didn't have any control in the process, and thus couldn't guarantee that they weren't defective or worse, the distributor shouldn't be use their branding. FreeBSD has a solid reputation, but the FreeBSD Foundation is a small organization, and damaging that reputation could harm them for years.

Reply Score: 6

Re:
by kurkosdr on Fri 4th Jan 2013 19:56 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

I don't understand. What's the point of placing a "no-forking" clause in a binary, and not the source (which is Apache). How can you fork a binary? I thought you could only fork source.

PS: If you know how it's possible to fork a binary, please post.

Edited 2013-01-04 19:57 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Re:
by umccullough on Fri 4th Jan 2013 20:46 UTC in reply to "Re:"
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

PS: If you know how it's possible to fork a binary, please post.


Malware writers do that all the time...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Re:
by Wafflez on Fri 4th Jan 2013 23:00 UTC in reply to "Re:"
Wafflez Member since:
2011-06-26

There were plenty of NES "pirate" cartridges.

Like SNES Mortal Kombat "forked" to NES.

Edited 2013-01-04 23:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Re:
by kwan_e on Sat 5th Jan 2013 03:43 UTC in reply to "Re:"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

PS: If you know how it's possible to fork a binary, please post.


I tried do an automatic upgrade of Ubuntu once. I tell you what, those binaries were forked. It forked up the whole system.

Reply Score: 3

Anti-fragmention and properitary
by WorknMan on Fri 4th Jan 2013 21:25 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

What I want to know is, why does Google put features like miracast and photosphere on the Nexus 4, and then deny it to their other devices? And if these features are not in the Android sources, then at least part of it is definitely proprietary.

Do I care about this? Well yes, actually I do. Once I found out that 4.2 was supposed to have Miracast, I was ready to plunk down for a Nexus 7, but was disappointed to find out that it's currently only available for Nexus 4. Seems that Google is fragmenting their own devices, for whatever reason.

Reply Score: 3

hackbod Member since:
2006-02-15

The miracast support is all in the platform, however it requires significant support in the hardware and drivers to work -- they need to be able to run both video encoding and decoding at the same time, streaming and composited video from a second buffer rendered along-side the display to the encoder.

The photosphere feature is I believe part of Google's proprietary apps (same as Gmail, Google+, etc), not a part of the platform.

Reply Score: 2

hackbod Member since:
2006-02-15

The miracast support is all part of the platform, however it requires specific support from the hardware and drivers: it needs to be able to execute both hardware video decoding and encoding at the same time, and be able to stream a second composited display before through the video encoder. Currently only the Nexus 4 hardware has this support. (For other devices I don't know how much of the limitation is core to the hardware or just lacking in the drivers.)

For stuff like photosphere, I believe this is just part of Google's proprietary application code, like many other things: the Gmail, Google+ and other apps, contacts and calendar sync engines, Google account manager, etc.

Reply Score: 2

Extraneous restrictions
by The1stImmortal on Fri 4th Jan 2013 22:35 UTC
The1stImmortal
Member since:
2005-10-20

First: IANAL

There has been a paragraph significantly changed recently:


3. SDK License from Google
[...]
3.4 You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.

(source: http://developer.android.com/sdk/terms.html )

What scares me about this license change is that Google is attempting to prevent, apparently in perpetuity, those agreeing to the license terms from doing *anything* involving fragmentation of Android (web links? Mentioning on OSNews comments? building a new incompatible SDK from the Apache-licensed sources or forks?), or from promoting a software development kit "derived from the SDK" - that presumably includes older or legitimate forks (even, technically, ones that Google may legitimately license in the future!).

I didn't even realise that it was *legal* (or at least, enforceable) to prevent someone from doing something completely unrelated to the licensed material at issue in a one-sided license agreement. Like preventing people from doing things that "may cause or result in the fragmentation of android". That would be like the license requirement requiring users not to hop on one leg for the rest of their lives as a result of agreeing.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Extraneous restrictions
by rklrkl on Sat 5th Jan 2013 02:12 UTC in reply to "Extraneous restrictions"
rklrkl Member since:
2005-07-06

I think two issues are worrying about this clause:

1. There is no clause anywhere in the agreement that exactly defines what "fragmentation" actually means.

2. They give it an even wider scope by quoting the classic "including but not limited to" phrase, which you can interpret anywhere from "exactly what I've mentioned is included" to "the entire universe is included".

As a branding/trademark issue, it would better of Google to say:

"If you modify the Android SDK and then redistribute it, you may no longer use the word "Android" anywhere in the title of the redistributed SDK or use the stock Android images (green robot etc) to promote it. You may also not make any claims that it is fully compatible with the unmodified Android SDK."

In other words, something similar to the way Mozilla handles its branding (they are sensitive about the name and the logo if you start hacking the source and redistributing it).

Reply Score: 2

Good point!
by nicolaihenriksen on Mon 7th Jan 2013 10:57 UTC
nicolaihenriksen
Member since:
2010-10-21

Excellent article. I am 100 % Apple man and it can be difficult to see through the fog of bad news coverage everywhere. This article covers the real fact. Thank you.

Reply Score: 1