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back to article Steve Jobs vindicated: Google Android is not open

If you needed further proof that Android is not an "open platform", Google just supplied it. On Thursday, the company said that as its select partners release the first tablets based on Android "Honeycomb" – the latest version of its mobile operating system – it will not open source the Honeycomb code. As first reported by …

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Anonymous Coward

It seems

Open source is only open until someone thinks they can make more money by closing it.

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No..

Open source is when the source code made available for inspection. Modification/distribution rights depend on the license. Unless you want to argue with The Steve, who claims that h264 is open because you can take a peek at the source (as far as I remember).

And unless you can point to a statement from Google saying they will not at any time open the code, it is currently "pending" source publication, not, as the article heading seems to imply, closed.

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@John Bailey

You hit the nail right on! And so we can better understand why the Free and Open source software concept has been defined.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong John Bailey

The Open Source definition states "The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form."

There's no concept of pending release.

Honeycomb is being distributed in compiled form, there's no source available thus Honeycomb is NOT open source no matter how you paint it, and the article is correct. QED

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Jobs Horns

Free Versus Open

Yes, too often it is misunderstood Free Software relates to "free as in speech" not "free as in beer." Google provide open source and are declining to do so for a while in this case to match their own strategic ends showing "open" and "free" are divorced when you can keep HEAD (non-geek readers, that's a coding term) under wraps. Thus proving Android is not free of Google or uncertainty as to how they might wish to take it or, indeed, license it in the future (fair enough but you should be up front about this and you remain free to fork an older branch minus location and the app store). As I understand it, Google have never themselves claimed Android is free software. So it seems, for those who may have been confused about this, Google are simply demonstrating another category of free applies here alongside being (not quite so) open.

"free as in suck-my-dick

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Go

Compare contributions

So, lets compare REAL contributions of production code by MS, APPLE and GOOGLE.

APPLE - zero

MS - zero

GOOGLE - well, you get the idea

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yeah, I get the idea...

..no actual relevant input but look over there, worse stuff....

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FAIL

Re: Compare contributions

So... You're saying webkit isn't production code?

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WTF?

No.

When you *distribute* the software in compiled form you must also have the source code available for distribution to the same people.

Don't distribute the software until you are able to distribute the source.

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@AC 13:00

"Sorry no, you're completely wrong. If a company is contributing to open source software and implement a number of features they do not have to release the code feature by feature, they can release it when they deem it to be reasonably ready for release."

However, releasing your "production binaries" and STILL not releasing the "reasonably ready for release" source code makes your "open source" technically "closed" until it is released. Open Source releases the source at the time of binary distribution.

Fortunately for Google, their Android license allows them to pull this crap and optionally go closed source at any time. I'm quite disappointed with their tactic on this. It simply slows adoption of their new Android 3.0 since they're only allowing (paid for, likely) "partners" to use it until a certain point in time. This will slow take-up of Android-based tablets and be counter-productive to Android's goal of being prolific. Such a shame.

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Flame

Jobs/apple is evil, etc etc.

as far as things open that google, ms, apple have contributed:

Google contributed to the embedded java scene and android, other little things here and there.

microsoft as best I can tell has given away almost nothing that is their own work (in any significant portion), .Net is a worthy mention even though it isnt open itself, microsoft works with and allows mono to exist. (anyone feel free to mention anything notable, not much comes to mind)

Apple has given us numerous things, most of which are extensions or improvements over already existing things like WebKit (from KHTML), Grand Central Dispatch (now in FreeBSD), or how about zeroconf/bonjour? Apple is weird when it comes to how it gets involved in code it gives away, their behavior can be quite two faced.

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Quick question

quick question but HOW exactly does the Android license allow them to distribute 3.0 to only select OEMs? I thought they HAD to make it available...which portion of the license lets them selectively distribute it? Thanks!

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It sounds pretty clear to me

When they say "While we’re excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones. Until then, we’ve decided not to release Honeycomb to open source." In other words, when it gets released to phones they'll open it up.

A poor troll by an Apple Fanboi.

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Really

But if Android is so 'open' what's stopping them opening up Honeycomb now? After all, from the reviews I've read, they could do with a little help from the open source community in getting it finished.

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makes sense

It's open source which is not jet opened to the public.

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@mmm mmm

It's nothing like a poor troll. The point isn't that Android is worse than iOS because it's not open, it's that Google are wrong to say it's open because it's demonstrably not according to their own test. And promising it will be again in the future isn't the same.

To be honest, I think that anybody that relies on "it's open" as the cornerstone of their advocacy for a consumer-facing embedded operating system has already lost the argument. To advocate Android you should focus on the free market in applications, the price and the diversity of devices, none of which this article disputes and none of which are affected by the news it covers.

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Eh?

"It's open source which is not jet [sic] opened to the public."

"...open..."..."not yet open...". Ah right, got ya. I think.

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@RichyS

<quote>After all, from the reviews I've read, they could do with a little help from the open source community in getting it finished.</quote>

Not finished? At least it has cut and paste - which is more than fucking Apple or Microshaft could manage.

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Grenade

Copy and Paste

So it fucking should do, they've had long enough to copy the rest of iOS.

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FAIL

RE: "they've had long enough to copy the rest of iOS."

And how did they do that in the first place? Please do explain this to us little non iCoolAid drinking peons?

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Anonymous Coward

@JerekG

Uh, they bought an iPhone, used it, and copied everything about it. Was that really so hard to understand Jerek?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Copy and Paste

According to this Android didn't have functional copy and paste well after the iPhone already did. Quit making stuff up Android fanboi!

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Happy

Honeycomb on Phones

From everything I've read, Google don't want, for what ever reason, to have Honeycomb on normal hand-held phones. Once they release the source code there will be a custom ROM available the next day for jail broken phones.

Personally I think Google will release the code only after they have merged the tablet and phone codes branches, thus making it pointless for the hackers to make a Honeycomb ROM for hand-helds.

Flame away....

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@ Volker Hett

Which still doesnt account for the redmond-esque tactics over skyhook.

I though open included "I can do what I like to it".

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First of all...

...It's JArek (if you gone insult me, get at least my name straight...yes I'm Polish and darn proud of it)

So what you are saying, apple bought Windows CE device use it and create For Dummy version of it?

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Anonymous Coward

@ThomH

The free market for application is not at all free on a closed proprietary platform. See Apple App Store.

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FAIL

well...

Windows CE had it first, so at least please iCooAid club give Microsoft credit for this.

Not an Android fanboi, just like cool toys that I can use...had iPhone and hated it.

Currently using Xperia with Windows Mobile 6.1 (with couple of my own applications that just work the way I wan them to work).

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FAIL

Really... Free Market?

And I can't seem to get my groceries at DSW (a shoe store chain). WTF.........

Free market is a la wiki "Advocates of a free market traditionally consider the term to imply that the means of production is under private, not state control."

Last I checked Apple isn't a state institution. They allow anyone to apply to the dev program and sell their wares as long as they are appropriate in Apple's terms, for their store. Apple doesn't stop anyone from posting their own developed code online (cite VLC).

As much as Apple has their distortion field, Google is using "open" as their own. It's convenient for a software developer that makes their revenue from adds to get people 'locked in' to free services that bring in ad revenue. I honestly think they could give a crap about the software as long as people are using their products to get ad revenue. Look at how arcane google search is compared to bing. They saw a new market to bring in ad revenue but as developing software goes, they have a tiny drop in the bucket compared to Microsoft and Apple.

I applaud Microsoft for taking it slow and getting things right the first time around. I have no inclination to use the command-line to tailor my phone experience. When my contract is up I might switch from my iPhone to WP7 because I know that the user experience wasn't thrown together by hackers. I will be surprised the day google has a complete glitch free experience.

rant over.

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3 dimensional approach

and sorry for the spelling, I live in a non english speaking country.

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@Stike Vomit

Cool your boots man.

The cut'n'paste argument is well over. Even WinPho7 has it now.

But Google seem to continue with their releasing beta software approach with the Windows XP/Tron mash-up abomination that is Honeycomb. I've not read a review yet that doesn't say it has rough edges. Maybe you know something different.

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FAIL

Apart from

the daylight saving adjustment, I suppose?

Teat.

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Grenade

Closed

So it is closed. They say they will open it up later (whenever later is - after Android 4.0 perhaps?)

But as of today, it is closed.

If you want to try and delude yourself, fine, but the story stands.

Case (and source) closed.

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Depends

That would be BSD license, but only as long as you don't like to rip out others copyright notices :)

I ran a whole bunch of software on HP-3000 and 9000 systems in the 90s which I had in source, one application is still running on a SCO OpenServer V 5.0.4 virtual machine at this moment.

Porting from MPE to HP-UX and to SCO or even Linux or BSD was part of the contract, as was adapting the software to our needs.

That's open source, at least to the customer.

It's not Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) like GNU or BSD et.al.

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Flame Off

I think you have hit the nail on the head. The current honeycomb is merely a stop gap to ensure android tablets don't get left behind, it is a long way off what they are aiming for, guess they don't think it's worth releasing a target that is moving considerably.

I'd personally like to see it opened though/

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Open Source Community

Why do people still think there are legions of developers out there who work for nothing, sure there is the odd person who contribute to large projects for the hell of but they are few and far between. (I'm ignoring the plethora of small projects that people knock up to scratch an itch).

While I'm not defending Google and do think it is a poor choice to not open source it immediately I doubt doing so would make any noticeable improvements over developing under a closed source until they think it's ready.

I've open source various apps, libraries and snippets over the years and I've never done so until I'm happy with the code.

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Linux

errrr

not really... the reason iFanbois comment on the "open" problem is that the silly iHaters have been touting the magical openness of Android as the reason why it's so much better.

The better educated ones admit that the user experience is still somewhat rough around the edges, with weird behaviours and inconsistencies billed as features rather than bugs. "But at least it's 'open'", they say.

Apparently not...

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@AC 04:45 GMT, AC 13:22 GMT

@04:45: I'm not sure you've understood my point. Or, more probably, I haven't understood yours. I was trying to make it clear how little most people care whether Android is open source. Whether an OS is open source is a completely unrelated issue to whether it has an open market in applications, Microsoft Windows being the obvious evidence — it has the most diverse market possible and not one jot of it is open.

@13:22: your post has no basis in reality. It's a simple troll. Nobody is bickering about Android 3.0 not yet being open source, it's a simple fact. Quite a lot of people, like me, are pointing out that it doesn't matter in the slightest. You're also wrong to state that Apple's market share is shrinking, as it's still growing, and growing faster than the market as a whole. However, it's growing substantially less quickly than Android definitely did during 2010 and probably still is, and Android shipments were ahead of iOS shipments if you restrict numbers to phones only.

Again, all facts. But this is the Internet, so I'm sure you can find someone who will take your bait.

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Flame

famous essay on this topic

Its a mistake for Google to close the source off from the public anytime ever. Eric Raymond explains why much better than I can. But then again Googles biz model has always been to monetize others work so maybe it does makes business sense.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/

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And, in 2004, the Sharp V402SH had c,c&P

http://www.mobilegazette.com/sharp-v602sh-v402sh.htm

This phone was KEWL, but i lost it after returning to the US. The packaging included quick guides and thicker E & J user manuals. It had a charging dock, nice stereo headphones, and it cost only ONE YET in December 2004 because it was "obsolete", said the salesman at Yodabashi. ONE YEN. FM radio, TV tuner (which worked in the US, but was bout 1 channel number off due to the Earth's magnetic field ).

That was a fine fone.

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FAIL

Straw man

The iPhone app store is Apple's private fiefdom. Apple are clearly acting in the position of "The State" here, as they have the final say over what is permitted.

It would be a free market if, and only if, iOS permitted you to download and run apps from anywhere.

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Which begs the question

If they are not happy with the code, why are Google allowing the manufacturers to sell it in a compiled form?

You can paint things how you want, but the fact is that source code is either open or closed. Currently, Android Honeycomb is closed source. Whether Google intend to open it later or not is irrelevant.

Google, as a company, are considerably more closed than Apple. At least Apple are honest about how they monitor users. Google aren't.

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Stop

Maybe not

It strikes me that from a few comments coming out of Google regarding Honeycomb that they have not fully thought through how they are going to develop it into a multi-platform version which would be critical to the future of the OS.

Perhaps they are embarrassed at the extent to which it is not really ready and rushed through to give the likes of Samsung et al something to get tablets onto the market with. I wouldn't be surprised if the next version was radically different from Honeycomb when they factor in a way to support smaller form factors.

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My own take

Although I have no idea about anything (as usual) my guess is that the people at Google have chucked it out onto the market as essentially a beta. (Of course, no other Google service is rbought to market as a beta...) That's great and all, but you probably don't want to release the source code out to people until it's cleaned up. I can see this, and have done similar things myself (although not with open source code, but with articles, and research data), but when there are licences involved, it gets a bit tricky.

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Welcome

early adopters, bless you all

I too think that honeycomb isn't ready either and there are probably big gaping security holes and bugs. The problems come from all the new tablet manufacturers trying to get on to the market because they have been left behind. What it does mean is that I'm not going to be an early adopter for a tablet with honeycomb (not that I am an early adopter of anything). Let the <strike>fools</strike> brave pioneers beta test it for you.

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@DavCrav

<quote>but you probably don't want to release the source code out to people until it's cleaned up</quote>

You mean, until Google have removed all the license headers and Java source code comments!

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Damn!

You beat me to it!

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Methinks the lady doth protest too much

I merely interpret Google's stance as "we built this thing in a hurry and suspect there are gaping security holes, which we would like to fix before releasing the source code."

Oh, and the stuff was written in six different coding styles so we need to polish that too....

Sometimes I think The Register wants to be The Sun, making up stories where none exist.

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