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Richard Stallman wades into Android

by on20 September 2011

It is not open it is just free
Open source guru Richard Stallman has been thinking a lot about Google's Android software and come to the conclusion that he does not like it.

Writing in the Guardian, Stallman said that Android is an operating system primarily for mobile phones, which consists of Linux (Torvalds's kernel), some libraries, a Java platform and some applications. Linux aside, the software of Android versions 1 and 2 was mostly developed by Google; Google released it under the Apache 2.0 license, which is a lax free software license without copyleft. The Linux version is not entirely free software, since it contains non-free "binary blobs" some of which are really used in some Android devices.

Android platforms use othernon-free firmware, too, and non-free libraries. Some of the applications that generally come with Android are non-free, too.

He said that Android was different from the GNU/Linux operating system because it contains very little of GNU. Stallman admitted that Google has complied with the requirements of the GNU General Public License for Linux, but the Apache license on the rest of Android does not require source release.

He said that Google has said it will never publish the source code of Android 3.0 though executables have been released to the public. Android 3.1 source code is also being withheld. Thus, Android 3, apart from Linux, is non-free software, pure and simple.

Stallman thinks that Google might intend to turn Android proprietary permanently; that the release of some Android versions as free software may have been a temporary ploy to get community assistance in improving a proprietary software product.

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