Pulser_G2 · Jul 2, 2013 at 07:30 pm

OEMs and GPL Compliance

At XDA, we like open source. In fact, you could say we love it. We have a GPL policy to ensure users understand the best ways to follow the GPL, and ensure others can make use of their work to improve all our devices.

Unfortunately though, OEMs often lag behind the efforts of the hobbyist third-party developers. While some OEMs are very commendable with their source releases (namely Sony, on numerous occasions, going above and beyond what is GPL licensed, releasing AOSP device trees), a lot of other OEMs take a lot longer to release sources. But they eventually do, and we should applaud them for that.

Unfortunately though, lately there have been a number of users getting in touch with us to try and raise awareness about some OEMs that do not follow the GPL license, and release devices with Linux kernels but refuse to release the source code. Among the companies we’ve been contacted about, Micromax and Rockchip are two that spring to mind.

One of our forum members contacted Micromax to request GPL source code for their kernel and was met with the following response:

Thank you for your Email, we would like to inform you that we can not provide any kernel source code from our end.

Unfortunately, this Micromax staff worker confirmed that they would not provide GPL-mandated kernel source code, and thus admitted to breaking the GPL. I have no doubt that some people reading this article will have code contributed to the main Linux kernel, and would be in a position to enforce their copyright against Micromax.

With regards to Rockchip, the makers of the popular low-cost RK29xx and RK30xx chipsets often seen in “TV stick” style devices, there are also GPL compliance issues, Specifically, some of the source files have been removed, and left with only the compiled “object files” in place. This permits a kernel to be built from source, but does not satisfy the full requirements of the GPL (as these object files are built directly into the main kernel). This prevents users from modifying a number of important drivers.

We’d love to reach out to Rockchip and Micromax, to help them to become GPL compliant. In addition to maintaining legality, the benefits of following the GPL also include the ability to merge code from the community back into their source trees, thus saving them time and money with fixes. Unfortunately, neither has returned our emails. And while we would still welcome them to get in touch (they can do so at pulser _(at)_ xda-developers.com), it appears likely neither is interested in taking action.

The question is now whether the community can create the necessary pressure to ensure that the law is upheld by abiding by the GPL. We contacted Micromax prior to the publication of this article, and received no response to our request for comment.


_________
Want something on the XDA Portal? Send us a tip!
Jimmy McGee · Mar 4, 2015 at 06:00 am · no comments

Pixie Dust – XDA Game Time!

There are some excellent ‘AAA’ tier games by huge development houses that offer fun, and, most of the time, in-app purchases. There is no doubt that some of these games are great. However, at XDA we like to keep an eye on the little guy. Some of the more successful Android developers have started out as the little guy. Today we celebrate another simple game developed by an XDA member. XDA Senior Member Rolf Smit offers up a 2D sandbox...

XDA NEWS
Mario Tomás Serrafero · Mar 3, 2015 at 04:29 pm · 1 comment

Five New Forums for Latest Phones, Tablet and Smartwatch

The Galaxy S6 Edge, Huawei Watch, Xperia Z4 Tablet, Moto E 2015 and Xperia M4 Aqua all have gotten new forums here at XDA. If you want the latest and greatest in hardware as of now, the Galaxy S6 Edge's top-tier processor, memory, and camera will most likely fulfill your everyday needs with blazing speed, and extra screen-space to boot. Huawei seems to have nailed the smartwatch with their new Huawei Watch, a classy-looking but also durable and powerful Android Wear...

XDA NEWS
Mario Tomás Serrafero · Mar 3, 2015 at 04:00 pm · no comments

Cross-Platform Encrypted Messaging with Signal 2.0

Privacy and security are two increasingly important factors in today's globalized world, and with the surge of internet spying by government agencies and third parties, wiretaps are an everyday thing that don't just concern James Bond anymore. Encryption made its way to the semi-mainstream messaging world with the Telegram platform, but while millions flocked to it, it is still clear that convenience beats privacy for most of smartphone users. After all, with the huge user bases boasted by Whatsapp and the...

XDA NEWS
Share This