Motorola Releases Kernel Sources for the Moto X4
At XDA-Developers, we put emphasis on kernel sources and especially the GPL that allowed Android to become what it is today. If a manufacturer fails to release kernel sources for a phone, it means that they have violated the GPLv2 license and in turn, violated the spirit of Open Source and the free nature of Android. We have seen many companies and manufacturers not release timely kernel sources, such as Xiaomi, MediaTek and others. It’s a practice that goes against what we value as XDA users and Android enthusiasts, and it makes it harder for us to recommend devices from these companies.
If a manufacturer does not release kernel sources for a device, it’s guaranteed that development is going to be sub-optimal, to say the least. Users can have things like customized stock ROMs, but a bug-free AOSP ROM is pretty difficult to achieve. Manufacturers modify the Android kernel to tweak device settings, enable or disable features, and so on… so unless the source code of these changes is publicly distributed, the development community for that device is crippled from the very beginning.
XDA has frequently urged them to release kernel sources on time. A manufacturer can release kernel sources for a device, but if that particular device was released a year ago then that is not going to be of much help for users of that phone — besides, the GPLv2 doesn’t excuse such incredible delays. That wouldn’t provide any impetus for the developer community. It also sours the relationship between the OEM and the Android community.
It is for this reason that timely releases of kernel sources are crucially important. In this regard, Motorola has done a pretty good job with timely releases at times, although they haven’t had a spotless record. Most recently, the company, acquired by Lenovo in 2014, released kernel sources for the Moto G5S Plus. Now, they have released the sources for the mid-range Moto X4, a smartphone which fits between the Moto G5S Plus (budget range) and the Moto Z2 Force (which is the Motorola flagship for 2017).
Suggested Reading: US District Court Rules GNU GPL is an Enforceable Contract
This should cover both the stock and the Android One variants of the phone, as they share the same ‘Payton’ code name. We hope that this leads to an increase in developer interest for this device, as this will benefit users in the long run. We applaud Motorola for the (somewhat) timely release of kernel sources for the device and also hope that this good run of form continues.