The Free Software Foundation Wants to Create a Truly Open Source Mobile OS
Android is already open source though, right? Well technically yes, but also no. While it’s possible to compile AOSP from the readily available source code and get it running on a wide array of devices with relative ease, getting complete functionality is often impossible without some amount of proprietary, device, or OEM specific code. This is not to mention that many of the applications that make the core of the Android experience are closed source. While this may not pose a huge problem to the average user and can be worked around with a little time and effort, it’s simply not good enough for the folks over at the FSF. Thus, they have decided to set about creating a truly open sourced Android experience.
The project, named Replicant, is hoping to provide a distribution of Android that is free from both proprietary code within the OS itself and core applications. This, however, requires devices and devices cost. With support for ten devices currently achieved, including numerous Galaxy devices and the Nexus S, it’s fair to say that a lot of work has already gone into this project and it’s definitely something that appeals to many people. The project is pretty aptly summed up by one of its own developers, Paul Kocialkowski;
“For a long time, it wasn’t possible to operate a mobile phone using free software, even though that is one of the areas of computing where the most important issues are at stake. Replicant is a free Android derivative, while other Android versions usually require nonfree components to actually run on phones. We expect that having our project supported by the Free Software Foundation’s fundraising program will greatly help the project, particularly by enabling us to build support for more phones.”
Being able to offer a donation is far from the only way to help the project along. Any developers who might be interested in this can join the project’s IRC channel if they wish to contribute to discussions. And the average user with a compatible device can simply install Replicant and submit bug reports. Head on over to the FSF site for more information on Replicant and how you can help out.