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The Android SDK Is No Longer Free Software 535

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-fragmentation-at-all-costs dept.
New submitter tian2992 writes "The new terms for the Android SDK now include phrases such as 'you may not: (a) copy (except for backup purposes), modify, adapt, redistribute, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or create derivative works of the SDK or any part of the SDK' among other non-Free-software-friendly terms, as noted by FSF Europe's Torsten Grote. Replicant, a free fork of Android, announced the release of Replicant SDK 4.0 based on the latest sources of the Android SDK without the new terms."
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The Android SDK Is No Longer Free Software

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:53AM (#42474435)

    Right?

  • come on! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:56AM (#42474471)

    it is still more open than the iOS SDK, Blackberry and WP

  • Ubuntu Mobile ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:56AM (#42474477) Homepage

    All of a sudden a new market opens for Ubuntu Mobile ;-)

    Seriously, does that impact anyone? The thing is available for free anyway...

  • bad sign (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:15AM (#42474677)

    This looks like it only covers the SDK for now. We will see if this happens to android as a whole.

    I was initially not sure if anyone would use Ubuntu on their phone. Now I am looking forward to the images for nexus devices in the next few weeks.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:16AM (#42474683)

    So much for "don't be evil" ;)

  • by iakoad (2807721) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:16AM (#42474691)
    It impacts people who care about principle the software they use is based upon.
    It also might influence (in part because of the above) future developments in Andriod. Of course, I doubt it will make a large enough difference to matter to most people.
  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:20AM (#42474743)

    The Android platform has some fragmentation problems and there's been endless bitching about them on Slashdot.

    Bullocks. Google could just use their trademark to enforce compliance, you know like OpenJDK does. They could simply only grant the right to use "Android" on distributions certified to be compliant.

    Besides the fragmentation that people were complaining about were cause by Google themselves.

  • by quippe (767072) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:20AM (#42474749)
    I cannot see how restricting the license terms of the SDK could impose barriers to competing manufacturers; it could probably create a barrier for derived works.
    However, it is an evil thing.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:23AM (#42474767)

    All of a sudden a new market opens for Ubuntu Mobile ;-)

    Seriously, does that impact anyone? The thing is available for free anyway...

    Just because it is free today does not mean it will be tomorrow. The fact that Google changed the SDK from being free as in beer to non-free is indicative that they could just as easily change it from also being not free as in paying a fee. Think of it like Walmart moving into a new market -- they heavily undersell the competition until there is little competition left. Then the selection goes down and the prices go up. What is to stop Google from doing the same thing and if they did, where would people go?

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:24AM (#42474777) Homepage Journal

    Uh, what?

    This is the SDK we're talking about. How does closing the SDK, but still distributing it for free to anyone who wants a copy, create a barrier to entry in any market phone manufacturers care about? Do you really think Samsung is saying "OMG! If someone forks the SDK and produces a slightly better development environment for Android phones, WE'LL BE RUINED! RUINED I tell you!"?

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:27AM (#42474809)

    If they did that Android would be forked. People who cared would move to the fork or Ubuntu for Phones or many other currently fringe options. Hell, it might inspire Samsung to make Tizen based superphones.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:28AM (#42474817)

    Ok, I'm not entirely the biggest Google fan but:

    Google has long been willing to compromise on their "do no evil" mantra...

    Evil?? Are you claiming this change to their terms of use is evil??

    Wow. That word has literally lost all meaning, hasn't it...

  • by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:32AM (#42474857)
    No one would give a shit. People buy phones because they like the software / hardware or they trust the brand. They don't care if it's "open" or "free".
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:35AM (#42474895)

    Seriously, does that impact anyone?

    Certainly. Google is just getting around to reducing the fragmentation in the OS levels on the myriad of devices out there, and now there is going to be a proprietary (Google) SDK as well as a fully open (Replicant) SDK. This isn't exactly going to help thin the fragmentation herd.

    Besides, Google has always prided itself in the fact that Android is open source. The new wording doesn't quite seem to hold the same theme as Andy Rubin's snarky twitter entry: "the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

    I like Android. I prefer it over the proprietary shut-up-take-my-money alternative but this is a stupid move by Google to try and keep Ubuntu/HTC/Samsung from gutting Android and creating a competing product.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:39AM (#42474941)

    I'm pretty sure that depends on your definition of "Evil".

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:45AM (#42475015) Journal

    Do I have to pay to use it to build apps? Free as in beer. Most people aren't looking to extract the ethanol to put in their windshield wipers.

  • Re:come on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:47AM (#42475037) Homepage
    Hitler was ok, he didn't kill as many people as Stalin.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:55AM (#42475133)

    onto a mobile handset or any other hardware device except a personal computer

    My N900 is for all purposes a personal computer.

  • by gutnor (872759) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:04AM (#42475241)
    Well that means that if you make an Android derivative, you cannot simply adapt the SDK for it. Indeed in practice, it should not be a problem, however it is still a worrying development. If you intent your platform to be really open, what is the point of tightening control on the SDK ?
  • by runenfool (503) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:16AM (#42475375)

    I just wanted to point out that Apple actually did contribute a significant amount of code back. If BSD had been GPL instead they just would have used another operating system.

  • by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:16AM (#42475377)
    Man, people want to buy a god damn phone, and they'll buy one they like. They don't care or want to care about "open bootloaders" because for the vast majority of people it gives them ZERO advantage. They don't want to load up the latest CM10.1_KANG_super_duper_deodexed_perfect_nobuggs_OC1500 ROM, they want their phones to look pretty, ring when they're supposed to and that's it. You think you can "educate" people, best of luck to you, but you just want to interest people to something they do not want to care about, full stop. For what it's worth, I too own and love my GNexus. It's not a phone for everyone.
  • Re:come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:18AM (#42475401) Homepage Journal

    The church killed merely thousands? I've heard that claim before. It doesn't seem substantial to me. Do those low numbers include young women all through the first two millenia who were victimized by circumstances like the Salem witch hangings? "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live among you."

    I strongly suspect that more than mere thousands were put to death in the Church's name. The native populations in North America didn't fare to well, at the church's hands. Smallpox blankets sent to reservations, for instance. Good "Christian" men taking advantage of the "savages" in thousands of different ways, like selling grain alcohol to the "ignorant savages".

    But, go ahead, whitewash the numbers. The winners do get to write history, from what I'm told.

  • by samkass (174571) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:24AM (#42475461) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, does that impact anyone?

    Certainly. Google is just getting around to reducing the fragmentation in the OS levels on the myriad of devices out there, and now there is going to be a proprietary (Google) SDK as well as a fully open (Replicant) SDK. This isn't exactly going to help thin the fragmentation herd.

    Besides, Google has always prided itself in the fact that Android is open source. The new wording doesn't quite seem to hold the same theme as Andy Rubin's snarky twitter entry: "the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

    I like Android. I prefer it over the proprietary shut-up-take-my-money alternative but this is a stupid move by Google to try and keep Ubuntu/HTC/Samsung from gutting Android and creating a competing product.

    It's funny, when Apple released WebKit under that identical definition of "open", there was screaming from all corners until they opened up the whole process as well. Until you can download nightlies of Android and see the current bug list, it's not "open" source, it's "source available". Development is all in secret and you need to sign away all your rights to get anything before it's shipped to users, meaning that while the license is technically open you can't actually use that freedom effectively. Yes, it's more "open" than iOS, but that's not saying much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:38AM (#42475625)

    Its still free as in beer.

  • by Kludge (13653) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:53AM (#42475769)

    No one would give a shit. People buy phones because they like the software / hardware or they trust the brand. They don't care if it's "open" or "free".

    Posts like this are really starting to annoy me.
    Actually some people do care. They're called people who read slashdot. And the people who read slashdot don't really give a shit that 99% of the population does not give a shit. Do you know why? Because we are smarter, more educated and have longer attention spans. Our last 30 years of software experience has taught us that over time open licenses do matter, they do make a difference in the power we have over our own computing devices. Would Android even exist without the open license Torvalds gave Linux? No. You would be stuck choosing between a locked-down Apple phone or a locked-down "Windows" phone. It is because of slashdot-type people that the other 99% have much more choice. You are welcome, you ungrateful asshole.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:55AM (#42475795)

    So much for "don't be evil" ;)

    Who ever REALLY believed that?

    Come on. Google is an ad agency. They sell things. Their business model is selling your privacy. But first they have to sell themselves. Sheesh. And "Don't be evil" is a huge marketing ploy to sell themselves.

    That doesn't make them evil, any more than any other huge multinational corporation is or isn't evil.

    Just don't buy their self-marketing hook, line, and sinker.

    Look at it this way: if they were called "Exxon", would you believe it? But because they're called "Google", you do?

  • by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Friday January 04, 2013 @12:07PM (#42475943)
    You know what? Just because you, I and a hundred other nerds do care does not mean that the millions who buy fucking phones from their operator do, and no matter of sanctimonious whining on slashdot by you will change that.
  • by WilyCoder (736280) on Friday January 04, 2013 @12:32PM (#42476247)

    Four legs good, two legs bad

  • by Flipao (903929) on Friday January 04, 2013 @01:09PM (#42476811)

    No, this was quite a lottle bit evil. As were all the various anticompetitive practices they've been into recently. Many of those have even been directly trying to bring down open source competition, like deliberately polluting OpenStreetMap's data.

    They're just so evil, I mean can you imagine how much better things would be if that stupid Android hadn't showed up?, we'd all be using phones made by Apple or running Windows, now those are companies you want to support, who on earth would want an Open Source OS to be relevant in a consumer market for once, that's preposterous.

    And the OpenStreetMap data, it's so clear that this goes to the highest levels of the company.... oh wait.

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/17/2714044/google-contractors-sacked-vandalism-openstreetmap [theverge.com]

    Sometimes it pays off to have some fucking perspective, here's an obnoxious smiley face right back atcha *:)*

  • by oxdas (2447598) on Friday January 04, 2013 @01:46PM (#42477333)

    The problem I see in this case is that the founders are still completely in control of the company. Brin and Page control over 50% of the voting stock in Google thanks to their B shares being worth 10 times the vote of an A share. The Google founders don't have to listen to the stockholders at all and there is little the stockholders can do to change that.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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