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Facebook dev: Android succeeds as Google caves to carriers

updated 07:55 pm EDT, Wed October 20, 2010

Android's "openness" questioned

Facebook developer Joe Hewitt has questioned Android's status as "open source" software, while arguing that the mobile platform only succeeds because Google yields to carrier demands. Hewitt suggests Android is "no different than iOS" until it becomes "read/write open" and control is shared with the community, "not show and tell," according to a Twitter post.

The developer followed his short jab with further explanation on his blog, where he admitted that Android is "the most open" of any major mobile OS.

"The fact that you can replace the home screen with a third-party launcher or even make your own app store is a clear sign that Google's heart is in the right place," Hewitt said. "However, there is clearly something keeping them from being even more open. That something is probably the carriers, and not Google's management philosophy."

Hewitt went on to argue that Google's flexibility with carrier demands was likely a critical factor pushing Android's success. If Google had prevented the platform from becoming compromised, it "would very likely be irrelevant today."

"It bothers me that so many people's first exposure to the idea of open source is an occasional code drop, and not a vibrant community of collaborators like I discovered ten years ago with Mozilla," Hewitt wrote. "I am hoping that at some point it becomes practical for Google to move Android towards the Firefox model of open source, because I am sure that they want to."



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. starwarrior

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006

    -1

    Monkey Code

    Sorry.

    Can someone please explain to me about open source? Is it not like the large number of monkeys eventually writing the bible by typing on random keys. In the day I did code and the last thing I needed was some hack in the middle of my golden prose. For it would not be golden long.

  1. zz5555

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2007

    +1

    Or not

    You have a complete misunderstanding of open source projects. Being open source does not mean that anyone can come in and change your code. On most projects I've been affiliated with, you need permission from the "owner" of the code to make changes. Some projects allow you to make a copy of the code and make changes yourself (ie, fork the project), but that then becomes an entirely new project, no longer associated with the old one. And to imply that the people working on open source projects are just hackers is pretty naive. On the projects I've worked with, the people working on the projects were either: a) Professional programmers working on their own time, or b) Professional programmers being paid by their companies to work on the project. Incompetent hackers aren't allowed to make changes.

    And if you don't think open source code is any good, you should probably stay away from Apple. The internal bits of the OS and the developer tools are all open source.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: Not exactly

    In Google and Android's case, they don't accept patches from the community and there's no process in place to "promote" a community member into someone with commit access. Also, Google doesn't make their bleeding-edge development code available for download. It only becomes "open" once they ship a release ... and they don't include all of their code in the release either. That's contrary to how open source projects are usually run.

    So, to sum up, Google's Android is like OS X. Except more of it is open (as Apple only opens Darwin, while Android as an OS is opened, it's just Google doesn't open their own apps).

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    different definitions

    Facebook developer Joe Hewitt

    So, are we actually supposed to be impressed with what he says, because he develops for Facebook?

    has questioned Android's status as "open source" software,

    And the problem is people like to make grand ideas of what 'open-source' means, as opposed to actually following the definition. The source-code is open. You can download it, change it, use it. I didn't realize that 'open-source' meant that everyone's opinion on the software mattered (that's how you end up with c***, BTW).

    while arguing that the mobile platform only succeeds because Google yields to carrier demands.

    Apparently he doesn't even understand the concept of open-source. The carriers can take the code and do what they want with it. If they want to lock down their hardware to a specific build of the software, that is their rights under the license. You can make a build of Linux and tie your hardware to it to the point it won't run any modified version or anything. It isn't an Android thing.

    If Google had prevented the platform from becoming compromised, it "would very likely be irrelevant today."

    How has the platform been 'compromised'?

    "It bothers me that so many people's first exposure to the idea of open source is an occasional code drop,

    Yeah, I'm sure everyone who's running an Android phone is saying to themselves "Wow, this is open-source? Open-source sucks!". Most people probably don't know or care that the OS is open-source, or even what that means.

    and not a vibrant community of collaborators like I discovered ten years ago with Mozilla,"

    Which community was that? The one that made Netscape Navigator into the feature bloated hog of Communicator? Or is the group that decided to make a new, slim, and bloat-less browser called Firefox? Or is that the group that has turned Firefox into yet another bloated mess?

    Hewitt wrote. "I am hoping that at some point it becomes practical for Google to move Android towards the Firefox model of open source, because I am sure that they want to."

    Why are you sure that they want to do that? And what would it matter, since the carriers can still do what they want with the OS and lock it down to their hearts content?

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