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Google's Andy Rubin deletes post touting Android as open

updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed December 28, 2011

Rubin downplays Android openness in post removal

Google's mobile VP Andy Rubin has raised questions after he deleted the Twitter post touting Android as open. Posted as a response to the late Steve Jobs' assertions that Android openness is disingenuous, it showed the ability to compile an Android kernel and make a custom build. It's not clear when Rubin took the post down or why.

The withdrawal of the post, the first out of just seven Rubin made, may have been out of respect for Jobs following his death in October. However, it has also followed after mounting debate over the sincerity of Google's claims.

The company is using Android's easy modification as a defense against antitrust investigators and recently posted the Android 4 source code. Critics have noted that Google's open-sourcing is nonetheless highly selective, as it withheld Android 3 source almost entirely and still sets license requirements before developers can have the full Google app set. Unlike most open-source projects, Google also won't take contributed code from outside sources and gives selective early access to companies like Motorola or Samsung.

Many have pointed out that Google does little to protect openness for actual end users. Android phone designers regularly lock the bootloader to prevent custom firmware and, in cooperation with carriers, often prevent users from uninstalling some apps. Hacks to get root access can sometimes get around these, but they often dilute the point of proclaiming an open platform. An iPhone user can have similar freedom through a jailbreak, and only a completely stock, unlocked Android phone like the HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus is guaranteed the openness Google promises without requiring hacks. [via MG Siegler]



By Electronista Staff
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  1. facebook_Jeff

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2011

    -12

    comment title

    Don't get excited, the tweet was deleted since that git location no longer exists after kernel.org was hacked. Therefore making these instruction wrong.

  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +35

    Yeah, so "open" ...

    "withheld Android 3 source" ... "still sets license requirements" ... "won't take contributed code from outside sources" ... "gives selective early access to companies like Motorola or Samsung" ... "lock the bootloader to prevent custom firmware" ... "prevent users from uninstalling some apps" ... wow that sure is open!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. DerekMorr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010

    -25

    *sigh*

    I see the fanboys are continuing their habit of simply clicking thumbs-down on any post they disagree with, regardless of factual merit. How unsurprising.

    Re: chas_m - The licensing requirements are for the Google-developed apps (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Market, etc). Stock Android (AOSP) is open-source and freely available. Essentially, Google makes a plain vanilla version of Android available to anyone who wants it. Most users also want the Google apps, so Google licenses them separately, a process that requires OEMs to pass rigorous compatibility tests (this is part of the reason that "fragmentation" is a myth). See http://source.android.com/faqs.html#what-is-the-role-of-android-market-in-compatibility for more information. The list of compatibility tests is at http://source.android.com/compatibility/index.html

    The original article is also in error regarding patch submission. Google's docs on patch submission are here - http://source.android.com/source/submit-patches.html. Further, the bug tracker is public - http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/list. Anyone can file a bug, add details, or submit a patch at any time. Probably the best-known example of third-party Android patch work is the Linaro project, a non-profit engineering company that works with OEMs to improve Linux on ARM - http://www.linaro.org/. They have made several contributions to Android, such as improving graphics performance (with NEON optimizations), and compiler improvements. They also work to merge ARM optimizations with upstream projects.

    In short, this was just another anti-Android hit piece, inspired by some drivel by MG Siegler. It got picked up by Daring Fireball, and now the usual Apple fanboy sites are having a field day with it. Android is still open.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006

    +12

    @DerekMorr

    Keep livin' the dream - oops, I mean the fantasy.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Dec 2007

    -19

    Really MacNN?

    This is the most speculative piece of trash I have read on this website to date. Are you guys really hurting that bad for ad traffic? Do your homework before you post garbage like this. Your credibility so far? -1

  1. Jubeikiwagami

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2011

    0

    Correct

    Saying Android is pure BS. No wonder it was taken down.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. DerekMorr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010

    -15

    clickers

    To the folks clicking thumbs down - you're only proving my point: You're fanboys who care more about ideology than facts.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008

    +9

    The whole Android OS is made

    of nothing but lies, deceit and theft. It's the Google way.

  1. andres101

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2011

    0

    comment title

    Don't bend down and pickup the soap around this google theives.

  1. DerekMorr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010

    +2

    It's back

    The tweet has reappeared: https://twitter.com/#!/Arubin/status/27808662429

    In other news, nothing has changed. The Android source code, bug tracker, mailing lists, stock image restore files, compatibility tests, SDK, emulator, and docs never changed (despite some guy on Twitter allegedly deleting a year-old tweet that points to a now incorrect URL). Now can we put this linkbait non-story to rest, please?

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