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Dell Releases Streak Source Code 83

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the streaking-through-the-build dept.
RandyDownes writes "Members of the developer community called Dell out for not releasing the complete source code for the Android-powered slate, thus violating the GPL. Dell has since complied and released the total custom Android 1.6 ROM to the public. Maybe now someone can get the minitablet/smartphone to run Froyo without breaking everything."
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Dell Releases Streak Source Code

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:26PM (#33581298)

    According to the license, you have to release source and binaries at the same time. In practice, you don't have to release the source until someone asks, then waits for a while, then asks again, then waits, then asks through a lawyer, after which you could probably stall for at least a few months before you had to really decide how much you were willing to spend.

  • by daid303 (843777) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:33PM (#33581376)

    Be careful that you don't become what you are fighting.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:07PM (#33581754)

    GPL gets rather sticky in where the limitation ends on whats required to be included.

    For instance one of the GPL requirements is a bit about the scripts and toolchain required to compile the code.

    Its not entirely clear to what extent that goes. My interpretation of it is that you couldn't distribute something that required say an MS CC specific option because you would also be required to distribute the MS CC in some what (source or binary is also unclear).

    The general consensus however from the OSS community at large is that it means you have to distribute the scripts that call special tools, but not the tools themselves. You would have to include your batch file that builds using MS CC, but not MS CC itself.

    GPL wants to consume everything it touches where ever possible. Unfortunately, that wouldn't go over well and would have required basically someone to invent a GPL'd computer that you could then start making GPL'd software on, but you'd have to base that on a GPL'd universe. Which ... clearly is a ludicrous idea, so rather than try to enforce that to its fullest extent, the community generally accepts a certain, not carved in stone, cutoff point that generally leaves build tools out of the distribution chain.

    If those bits are ever challenged it could cause significant problems for GPL and its users. Rather than going to court over such things, both sides don't want to risk the potential outcome of a court case going wrong, so both sides (GPL users and proprietary license users) generally meet in the middle to avoid hassle. Only occasionally does something get big enough to cause a community uproar to get the lines more clearly drawn. This thing with Dell is an example of Dell not wanting to push the issue really after the community pushed back.

    Most of the community are not likely to push much harder as most people accept that certain bits of code for hardware can't be released even if Dell wants to because they simply don't have the right to do so. Rather than forcing Dell to play by the rules, which would mean the end of Android on that particular device, the community backs off and lets them get by.

    Most everyone wins in the end, with a few rare corner cases and a handful of geeks that bitch about 'not getting everything' because they want to convince people they really do need to tweak some driver because they 'know better' ... never mind the fact that their fully 'tweaked' systems have uptimes too short to post a message this long on slashdot before it crashes.

    You can't please everyone, this is the middle ground.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:58PM (#33582008)

    Tell that to NVIDIA and their binary blob.

  • by Rix (54095) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:11PM (#33582754)

    But it's not what the license actually says:

    Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange

    There's no timeframe specified, and the license was written at a time where these things would quite often be done on postal timeframes.

    I'm all for holding companies that actually violate the GPL to the fire, but when people pitch a fit about a simple delay it makes us all look like jackasses.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:04AM (#33585612) Journal
    Please actually read the GPL. Specifically the section talking about 'mere aggregation'. Or do you think every Linux distribution is violating the GPL too?

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