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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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  • It's amazing that they gave it a premium price and are shipping with 1.6.
    • They're releasing a Froyo update soon(ish). I ordered mine yesterday..

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        Before or after the Motorola Cliq XT gets 2.1?

        • Ah it appears that the planned update for the Streak was to 2.1 and it was released on 1st of May. I'm happy with anything at 1.6 or above at the moment to be honest. I have a cheap Chinese Android 1.5 based tablet, and it's great apart from the lack of capacitive screen and being stuck at Android 1.5 (the maker promised that they'd release updates for it but then never did), meaning certain apps, such as the Kindle app - which is obviously pretty major for a tablet device - won't run on it.

          • 1st of September* bleh

          • by AvitarX (172628)

            I tend to agree oon the 1.6 thing.

            A lot of apps need it, and the navigation.

          • Very curious, which cheap Chinese Android tablet? I was toying with picking one up but wasnt sure if they worked, were supported, could be used as a dev platform, etc. Any pointers?
            • It's the "aPad iRobot", seems to be made by the guys at http://hiapad.com/ [hiapad.com]

              To be fair it wasn't their fault that Rockchip decided not to do a 2.1 update for their processors. I actually bought 2 different, but gave the other one (marketed as an aPad "Raptor") to my brother despite having managed to upgrade it to Android 1.6 with a ROM from Slatedroid and it having the Android Market. The iRobot just has a way better quality touchscreen which makes it a pleasure to use compared to the other one I got.

              If you s

  • by M Moogle (164749) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:09PM (#33581122)
    It looks like Dell only released the parts that they're required to under the GPL - so the summary is wrong in saying they released the "total custom Android 1.6 ROM". However, the kernel alone should hopefully help get some custom ROMs started on this thing.
    • It looks like Dell only released the parts that they're required to under the GPL - so the summary is wrong in saying they released the "total custom Android 1.6 ROM"

      Keywords: "It looks like"

      Then you conclude that "...summary is wrong in saying..." Dude, are you sure of what you are alleging? Or did you read your submission before posting?

    • I'd just like to add for those readers not in the know that Android uses Apache licensing. They're not required to publish any modifications to Android, only to the kernel since it's GPL and not Apache. As such, it's highly likely that we'll never see the entire ROM's source code.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AHuxley (892839)
        Thats the profit protecting bait and buy. The product seems 'open', you code for it for free and they make a profit.
        The inner core will not be allowed to be removed. What are they covering? Basic low end, low cost hardware or some nice ad tracking?
        • To paraphrase Jamie Hyneman [It's easy to do things. It's hard to think about what to do]; It's easy code software, it's hard to sell it.

          Marketing sucks. That's why I am a "techie", but don't begrudge the "dark side", their due...
      • by Raenex (947668)

        I'd just like to add for those readers not in the know that Android uses Apache licensing. They're not required to publish any modifications to Android, only to the kernel since it's GPL and not Apache.

        I've always considered Android to be in violation of the GPL, because you can't create a product around a GPL component without making the whole GPL.

        • I'd just like to add for those readers not in the know that Android uses Apache licensing. They're not required to publish any modifications to Android, only to the kernel since it's GPL and not Apache.

          I've always considered Android to be in violation of the GPL, because you can't create a product around a GPL component without making the whole GPL.

          Amazing how popular and successful LAMP servers are which have Apache Licence Apache HTTPD running on GPL software.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            LAMP servers aren't distributed as a single product. They're assembled from components by the server operator. Now, if somebody bundled up a LAMP stack and shipped it as a product, then the GPL would come into play.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Please actually read the GPL. Specifically the section talking about 'mere aggregation'. Or do you think every Linux distribution is violating the GPL too?
          • by Raenex (947668)

            Please actually read the GPL. Specifically the section which include the following statements:

            "b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License. "

            "If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and it

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TheRaven64 (641858)
              Nice selective highlighting, but you didn't do what I asked. Instead, you stopped just short of the bit I specifically told you to read. The very next paragraph after the bit that you quote states:

              In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License.

              i.e. the GPL specifically permits this and neither Android, nor any other Linux distribution, needs to be GPL'd as a whole.

              I even gave you the term (mere aggregation) to search the license for in my last post, yet somehow you managed to miss this paragraph.

              • by Raenex (947668)

                I'm well aware of that clause. The whole point is that the other parts of the license cover what is being done with Android. You can't just ignore it and point to "mere aggregation". The very sentence before that says:

                "Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program."

                "mere aggregation" would be unrelated programs bei

  • They weren't violating the GPL - it does not specify a time requirement, and a few months is hardly unreasonable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      An offer for the source (or the source) is supposed to ship with the binaries.

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      That actually looks like a pretty big loophole, if true. However, and I'm going on recollection here, I'm pretty sure it specifies that the code must be released as soon as the binaries are released publicly. Would someone who speaks legalese care to check?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:40PM (#33581448) Homepage

          According to the license, you have to release source and binaries at the same time.

          No, according to the license, you have to provide it when asked for it. Otherwise mailing out floppies wouldn't have been allowed under the GPL.

          • by luther349 (645380)
            yep someone asked so dell delivered. gpl has no time limit for releasing the code. if nobody ask you never have to.
            • by gman003 (1693318)
              Huh. Well that is a bit of a loophole. If you make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to contact the business, you might be able to get away with breaking the GPL. And, judging by tech support, companies have gotten very good at avoiding contact with consumers on the consumer's terms.

              It won't work for big enough projects, but small ones could do it, for some time. Of course, it would be somewhat pointless. The only reason to close-source it would be to protect a patent or trade secret, but it would
        • It says nothing of the kind.

      • by Rix (54095)

        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

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by dissy (172727)

      They weren't violating the GPL - it does not specify a time requirement, and a few months is hardly unreasonable.

      The GPL doesn't need to have a time requirement, because the time requirement is coded in copyright law.

      Copyright law says the very moment (a time requirement) you distribute something, you by law are required to be licensed to distribute it by the copyright holder.

      So the very second Dell distributed it, they were in violation of copyright law, because they did not have any license to distribute

      • by bieber (998013) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:33PM (#33582280)
        Why is this nonsense being modded up? The GPL very explicitly states that you must include the source code or an offer to produce source code on demand.

        b) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, to give anyone who possesses the object code either (1) a copy of the Corresponding Source for all the software in the product that is covered by this License, on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange, for a price no more than your reasonable cost of physically performing this conveying of source, or (2) access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge.

        • by swillden (191260)

          The GPL very explicitly states that you must include the source code or an offer to produce source code on demand.

          Did they provide a written offer to produce source code on demand? If not, they were out of compliance. If they did include the written offer, but didn't actually provide the source on demand, then they were out of compliance.

          If they were out of compliance, then they were infringing on the Linux copyrights.

          • by adolf (21054)

            IANAL, but I think that including the text of the GPL is sufficient to constitute "a written offer."

            Otherwise, I've got a lot of things which are GPL violators, from an old Sony TV, to my GPS, to a CD with Ubuntu on it -- none of which came with a written offer for source code, but all of which came with a copy of the GPL.

            • I imagine the written offer has to include contact information. Otherwise, there's no way to take them up on it!

              • by adolf (21054)

                I imagine that all of the things I listed came with contact information.

          • The words "on demand" are not in it.

            • by swillden (191260)
              No, but there's an implicit assumption of delivery in a reasonable time frame. As for the phrase "on demand", I was just repeating what bieber said.
      • by luther349 (645380)
        bzzt wrong. gpl says source must be available by request or public. meaning i never have to post my source on gpl software if i made any but only hand it out to people that ask of course at that point it would be pointless not to just upload it to a public server. if i do not comply with at least the asking part then you can scream gpl volition. but people never ask for anything when it comes to gpl they just demand. i bet asking dell first would have gotten a result. rather then scream gpl volition. even M
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      They weren't violating the GPL - it does not specify a time requirement, and a few months is hardly unreasonable.

      It doesn't specify a time requirement because there isn't one, because it is a distribution license. You may not distribute the software without being willing to distribute the source on request. They have been in violation of the license from the first unfulfilled request for the sources.

      • Obviously the were willing to distribute the source, since they have, and obviously there have been no unfulfilled requests.

        Again, there is not a time requirement in the GPL. So long as they do, eventually, give you the source they are not in violation. Especially when the do so within the cliche "please allow 6-12 weeks for processing".

        If six months down the line they still haven't responded, perhaps a polite but pointed rejoinder is warranted, but pitching a fit now just makes you look like a jackass.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Again, there is not a time requirement in the GPL. So long as they do, eventually, give you the source they are not in violation. Especially when the do so within the cliche "please allow 6-12 weeks for processing".

          You have this totally ass-backwards. You are not permitted to distribute the software if you are not in compliance with the license. There is no waiting for a time because no time has been specified. If you seek an injunction on this basis, and your lawyer is worth a crap, you will likely get it. Too lazy to go find the matching clause in GPLv3 but in GPLv2 it specifically said your sole remedy for license noncompliance is to cease distribution. It's not to cease distribution next thursday. It's to cease di

          • Dell is and was in compliance with the license. They were are and willing to provide the source.

            A little googling suggests the first request was something like three weeks ago. Do you really think this justifies all this drama?

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              A little googling suggests the first request was something like three weeks ago. Do you really think this justifies all this drama?

              Nope.

              • Sure, if Dell (or anyone else) is really avoiding giving out source, have at them. But lets leave the torches and pitchforks in our pants for at least six months.

  • by Meshach (578918) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:12PM (#33581148)
    The reason for the about face is probably a lawsuit against cisco from the Free Software Federation [appscout.com]. This is a good thing that the actions of the FSF are forcing other companies to properly comply with the open source licenses they choose.
  • Dell really seems to be behind with their current Android offerings. The device itself looks very enticing, but the software not so much. Does anyone have hands-on experience with it? Would it be worth a purchase?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have one and I like it a lot. Screen looks great and it's big enough for me to actually read on (ebooks, PDFs, full web pages). The software has some weak spots, to be sure, but not enough to motivate me to try to flash the O2 2.1 ROM. Bottom line, if you want the form factor, "Biggest phone-tablet you can carry in your pocket", it's you're only choice and it doesn't have any fatal flaws, so yeah, it would be worth the a purchase. If you're looking for the slickest Android showcase you can get yo

  • It's a stupid idea to release a device that's still using Android 1.6. Everyone else is wondering if they can upgrade to Android 2.2 and new phones are being built with an eye to Android 3 support and Dell releases an antiquated, obsolete-on-arrival Android 1.6 phone. Perhaps they should just stick with really basic customizations and upgrade to a plain vanilla Android 2.2. They don't have to release that much source code, they don't have to do that much work, and they'll get far better user buy-in than thi

    • by luther349 (645380)
      i know i hate that. your cheap tablets on the market are all 1.6 and your going wtf its not even worth 5$ with that old os on it. and hardware makers never release a update for anything.
    • Yeah, I read about this device and said the same thing, "Android 1.6?" They probably had this in the works for too long, and released it with what they knew was ready to work. That doesn't mean there won't be updates soon, and it certainyl doesn't mean it won't be hackable with aftermarket firmware. For example, I have T-Mobile's G1, which only supports 1.6, and came with 1.5, but I have successfully run Cyanogenmod 2.1 firmware, and now have 2.2 running fine. The hardware may or may not require some work-a
  • Only the Android kernel is under the GPL license and thus compels companies to release the source code for their modifications. The majority of the OS is under the Apache license and thus carries no such requirement . . .

    Just an FYI . . .

  • by sgtrock (191182) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:47AM (#33586186)

    Yes, Dell screwed up. Yes, they should have known better. However, once someone pointed out the error of their ways, they moved to resolve the problem about as fast as any large company can.

    Compare what Dell did to what Cisco has done. The FSF was finally forced to file a lawsuit to get their attention because Cisco couldn't even be bothered to _talk_ to the the FSF about their GPL violations, let alone resolve them.

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