back to article Steve Jobs vindicated: Google Android is not open

If you needed further proof that Android is not an "open platform", Google just supplied it. On Thursday, the company said that as its select partners release the first tablets based on Android "Honeycomb" – the latest version of its mobile operating system – it will not open source the Honeycomb code. As first reported by …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems

    Open source is only open until someone thinks they can make more money by closing it.

    1. John Bailey


      Open source is when the source code made available for inspection. Modification/distribution rights depend on the license. Unless you want to argue with The Steve, who claims that h264 is open because you can take a peek at the source (as far as I remember).

      And unless you can point to a statement from Google saying they will not at any time open the code, it is currently "pending" source publication, not, as the article heading seems to imply, closed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        @John Bailey

        You hit the nail right on! And so we can better understand why the Free and Open source software concept has been defined.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Wrong John Bailey

          The Open Source definition states "The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form."

          There's no concept of pending release.

          Honeycomb is being distributed in compiled form, there's no source available thus Honeycomb is NOT open source no matter how you paint it, and the article is correct. QED

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Jobs Horns

          Free Versus Open

          Yes, too often it is misunderstood Free Software relates to "free as in speech" not "free as in beer." Google provide open source and are declining to do so for a while in this case to match their own strategic ends showing "open" and "free" are divorced when you can keep HEAD (non-geek readers, that's a coding term) under wraps. Thus proving Android is not free of Google or uncertainty as to how they might wish to take it or, indeed, license it in the future (fair enough but you should be up front about this and you remain free to fork an older branch minus location and the app store). As I understand it, Google have never themselves claimed Android is free software. So it seems, for those who may have been confused about this, Google are simply demonstrating another category of free applies here alongside being (not quite so) open.

          "free as in suck-my-dick

    2. BrentRBrian

      Compare contributions

      So, lets compare REAL contributions of production code by MS, APPLE and GOOGLE.

      APPLE - zero

      MS - zero

      GOOGLE - well, you get the idea

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        yeah, I get the idea... actual relevant input but look over there, worse stuff....

      2. Pawel 1

        Re: Compare contributions

        So... You're saying webkit isn't production code?

      3. Toggi3

        Jobs/apple is evil, etc etc.

        as far as things open that google, ms, apple have contributed:

        Google contributed to the embedded java scene and android, other little things here and there.

        microsoft as best I can tell has given away almost nothing that is their own work (in any significant portion), .Net is a worthy mention even though it isnt open itself, microsoft works with and allows mono to exist. (anyone feel free to mention anything notable, not much comes to mind)

        Apple has given us numerous things, most of which are extensions or improvements over already existing things like WebKit (from KHTML), Grand Central Dispatch (now in FreeBSD), or how about zeroconf/bonjour? Apple is weird when it comes to how it gets involved in code it gives away, their behavior can be quite two faced.

  2. mmm mmm

    It sounds pretty clear to me

    When they say "While we’re excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones. Until then, we’ve decided not to release Honeycomb to open source." In other words, when it gets released to phones they'll open it up.

    A poor troll by an Apple Fanboi.

    1. RichyS


      But if Android is so 'open' what's stopping them opening up Honeycomb now? After all, from the reviews I've read, they could do with a little help from the open source community in getting it finished.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        <quote>After all, from the reviews I've read, they could do with a little help from the open source community in getting it finished.</quote>

        Not finished? At least it has cut and paste - which is more than fucking Apple or Microshaft could manage.

        1. Ian Davies

          Copy and Paste

          So it fucking should do, they've had long enough to copy the rest of iOS.

          1. JarekG

            RE: "they've had long enough to copy the rest of iOS."

            And how did they do that in the first place? Please do explain this to us little non iCoolAid drinking peons?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              Uh, they bought an iPhone, used it, and copied everything about it. Was that really so hard to understand Jerek?

              1. JarekG

                First of all...

                ...It's JArek (if you gone insult me, get at least my name straight...yes I'm Polish and darn proud of it)

                So what you are saying, apple bought Windows CE device use it and create For Dummy version of it?

              2. hplasm

                Apart from

                the daylight saving adjustment, I suppose?


          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Copy and Paste

            According to this Android didn't have functional copy and paste well after the iPhone already did. Quit making stuff up Android fanboi!

            1. JarekG


              Windows CE had it first, so at least please iCooAid club give Microsoft credit for this.

              Not an Android fanboi, just like cool toys that I can use...had iPhone and hated it.

              Currently using Xperia with Windows Mobile 6.1 (with couple of my own applications that just work the way I wan them to work).

            2. dssf

              And, in 2004, the Sharp V402SH had c,c&P


              This phone was KEWL, but i lost it after returning to the US. The packaging included quick guides and thicker E & J user manuals. It had a charging dock, nice stereo headphones, and it cost only ONE YET in December 2004 because it was "obsolete", said the salesman at Yodabashi. ONE YEN. FM radio, TV tuner (which worked in the US, but was bout 1 channel number off due to the Earth's magnetic field ).

              That was a fine fone.

        2. RichyS

          @Stike Vomit

          Cool your boots man.

          The cut'n'paste argument is well over. Even WinPho7 has it now.

          But Google seem to continue with their releasing beta software approach with the Windows XP/Tron mash-up abomination that is Honeycomb. I've not read a review yet that doesn't say it has rough edges. Maybe you know something different.

      2. Term

        Honeycomb on Phones

        From everything I've read, Google don't want, for what ever reason, to have Honeycomb on normal hand-held phones. Once they release the source code there will be a custom ROM available the next day for jail broken phones.

        Personally I think Google will release the code only after they have merged the tablet and phone codes branches, thus making it pointless for the hackers to make a Honeycomb ROM for hand-helds.

        Flame away....

        1. vic 4
          Thumb Up

          Flame Off

          I think you have hit the nail on the head. The current honeycomb is merely a stop gap to ensure android tablets don't get left behind, it is a long way off what they are aiming for, guess they don't think it's worth releasing a target that is moving considerably.

          I'd personally like to see it opened though/

      3. vic 4
        Thumb Down

        Open Source Community

        Why do people still think there are legions of developers out there who work for nothing, sure there is the odd person who contribute to large projects for the hell of but they are few and far between. (I'm ignoring the plethora of small projects that people knock up to scratch an itch).

        While I'm not defending Google and do think it is a poor choice to not open source it immediately I doubt doing so would make any noticeable improvements over developing under a closed source until they think it's ready.

        I've open source various apps, libraries and snippets over the years and I've never done so until I'm happy with the code.

        1. asdf

          famous essay on this topic

          Its a mistake for Google to close the source off from the public anytime ever. Eric Raymond explains why much better than I can. But then again Googles biz model has always been to monetize others work so maybe it does makes business sense.

        2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          Which begs the question

          If they are not happy with the code, why are Google allowing the manufacturers to sell it in a compiled form?

          You can paint things how you want, but the fact is that source code is either open or closed. Currently, Android Honeycomb is closed source. Whether Google intend to open it later or not is irrelevant.

          Google, as a company, are considerably more closed than Apple. At least Apple are honest about how they monitor users. Google aren't.

    2. Volker Hett

      makes sense

      It's open source which is not jet opened to the public.

      1. DavCrav


        "It's open source which is not jet [sic] opened to the public."

        ""..."not yet open...". Ah right, got ya. I think.

        1. Volker Hett

          3 dimensional approach

          and sorry for the spelling, I live in a non english speaking country.

      2. Chad H.

        @ Volker Hett

        Which still doesnt account for the redmond-esque tactics over skyhook.

        I though open included "I can do what I like to it".

        1. Volker Hett


          That would be BSD license, but only as long as you don't like to rip out others copyright notices :)

          I ran a whole bunch of software on HP-3000 and 9000 systems in the 90s which I had in source, one application is still running on a SCO OpenServer V 5.0.4 virtual machine at this moment.

          Porting from MPE to HP-UX and to SCO or even Linux or BSD was part of the contract, as was adapting the software to our needs.

          That's open source, at least to the customer.

          It's not Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) like GNU or BSD

    3. ThomH

      @mmm mmm

      It's nothing like a poor troll. The point isn't that Android is worse than iOS because it's not open, it's that Google are wrong to say it's open because it's demonstrably not according to their own test. And promising it will be again in the future isn't the same.

      To be honest, I think that anybody that relies on "it's open" as the cornerstone of their advocacy for a consumer-facing embedded operating system has already lost the argument. To advocate Android you should focus on the free market in applications, the price and the diversity of devices, none of which this article disputes and none of which are affected by the news it covers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The free market for application is not at all free on a closed proprietary platform. See Apple App Store.

        1. Conner_36

          Really... Free Market?

          And I can't seem to get my groceries at DSW (a shoe store chain). WTF.........

          Free market is a la wiki "Advocates of a free market traditionally consider the term to imply that the means of production is under private, not state control."

          Last I checked Apple isn't a state institution. They allow anyone to apply to the dev program and sell their wares as long as they are appropriate in Apple's terms, for their store. Apple doesn't stop anyone from posting their own developed code online (cite VLC).

          As much as Apple has their distortion field, Google is using "open" as their own. It's convenient for a software developer that makes their revenue from adds to get people 'locked in' to free services that bring in ad revenue. I honestly think they could give a crap about the software as long as people are using their products to get ad revenue. Look at how arcane google search is compared to bing. They saw a new market to bring in ad revenue but as developing software goes, they have a tiny drop in the bucket compared to Microsoft and Apple.

          I applaud Microsoft for taking it slow and getting things right the first time around. I have no inclination to use the command-line to tailor my phone experience. When my contract is up I might switch from my iPhone to WP7 because I know that the user experience wasn't thrown together by hackers. I will be surprised the day google has a complete glitch free experience.

          rant over.

          1. A J Stiles

            Straw man

            The iPhone app store is Apple's private fiefdom. Apple are clearly acting in the position of "The State" here, as they have the final say over what is permitted.

            It would be a free market if, and only if, iOS permitted you to download and run apps from anywhere.

        2. ThomH

          @AC 04:45 GMT, AC 13:22 GMT

          @04:45: I'm not sure you've understood my point. Or, more probably, I haven't understood yours. I was trying to make it clear how little most people care whether Android is open source. Whether an OS is open source is a completely unrelated issue to whether it has an open market in applications, Microsoft Windows being the obvious evidence — it has the most diverse market possible and not one jot of it is open.

          @13:22: your post has no basis in reality. It's a simple troll. Nobody is bickering about Android 3.0 not yet being open source, it's a simple fact. Quite a lot of people, like me, are pointing out that it doesn't matter in the slightest. You're also wrong to state that Apple's market share is shrinking, as it's still growing, and growing faster than the market as a whole. However, it's growing substantially less quickly than Android definitely did during 2010 and probably still is, and Android shipments were ahead of iOS shipments if you restrict numbers to phones only.

          Again, all facts. But this is the Internet, so I'm sure you can find someone who will take your bait.

    4. Jeremy Chappell


      So it is closed. They say they will open it up later (whenever later is - after Android 4.0 perhaps?)

      But as of today, it is closed.

      If you want to try and delude yourself, fine, but the story stands.

      Case (and source) closed.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe not

    It strikes me that from a few comments coming out of Google regarding Honeycomb that they have not fully thought through how they are going to develop it into a multi-platform version which would be critical to the future of the OS.

    Perhaps they are embarrassed at the extent to which it is not really ready and rushed through to give the likes of Samsung et al something to get tablets onto the market with. I wouldn't be surprised if the next version was radically different from Honeycomb when they factor in a way to support smaller form factors.

  4. DavCrav

    My own take

    Although I have no idea about anything (as usual) my guess is that the people at Google have chucked it out onto the market as essentially a beta. (Of course, no other Google service is rbought to market as a beta...) That's great and all, but you probably don't want to release the source code out to people until it's cleaned up. I can see this, and have done similar things myself (although not with open source code, but with articles, and research data), but when there are licences involved, it gets a bit tricky.

    1. Mr Floppy

      early adopters, bless you all

      I too think that honeycomb isn't ready either and there are probably big gaping security holes and bugs. The problems come from all the new tablet manufacturers trying to get on to the market because they have been left behind. What it does mean is that I'm not going to be an early adopter for a tablet with honeycomb (not that I am an early adopter of anything). Let the <strike>fools</strike> brave pioneers beta test it for you.

    2. RichyS


      <quote>but you probably don't want to release the source code out to people until it's cleaned up</quote>

      You mean, until Google have removed all the license headers and Java source code comments!

      1. A. Nervosa


        You beat me to it!

  5. poohbear

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much

    I merely interpret Google's stance as "we built this thing in a hurry and suspect there are gaping security holes, which we would like to fix before releasing the source code."

    Oh, and the stuff was written in six different coding styles so we need to polish that too....

    Sometimes I think The Register wants to be The Sun, making up stories where none exist.

    1. a_been


      that be "the foreseeable future"?

    2. Chris 3

      You're probably right...

      I think you probably have it exactly right. But that doesn't actually negate the truth of El Reg's article.

  6. Thomas Wolf

    not much to see in this article - run along now

    What a waste of 5 minutes of my life. Android is not open because....Google decided to wait a little longer than usual to open source the Honeycomb release? Android is not open because...some apps, like Google Maps (which, by definition, are not part of the operating system) aren't open source? Android is not open because....Google holds a trademark on the word 'Android'?

    Does anyone else think the author's been smoking too much of whatever Steve Jobs is dealing in?

    1. John Bailey

      Expect it to get more and more shrill..

      iFanboy panic stations.. Man the RDF..

      The iPhone was "dominating" the smartphone industry at first too.. Although I seem to remember, it never got above about second place.. Now it's been demoted to third, or is it fourth in sales. And all the iSuperior points are getting knocked over one by one. Soon all they will have is the claims of "user experience" and "polish". Both entirely subjective unquantifiable aspects.

      iPads have been in the news for big sales over the last year. But are up to now uncontested in their category. So the smear must come in to boost the RDF. To at least prolong Apple "dominating" something other than their customers.

      And the self congratulating "Nobody can make a tablet as good or as cheap as Apple" screeching point will be transitory at best.

      So expect more references to Android being sued, Android breaking GPL, despite claims to the contrary from people who wrote the license, Android not being open, Android having cooties..

      The whole article was basically one big fanboy PR exercise. Quite sad really.. Deep down they can see themselves back at 5% of the market like they are with PCs.

      And who is Steve "h264 is open" Jobs to accuse anybody of stretching the definition of open source?... I'll take the word of techs over jumped up salesmen any day.

      1. Conner_36
        Jobs Halo

        I seem to recall...

        When the iPhone first came out Apple was saying it would be happy to get even 1% of the phone market. Apple has't said that they are in the phone biz to be #1 in handsets sold, but last I checked they have over 50% of smartphone revenue.

        "Soon all they will have is the claims of "user experience" and "polish". Both entirely subjective unquantifiable aspects."

        The Apple user experience isn't always quantifiable. Thats why they have Apple stores. Unless you've used an Apple product first hand is seems like fluff and BS. Even then they don't exactly show you (unasked) the cool things you can do in OS X (X11, Xcode, Terminal,...).

        As for 'who is Steve "h264 is open" Jobs'? He is the person who has captivated and pushed 'tech' geniuses to push art (pixar) and technology to new heights. Apple has plenty or real open source projects . Any salesman knows that most consumers couldn't give a crap what makes the computer tick as long as it gets them on Facebook.

        "And the self congratulating "Nobody can make a tablet as good or as cheap as Apple" screeching point will be transitory at best."

        You're right! That point is already gone. Samsung has the same economies of scale and what do you know? they're releasing tablets at the 499 price point!!! Good luck seeing any other company keeping healthy margins at that price point. Lets be realistic how many massive tech (hardware) companies are there? I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years it will be Apple Samsung (with windows or android) and HP left with significant market share in the tablet market.

      2. DF118

        Android has cooties

        Like it!

        1. kissingthecarpet
          Paris Hilton

          Great Nick...

          Who remembers DF's now, eh? Fond memories

          Paris probably likes a prescription pill or two as well...

  7. pan2008


    Well, looks like google want to make some money out of this. So do your contributions for free then Google can make extra money. If it makes it faster, cause it's lacking in speed compared to iphone and windows phone 7 go ahead. But can they actually make it closed source assuming the had some contributions already?

  8. bex

    yes but no but yes

    smacks of the apple grip of death videos to show other phones have problems with antenna's too

  9. BorkedAgain
    Big Brother

    Oh heck.

    I guess they're evil after all. Dagnabbit.

    That's what I'm supposed to say, right? Did I miss my cue?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Great fun seeing the Android crowd coming up with silly excuses. Google really has them wrapped around their finger.

  11. Arctic fox

    To all practical intents and purposes this story would only....... relevant instead of nitpicking if the author has evidence that Google intends to *permanently* hold back Honeycomb. I would be most interested in seeing such evidence.

  12. Patrick 8

    welcome tn the future

    Google is the new Microsoft

    1. DF118
      Paris Hilton


      ...sparkling insight

  13. Tom 38

    It's not open source - yet

    One of the tenets of open source software is that if you have a device running the software, you can make your own changes to the software.

    The FSF define four distinct freedoms that can help you determine whether something is 'free software' ('free' as in 'speech', not 'free' as in 'beer'):

    The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

    The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).

    The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    Any user buying a Honeycomb based tablet will have freedom 0, but they are excluded from freedoms 1, 2 and 3 by Google's reticence at releasing shipping code. It is demonstrably un-free.

    BTW, I read Google's reasons differently to most others. I think they made a tablet OS, designed for beefy devices, without too much care for memory/cpu usage. If this were to be open sourced now, before they have made performance improvements, it would run like a dog on less well specified devices, like earlier android phones. This would make android look bad, and so they don't want that to happen.

    1. Grumpy Old Fart

      Open not Free

      But Google never claimed it was Free (or Libre), just Open, which is just numbers 0 and 1 on your list.

      Which it is, or will be once they've cleaned it up a bit.

      If they don't disclose the source in, say, a couple of months maybe? Then you can start wondering about the intentions. Until then, since they have opened all the rest of the Android code, I think they deserve the benefit of any doubt.

      Troll, obviously, because of the massive iTroll in this nonsense of an article.

  14. Rex Alfie Lee

    Well shut the f##ks up...

    Who knew? This is outrageous. Obviously Steve is the right man for the job because you can trust him, right?

    You absolute wally. Nothing unknown in this story. Google always makes sure it works before open-sourcing Android unlike the releases by Microsoft in the past releasing crap that never worked. We also know that Google's various apps are closed.

    So what was the news & do you really understand how stupid you are for writing it? It clearly shows your noad towards Apple & of course your hero, Steve Jobs. You are a right twat, & hardly deserve the title of journo. It should be twaddler...

  15. JaitcH

    A whole bunch of bull about nothing

    The iPhans chant Android is fractured because there are so many variants.

    Yet when Google decides to lock the software down during what is effectively a beta stage, everyone complains.

    It's like a new house owner trying to move the furniture in before the builders finished building the thing - not very practical.

    It makes eminent sense to restrict access until everything is cleaned up and ready for market before addressing software access.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ERROR: Poor excuse detected, try again

      Beta stage?!? This is in products being sold for real money right now.

    2. RichyS

      @BiatcH: It's still in beta

      So, you Phantards are now admitting Honeycomb is beta...

      Look, we're poking fun at Google because they've been banging on about the 'but it's open' thing for so long (like it actually makes a difference to 90% of users). And now they've been called on it.

      I don't really give a shit, but it's fun winding up little Android boys who've got their panties all bunched up...

      1. BorkedAgain

        Hey Richy...

        What colour's your kettle? :)

        1. RichyS


          Chrome, like my browser! ;-)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

    All your Open Source Efforts are belong to us

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Don't be Google

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

    1. DZ-Jay


      I see what you did there. Clever.


  18. Anonymous Coward

    This article is rubbish

    >>If you needed further proof that Android is not an "open platform",

    Open platform != Open source.

    >>it will not open source the Honeycomb code.

    They said they aren't going to open the code "yet". Do you know how to read or are you ignoring words on purpose?

    >> will delay the distribution of Honeycomb

    You just contradicted yourself.

    >>Google and its partners don't want smaller name manufacturers eating

    >> into their tablet sales.

    And so what? Is it against some unwritten rules for Goggle to try to make money?

    >>names nabbing pieces of code for their own tablet OSes.

    What exactly would they nab? The kernel can be downloaded from all the UI stuff is going to be written for Android, so unless you basically copy the whole user environment you wouldn't gain anything..

    >>Google has always billed Android as an open source operating system,

    And it is.. because they are delaying one release doesn't mean that all the code has suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth.

    >>but the latest version has always been developed behind closed doors.


    >> some pieces of the platform – including the Google Android Marketplace

    >>and app like Google Maps –

    The market isn't part of the platform. If you had ever developed an Android application you would know that the Google API's like Maps aren't part of the Android platform.

    >>Google also maintains control over the Android trademark.


    >>can't build true Android devices unless they play by Google's rules.

    They can't use the market if they don't play by googles rules (which include the ability to use ADB etc.. which is good for users). There is nothing stopping you from releasing an Android device without the market or extra google API's.

    >>Google did not make a public announcement that it is not open sourcing the code.

    Why would they announce something they aren't going to do? They will release the code when it's ready. Why would they announce "we aren't going to release the code" when they intend to release it?

    >>In October, when Steve Jobs publicly

    Steve Jobs.. like yourself.. doesn't know what the hell he is talking about.

    >> download the Android source code, and build your own OS.

    And you still can.. you can't download the source for honeycomb because they aren't happy with it yet.

    >>By that definition, Honeycomb is not open.

    Don't mix meanings of "open". You can go and get all the API docs for honeycomb. You can develop applications for it with out having to reverse engineer it. It is an "open platform" and you can run those applications without magic keys from google. Not being able to download the source *yet* doesn't change that fact.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "Don't mix meanings of "open". You can go and get all the API docs for honeycomb. You can develop applications for it with out having to reverse engineer it. It is an "open platform" and you can run those applications without magic keys from google. "


      So, by *your* definition, Windows, AIX and HP-UX are all from then on declared to be open operating systems! Well done, it's all settled then and we can get back to our lives.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "Open Platform"

        >>So, by *your* definition, Windows, AIX and HP-UX are all

        >>from then on declared to be open operating systems!

        Can you go and get all the API docs for free? Are you allowed to develop applications on those platforms without the vendors blessing? There are no secret API's which would stop you from being able to develop applications? You don't need your applications to be signed to have them run?

        Do you know why POSIX etc exist? You can have open standards without open source.

        As long as you define your interfaces and make them accessible you have something that is "open". Not "open source" but "open". Does it matter how AIX's and HP-UX libc differ as long as they implement the same interfaces with minimal amounts of differences? Nope.

        >>Well done, it's all settled then and we can get back to our lives.

        There's nothing to stop you developing on honeycomb, you don't have to sign an NDA to get API docs. You can download the SDK now. You can run your applications on devices now.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Lot of fandroids getting...

    their knickers in a twist! :D

  20. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Android never has been really open.

    All Android development is behind closed doors. The road map is secret and under Google control.

    The Google practice of publishing each Android version after development makes a mockery of the normal Open Source practices.

    Could someone fork and have really open development of Android? In theory yes, in practice unlikely in the extreme.

    Open source fans have been conned by Google all along.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Open Source != Open Development

      The linux kernel is developed largely in the open (anyone can subscribe to lkml); but there are any number of open source projects where you can only download tarballs of releases.

      Just because Android isn't developed in the open doesn't mean that it isn't open source. And just because Google are delaying the release of the source code for what seem, ostensibly, perfectly good project management issues, doesn't mean it's not open either.

      It strikes me that Google have made a sensible, pragmatic decision: if you release Honeycomb in its present state you'll get all kinds of half-baked fudged versions on phones. I suspect that if they had had longer to sort things out (market pressure to release a tablet and all that) that we would have seen Honeycomb being whatever Honeycomb's successor probably will be: something that runs on both phones and tablets.

      Sheesh. Some people are just so determined to find anything successful as having a green streak of pure evil running right through it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just google for it

      "Could someone fork and have really open development of Android? In theory yes, in practice unlikely in the extreme."

      Left your cave much recently? Visit xda-developers. Or just google MIUI (for a very extreme fork) or Cyanogen.

      Just google it. Bing does.

  21. Tigra 07

    It works so why change?

    I'll still buy Android.

    Look at the competition to see why.

    More expensive, worse to update, and both far more closed than Android.

    Flame away anyone who disagrees, won't make it untrue though

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    That's why we still need someone to build MeeGo devices even if Nokia will not.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I can't help but wonder... many GPL violations distributing Honeycomb without source will mean...

    It seems someone is getting ready to test GPL in court. Until then, anyone who takes others' source code and uses it in ways not permitted by them, is called simply "a thief".

    AC, obviously, because we do not forgive.

  24. Madboater

    ok, so honneycombe is not (yet) open.

    My phone still runs an open os... Honestly, does it really matter if Android is open or closed, i have yet to meet anyone who wants/can change the code. The important thing to me is that my data is in an open format so i can get it no matter what happens. I do hope they open the Honycombe code so that people can make cool things with it, but if they dont it isn't a masive bother, prehaps someone will branch the android 2.x code to develop an open os for tablets (we can do that you see)

  25. Tom 38

    @Daniel Palmer

    Windows 7:

    Can get the API docs? Check.

    Can develop applications without reverse engineering? Check.

    Huzzah, Windows 7 is open source! Someone tell Steve Ballmer, quick

    That may change over time, but that is the situation currently. Arguing that Honeycomb is open source is like arguing that Windows 7 is open source.

    People pointing this out obviously displeases you to rant and rave so much.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Another person that can't read

      Where did I say honeycomb is open source?

      Open != Open Source. You can make your APIs open and not open your source.

      HTML is an "Open Standard".. where is the source for it?

      Before I start thinking "Yay, it's clever reply writing time!!!" please actually read what has been written. If you don't understand it don't start bashing the keys and feeling smug.

    2. kissingthecarpet

      No, to be fair

      He was talking about Honeycomb being an "open platform" along the lines of POSIX - I really don't think that the man said Honeycomb or W7 was open source, because it clearly isn't. This whole flamewar is a bit silly, a lot of the voices here don't sound like they're speaking from professional experience as developers of any kind. Florian Whatshisface has fueled this fire, among others.

      Anyway, whatever you think of Apple,Google etc. isn't the software & technology scene a whole lot more exciting & innovative than it was during the dreary MS monoculture era - it's been a long time coming...

  26. dave 46

    I can't say I care about the source but

    My best guess would be Google don't want 3rd rate chinese manufacturers chucking this on smart phones so they can say "look at us we have android 3.0, buy many handsets please" which will in turn antagonise the big partners and maybe even result in someone like htc cobbling something together to ship an 'android 3' part.

    As google knows android 3 just isn't ready for smartphones, having been designed around tablets only, they know this will damage the android brand.

    The only way to ensure it only gets put on tablets for the time being is to keep the source back and only release it to partners who have signed up and agreed to not put it on a phone.

    They should wait until they've ironed out all the bugs with operating two vastly different form factors but the market is slipping away from them. Businesses sometimes have to make compromises to hit market.

  27. Gulfie

    A delayed source code release doesn't make something "not open source"

    1. Honeycomb is impressive but isn't finished - the SD card slot on the Xoom isn't yet supported, for example.

    2. Google have been caught with their pants down with respect to where some of their source code came from. I expect they are conducting a very thorough exercise on the Honeycomb code base to expunge any potential issues. They can't afford for fresh accusations to come to light.

    3. I don't see Google delaying the source code release to slow down the manufacturers - after all the more devices that run Android, the better it is for Google.

    4. Google have delayed previous source code releases (notably Froyo) so this is not really news.

    In summary, a delay to the source code release is not a new development, it's been done before, and it doesn't change what is a very open OS into a closed OS. It just isn't ready for RTM yet.

    1. RichyS


      ... it does. A bit.

    2. RichyS

      Umm, yes it does.

      If it's not yet open, then it's not open.

      'Open at some point in the future, maybe' does not make it open today.

      You Phantards are hilarious!

    3. Tom 38

      @Gulfie: "It just isnt ready for RTM yet"

      Not ready for Release To Manufacturers? Lawks, not only has it been released to manufacturers, the manufacturers have put it on devices and are selling it to people, without making the source code available.

      So that's a GPL licensed kernel and userland, almost certainly with modifications, on devices being sold to end users, in willful violation of the license. But its alright, google is king of open source, and not evil at all. The golden rule of the GPL is that if you distribute binaries of GPL licensed components, you must make the source code of those binaries available.

      As in everything google do, they push the boundaries of legality, and wait for someone to call them on it. I'm shocked that so many people are just happy to let them do whatever the fuck they want, and genuflect at their name.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Tom 38

        >>So that's a GPL licensed kernel

        Yes, and I have a felling you can get the source for that....

        >> and userland,

        No.. the userland is a mix of different things. Most of Google's code, Bionic etc, is Apache or BSD licensed and considering it's their code they have the right not to give it to people. The GPL parts of the userland (I forget what actually is GPL.. bluez maybe?) need to have the source released in line with the GPL.. But even if all of the Google written code was GPL they still own the copyright on it and have the right not to release it. It's their code after all.

        >>distribute binaries of GPL licensed components,

        If those components are GPL licensed (Bionic is BSD licensed) and if you don't own the copyright on those components. Guess who owns the copyright on big chunks of Android that weren't imported from existing projects....

        >>you must make the source code of those binaries available.

        If you write some software and release it under GPL you don't have to release the source for any versions you don't want to release under the GPL. You own the copyright. People that create binaries from your GPL licensed source have to supply the source. There is no reason why the original author has to sign away their rights on the copyright attached to their work.

        @Tom 38

        You obviously have no idea about any of this. I suggest you walk away from the keyboard and stop making an idiot of yourself.

      2. M Gale

        It's Monday. I haven't had my coffee yet.

        "I'm shocked that so many people are just happy to let them do whatever the fuck they want, and genuflect at their name."

        And no other drivelling, idiotic, slack-jawed fashion victims do that for any other consumer electronics manufacturer parading themselves as Messianic, do they?

  28. technome

    Perhaps I'm a cynic...

    ... but I read "It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut" as "As usual, we've lifted chunks of code from all over the place, and we need time to cover our tracks".

  29. Mage Silver badge

    It is an "open platform"

    And that means?

    So in a way Windows NT, OSX, OS/2, CP/M

    An "open platform" has nothing to do with "Open Source". Besides Android phones are not usually open Platforms.

  30. Les Matthew

    I'm only here for the

    flamewar, keep it up lads. :)

    1. RichyS

      It's brilliant, isn't it.

      I'm going to need a new keyboard shortly.

      <--- In the meantime, chuck a few of these in to keep things ticking over!!

      1. BorkedAgain

        It is fun, yes...

        Virtual marshmallow, anyone? :)

        Fridays rock...

  31. Sirius Lee

    Does the author work for Apple?

    What nonesense conclusions. The rationale is abundantly clear. The source code will be released when its finished. In the meantime a version will be released so Android can compete in the tablet market and meet deadlines it's presumably commited to. Its not ideal but the alternative is that users buy other products.

    The ONLY winner out of that scenario is Apple which is why I ask the question. Anyone with an interest in competition will be disappointed the source code will not be released but will be delighted there will be a wider range of products.

    The test will be whether the version is adapted to work on devices with a smaller form factor and it is does Google *then* release the source code.

  32. James Howat

    Reading too much between the lines?

    The moment you follow 'surely' with 'or perhaps' then maybe you should rethink the sentence, or at least stop guessing the worst.

  33. mrd


    People getting hung up on what "yet" means as if that somehow negates that right now, currently, the time up until "yet" there is no source code published.

    That means that right now, it is not open source because right now the source isn't open. It's so simple it's almost genius.

    A nice simple everyday example. If your comfortable home where you're sitting typing these comments from hasn't burned down yet, do you say that it is a burned out husk? Woe is you for living in a burned out husk of a house?

  34. mrd

    besides the fun-poke, don't really care...

    ...whether it is open source or not. That is so 100% irrelevant to fitness for purpose. I've not tried honeycomb tablets but have never liked any of the Android phones I've tried because it always feels barely finished and only semi-coherent.

    The hardware on some of the Android phones is the best on the market but the usability of the OS feels lacking. Features to the max. Usability, not so much.

  35. DF118
    Thumb Up


    Yaay for the inconsistent moderation in this comments thread.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Superb

      Well, don't call a man with cancer horrible names, DF118. If anything like that got accepted earlier it's because it wasn't my shift dealing with you sensitive geniuses, kay? Kay.

      1. DF118
        Thumb Up

        At first I was like... then I was all...

        At first I thought "Cade has cancer?! Eek! How the hell was I supposed to know? But hang on, I didn't even call him a horrible name" ... and then I realised you were talking about His Jobsness. What can I say, I'm a bit hard of thinking. I didn't realise he had cancer again, and shucks - I've seen the S word used around here dozens of times before (in fact I'm sure learned it here) so I...

        Aw fuck it I'll just stop. Point taken!

  36. b166er

    Don't agree

    with your opinion on this Cade.

    It's just as likely that Google would rather keep the code hidden just now, to prevent it getting hacked onto phones and giving users a bad experience with Android.

    At a time when Android has great traction against the other mobile software plaforms, it seems very sensible to make sure users have a good experience until they're ready to open the source code to allow for other hardware platforms.

    They have to go to market now with a decent tablet based OS, in order to keep up with Apple. This it seems comes at the expense of not having time to prepare Honeycomb for smaller devices. That's a fair trade-off in order to stay shoulder to shoulder with Apple until they can nudge ahead and open the code.

    A fiver says they open the code once they've blown Apple's tablet sales out of the water.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Can't do what you want with it?

      Isn't that the point of open source, you can grab the code and do what you want with it?

      Isn't that the whole argument against Apple, too much control freakery? so now that Google are doing similar where are all the fandroids criticising Google?

      I suspect Google are slowly realising what Apple and Microsoft realised, that you need to think about the end user's experience and not let people grab unfinished code and stick it in a product and get lots of average phone reviews.

  37. binner


    I with Richy S and Les M, don't care who wins i enjoy the fight, popcorn and beer are required

    vi vs emacs anyone ?

    flame on my hearties don't let me down

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Google FFS

    Until the source is open for examination, assume it to be full of spyware.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Yes, that's probably the best assumption to make...

      Nice hat, by the way.

      1. ShearClass

        Fandroids lack of comprehension is staggering...

        The nub of it is...

        Google attack Apple for not being open. Their proof is a command line to get and make their 'open' software. You can't do that with Apple so that means Apple are closed and closed is bad.

        Can you do this with Honeycomb, no. So by their own argument Google are closed. End of story. It's amazing how easy it is to wind people up who clearly can't comprehend a very simple article ;-)

        1. BorkedAgain

          I really shouldn't, but what the hey...

          When it comes to comprehending anything tech-related, you're likely to get a better score from an Android enthusiast than an iOS user. Sorry, but there it is. If it makes you feel better, the android bunch are unlikely to be dressed quite as stylishly.

          BUT my reply above was about a side-issue: the assumption that the Honeycomb source code was being held back to hide all the spyware that Google had crammed in there. Let me know if there's anything else you're having trouble with and I'll try to explain it in nice, short words for you.

          1. ShearClass
            Jobs Horns

            @BorkedAgain proves my point

            Where in the article does it talk about the spyware - er oh it doesn't.

            My post was about the article not inane Fandroid wibble about the reasons why Google being closed is ok.

            Prosecution rests m'lord.

            1. BorkedAgain


              I guess I was confused by the way that you posted your comment on the article in a reply to my reply to some anon cowherd being silly 'bout the spyware. Context is all.

              Nonetheless, I put it to you that you hav a face like a squished tomato hav havent hav ect chiz.

              Nothing to see here, move along...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Tired of that crap

            I'm really tired of the crap BorkedAgain is spewing. Android enthusiasts are NOT automatically better at comprehending tech-related issues and if the crown I hang with is any indication I would even say far from more likely.

            It's a fucking phone operating system based on Linux and Java which have been used for years before Android. You don't need a lot of background in CS and systems engineering to get it. Most so called enthusiasts only know how to install mods made by others - many unknowns with haxx0r-looking handles - and even then get it wrong (like the dumb suggestions of installing journaled filesystems in SD flash media)

            Some people just have bigger fish to fry than spending their time fussing about with unfinished code ON THEIR PHONE. You try running an HPC server farm at work with a bunch of users and see if you get that excited to go home and install patches on your puny little devices or the latest must have weather widget. It's simply beyond boring.

            So best get off your imaginary high horses, 'cause there's plenty of iOS people more than able to take you on.

            1. BorkedAgain

              Yikes, touched a nerve, eh?

              Okay, all's I was saying is that for every 1337 coder iPad user (and I'm sure I'd bow to your superior skills...) there's about a dozen marketing wonks won over by the latest shiny. Android, on the other hand, is pretty exclusively loved by geeks.

              Sorry if I hurt your feelings, though. Bless...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Android, on the other hand, is pretty exclusively loved by geeks."

                A week late on this, but what utter bollocks! Everyone wants a smartphone these days and the HTC Wildfire, Orange San Francisco et al. are given away for free with cheap contracts or at low cost on PAYG! I've seen as many Android handsets in the wild as iPhones! In fact it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suggest that the rampant uptake of Android devices is in no small part down to the extremely low cost of entry! Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but you are suggesting that 'geeks' are more or less exclusively buying into the Google based smartphone ecosystem, which is unmitigated horse poop, especially when the evidence is considered. As a long term iPhone user (still got my 3G, which despite reports to the contrary is still a perfectly capable device) and I've considered Android, with the Nexus S being the handset I'd go with. However I'm loathed to switch because the ecosystem appears fractured, the quality of the apps seem poorer and the handsets themselves appear to be poorly supported and over modified by the manufacturers (hence Nexus S). The perceived 'openness' of a platform is, by and large, of no consequence to the end user. It is a straw man for internet 'flame warriors' to beat others with. For the majority of consumers, the people who Google et al. need for the platform to be dominant, this is a non-issue. Of course, YMMV. However in my opinion it leaves Google and Andy Rubin especially (his tweet was the most asinine description of open ever!) with egg on their faces and proves that Google are no different to Apple or Microsoft.

  39. Richard Gadsden 1

    Cathedrals are back

    Someone tell Eric Raymond! Cathedral-style development is back in fashion.

  40. adam roberts

    Open Source Development? or shall we say shared source.

    What happened to anyone being able to contribute to the development, this sounds like closed source development with publishing the source code after its finished.

  41. Dante

    oh dear

    Looks like a lot of people are getting open source and open platform terribly confused.

  42. lord_farquaad

    Google TV


    As far as I know, it is the same for Google TV at this time ...

    But I never heard any noise about this one.

    Is that linked to the "limited" success ?

  43. Bod
    Paris Hilton


    ... a load of sandal wearing beardies are annoyed. No one else really cares. Google make money. The world moves on.

    Paris - she's open.

  44. Dan 55 Silver badge

    What does the GPL say about indefinitely postponing source publication?

    Well it's only an academic question, there's nobody with Larry's money behind it.

    To think the company which claims it's the most open could end up rendering the GPL effectively toothless. Small price to say to sell a few more ads and gather a bit more data about everyone...

  45. vincent himpe


    bwahahaha. dinosaurs...

  46. Anonymous Coward

    FSF v Google?

    Umm, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Android kernel and some of the root file system tools rely heavily on derived source code from the Linux kernel and FSF created tools under GPL licenses?

    Long and short of it, if they withhold the source then they are braking the terms of the GPL license.

    The FSF could clean up on this if they were to take Google to court as Google would be in valiation of the GPL license.


  47. Gil Grissum


    Does the GPL state when anyone has to release a Linux based OS as open source? Is there a time limit on that? If not, in theory, if Google says they aren't ready to release the source code "yet", then they aren't violating the GPL, as long as they haven't stated clearly that they will NEVER release the source code for Honeycomb. Besides, by the time they've finished Honeycomb (all year), won't it be time for Ice Cream? I could care less when or if Google releases the source code to an OS I'm not using no devices I'm not buying. I'm more interested in when Gingerbread will come to my EVO. This whole situation does point out the obvious- that Honeycomb is a beta, isn't finished, needs work, and that all of you Xoom owners are beta testers. This makes comments others have made about Android appearing to be "unfinished" and "buggy", to have credibility. Every now and then something strange happens on my EVO with Froyo. I hope Gingerbread is more consistent.

    1. A J Stiles

      When you have to release Source Code

      The only way you can comply with the GPL is by releasing Source Code at the same time as, or sooner than, the binary. Unless something is entirely your own work, if you even upload the binary to a server first before you upload the Source, you are technically in breach of copyright.

  48. oddjobz


    I was holding out for Honeycomb tablet .. not sure I see the point any more .. isn't the iPad2 out today?

  49. lsatenstein


    From what I read, there was nothing in the Google announcement that stipulated that Honeycomb would not be open source.

    The quote I read indicated that Honeycomb was work-in-process code and not ready for widespread release.

    So, why not allow the Google resources to complete their work and pass judgement then.

  50. Solomon Grundy

    Android OS

    Open or closed source, it doesn't really matter. The Android OS is one of the worst mass distributed software releases I've ever seen (IMHO since Windows Millennium Edition). We gave it a trial run at work and after six months 26 of the 30 people in the working group wanted their BlackBerry's back. Android can suck a fat one.

  51. Jimmy Dingo
    Jobs Horns

    Steve who? I thought he quit?

    Steve Jobs is a condecending goofball. A Bill Gates wannabe. If you repeat a lie long enough, does it become the truth? Android by definition is OPEN. Versions do not change it. Apple has NEVER been open. Get over yourselves FANboys.

    1. Conner_36
      Jobs Halo

      repeat a lie...

      250 million ipods sold since 2001 means I guess nobody really gives a crap about open or closed, as long as you can get your device to do what ever it is you need it to do.

      Sorry to rain on your parade, but being "OPEN" won't save the world or make a product instantly awesome.

  52. thecakeis(not)alie

    Dear FSF

    Time to do your job. Rally the lawyers and sue Google; they have violated the letter of the licence…at least on the kernel.

  53. A J Stiles

    And that, peeps, is why we have the GPL

    Anytime any developer says anything bad about the GPL, you should know that they have exactly one thing in mind: they want to do the one and only thing which the GPL does not allow them to do.

    Now, since the Apache licence ostensibly permits Source Code distribution even if you didn't actually receive the Source Code in the first place, does that mean someone could reverse-engineer the binary code and release their results while remaining entirely compliant with the licence?

  54. Nano nano

    Why use the phone naming convention ?

    If, as I understand it, Honeycomb is just for tablets, then why give it a name in the Android Phone sequence ? They should maybe have started a new 'tablets' sequence, with initial letter aligned with Android phones perhaps. Hazelnut.

  55. Nano nano

    Closed until it's open

    By some of the arguments here, Android "Poptart", "Quality Street", "Rum Truffle", "Spotted Dick" etc are also closed ... until public push occurs.

  56. Xialao
    Jobs Horns

    Vindicated? No way

    how is steve jobs vindicated by this? sure it demonstrates the appeal his model has for those interested in a profit. yet for us consumers it means that we'll have no decent open source os for tablets. google sure is making me question their 'no evil' policy.

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