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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Maemo vs Android

From: Michael Dorrington
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Maemo vs Android
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2009 11:42:34 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20090706)

Tim Dobson wrote:
> Just spotted this rather interesting article via Slashdot comparing the
> user freedoms given by Android and Maemo 5 devices.
> http://cool900.blogspot.com/2009/10/comparing-freedom-on-maemo-and-android.html
> original slashdot discussion:
> http://linux.slashdot.org/story/09/10/27/1335227/Comparing-the-Freedoms-Offered-By-Maemo-and-Android?from=rss

The question you've got to ask yourself is, "Do I have the essential
freedoms[1] for the software on my phone?". Or given these phones, how
much of the software do I have the essential freedoms for. Ways to test
some of the freedoms are:

* Have I been supplied with the source code to the software or can I get
it from the supplier of the software?
* Can I compile that source code and get the software running on the phone?
* Can I make changes to the source code and get the resulting software
running on the phone?
* Can I distribute the changes I make to the software?

I would say that the Maemo 5 beats "Android".

This is because although Android[2] is free software[3], what you get
supplied on your "Android" phone will not be a straight compile of this
code[2]. This is mainly because Google are developing on their non-free
Android for phone manufactures version and then dumping into the free
Android version[4]. And due to the non-copyleft licence of most of the
code, they are not obliged to supply it and they don't! And then
non-free software is added for the "Google Experience"[5][6]. This
wouldn't be so bad if you could take the free software Android code[2],
compile it, get it running and using the hardware of the phone.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem the intention of the Android free
software repository[4].

Maemo 5 too has the problem of not being all free software but, AFAIK,
more of it is free[7] and it does state clearly what's not free[8][9].
Nokia with Maemo 5 are developing the free parts in the free tree[10],
as far as I can tell, rather than developing them elsewhere and dumping
into the free tree.

But the situation is murky and I may be wrong on this. I'd really like
to know people's free software experiences on both platforms.

> Of course neither are as free as my Freerunner... :P

Or mine.


[1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html
[2] http://source.android.com/download
[3] http://source.android.com/license
[4] http://andblogs.net/2009/04/android-and-open-source/
[5] http://www.google.com/mobile/android.html
[9] http://wiki.maemo.org/Why_the_closed_packages
[10] http://maemo.gitorious.org/

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