Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Monday 27 October 2008

Do Androids dream of freedom?

As I stated Android source code got released almost at the same time as the G1 HTC phone was released to "consumers". I welcomed it because the held their promises, even though, after looking a bit closely, it seems to contain binary blobs.

But the problem is still about Freedom.

One would have thought that Google would have thought differently, but they don't. First the phone availability: the phone is only available from a single carrier from a single country, with a 2 year contract attached. Also the phone is apparently not hackable: there don't seem to be a way to upload a custom firmware image. Not so open as other write.

Disclaimer: As you have understood now, I don't have such a phone. See reason above. Even if it was available through the monopolistic GSM carrier here I'd not have it as they'd surely require a 3-years contract which is a no go.

Also the phone require a Google ID. Not that it is hard to come by or that it is another money pit, but the requirement is awkward, seem unnecessary and raise some privacy concerns, or some red flag about tying feature of the phone to Google application hosting.

So what do we have left?

Nothing much. At least you can upload any application you wish, and you are not at the mercy of a vendor that decide life or death on your application... but there is still a kill-switch. Said application is also written with Android own toolkit in its own language and sandbox, making it hard to port anything from an existing application[1]. And that's it. Not a huge step for the Freedom to tinker.


[1] rumors said that it is compatible with the Java language

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Do Androids dream of...

I must admit I was suspicious of Google Android's openness and still considered it as a vaporware. But today they kept the promise and released Android source code. I was not the only one being skeptical. Kudos to Google and the Android team! I was wrong on that.

So far it is the most promising open platform for cellphones.

Now where do I get a handset in this third-world country? And without signing my life away to a state-sanctioned monopoly....


Dom:, just make the predicate a functor class that will accept both comparison operators. I know it looks ugly, but at least you can work around the bug.

Or use STLPort :-)

Tuesday 7 October 2008


For the first time I'll be at the GNOME summit in Boston. See you there.