Android OS, and revisiting Open Source vs. Free Software

(repost from Twitter and Buzz)

With the popularity of Android OS, and before it iOS and OS-X, it is time we realize (and become more aware of) the differences between Open Source & Free Software..

(small note: iOS and OS-X, both based upon the Apple Inc. initiated Darwin-OS project, is based largely on FreeBSD in its core, and uses a modified Mach kernel. Apple also contributes significantly upstream)

In the ‘perfect world’, all software would be ‘Free Software’ and there would be no need for the ‘Open Source’ pragmatic compromise…

(notice all the ‘scare quotes’ in the previous sentence..)

All the more reason to keep an eye on Nokia’s Maemo project, I say.



  1. So your point is? 😉

    I’m tempted to assume you’re not considering Android a free OS, while Maemo (even if far from perfect) is more “free”. But then, that’s my point of view and I always read what I want to read. 😉

  2. I’m tempted to assume you’re not considering Android a free OS…

    Just to be clear, I consider Android an Open Source OS; not completeley Free Software. As for Maemo, I thought it was capital-‘F’ Free… [/goes off to check on Maemo Wikipedia entry..]

    One thing for sure though, Open Moko was Free…

  3. Right, OpenMoko was a free OS. Maemo – well, parts of it are. There’s a lot (too many) proprietary bits and pieces in Maemo, but what’s open has “good” licensing.

    Why I personally do not consider Android a free OS: Even though the FSF says the Apache license qualifies as a free license, it also allows vendors to change the license of the final product they ship…. So while there’s always one version of Android that’s really free (the one you find for download on Google’s servers), there may well be a dozen Android-variants deployed in consumer products that have proprietary licensing.

    So there’s a choice between a semi-free system that will remain semi-free (Maemo) and one that is 100% free, but can be changed to 100% proprietary at any time when it’s delivered to the end user… My personal choice is to have as much free software in the hands of the end user as possible, therefore I’m going for Maemo. 😉

  4. [revisiting this entry post Nokia+Microsoft deal…] [still thinking…]

  5. […] (reposted from Twitter, Buzz, and Ferdi on FLOSS) […]

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