Friday, October 24, 2008

Ex OpenMoko Lead System Architect takes on Android's lack of openness

Two days ago I centered my frustration about the lack of openness in mobile handsets with Google's new operating system, like the T-Mobile G1, in the headline "WARNING: Android devices are NOT open". But now open source wizzard Harald Welte, former Lead System Architect for OpenMoko, explains Android's shortcomings much better in his latest blog post:
To me, those things are not a big surprise. As soon as you try to get in bed with the big operators, they will require this level of control. Android is not set out to be a truly open source mobile phone platform, but it's set out to be a sandbox environment for applications.

And even with all the android code out there, I bet almost (if not all) actual devices shipping with Android and manufactured by the big handset makers will have some kind of DRM scheme for the actual code: A bootloader that verifies that you did not modify the kernel, a kernel that ensures you do not run your own native applications.
He sees Android as little more than some sandbox virtual machine environment where people can write UI apps for. Nothing that gets him excited. "I want a openness where I can touch and twist the bootloader, kernel, drivers, system-level software - and among other things, UI applications", he says. And I want that too.

To Harald most Linux handsets don't deserve their name because all the freedoms of Linux software are stripped. Linux on cell phones is "definitely not to any benefit of the user" - but only to handset maker, who can skip a pretty expensive Windows Mobile licensing fee. That brave new world makes him sick.

I guess only on Nokia Internet Tablets the Android can be as open as we whish. It's time that someone takes the source code an ports Android for them, preferably without Google spyware, as we know it from Iron, the googlefree fork version of the Chrome browser. Until now Android only runs in a virtual machine on Nokia Internet Tablets.


  1. what is om malik's private email address? pleeese!

  2. Markus,

    you may want to look at this link:

    i believe this is something you have been looking for quite some time. it seems like half the postings on the voxeo forum are related to your posts on skype integration. well this is a true hosted PBX platform that lets you bring in your own skype account and use your SIP phone or whatever.


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