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Measuring Openness In Open Source Projects

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-your-tape-measure dept.

Open Source 65

suy writes "Several open source projects exist under a variety of licenses, and we qualify them as free/open source depending on the license under which the final product is released. But there are other considerations, like the existence of a public roadmap, participation in the decision making, or access to the latest source code to make contributions. Vision Mobile has published a report that compares and measures the openness of several open source projects: Android, Eclipse, Linux, MeeGo, Mozilla, Qt, Symbian (till the existence of the Foundation) and WebKit. Eclipse and Linux scored the highest and Android the lowest." A related article about the report asks whether open source needs corporate backing to truly succeed.

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Openness (4, Interesting)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997708)

Eclipse and Linux scored the highest and Android the lowest.

It's no really a wonder Android scored the lowest. Google isn't truly a open source company, they only give out source when it suits them and even then they regain most control of it with no discussion or decisions with other non-google developers. Most of their products are also either so crippled (Chronium) or limited by other means (Android and HW makers drivers) that they're practically unusable for real use or development.

One of the strongest selling point of open source is that you can make a little change or fix yourself if you feel the need to. Since Chronium isn't truly the source code of Chrome you have to give up lots of other things if you want to make that change. For making a small change it would probably be better to disassembly Chrome and make the change in ASM. Android is basically useless to you if you want to make a change since you cannot run it on your phone. It's nice and all that they provide code (even with stripped parts), but there is no practical use for it. Besides, most of their products are closed source just like their competitors. There's a really insightful and interesting post here [slashdot.org] about Google's practices.

Re:Openness (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997790)

Yep, and yet somehow people still scream about how open Android is and how locked down iOS is.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998058)

That's because it's impossible to lock down Android like iOS. Custom kernel drivers can be compiled and insmod'd with temporary root. A locked bootloader and signed-update enforcement (= non-writeable kernel partition) can do nothing to stop it. With iOS there is no documented kernel API.

Re:Openness (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998080)

Maybe because I have source for android and can compile it and modify it all I like. Where is that for iOS?

Re:Openness (1, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998094)

What good is that if you can't contribute back, you can't change the direction of the project, you can't put it on your device, and you can't well... us it.

Re:Openness (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998148)

I do have it on my device, so there goes that argument. I do use it, daily. And I could contribute back or fork it which would also change the direction to whatever I want.

Deal with it, a closed product is just not the same as an open one.

Re:Openness (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998200)

I do have it on my device, so there goes that argument.

Oh, so you illegally copied the closed source drivers needed to make it work with any phones then?

And I could contribute back

How? What's the process for getting your patch accepted by google?

Deal with it, a closed product is just not the same as an open one.

I'm not attempting to assert that iOS is open, I'm asserting that android is closed ;)

Re:Openness (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998270)

How? What's the process for getting your patch accepted by google?

http://source.android.com/source/submit-patches.html [android.com]

Re:Openness (1, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998390)

That's not for submitting a patch to android, that's for submitting to ASOP, not the same thing.

Re:Openness (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998422)

What does ASOP stand for again?

Re:Openness (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998434)

Android Open Source Project – A related project to android, but not android.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998544)

Android is not a project. It's a trademark for a group of similar operating systems. AOSP is the central project.

Re:Openness (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998792)

And do you imagine patches might move upstream?
Are you an idiot or just a troll?

Re:Openness (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998510)

In this case, it apparently means:
Android Source Open Program.

Re:Openness (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998488)

You asked how to submit a patch to Android. That's how. It may have to go into the AOSP first, but that's the method to need to go through to get your patch on everybody's phone.

Is it an indirect route? Sure. Is it setup to ensure someone doesn't submit a patch and get it past one line of verification and inject malicious code into the Android package given out by Google? Sure.

You asked how to get a patch to Android. That's your path.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998508)

There is no universal 'Android'... there is AOSP and a bunch of upstream derivative distributions shipped by the manufacturers. Most of the OHA development is done inside the AOSP repo. Which you can contribute to.

Re:Openness (1)

HazE_nMe (793041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998516)

AOSP is Android.
You can build Android from source and install it on your phone provided you have working drivers, which you can usually port from the stock rom for your phone.
The CM guys build their roms from AOSP and add extra features and support for more devices.
AOSP is the heart of Android and patches eventually trickle down to the manufacturer's roms.

Re:Openness (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998294)

Not all phones need closed drivers, and those that do come with a copy of them. Retaining the software that came with the device is legal.

Android is open. It may be less FREE than I would like but open it sure is.

Re:Openness (1)

brian.swetland (1739666) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998514)

There actually are relatively few closed pieces necessary to make something like Nexus S go. For the most part they're firmware, not actual "drivers", though the opengl libraries fall into a middle ground -- the SGX kernel driver is GPLv2, the userspace opengl libraries are closed. We've been working with vendors to make the closed pieces available under a license that allows them to be included in builds and distributed non-commercially (commercial distributors tend to be OEMs which have direct relationships and licenses with these vendors already):
http://code.google.com/android/nexus/drivers.html [google.com]

I'd use the term "proprietary components" rather than "drivers" (the above URL is unfortunately named), personally, since at least for lead devices that Google works on, all the kernel drivers are GPLv2 and readily available:
http://android.git.kernel.org/?p=kernel/common.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/android-3.0 [kernel.org]
(kernel/common is code common to all variants, SoC-specific work is under kernel/omap, kernel/msm, etc)

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999632)

What is the process for getting your patch accepted by Linux? Oh that's right. There isn't one. If Linus doesn't like it, it won't get accepted.

Re:Openness (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998192)

you can't put it on your device

Says who? There are some devices which are locked down, but many more which you can easily put your own kernel on there.

Re:Openness (0)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998222)

That's really useful... How about getting any drivers for them?

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998404)

http://sourceforge.net/motorola/wiki/Android/ [sourceforge.net]
http://developer.htc.com/ [htc.com]

Are you finished trolling or are you just this uninformed?

Re:Openness (2, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998454)

That gets you the open source parts of the device... who ever said the drivers were open source? Note, in 99.9% of cases, the drivers *aren't* open source.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998720)

You're wrong. The vast majority of the drivers are virally licensed under the GPL and so they must be open source. In the Droid X almost all mfgr drivers are located in the kernel archive: http://sourceforge.net/projects/droidx.motorola/files/DroidX%20Source/SHADO_X3_1.13.5.10/ [sourceforge.net] . Ditto for Droid 2: http://sourceforge.net/projects/droid2we.motorola/files/Droid%202%20Global%20%20Source/DROID2WE_X6_2.4.29/ [sourceforge.net] . It's not possible to move most drivers to user space, and it would take many years of work.

Re:Openness (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998594)

When you buy the phone, you buy licenses to use the software on it. Including drivers. If you copy the Google apps and drivers off your phone before wiping it out, you still own the license to use those drivers on that device. You put on a new ROM and put those files back in... in some cases, the files are downloaded with the ROM but only used on devices where the device used them before and is therefore licensed to use them.

Re:Openness (1)

LibRT (1966204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998988)

The guy's a crApple shill - don't take the bait.

Re:Openness (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998396)

It isn't just the OS that makes the system open or closed; how easily you can do other things is very important. Apple has a much more tightly locked down application environment. Getting an app into the iOS Appstore is much tougher than getting it into the Android Marketplace, and installing unapproved apps is much easier under Android. From a user standpoint, having access to outside apps by setting a single checkbox contributes more to real openness than being able to replace the OS.

Re:Openness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997810)

This is one of the most retarded posts I've read on Slashdot.

Congrats.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998530)

It's part of Microsoft's current anti-Google astroturf campaign. Retarded is what they do.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997848)

Chromium is no more crippled than any other open project in the Debian repository. It's also by-far the most used browser codebase in third-party projects. You can't read this page and then state factually that there are actual significant differences: http://code.google.com/p/chromium/wiki/ChromiumBrowserVsGoogleChrome [google.com] .

And your point about Android is somewhat defeated since the only two Google-sponsored phones in existence are unlockable. I mean, shit, the Nexus S recently had a promotion where it was free with contract.

Re:Openness (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998942)

And your point about Android is somewhat defeated since the only two Google-sponsored phones in existence are unlockable. I mean, shit, the Nexus S recently had a promotion where it was free with contract.

you failed to notice - his point is mindfuckingly invalid because he sees only america. in almost all other parts of the world, this android-locked in situation is nonexistent. people buy android phones where i live, and do whatever they want with them. this also is so in europe.

Re:Openness (4, Interesting)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997852)

Android is basically useless to you if you want to make a change since you cannot run it on your phone.

Tell that to the masses of people that have ditched the vendor supplied version of android for customized versions.. it is actually pretty darn common amongst young people. Even non-geeks, all it takes is seeing one extra feature they like to convince and having a half hour of spare time.

Re:Openness (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998036)

Yes, but tell me how do they use Stock android with no drivers and no google apps? That's a lot to give up on.

Now, they cheat because they "illegally" get Google apps and drivers in binary form. Equivalent to hacking iOS.

The source code helps, but it is not enough for getting the OS on your phone.

Re:Openness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998146)

I'm not going to take your word that the drivers aren't available, because of the 3 Motorola Android phones I've owned (2 of them were locked down), all of them have 100% GPL open-source drivers with no userspace components.

And the Market app is the single critical Google app... but there are dozens of alternatives to it. Amazon's app store is side-loadable for instance.

TL;DR: experiment with Android for once or stfu. I never talk about the iPhone because I don't fucking own one.

Some important applications are Market-exclusive (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998228)

And the Market app is the single critical Google app... but there are dozens of alternatives to it.

Even if I have Soc.io, SlideME, Amazon, and AppsLib installed, that won't help me get to my bank. Chase's banking app is exclusive to Android Market.

Re:Some important applications are Market-exclusiv (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998312)

Not to mention that Google's Market is far better than the rest of them, mainly because it has the most of all of them.

Re:Some important applications are Market-exclusiv (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998344)

So complain to Chase. Besides you can just use their website.

Scanning paper checks is app-exclusive (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998428)

Besides you can just use their website.

I occasionally receive a paper check as payment, and I haven't been able to find a way to scan paper checks for deposit using Chase's web site. I don't think HTML5 even provides any way for a web site to request access to a scanner or camera attached to a PC.

Re:Some important applications are Market-exclusiv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998350)

Well, yes, I should have clarified that. Marketplace is the de facto central app store without a doubt. I just meant that you won't be totally lost without it.

Re:Openness (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#37002106)

Find me an Android phone that provides a fully functioning GPU including OpenGL without using a single binary blob to do it...
Even the Nexus S (supposedly the most open of the android handsets) has a binary userspace blob for the GPU, a binary userspace blob for WiFi/bluetooth/GPS, a binary userspace blob for the NFC support and a binary userspace blob for the cell modem.

Re:Openness (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997900)

Most of their products are also either so crippled (Chronium) or limited by other means (Android and HW makers drivers) that they're practically unusable for real use or development.

Really. What about all the third-party manufacturers making Android devices without a license from Google (Archos comes to mind, although in retrospect they might have a license... point is they don't need one)? Or how about CyanogenMod or other modifications for Android based on the OSS part? Lots of people use them, and they work on lots of phones. That is precisely the advantage of OSS that you claim Google doesn't allow. And what "stripped parts"? According to Wikipedia [wikimedia.org] , the entire Android OS made by Google, including the telephony part, is OSS. The only closed source part is the Marketplace, and that should have obvious reasons. (also, it isn't technically part of the OS) Honeycomb, of course, isn't OSS ATM, but again, they have good reasons for that.

Android is most absolutely not closed-source like its competitors. Seriously, is iOS open in absolutely any way whatsoever? What closes Android down on phones are Samsung etc. locking down the phone in hardware. HTC, IIRC, allows their phones to load custom firmware with no modifications or hacking needed. I know you keep saying "Google isn't the geeky company they used to be", but honestly, I've never seen you offer any real evidence of that.

As for Chrome/Chromium, well, there you have a point. Google is an odd kind of open source company. Their business doesn't depend upon releasing code and community development, like many such companies do (Red Hat, Mozilla, etc.) they do it more because they want the community to have it than anything else. And that, IMO, makes them even more of a geeky company than others that are more concerned with being open sourced because they rely on it. Google releases open source whenever it is practical for them to do so, but they don't rely on open source development like many companies do (or not in the same way) which leads me to suspect that releasing the source code is more an act of good faith than anything else.

Re:Openness (3, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998052)

Android is most absolutely not closed-source like its competitors.

Do not confusion Android with AOSP. They are two separate versions. Android is commercially licensed (+GPL2 Linux), while AOSP is Apache with GPL2 for the Linux kernel. And getting Android does take money - you have to be in the OHA (so there is a licensing fee, but it's relatively small and it's not per-unit, but an annual one).

Periodically, Google pushes code from Android into AOSP.

OHA members get access to the latest versions of the Android code before release, but they also have to agree to conditions to use that code, conditions not present in AOSP, such as support for 18 months (no more release and forget - Google's demanding 18 months of support and updates), less fancy dressings and customizations, and unlockable bootloaders.

OHA members do this so they can also license (separately) "with Google" because Android phones are relatively useless without the Market app because there are few alternate sources that have a comprehensive selection of apps. (Hell, most "free" apps rarely put up an apk for download - just a QR code to grab it through the marketplace).

And Archos is also a member of the OHA now - they have to be in roder to release a 3.x tablet. Only OHA members have access to Honeycomb source, and while there are hacked versions of Honeycomb around, I wouldn't trust them in a production product. Though, whether or not Archos abides by their open-bootloader thing, that's another issue. Historically Archos devices auto-lock to the hard drive (so you can't replace it), and have signed bootloaders and kernel, which also check for signed user spaces. Archos Androids were "open" in they could run apps, any roots and jailbreaks lasted until the next reboot.

AOSP may be open source, but it's more like "let's just dump what we have" moreso than a true open-source project - the stuff goes from Android -> AOSP typically.

Re:Openness (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#37003816)

To summarize your comment, Android isn't open source. AOSP is. Let's not get confused.

Re:Openness (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998122)

Honeycomb, of course, isn't OSS ATM, but again, they have good reasons for that.

There really isn't a good reason. If your code is good enough to sell on a device, it's good enough to be opened.

A lot of Android fanboys do logical loops explaining that Android is truly open, and some parts of it are, but a lot of it isn't. Accept it.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998380)

Honeycomb, of course, isn't OSS ATM, but again, they have good reasons for that.

There really isn't a good reason. If your code is good enough to sell on a device, it's good enough to be opened.

Exactly, and Honeycomb is not good enough to sell on a device; Google themselves said Honeycomb was "horribly broken" when they announced that Ice Cream Sandwich was the future (and would have opened source).

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999854)

I have access to the Honeycomb 3.1 source and I can see why Google doesn't want it released.
There's a lot of stuff in there obviously put in to allow Honeycomb tablets to be rushed to the market. The base Applications and GUI hardcoded to use the Xoom's native screen resolution, for example. From a developer point of view, this is definitely code that is good enough to push products out of the door, but not something you'd want to release as open-source until it's been cleaned up to the standard of coding expected from Google's open source releases.

Re:Openness (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998158)

Most of their products are also either so crippled (Chronium) or limited by other means (Android and HW makers drivers) that they're practically unusable for real use or development.

Last I saw, you could easily take the Android Open Source Project and put it on an embedded computing device of your designing. Whether or not you actually have the resources to do so is no concern of theirs, and really doesn't have any bearing on it's openness.

Re:Openness (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998322)

More to the point, I want to prove something so I will use my judgement to balance the weights of different methodologies and different degrees and come up with the conclusion that matches my opinion.

I want to state that Windows is the best Software out there... I will weigh the fact that it has the most off the self software as very important and the rest as not important and do some research comparing off the shelf software count and boom I prove my point.
But wait... I want Linux to be the best OS out there. Perhaps I will weigh costs, and open source freedom as very important and other attributes as less important and bang there is my point.

For some reason people have a hard time understanding that things doesn't need to fall in a single line of Better or Worse, Goodest(sic) and Baddest. This fall true for evolution, a lot of people incorrectly (And my Middle school classes taught it this way) as there is an order of how well evolved animals are. You have the invertebrates as the least evolved, then you have Fish then reptiles then birds and then mammals as the most evolved with Humans on the top. While some species of Octopus are quite intelligent creatures and is shown to be more intelligent then most mammals. It seems we avoid understanding the complexity in life and want to have a 2d view of the world

For articles like this I think we should dub it as a "Mathimtized" opinion.

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999650)

How is Chromium crippled?

Re:Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37124954)

> Android is basically useless to you if you want to make
> a change since you cannot run it on your phone.

Unless you have a FreeRunner. Just sayin', not that I would
ever want to run Android on one of these...

P.S:
http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo_FreeRunner
http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Android

THE ONLY THING THAT IS FOR CERTAIN IS !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997764)

That this will be abandoned. All are. Who works for free ?? Kids work for free. Once they grow up, who has the time to waste ??

Open Source has nothing to do with openness (0)

poet (8021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997796)

It is a license. Free Software and Open Source both are derived from a simple idea, the code is free to reuse and distribute. The religiousity of the community is derived only from the community itself. Would it be nice if those projects were more community driven? Sure. Does it make them any less "Open" or "Free", no.

Re:Open Source has nothing to do with openness (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36997944)

Uhhh, no... "Open Source" is not a license – it's an idea. There are many licenses that are written with the idea in mind. The idea is *everything* to do with openness.

Duplicate Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997814)

We saw this early this week, with a title to the effect of "Android least open of the open source mobile platforms".

The language mutation continues. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997898)

Participation in decision making??? . "Open" has historically meant, "open as in the ability to look inside."

I find this mutation, the attempt to make it inclusive odd, but perhaps inevitable. I guess once people give up the notion of property, they feel perfectly entitled to make free with other people's development time, as well as their work product.

"Hey, guess what? The lunatics have taken a vote, they think they should be running the asylum. They won."

Another measure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36997932)

Another measure is whether it is documented sufficiently and honestly. If I license obfuscated code as "open source" is it really open? No.

Don't care - Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36998008)

I'm going to 'steal' and use it anyway. Open source, closed source, whatever.. If it does what i want it to do. And i can find it.

I'm going to use it however i see fit. Just like any company is going to do. Altho they back their choices up with lawyers and legal red tape until you get old and die and i just choose to use belligerence.

I hear your mom is open "source" tho. ha ha.
cap:flamed
that's fitting.

While open governance is good it is not the point. (2)

luvirini (753157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998030)

While the fact that an open source project has open governance is good if you want to continue using the main codebase, the most important factor by far is the right to fork if needed.

It is the ability to take the code, change it and post your version that really will eventually force the "right" things in any open source product that many enough people care about.

Any "open governance" can be stopped at any point, but once given code is out in open source it is "safe" provided enough people care.

Re:While open governance is good it is not the poi (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998378)

the most important factor by far is the right to fork if needed.

That depends on whether it's easier to convince mainline to take your patch than to verify that your patch still works with each new version of mainline.

Comparison with Open-By-Rule? (1)

mkc (30434) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998120)

How does the Open Governance Index compare with the Open-By-Rule benchmark [webmink.com] ?

Corporate Backing? It helps. (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36998274)

FTS:

A related article about the report asks whether open source needs corporate backing to truly succeed.

No, it doesn't need it, but it definitely helps to have someone with deep pockets willing to financially support your project. Meaning that people can work on the project as part of their full time job, instead of having to do something else with most of their time to be able to afford food and shelter.

Report methodology and licenses (1)

br00tus (528477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999778)

The report gives freedom points for various things to determine openness. But what they consider open is up to debate. Android gets 4 points for having a mostly Apache license, which the report considers the "most open". Linux only gets 2 openness points because it is released under the GPL, and the report considers the GPL to only be worthy of half of the points that the Apache license deserves. This methodology is of course, debatable.

But more importantly (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 3 years ago | (#37000516)

what unit is it measured in?

I propose the Stallman, with 10 Stallman being as open as can be, and 0 Stallman being NSA-like transparency.

Re:But more importantly (1)

Rudolf (43885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37003712)


I propose the Stallman, with 10 Stallman being as open as can be, and 0 Stallman being NSA-like transparency.

How about naming it after someone who does not violate the GPL?

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