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Print 28 comment(s) - last by NellyFromMA.. on Oct 13 at 12:55 PM

Android on TouchPad team dealt a setback in their efforts

With the TouchPad's fire sale, which saw units selling for as little as $88 USD, the short-lived Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) webOS tablet is chic again.  Given that webOS, appears on its last legs in terms of support from HP, developers are rushing to port Google, Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS to the device to extend its lifetime.

HP shipped several TouchPads mysteriously running an Android 2.2 "Froyo" kernel.  The Android porting teams reached out to HP inquiring about these units.  They argued that under Android's open source licens, HP must release the source code for these devices, including the firmware that drives multi-touch and wireless functionality on the device.

In its response, HP's Phil Robb, director of HP's open-source program office, claims ignorance of the Android build -- or at least feigns it.

But rather than leaving it at that, he goes on to say that HP is launching an investigation into how Android made its way onto those tablets.  He writes, "We presently believe that some person or persons unknown may have facilitated the delivery of these Android-based units strictly against the policy and authorization of HP."

"Regarding your specific request for source code below, I must decline at the present time. HP has never authorized the distribution of any binaries for Android in association with the HP Touchpad. Therefore, HP is not under any license obligation to provide any corresponding Android source code to you."

Mr. Robb requested any information on the devices, to help it track down who put the supposedly unauthorized Android build on them.

HP's comments seem to infer that component supplier Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) illegitimately and possibly illegally put the OS on the devices.  The Android-endowed units flash the logo QuIC, or Qualcomm Innovation Center, a Qualcomm engineering subsidiary that works on optimizing open-source software for Qualcomm and its partners' products.

TouchPad QuIC
[Source: YouTube]

But QuIC at least claims to be oblivious to where the units came from as well.  It sent a letter to developers denying that it manufactured or distributed the tablets in question.

Thus an interesting "Whodoneit?" mystery has emerged in the case of the Android TouchPads.  Hopefully the Android development team gets to the bottom of this.  

That said, HP's vows to "investigate" the incident feel a bit like beating a dead horse.  After all, HP essentially said loud and clear that it didn't care about TouchPad or webOS fans, when it discontinued the device and began laying off the webOS team.  So why would HP care if someone put Android on it?  

Sources: HP, PCWorld



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By NellyFromMA on 10/6/2011 10:12:31 AM , Rating: 1
Open source software and its terms and conditions don't seem to be doing much for too many businesses as of late, do they?

Yeah, I know... Insta-downrate, right? Still, you can't deny it.




By BZDTemp on 10/6/2011 10:49:08 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe you could back up your opinion with a bunch of facts?


By vol7ron on 10/10/2011 8:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They argued that under Android's open source licens, HP must release the source code for these devices, including the firmware that drives multi-touch and wireless functionality on the device.


LOL, yeah right. If they used Android, HP would only have to release the source code, not any firmware. That is Google with wishful thinking. Source code needs to be supplied so the open source OS can benefit from modifications a company makes, or good ideas. Google is hoping to gain some free programming of additional devices, not related to its source code, which the license does not cover.


By Smilin on 10/11/2011 11:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you could stop living under a rock.

Some things don't need references. You not noticing a patent war or anything happening?


By NellyFromMA on 10/13/2011 12:55:33 PM , Rating: 2
I think the news as of late is fact enough, no?


By Zirconium on 10/6/2011 10:56:55 AM , Rating: 3
Look, if businesses don't want to abide by the GPL's oh-so-burdensome terms and conditions, then they shouldn't use GPL software and instead either develop their own OS in-house (which is quite burdensome in its own right), license a proprietary OS (with it's own burdensome Ts&Cs), or use a BSD kernel. The big favor that GPL code does for businesses is it gives you an easily-hackable starting point that more devs are familiar with (people tend to like to work on GPL code in their own time - probably because we aren't all as altruistic as Theo de Raadt).

Touchpad runs linux under the hood. You have a huge number of devs familiar with hacking linux (way more than BSD), making it easier for HP/Palm to custom tailor the OS for their needs (even easier than licensing an OS from someone else). Essentially, it seems like your are arguing that corporations should have the ability to have their cake and eat it too.


By idiot77 on 10/6/2011 12:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Essentially, it seems like your are arguing that corporations should have the ability to have their cake and eat it too.


That's the Libertarian way.


By rs2 on 10/7/2011 1:02:53 AM , Rating: 4
No, actually I think he's arguing that it's ridiculous to assert that you can open-source something while still enforcing arbitrary conditions about how people use it (and also that it's ridiculous to call any code that includes terms and conditions of use "free" or "open"). They did not agree to your conditions prior to being given access to the code, so by rights you should have no leverage for enforcing that your terms are followed. If you wanted your terms to be followed, then you should have secured explicit agreement to them *before* you gave the person access to your code.


By Zirconium on 10/7/2011 1:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think he's arguing that it's ridiculous to assert that you can open-source something while still enforcing arbitrary conditions about how people use it (and also that it's ridiculous to call any code that includes terms and conditions of use "free" or "open").


I don't think that's what his point was; he was trying to point out how open source software's conditions were bad for business. Those Ts&Cs can be onerous, particularly if a company doesn't want to release code that could give it an advantage over competitors. The point I was making was that no one is twisting anyone's arm to use GPL code, and that there is a reason that corporations still go after code with such licenses.

Now, your point appears that it is ridiculous to call GPL-like licenses free and open. I can see your argument; the GPL does enforce certain conditions on developers and distributors. However, these conditions are to prevent you from closing your additions to GPL code. Someone did you a favor - they released their source code freely, meaning you have the ability to alter and redistribute it. All they ask is that if you use it, you release your additions and improvements with the same conditions. It seems antisocial to demand otherwise.

quote:
They did not agree to your conditions prior to being given access to the code, so by rights you should have no leverage for enforcing that your terms are followed. If you wanted your terms to be followed, then you should have secured explicit agreement to them *before* you gave the person access to your code.


Good thing you aren't a lawyer. Extending your logic, any time I do not agree to conditions before accessing copyright material, I can do with it as I wish. Hey, check it out, I found an audio CD without a case! Well, I see no Ts&Cs, therefore I can redistribute this all I want! Oh look, I downloaded this program from a company's web site. Looks like I can decompile it, alter it to remove these pesky dialogs that prevent me from using it before inputing what appears to be a hexadecimal string, and then redistribute that!

As you can see, the real world doesn't work that way.


By JonnyDough on 10/6/2011 8:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
Did you just use Apple and "open-source" in the same sentence?!! Laugh!!! :D


By nafhan on 10/7/2011 11:54:10 AM , Rating: 1
In the context of the post I was responding to, definitely! Without a doubt, open source has definitely been good for Apple. OSX, iOS, Safari, and others are all based at least partially on open source projects.

Whether or not the relationship has been beneficial open source in general is a bit more debatable (and I'm guessing that's what you were referring, too).


By rs2 on 10/7/2011 12:54:10 AM , Rating: 3
See, the thing with open-source software is that many of the licenses that claim to be "free and open" really are not. This specifically includes the GPL and other any license that tries to assert such an asinine concept as "copyleft".

There are licenses that truly are free and open, and software under such licenses is used by the vast majority of major tech companies, to great effect. The problem is in conflating "open-source" with "GPL" or "copyleft". The people who release their code under such licenses are really just as bad as the people who keep their code proprietary. They're imposing ridiculous and arbitrary conditions on its use, instead of allowing it to be truly free.


Android on a TouchPad, gasp
By Gavin Coles on 10/6/2011 11:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
It should not really be a surprise that HP have put Android on a TouchPad, only that it has got out in to the wild. The thing that would be a surprise is if anyone who has actually used webOS for any length of time would actually want to swap it for Android.




RE: Android on a TouchPad, gasp
By djc208 on 10/6/2011 12:00:37 PM , Rating: 3
I got one, and I will install Android when it becomes available, for two reasons:
1) I have an Android smart phone and apps already, so being able to use apps I'm familiar with and access the larger app store is a big draw.
2) As much as I like WebOS, it's about 90% finished. It's still buggy in places, very slow in others, and in general just lacking polish in a lot of areas. The Apps aren't much better in all, both the included and the market ones. I'd be willing to stick it out knowing these issues would evetually be fixed, but they won't. So why get frustrated with an "almost" that will never improve?


RE: Android on a TouchPad, gasp
By Makaveli on 10/6/2011 2:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'm one of those Touchpad user and very happy with WEB OS and not certain that I will put android on it. I'm more curious about the ARM version of windows 8.


RE: Android on a TouchPad, gasp
By Fritzr on 10/6/2011 10:20:21 PM , Rating: 2
HP's response actually implies that there is an Android port that was being tested internally & the tablets with Android installed are trade secrets that were disposed of without permission.

If that is the case who is legally responsible for giving the source code to the proud owners of tablets that shipped with Android pre-installed? Is it HP corporate who considered them a 'trade secret' for internal R&D or the unknown individuals who put them in boxes and shipped them out without permission?

Yes, the Android license requires source code to be made available IF the OS was legally released. That said. What are the legal requirements under the license if the OS is ILLEGALLY released?


RE: Android on a TouchPad, gasp
By vol7ron on 10/10/2011 8:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the Android license requires source code to be made available IF the OS was legally released. That said. What are the legal requirements under the license if the OS is ILLEGALLY released?


Are you really not familiar with corporate strategy and US courtrooms? There are no legal requirements, Google can file suit and they'd have a lot of evidence to prove it, especially with all these now public statements.

I don't think Google is after that though, they're after the intellectual property associated with HPs touch and wireless interfaces. To my knowledge, such interfaces are separate from the OS source code.


By Digimonkey on 10/6/2011 10:17:47 AM , Rating: 5
I could come up with some conspiracy theories, but I'm gonna go with the more probably answer and just say because HP is currently ran by a bunch of idiots.




By Digimonkey on 10/6/2011 10:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
*probable


By JonnyDough on 10/6/2011 8:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
*run

Ran is past tense. :)


Someone hates the customer being right
By drycrust3 on 10/6/2011 4:28:57 PM , Rating: 4
Here we go again! The company that is the top selling computer maker in the world hating every moment of it. First they hated their profitable top selling PC division so much they want to sell it, then they hated the fact that Hurd had bought a mobile phone maker with their own OS so they could move smoothly into the easily foreseeable mobile future so much they just binned the whole thing.
Then, to make doubly sure everyone knew they hated selling computers they bought an overpriced software company that operates in the same market as Oracle and IBM, but they have all their clients tied up in long term contracts, so HP would get just meagre pickings for the next decade.
Of course, everyone at HP knows that in the next 4 years there are going to be around 500 million people begging for mobile computing devices, like smart phones and tablets, and they don't want to be part of that! WHAT? HAVE A SLICE OF YUMMY 500 MILLION SALES? BAH! HUMBUG!
Ok, so let us see who thinks this HP Tablet with Android on it is a good idea for a marketable product: Shareholders? Yep! Customers? Yep! Media Journalists? Yep! HP sales people? Yep! HP Engineers? Yep! Competitors? Nope! HP Board of Directors? NOPE!
If the HP Board of Directors want an indication of the path ahead of them if they keep up with their current nonsense, just look at Nokia: laying off staff left, right, and centre because no one is buying their out of date products.




By drycrust3 on 10/6/2011 4:42:25 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa! Look at that: Double post. Maybe the message needs to be said twice.


Who cares?
By thisisaname on 10/6/2011 9:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
Why would HP even care at this point? They killed the Touchpads and WebOS.




RE: Who cares?
By Fritzr on 10/6/2011 10:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
They don't care about the tablet ... they do care about employees who release trade secrets.


Because
By MrWho on 10/7/2011 2:53:03 AM , Rating: 2
"That said, HP's vows to "investigate" the incident feel a bit like beating a dead horse. After all, HP essentially said loud and clear that it didn't care about TouchPad or webOS fans, when it discontinued the device and began laying off the webOS team. So why would HP care if someone put Android on it?"

Because it's their attempt to escape the obligation of publishing the firmware and source code. Just that.




Prank
By cfaalm on 10/11/2011 5:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't this be a prank form someone of the (laid off) WebOS team? There's a lot of humor in there if you ask me.




By drycrust3 on 10/6/2011 4:28:57 PM , Rating: 1
Here we go again! The company that is the top selling computer maker in the world hating every moment of it. First they hated their profitable top selling PC division so much they want to sell it, then they hated the fact that Hurd had bought a mobile phone maker with their own OS so they could move smoothly into the easily foreseeable mobile future so much they just binned the whole thing.
Then, to make doubly sure everyone knew they hated selling computers they bought an overpriced software company that operates in the same market as Oracle and IBM, but they have all their clients tied up in long term contracts, so HP would get just meagre pickings for the next decade.
Of course, everyone at HP knows that in the next 4 years there are going to be around 500 million people begging for mobile computing devices, like smart phones and tablets, and they don't want to be part of that! WHAT? HAVE A SLICE OF YUMMY 500 MILLION SALES? BAH! HUMBUG!
Ok, so let us see who thinks this HP Tablet with Android on it is a good idea for a marketable product: Shareholders? Yep! Customers? Yep! Media Journalists? Yep! HP sales people? Yep! HP Engineers? Yep! Competitors? Nope! HP Board of Directors? NOPE!
If the HP Board of Directors want an indication of the path ahead of them if they keep up with their current nonsense, just look at Nokia: laying off staff left, right, and centre because no one is buying their out of date products.




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