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September 19th, 2011

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Is Android really free software?

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In an article in the Guardian today, Richard Stallman asks “Is Android really free software?Slashdot sums it up nicely:

Google has complied with the requirements of the GNU General Public License for Linux, but the Apache license on the rest of Android does not require source release. Google has said it will never publish the source code of Android 3.0 (aside from Linux), even though executables have been released to the public. Android 3.1 source code is also being withheld. Thus, Android 3, apart from Linux, is non-free software, pure and simple. … Android is a major step towards an ethical, user-controlled, free-software portable phone, but there is a long way to go. Hackers are working on Replicant, but it’s a big job to support a new phone model, and there remains the problem of the firmware. Even though the Android phones of today are considerably less bad than Apple or Windows smartphones, they cannot be said to respect your freedom.

Further into the article, he also explains the difference between GNU/Linux and Android/Linux, in a I’ve-told-you-so-for-20-years manner he of course is completely entitled to:

Android is very different from the GNU/Linux operating system because it contains very little of GNU. Indeed, just about the only component in common between Android and GNU/Linux is Linux, the kernel. People who erroneously think “Linux” refers to the entire GNU/Linux combination get tied in knots by these facts, and make paradoxical statements such as “Android contains Linux, but it isn’t Linux”. If we avoid starting from the confusion, the situation is simple: Android contains Linux, but not GNU; thus, Android and GNU/Linux are mostly different.

Pirate Party Enters Berlin Parliament

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From TorrentFreak:

“For the first time in history a Pirate Party has managed to enter a state parliament. With an estimated 9 percent of the total vote the Pirate Party exceeded the 5% floor needed to enter the Berlin parliament with several seats. For the international Pirate Party movement this is the second major success after the European elections of 2009.

piratenThe German Pirate Party has scored a massive win in the elections for the Berlin state parliament today. Two hours after the voting booths closed the first results show the Pirates achieving 9 percent of the counted votes. This translates into 15 parliament seats.”

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