Pavel Machek looking for Android exploits

In his recent bog post and mails, well-known Linux kernel developer Pavel Machek is looking for exploitable security holes in his Android phone in order to root it.

He is addressing the very fact that I also cannot re-iterate often enough: If I buy a product, then I own it. If I own it, only I decide what software runs on the device or doesn't run. The cell phone makers and mobile operators make us buy the devices, not rent them. So they have not the least right to restrict their customers from doing whatever they want on the product they own.

If those companies want to own their devices, they should resort to renting phones rather than selling them. But rather than following this logical consequence, they decide to use technical measures to distort the ownership/property situation of the product. They can still charge the customer for the full price of the product and literally sell it, while not actually transferring the inherent power of ownership. It's like selling a car but don't giving the keys along with it.

This is now the "Thanks" that the Linux Kernel developers get from companies like Google, Android or T-Mobile. They thank for being able to use the Linux kernel with locking out the very same people who wrote that kernel in the first place - as well as every other legitimate FOSS developer who wants to exercise his right to run modified versions of the program.

Welcome to the brave new world. I wish I had the time and resources to fight an example case against this kind of behavior. It is not against the wording of the GPLv2, but for me (and my lawyers) definitely against the spirit and the intent of it. Maybe I need to change priorities, as it now isn't only Motorola but also Google/Android/T-Mobile who are engaging in this outrageous act against what is probably the most important practical freedom of Free Software.

For the Motorola MAGX devices, OpenEZX hackers were luckily able to find relatively simple ways to circumvent its security, and thus the practical immediate need for any legal action. Let's hope the G1 has a similar fate soon.