HTCs delays in releasing Linux source code are unacceptable
The Taiwanese smart phone maker HTC is widely known to be delaying its
Linux kernel source code releases of their Android products. Initially,
this has been described to to the requirement for source code review,
and making sure that no proprietary portions are ending up in the
While the point is sort-of moot from the beginning (there should be no
proprietary portions inside the Linux kernel for a product that wants to
avoid entering any legal grey zone in the first place), I was willing to
accept/tolerate it for some time.
At one point more than one year ago, gpl-violations.org actually had the
opportunity to speak in person to senior HTC staff about this. I made
it very clear that this delay is not acceptable, and that they should
quickly fix their processes in order to make sure they reduce that
delay, eventually down to zero.
Recently, I received news that the opposite is happening. HTC still has
the same delays, and they are now actually claiming that even a 120 days
delay is in compliance with the license.
I do think neither the paying HTC customers, nor tha Free Software
community as a whole have to tolerate those delays. It is true that the
GPLv2 doesn't list a deadline until when the source code has to be
provided, but it is at the same also very clear what the license wants:
To enable people to study the program source code. Especially in todays
rapid smart phone product cycles, 120 days is a very long time.
So I hereby declare my patience has ended here. I am determined to
bring those outrageous delays to an end. This will be one of my new
year resolutions for 2012: Use whatever means possible to make HTC
understand that this is not how you can treat Free Software, the
community, its customers, the GPL and in the end, copyright itself.
More "bare iron" development: OsmoSDR, osmo-e1-xcvr and SIM bank
I'm currently quite excited to be doing more bare iron
programming as well as actual electrical engineering work again.
There's actually not just one project I'm working on, but a variety of
- OsmoSDR - an upcoming small form-factor, inexpensive USB SDR. Not
big and expensive like USRP or real "professional" solutions, but also
not as weak as the ultra-narrow-band funcube dongle. I wasn't involved
in the hardware design, but have volunteered to take care of the
firmware development for the Atmel SAM3U micro-controller inside.
- a relatively simple circuit board containing the magnetics, LIU, clock
generation and transceiver for E1/T1/J1 lines.
The idea here is to have a solution for the analog part, as well as
HDB3/B8ZS/AMI encoding, which can then be attached to any FPGA, CPLD or
micro-controller development board. It exposes SPI for controlling the
transceiver, and a synchronous serial bit-stream for Rx and Tx.
- unnamed sim-bank project - here the goal is to find a cheap
solution to attach a large number of SIM cards to either a PC or
directly to Ethernet. This can be very useful for testing, where you
host your sim cards in a centralized location and can borrow them
to remote users/devices over TCP/IP. There are commercial devices
available for this, but they are quite expensive (like 1700 USD for 32
card device) and intended to be used with some proprietary windows
software (who wants that?!?).
In the latter two projects I'm also doing the component selection,
schematics design and PCB layout. One project with KiCAD, the other
in EAGLE, as I really want to get first-hand experience of the usability
of Free vs. proprietary EDA tools. I'd love to also evaluate Altium
Designer, but they are still windows-only, and that would just make life
way too difficult for me.
The projects will be duly announced soon, and they are all intended to
be Open Hardware designs with Free Software. We'll probably also make
all of them available at shop.sysmocom.de, too.