- Started to play with the Galaxy S (GT-I9000) phone Harald Welte reports that Samsung is going a good job of living up to its GPL requirements for its Linux-based Android phones, including the Galaxy S series.
- GPL violation reports in HTC G2 Android phone Harald Welte discusses a long string of GPL violation issues on HTC's part, including their willful and acknowledged flouting of the GPL.
- HTC Willfully Violates the GPL in T-Mobile's New G2 Android Phone Steve Schultze quotes HTC directly admitting that they do not follow the GPL, pretending that withholding source code is acceptable under the GPL.
The longer version: Not quite two years ago, I bought an HTC-built AT&T Fuze phone—my first running Windows—because it was the only phone I could get at the time that gave me 640 x 480 pixels on the display and sufficient external storage; enough to reasonably use as a backup device to hold a full set of approach plates so that if I for any reason did not have the correct approach plates available for my flight, I could pull out my cell phone (with the cell radio off, of course!) and use it to get at the information I need to safely land in instrument conditions.
It was a so-so experience. The interface was clunky, but at least the platform wasn’t locked down; if only because Microsoft wasn’t good enough at the time to make a platform that could be locked down effectively… I could download a few apps for it that made it sufficiently usable, and I could put up with its quirks. But it certainly didn’t make me fall in love with Windows, or with Microsoft as an OS provider.
I tried a community build of Android on the Fuze, and found that even without HTC’s help, Android was smoother, quicker, more usable than winmo. There were enough missing things, and battery life was bad enough, that I clearly wasn’t going to be able to just use the Fuze as an android device, but it was enough to make me want to get an Android device for my next phone.
I considered buying a new larger HTC-built phone (I wasn’t sure which to pick, and was waiting for the next batch of Android phones from HTC) and the smaller HTC Aria for my wife. Fortunately, I did my research and discovered that HTC was withholding infomation on the Aria, making it a hard platform for the wider Android development community to support, and clearly not living up to their GPL commitments in general on their Android phones.
The fact that Harald Welte, who is careful, thoughtful, and knowledgeable about the GPL (including a long history of successfully enforcing legal actions against companies that violate the GPL), says that Samsung has done a good job of living up to its GPL obligations was the number one deciding factor for me to choose not to purchase two more HTC phones.
I bought a pair of Samsung Galaxy S “Captivate” phones; one for me, one for my wife. HTC’s choice to alienate open source advocates, and Samsung’s choice to follow the rules, paired up to give Samsung two sales at HTC’s expense. I know that two is not a large number, but I hope I’m not alone. I’d like to thank Samsung for making it easier to vote with my feet by creating a rather compelling offering—the Galaxy S is a nice platform. (Here’s hoping AT&T doesn’t wreck Froyo when they make the update available!)