Linux is Free Software. Android is Not.

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Within Android, Linux the kernel remains a separate program, with its source code under GNU GPL version 2. To combine Linux with code under the Apache 2.0 license would be copyright infringement, since GPL version 2 and Apache 2.0 are incompatible.

Rumours that Google has somehow converted Linux to the Apache license are erroneous; Google has no power to change the licence on the code of Linux, and did not try.

If the authors of Linux allowed its use under GPL version 3, then that code could be combined with Apache-licensed code, and the combination could be released under GPL version 3. But Linux has not been released that way.

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.”

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