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HTC Dragging Feet On GPL Source Release For "Hero" Phone 181

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the something-about-defecating-where-you-eat dept.
Squiff writes to mention that despite being based on the Open Handset Alliance's Android platform and using several open source components, HTC are effectively refusing to release the source for the GPL parts of their "Hero" Phone code, saying that they are "waiting for their developers to provide it." It has been called an "object of lust," it's beating the iPhone for awards, and it seems to be the first Android phone that really is "the phone to have," to hear some people tell it. It has also just become available in the US after a June release in Europe.
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HTC Dragging Feet On GPL Source Release For "Hero" Phone

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  • Nice excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:48PM (#29771551)

    Phone code, citing that they are "waiting for their developers to provide it."

    Too bad that doesn't work.

    "Yes your honor, I downloaded all of that music, but I emailed the artists asking how I could send them money, and are just waiting on them to license it to me properly!"

    Not exactly fitting I know, but still.

    Every other closed source shop has to hold off on release of their product until all licensing issues are taken care of (at least if they don't want to be taken to court.) This license is no different.

    • by Bogtha (906264)

      Too bad that doesn't work.

      Maybe not in this case, but what about if a company outsourced phone manufacturing? The external company would be the ones making the copies by preinstalling the software onto the phones, and they would be fulfilling the terms of the GPL by providing the source to the phone company. At this point, the phone company haven't made any copies, they have essentially just bought a shipment of goods. What compels them to be bound by the terms of the GPL? Don't you actually have to

      • What compels them to be bound by the terms of the GPL? Don't you actually have to make copies to be bound by its terms?

        From the GPL version 3:

        To “convey” a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies.

        Providing the finished phone to a consumer conveys a binary copy to them. They are entitled to source from the conveyor.

        • by Bogtha (906264)

          Firstly, Android is based on Linux, and the Linux kernel is GPLv2. Secondly, the reason why I ask is that one of the strengths of the GPLv2 is that it is based solely on copyright - it isn't an EULA, it only comes into effect when you copy. If no copying takes place, I fail to see why the distributor-not-copier needs a license or permission from the copyright holder. If they don't need permission, then they don't need to agree to the GPL.

          Let me put it another way - I own a G1, which came preinstalled

          • I really wish someone would sue Novell over the Microsoft agreement.

            There is no way that agreement is not an indirect method to breach the GPL2.

            Indirect methods of avoiding obligations are still methods of avoiding obligations. In this case, collusion to break a contract can be cause for criminal action.

      • The external company would be the ones making the copies by preinstalling the software onto the phones, and they would be fulfilling the terms of the GPL by providing the source to the phone company. At this point, the phone company haven't made any copies, they have essentially just bought a shipment of goods. What compels them to be bound by the terms of the GPL? Don't you actually have to make copies to be bound by its terms?

        It's copyright. Just because the guy on the street corner selling copies of

      • If I understand the GPL correctly, you have to provide source if you distribute the software.

    • So... the developer has to release his code before he develops it to license something under GPL? No.

      [quote]Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,[/quote]

      I'm not too u

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      "Yes, your honor, we had the source code to give to the compiler to produce the binaries, but we couldn't give the source code to the user because we weren't done with it yet."
    • by sam0vi (985269)

      This is like the worst excuse ever. How can they release a software product and not have the source code?? It's not like you can compile flow charts into usable software before you finish writing the code. If the code compiles fine, it's just a matter of publishing it (you don't even have to make it pretty). Any takes on the matter?

  • I sent a message to HTC and got this response:

    Dear Sir, I have sent a communication to our head office to have this source code released on the developer website. It will be available soon at developer.htc.com. We will work to release this as soon as possible. Best Regards, HTC Europe Customer Care

    However, this isn't really good enough. Let's hope that the combined might of slashdot will be able to sort it out!

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:01PM (#29771683) Homepage

      That's funny, I received a similar if slightly longer email from HTC.

      PERMIT ME TO INFORM YOU OF MY DESIRE OF GOING INTO PROGRAMMING WITH YOU. I GOT YOUR NAME AND CONTACT FROM THE TOGOLESE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION. I PRAYED OVER IT AND SELECTED YOUR NAME AMONG OTHER NAMES DUE TO IT'S ESTEEMING NATURE AND THE RECOMMENDATIONS GIVEN TO ME AS A REPUTABLE AND TRUST WORTHY PERSON I CAN SHARE SOURCE CODE WITH AND BY THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS I MUST NOT HESITATE TO CONFIDE IN YOU FOR THIS SIMPLE AND SINCERE BUSINESS.

      I AM AITCH TEE SEE, THE ONLY CHILD OF LATE MR AND MRS TEE SEE. MY FATHER WAS A VERY WEALTHY TELEPHONE MERCHANT BASED IN TAIWAN...

      It went on for a while, but finally Mr. Tee See got to the point about source code:

      THE SOURCE CODE IS CONTAINED IN A SEALED TRUNK BOX, IT WAS REGISTERED AND DECLEARED AS CONTAINING HERO SANDWICHES, SO EVEN AS I AM WRITEING YOU NOW THE SECURITY AND IT'S AGENTS ARE NOT AWARE OF THE CONTENTS CONTAINED AS SOURCE CODE FOR THE HERO PHONE. LET ME ASURE YOU THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% HITCH AND FRISK FREE.BASED ON YOUR ACCEPTING TO HELP ME I WILL BE GIVING YOU A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF PERCENTGE FOR YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS AND THIS WILL BE DISCUS UPON YOUR RESPONCE TO MY MAIL.

      I have been reading over the terms of the GPL and this all seems like everything is legal, but a week later I'm still no closer to getting that trunk full of source code. Every time Mr. Tee See emails me there's some hitch or another -- First the location of the trunk was encrypted so I had to FTP him a copy of GPG, then he needed SRPMs for OpenOffice.Org so he could clear up some kind of red tape, and now he wants me to copy all of /usr/src from FreeBSD on a web server for him.

      It's all very frustrating, but I'm convinced that Aitch Tee See is honest in his desire to get me the source code for the Hero. I will update you all when I finally receive it.

    • HTC knows that random email requests from $random_slashdotter can be safely ignored. Who is it that administers the GPL? The FSF? HTC needs to get a letter from a real lawyer with a known corporate identity. Until then, they will just keep stalling (stalling Stallman? Hahhaa ha ha...)
      • by sofar (317980)

        Who is it that administers the GPL?

        In this case: The person who legally obtained a copy of the binary code.

        This means that every person who has obtained binary code but not source, can seek injunction from the distributor through a court of law. They're the ones that can initiate legal relief against HTC.

        Quite often in GPL cases, someone who _owns_ copyright in said code, will purchase a device with said binary code, since as a copyright holder, they can demonstrate merit (a violation of a license means cop

        • by Yaur (1069446)
          sadly no. Its the copyright holder on the source. FSF for whatever has been assigned to them or the developer/project that originated the code.
      • by countach (534280)

        It's not unlikely that $random_slashdotter actually contributed a few lines to the Linux kernel and thus is legally positioned to ask HTC to cough up.

  • by sbrown123 (229895) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:57PM (#29771649) Homepage

    The Hero is nice and all but, like other Android phones, it doesn't have the processing power. The Acer A1 looks like it will be coming with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor and Android 1.6. Now if it would just be carried by someone other than T-Mobile in the states I would be happy.

    • After trying to get linux updates for an acer aspire one netbook that out of the box did not work, trying to find fourms and talking to brain dead tech support, i would never buy another device from them. They had absolutely zero after sale support for linux on that aspire. My friend who purchased it, traded it in for a windows machine. They seem to have a forum now, just not 6 months or so after the device came out? Weird and lame!

      • Acer users Linux to have an OS on machines for the Asian market where people will install pirated Windows. They sell Linux laptops without a GUI, and some other manufacturers sell laptops with FreeDos, for the same reason.

    • Samsung Moment (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Damage Ctrl (1097303)
      The Samsung Moment [phandroid.com] looks promising. It's coming to Sprint on Nov. 1 and has an 800 MHz processor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Muggy7 (1526493)
      My Hero used to lag every now and then as though the processor was struggling, now entirely fixed after upgrading the ROM to the latest from HTC. I think most of the reviews out there were based on early laggy version of the Hero software.
    • The Hero is nice and all but, like other Android phones, it doesn't have the processing power.

      What non-Android phones have significantly higher processing power? iPhone is also an ARM device, and runs at 600MHz. I've yet to hear about any mobile device with a 1GHz CPU in production. So far, 400-600MHz seems to be pretty normal between all smartphone platforms.

      • toshiba tg01

      • Besides that Android has a load of optimization possibilities left, the latest hero rom update showed it that most android phone still running on subpar speed of what is possible.
        Android 1.6 probably helps a lot as well as having a decent swap capability etc... there is a load of optimization room. Someone posted a video of a manually optimized hero in here, and that thing was running faster than the iphone which has a stronger processor and a dedicated 3d prozessor. This is amazing given the fact that most

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ash Vince (602485)

      The Hero is nice and all but, like other Android phones, it doesn't have the processing power. The Acer A1 looks like it will be coming with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor and Android 1.6. Now if it would just be carried by someone other than T-Mobile in the states I would be happy.

      ok it has low spec processor, but its a phone so who cares as it does not need to do much. I have had mine a week and its great, the lag issues other people have complained about were obviously fixed by the latest update as I have never had any complaints in this regard, not like my old Windows Mobile piece of junk, now that was laggy. The way sense ui or whatever works is great.

      My only criticism is the onscreen keyboard input, but now I have got used to that. The trick seems to be completely ignoring what

      • ok it has low spec processor, but its a phone so who cares as it does not need to do much.

        I'm not trying to snarky, but I keep hearing about how cellphones are going to be the next big platform and how everyone is going to throw out their personal computers and start buying Apps from Google and Apple and installing them on their phones.

        So how are you going to have all these great Apps doing cool things on a phone with a 500Mhz CPU?

        • by Ash Vince (602485)

          I'm not trying to snarky, but I keep hearing about how cellphones are going to be the next big platform and how everyone is going to throw out their personal computers and start buying Apps from Google and Apple and installing them on their phones.

          My last phone was an HTC tytn ii that I bought with this in mind. The problem for me was that it was too bulky. This seems to be the problem with this approach is that to make something useable in this regard, you have to push the form factor up slightly, and that makes it awkward to carry as a phone on a daily basis. As soon as you start building in things like keyboards or high spec processors, you seem to have to push the device size up, especially the depth. After 2 years of owning the Tytn2 I was fed u

  • FTA: Going into the review, we desperately wanted to love this phone, but given the combination of a few poor hardware choices and an OS which outclasses the device it runs on, we can only recommend that you enter at your own risk.

    That sounds completely different then my definition of lust.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's lust. You get excited by the idea of something, knowing the real thing is actually bad for you, and will be shallow and unfulfilling if you really get your hands on it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Have you been to a whore house?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ShieldW0lf (601553)
      FTA: Going into the review, we desperately wanted to love this phone, but given the combination of a few poor hardware choices and an OS which outclasses the device it runs on, we can only recommend that you enter at your own risk.

      That sounds completely different then my definition of lust.


      They went into the review drunk on a Friday night. They sent the phone back to the manufacturer in a cab around 4 AM, and they wrote their findings when they woke up on Saturday afternoon. Haven't we all been ther
    • That sounds completely different then my definition of lust.

      Spec sheets ~= beer goggles.

  • With a name like "hero", you know it's going to suck.

  • It'll continue... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:19PM (#29771851) Homepage

    ...until one of the copyright holders (you know, the ones with standing to sue) send a C&D and threaten to file for an injunction stopping all HTC Hero sales. The source code will be ready for download about 0.2 seconds later.

  • I am sure someone would come up with it then.

  • Wrongish link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:23PM (#29771915)

    It's actually page 4 [xda-developers.com] with the relevant posts

  • The upcoming Motorola Cliq seems way better than this one, specially (at least to me) because of the keyboard.

  • Object of Lust? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kagato (116051) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:41PM (#29772117)

    So I decided to RTFA on the "Object Of Lust" link. Here's the conclusion to the article:

    "The Hero represents a valiant effort from HTC -- though unfortunately, the company appears to have bitten off more than its last-generation hardware can chew. If this build of Android were to be loaded atop the guts of a 3GS or Pre, the performance would likely be astounding, but fused with the two-year old architecture of previous devices, it's mostly disappointing. We're not saying this isn't the best build of Android on the market -- we think it is. What we are saying is that this build is a bit too much for a device like the Hero to handle, and that makes for an uneven, sometimes frustrating experience. Going into the review, we desperately wanted to love this phone, but given the combination of a few poor hardware choices and an OS which outclasses the device it runs on, we can only recommend that you enter at your own risk. HTC has an explosive entry in the smartphone category with what its done on the software side... now it just needs the hardware to match."

    I think they may be make the Hero out to be a bit more than it really is.

    • Re:Object of Lust? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by painandgreed (692585) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:47PM (#29772185)
      Well, just because they're an 'object of lust' doesn't mean they'll be a good lay, or that you'll ever want to see them again after the first night.
    • PLEASE STOP (Score:5, Funny)

      by DMiax (915735) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:08PM (#29773037)

      I am incredibly annoyed at people that RTFA and then post entire paragraphs in hope they get modded "Informative".

      IT IS AN ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

      for many reasons:
      1. not RTFAing is not lazyness, it's a principle. The parent did put a disclaimer ,but so many trick us into readng taboo content that it get very very disciminatory against thos of us with moral values.
      2. it may spawn an utterly informed thread, a situation to be avoided at all costs.
      3. in the same way it may bring to an end a highly speculative thread - that is the very essence of slashdot - just because it does not agree with the so-called "facts".
      4. the points 2 and 3 may affect other threads due to people inadvertently read the quote and reproducing it in other posts.

      On the other hand we appreciate and encourage your karma-whoring attempt, you will receive your mod points soon :)

    • by gumpish (682245)

      It's also worth noting that the original review was posted in July.

      Last month HTC released a firmware update that eliminates the laggy interface issues. [engadget.com]

      Good news for HTC Hero early adopters: HTC has a new firmware update out now for the device, and it considerably speeds up the interface if the multitude of reports to be found on the internet can be believed. Seeing as this was the number one gripe with the overall excellent UI, we're incredibly glad HTC has gotten work on this, and we'll be spending some

  • Someone on the xda-developers forums started a petition here

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/herokernel/signatures-1.html

    You can also go to htc.com and fill out the Contact Us form with the contents of the petition as several people have already done.

    More people doing the latter would probably generate more concern at HTC if their customer service department is getting flooded with them.

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      Yeah, only do this if you actually *own* a Hero. Something people seem to miss about the GPL sometimes - you only have a legal right to the source code *when someone gives you a binary* of GPL software. Where there is no distribution, there is no violation. So, if you are not either the copyright holder of the software in question, or an owner of an HTC touch (at which point HTC has distributed the software to you in object form), you have no right to demand the source code.

  • If someone with clout finds out that their IP is being imported without a license, the FBI raids a dock-side warehouse in Los Angeles. Good luck getting their attention for this one. But still, somebody with standing and who cares enough could be filing the paperwork. In this case, because physical goods are involved, there is a pressure point with the manufacturer.

    • So law enforcement helps you, if you are someone "with clout", but if you lack influence you have to sue yourself. Not exactly the way things should be, is it?

  • by jerk (38494) <cherbert@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:22PM (#29773689)

    I'm posting this as a third party, but I was the one that recommended my friend check out the Hero, so I'm relaying the findings.

    As you know, many AT&T users in major metros are having some pretty severe service issues - my friend is one of that group. As a gadget geek like many here, he left Verizon shortly after the iPhone was released since there was no light at the tunnel of disappointing handset releases with Verizon. He had been a happy iPhone user up until shortly after the 3GS launch. Prior to that, he'd had a few issues, but nothing like he's been experiencing as of late.

    He tried a Pre for a week on Sprint and was impressed with the quality of service and the OS. WebOS is a really nice OS, but still young and lacking many apps (I have no doubt that this will improve.) The killer for him was battery life.

    Today, he walked into the Sprint store, and after almost an hour of test driving the latched-down phone, bought one. Almost an hour later, he called and said he was taking it back. Surprised, I asked why. He said that once outside in direct sunlight, the phone was almost unusable since you could hardly see the screen, even at 100% brightness.

    Gripe #2: OS lag. Not as noticeable when swiping through screens and launching apps/browsing, but once you use the dialer it becomes apparent. He said that using the dialer was so bad, that he input several digits twice because he had thought they didn't register. I'm not sure if this phone was running cupcake or donut, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it was cupcake (there are supposedly speed improvements in donut.)

    Gripe #3: No proximity sensor or other mechanism for disabling the touchscreen while on a call. How can a company make a touchscreen phone and not include some kind of provision for this?! While on a call, he accidentally ended it with an accidental touch of his cheek. After ~30 seconds, the screen is shut off (and hopefully there's a way to do it manually). Still an inconvenience.

    This was especially disappointing for me because I think Android is shaping up to be a very nice OS, but it's still waiting for the right hardware.

    • According to the reports there are two causes of lag,
      a) The old firmware, HTC has released one a month ago which improves things a lot
      b) Too many apps open you have to download the free App killer tool to compensate this.

    • by unfunk (804468)

      I'm not sure if this phone was running cupcake or donut, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it was cupcake (there are supposedly speed improvements in donut.)

      Yeah, it would have been 1.5 - the problem with the Hero is that because it's so heavily customised, you can't just update it to Donut and run with it, unlike the Sapphire/Magic/myTouch3G.
      Having said that though, there is a recent official firmware update that supposedly significantly speeds the device up. I don't actually have a Hero, but I've tried one of the backports to the Magic hardware, and it seems to work fairly well.

      However, I'll have to agree with the spirit of your post; the Hero's OS is bit

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