Dear Matsunichi, Releasing Source Code is a Win-Win for everyone!

Discussion in 'Le Pan Tablets' started by yann2, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. yann2

    yann2 Senior Member

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    Dear Le Pan / Matsunichi:

    Here's a document we prepared, outlining why we think releasing the source code for the linux kernel and other GPL-licensed parts of your Android tablet's operating system is a win-win proposition for everyone.

    I tried to discuss each aspect in detail, so people can familiarize themselves and understand the issues.

    The original will be sent to Matsunichi, and we hope they could consider it - we all benefit if they do.

    Any comments from other Forum members are welcome, so please feel free to post replies, questions, etc. [ Thread originally posted HERE ]

    yann2.

    ---------------------------

    The Business Case for Releasing GPL source code for Le Pan's Android Tablets.

    This memo is being prepared to clarify the issues, questions and considerations regarding the GPL-licensed modules included in Le Pan's Android Tablets.


    1. Background information :

    Most of Google's Android operating system is coded by Google's own programmers, and released by the company under the Apache License. Google specifically states in their Android documentation that this license model was chosen since it does not require licensees to release any additions, modifications or enhancements they create, based on the original.

    However - there are core components in Android which come from the Linux open source project, and are under the Gnu Public License (GPL) model. These included the Linux Kernel, a number of device drivers and kernel modules, the iBoot boot loader, etc.

    The Android user community has embraced the operating system, and is very vocal in supporting it against other, closed shop/closed operating system alternatives like Apple's iOS, RIM's Blackberry OS, etc.

    There's a strong interest in developing enhanced versions of software, modified operating systems, added features to the factory-released devices. A number of forums are available where independant software developers discuss and work on creating their own versions. XDA Developers is one of the largest, but there are others, including some specializing in certain brands, devices, etc.


    2. What is being Requested ?

    The independant development community is very active, and has offered many enhancements to products made by many manufacturers. For knowledgeable users, having a device which is supported and has options beyond the original factory firmware is an important consideration, when choosing or considering purchasing new devices like phones or tablets.

    What is being requested by the enthusiasts and developer's community is that companies release the source code for :

    a. the linux kernel as modified for use in the tablet.
    b. any device drivers and kernel modules that are also GPL licensed.
    c. the Uboot (iboot) and x-loader (iloader) source code. (from Cas_xp's post here)


    3. How do users and Developers benefit from the Source Code Release?

    Having the kernel source for an existing tablet makes it easier for the developer community to create alternative operating systems packages (popularly called 'ROMs') with extra features, or a newer Android version, etc.


    4. How does the Company benefit from the Source Code Release?

    This also benefits the tablet manufacturer:

    a. Perceived Added Value : it adds value to an existing tablet, as many users will prefer to buy a model that has other firmware choices, besides the factory provided one.

    b. Less pressure for Software Updating : it reduces the pressure on the manufacturer to provide updates and debug problems in existing firmware. For example, the TC970 users suffered a big disappointment when Le Pan disclosed they would not be developing a promised software upgrade (to Gingerbread or maybe Honeycomb or ICS).

    The pressure (and user dissatisfaction) was greatly reduced by the development of a CyanogenMod 7 for the TC970, by XDA Developer cas_xp. This operating system shines, in comparison to the factory Froyo firmware, and has been widely adopted by more technically minded users.

    In the case of the TC970, which seems to be an 'orphaned model', having the Factory Froyo source code is essential to enable the possible development of a CyanogenMod 9, ICS port. There's a current early alpha of that, but without Graphics Hardware Acceleration, it's disappointing; the developer has made it clear he can't produce a proper version without the source code, to be able to enable GUI acceleration.

    c. Referrals from Advanced User Community : More enlightened or techsavvy users give great importance to the existance of alternative operating systems. Many will not purchase (or recommend) any devices that are not supported by the independant developers community.

    Some have even abandoned the Le Pan brand, based on their experience with previous purchases - this is clear from their posts in user forums, including XDA Developers. They have moved on to other, better or 'more open' devices, with larger user communities, like for example the HP Touchpad.

    d. Avoiding Legal Problems : Legal reasons are also important; by not releasing the GPL'ed source code for an Android device within 30 days of its market introduction, the manufacturer is in violation of the license terms.

    Besides being legally iffy, many users consider this abuse of all the work created by the multitude of programmers who contributed to the linux kernel and the modules which are not being provided.

    In a large jurisdiction like the European Union and the U.S.A., this could be brought to a court of law, and the company would lose. It has happened, and it's costly and time consuming for all involved.

    A case in the U.S.A. could also jeopardize the sales of tablets via the major mass market retailers Le Pan has been able to place their products in (Amazon USA and Canada, Best Buy, Walmart.com, TigerDirect.com, etc.)


    5. Costs or consequences to the Company by releasing Source Code :

    a. Release Source Code via git depository : A company can easily set up a git depository, and place all GPL licensed files there, publicly available to anyone interested. This can be done without any costs, or at minimal costs to the company, like we can see in the example of Archos's git depository for their tablets here : https://gitorious.org/archos

    b. Risk of 'Malware' being developed with the Kernel Sources :
    We already have a firmware unpacker/packer tool, which creates the signature for the firmware files which the Le Pan 1 boot loader expects to find.

    This tool was created by fv+, a user at XDA Devs forum, and it was what enabled chinabull to create the port of ClockWorkMod for the TC970. (which is packaged and loaded just like a factory firmware)

    Someone could use the same tool, and create a 'malware/destructive' package; but they wouldn't need to wait for Le Pan's source code - the packer tool is available now, was created in early January or so.

    Users who want to use advanced, independently developed operating systems are aware they do so at their own risk. ROMs are usually developed and supported in a forum community, reviews of other users would stop dead any attempt at 'malware' distribution.


    6. Conclusions, Summary :

    To summarize the points explained above, we feel that Le Pan will benefit from the release of source code for any GPL-licensed portions (kernel, boot loaders, drivers, etc) due to :

    a. Improve the company's standing and rapport with the development community.
    b. Increased sales to those interested in development, alternative ROMs, customized versions for Business usage, etc.
    c. Getting improved user reviews, referrals to new buyers.
    d. Avoiding legal liabilities for gpl license violations.
    e. Reduce pressure on the company's development team for bug fixes

    It is understood rooting and installing custom roms will void the manufacturers warranty so you should have no costs incurred for "bricked" tablets, should that unfortunate event occur.

    We urge you to consider these, and release the source code for the TC970 Le Pan 1 tablet at least.

    Thank you for your attention,

    yann2,
    on behalf of Le Pan users community.
     
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  2. Johna2u

    Johna2u Senior Member

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    if you care about this issue please post.
    "Le Pan, please release source code!"
    in this thread
     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. yann2

    yann2 Senior Member

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    John, thank you so much - great idea. :)

    That makes it easy for people to respond to a complex post, and it shows support from tablet users. Genius. ;)

    Thanks also to everyone who is supporting this initiative - Matsunichi will be looking at the response we get here in this thread, when considering the original post above.

    Cheers! :)
     
  4. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Le Pan, please release source code!
     
  5. mprenfro

    mprenfro Member

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    Le Pan, please release source code! And all the other promised products!!!!
     
  6. mprenfro

    mprenfro Member

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    Get ICS OUT NOW!!!!!!!!
     
  7. pogoj

    pogoj Member

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    Le Pan. Your release of "source code" would be much appreciated.
     
  8. Afrolex

    Afrolex Member

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    Le Pan, please release source code!
     
  9. yann2

    yann2 Senior Member

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    An Update on This :

    We recently submitted our letter, was sent to a manager in Matsunichi's California offices.

    He understands the importance of the issues raised, and is forwarding the letter to Matsunichi's upper management in China.

    Hopefully they will consider, and maybe release the source code as we requested. :)

    Keeping fingers closed, this is going thru the proper channels, and I hope we explained all issues in a clear manner.

    Keep the posts coming, folks - it shows support for this initiative. Thank you to everyone who already posted in the thread. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  10. yann2

    yann2 Senior Member

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    Dear Le Pan,

    We spent the time to compose a detailed and reasoned explanation of Why you should do the Right Thing and fulfill your legal obligations by releasing the GPL-licensed portions of your tablet's operating system.

    We have been patient, there's developers who would love to proceed in projects with the assistance of that desired source code.

    Yet, we did not receive a reply, and it's been about 90 days, 3 months since this thread and project got started.

    That's a good amount of time for a corporate review and decision, I would have to say?

    Shall we have to start discussing this openly in the forums (and not only this one, but AndroidTablets.net, XDA Developers, etc) and make it clear why we wouldn't recommend someone purchasing tablets which are not honouring the GPL licenses of the operating system they use?

    Our friend John, who's a great fan and supporter of your company remembers the kind of posts I am referring to - he frequently cringed and bit his tongue on seeing the heavy artillery some of us opened up on a company we consider to be abusing the intellectual property rights of all the programmers who were involved in creating the Linux kernel and device drivers whose code you used.

    While some members here are cheer leaders for your company, you would be better off not have advanced users, developers and eloquent writers turning and publishing their critical thoughts on this issue, I believe. Those users are opinion leaders, as you well know, frequently consulted on computing and hardware issues by friends, family or even larger community like the Forums.

    Waiting for your move,

    Sincerely,

    Yann.

    p.s: While this thread here never took off or show much interest from forum members, the original thread is up to 7 pages and 67 replies. :)
     

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