Google’s Android OS accused of stealing Linux code

Thought the Google/Oracle (Java) debacle was bad news for Android? Well, this time around, Google has been accused of stealing 2.5 megabytes (MB) of Linux code for their Android OS mobile operating system, which is likely much more serious than the Java allegations.

Florian Mueller, the man accusing Google of stealing the Linux kernel header file, says that the only way the search giant can address the issue without the collapse of the Android ecosystem is to replace the stolen code. An alternative library could be used to replace the code; the industry standard, GNU C Library, which is used in other Linux mobile operating systems, like MeeGo and WebOS.

Replacing the existing code with a new library would require Google to rewrite a large chunk of the operating system, which would take a long time to accomplish. Furthermore, there would be a good number of compatibility issues. The only alternative to switching to another library and rewriting a large portion of the code is to take the code and put it under the GPL, but that would mean that any part of the OS, or third-party application, would be able to be freely modified by anyone. If that happens, generating revenue would be impossible for developers using the “stolen” code.

Mueller goes on and on. And on. But without getting bored to tears, it’s easy to see that this could end up being one huge mess for Google. If it’s proven that there was code stolen for Android, Google would need to come up with an elegant, fast solution. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one. The consequences are ugly, and while it may not spell the end of Android, it could potentially alter it significantly, and not for the better.

Whatever comes of this, Google best have a plan if it intends to retain or extend its mobile OS dominance.

[Via: FossPatents]

  • Wait a minute. Linux is open, so, anybody can “steal” its code. Isn’t it?

  • linux-rules

    I’m confused…isn’t Linux open source? How does one “steal” open source code?

    • Faceman

      It’s astonishing how difficult it is for people to comprehend that open source does not equal “do whatever you want with this”

    • James

      All software is automatically copyrighted these days (once upon a time you had to register a copyright but that was before commercial software for the most part). Copyright law automatically prevents people from using the material (be it a song, movie, or software) in another use without permission.

      Various licenses grant that permission under various terms. “Public Domain” is the “do anything you want” situation, which is usually when copyright expires but people can assign their works to the public domain.

      the GPL (Gnu Public License, used a lot in Linux and Gnu packages) have certain conditions of use, mainly that if you use integrate GPL code into another code base, the rest of the code base must be at least as open as GPL. If you only add a minor tweak to a GPL app or use it “as-is”, you have to make the source code to the app available on request.

      Other licenses like Apache and BSD have other terms of use.

      Plus, to even further break your brain, code can be “source open” without having any license that allows re-use. Microsoft could expose the source code to Windows (meaning people could see the code) but not give anyone permission to redistribute or utilize that code.

      Oh, and the people who own the copyright (i.e. authors) can release the materials under different licenses to different people. Meaning if you wrote a web browser you could release it under the GPL (which “infects” any future modification of the browser with the GPL) and under a closed-source redistribution license.

  • RobotnO

    HAHAHA… Hope Google will DIE.. But they wont I suppose.. But this is better for MeeGo the only free alternative..

  • Vasendak

    Forgive my stupidity, but yes, I do not understand how you can steal open source and also isn’t android based on linux

  • stuff

    What about Richard Stallman’s Emacs? They distributed some releases of Emacs without its source code. They said: Ops, we will deliver.

    Now, Google did the samething, and they are delivering it. Just wait.It’s WIP.

    Plus, I heard that Google did release GPL licensed code. It’s just the Apache licensed code that is delayed.

    Cheerz with the zee.

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