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  1. #1
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    Dsanders77's Avatar
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    A discussion of Android, AOSP, and CyanogenMod project

    IssacJ, the dev behind Icarus and the current Cyanogenmod 7 for the Ascend posted this on Androidforums yesterday. I am reposting to help newer folks to the modding community understand a bit better what Android is, and how custom ROMs work. The amount of work that goes into these ROMs is HUGE, and I thought giving people a better idea of how things work would be a good thing. What follows below is a repost of IssacJ's post.

    A discussion of Android, AOSP, and CyanogenMod project
    Hello all,

    Sometimes, I get the feeling that some people, mostly newcomers, don't understand Android, AOSP, open-source and the CyanogenMod project. I am in no way an expert on these matters, but I've been around the project for awhile and decided to open up some discussion about it. If anyone of you feel that I've made a mistake or misspoke, please feel free to correct me.

    First, I'll start with a brief explanation of open source software. Open source means to be free as in libre, but not always free as in beer. Furthermore, just because software has been released as open source, doesn't mean it has to be distributed. According to Wikipedia, in order to qualify as open source software, the software has to to align with these criteria:


    Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code.
    The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:
    1. Free Redistribution
    The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.
    2. Source Code
    The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.
    3. Derived Works
    The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.
    4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code
    The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.
    5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
    The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
    6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor.
    The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
    7. Distribution of License
    The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
    8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
    The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.
    9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software
    The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.
    10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral
    No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.
    Certain licensing comes into play as well. The way I understand it, OSS has the code available to change at will and, depending on the license, the person/party who changes the software may distribute, sell, set on fire, etc. the software as long as the changes to the original source were made public. So, I can take a piece of code, make some changes to it and never release the product. The changes I've made, in compliance with OSS rules, would make me obligated to release the changes I've made to the source code.

    When it comes to Android, which is a Linux-based OS, there is a project called the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). As far as I can tell, AOSP uses a combination of 2 licenses. These licenses are the GPL license for the kernel and Apache for the ROM. Every single version of Android, with the exception of Honeycomb 3.0, has been fully released. When a manufacturer makes a ROM for a phone, they are obligated to release those changes to the kernel and ROM source. For the most part, most manufacturers are pretty good about this. The only company I've seen that does a terrible job of this is Huawei.

    Now, where does the CyanogenMod (CM) project come into play in all of this. The CyanogenMod project started off as a small, modded ROM that only worked on a handful of phones. CM took the AOSP source code, the same code used to make any stock ROM, and added tweaks and fixes to it as he saw fit. As the team grew larger and more widespread, the CM project started turning into a customized Android distribution. CM and his team has added particular modifications to the AOSP source code to allow it to be customized and adjusted to run a wide spectrum of phones. The same CM source that can be ran on a lowly device like the Ascend can also run Nexus S. The reason why CM is considered an Android distribution is because a developer can add his/her device to the source, customize it for the phone and build.

    So, no. CyanogenMod was not hacked on the Ascend or any other phone for this matter. CM was not made specifically for one phone or device because AOSP is the same software that runs on all phones/devices.

    That's all I can think for now. If I made any mistakes, let me know. I don't want to spread misinformation.

    Oh, and just my 2 cents here, don't go around bashing any developers or their respective ROMs. I hate it when I see people talking crap about Cyanogenmod, his team, other developers, etc. The same people who talk crap are the same people running the ROMs free of no charge. Basically, in my book, it goes like this: Put up or shut up. The source is available. If you think you can do something better, by all means, go ahead and do so. If not...well, you know.
    Semper Fi.

    If you like my work, help me buy a pony: Donate Link

    Stay up-to-date with me. My twitter:@IcarusMOD

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  3. #2
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    Chris Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Good read. I'm going to have to check it out while sitting on the porcelain throne. I suggest n00bs do too. I have a general idea, but would like to see someone else's explanation.
    Please check the forum and post there before PMing me. I have over 674 unread PMs due to the fact that they are issues which should have been addressed here.

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