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The Android SDK has never been free

It is time to restore the truth. You’ve probably read left or right the Android SDK was not “free”. In fact, the software development kit (SDK) for Android and Android are two different things, the first was always a “proprietary”, while the second is still “free”.

SDK Android

The controversy arose after the license update to use the Android SDK. This software development kit (SDK) provides the tools for developers to develop Android applications. Google has indeed updated the license to use the Android SDK by adding this sentence:

“You may not use the SDK for Any purpose not permitted by this Expressly License Agreement”

This update has not made the SDK into proprietary software … Android has always been proprietary. In fact, Google just wants to prevent “fork” of the SDK from being developed. Because the SDK is open source, which means that anyone can download and modify the source code.

This is where it gets stuck: do not confuse “open source” and “free.” Free software is software whose use, study, change and duplication for distribution are permitted, technically and legally. Android is free (cf. AOSP), at least for another four years. In this respect, we can consider Android as a “Free Software” (Apache 2.0 license). Finally, note that it is not “100% free” for Android (as you know on your smartphone) contains some non-free libraries.

In short, open source designation is actually related to a method of development and diffusion. While that “Free Software” is a concept more “philosophical” related to the distribution and ownership. Attention to this distinction!

There is a free Android SDK, it’s Replicant (API level 15 compatible).

 

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