The current state..

The last few days have been difficult. What has become clear now is that the Android Open Source Project is a framework. It’s licensed in such a way so that anyone can take it, modify it to their needs, and redistribute it as they please. Android belongs to everyone. This also means that big companies likes Google, HTC, Motorola, and whomever else can add their own pieces to it and share these pieces under whatever license they choose.

I’ve made lots of changes myself to the AOSP code, and added in code from lots of others. Building a better Droid, right?

The issue that’s raised is the redistribution of Google’s proprietary applications like Maps, GTalk, Market, and YouTube. These are not part of the open source project and are only part of “Google Experience” devices. They are Google’s intellectual property and I intend to respect that. I will no longer be distributing these applications as part of CyanogenMod. But it’s OK. None of the go-fast stuff that I do involves any of this stuff anyway. We need these applications though, because we all rely so heavily on their functionality. I’d love for Google to hand over the keys to the kingdom and let us all have it for free, but that’s not going to happen. And who can blame them?

There are lots of things we can do as end-users and modders, though, without violating anyones rights. Most importantly, we are entitled to back up our software. Since I don’t work with any of these closed source applications directly, what I intend to do is simply ship the next version of CyanogenMod as a “bare bones” ROM. You’ll be able to make calls, MMS, take photos, etc. In order to get our beloved Google sync and applications back, you’ll need to make a backup first. I’m working on an application that will do this for you.

The idea is that you’ll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation, with the applications and files that shipped on YOUR device already. Or, you can just use the basic ROM if you want. It will be perfectly functional if you don’t use the Google parts. I will include an alternative app store (SlideMe, or AndAppStore, not decided yet) with the basic ROM so that you can get your applications in case you don’t have a Google Experience device.

I’ll have more updates soon as I get all the code hammered out.

Thanks for all the support thru all of this.

  1. #1 by alun on September 29, 2009 - 12:09 am

  2. #2 by Andrew on September 29, 2009 - 12:34 am

    I think that your letter/statement is a great work around solution to the C&D and I think that as a community of developers and modders, we could even re-write these propreitary pieces of code if we wanted to replace them…

  3. #3 by sypher on September 29, 2009 - 12:34 am

    awesome work dude, i have been using your rom and i is by far the best

  4. #4 by ZackMorris on September 29, 2009 - 12:51 am

    Let me ask something:

    Everytime I update all of my apps, my home screens, my info, data, etc. all remain in place. So, as I already have your mod installed if I upgrade to the “stripped/bare” release is it going to wipe out all of my apps? I can’t imagine that it would.

    If it WOULD wipe all of my info and then apply the “stripped/bare” release then I would assume that it’s possible to use something to backup all existing .apks (to SD) and then re-install them. I’m almost certain that there is an aplication that does just that available on the market, currently.

  5. #5 by Otineb on September 29, 2009 - 1:17 am

    When are they just going to hire you?

  6. #6 by Gert on September 29, 2009 - 1:25 am

    Great decision!
    I have immense respect for the fact that you ve chosen the respectful view on Google’s decision (of which I am not giving an opinion here) and are about to further provide us with the tools to continue enjoying Android & your amazing rom legally!
    I’m noone whose opinion you should care about, but I just wanted you to know Im grateful & very happy :)

  7. #7 by raoul on September 29, 2009 - 3:03 am

    just wanted to let you know that i have a lot of repsect for the fact that you are choosing to approach this in a manner respective of google’s intellectual property rights. i have a lot of respect for them for making the OS open source in the first place, and i think if you can come up with a successful way to do this legally then it will be the best possible outcome for the android community.

  8. #8 by Josh on September 29, 2009 - 5:11 am

    In my opinion Google should hire you for making a superior rom than they could themselves. Amazing work.

  9. #9 by David Clements on September 29, 2009 - 5:38 am

    I was just about to get an Android phone before they hit you with the c&d. Then I rethought it, now I’m rethinking it again. I hear you’re the best around, and they should hire you. Good job getting noticed in the first place, and great job at brokering the deal. I know I’m going Android because you made it fast. Good luck in the future. Thanks.

  10. #10 by Thomas on September 29, 2009 - 6:05 am

    So… Will my google apps i have with your mod still be there when i update??? I hope so, and when was the new market included, I am up to date and i dont have it.

    By the way, android and my g1 were the best thing to happen to cellular devices until you came out with your mods. Thank you so very much

  11. #11 by Gport on September 29, 2009 - 8:37 am

    Nice one, I’m glad to hear that you are continueing your great work!

    I would like to offer my services to make a GUI for the backup app, you can contact me by email if you’re interested.

    And of course, thans for all the fantastic work you are still putting in Cyanogenmod!

  12. #12 by Stefing on September 29, 2009 - 9:37 am

    It seems like the action was down to over-zealous lawyers and that you have the support of developers.
    Glad to hear that you’re taking a level-headed sensible approach (and I’d expect nothing less of you) rather than the hysterical anti-Google over-reaction of some people.
    I’m hopeful that you and Google will find a way forward together – until the music industry I think they realise a little ‘light piracy’ is benefcial to them!

  13. #13 by io me on September 29, 2009 - 10:21 am

    Google, google, google…

    for them “OPEN” is applicable only at personal data of their users!!!

    this is the reality!

  14. #14 by miro on September 29, 2009 - 3:35 pm

    Thank you for your great work.

  15. #15 by Jason AKA Syx6sic on September 30, 2009 - 2:00 am

    thanks for the great work man but am wondering whats going on with the IRC room it wont let me log into it anymore says i need to be identified

  16. #16 by Charrion on September 30, 2009 - 2:38 am

    I’ve been thinking about a different path to a solution for this mess that I’d like to throw out there. I am neither a coder nor a lawyer so I don’t know the legal or technical ramifications of this idea but I thought I’d toss it out to get the opinions of others.

    Instead of fussing and fretting with a special backup app to take care of your licensed apps and drivers, etc., would it not be more prudent to make the one bare-bones rom stripped of apps and drivers that are not licensed for distribution and a separate version of the rom that is specifically for a certain licensed device, ie. the T-Mobile G1? Is it even possible to make a version of the rom that would only work on that particular device?

    And before everyone else starts screaming, “Hey, what about us {insert carrier and model} users?” If Cyanogen makes that barebones version available via Github, coders can make their own Carrier/Model version somewhat like the guys who modded Cyan’s rom to make a version that specifically worked on the Rogers Dream with it’s different radio IPL.

    This would make Cyan’s life a little easier, he could just work on the bare-bones if he wanted and off-load the task of model specific versions to different people or groups. The troubleshooting might even be a little easier not having to deal with the quirks of each and every phone.

    Again, I don’t know if this is sufficient to get past the problem of distribution of closed source apps and/or drivers to people not licensed to receive them or if this is even technically possible. I’m just spitballing here.

    What do you think? Am I off my rocker?

  17. #17 by r00ktard on September 30, 2009 - 3:20 am

    Tell Google to hire you. You would be a great asset to there android project!


  18. #18 by justin on September 30, 2009 - 3:48 am

    I also have used (tried) many different roms… great work, but your roms SURPASS any others hands down. Thanks for all your hard work and effort you do for others. Awesome job!

  19. #19 by Erin on September 30, 2009 - 4:09 am

    Are you going to move to the new 1.6 tree or stay with the 1.5+1.6 that you have now…?

  20. #20 by Michael on September 30, 2009 - 4:12 am

    I am stirred to a sense of almost patriotic pride by your words. Your upstanding and optimistic response to this situation embodies that which is true and great in the ideals of open source, democracy, and liberty. You have my deepest respect.

  21. #21 by casey on September 30, 2009 - 4:54 am

    I look forward to your next release,
    It figures something like this happens right when I go looking for a new ROM. Currently running jf.

    If anyone has the stuff to switch to cyanogen’s last rom please email it to me I’m tired of the freezing.

  22. #22 by Kevin on September 30, 2009 - 5:04 am

    I believe that google should take a sigh and just let cyanogen be..i dont see that theirs a problem with that..before i learned about cyanogenmod this g1 kept lacking something…it kept freezing and it sucked @$$… i think you are doing a good job…i will also be donating… is just jealous that you made the g1 better without them..i think i might get rid of this google logo on the back of my case and customize one that says cyanogenmod,lol keep up the good work…

  23. #23 by Andrew on September 30, 2009 - 6:47 am

    Apple does the same thing with bsd… his response is absolutely correct to deal with the licensing problem Google is confronting him with. Major props.

  24. #24 by sabin on September 30, 2009 - 7:15 am

    Thaank for your greatwork and your builds are very good.

  25. #25 by Sanjay on September 30, 2009 - 7:39 am

    Nice approach to the problem. You are a real hero. I am using your ROM and I love it.

  26. #26 by Sin on September 30, 2009 - 9:29 am

    Honestly Cyan… when I heard about this open-source blasphemy I was ready to drop my G1 where I stood and walk away from it and Google for good. Its people like you that make life worth the hastles because you make it fun and exciting. You are more human than human, a gentleman and a scholar and I will stick by android as long as you keep developing for it. You’ve made my day because I love this phone. Keep up the awesome work and thank you for being a genius on both sides of the android spectrum.

  27. #27 by Shalom P. Hamou on September 30, 2009 - 10:08 am

    If I were you I would question the motives behind the cease and desist order.

    I am not very good at programming but I would think that your mod would bypass some features that allows Google to intrude in our private life.

    Instead of being upset you should take the opportunity to make a Mod that is Google free and relieve us from the threat to our privacy.

    I wouldn’t need any of the Google gadgets if I had POP and IMAP.

    I was not even aware of your existence so say a big thank you to Google for the free ad.

    I have also a few Marketing suggestion for you but this is not the place.

  28. #28 by Hoi on September 30, 2009 - 10:57 am

    Your ROM is the best !

  29. #29 by deftaker on September 30, 2009 - 5:17 pm

    Thank you for continuing onwards in face of the difficultes that Google has sanctioned against you. Curious though, will the new backup imager and bare bones rom be available through the updater?

  30. #30 by SLEZE on September 30, 2009 - 6:42 pm

    So let me get this straight. Apps that are perfectly free (Google Maps, Google Voice) on other phone OSs (WM, Iphone) are not available for Android unless you buy a special phone?

    That’s just silly.

  31. #31 by twisteroid Ambassador on September 30, 2009 - 8:25 pm


    Does this “backup your legit Google soft” approach mean that you can not legibly acquire Google’s closed-source binaries if they are not officially available for a device you own?
    For example, IF it turns out that T-Mobile is not going to release a Donut build for the G1, then we cannot grab Google binaries included in Donut from somewhere else, merge them into a Cyanogen Donut build, and use it on out G1s? We can only use Gmail and such from our officially available Cupcake build? Is that the case here?

  32. #32 by David on October 1, 2009 - 12:51 am

    I love your work. I have been using your roms since day 1. With this new script for backing up your own g-apps is it possible to select only the ones you want? There are several apps built in that I would love to get rid of. Just as a suggestion though. Thanks again for all your hard work.

  33. #33 by Charrion on October 1, 2009 - 1:11 am

    That’s a good question twisteroid Ambassador. I would have assumed since you are licensed for the app itself, not necessarily a specific version you would be clear. But if you can’t get the update OTA and copying is illegal …

  34. #34 by bonafide on October 1, 2009 - 3:07 am

    Google Apps are not limited only to Google Experience devices; example Magic. Yes, distribution agreement is required, but some devices are more ‘with Google’ than others. see Rubin’s comments

  35. #35 by Briareos on October 1, 2009 - 9:11 am

    I switched on my internet connection, and all this google crap started to sync (calendar, contacts, whatever). I was sure I hadn’t activated syncing. Immediately I went to settings and saw: Sync was not activated, but all three “sync’s” were doing it’s work. Now my friends are published to a service provider I didn’t trust in the first place.

    So I decided this to be the moment to install CyanogenMod on my production phone and was surprised your downloads were gone. I found out why and I decided that I’d no longer want to use any google services anymore from that moment on.

    Finally I thought the C&D was probably not that bad – maybe this would pave the way for Google-free phones (= ROMs)? And now it seems the dream of true OSS on handsets is one step closer to coming true.

    Thanks, Cyanogen, that I do no longer have to wait hours for my apps to load since your great work is happily running my phone. Maybe you also like the thought of not needing Google at all and make history by being the first developer to produce “clean” ROMs – not tainted by some “profiler” who reduces human beings to some sort of asset.

  36. #36 by Lloyd on October 1, 2009 - 10:54 am

    The solution to the google issue is excellent,
    like the way it was handled great work lookin forward 4 more.

    u r0ck

  37. #37 by Isaac Waller on October 1, 2009 - 3:18 pm

    You seem to be the only person that is not freaking out and proclaiming Google dead. Good job.
    I would just like to say I recommend SlideMe _way_ over AndAppStore – AndAppStore’s client is really ugly and doesn’t have paid apps. SlideMe’s is very nice.
    Sirius Applications

  38. #38 by danel on October 2, 2009 - 12:52 am

    So many of our freedoms have been lost over the past few years, don’t let android be another statistic!

  39. #39 by Phil on October 2, 2009 - 1:14 am

    I think your workaround is great. And can’t wait for the new version. But being totally honest with you I don’t understand why Google has not made a standalone link to download the MarketPlace available for modders and etc. It seems like they want to make people mad enough so that they make their own market place and gain their own revenue, and not cut Google in. “SCREW the “Google Experience” if its not open”.

    As far as Google’s Private applications I only use Maps, GMAIL, and Sync. They should make a way for these apps to be downloaded via the MarketPlace (I know Maps is).

  40. #40 by James Adkins on October 2, 2009 - 4:04 am

    I said it before and I’ll say it again…Cyanogen, you are a true gentleman and are dealing with this with grace and style.
    I look forward to your future work.
    BTW, Google really should hire you.

  41. #41 by arno on October 2, 2009 - 8:18 am

    I have been wanting to donate to a brilliant mind, but the fact that I am unemployed and broke has been stopping me until now. I guess, this is a great time to show my support, that is why I donated my last $5 in my accout to your cause. I am deeply appreciative of what u do and hope to see more of your work soon!
    Thanks, Cyan!

  42. #42 by Matt on October 3, 2009 - 5:31 am

    As mentioned, the only OS that googles apps aren’t free on, is the one they help develop, why have no major news sources pointed this out?

  43. #43 by Francis Smith on October 4, 2009 - 12:18 am

    Ok Cyanogen, your OSs are like crack. Right now I really need a fix. I mean the OS I currently have is running spectacularly, but you have me curious for me. Since your threads have been closed in XDA-dev, I don’t know what you’re up too. Then that Twitter message “expect a presant this weekend”. I can’t wait.

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