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Old 04-25-2013, 03:45 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Kobo GPL Violation regarding source availability for the Kobo Arc

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Thank you for contacting Tier 2 Kobo Customer Care. We apologize for the delay in our response.
I have contacted our development time regarding your questions about GPL codes for the Arc firmware.
Kobo doesn't use any open source code under the GPL license. So we won't be able to provide you with that information. The Android environment itself may use some. For the licensing information for Android, you can refer to the legal section in the Settings of the Device under About Tablet.
To navigate to this are in your device:
- From the Apps page, Tap on Settings
- Scroll down to About Tablet from the left menu
- Tap on Legal Information
- Under Open Source Licenses, the GPL information displays.

Hope this answers your question. Please let us know if there is any other information you require.
Seriously? Doesn't use any gpl source code? I guess the Kobo Arc's version of Android doesn't run linux.

I think gpl-violations.org would be interested to hear about this doozy. Funny thing is that the full license indicating that source must be provided is there in the license.

Ugh... Why do I bother with this?
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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It doesn't look like the Aura uses Android. I didn't see any mention of Android under legal, the version number suggests that it's using the same software as the Touch/Glo/Mini, the UI is very similar to their Touch/Glo/Mini UI (rather than their Android UI), and it uses the same update procedure as the Touch/Glo/Mini.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:12 PM   #3
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:17 PM   #4
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Try contacting them with that information, pointing out that they are using their internally developed Linux distribution so they are the ones responsible for releasing any modifications that they make to GPLed software (i.e. they cannot claim that Google is responsible).
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:19 PM   #5
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Please read what I have posted. I can't make it anymore clear.
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Old 04-26-2013, 03:59 AM   #6
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Try to post this as an issue in their github account. They have already replied to such requests:
https://github.com/kobolabs/Kobo-Reader/issues/8

try doing the same. As you're already doing this, ask also for the Aura and updated code for the other models
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:13 AM   #7
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I don't know if the source code is not release for Kobo Arc... do you know this wiki entry?
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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Hey guys, instead of going the roundabout way via gpl-violations, try raising an issue via our github repository. It's the most direct way to get source code.

The kernel sources are being pushed up for Arc right now. Aura just finished a few minutes ago.

People have tried using the repository to report bugs in the application software, but please use customer support, this forum or the beta group instead.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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It looks like something is stirring over at https://github.com/kobolabs

Kobo Aura HD bootloader/kernel are up there and an interesting stub for the arc.

Kobo you need to inform your staff about these types of issues. Misleading statements like the one I received from your top tier support needs to be addressed.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slate View Post
It looks like something is stirring over at https://github.com/kobolabs

Kobo Aura HD bootloader/kernel are up there and an interesting stub for the arc.

Kobo you need to inform your staff about these types of issues. Misleading statements like the one I received from your top tier support needs to be addressed.
Tier 2 is not the top level support......
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Tier 2 is not the top level support......
Either way it was poorly handled...

The email I received indicated that the development team was consulted and said that no GPL code was being used. This is a lie.

There is also no reference on how to obtain the source code via their website. So anyone who doesn't know about mobileread would not know about their github account.

Source code seems to only be released when someone makes a stink about it. This is does not bode well in the spirit of open source software.
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by george.talusan View Post
Hey guys, instead of going the roundabout way via gpl-violations, try raising an issue via our github repository. It's the most direct way to get source code.

The kernel sources are being pushed up for Arc right now. Aura just finished a few minutes ago.

People have tried using the repository to report bugs in the application software, but please use customer support, this forum or the beta group instead.
Dear Kobo Development Team,

A little more openness about firmware developments would be highly appreciated by the Kobo community here on MobileRead.
Please inform us about the efforts Kobo is taken to solve known bugs. Some are almost dinosauric.
Please, provide us with a roadmap of future firmware releases that inform us about
• which bugs will be fixed and when (estimated firmware release number)
• planned new features
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:34 AM   #13
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@Anak: the problem is there's no organized and open bug tracking system, like Launchpad or Bugzilla.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slate View Post
Either way it was poorly handled...

The email I received indicated that the development team was consulted and said that no GPL code was being used. This is a lie.

There is also no reference on how to obtain the source code via their website. So anyone who doesn't know about mobileread would not know about their github account.

Source code seems to only be released when someone makes a stink about it. This is does not bode well in the spirit of open source software.
While I would agree it was poorly handled and the development team's response was misleading and confusing, I don't know if I'd say they said they no GPL code was used. The response to me seems to suggest what they're saying is whatever they added isn't covered by the GPL but the original Android may be (but you need to work out from Android how to deal with that). This is misleading since their customisations to the Android and Linux source code and anything else covered by GPL are covered and they do need to make them available, but I presume they do have some work which is entirely their own and separate from the GPL covered code and therefore not covered by the GPL. I'm guessing that one of the big issues is the poor understanding by the person replying of how everything here works. It sounds to me like the person thinks of Android as a separate entity which they are using in the Kobo Arc, but not responsible for which of course isn't true. I suspect this is why BWinmill suggested you make it clear to them that they are responsible to make available their specific Android source code. Again, I'm not saying their response was good, simply that I don't think they were so much lying about what they use; but rather whoever the low level tech support person replying was, simply didn't under much at all about how it all works (and most likely whichever low level person in the development team they contacted, didn't either).

BTW, as I understand the GPL, technically there's nothing wrong with them only making the code available when someone asks provided when releasing the binaries they include the licence and a written offer to distribute the source code to you. You can argue it's not in the spirit of the GPL and I would agree it's not ideal, but probably not a violation depending on how the term 'written offer' is interpreted and whether they can be argued to have made one and comply with it. The problem here of course is that because of support confusion they aren't making it available on request despite the written offer which means they are in violation. Considering the difficult of them educating their staff about the GPL, it would probably be best if they did just provide a link on their website and proactively release their GPL source code, although the way they're handling it now is unfortunately not uncommon.

Last edited by Nil Einne; 05-01-2013 at 08:23 AM.
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