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Old 08-07-2006, 11:17 AM   #1
TadW
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SDK details revealed! "Free" and "extended" ...

Looks like iRex is leaking out the first details of the iLiad SDK. And - the big shocking news of the day - they are going to release two different SDKs: one is "free" and one is "extended".

According to them, the "free" version is available to any ‘private’ developer that shares our passion for electronic reading, whereas the "extended" version contains additional hardware and technical support for third parties who wish to develop an own viewer on the iLiad platform to support their own content offerings.

Do you buy this? To me this sounds as if the free SDK is basically useless as it does not allow you to develop your own iLiad tools (otherwise how would it be different from the "extended" version?).

I know we had a discussion earlier that according to GPL principles, they have to supply us with the tools required to build your own software and/or even rebuild the entire OS. I hope they don't try to get around "this problem" by releasing a stripped-down SDK.

http://developer.irexnet.com/sdk
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:43 AM   #2
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It sounds pretty reasonable for me. The "extended SDK" contains a lot of support - possibly even hardware, like a caseless iliad with jtag adapter or something, plus technical support. That is, the developers at some company can call up the irex developers and ask questions. They will probably also get internal design documents and such.

On the other hand, the free one could be simply a tutorial how to set up OpenEmbedded, how to export a filesystem to the Iliad via NFS, and a bunch of header files and libraries. The description sounds like you'll get an sshd on the Iliad via iDS so you have {full|crippled} access to the device. Which is perfectly sufficient.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:49 AM   #3
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I see how you read this. Yes, that's possible - as long as it's possible to work with the free SDK without the additional hardware and technical support (support could mean text documents, but it could also mean binary code).
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:51 AM   #4
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Stop panicking

> whereas the "extended" version contains additional hardware

So, whatever this additional hardware might be, I doubt that iRex could afford giving it away for free.

So they have exactly these options:

1) scrap the additional hardware -> nobody wins
2) provide us* with a free (as in beer) SDK and non-free additional Hardware
3) provide us* with a free (as in beer) SDK and a non-free pro-SDK containing this additional hardware and additional support and stuff
4) provide us* only with a non-free pro-SDK

If the free (as in beer) SDK is usable I don't see a problem in them choosing option 3.


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(* neither you nor me own an iLiad, yet?
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:56 AM   #5
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Free beer is good!

One thing you guys didn't mention yet:

In order to become a "private" developer for the iLiad platform (and receive the SDK), you need to register with them and own an iLiad device, where the "development environment" is being downloaded from.

So if you don't have an iLiad, you won't get to see the SDK. Bad luck, guess we have to stick to our free beer. The big question: is this way of releasing the sources and development tools in compliance with GPL?
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Old 08-07-2006, 12:04 PM   #6
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I recommended this link for what is and what is not allowed according to GPL.
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Old 08-07-2006, 12:24 PM   #7
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Does the GPL allow me to distribute a modified or beta version under a nondisclosure agreement?
No. The GPL says that anyone who receives a copy of your version from you has the right to redistribute copies (modified or not) of that version. It does not give you permission to distribute the work on any more restrictive basis.
So everyone will eventually have access to the source and documentation, one way or the other.
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Old 08-07-2006, 12:36 PM   #8
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Let's wait and see...

> is this way of releasing the sources and development tools
> in compliance with GPL?

AFAIK it wouldn't if this meant that the only way to get hold of the sourcecode of the GPL'd applications they give away was buying an iLiad-device.

If you give away GPL'd applications the GPL asks you to provide anybody with the sourcecode.
You wouldn't have to put it online but could send it on CD on request for a reasonable amount of money that covers your expenses for the CD and postage, though.

But I really doubt that being a GPL-bending-weasel would be a good decision for iRex businesswise - their market at the moment is very small and GPL-aware.

Let's don't beat them up before they really enter our playground and we started playing togeter...

Actually they have an interesting product we've been waiting for for a long time. Of course, having been trated like idiots and lemmings by so many other companys doesn't help much...

k2r
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Old 08-07-2006, 01:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Devlar
So everyone will eventually have access to the source and documentation, one way or the other.
Not necessarily. If they wrote, say, pageBar from scratch (that's the program that displays the page numbers), they don't have to publish the source. Only where they use and modify a GPL'ed program such requirements apply.

And no, linking gtk libs is no derivative work. It really is possible to develop closed-source commercial programs in an open source environment.

Let's just hope they give us a lot of stuff.

The next thing is that non-developers (in the sense of an irex registration) can only get new software through iDS. Apparently they plan to let people add viewers to iDS, but we know nothing definite. Especially whether we have to hand over the copyright to irex or something.


Oh - and we still don't know about a reinstall possibility (note to self: go to the irex forum for that).
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Old 08-07-2006, 01:59 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by doctorow
So if you don't have an iLiad, you won't get to see the SDK. Bad luck, guess we have to stick to our free beer. The big question: is this way of releasing the sources and development tools in compliance with GPL?
Seems fine... Why would you want to develop fot the illiad if you didn't want to see your application working...?

And how would you debug it or check to see if it works as intended...?
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by doctorow
Free beer is good!

One thing you guys didn't mention yet:

In order to become a "private" developer for the iLiad platform (and receive the SDK), you need to register with them and own an iLiad device, where the "development environment" is being downloaded from.

So if you don't have an iLiad, you won't get to see the SDK. Bad luck, guess we have to stick to our free beer. The big question: is this way of releasing the sources and development tools in compliance with GPL?
This assumes that the sources and development tools are, in fact, licensed under the GPL -- a common assumption here that I don't share. I don't see anything on the linked Irex developer page that indicates that the SDK itself is free or open source. They even put "free" in quotes to blunt the implication that with SDK will be anything more than proprietary freeware, "free beer."

Irex does have to release the source code for any modified Linux kernel used by the iLiad, but not any propriety middleware or toolkits (TiVo, for instance, discreetly makes its modified Linux kernel available, but not the middleware developed separately, in-house). We'll have to wait and see how these are licensed.
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Old 08-08-2006, 03:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jęd
Seems fine... Why would you want to develop fot the illiad if you didn't want to see your application working...?

And how would you debug it or check to see if it works as intended...?
You would have to use cross-comiling development environments. Antartica posted more about this:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7077
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Old 08-08-2006, 04:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Gameboy70
This assumes that the sources and development tools are, in fact, licensed under the GPL -- a common assumption here that I don't share.
True, I think it's important to differentiate here between the OS sources and the development tools. While the code contained within might be released under the GPL (original code and modifications), iRex is under no obligation to release the underlying details of the iLiad. However, they need to supply you with enough information to enable you to recompile the sources yourself. And these information (header files, libraries) should be sufficient for every hacker to work out how to code and build his own iLiad tools.
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Old 08-11-2006, 10:06 AM   #14
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An iRex employee must have followed this because they revised their Website, clearifying the difference between free and extended:

Free: Developers can connect to the iLiad using a SSH connection over TCP/IP and logon to a development account where they can add additional executables (format viewers) on the iLiad.

Extended: With direct iRex support which will come at a cost, for companies that are in need for a full development support tool. Next to a specially prepared iLiad the SDK contains a professional JTAG probe allowing advanced debug options and a full engineering staff is available for technical support.

So free should be sufficient for our "needs"
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Old 08-11-2006, 10:23 AM   #15
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but it doesn't say anything about the OS installation.
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