If, like me, you’ve been paying close attention to CyanogenMod over the past few months then you will be under no illusion that something untoward may well be going on. I’ve pulled together some links and some of my own personal thoughts to write this post backed up with hard evidence and certain things the CyanogenMod team are keeping very quiet about.
Let’s start by looking at a domain registration and the website http://cyngn.com/
The domain itself is now showing as private however up until it was made private it was showing as:
MCMASTER, KIRT firstname.lastname@example.org
1412 Maple St
Santa Monica, California 90405
This in itself is nothing, it was commonly known and guessed that the domain was related to CyanogenMod however what was interesting was a countdown to August 18th on the page (which has now lapsed) and the fact that we are now seeing Cyanogen Inc.
So who exactly are Cyanogen Inc. and why have they registered a domain like cyngn when they already have their own domain (which is powered by uber powerful servers)?
Well firstly let’s look at Cyanogen Inc. who are they and what’s with the Incorporated part?
Company Name: CYANOGEN INC.
Status: Active Filing
Entity Type: Profit Corporation
File Number: C3534785
Company Age: 6 Months
Entity Name: CYANOGEN INC.
Entity Number: C3534785
Date Filed: 02/19/2013
Entity Address: 1412 MAPLE ST
Entity City, State, Zip: SANTA MONICA CA 90405
Agent for Service of Process: KIRT MCMASTER
Agent Address: 1412 MAPLE ST
Agent City, State, Zip: SANTA MONICA CA 90405
As you can see the name Kirt McMaster has popped up again. So we now know that Cyanogen Inc. is an Incorporated business listed as “for profit” and that Kirt McMaster is the man behind a lot of these things (who is he?)
I decided to do a bit of digging on the name (it’s not that common) and came up with a few things…
1. Kirt McMaster founded Boost Mobile in the United States in 2001 (Public LinkedIn Profile) and is now CEO of a company named SYN (which is dead as a url)
2. Kirt McMaster attended the CyanogenMod Developer Drinkup in Seatle and appears to be a CM developer (Google+)
Again at this stage we know very little and what’s above is just factual information found on the internet so where is this post going exactly? Well lets fast forward to the 18th of August, the countdown on the cyngn.com site has lapsed and one of XDA Developers most respected admins decides to let rip on the site:
Alas, ladies and gents... The Cyanogenmod team have managed to surpass even themselves in misdirection and disorganisation. I honestly am surprised just how absurdly short-sighted they are. Seriously. In fact, I would like to suggest that anyone who feels strongly about this lets them know about it as loudly as they deem necessary.
There is one individual, Ricardo Cerqueira (aka arcee), who seems to have single-handedly decided to go and remove huge sets of features from CM. Particularly device specific ones, under the auspices of "tidying up the settings menu". Sure, by all means have a go, but don't REMOVE functionality in the process... If you must do it, do it a step at a time - remove the features from "Advanced" as they are created into the new menu.
By way of example, recent builds have removed the Advanced menu, offering you amongst other gems, the ability to change HSPA/HSDPA/HSUPA modes, as well as to disable the incredibly annoying button backlights on the soft keys on the note 2. Oh, and the ability to remove Samsung's garishly over-saturated colours of the AMOLED screen.
All this comes from the same individual who denied Mako (nexus 4) users many advanced options, because of his own personal dislike of the "Advanced" menu. While I cannot find any public acknowledgement of this, Nexus 4 users were denied many features and tweaks due to his maintainership of the device, and there are countless occurences where his own dislike has emerged in private, hidden discussions, that you are being kept from... Such as, for example,
Originally Posted by him
There's a difference between changing the devices, and putting DeviceParts in there. I hate the whole concept of DP, and will not deploy it into a device of mine; I am, however, willing to step down as mako's maintainer if that becomes a problem.
Originally Posted by him
It's no secret that I have a very strong dislike for our current concept of "device parts" apps
Want some more proof? He was told about all these features on our devices.
|+Ricardo Cerqueira You should have a look at galaxys2-common/smdk4412-common DeviceParts. We have HSDPA settings, vibrator, mDNIE Mode/Scenario, touch sensitivity, audio dock, sensor calibration, and a few others.|
And here's his reply:
Originally Posted by him
Heh. Almost all of those are a examples of why DeviceParts should die. Kitchen sink much? Touch sensititivy, really? Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should :P
This was met with another reply from another sensible developer, pointing out the need for these features.
|I can vouch for touch sensitivity on Acer A700 though.
1) Stock comes with it - being feature-complete
2) The stock sensitivity setting sucks in some cases, I've added an kind-of-overclock "Very high" setting which helps, but we obviously don't want to ship with that as default.
Galaxy S also has HSDPA setting which is known (or at least believed by users) to have substantial affect battery life. mDNIe because some users prefer screen post-processing on (stock Galaxy S) and some prefer them off (stock Nexus S).
Ask yourself - why were users not made aware of this discussion? Why were these changes decided by one man on his own personal crusade? Why was there no consultation carried out before his own personal dislike was imposed upon us all?
Alas though, these discussions take place in secret, behind closed doors, which you and I do not see, because we are not felt "worthy" to see what happens there. Have no fear though, for I shall expose each and every one of these things, including the upcoming commercialisation of CM.
Yes, that's right... You heard me right - CM are attempting to now licence all new contributions as dual GPL and commercial licence. Why? To allow them to go on and sell the rights to the open source code to third parties. And one of their own "leads" even tried to strong-arm a valued contributor into re-licencing his work. I had to step in there, and point out they actually had no right to do so, as the contributor agreement doesn't cover that eventuality. Nonetheless, his attitude was frankly horrendous, TELLING the contributor it would be relicensed, not asking permission. That's gone quiet for now though. The reason they want to be able to licence the code commercially? To allow them to sell YOUR contributions to a third party, such as an OEM or carrier, who wants the features, but doesn't want to follow the open source licence of a GPL component.
They're also selling out and going commercial - there's rumours around the internet, but a little bit of smart thinking will lead you to the answers.
Unfortunately, due to CM now trying to be as secretive as possible, you probably won't see any of this elsewhere. They are making every effort to be as closed as possible in their structure, and decision making processes. That means you, the user, are running code where the changes are arbitrarily decided with no input by yourself, beyond the "false" pretence of their gerrit instance.
There are significant contributions made to CM which bypass their gerrit code review (mainly upstream merges), but also other large pushes. There is also the "submit and +2" mentality from their leads, where their own contributions are beyond testing, and should be pushed immediately, often leading to breakages.
There is a lot more going on, and I will expose more and more of it. Please encourage your beloved CM people to have a look at this. Also, let them know that their "secrets" are not safe, since they are ridiculously easy to find on the internet. So if they try to stop me finding things out, I will simply share more and more with the world. Fair is fair, right? The less open CM are, the more open I will be. When you're running code on your device, you expect the developers to be open, upfront, and honest with you, right? Is that happening?
What does this all mean? Well, there won't be any new "upstream" builds for a while, until I resolve a few issues such as the major removal of important features, thus crippling CM from being usable. I need to figure out what to do, whether it's re-adding them, or rewriting the settings to work properly. It will be worth it in the long run though! Trust me on that I might introduce some more #nicethings
Finally, if any of the CM leads wish to engage in a dialogue about this, feel free. You can do so, in public, here because the public trust you in running your code, so why not trust them in return? Or is this a trustless relationship? Perhaps your users should stop trusting you?
More to follow
If you can’t be bothered reading all of the above, the key points are these:
“Ricardo Cerqueira (aka arcee), who seems to have single-handedly decided to go and remove huge sets of features from CM”
“Alas though, these discussions take place in secret, behind closed doors, which you and I do not see, because we are not felt “worthy” to see what happens there. Have no fear though, for I shall expose each and every one of these things, including the upcoming commercialisation of CM.
Yes, that’s right… You heard me right – CM are attempting to now licence all new contributions as dual GPL and commercial licence. Why? To allow them to go on and sell the rights to the open source code to third parties. And one of their own “leads” even tried to strong-arm a valued contributor into re-licencing his work. I had to step in there, and point out they actually had no right to do so, as the contributor agreement doesn’t cover that eventuality. Nonetheless, his attitude was frankly horrendous, TELLING the contributor it would be relicensed, not asking permission. That’s gone quiet for now though. The reason they want to be able to licence the code commercially? To allow them to sell YOUR contributions to a third party, such as an OEM or carrier, who wants the features, but doesn’t want to follow the open source licence of a GPL component.”
Yup we are finally getting somewhere (and a place I’ve known about for some time now). Cyanogen are said to be closing off parts of code and taking the new company commercial.
So what exactly does that mean? Well if rumours are to be believed it means that they will be looking to re-licence parts of the code base and begin making money from it on a commercial basis.
So what’s so wrong with that? Well firstly, certain CyanogenMod members have been told to keep silent about what’s going on and not to comment on things that are starting to show on Google+ which in itself isn’t anything major however what is major is this… CyanogenMod are now making an attempt to commercialize what others in the world have put their blood, sweat and tears into.
Let’s look closer at this then…
The CM Contributor Agreement states:
Now the key part above is “sublicense” i.e. GPL distribution with copyright attached, it does NOT say “re-license” which is reportedly what they want to do.
From what I’m hearing “on the grapevine” the developer behind the Focal App was being pushed to re-licence his code to suit the new business structure however that’s just speculation for now.
So here are the questions…
Are CyanogenMod right in what they are doing?
Can they do it based on what developers who have contributed to the code have signed up to?
Are they breaching any other agreements?
Would you be happy if you were a developer to this code and it was being re-licensed?
Are you happy about this?
I will leave you with some parting thoughts, there are reportedly 2 Cyanogen Inc offices (1 already up and running) and there is reportedly a Cyanogen Inc. device on the way (is this where Kirt McMaster fits in with his Boost Mobile experience?).
Well I guess it’s over to you guys to make your mind up as the above text is simply my take on it.