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Old 06-18-2022, 06:32 PM   #1
kernelhead
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Is ChromeOS open source?


I read, from a simple Google search, that "Chrome OS (sometimes styled as chromeOS) is a proprietary Linux-based operating system designed by Google" & that "Chrome OS 87 Desktop Source model is Closed-source with open-source components."

If it's proprietary, is it closed source?

I would love to read the members, here, replies to this.

Last edited by kernelhead; 06-18-2022 at 06:34 PM.
 
Old 06-18-2022, 10:26 PM   #2
frankbell
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The Wikipedia article addresses this question. Here's the beginning of the article:

Quote:
Chrome OS (sometimes styled as chromeOS) is a proprietary Linux-based operating system designed by Google. It is derived from the open-source Chromium OS and uses the Google Chrome web browser as its principal user interface.
As near as I can figure it out, Google releases older versions of Chrome as Chromium.

Persons who are extremely cynical and jaded might interpret this as a dodge to avoid licensing issues with the GPL.

Just a stray thought.
 
Old 06-18-2022, 10:48 PM   #3
uteck
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Here is the faq from the chromium-os page: https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromium-os-faq/
Quote:
The two projects fundamentally share the same code base, but Google Chrome OS has some additional firmware features, including verified boot and easy recovery, which require corresponding hardware changes and thus also don't work out of the box in Chromium OS builds.
 
Old 06-19-2022, 12:21 AM   #4
ondoho
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Welcome to the reality of FOSS since Google.
This is very much the same strategy as with AOSP - Android - Gapps, or the web browsers Chromium - Chrome.

Someone here on LQ mentioned a nice article about that on arstechnica, can't find it atm.
It gives historical perspective (after all, Google/Alphabet started fiddling with this model some 15 years ago) and still applies today.
 
Old 06-20-2022, 08:54 AM   #5
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Likewise, MacOS (OS/X), as well as "iOS" (iPhone ...) and "AppleTV," is built upon Mach Unix®, which Apple continues to support and maintain as an open-source project. But the total system contains vital proprietary components which are not open source. So, you can explore the entire basement, but you don't get the plans to the house upstairs.
 
Old 06-21-2022, 10:52 AM   #6
boughtonp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelhead View Post
Is ChromeOS open source?
No, ChromeOS is a proprietary operating system.

ChromeOS uses some bits of software which are Free/Libre/Open, but a bit like if someone asks "is that tissue clean" you probably don't respond "some parts are".

Note that "proprietary" and "closed source" do not mean exactly the same thing, but they are similar. (Having source available is only part of what makes software Free/Libre/Open.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
Someone here on LQ mentioned a nice article about that on arstechnica, can't find it atm.
It gives historical perspective (after all, Google/Alphabet started fiddling with this model some 15 years ago) and still applies today.
I assume you're referring to https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/07/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary

It would be nice to see a more generalised write-up of this topic, since (as you point out) it's a Google-wide phenomenon, despite the four-page article focusing on Android.

 
Old 06-21-2022, 12:01 PM   #7
obobskivich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
Likewise, MacOS (OS/X), as well as "iOS" (iPhone ...) and "AppleTV," is built upon Mach Unix®, which Apple continues to support and maintain as an open-source project. But the total system contains vital proprietary components which are not open source. So, you can explore the entire basement, but you don't get the plans to the house upstairs.
At one time, earlier in OS X's history, Apple supported a fully usable FOSS variant called Darwin (which ran X11 instead of Quartz, among other differences (it basically removed the Apple-exclusive APIs and libraries, and replaced them with FOSS variants, but retained the FOSS kernel and plumbing); older versions of OS X also can run X11 and other UNIX services for interoperability), but they discontinued it (after a number of years) due to minimal community interest (Wikipedia talks about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin...m)#OpenDarwin=). At least at one time their approach didn't seem to just be to stripmine FOSS (and doesn't seem to be today, but their 'platform' certainly has moved more towards closed (or at least obtuse) standards like Metal and Swift in lieu of where it was even 10 years ago), which seems to have always been Google's goal with Android (that Ars article was a chilling read...).
 
Old 06-22-2022, 12:13 PM   #8
sundialsvcs
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I intended to say "Darwin" instead of "Mach."
 
Old 06-22-2022, 01:34 PM   #9
kernelhead
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
At one time, earlier in OS X's history, Apple supported a fully usable FOSS variant called Darwin (which ran X11 instead of Quartz, among other differences (it basically removed the Apple-exclusive APIs and libraries, and replaced them with FOSS variants, but retained the FOSS kernel and plumbing); older versions of OS X also can run X11 and other UNIX services for interoperability), but they discontinued it (after a number of years) due to minimal community interest (Wikipedia talks about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin...m)#OpenDarwin=). At least at one time their approach didn't seem to just be to stripmine FOSS (and doesn't seem to be today, but their 'platform' certainly has moved more towards closed (or at least obtuse) standards like Metal and Swift in lieu of where it was even 10 years ago), which seems to have always been Google's goal with Android (that Ars article was a chilling read...).
Since Mac OS X is Unix based, it was my understanding that a Unix distro could be made closed source - as Apple did.

About Linux. I'm just trying to understand it, and for conversation sake. Someone tell me about "modules." Is the Linux "kernel" itself, legally, always suppose to be open source. Are modules, things like drivers, do modules work outside the kernel and thus can be made to be closed source - is this is what Google does with Android?
 
Old 06-22-2022, 01:52 PM   #10
business_kid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelhead
About Linux. I'm just trying to understand it, and for conversation sake. Someone tell me about "modules." Is the Linux "kernel" itself, legally, always suppose to be open source. Are modules, things like drivers, do modules work outside the kernel and thus can be made to be closed source - is this is what Google does with Android?
The kernel & modules are GPL, which includes the Copyleft principle = the source has to be available online. FOSS will always remain FOSS, & modified FOSS likewise. But companies can and do add to it and copyright those additions.

You can write your own module and stick it into your kernel if you like to drive something. It's a real job of work to get your module(s) accepted into the kernel proper.

You don't seem to have much of an issue to solve, so your queries might better be addressed to a search engine because all of this is online.
 
Old 06-22-2022, 03:46 PM   #11
kernelhead
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I'm curious if it's possible for a company like Google to start off with an open source operating system, like Android, and eventually "turn it into" closed source.

I know Google would love, at this point, to have Android all to themselves as closed source.

But Google has been successful at doing the next "best thing," "to them" anyways. Google starts off an app as being open source, then eventually they release a version of it that is closed source - and lets the open source version slowly die on the vine...
 
Old 06-22-2022, 04:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbell View Post
The Wikipedia article addresses this question. Here's the beginning of the article:



As near as I can figure it out, Google releases older versions of Chrome as Chromium.

Persons who are extremely cynical and jaded might interpret this as a dodge to avoid licensing issues with the GPL.

Just a stray thought.
Linux is not fully opensource.
BSD is way better for that kind. Example : OpenBSD, just open and free software mostly.
 
Old 06-22-2022, 11:18 PM   #13
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelhead View Post
About Linux. I'm just trying to understand it, and for conversation sake. Someone tell me about "modules." Is the Linux "kernel" itself, legally, always suppose to be open source.
Yes.
Quote:
Are modules, things like drivers, do modules work outside the kernel and thus can be made to be closed source - is this is what Google does with Android?
That's only one of many things that Google does.
I really recommend the article from post #6, all 3 pages of it.
 
Old 06-23-2022, 01:42 AM   #14
obobskivich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelhead View Post
Since Mac OS X is Unix based, it was my understanding that a Unix distro could be made closed source - as Apple did.

About Linux. I'm just trying to understand it, and for conversation sake. Someone tell me about "modules." Is the Linux "kernel" itself, legally, always suppose to be open source. Are modules, things like drivers, do modules work outside the kernel and thus can be made to be closed source - is this is what Google does with Android?
Right - you've basically got it, as business_kid and ondoho point out the Linux kernel (and BSD kernel) are FOSS, but components that can run on them may not be. Note that 'UNIX' itself was closed source (as it came from AT&T), and that Linux (and BSD) are the open source variants. There's plenty of closed UNIX platforms in history (like IRIX, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, etc), as well as 'hybrid' platforms like OS X or the Linux distros that run most Blu-ray players (both of which contain FOSS components in their kernel, but have a lot of userland stuff, APIs, etc that is not FOSS). What Google is doing with Android is not unique - the practice was known as 'tivoization' at one time (you can read more about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TiVo#G...nd_Tivoization), which is common with consumer electronics device that use the Linux kernel but provide their own proprietary/locked-in libraries and userland + locked bootloaders (in many cases these restrictions are part of the vendor's licence with the codec/standards body (which is usually a media company) that they go get a licence from, e.g. to play Blu-ray or support cablecards). Just running closed-source software on top of a FOSS base does not by itself make the entire distro 'closed' - so for example you can run Steam and various games on Linux, which are closed-source, but the base is still FOSS. Some distros also contain non-libre components that are either provided at no charge, or are considered a 'paid' portion of the OS* - it's complicated at the end of the day. As openbsd98324 points out, there are also distros that attempt to run entirely on FOSS/libre software, if that's something you need or want.


* Since you specifically mentioned drivers, the nvidia driver is an example of this: the core of those drivers is non-FOSS (as in the source is not available) but nvidia distributes it freely (as in does not charge money for it) and provides documentation for building it on various distros. Recently they've announced plans to shift to a FOSS model, like Intel and AMD use, but time will tell how that works out.
 
Old 06-23-2022, 07:06 AM   #15
boughtonp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kernelhead View Post
I'm curious if it's possible for a company like Google to start off with an open source operating system, like Android, and eventually "turn it into" closed source.
That's the problem with MIT and BSD-style licenses - they allow precisely that behaviour.

The GPL attempts to protect against it, but it can't protect against deliberate over-engineering and the convoluted processes which Google (and others) use.

It's not limited to OSes either - it's a bigger threat with the web, where Google is in a position to force through self-serving changes at all levels.

 
  


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