Comments on our Trolltech Qtopia Greenphone and SDK Review.
Clause two in the Device User License Agreement states:
You are not authorized to modify or to create
derivative work on the Device, except as permitted
in a separate license agreement that accompanies
the Software's source code.
Qtopia is GPL-ed in the Community edition of Greenphone. Making synchronisation software, or combining other free software solution on Greenphone is explicitly alowed by GPL. Software with a GPL compliant licence is allowed. The site greenphone-wiki.org show how to put Python on the Greenphone. Python license is compatible with the GPL, according to the Free Software Foundation. Trolltech endorse such initiatives. Please visit: http://greenphone-wiki.org
Some parts are not GPL-ed. This is because of telephone regulators and operators. Even if the science department at different operators says that they understand that open source is secure, Business people and lawyers don't understand that. Business people and lawyers seem to believe that open source is an open door. In almost all countries, operators and even regulators expect that some parts, especially the communication stack, is proprietary software. So the GSM stuff are closed downs. Trolltech has made the Safe eXecution Environment (SXE) to address this fear, allowing remote installation of software in a secure sandbox environment. For net installation without the SXE, iPKG is used.
According to engineers in other companies trying to sell free software ready GSM devices, they struggle with exactly the same issues. They need to ship proprietary blobs because of regulators and/or operators. It's almost the same problem we know from the wifi-blobs we know on laptop chip. Trolltech are happy with everyone who address this blob issues with the right authorities. To even address this further, we recently joined the Free Software Foundation Europes Fellowship Raffle 2007 at FOSDEM, donating a Greenphone:
I hope this clears things up.
Community Manager Trolltech ASA
The review and the comment above seem to imply that there is a license that accompanies the *device*, instead of the software running on it.
Since the phone is being sold, not rented or licensed, this would seem to be legal wishful thinking - unless you sign a contract before they sell it to you, it's your property and they have no recourse if you decide to do something they don't like with it.
As Knut points out, that doesn't mean that it's legal for you to run random software on the device if it's transmitting on cellular bands. For that matter, it doesn't mean that it's legal for TrollTech to sell it to you without making at least a token effort to keep you from running unlicensed software on it. Both of those depend on details of communications laws and regulations; your right to do whatever the hell you want with something you own comes from much earlier legal traditions.