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Xiaomi promises to adhere better to the rules of Android for new devices

We will see whether Xiaomi acts on its promise, but device owners and fans have plenty of reason to be skeptical.

Published onApril 13, 2018

xiaomi redmi note 5 pro
  • A Xiaomi spokesperson said the company will aim to release a device’s kernel source code within three months of its launch.
  • The decision is meant for future devices and not devices already released.
  • This represents a departure for Xiaomi, which did not make any public commitment of this nature in the past.

Xiaomi might be one of the largest Android device manufacturers in the world, but it has a knack for skirting the law when it comes to open source rules and regulations. In a statement sent to XDA Developers, Xiaomi said that will change with future device launches.

According to the statement, Xiaomi will “target to release the kernel source of a device within three months after its launch.” Xiaomi also said it made efforts to “speed up” kernel source code releases and is “committed” to comply with the GNU General Public License (GPL).

By comparison, companies like Google, Sony, and OnePlus regularly release kernel source codes shortly after launch. Still, Xiaomi’s statement is an improvement for a company that made no prior public commitment to kernel source code releases.

The problem is that Xiaomi should have done this ages ago.

Long story short, the Android operating system is built on a modified version of the Linux kernel. Because of this, Android is subject to the GPL and anyone who modifies the code must publicly release it to anyone who wants to see it.

Why GPL violations are bad - Gary explains

As we detail in our in-depth explainer of Xiaomi and the GPL, there are no real repercussions for playing fast and loose with the GPL. So long as Xiaomi concentrates its efforts in India and China, the company does not have to follow the standards set by competitors who operate in more regions.

This leads to an ethical dilemma that could lead to Xiaomi charging people to access the code. This also earned the ire of many Xiaomi device owners, who either want to develop custom software or go through the code for possible vulnerabilities.

Today’s statement from Xiaomi is a move in the right direction, but you can bet that device owners will scrutinize the company if it deviates from the plan.

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