Nokia: Symbian “Open” But Not Open Source
Last week Nokia started administering the Symbian source repository on its own servers, after the Symbian Foundation dissolved in the fall. While Nokia announced that the files were there, you couldn’t gain access to them without registering with Nokia as a development partner first. This started setting off alarm bells in those concerned with Symbian’s status as an open source operating system. Nokia has made a follow-up blog post to clarify the situation, insisting that the future of Symbian development is still “open” to interested parties, but it is no longer considered an open source project.
While Nokia is accepting registrations to gain access to the source, the company explains that it will only be approving those requests made by “platform collaborators”. This seems to create a nice little Catch-22 loop, where you need to be a collaborator to get access to the code, and would need to have the code already in order to be collaborating on the project. Such sentiments have been voiced by commenters responding to Nokia’s announcement, calling this a deceptive misuse of the term “open”.
Admittedly, this will likely have little effect on the development of Symbian, as there’s always been a great deal of control over the OS, but it’s a setback for open source advocates. The existing code that’s been released is still open, but future Symbian developments will be restricted to this close-knit group of parties approved by Nokia.