I mentioned some time back that I was going to get myself a GP2X for Christmas. And so I did. Well, actually, under the Rules of Christmas at our house, my wife officially "got" it for me, just like I "got" her present for her. After seventeen years of marriage, shortcuts are allowed.
First impressions: I love this little unit. Runs a Linux 2.4 kernel, plays movies with mplayer, already has MAME ported to it... Really, it has everything in a handheld game/media machine that a hacker-in-the-old-meaning could want. Except for one thing. The kernel source code.
How could this be? This is Linux we're talking about! The open source poster child! (It most likely is GNU/Linux at that. I haven't poked around enough to see what other components surround the kernel. At the very least, bash is present.)
Well, it seems that the company that created the GP2X, Gamepark Holdings, is a couple of guys in some office space in Seoul. Perhaps some of you who follow the popular blogs remember Cory Doctorow's posts on BoingBoing.net when the GP2X was announced. He noticed the dreaded acronym DRM on their website, and raised alarms. Later, it was explained by the only person at Gamepark Holdings who speaks English that they didn't really understand what they were saying.
Apparently, they don't seem to understand the GPL, either. They (and their subcontractor Dignsys, who actually did the Linux port for the GP2X) have been approached repeatedly for release of their modified version of the Linux kernel. Reluctantly, they finally did so, releasing an early, out-of-date prerelease version of the source, which is useless to the developer community who would like to hunt down some of the current bugs. There are active discussions on the GP2X developer boards on the topic, as people try to find the best way to get Gamepark Holdings and Dignsys to comply with the GPL by releasing source concurrently with each new release of the GP2X kernel. Of course, as these sorts of threads tend to do, accusations have flown about all parties involved, most of it totally speculative.
So, herein lies the problem. This handful of early adopters, mostly in Europe and the Americas, is searching for a way to convince Gamepark Holdings and Dignsys to do what the GPL requires of them, without taking down the companies. This is a niche product, and they could complain until the cows come home and never get timely releases of the source. Someone with a bit of PR clout must be brought into the picture. But who? Linus? RMS? Cory? Larry? CmdrTaco?
After puzzling for a while (and yes, my puzzler was sore afterwards), I figured it was time to test the blogosphere. I decided to write a post about the situation as I saw it. This post. Now, I'll submit it to the tastemakers and see if anyone is interested.