Install linux or alternate OS? (and GPL2 kernel source!)

Thank you for your advise. Some of our models like Note A60 with Linux system are also open source. However, kernel source code of Android could not be open for now. Welcome to develop apps by our SDK. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for your reply!

Android is licensed under the apache license, so you don’t have to open source the modifications to the user space (skins, etc.)

But, android uses the linux kernel to boot and that is GPLv2 license. When you make modifications to GPLv2 code, you have to make it open source as well. Its all part of the agreement! The GPLv2 says that if you use someone else’s open work (the linux kernel), your new version must be open as well! This is very cool, because it allows people to do more things in the future!

On the content license page for android ( it says:

The preferred license for AOSP is the Apache Software License, Version 2.0 (“Apache 2.0”), and the majority of the Android software is licensed with Apache 2.0. While the project strives to adhere to the preferred license, there may be exceptions that will be handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Linux kernel patches are under the GPLv2 license with system exceptions, which can be found on

And the link points to:

You don’t have to open source your modifications to android OS (but it would be really nice if you did!) But you do have to open source the modifications to the Linux kernel, because that’s what the GPLv2 license says! All android vendors have to do this. Not abiding by the terms of the GPLv2 license is violating copyright law you know… ( :frowning:

Does this make sense? Android uses Linux kernel to boot. Android uses Apache license, so you don’t have to open source modifications. But Linux kernel uses GPLv2, and if you distribute GPLv2 code, you have to provide a copy of the source (and modifications) once someone asks for it. And now I’m asking nicely for you to do so :slight_smile:

Again thank you for reading. Do you understand the difference between Android and Linux kernel? Let me know if you have any questions or if I am being unclear!

Also let me say again that your hardware is very nice! I wish you success!

1 Like

Umm, kernel source is required to be open, otherwise you have no license to distribute the resulting kernel.

your bootloader may or may not be requied to be open, and your userspace is not required. But anything under the GPL license requires you to release the source code.

1 Like

Hello again!

Just in case you do not believe me, everyone should try doing the following on your onyx devices (I have Note +)

  1. Go to settings
  2. Go to “about”
  3. Go to “about device”
  4. Go to “legal information”
  5. Go to “open source licenses”
  6. Go to the first item “/kernel”

You see that its licenses GPL Version 2. It says under item 3:

  1. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; …

There is a [zh-cn] translation of the license here if anything is confusing.

Thank you!

ok,thank you for your suggeation, I’ll forward it to our R&D team soon.

I would suggest forwarding this to your legal team as well as this is a license issue.

I know you are all very busy with 2.0 release. Did you get a response from R&D about providing kernel sources? May you PM me a developer contact? I would be love to help in any way.

This is indeed a serious issue. By not releasing your changes to the Linux kernel, you are violating the GPL 2.0 which in turn may be violating international copyright laws. This can become very expensive in terms of lawsuit costs. This is not for R&D department, but for the managers of your organisation to react on.


I would just like to bump this topic for visibility.

For what it’s worth, you could have a lot of community development if more components were open source. For example many of the issues in this thread:

You could get more help working on these issues if people were free to install other programs on the Boox (root access, alternate ROM or even linux). Again, look at the success of the ReMarkable reader: They use GNU/Linux, their source is open, and tons of people have made tools to extend the functionality of the tablet.

All the best…



I just wanted to bump this topic again for visibility. I have not received any messages from Onyx developers.

Is there a way to contact the developers directly?

Bump for visibility, but I don’t think we will ever see an answer.

No, you will not. And this device is very expensive for testing homebrew, kernels, etc. Fear to a brick, you know.

Is an official update to Android 8 or 9 a crazy dream?

Bump for visibility.

Bump for visibility.

Sounds like a serious copyright issue. Hoping to see a resolution.

If reMarkable opened their code, I don’t think there’s much danger in Onyx opening theirs. The benefits of attracting a developer community are potentially great.

1 Like

To increase in visibility, I gave a link to this topic at their CEO:
Maybe we should all do that :slight_smile:


Hello there. It seems it is a serious issue. I would contact some lawyer in order to deepen more into this. This is in more than a way an important topic.

From the user point of view, viewing the source code is very important.
From a legal point of view, if something it is not compliant with the license it is something very very important too.

It should be reported to someone. Maybe someone from the Android organization or Google(?) just sayin’.

Thank you for your time @joga

This page has 2k views, but we still got no answer from Onyx. Why does Onyx not release kernel source code? I don’t understand what’s the point. Are they afraid of developers?

Here the CEO of Onyx says something about the GPL license and source code. Not too much. min 4:35

Bump this thread. Please elevate the significance of releasing source code in compliance with GPL to legal and management.
Please consider releasing source code of bootloaders.

1 Like