Poll: Are you willing to pay for an update to Android 5?

Well I’d say we don’t want our possible developer get sued by Mediatek… :wink:

I think, this should be seen as a crowd- funding project and ideally the Fairphone should be in charge / organize this…

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I also think the best would be, if this was organized officially, but I doubt that Fairphone as a company has enough resources for this (in terms of labour).

Well the idea is that through crowd-funding Fairphone can pay its suppliers to do the work they do for other clients as well. I would rely on the Fairphone supply chain from Mediatek to Fairphone to provide the update. It would be an official update, only that is is paid by the users.

I don’t mean to lecture people here, I understand how each and everyone of you might have her/his own perfectly legitimate and understandable reasons for being willing to support this idea, therefore I hope you will be able to understand that I’m not gonna point fingers at you personally, or at people with feelings in general, but rather at ideas that can be bad or good or at least, indeed, debatable.

That said, here’s what I think.

If the current Operating System of the Fairphone cannot be updated or upgraded is not because nobody thought of incentives or about outsourcing the job to someone else.

It is simply because of hardware and software restrictions that, notwithstanding Fairphone’s best intentions, couldn’t be avoided just yet.

Now, in this state of things, going forward and saying “hey ‘whoever’, I’m willing to give you my lunch money to get an upgrade”, is exactly what we shouldn’t do to fix the issue.
I mean we as Fairphone user, but also Fairphone as a company and, allow me to throw it in the mix, Free Software as a movement that I (and quite a few here) think is complementary to Fairphone’s ideals.

We want “fair”?
Well, fair is that in the same way we are able to change display, battery and other stuff and we should (and we will) be able to change everything else hardware-wise, we also should be free to choose whatever software we want to run on our pocket computers.

Sure, supporting someone to work for an upgrade or the possibility to have painless updates is not inherently wrong, and even after all I have said I don’t want those who support the idea to feel guilty or on the spotlight about it, but unless any such financing is aimed and geared at freeing us from the software and hardware chains we are locked in, rather than simply having the cheap convenience of an update/upgrade, then it is not worth, actually it is wrong.

Remember, not personal, to each is own, I’m talking in a broader sense here.



As you probably know, the barriers software-wise don’t seem too high, since there is already KitKat running on the Fairphone. I still think this is not about limitations, but about financing and the will to possibly act in a legal grey area.

Yeah, especially the latter. I don’t really think financing is the problem. FairPhone intended to bring OS updates when they first started, so I would assume they initially assigned a budget for that. Legal issues are a hornet’s nest you probably want to stay out of as a company though.

This is a very specific definition of fair. I do want the same, but i disagree on that definition. Replacing a piece of the hardware is usually do to regain or keep basic functionality of the device. A device that otherwise would be useless electronic waste.

Fairness is about how people are treated and in this case, it is mainly about workers and miners involved into production. Now sustainability and openness in sense of transparency are other values of Fairphone. And these strongly support and open source os.

But, i do not see any wrong in paying a contractor for doing the work Fairphone is financially or legally unable to do. I do not see the chances as high, but it might be that we pay some Android development community members like chrmhofman who provide the Cyanogenmod Port to continue their development on CM for Android for example.

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I get your point, but try and look it this way.

Remember the postcard in the package, the one saying “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it”?
That is exactly what Free Software stands for.

I recognize that the average user might not fully grasp the concept, but I understand you do and I suppose that if you agree on the principle and share the concern about its importance, you can see how even the definition is not so stretched after all.

Granted, when we say “fair” colloquially we think of fair trade, no child labor, no conflict material, environmental conscious transportation and packaging and other things like these.

Thinking about software in these terms is sort of counterintuitive, software is volatile and ephemeral, something one can’t touch, and most people barely understand what it is or think it is “something”.

But think about it, just like it is fair to you when you own and are free to do whatever you want with your battery or the screws or any other tangible element, it should be fair for you to be free to do the same with software.

If “fair” is to treat people right, well, we’re people too. :wink:

In this light, what is wrong is not paying a contractor to develop software (I said it in my previous post that is not inherently wrong), it is wrong to pay someone to develop software if it is not Free and if the development one is paying for is not aimed at making it all Free.

Many, probably most, would just be willing to pay a fee to have a service, but they don’t care if that service comes at the cost of their freedom (and ours).
As I said, I don’t want to load them with the burden to be free software advocates and even more so to give up their warm feeling of personal convenience just because I think it is so important to give it up.

At the same time though, I think it is important to stress out that we should be careful not to lose sight of what’s important, while thinking about what’s convenient in the short term.

Let me make an example for the layman.
Today you give ten bucks for Android 5, but the money is used to give you Android 5 and not to make sure that anyone, you included, can put on his Fairphone any system he wants.
Tomorrow, you find yourself again in the same situation you are now, where Fairphone can’t provide updates (not even security ones) in a timely fashion, let alone upgrades, because there are still impediments related to licensing of hardware and software on your device.

On the other hand, today you give ten bucks to the fixing of the issue of having whatever you want on your phone, and maybe tomorrow you won’t need to jump through hoops to do whatever you feel like doing.

I wouldn’t pay 10 cents for the former plan, I would support gladly the latter, just as I do for other projects, and just as I have payed 300+ for a phone that I honestly don’t need, because I support the principles behind.

Cheers :slight_smile:


Thanks for your thoughtful answer @van. Here is what i think:

Yap, absolutly. Sometimes i think however that promises made and not made are mixed up. It its a promise Fairphone made to improve working conditions and source conflict-free materials wherever possible.That way i understood Fairphones communication, to me it was always clear that software replaceability is a goal, but one amongst others. I did not take that for granted, nor that Fairphone will invest heavenly in the Open Source ecosystem. Everybody knows for example that Android is coupled with Google Apps, so it think is is great way actually have a choice to install them or not. What we cannot expect Fairphone to do is develop an Open Source OS on its own.

I think the problem misunderstanding here lies with myself not being specific. I would certainly expect every part that contractor or fairphone develops that can be open source to be open source. I would say because of driver and modem etc situation a completely open os is impossible, but kernel sources and other required customizations should be public accessible open source code whenever possible (like the current sources on github or the source for chrmhoffmans CyanogenMod port). This was perfectly clear in my mind and i took it for granted, so much that i never even said it ;-).

I would like to pay an open source developer to fix issues in open source code. This should be an incentive but also a appreciation of their work.

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I understand what you are saying and somehow it changed my point of view.

So the best would be to have Fairphone ask Mediatek for their price for opening up the kernel sources and then we, as a community, crowdfund the sum they want.

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Better don’t ask them about the price. ^^

More seriously, has this happened before? Has someone convinced a closed-source manufacturer open their sources? Is there any precedent?

I’m afraid there aren’t enough FairPhone owners to really make a difference to MediaTek.
There’s only 60,000 FairPhones out there. Compared to the number of phones in the world that carry a MediaTek chipset, it’s just a drop in a bucket of water.

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That’s not what I had in mind.
Developing an OS is quite a task, plus is not really that important to have a Fairphone system. Any will do, or better yet the possibility to install any will do, just as long as they are Free Software.

For instance, Stock Android (or Vanilla or whatever is called) is GPL licensed if I’m not mistaken, it is only the Android shipped with popular devices that has the proprietary Google stuff.
Cyanogenmod is working on that base as far as I understand and so is Replicant and possibly others.

What’s important in having open hardware specs is that developers can work without restrictions on the software to run those devices freely.

Just as simple as that.

Yeah, I could tell.
Problem is, and the reason why I chimed in, that most don’t have those things clear in their minds and would just go for the cheap convenience of the upgrade without even imagining the rest of the problem.
Attention again, no shame on them, just a warning, a suggestion, and a plea if you will. :smiley:

I don’t know, it doesn’t look like a sensible thing to do, plus @Jerry made a good point in it being far fetched.

But yes, thinking in that direction is far more helpful and productive. :wink:


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Can someone explain the situation in simple words, because I don’t get it.
I did already update my os, I thought. So why wouldn’t it be possible again? Aren’t the Mediatek chips used in other phones as well, so it’s supported anyway?
Or is Android not open and free anymore?



There are official updates for Fairphone OS, so your thoughts were right, but the Android Version stays the same (namely 4.2.2). The problem: Android 5 has already been released.

The Mediatek chip the Fairphone uses is the MT6589(M). It is also used in other phones, and these phones also don’t get official Android upgrades because it depends on the good will of Mediatek (More on this is explained here (HTC info graphic, we are stuck at step 5.).)

@Taxicletter So the discussion in this thread is about, if we would pay for updates to Android 5. Or, as @van suggests, this discussion should be about freeing the kernel sources from Mediatek’s claws.

PS.: BTW, are there numbers for the MT6589 chipsets sold? I don’t think, there is only the 60.000 FPs affected. (There is the Lenovo P780, the Acer Liquid E2, the ZTE V967S, among others… [Source])

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Thank you for the explanation.

So, why Mediatek isn’t providing the info to upgrade for that chipset? Is it too expensive? Isn’t this bad entrepreneurship? Because, in the end nobody would by chips from them?

I guess they could provide the necessary info so the opensource-community could make the necessary drivers. Why not doing that, if they’re not planning to do it themselves?

These questions are more or less answered in this thread, I’ll read it again to try to understand it :-).

The thing is that our Fairphones are broke :D. Security issues and vulnerabilities are constantly being detected in almost every software, so the longer you don’t update the more vulnerable your software/phone becomes. In the case of Android 4.2, there are at least 4 security vulnerabilities, some of which severe.

Moreover, most of the popular apps are already compatible with Android 5.0 or will be made compatible very soon. The apps that won’t be compatible are most likely old and unpopular apps. But this is more an Android problem than a Fairphone problem. Also, you are not forced to update if they provide Android 5.0 for Fairphone. So if one of your favorite apps does not work, then you can simply not upgrade :smile:.

I am wondering, though…
If they released the driver sources they made for jb, how easily could the community (or Fairphone) modify those to work with newer versions of Android?
I once heard someone say that mtk sources are a “disorganized mess”.

I don’t think mediatek would go ahead and write KitKat and lollipop compatible drivers just for the fairphone and for free.
That would not really be very economical for them, would it?

as Google is cutting support for older versions (eg Webview), reaching at least Android 4.4 is a security issue:

The original idea of the fairphone was “Long-term use and support”. This means at least security patches. If those cannot be delivered my phone is no longer usable for my job.
I know - it is a small team and a small users base. So there should be a focus on that (not on GUI) and some financial support if this helps.
Kind regards