GP2X GPL Issues Resolved

A couple of week’s ago I brought up the question [RealTechNews link]: “have consumers finally got feed up with proprietary systems such as the PSP and want the freedom an open-source system such as the GP2X provides?”

The GP2X refers to Gamepark’s GP2X which is a new dual core (ARM920T Host Processor – ARM940T Video Coprocessor) portable machine running on Linux and encouraging anyone to develop emulators, games, applications, practically anything for this device. While I stoked the fires of being a PSP Killer (there sure were a lot of comments!), the device appeals really to a completely different set of users. For instance, if you want to play games similar to WipeOut and Tiger Woods and would love to be tied to buying UMD versions of DVDs, the Sony Playstation Portable is for you (ok, I have a PSP and love the games, but the UMD movies really urk me). Otherwise, if MAME is more of your gaming platform and you prefer more of homebrew type games and applications including e-book viewer and video/photo/music players, the Gamepark GP2X is for you (ok, I want one of these too).

Anyway, apparently at the time I misrepresented the GP2X as an “open-source” system as Gamepark (and their subcontractor, Dignsys, who actually developed the Linux port for the GP2X) were apparently disregarding the GPL. To comply with the GPL, Gamepark should be releasing source concurrently with each new release of the GP2X kernel. bjimba’s bjimblog brought the issue up and actually got ./ed not to mention a flurry of active discussions on the GP2X developer boards. Also, the “Customer Suggestions” board on Gamepark’s web site started to get flamed with posts similar to this:

Sort out the GPL issue, i.e. release the code, you’re breaking the law – and I’ll buy one – not before.

While I do not know if this negative press thanks to a blog and a ./ caused Gamepark to pressure Dignsys to release more code or not, I am happy to report that on Gamepark’s site they have posted the following as of 1/14/2006:

Please stop posting to this board about GPL. Dignsys will post up the sources to the new firmware version 1.3.0 next week on http://source.gp2x.de. They intend to release it once the binaries to said firmware have been released.

Of course, they actually did release the Linux port for the GP2X after been repeatedly asked before; however, they released an early and out-of-date prerelease version of the source which the developer community found useless in hunting down the current bugs on the device. This move really seemed to perturb developers. We will continue to watch to make sure Dignsys follows up on the claim or releasing the sources next week.

For another homebrew handheld project, check out Mr. Mirko’s project called the Ninja. There is not much happening with the project yet though.