"Amazon attracted considerable media attention this week for
publishing the source code of some of the components that are used
in its popular Kindle reading device. The hype generated by the
source release is mystifying and largely undeserved. It seems to be
a result of widespread misconceptions about the scope and nature of
the code disclosure.
"Contrary to the ambiguous headlines declaring that Amazon is
opening the Kindle, the reality is that Amazon has not released a
significant quantity of new code and is not empowering competitors
to replicate their successful product. Amazon has been publishing
the source code of various Kindle components since 2007 in order to
fulfill its licensing obligations.
"Like many new consumer electronic devices, the Kindle's
operating system is built on top of the Linux kernel and leverages
numerous libraries and frameworks that are part of the Linux
platform ecosystem. These components are distributed by their
original creators under open source licenses that broadly permit
recipients to study, modify, and redistribute the source code. The
Linux kernel itself is distributed under version 2 of GNU's General
Public License (GPL)."