The BQ Aquaris Ubuntu Phone's Kernel Appears To Be A Toxic Mess
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 18 March 2015 at 11:05 AM EDT. 42 Comments
Carsten Munk of the Mer Project and Chief Research Engineer of Jolla has raised some concerns about the Linux kernel used by the BQ Aquaris E4.5 smart-phone running Ubuntu Touch. The kernel appears to have module source-code marked as confidential and other markings that would not comply with the GPLv2 license of the Linux kernel.

In a blog post out today, the Linux Android-based kernel used by Ubuntu on their first smart-phone is difficult to find the official source tree. When finding a kernel source tree for the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition Phone, Carsten was greeted by many "confidential and proprietary" statements from MediaTek, the company whose SoC is powering the phone. In other modules are confidential and proprietary licenses from other vendors too.

Overall it appears to be a big mess. You can find out all of the details via the Mer Project blog with Carsten concluding, " I've lost interest in buying this phone. I just have one question for Canonical and bq: Am I wrong in anything I'm stating here? Is there a more proper source code release anywhere with appropriate license headers? Does buyers of your device get appropriately licensed source code delivery of their kernel and clear information of how to get it when they receive the device?"
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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