Automotive Grade Linux, running Android without Google, and more

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open source news and highlights

Open source news for your reading pleasure.

June 28 - July 4, 2014

In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we celebrate our digital independence and take a cruise with Automotive Grade Linux. Plus more!

Celebrate digital independence day

The convenience of walled garden app development, cloud storage, and subsidized electronics can eclipse the fact that many of us are tethered to our devices. We can switch vendors, sure, but it's not easy. Spend some time today celebrating your freedom by building your own computer, controlling your data, and moving to open source software. PCWorld has a great how-to on constructing your own Intel or AMD rig, and keeping it running in tip-top shape. Then, you can load it up with free software alternatives, roll your own cloud storage, and browse the Internet privately and anonymously.

Linux for cars announced

The dash to the dashboard is accelerating. First Apple announced CarPlay. Then Google announced Android Auto. Now Tux is calling shotgun. On Monday, the Linux Foundation announced Automotive Grade Linux, "a collaborative open source project developing a common, Linux-based software stack for the connected car." The project brings together folks from the automotive, communications, and semiconductor industries—as well as academicians and representatives from open source communities—in an effort to build "upstream Linux distribution for automotive use." Screenshots of the Tizen-based distro are already available.

An open poetic license for code

Scroll to the bottom of to see its infamous mantra: "Code is poetry." For Morgan Phillips, however, poetry can be about code—and in her case, some very special code: the Linux kernel. Phillips writes the Linux Poetry blog, which presents each line of the kernel in beautiful stanzas. At, Phillips explains how she began writing poetry about as a kind of "pedagogical hack," something to help her synthesize and contextualize the complex concepts she encountered as a physics major at Western Kentucky University. contributor Steven Ovadia has a rundown of Phillips' writing environment (he recommends reading this poem, by the way).

A guide to running Android without Google

Jettisoning your Android device from the Google mothership might seem impossible. You might even wonder why anyone would want to do such a thing. But Jonathan Corbet over at says it's not so tough, and while you lose some convenience of having your phone paired up with a Google account, there are many benefits: more privacy, freedom, and a true open source phone.

Parking app goes open source in attempt to avoid legal battle

There's a bit of a parking crisis in San Francisco, and apps like Sweetch and MonkeyParking allow drivers to pay flat fees for shared parking spots. When the driver moves on, they get a refund, and someone else can grab the spot. San Francisco City Attorney Herrera warned the apps in a cease-and-desist letter that they "violate local and state law with mobile app-enabled schemes intended to illegally monetize public parking spaces." In response, Sweetch opened up their code in the hopes that the city will back off from legal action. I'm curious to see how this pans out.

Huge thanks to summer intern Bryan Behrenshausen for his excellent reporting and impeccable prose. Also, thanks as always to moderators Robin Muilwijk and Scott Nesbitt for their help this week.

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Michael an unrepentant geek with a love for games, the social web, and open source projects to share with his kids. He writes about raising geek children at GeekDad and records a podcast about games called The Dice Section. You can follow him on Twitter at @oldbie.

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