The Author of Cyanogenmod's Focal Application Reveals The Drama In Cyanogen Inc's New Business Plans

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When the popular ROM development group CyanogenMod decided to officially incorporate, several questions immediately started floating around the internet questioning what this actually means for both the loyal development community and users alike. There are both benefits to Cyanogen Inc’s decision as well as a reason to question their motives.

The company has been in the news several times in the past and just recently teased a new feature that they would be releasing in CyanogenMod in the future with the name “Project Nemesis“. After Project Nemesis was officially announced, it was determined to be a replacement camera application to replace the AOSP camera known as Focal. This camera would bring many of the advanced features that one would expect from the HTC and Samsung ROMs. This application was developed by Guillaume Lesniak.  Back in September, I got to spend a few minutes with Guillaume in August and I can definitely say that he is a talented developer with a level head.


Unfortunately for Cyanogen Inc, their latest announcement suddenly reported that the Focal Camera application would be removed from future builds. The announcement did not offer any reason for the sudden and unexpected removal of this feature. So the developer of Focal, Guillaume took to his Google Plus profile today to offer the full scoop. This (lengthy) post not only goes into the reason for the removal but offers an incredible insider view into the direction that Cyanogen Inc may be heading. Android conspiracy theorists and those that like a good drama should enjoy this.

The drama started over a statement that Koushik Dutta supposedly made to Guillaume in regards to the fact that Focal was licensed under the GPL and how the CyanogenMod Management Team wanted to look into a different license.

I got a Hangouts chat from Koush, saying that Focal would need to be relicensed because GPL isn’t ideal — wait what, not ideal for an Open Source project?

As explained to Guillaume, the reason for the change of license would allow the Cyanogen Inc team to add manufacturer specific drivers to the camera application. They will then use these changes to sell the work back to carriers who they will be building Android for. This means that the code for Focal would never be placed on Cyanogen’s public source repositories as these proprietary drivers are a closely guarded trade secret. Guillaume then goes on to say that he “felt screwed” as they would essentially be selling his work as their own, which was permitted under the new license agreement.

Screenshot from 2013-09-20 11:35:46

Guillaume then goes on to write

At the same time, the “cyngn.com” domain was discovered, and concerns rised about what the hell it was. People such as pulser_g2 started to find connections between Cyngn.com, Kirt McMaster, Steve Kondik, Koushik Dutta, and all these people working at a “secret company” in a “secret location”. From ways I cannot even explain, he was able to come up with everything Koush and Steve told me, how they’d make money, and what are their future plans. Since he already knew everything, I told him about what was going on with Focal licensing, and he came up with the fact that this wasn’t legally right: the software is licensed as GPL, the repository on CyanogenMod’s github is forked from my GitHub, so it didn’t go through the Contributor License Agreement (which only applies to Gerrit submissions), and the Berne convention can prove through the commits history that I did fully write the app, and not Cyanogen Inc. – and even if the CLA would apply, it only allows them to sublicense the software, not relicense or dual-license it without my permission.

This all happened when Steve Kondik was publicly denying that he had anything to do with cyngn.com and saying that there were no plans for the commercialization of the CyanogenMod project.  Rumors continued to be spread around XDA-Developers.com until it was confirmed this week that Cyanogen Inc was formed as a commericial entity with Steve Kondik on board.

It seems that many contributors to CyanogenMod were un-eased by their latest rounds of decisions, including one developer, Andrew Dodd who made said that he found out about Cyanogen Inc while at a funeral. As soon as Focal came up in the thread, Steve Kondik made a very heartless statement that simple read “Oh god please tell me the story. grabs popcorn”. This is hardly the way to treat the community that helped create CyanogenMod in the first place.


To conclude the story, Guillaume found out yesterday that Focal was officially pulled from Cyanogen’s repository and that he discovered that this was being planned for some time. Guillaume still intends to develop the application however he will be looking for a new home for the project.

Guillaume congratulated Cyanogen Inc for their accomplishments and wishes them the best.  He leaves the team with a final warning

Keep in mind: CyanogenMod wouldn’t be what it is today without its contributors. If you’re able to run CyanogenMod on your device today, it might not be only thanks to Steve, Koushik or Ricardo. There are hundreds of people behind them who pushed many patches, and enabled many devices as a hobby. Have you ever heard of them?

Leaving my personal feelings aside, I have to agree with the above statement. If you want to read his full statement, you can find it on his Google Plus Profile here.