Cyanogen rebrands as developer community rushes to preserve the open source OS
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End of the line? Image Credit: Cyanogen

End of the line? Image Credit: Cyanogen

LineageOS will carry on the build while Cyanogen focuses on modular option

Just before Christmas, Cyanogen released CM 14.1, an Android 7.1.1 OS open source build, in what may be its last official update as a company.

Once billed as Android’s judge, jury, and executioner, the company is discontinuing “all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds” on December 31, though its “open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally,” according to a statement posted on its website.

Already, the CyanogenMod community is scrambling to save what it can, as Cyanogen starts shutting down services ahead of the New Year’s Eve deadline, including Gerrit tool access and the CM Wiki.

Reports of internal conflicts and layoffs have dogged Cyanogen all year, and in the end, the company lost its original leaders and decided to restructure.

OEMs working with Cyanogen will have to find alternatives for users who expect further commercial support updates, like OnePlus. In hindsight, though, OnePlus’s earlier acrimonious break with Cyanogen has hurt it less than expected, since that split prompted it to develop its own in-house OxygenOS to power later phones rather than entirely depend on the Cyanogen OS. Other Cyanogen-affiliated smartphone manufacturers, like Wileyfox, are now searching for alternatives, while some, such as Micromax, have yet to announce what they will do when 2017 begins.

(It is unclear just how many users will be impacted, as Cyanogen has not put out up-to-date numbers, despite citing an oft-quoted figure of 50 million.)

Still, though, OnePlus One device owners will have to transition to CyanogenMod ROM maintained by the developer community, which is planning to relaunch as LineageOS.

“A company pulling their support out of an open source project does not mean it has to die,” according to the developers. Though, given the IP rights Cyanogen still holds over CyanogenMod, the LineageOS is necessary to keep that spirit alive in the face of legal issues, expenses, and lack of infrastructure.

This community is led by Cyanogen Co-Founder and former CTO, Steve Kondik, who led the original open source project before it became a company with physical offices and product partners, including Microsoft, which now loses a developer for its Bing, Outlook, Skype, OneDrive and OneNote file hosting services, and Microsoft Office products.

Kondik eventually split with the company due to disagreements with its former CEO and Co-Founder, Kirt McMaster, who he had brought on board to manage the transition into a full-time business. McMaster and Kondik were both pushed out in the end, with leadership falling to COO Lior Tal earlier this year.

The subsequent launch this year of its “Modular OS” is meant to cater to OEMs and developers who want to mix and match specific features, and according to ZDNet, will remain with the company’s remaining staff and assets in order to try and keep some part of the business open.

Rather than compete with Google directly, the company will appeal to customers who want more custom options and features on top of a regular Android OS.

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