The petition reads:
Since Nokia cancelled all firmware updates for their Symbian phones & Microsoft probably has no intention to keep Symbian OS, because they are concentrating on Windows Phones,
I HEREBY WOULD LIKE THE RELEASE OF SYMBIAN OS SOURCE CODES AND LATEST BUILDS TO OPEN SOURCE FOR DEVELOPMENT FOR MILLIONS OF SYMBIAN USERS ALL OVER THE WORLD
Symbian OS still provides the base for many tens of millions of users worldwide (e.g. numbers from "Statcounter - Global Stats"). A lot of these people have trusted Nokia as their phone provider for over 20 years. Android, Symbian's biggest competitor in mobile OS, already has open source projects and allows development and distribution all over the world, and I would like to see Symbian opened up on a similar basis, for ongoing work by professional and hobbyist programmers.
SO PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION & KEEP SYMBIAN ALIVE BEFORE IT GETS FORGOTTEN
The passion behind the petition and the comments and signatures so far (500 so far) is heartwarming, and of course I'd be delighted if any of the petition's aims were satisfied, but I'm a little sceptical on a number of points:
- Nokia tried breaking out Symbian as true Open Source before - in the ill-fated Symbian Foundation project. The legal loopholes and licensing issues needing to be overcome were a time-consuming nightmare that I can't see hobbyists tackling.
- Even if the current source code of Symbian were to be made available, I don't think many people realise how complex a 15 year old operating system is, at the code level, or how many branches and tweaks have been needed for specific devices. It's not as if there's only one Symbian device and the code is a discrete lump of C++ - the reality is much more complicated.
- For Microsoft or Nokia to release the code in a useable (by third parties) form, there would have to be significant investment in terms of time and resources, handling the release and sorting through (or, in some cases writing extra) documentation. Given current corporate politics and finance, it's doubtful that either company would put effort in here.
I did note that the petition's title includes the phrase 'Release latest update builds' as well. This is, perhaps, more realistic and wouldn't involve much effort from Nokia or Accenture. Firmware images exist for all devices and variants and it would be fairly trivial for these to be made public, officially. From these images, custom ROMs could be assembled and enjoyed, even if the core Symbian OS code couldn't be changed.
Another thought is that it might be practical to release the code for specific applications (Nokia Social comes to mind), since this is probably more manageable and yet might offer a way for the community to 'fix up' some of the areas of the OS which are seen to be lagging behind.