The WIP300 iPhone is based on Linux, and Cisco has agreed to comply with the terms of the open-source GPL license in order to use the software. The GPL license requires the company to publish the code that it develops for the phone.
Industry expects say that open-source software users, including companies and individuals, commonly fail to share their developments. Sometimes that’s because they may misunderstand how open-source software works, but it may also be because publishing the code can be a cumbersome and expensive process.
Hemel downloaded the firmware for the WIP300 phone and reverse-engineered it, first checking with a lawyer that such a process is legal, he said. He then discovered that Cisco has neglected to share the code for a couple of programs in the phone, including the Memory Technology Device, which is used to program the Flash memory, he said.
Hemel also found similar omissions in other Cisco products and contacted the company to arrange a meeting. "I just bombarded the Linksys contact in the Netherlands. I think they got fed up and arranged the call," he said. Linksys is a unit of Cisco.