Tag Archives: gpl

Supertux dev says “Freeware” term OK

Recently, I discovered that Apple makes Supertux available on the website as a free download. That’s pretty cool. Problem is that they say the license is “Freeware” instead of “Free software” or specifying the GPL.

Sure, “freeware” is not incorrect (if you’ll excuse the double negative), but it’s not quite correct either. It’s leaving out the most important component of the software, it’s free license.

It’s available for no charge (freeware) because the license that it has, enables others to distribute it for free. The license is the reason that it is able to be freeware, so it’s that’s the more important aspect.

Of course, Apple can say whatever they want, but a requirement of the GPL is to make the source code available and license clearly visible.

Nevertheless, I contacted the development team informing them, just in case they took exception. However, they didn’t care, with Ryan Flegel saying:

“Freeware” isn’t incorrect, and it’s also a term that everybody understands. I think it’s fine the way it is.

And that’s fine, because it’s their choice. I just wanted to make sure that they are happy with it 🙂


Azureus (Vuze) violating GPL?

Mike has an interesting post on his blog about Azureus (now called Vuze) which might be violating the GPL.

The source code is available via the website and appears to be licensed under the GPLv2.

The program itself however, has additional terms of service which would appear to be in stark contradiction to the license itself, vis-à-vis:

8.10 use the Vuze Platform if You are under the age of eighteen (18) years old;
8.12 reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;
8.13 modify, adapt, translate or create derivative works based upon the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;”

I guess the question is, what is the “Vuze Platform” exactly? If it’s build on GPL software then they simply cannot do this.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Up to version, Azureus was distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL); beginning with the version 3 distribution, the license presented upon installation changed. While it still states that the “Azureus Application” is available under the GPL, completing installation requires the user to agree to the terms of the “Vuze Platform”, which include restrictions on use, reverse-engineering, and sublicensing. As with many similar licenses, the Azureus licence includes a prohibition on use of the software by people “under the age of 18”. Allegedly, the TOS only applies to the website, vuze.com, and not the software, however the actual TOS include the application as part of the platform.


Microsoft submits code for Linux kernel

Yes, the unthinkable has just happened. Microsoft has submitted code for the Linux kernel, licensed under the GPLv2.

The code in question includes three drivers for their Hyper-V virtualisation technology which makes Linux guests work better.

Why is this a big deal? Well it signals that Linux and free software is powerful and gaining influence, else Microsoft wouldn’t bother at all.

Also, Microsoft previously called the GPL a virus and even anti-American and even Communist.

As Greg Kroah-Hartman mentions in his blog

But, on the other hand, this is Microsoft, so it is a big deal. There are two major aspects of what they did here:

* They released the code under the GPLv2 and publicly stated that this is a valid license for companies to release code under. They will be continuing to contribute under this license, as they work to clean up the code, and add new features and fix bugs as time goes on. This is a huge step forward for Microsoft from what they have previously stated in the past.
* They publicly stated that the proper license to release a Linux kernel driver is under the GPLv2

Of course Microsoft is doing this for their own gain. It is not to benefit the community, but themselves by ensuring Linux runs properly under their own virtualisation technology so that they can compete with other products out there such as Xen, KVM, and VMware.

Still, it’s interesting to see Microsoft do a complete 180 degree flip about Linux and the GPL, as it shows just how influential free software has become.

Update: Groklaw has a good article on this too.

Microsoft wants Linux to run on Windows, in short. So remember what comes after the ‘Embrace’ part… So this is about not losing customers to Linux. And ultimately to replace it, if they can. That’s the ‘Extinguish’ part.

“Linux Don’t Need No Stinkin’ ZFS”

Linux Magazine has a pretty nice little article about Btrfs, a new enterprise level file system developed by Oracle which recently entered the Linux kernel.

The article has a comparison with ZFS, Sun’s (well, now Oracle’s) file system which is not Linux compatible, as well as some benchmarks. It’s an interesting, short read. The Btrfs file system does look very, very promising.


It’s time to beat the tom-toms

If you’ve been following the news of late, you’ll be aware that Microsoft is suing Tom Tom (maker of GPS devices which ship with Linux) over claimed patent infringements, which include the FAT filesystem.

You really should read this article on ZDNet which discusses Microsoft’s reasons behind doing so, thanks to a comment made by Samba guru Jeremy Allison. Essentially, Microsoft has been getting companies to sign NDA agreements over patent deals with FAT. This is forbidden under Section 7 of the GPLv2 which means those companies are then not allowed to distribute Linux.

Jeremy Allison says,

Tom Tom are the first company to publicly refuse to engage in this ugly little protection racket, and so they got sued. Had Tom Tom silently agreed to violate the GPL, as so many others have, then we’d only hear about a vague “patent cross licensing deal” just like the ones Microsoft announces with other companies.

Make no mistake, this is intended to force Tom Tom to violate the GPL, or change to Microsoft embedded software.

Let’s hope the Free Software World can rally behind Tom Tom and help win the case. It would be a shame to see Microsoft continue to get away with this sort of behaviour. Did we not see this coming?


Let’s be firmware about this

I’m not an expert on this subject matter, nor a Debian developer, but I do love Debian. I couldn’t help but be disheartened by the results of the vote on firmware in Lenny.

Assume blobs comply with the GPL unless proven otherwise.

BAH! Seriously, what the hell are you guys thinking? If I wanted this sort of crap I’d use Ubuntu! Sure it’s just firmware, but why not distribute the NVIDIA driver too? Afterall it hasn’t be proven in court as to whether it complies with the GPL or not.

How hard is it to just release Lenny with the current GPL-compliant open source firmware and let end users install other binary blobs at their own discretion? I just don’t understand how you can distribute that which you have no idea what it does. Maybe I’m missing something, but this just seems so wrong.