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10 Miscopnceptions about the GPL August 31, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions, Tech News.
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IT Managers Journal has an article on the 10 misconceptions of the GPL. In it they discusses “misinformation” that has been spread about the GPL and attempt to clean it up a little.

Link to article

My Thoughts; Well Im going to roll through them here and tell yopu what I think.

1. The GPL is viral

The idea that any software that comes into contact with GPL-licensed software also becomes subject to the GPL seems to have originated with Craig Mundie, a senior vice president of Microsoft, in a speech delivered at the New York University Stern School of Business in May 2001. Since then, David Turner reports, many people have come to believe that even having GPL software on the same computer brings other software under the license. In extreme cases, Turner says, this belief has lead to bans on all GPL software at some companies.

This misunderstanding stems from section 2 of the current GPL, which states only that modified versions of GPL software must also be licensed under the GPL. However, the section clearly states that if a program “can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then the GPL does not apply to it” and that being on the same “storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License.” As Fontana points out, the definition of a derivative work could be clearer — and should be in the third version of the license — but the general principle is unmistakable.

Actually that didnt come from Craig Mundie that came from you guys. Eben Moglen to be exact With comments such as this: “If the kernel were pure GPL in its license terms…you couldn’t link proprietary video drivers into it, whether dynamically or statically,” and among other things. They are the ones who pretty much said it. There was even talk at one point about including a clause in the GPL that if your code is compiled using the GCC that your code would automatically be under the terms of the GPL, it never came to pass and its not a term of the GPL but this is the stuff they put out, and nobody else.

2. The GPL is unenforceable

At the opposite extreme from the idea that the GPL is viral is that it is unenforceable — or, in Turner’s words, “It’s just a bunch of hippies. How are they going to force us to do anything?” Turner attributes this misconception at least partly to the Free Software Foundation’s preference for helping violators come into compliance rather than resorting automatically to lawyers and the courts. Yet this preference can also be reversed; the fact that violators consistently prefer compliance to a legal battle strongly suggests that they believe the license would be enforced. More importantly, in the few cases where the GPL has gone to court, such as Welte v. Sitecom in Germany or Drew Technologies, Inc. v. Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. in the United States, the license has been indirectly or directly upheld.

No company likes litigation, no one likes court. Its easier to try and settle your differences than go to court. Ultimately, it all falls onto a judge and what he/she thinks. The GPL in the states has never been upheld in a court of law, thats a fact. We will see what happens when/if anyone actually grows the balls and attempts to take it on.

3. You can’t charge for GPL software

Some of the first words in the GPL are, “When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price.” Yet despite repeated reminders from the Free Software Foundation, including one on its home page, even some members of the free software communities believe that charging money for GPL software is illegal. Dozens of companies, including Red Hat and Novell, who continue to charge for free software, daily prove otherwise.

The only mentions of price in the GPL come in section 1, which states that, “You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee,” and section 3b, which states that source code must be provided “for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution.”

Seems redundant, but if you offer the source code of your product for download and recompile, someone takes the code, creates their own version and distributes for free than whats the point of selling anything? You arent going to be successful with it. So while the GPL doesnt restrict you from selling GPL’ed code, you really arent going to be successful selling it. The only sustainable business model surrounding Open Source seems to be the subscription based offering.

4. The “liberty or death” clause applies absolutely

Section 7 of the GPL is sometimes tagged as the “liberty of death” clause because it states that conditions imposed by court orders or allegations of patent infringement do not release users of the license from following its conditions. Instead, if they cannot meet both the imposed conditions and the GPL’s conditions, they must stop distributing.

According to Fontana, many users interpret section 7 far too rigorously. Although the section applies only to patent licenses that prohibit users from passing on full GPL rights, Fontana says, “Some read the section as prohibiting distribution of GPLed code under the benefit of any non-sublicensable patent license.” In addition, “some have worried about the existence of a possibly-applicable patent, or of some law or regulation that might potentially be applied to everyone in a particular jurisdiction is enough to trigger this jurisdiction.” Neither reading is supported by the actual text of the license.

I love it when people contradict themselves. This term says that if you cannot distribute every peice of code you cannot redistribute. So I think its pretty clear and its pretty likely the FSF is going to put you in the hotseat if you distribute a binary and not the source code
5. Distributors only need to ship the source code they alter

Section 5 of the GPL states that “by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions.” These conditions include the obligation to provide the source code of the works distributed. However, many maintainers of software derived from other works conveniently believe that, so long as the distributors of the original work are distributing source code, they only need to provide the source code for the works that they modify. As mentioned in a recent NewsForge article, this assumption seems especially widespread among maintainers of derivative GNU/Linux distributions. Unfortunately, while the need for all distributors to provide source code sometimes seems redundant and often onerous, the GPL does not allow any provisions for exceptions. Nor is it likely to in the future, according to Turner.

The Simply MEPIS project fell into this rat hole and was unable to pull itself out. Other Linux distributions probably are not totally in compliance. To me there was no misconception to this rule, after the ass raping the FSF gave SimplyMEPIS, it was more than painfully clear.

Im not going to go through the list because some of these are contradictory or are just common sense, but the one thing that sticks out to me is that the FSF and others in the fold have lead to the misconceptions of the GPL, no more no less. Mostly them. With their continuing crusade to get all proprietary modules banned from usage in the Linux kernel you can be rest assured that their continued language of illegal and unethical will cause more misconceptions and be a hinderance more than helpful


Windows Media DRM Crack fixed August 30, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Tech News.

Engadget.com is reporting that Microsoft is already patching the issue that they had with the cracked DRM issue that recently reered its ugly head.

Link to article

American Red Cross Builds Disaster Response Solution with Microsoft Expertise August 30, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Tech News.
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KatrinaSafe.org provides a foundation for ‘Safe and Well’ Web site, a tool that will be the standard for exchanging welfare information in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

One year later the magnitude is still overwhelming: More than 1,800 dead, over 500,000 people displaced from their homes, and 90,000 square miles of country impacted by its force. Hurricane Katrina left an indelible image of nature’s fury upon the world, ranking it as the most costly hurricane in the history of the United States, and the second most deadly (the first being Hurricane San Felipe Segundo, which struck in 1928, killing 6,000 people). Katrina was also the first disaster in which an entire metropolitan area was evacuated and people could not return for several months. Microsoft and a consortium of other technology companies responded to urgent requests for assistance and have since met with the American Red Cross – one of the primary disaster relief organizations for Katrina – to lay out plans for how to partner more effectively, and discuss how ‘stop-gap’ measures implemented in the moment could increase the organization’s long-term disaster response capabilities.

When the hurricane struck, the Red Cross responded by meeting survivors’ basic needs including shelter, food and counseling. To this end, the Red Cross relied on the work of more than 225,000 volunteers – more than five times the size of its typical response team, and set up more than 1,400 shelters across 27 states. The logistics required for this relief effort were enormous, let alone what was needed to process the surge in donations: on a typical day the Red Cross handles about 1,000 individual donations; at one point following Katrina, that number reached 943,653.

A wide array of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies also moved quickly to offer assistance and donate hardware, software, technical expertise and human resources to support the Red Cross disaster response. Technology companies also provided online tools for people around the world to make a financial contribution to the relief effort, and to help families and friends displaced by the storm locate each other.

Steve Cooper, CIO of the Red Cross, says while his organization provides much of the infrastructure for response, volunteers’ expertise and the outpouring of humanity figure prominently in meeting a victim’s emotional and physical needs. “The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a perfect example of a partnership in action and how the expertise of partners and volunteers can help create the foundation for future improvements in disaster response capabilities,” Cooper says.


My Thoughts; Nice to see an IT company take such a active role in natural disaster response and recovery.

New .NET Show Episode August 30, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Interesting Reads.

Arisen from the ashes of obscurity the new .NET Show episode has arrived. The episode is about Longhorn Server. This episode does not require validation to download. To Linux and BSD Users: Run the exe through Wine to expand the video and use MPlayer or Xine to view. Make sure you have the w32codecs package installed.


Windows Vista pricing August 29, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Tech News.
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ZDNet has got the leaked prices of Windows Vista , these are the canadian versions, the prices for the US are projected but arent that far off of the expensive side.


Neat GNOME Feature August 28, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Uncategorized.
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GNOME has a neat feature called the deskbar which allows you to search for files on your PC or do web searches similar to Google Deskbar for Windows.  It has Beagle support with Tracker support coming soon.  Definately useful.  KDE needs a feature like this.
Deskbar Homepage 

Google Discloses Plans For Long-Awaited Office Suite August 28, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Interesting Reads, Opinions, Tech News.
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Useless offering, much lower quality than Windows Live and is unsupportted. Windows Live is supported and Microsoft Virtual Earth works much better than Google earth, and also runs on Linux. Waste of time and probably resources.

Some of the more obvious problems. What happens if your net connection goes down while you are collaborating from New York to LA? You’re screwed. Security and bandwidth issues are also present. As always people are missing the biggest point of all, while Google claims it can host the apps and the documents, as a software developer I know as users demand more functionality and features you’re code base grows.  One project I worked on when started was 724k.  Nows its 57 mbs in size.  Writely probably is about roughly that, 700 to 900 kbs right now but it only does 5% of what Office can do.  Google will find as it grows the applications Bandwidth will become an issue eventually.  I probably wouldnt use this solution at all.
Link to article

Vista reviews August 28, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Interesting Reads.
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New reviews of Vista 5536 are poping up everywhere.  eWeek has some screenshot galleries and everyones favorite Technologist Paul Thurrott has some positive words and his own gallery of this build.

Link To Thurrott 

Link to eWeek 

Playing MP3 tracks during F-Spot slideshow August 28, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Interesting Reads.

During my usage of Ubuntu I have had to do a couple of photo slideshows for some events.  Picasa kept spitting out audio I/O errors so I started F-Spot and started Rythmbox.  Started my Slideshow and raised the volume so the music came from Rythmbox.  Played the whole collection without a problem and displayed my slideshow flawlessly.  Just a little unobvious tip for an obvious problem.

Novell Story time August 27, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Tech News.
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Talk about how you are helping to spread the word of Open Source and Linux and you can win some very nice prizes.  And of course activation free copies of SLED 10.  WOOOOHOOOO.

Link to promotion