decoration decoration
Stories

GROKLAW
When you want to know more...
decoration
For layout only
Home
Archives
Site Map
Search
About Groklaw
Awards
Legal Research
Timelines
ApplevSamsung
ApplevSamsung p.2
ArchiveExplorer
Autozone
Bilski
Cases
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Contracts/Documents
Courts
DRM
Gordon v MS
GPL
Grokdoc
HTML How To
IPI v RH
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
Lodsys
MS Litigations
MSvB&N
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
ODF/OOXML
OOXML Appeals
OraclevGoogle
Patents
ProjectMonterey
Psystar
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v IBM
SCO v Novell
SCO:Soup2Nuts
SCOsource
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Transcripts
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal


User Functions

Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


What's New

STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


Sponsors

Hosting:
hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Webmaster
The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:22 AM EDT

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time
~ by Richard Stallman

Our community has been abuzz with the rumor that Sun has made its implementation Java free software (or "open source"). Community leaders even publicly thanked Sun for its contribution. What is Sun's new contribution to the FLOSS community?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing--and that's what makes the response to this non-incident so curious.

Sun's Java implementation remains proprietary software, just as before. It doesn't come close to meeting the criteria for free software, or the similar but slightly looser criteria for open source. Its source code is available only under an NDA.

So what did Sun actually do? It allowed more convenient redistribution of the binaries of its Java platform. With this change, GNU/Linux distros can include the non-free Sun Java platform, just as some now include the non-free nVidia driver. But they do so only at the cost of being non-free.

The Sun license has one restriction that may ironically reduce the tendency for users to accept non-free software without thinking twice: it insists that the operating system distributor get the user's explicit agreement to the license before letting the user install the code. This means the system cannot silently install Sun's Java platform without warning users they have non-free software, as some GNU/Linux systems silently install the nVidia driver.

If you look closely at Sun's announcement, you will see that it accurately represents these facts. It does not say that Sun's Java platform is free software, or even open source. It only predicts that the platform will be "widely available" on "leading open source platforms". Available, that is, as proprietary software, on terms that deny your freedom.

Why did this non-incident generate a large and confused reaction? Perhaps because people do not read these announcements carefully. Ever since the term "open source" was coined, we have seen companies find ways to use it and their product name in the same sentence. (They don't seem to do this with "free software", though they could if they wanted to.) The careless reader may note the two terms in proximity and falsely assume that one talks about the other.

Some believe that this non-incident represents Sun's exploratory steps towards eventually releasing its Java platform as free software. Let's hope Sun does that some day. We would welcome that, but we should save our appreciation for the day that actually occurs. In the mean time, the Java Trap still lies in wait for the work of programmers who don't take precautions to avoid it.

We in the GNU Project continue developing the GNU Compiler for Java and GNU Classpath; we made great progress in the past year, so our free platform for Java is included in many major GNU/Linux distros. If you want to run Java and have freedom, please join in and help.


Copyright 2006 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.


  


The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman | 270 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off topic thread
Authored by: MathFox on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:45 AM EDT
Other FLOSS and/or Legal issues in this thread please ;)
You can make clickable links when you post in HTML.

---
If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within
itself, then it is inconsistent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nothing new under the Sun
Authored by: psherma1 on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:48 AM EDT
I give credit to Sun for all the work that has made OpenOffice possible, for
what developers ARE able to do with Java, and much more. I find it hard to
"blast" them for anything. But trust them? I think that would be
foolish.
I build machines and have installed Blackdown Java for years. (SDK) Fight the
good fight Richard!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: gbl on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:57 AM EDT
I'm not a Java programmer so there may be aspects of this matter I'm unaware of, but...

Who cares?

There are third party implementations of Java available. Nobody is inconvienienced by the lack of access to Suns Java source.

It is not evil to not use GPL. The point is choice. If people don't like Suns license then that's OK too. But please would people stop reacting to marketing spin :-)

---
If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:07 PM EDT
You are missing some of Sun's announcements. They haven't done it yet, but they
did say they will...


From: http://www.sun.com/2006-0523/feature/index.jsp
During the four-day conference, Sun made a series of announcements (see sidebar
to right), including some significant contributions to the open source
community. On the ever-present question of open sourcing Java technology, Rich
Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said, "We will do this.
It's not a question of whether, it's a question of how."

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is the big deal?
Authored by: OrlandoNative on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:16 PM EDT
Even RMS notes that Sun didn't try to 'hide' anything in it's announcement.
All, at this point, that's being done is to make it easier, legally, to include
Java environments along with other code in distributions. Nothing more, nothing
less.

Java may not be free yet; indeed, in spite of what Schwartz has said, may never
be... ...the requirements to ENSURE compatibility across multiple
implementations may force that forever... ...at this point we don't know.

That said, I have no problem with ANY open source implementation of Java being
written AS LONG AS IT PASSES the Java compatibility tests if it's going to be
distributed to others - what one wants to do 'in house' is, of course, their own
business.

Some folks have said that Linux hasn't 'forked'; even though it's FOSS.
Technically, they may be right. But in reality, they're not... ...if you cannot
take a binary and install it off of a CD without manual intervention (other than
inserting the CD and starting the install program) on ANY other Linux
distribution (at the same or similar version/release/modification level); then
for all intents and purposes they're 'forked'; whether they meet the strict
definition or not. In other words, can you install the SAME binary on RedHat,
Fedora Core, Mandriva, SUSE, or any of the other distributions with a 2.6
kernel; and have it work? Or do you have to specifically compile it for that
environment? If the former, ok. If the latter, then, IMHO, it's forked. Some
may say, well, since it's FOSS, we have the source, we CAN compile it. Sure you
can. I can too. But millions of other potential users can't; if only because
they don't have the same training and experience. Who are WE to REQUIRE it of
them? Isn't that limiting their 'freedom' as to what they want to learn; what
skills they desire to master? If they want to go ahead and become proficient at
that level, fine. But why should we FORCE them to do so?

Sun doesn't want that to happen to Java. Many OTHER players in the Java space
don't want it to, either. But yet others, like, for example M$, had no problem
creating incompatible versions of Java; and Sun spent years, and quite a few $;
fighting that very problem, and bringing Java back to being a write once, run
everywhere platform.

*IF* Java goes open source, it's probably not going to be under the GPL, which,
for RMS, isn't good enough, no matter what the rest of the world thinks or says.
But I will speculate (and this is only MY opinion, not anyone else's that I
know of) that *ANY* open source license it ends up under will require any
'derived work' pass the Java compatibility tests before it can be called Java.
And that no 'fork' or 'derived work' that DOESN'T can use the term Java in any
way.

Yes, it's a restriction. Yes, it's a limitation on freedom. But just like
common sense, the common good, and, indeed, the LAW prohibits someone yelling
'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre just for the fun of it.

Total freedom is an illusion. There are boundaries around us everywhere, and
some can't be avoided (like natural laws), and others only at definite peril
(like various social covenants). I see no reason why the realm of software, or,
for that matter, any OTHER endeavor should be different. The only thing
important is that (1) the laws should make sense, and (2) that they are there
for specific reasons - either unavoidable, or because they enforce specific,
built in, clearly articulated needs that make sense to the folks who might wish
to utilize what they govern.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:21 PM EDT
I've said it before and I'll say it again. RMS is the only OSS leader we have
whom we can fully trust. His clarity of thought, unwavering ideals and sheer
tenacity make him the One True Guru (TM) of open source software.

There are so many groups present today trying to subvert the openness of the
Internet, and succeeding with frightening ability, we must get behind those who
have not only maintained the status quo of freedom, but managed to further it's
reach, case in point, the GPL v3. The IETF and IANA have been undercut by
corporate machinations. Free speech on the 'Net restricted by the threat of
lawsuits. Our privacy is compromised security branches of the government and
corporate entities. The only way we can begin to regain some sembelance of
control over what we say and what we can do is to assure the software we use is
free from restrictions and intentional security weaknesses. That means using
truly open source software, and backing single mindedly a philosophy of an open
Internet. We've lost so much ground, and so many of the original defenders of
freedom, Jon Postel for example, have moved on or passed away, we as a community
must not only struggle to maintain what remaining freedoms we do have, but turn
with the powers of our hearts and brains to push back the wave of control, and
assert the unique creation that was the truly Open Internet. This is probably
the last bastion of open, rapid, and free communication. Key to it's, and in
turn our success is Open Source Software and Richard M. Stallman. So yes my
friend, continue to fight the good fight. We are with you, doing what good we
can in our own way, and will remain, supporting FOSS and the philosophy of
freedom.
Peace.
V

My hat is off to this man and his work and passion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Java Needs the Community and vs versa
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:30 PM EDT
Java, or something as big as java, needs to be more entrenched in the open
source community yesterday. Ansi C is the speed but JavaPython etc are the
flexibility.

If Microsoft can sew up a DRM'd private hegemony (perhaps a big if) people need
applications that will have the users break down the walls. Users, as customers,
are always right but they need to be shown how good it is to use free software.

If Java can be free, perhaps Java can be more influential for its own sake. I
think that can only be good. Developers outside of Microsoft space need to find
synergies and success in advance of the next M$ product cycle.

[ Reply to This | # ]

RMS isn't paying attention
Authored by: sgtrock on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:49 PM EDT
Sun's new CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, has already stated publicly that Java will be open source.

S tory 1
Story 2
Story 3

The only items in question are timing and the exact license. As Sun was able to get OSI blessing for two different OSS licenses, I fully expect that they will be able to figure out how to write or re-use an OSS license for Java. It helps if one does a bit of research before shooting off one's mouth. Doesn't it, Richard?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun Java, Gnu and Microsoft
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 12:50 PM EDT
Sun provides Java free of charge with rights to redistribute it. Programmers are
free to develop software and distribute it Freely.

Sun has reserved for itself, as originator of Java, the right to control the
specification, for the purpose of maintaining compatibility across all operating
systems, including Microsoft's Windows. This is a very valuable feature and
enables interoperability across Free, Opens Source and Proprietary operating
systems. This was the original primary advantage of Java, "Write Once, Run
Anywhere". Developers are denied the right to freely change the
specification to keep that capability.

This is at odds with Stallman's view that all software should be Free.

When you look at why Sun does this it is quite understandable. They fought a
huge legal battle with Microsoft over Java, because in spite of the protection
Sun put in place, Microsoft decided to "embrace and extend" Java, so
that it was no longer cross platform. If Sun were to release Java under a Free
or even Open Source license without adequate protection, Microsoft could do it
again, locking 90 something percent of the Internet users into their proprietary
.NET world, making the world less Free.

Sun, by insisting that Java remain cross platform and consistent is making users
and web site developers more Free, although software developers may be somewhat
less Free to make changes they might want to make.

Sun is engaged in a delicate balancing act, attempting to provide freedom to
users to use the software and operating system they prefer (whether Free Open
Source or Proprietary) and to make web site owners and developers Free to
provide services to everyone using the operating system they prefer (whether
Free, Open Source or Proprietary).

I think Sun and Java are a balance to Microsoft and .NET which make the web a
freer place with more opportunity for Free software and operating systems to
develop.

---
Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here, please
Authored by: rc on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 01:39 PM EDT
Wow. In case of errors, please place kerrections hear so PJ can find them.

thanks!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yet more FUD from RMS
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 02:12 PM EDT
Throughout the article, RMS continues to convince us to use his preffered (and
partially complete) version of Java and not the one we know and trust, simply
because he doesnt like the license. Worse, he continues to incinuate that by not
using the GNU version, and using the "proper" version, I am somehow
evil, unclean or just "bad and wrong".

Frankly, I'm getting fed up with RMS and his "there is only my way"
approach to freedom. Its rapidly becoming freedom enforced, rather than
choices.

Unless you happen to be one of a tiny handful of people capable of modifying the
Sun source and making it better, rather than worse, the freedom to access the
source is a meaningless one. Personally, P refer Sun's licence to the FOSS
variant, simply because the control Sun has over the java spec ensure my
"write once, run anywhere" capability that needs defending and
maintaining,

For that reason alone, I would encourage the FOSS community to abandon its
attempt to duplicate the Sun Java framework, simply because ti will never be as
complete or accurate.

As for RMS, I'm now sick and tired of his attempts to enforce his version of
freedom on me .. the sooner he gets off my case, the better!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 02:39 PM EDT
Sun never claimed it was free.

Sun claimed that they were changing the licensing so that binaries could be
included in distributions of OpenSource projects like various Linux based
distributions.

That's a great first step.

Stahlman needs to jump off his high horse, get some oxygen, and then re-read the
announcement. Then maybe he'll be closer to reality.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: mlwmohawk on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 03:19 PM EDT
Whenever I see RMS or read what he writes, I am reminded of a quote that shows
up on fortune every now and again:

"A reasonable person adjusts to thier surroundings, thus all progress is
made by unreasonable people."

RMS is a very unreasonable person, and I mean that as the best possible
compliment. He will not reason away his views, he will not reason away freedom,
he will not reason away rights.

Yes, RMS is an unreasonable man, and there are times when society needs
unreasonable people to force issues more reasonable people refuse to confront.

Richard, if you read this, give'em hell!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Welcome to the New World, welcome Smalltalk
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 04:23 PM EDT
During the last 30 years, programming languages try to advance make a World with Objects. In this World the Modern day Computing and System Development Ideas will be created.

Some kind of an hybrid come to life in the form of Lamb skinned Wolf (in C form, C++) just to be gentle with the "Knowing People". It offered them the Object Oriented Programming fabulous concepts. But it's masquerade was discovered. The lamb skinned Wolf start to Bite the Innocent Confident Programmers.
Memory leaks, garbage not collected, weak methods and a half bakered multiple inheritance, limited by the Types, those types which destroy the Elder Pascal 'cause they cannot communicate between them.

A modern player assault the scene. With dark influences, he try to conquer the World by storm. Being the Object Language; "write once, run everywhere" was his legend. The holy grail. You only need to learn those Basic Types, this Control Structures, that Interfaces, the Event manager, The AWT, The Swing, using the Compiler, pack the Clasess, import Modules, etc.
Java promise the incredible- Embedded systems, interactive dynamic web content, distributed computing, blah, blah, blah.

The dream ended. Some daredevils wrote their Scripting Languages; Perl (arghh), Python, Ruby and a dozen more. With prototyping, contract design an alike to solve the Java mess (C#, Eiffel).

But someone was there before. Many years ago he realizes his own World; Alive, full of Objects. Those objects where in the hand of the Wizards obeying every an all the messages they received. To learn new an old tricks an never forget 'em. To save 'em in the Collective Memory, The Holy system Image. When the Wizards back. The wizardry will be there, unbreakable, jealously saved. Accesible only to the Holy Smalltalker, the One who Knows the right Words, only five words (nil, self, super, true, false). To give orders, to be Obeyed by the Surrendered Objects. To Create the Smalltalk Magic.

The incredible thing about this is "The Magic" didn't appear at the 90's no t the 80's but before. In the time when King Lizzard was the hype, when Heavy Metal was a Rock Cult Object Class created by the wizards of Led Zeppelin, when Jimmy Hendrix look at down to Mortals. Thus Smalltalk, the purest Object Oriented language already existed.
Alan Kay had a brilliant Idea combining Sketchpad and Simula concepts. Why not create Objects that understand it's own world and just obey when you give 'em the rigth message.

Ball spin; bounce; changeColor: blue; deflate.

And the Ball spins and bounces and changes its' color before the Shocked eyes of those who are Watching the Magic. And the Magic is there inside, you just need read it, swallow it, drink it. Not learning nor remembering anymore. The Magic is there and realizes by itself.
Smalltalk is "The Language", the magic from objects in real form. Sparkling, Fantastic, Dared.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it": Alan Kay.

I still don't understand Java, nor C++, least C#. I still don't understand why create many, many languages if we could just extend the Smalltalk Metaphor.

"To the infinte and beyond": Buzz Lightyear.

I still don't believe that the Simplest, Cleanest, Object Oriented Language in the world. That one which astonished Steve Jobs and inspired him to create "The Mac". That one which invented Windows and Mice and Graphical Environment don't dominate the Programming World... Smalltalk dominate: World; subyugate: Windows; Conquer: Linux.

Thanks and bye...

GNU Smalltalk
Squeak Smalltalk

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Infinity? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 09:08 PM EDT
    • Infinity? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 09:20 PM EDT
    • Infinity? - Authored by: cc0028 on Thursday, May 25 2006 @ 09:04 AM EDT
      • Infinity? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 25 2006 @ 01:55 PM EDT
Java?
Authored by: Nick_UK on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 04:52 PM EDT
RMS is again correct.

But my question is why do people use java anyway? It is
slow, bloated, and quite frankly only fit for the purpose
it was originally designed for - washing machines, video
recorders and other embedded systems.

Java is pants. And always will be. Let it stay closed
source - I for one will never buy it, and don't understand
the hoo-har about it anyway - there are far better ways to
do it*

Nick
* Cisco routers used a java frontend to their web
interface... slow..... new routers installed at work last
two weeks now use a form of DHTML - 100x quicker and no
errors (Java isn't really fault tolerant).

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Java? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 05:23 PM EDT
  • Java? - Authored by: cc0028 on Thursday, May 25 2006 @ 04:20 AM EDT
    • Java? - Authored by: TerryH on Saturday, May 27 2006 @ 11:52 PM EDT
Much ado about nothing really
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 04:56 PM EDT
So Richard doesn't like it, but it's OK to use it.
What's the fuzz about?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Giving Up License Fees?
Authored by: Observer on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 05:17 PM EDT
There is an interesting take on this in an edito rial at InfoWorld. Neil McAllister contends that Sun doesn't want to give up their license fees for all the embedded JVM installs they have in devices like cell phones.

---
The Observer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rember the ISO and ECMA standards?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 08:04 PM EDT
I wrote this as a reply to a deeply buried thread, but wanted it to get more
exposure, so I moved it up top.

They spent a year and a half telling everybody they were going to submit Java to
the ISO standard committe so it would be developed in an open and fair manner,
but then witdrew it just before ratification, claiming they could not protect
their patents and copyright. ISO claimed this was not true and that they had
ways to protect Sun IP.
Then they spent a year and a half sying they would submit it to ECMA, sayinghtey
wanted to developmet process to be open and fair. After another year and a half,
just before the standard was ratified, Sun again withdrew it from the standards
committe.
Members of the ECMA committe calimed they had been played by Sun, who in their
opion never had any intention of makeing Java a standard, but just wanted to
drag thr process out so they could lie to developers about Java evenualy
becoming a standard, and hoping that by the time developers realized Sun was
lying, developers would be locked into Java.
11 years later Java is 100% owned by Sun, and changes have to be 100% approved
by Sun, no one but Sun has any real say in anything releated to Java, and all
Java IP is 100% owned and controled by Sun.

Maybe Sun will open up some of Java, but after listening to their lies about
this for 11 years, I won't beleave it until ODL, ISO, or ECMA confirms that is
has HAPPENED, not that it might happen at some point in the distant future in a
galaxy far far away.

Before Microsoft released even the first version .NET, they had it on an ECMA
fast track to be a standard.
Microsoft was willing to accept both the ISO and the ECMA requirments for
release of IP, where SUN refused both.

From my viewpoint, this makes Microsoft a far better friend of open source than
SUN will ever be.

That can only mean the world we live in is far more bizzar than I could have
ever dreamed.

Dennis

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:37 PM EDT

Interesting statement regarding Vista by uberserf Jim Allchin on news.com.com:

We never had a system to provide this much data to us about what people are doing.

(Makes you wonder if there is some dark, twisted irony in the name "Vista"...)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Attacking RMS
Authored by: Carla Schroder on Wednesday, May 24 2006 @ 11:56 PM EDT
I smell yet another astro-turfing campaign, this time
attacking RMS at every opportunity. This article
is short enough for all but the most attenuated attention
spans, and uses nice short words. Yet many of the
responses are off the mark. Either there is an epidemic of
reading incomprehension, or the pillar of Free Software
has been targeted for attack.

Java is not Free Software. It does not come close to even
the most liberal OSI license. Someday it will be "open."
But who knows when, or how Sun will define "open". For now
it is as closed and proprietary as ever. Why praise Sun
for nothing? Why criticize RMS for pointing this out?

RMS does not forbid anyone from using Java. He points to a
free alternative in the last paragraph. He does not engage
in Sun-style doubletalk, but gives a straightforward,
truthful presentation. Sooo... what's the problem,
RMS-bashers?

[ Reply to This | # ]

when did a license agreement become a NDA?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 25 2006 @ 12:29 PM EDT
I just did a test run to get the JDK source, all it required me to do was log
in/register and accept the license. presumably you need to sign a NDA to check
IN software, ala opensolaris, but that's a horse of another color. lies, damn
lies, and free software politics again

[ Reply to This | # ]

Related Nvidia/ATI kernel module controversy:
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 25 2006 @ 09:55 PM EDT
Here is some info on the related Nvidia/ATI kernel module controversy:

Quote taken from: http://linux.coconia.net/p olitics/kmodsGPL.htm

The above mentioned possibility of hiding the entire code of a program as an application library, is the reason that the GPL demands that any application that links to GPL'd shared libraries, must itself be GPL'd (a program is GPL'd, if it is licensed under the GPL).

It has been claimed that distributing a GPL'd kernel with binary closed source kernel modules is illegal. This claim has been advanced, to stop Linux distributors from shipping with Nvidia and ATI drivers that work "straight out of the box". A recent example of this is the Kororaa controversy.

Those wishing to cripple Linux, make many unsubstantiated claims, some of which are wrong, in order to prevent Linux distributors shipping Nvidia and ATI drivers that work "out of the box". Here is a sample:

1) GPL and non-GPL components cannot be included together on a CD. 2) Closed source kernel modules distributed with a GPL'd kernel clearly violates the GPL. 3) Don't include closed source kernel modules as the situation is murky. You might get sued. 4) Closed source kernel modules link to the kernel in the same way that applications link to libraries, therefore you cannot include them with a GPL'd kernel.

One, is wrong. Two, is not clear at all. Three, which sounds correct, is also wrong. Think about it, who is going to sue you? The Free Software Foundation? Not likely. Perhaps Microsoft might be interested in enforcing the GPL. Four, seems to have some merit, but is wrong..........

For the full article, see http://linux.coconia.net/

[ Reply to This | # ]

Java Trap
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 26 2006 @ 09:18 AM EDT
There is an understandable motive behind some of the limitation imposed by Sun:
the strict control on the platform and about the obligation to release complete
implementations are perhaps necessary, or believed so, to avoid a typical
behaviour of Microsoft, to embrace a technology they believe dangerous and
slightly modify it and widely diffuse the modified version to make it somehow
dependant on MS products.
Two examples? HTML and Kerberos.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard Stallman
Authored by: Superbiskit on Friday, May 26 2006 @ 07:29 PM EDT
Richard notes:
... This means the system cannot silently install Sun's Java platform without warning users they have non-free software, as some GNU/Linux systems silently install the nVidia driver.

IMNSHO, this is A Good Thing. Sometimes, I do need to install non-free software; for example, I'm stuck with an nVidia mainboard and video. However, I darned well want to know when that is happening.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )