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No More MP3 (Software) Patents is Good News for GNU/Linux

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Red Hat
Legal

  • Full MP3 Support Being Added To Fedora Linux

    Fedora Workstation last year enabled support for MP3 decoding on this Red Hat Linux distribution while now they are enabling MP3 encoding support too.

    With the last of the MP3 patents expiring, there is MP3 encoding support being added to Fedora to finally provide a full MP3 support experience atop this distribution.

  • Full MP3 support coming soon to Fedora

    Both MP3 encoding and decoding will soon be officially supported in Fedora. Last November the patents covering MP3 decoding expired and Fedora Workstation enabled MP3 decoding via the mpg123 library and GStreamer. This update allowed users with the gstreamer1-plugin-mpg123 package installed on their systems to listen to MP3 encoded music.

Court Upholds Enforceability of Open Source Licenses

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued an opinion that is being hailed as a victory for open source software. In this case, the court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging violation of an open source software license, paving the way for further action enforcing the conditions of the GNU General Public License (“GPL”).

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Is The GPL Really Declining?

Filed under
GNU
Legal

At the huge FOSDEM developer meetup in Brussels in early February, I attended a panel where speakers discussed whether the use of “permissive” open source licenses like the Apache License is now outstripping use of “viral” licenses, such as the GPL. The discussion was spirited, with advocates associated with the Free Software Foundation pushing back on the assertion the GPL is “dying”.

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FOSS Licensing (and Lack Thereof)

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OSS
Legal
  • Portugal to harmonise usability of govt portals

    All of the code, information and tools are made available for reuse.

  • JRC: ‘Releasing code without a licence hinders reuse’

    Projects that publish source code without a licence weaken the reusability of their code, warns Stefano Gentile, a copyright and trademark specialist working for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). Currently just 20 % of all projects published on GitHub, one of the most popular source code sharing platforms, have selected a licence for their work - down from about 60% in 2008, Gentile said, quoting numbers published in 2015 by GitHub.

  • React to React

    The Additional Grant of Patent Rights is a patent license grant that includes certain termination criteria. These termination criteria are not entirely unprecedented when you look at the history of patent license provisions in OSI-approved licenses, but they are certainly broader than the termination criteria [or the equivalent] in several familiar modern licenses (the Apache License 2.0, EPL, MPL 2.0, and GPLv3).

  • BetConstruct declares the source code for its front-end as open source

    The project is distributed under MIT license.

Why GPL Compliance Education Materials Should Be Free as in Freedom

Filed under
GNU
Legal

I am honored to be a co-author and editor-in-chief of the most comprehensive, detailed, and complete guide on matters related to compliance of copyleft software licenses such as the GPL. This book, Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide (which we often call the Copyleft Guide for short) is 155 pages filled with useful material to help everyone understand copyleft licenses for software, how they work, and how to comply with them properly. It is the only document to fully incorporate esoteric material such as the FSF's famous GPLv3 rationale documents directly alongside practical advice, such as the pristine example, which is the only freely published compliance analysis of a real product on the market. The document explains in great detail how that product manufacturer made good choices to comply with the GPL. The reader learns by both real-world example as well as abstract explanation.

However, the most important fact about the Copyleft Guide is not its useful and engaging content. More importantly, the license of this book gives freedom to its readers in the same way the license of the copylefted software does. Specifically, we chose the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 license (CC BY-SA) for this work. We believe that not just software, but any generally useful technical information that teaches people should be freely sharable and modifiable by the general public.

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Defending copyleft

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Legal

For some years now, Bradley Kuhn has been the face of GPL enforcement. At LibrePlanet 2017, he gave a talk about that enforcement and, more generally, whether copyleft is succeeding. Enforcing the GPL is somewhat fraught with perils of various sorts, and there are those who are trying to thwart that work, he said. His talk was partly to clear the air and to alert the free-software community to some backroom politics he sees happening in the enforcement realm.

Most of the work that Kuhn's employer, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), does is not dealing with licensing issues. But people love hearing about copyleft, he said. In addition, free-software developers like those at LibrePlanet have a right to know what's going on politically. There is a lot of politics going on behind the scenes.

Kuhn works for a charity, not a traditional company or a trade association. That means he has the freedom and, in some sense, the obligation to give attendees the whole story from his point of view, he said. He is lucky to be able to work in that fashion. Kuhn then took a bit of a spin through his history with copyleft and why he decided to step up for it.

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Also: Open Source Licenses: How They're Similar, How They're Different

Linux Foundation blocks access to open source risks article

Filed under
GNU
Legal

The Free Software Foundation's John Sullivan was one of the first to criticise the article, pointing out on Twitter, "There are many sites where I'd expect to see this article but not the Linux Foundation."

In reference to a claim in the article, he wrote, "Copyleft is not 'riskier'. Permissive licenses allow proprietary reuse, and *proprietary* licensing is far more complicated and risky."

And he added, "Copyleft is also not 'restrictive'. See above. Proprietary licensing is restrictive. Copyleft guarantees absence of restrictions."

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Do GitHub's updated terms of service conflict with copyleft?

Filed under
GNU
Legal

GitHub's updated terms caused a great deal of concern, but while they are confusing, they do not appear to be incompatible with copyleft. The Free Software Foundation (FSF), though, still recommends using other code hosting sites.

GitHub recently updated their terms of service (ToS). Users of the site are raising many concerns over the new terms, fearing that the ToS could be incompatible with the copyleft licenses on works uploaded to GitHub. In particular, section D of the new terms, which handles rights granted to GitHub and GitHub users, makes many hackers very uncomfortable.

Section D.4 states, "You grant us and our legal successors the right to store and display your Content and make incidental copies as necessary to render the Website and provide the Service. " At first glance that might appear to grant permissions on your work without the concomitant protective guarantees found in copyleft licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL). Users who care about ensuring that their software never becomes proprietary would not want to give such unconditional permission. And those uploading works that incorporate third-party copylefted code may not even be able to grant such permissions.

But licenses like the GNU GPL already give the necessary permissions to make, use, and modify local copies of a work. Are the new GitHub ToS asking for more than that? It's not fully clear. While the grant language could fit within the scope of the GPL, other words used in the section like "share" or "distribute" could be understood to mean something that wouldn't line up with the GPL's terms.

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BSD and GPL

Filed under
GNU
BSD
Legal
  • Booting FreeBSD 11 with NVMe and ZFS on AMD Ryzen

    We recently took one of our test systems and tried an experiment: could we boot FreeBSD 11 from a NVMe SSD using ZFS root file system using AMD Ryzen. At STH we have many FreeBSD users and developers so when there is a new hardware class out, we tend to try it in FreeBSD and sometimes popular FreeBSD appliance OSes such as pfSense and FreeNAS. You can see an example with our Knights Landing Xeon Phi x200 system booting FreeBSD OSes. In our recent testing with AMD Ryzen we found major installers with the latest CentOS 7.3 and also had issues with Ubuntu crashing using current LTS image kernels. We wanted to see how FreeBSD would fare given it normally lags in terms of hardware support.

  • VMware becomes gold member of Linux Foundation: And what about the GPL?

    As we can read in recent news, VMware has become a gold member of the Linux foundation. That causes - to say the least - very mixed feelings to me.

    One thing to keep in mind: The Linux Foundation is an industry association, it exists to act in the joint interest of it's paying members. It is not a charity, and it does not act for the public good. I know and respect that, while some people sometimes appear to be confused about its function.

    However, allowing an entity like VMware to join, despite their many years long disrespect for the most basic principles of the FOSS Community (such as: Following the GPL and its copyleft principle), really is hard to understand and accept.

    I wouldn't have any issue if VMware would (prior to joining LF) have said: Ok, we had some bad policies in the past, but now we fully comply with the license of the Linux kernel, and we release all derivative/collective works in source code. This would be a positive spin: Acknowledge past issues, resolve the issues, become clean and then publicly underlining your support of Linux by (among other things) joining the Linux Foundation. I'm not one to hold grudges against people who accept their past mistakes, fix the presence and then move on. But no, they haven't fixed any issues.

    They are having one of the worst track records in terms of intentional GPL compliance issues for many years, showing outright disrespect for Linux, the GPL and ultimately the rights of the Linux developers, not resolving those issues and at the same time joining the Linux Foundation? What kind of message sends that?

Should the U.S. Army Have Its Own Open Source License?

Filed under
OSS
Legal

This question has generated many pixels’ worth of traffic on the OSI License discuss email list. This post is just a brief summary of a little of the discussion, which has been going on for some weeks and shows no sign of slowing down.

There are currently 80 Open Sourse Initiative-approved open source licenses. It’s nice that the Army (I’m a veteran) wants to not only write software licensed as open source, but OSI-approved open source software. (Go Army!)

But does the Army really need its own special OS license? Should the Air Force have a different one? Will the Navy want a Coastal Combat Open Source License, along with a separate Blue Water Open Source License? That might sound far-fetched, but Mozilla has three separate open source licenses, Microsoft has two, and Canada’s province of Québec also has three. So why shouldn’t the U.S. Department of Defense have a whole slew of open source licenses?

There are five different GPL licenses alone, and I assure you that even the Coast Guard dwarfs the Free Software Foundation in both personnel and resources.

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Also: US Department of Defense Launches code.mil Open Source Effort

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More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

today's leftovers

Games: Atari VCS Console, Humble Store and TUNG (The Ultimate Nerd Game)

  • Atari VCS Console Runs a Custom Linux Distro Called “AtariOS”
    Following criticism of its mediocre internal makeup the Ataris VCS console will now ship with 8GB RAM by default, up from the 4GB proposed during the funding push. It’s a decent increase in memory that should help the system cope better with more intensive indie games (don’t expect AAA titles to play nicely on the machine with the middling AMD Bristol Ridge APU).
  • Humble Store is doing a 'Pixel Perfect Platformers Sale' and it has some top Linux games for cheap
    For those of you who love your platformers, regardless of them being 2D, 3D, puzzle or action adventures there's bound to be something for the bored Linux gamer in the Humble Store Pixel Perfect Platformers Sale.
  • TUNG (The Ultimate Nerd Game) made me realise how stupid I really am
    The Ultimate Nerd Game or TUNG for short, is a first-person sandbox game about building intricate machines and it made me feel so very dumb. If you loved Minecraft's Redstone circuits or anything remotely similar, this is probably a free game you're going to love. For me, it was an exercise in frying my brain like it's in a microwave.

OSS Leftovers

  • Pharmaceutical industry gets first open source platform for Level 4 serialization
    Pharmaceutical companies today for the first time have an open source alternative for level 4 serialization with the launch of QU4RTET, a platform that provides them with new flexibility, transparency and affordability as they comply with global drug anti-counterfeiting laws.
  • Kontron Uses Open Source to Move Beyond Bare Metal
    Kontron, a company known for its embedded computing technology, is leveraging virtualization and open source to become a direct supplier to large service providers, promising to integrate hardware and operating system software with best-of-breed virtual network functions. That new sales strategy has evolved to support containers, particularly as they fit at the edge of the network, which for Kontron AG is the cell tower. In May, Kontron announced that its integrated SYMKLOUD open source platform now supports the latest versions of OpenStack for virtual machines and bare metal, as well as Kubernetes v1.10 for Docker and containers, via its distribution partnership with Canonical.
  • Open Source Expands In Finance With The FINOS Platform
  • Global Open Source Services Market Forecast to 2025 Published by Marketresearchnest
  • Synopsys ARC HS4x Processors Now Supported By GCC
    The GCC 8 compiler brought the Synopsys ARC CPU target while for the GCC 9 release is going to be support for the company's HS4x processors. Merged today to mainline GCC is support for the HS4x CPUs within the ARC target. Adding this newer generation of ARC processors to the GNU Compiler Collection code-base was just a few hundred lines of code with building off the existing target code.
  • GPL Cooperation Commitment gets more support for open source licensing
    Red Hat has announced its open source license enforcement initiative is making new strides. As part of the GPL Cooperation Commitment, 14 new companies have joined the effort to promote greater predictability for GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x licenses. “Through this initiative, we hope ultimately to increase participation in the use and development of open source software by helping to ensure that enforcement, when it takes place, is fair and predictable,” according to the commitment’s website.
  • The Global IP Exchange: Human ingenuity and open source technology
    He said: “Customers do increasingly care about open source, and if you don’t comply you are at risk of upsetting authors, as well as litigation and injunctions.” “If you’re just distributing internally, then you’re fine, but as soon as it leaves your company, then you’ve triggered an obligation.” For those who don’t comply, he warned that either the licensor, or the Free Software Foundation will find out.
  • How to Setup Python Virtual Environment on Ubuntu 18.04
    Python is a versatile programming language that can be used for many different programming projects(Web - Mobile - Desktop). Easy to set up, and written in a relatively straightforward style with immediate feedback on errors, Python is a great choice for beginners and experienced developers alike. Python 3 is the most current version of the language and is considered to be the future of Python. This article will guide you through installing Python 3 on your local Linux machine and setting up a programming virtual environment via the command line. This article will explicitly cover the installation procedures for Ubuntu 18.04, but the general principles apply to any other distribution of Debian Linux.
  • How expensive is globbing for sources in large projects
    Since we have the measurement script, let's use it for something more interesting. Modules are an upcoming C++ feature to increase build times and a ton of other coolness depending on who you ask. The current specification works by having a kind of "module export declaration" at the beginning of source files. The idea is that you first compile those to generate a sort of a module declaration file and then you can start the actual compilation that uses said files. If you thought "waitaminute, that sounds exactly like how FORTRAN is compiled", you are correct. Because of this it has the same problem that you can't compile source files in an arbitrary order, but instead you must first somehow scan them to find out the interdependencies between source (not header) files. In practice what this means is that instead of single-phase compilation all files must be processed twice. All scan operations must be done before any compilation jobs can start because otherwise you might start to compile a file before its dependencies are fully processed. The scanning can be done in one of two ways. Either the build system scans the sources meaning it needs to understand the syntax of source files or the compiler can be invoked in a special preprocessing mode. Note that build systems such as Ninja do not do any such operations by themselves but instead always invoke external processes to do their work.
  • Security updates for Monday