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Free Software Leftovers

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OSS
Legal
  • WordPress Mobile Engineers Propose Dual Licensing Gutenberg under GPL v2.0 and MPL v2.0

    During a Q&A session at WordCamp Europe 2020 online, Matt Mullenweg mentioned that Gutenberg contributors were considering dual licensing for embedding Gutenberg in mobile apps, along with the requirement that they would need to get an agreement from all contributors. WordPress mobile engineer Maxime Biais has just published a proposal for discussion, recommending dual licensing the editor under GPL v2.0 and MPL v2.0.

    [...]

    Mobile app developers are limited by the GPL, because it requires the entire app to be distributed under the same license. The team is proposing dual licensing under MPL v2.0, a weaker copyleft license that is often considered to be more “business-friendly.” It allows users to combine the software with proprietary code. MPL v2.0 requires the source code for any changes to be available under the MPL, ensuring improvements are shared back to the community. The rest of the app can be distributed under any terms with the MPL v2.0 code included as part of a “larger work.”

  • NoSQL databases: what is MongoDB and its use cases?

    Databases like MongoDB, a NoSQL document database, are commonly used in environments where flexibility is required with big, unstructured data with ever-changing schemas. This post explains what a NoSQL database is, and provides an overview of MongoDB, its use cases and a solution for running an open source MongoDB database at scale.

  • What Cassandra users think of their NoSQL DBMS

    With the NoSQL market expected to be worth $22 Billion by 2026, big business is paying Apache Cassandra a lot of attention. While MongoDB dominates NoSQL, 52.71% to Cassandra's 9.73%, Cassandra, with its ability to deliver continuous availability, high performance, and scalability to large volumes of unstructured data, will always be a player. Now, if only there were more expert Cassandra administrators!

    A global survey of 1,404 Cassandra practitioners found a plurality thought the lack of skilled staff and the challenge of migration was blocking Cassandra's adoption. To be exact, 36% of users currently using Cassandra for mission-critical apps said that a lack of Cassandra-skilled team members was deterring its broader adoption.

    When asked what it would take for practitioners to use Cassandra for more applications and features in production, they said it needs to be "easier to migrate" and "easier to integrate." That's because "we don't have time to train a ton of developers, so that time to deploy, time to onboard, that's really key. All the other stuff, scalability, that all sounds fine," said a London-based senior Cassandra user.

    That may be in part because of those surveyed, 89% were using open-source Cassandra. If they were using DataStax, the most popular Cassandra distro, it might be a different story.

  • Olauncher gives your home screen an open-source, minimalist makeover

    Android's open, customizable nature is one of the things that attract a lot of enthusiasts to the platform. From manufacturer-specific tweaks to third-party default app replacements, there's usually a way to make your phone look and act how you choose. Olauncher is a new home screen replacement app that endeavors to bring an open-source, lightweight, and minimal setup to your phone.

    And minimal it is — there's time and date info up top, a list of apps below ... and that's it. The clock and app list can be set to left, center, or right orientations. A maximum of six app names can be displayed, but if you're the most minimal of minimalists, you can set it to show no apps at all. But wouldn't that render it useless? Not quite! By default, swiping to the left launches the camera and swiping to the right opens up the dialer, but you can customize these as you choose. A swipe up opens the full app list organized alphabetically.

Cory Doctorow: IP

Filed under
GNU
Legal

You’ve probably heard of “open source software.” If you pay at­tention to the politics of this stuff, you might have heard of “free software” and even know a little about the ethical debate underpin­ning the war of words between these two labels. I’ve been involved since the last century, but even I never really understood what’s going on in the background until recently.

I was looking up the history of the first free soft­ware license, and I had a revelation that transformed the way I think about it, which is significant, since, to a first approximation, this stuff is all I think about.

Some background: “free software” had its origins with AI researcher-turned-activist Richard Stallman who started his GNU project in 1983, leading to the creation of the first “GNU Public License” (GPL). This is a copyright license for computer program­mers who want to share their work. If you release a program’s underlying source code under the GPL, anyone else is free to...

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Ben Armstrong: Dronefly relicensed under copyleft licenses

Filed under
Legal

To ensure Dronefly always remains free, the Dronefly project has been relicensed under two copyleft licenses. Read the license change and learn more about copyleft at these links.

I was prompted to make this change after a recent incident in the Red DiscordBot development community that made me reconsider my prior position that the liberal MIT license was best for our project. While on the face of it, making your license as liberal as possible might seem like the most generous and hassle-free way to license any project, I was shocked into the realization that its liberality was also its fatal flaw: all is well and good so long as everyone is being cooperative, but it does not afford any protection to developers or users should things suddenly go sideways in how a project is run. A copyleft license is the best way to avoid such issues.

In this incident – a sad story of conflict between developers I respect on both sides of the rift, and owe a debt to for what they’ve taught me – three cogs we had come to depend on suddenly stopped being viable for us to use due to changes to the license & the code. Effectively, those cogs became unsupported and unsupportable. To avoid any such future disaster with the Dronefly project, I started shopping for a new license that would protect developers and users alike from similarly losing support, or losing control of their contributions. I am grateful to one particular team member who is skilled in licensing issues and went with their choices. We ran the new licenses by each contributor and arrived at this consensus: the AGPL is best suited for our server-based code, and CC-BY-SA is best suited for our documentation. The relicensing was made official this morning.

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James Bottomley: Lessons from the GNOME Patent Troll Incident

Filed under
GNOME
Legal

First, for all the lawyers who are eager to see the Settlement Agreement, here it is. The reason I can do this is that I’ve released software under an OSI approved licence, so I’m covered by the Releases and thus entitled to a copy of the agreement under section 10, but I’m not a party to any of the Covenants so I’m not forbidden from disclosing it.

Analysis of the attack

The Rothschild Modus Operandi is to obtain a fairly bogus patent (in this case, patent 9,936,086), form a limited liability corporation (LLC) that only holds the one patent and then sue a load of companies with vaguely related businesses for infringement. A key element of the attack is to offer a settlement licensing the patent for a sum less than it would cost even to mount an initial defence (usually around US$50k), which is how the Troll makes money: since the cost to file is fairly low, as long as there’s no court appearance, the amount gained is close to US$50k if the target accepts the settlement offer and, since most targets know how much any defence of the patent would cost, they do.

One of the problems for the target is that once the patent is issued by the USPTO, the court must presume it is valid, so any defence that impugns the validity of the patent can’t be decided at summary judgment. In the GNOME case, the sued project, shotwell, predated the filing of the patent by several years, so it should be obvious that even if shotwell did infringe the patent, it would have been prior art which should have prevented the issuing of the patent in the first place. Unfortunately such an obvious problem can’t be used to get the case tossed on summary judgement because it impugns the validity of the patent. Put simply, once the USPTO issues a patent it’s pretty much impossible to defend against accusations of infringement without an expensive trial which makes the settlement for small sums look very tempting.

If the target puts up any sort of fight, Rothschild, knowing the lack of merits to the case, will usually reduce the amount offered for settlement or, in extreme cases, simply drop the lawsuit. The last line of defence is the LLC. If the target finds some way to win damages (as ADS did in 2017) , the only thing on the hook is the LLC with the limited liability shielding Rothschild personally.

[...]

While the lessons above should work if another Rothschild like Troll comes along, it’s by no means guaranteed and the fact that Open Source project don’t have the funding to defend themselves (even if they could raise it from the community) makes them look vulnerable. One thing the entire community could do to mitigate this problem is set up a community defence fund. We did this once before 16 years ago when SCO was threatening to sue Linux users and we could do it again. Knowing there was a deep pot to draw on would certainly make any Rothschild like Troll think twice about the vulnerability of an Open Source project, and may even deter the usual NPE type troll with more resources and better crafted patents.

Finally, it should be noted that this episode demonstrates how broken the patent system still is. The key element Rothschild like trolls require is the presumption of validity of a granted patent. In theory, in the light of the Alice decision, the USPTO should never have granted the patent but it did and once that happened the troll targets have no option than either to pay up the smaller sum requested or expend a larger sum on fighting in court. Perhaps if the USPTO can’t stop the issuing of bogus patents it’s time to remove the presumption of their validity in court … or at least provide some sort of prima facia invalidity test to apply at summary judgment (like the project is older than the patent, perhaps).

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The Open Invention Network Aims to Protect Linux and Open-Source Software with a Patent Non-Aggression Pact

Filed under
Linux
OSS
Legal

When we covered Alibaba XT910 RISC-V processor earlier this week, the company confirmed working with open-source companies to make the source code is available for the chip, but that there were legal challenges to do so for a high-performance core.

The company did not expand on what legal challenges there were, but I’m pretty sure it’s about patents and potential lawsuits. But there may be a solution, or at least a way for companies to protect themselves to some degree against patent trolls, thanks to the Open Invention Network (OIN) which I discovered in a press release about UNISOC recently joined the organization.

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FSFE: EU should reconsider the notion of "intellectual property"

Filed under
GNU
Legal

In order to contribute to the European Commission public consultation regarding the update of the "Intellectual Property (IP)" regulatory system, the FSFE has published a first feedback. Based on its world-wide experience with Free Software, the FSFE calls for a more inclusive and decentralized regulatory system that allows sustainable knowledge sharing and intangible wealth.

The European Commission has launched an evaluation on the update of the European "intellectual property" regulatory system. In order to contribute to a fair and inclusive assessment, the FSFE took a stand against the expansion of copyrights, patents and trade secrets. We understand that expanding their scope of protection does not necessarily lead to innovation, competition and progress. Instead, increasing patentable or copyrightable matter could rather have the effect of stagnating sustainable innovation by limiting access and improvements to know-how, raising unfairness, and leading to stronger monopolies.

The FSFE urges the Commission to question the outdated notion that expanding monopolies over knowledge means more progress, consider whether EU companies will really benefit under these regulatory tools, and question the existing trend to expand state granted monopolies on software.

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SPDX for KF5/KF6 Status Update

Filed under
KDE
Legal

Converting source files from traditional license headers to SPDX expressions maybe is explained best to be like visiting a dentist: Usually it is not the most appealing thing in the world, while being there it can be slightly unpleasant and tedious for both, but at the end you are quite happy that the work was done. This is quite similar to my experience with the KDE Framework sources. Since many of the files are older than 10 years and some even older then 20, you can find surprisingly different copyright statement styles. However, finally after quite some moths task T11550 is done \o/

This small task tracks all the work that was done in the ~80 frameworks repositories, which finalle state all copyright and license statements in machine readable, modern SPDX syntax. In total, my “grep -nr “SPDX-License-Identifier” |wc” command (not completely accurate, but easiest to get an general direction) tells about ~7400 files that were converted. At this point, I want to thank especially Christophe Giboudeaux, who did most of the reviews of these changes. Even if we could do most of the conversions with tooling (see licensedigger, which is now in SDK Playground by the way) the whole conversion was quite time consuming because every change must be reviewed carefully.

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Also: Sketchnotes at FOSDEM 2020

The falsehoods of anti-AGPL propaganda

Filed under
GNU
Legal

Google is well-known for forbidding the use of software using the GNU Affero General Public License, commonly known as “AGPL”. Google is also well-known for being the subject of cargo-culting by fad startups. Unfortunately, this means that they are susceptible to what is ultimately anti-AGPL propaganda from Google, with little to no basis in fact.

[...]

The Google page about the AGPL details inaccurate (but common1) misconceptions about the obligations of the AGPL that don’t follow from the text. Google states that if, for example, Google Maps used PostGIS as its data store, and PostGIS used the AGPL, Google would be required to release the Google Maps code. This is not true. They would be required to release their PostGIS patches in this situation. AGPL does not extend the GPL in that it makes the Internet count as a form of linking which creates a derivative work, as Google implies, but rather that it makes anyone who uses the software via the Internet entitled to its source code. It does not update the “what counts as a ‘derivative work’” algorithm, so to speak — it updates the “what counts as ‘distributing’ the software” algorithm.

The reason they spread these misconceptions is straightforward: they want to discourage people from using the AGPL, because they cannot productize such software effectively. Google wants to be able to incorporate FOSS software into their products and sell it to users without the obligation to release their derivative works. Google is an Internet company, and they offer Internet services. The original GPL doesn’t threaten their scheme because their software is accessed over the Internet, not distributed to end-users directly.

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OSI Reviews Open, Free and Openwashing Licences

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • February 2020 License-Discuss Summary

    Statement that all major open source licenses rely on copyright for protection, none of them have severability clauses to address what happens if one or more clauses in the license cannot be enforced, and that works authored by the US Government (USG) does not have copyright attached in the USA. Concern that if standard licenses are used, it is not known if the license will be struck completely or if only portions would be, as well as whether it would expose the government if a standard license is used when some clauses don’t apply.

  • License Review Process Update

    We’d like to update you on some work we have underway on improving the OSI’s work on reviewing open source licenses. We’re working on two initiatives, one substantive and one process.

    First, on process, we know that an email list is a suboptimal way to perform the license review process. We have published a Request for Proposals for a contractor to, first, develop a set of requirements for an appropriate license-review vehicle and, second, implement the selected process. You can find the full RFP here. If you’re interested in participating as a stakeholder, stay tuned to this space for an announcement when we’ve started work on the project itself.

    Second, on substance, we are starting a License List Working Group. The mission will be to review, re-evaluate, and redefine current processes and standards for license review with a view towards ensuring that the OSI’s license list is appropriately comprehensive while also continuing to encourage the use of a smaller set of well-known, well-understood licenses. More information on the Working Group can be found here.

today's programming leftovers and licence lawsuit

Filed under
Development
Legal
Misc
  • Whiteboard Coding Stress Reduces Performance by More than Half

    A recent study by North Carolina State University researchers found that stress caused by whiteboard technical interviews significantly affected the performance of job candidates.

    Whiteboard tests are a common feature of the hiring process for software developers. During these sessions, candidates are expected to develop coding solutions on a whiteboard while describing their decision-making process to observers.

    In the study, half of the participants performed the typical whiteboard test with an interviewer looking on. The other half solved the problem on a whiteboard in a private room with no interviewer present. The private interviews also included a retrospective “think-aloud” session to discuss the solutions presented.

    [...]

    In the paper, the researchers noted that “a technical interview has an uncanny resemblance to the Trier social stress test,” a technique used by psychologists with the sole purpose of inducing stress. “Through a happy accident, the software industry has seemingly reinvented a crude yet effective instrument for reliably introducing stress in subjects, which typically manifests as performance anxiety,” they said. Additionally, “the unique combination of cognitive-demanding tasks with a social-evaluative threat (essentially being watched) is consistent and powerful,” they stated.

  • Address Sanitizer, Part 1

    Hello everyone. My name is Harshit Sharma (hst on IRC). I am working on the project to add the “Address Sanitizer” feature to coreboot as a part of GSoC 2020. Werner Zeh is my mentor for this project and I’d like to thank him for his constant support and valuable suggestions.

    It’s been a fun couple of weeks since I started working on this project. Though I found the initial few weeks quite challenging, I am glad that I was able to go past that and learned some amazing stuff I’d cherish for a long time.

    Also, being a student, I find it incredible to have got a chance to work with and learn from such passionate, knowledgeable, and helpful people who are always available over IRC to assist.

    [...]

    The design of ASan in coreboot is based on its implementation in Linux kernel, also known as Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN). However, coreboot differs a lot from Linux kernel due to multiple stages and that is what poses a challenge.

  • Etcd, or, why modern software makes me sad

    I talk a lot of shit about Google, but Facebook and Microsoft are nearly as bad at turning out legions of ex-employees who can't be left alone in the room with a keyboard lest they attempt to recreate their previous employer's technology stack, poorly.

  • EuroPython 2020: Find a new job at the conference

    Our sponsors would love to get in touch with you, so please have a look and visit them at their sponsor exhibit channel on Discord or contact them via the links and email addresses given on the page.

  • Check if incoming edges in a vertex of directed graph is equal to vertex itself or not

    Given a directed Graph G(V, E) with V vertices and E edges, the task is to check that for all vertices of the given graph, the incoming edges in a vertex is equal to the vertex itself or not.

  •        

  • Jelurida Files Lawsuit Against Apollo Blockchain For License Violations Over Nxt Code
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