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Dr Stoll: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the GPL

Filed under
GNU
Legal

My Free Software journey starts with The Cuckoo’s Egg. Back in the early 90s a family friend suggested I might enjoy reading it. He was right; I was fascinated by the world of interconnected machines it introduced me to. That helped start my involvement in FidoNet, but it also got me interested in Unix. So when I saw a Linux book at the Queen’s University bookshop (sadly no longer with us) with a Slackware CD in the back I had to have it.

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5 reasons Microsoft may never give up on Linux patent claims

Filed under
Linux
Microsoft
Legal

There are many reasons why Microsoft may not join the Open Innovation Network (OIN) anytime soon. First of all, if a company doesn’t want to use patents as a weapon, it won’t, whether or not it joins OIN.

At the same time, joining OIN doesn’t guarantee that a company won't use patents as a weapon. Both Oracle and Google are OIN members and they have locked horns in one of the fieriest battles in the open source world. IBM is one of the founders of OIN and it has also sued companies (like Groupon) over various patents.

So as much as I believe joining OIN sends a positive message, I don’t think that’s _the_ ultimate solution.

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Also: Microsoft's Linux Inquisitor Grand Master is off to Spotify

Is Microsoft Trying To Attack Open Source And Linux With Its “Patent Bombs”?

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Legal

Last week, Microsoft got involved in a legal issue and secured patent licenses from Wistron of Taiwan and Rakuten of Japan around Linux and Android technologies. While Microsoft is already making billions with its patents in Android, its history of Linux-related patent trolling isn’t hidden from anyone. The open source community remains frightened of Microsoft as no one knows who could be the next one to get a notice from Microsoft’s legal guys.

In another case that violates the trust of open source community, Microsoft has recently claimed that it came up with the idea for Continuum and “invented” the concept. On the other hand, Canonical has been working on Convergence since 2013, even though it was never released to the public up until recently.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft has made some serious contributions to the open source community and expressed its love for Linux. However, if Redmond really cares, it should work transparently to win the trust of the open source community as any company’s success in the world of open source depends on its users and developers.

Satya Nadella should also consider joining the Open Innovation Network (OIN) and sending a message the open source world to become a trusted member of the community.

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Ubuntu and ZFS: Possibly Illegal, Definitely Exciting

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Ubuntu
Legal

The project originally known as the Zettabyte File System was born the same year that Windows XP began shipping. Conceived and originally written by Bill Moore, Jeff Bonwick and Matthew Ahrens among others, it was a true next generation project – designed for needs that could not be imagined at the time. It was a filesystem built for the future.

Fifteen years later, it’s the future. Though it’s a teenager now, ZFS’s features remain attractive enough that Canonical – the company behind the Ubuntu distribution – wants to ship ZFS as a default. Which wouldn’t seem terribly controversial as it’s an open source project, except for the issue of its licensing.

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Is Canonical about to violate the GNU GPLv2?

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal

Canonical's decision to offer the ZFS filesystem as default in the forthcoming April release of its Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution has put others in the free software and open source community offside.

The company is being accused of violating the GNU General Public Licence version 2, the licence under which the Linux kernel is released.

This is not the first time that Canonical and its founder Mark Shuttleworth have ended up on other side of the table as others in the community. This has been going on regularly since Ubuntu was first released in 2004.

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BMW Australia and GPL

Filed under
GNU
OSS
Legal

The VMware Hearing and the Long Road Ahead

Filed under
GNU
Legal

On last Thursday, Christoph Hellwig and his legal counsel attended a hearing in Hellwig's VMware case that Conservancy currently funds. Harald Welte, world famous for his GPL enforcement work in the early 2000s, also attended as an observer and wrote an excellent summary. I'd like to highlight a few parts of his summary, in the context of Conservancy's past litigation experience regarding the GPL.

First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case. Judges who have presided over Conservancy's GPL enforcement cases USA federal court take all matters before them quite seriously. However, in our hearings, the federal judges preferred to ignore entirely the public policy implications regarding copyleft; they focused only on the copyright infringement and claims related to it. Usually, appeals courts in the USA are the first to broadly consider larger policy questions. There are definitely some advantages to the first Court showing interest in the public policy concerns.

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SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The long-running SCO vs. IBM case looks like it might just be over.

A new filing (PDF) scooped up by the good folks at Groklaw sees both SCO and IBM agree to sign off on two recent decisions in which SCO's arguments advancing its claims to own parts of Unix were slapped down by the US District Court.

As The Register reads the PDF we've linked to above, and our informal legal counsel concurs, the new document describes IBM and SCO both signing off on the recent court orders. Those orders left SCO without a legal argument to stand on.

The new filing also points out that SCO remains bankrupt and has “has de minimis financial resources beyond the value of the claims on which the Court has granted summary judgment for IBM.”

Or in plain English, SCO is broke and the only asset it possess of any value is its claims against IBM, and now it doesn't even have those because it just lost a court case about them. That leaves SCO in no position to carry on.

“Accordingly,” the new filing continues, “the disposition of SCO’s appeal is the practical course most likely to conserve both judicial and private resources.” That's the legal sense of “disposition”, by the way, so what the document's saying is that SCO giving up its appeal is most likely to stop the courts spending any more time or energy on this matter. Courts don't like wasting resources. So this is both parties explaining that wrapping things up now is a desirable thing.

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7 cool little open source projects that stood out in 2016

In the early days of the open source movement, a lot of the attention was on operating systems, and later on large content management systems. These days, containers are mentioned regularly even in mainstream news outlets. The big tech stories are great, but they miss the other great activity in the niches of the open source space. I've rounded up seven interesting lesser-known projects from the past year. You can see more articles about projects like this in my Nooks and Crannies column. Read more

RaspArch, the Arch Linux Remix for Raspberry Pi 3 SBCs, Now Shipping with Yaourt

After announcing the release of a new version of his Ubuntu-based ExTiX Linux operating system for Intel Compute Stick devices, Arne Exton has announced today the availability of RaspArch Build 161205. RaspArch is a remix of Arch Linux ARM for Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 2 single-board computers, and the latest release is shipping with the long-term supported Linux 4.4.35 kernel and the latest package versions released upstream as of December 5, 2016. "When you have installed RaspArch to your Micro SD Card you can use the system like any other Arch Linux system, i.e. install new programs, etc," said Arne Exton in the release announcement. "Arch motto is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). RaspArch uses kernel 4.4.35-1-ARCH and the LXDE Desktop environment." Read more

Gentoo-Based Porteus Kiosk 4.2 Released with Linux Kernel 4.4.36, Firefox 45.5.1

Porteus Solutions, through Tomasz Jokiel, announced today the release and immediate availability of Porteus Kiosk 4.2.0, the latest stable version of the free and open source Gentoo-based kiosk operating system for web terminals. Powered by the latest long-term supported Linux 4.4.36 kernel, Porteus Kiosk 4.2.0 ships with some of the latest and greatest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software projects, including the recently released X.Org Server 1.18.4 display server, as well as the Mozilla Firefox 45.5.1 ESR and Google Chrome 54.0.2840.100 web browsers. Read more