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Kuhn's Paradox

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OSS
Legal

I believe this paradox is primarily driven by the cooption of software freedom by companies that ostensibly support Open Source, but have the (now extremely popular) open source almost everything philosophy.

For certain areas of software endeavor, companies dedicate enormous resources toward the authorship of new Free Software for particular narrow tasks. Often, these core systems provide underpinnings and fuel the growth of proprietary systems built on top of them. An obvious example here is OpenStack: a fully Free Software platform, but most deployments of OpenStack add proprietary features not available from a pure upstream OpenStack installation.

Meanwhile, in other areas, projects struggle for meager resources to compete with the largest proprietary behemoths. Large user-facing, server-based applications of the Service as a Software Substitute variety, along with massive social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that actively work against federated social network systems, are the two classes of most difficult culprits on this point. Even worse, most traditional web sites have now become a mix of mundane content (i.e., HTML) and proprietary Javascript programs, which are installed on-demand into the users' browser all day long, even while most of those servers run a primarily Free Software operating system.

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ZFS Licensing Issues

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal
  • Canonical Says There Is No ZFS and Linux Licence Incompatibility

    Canonical announced that support for the ZFS (Z File System) will be available in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, but a lot of users have been asking about a possible license conflict. Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland explained why that’s not a problem.

    ZFS (Z File System) is described as a combination of a volume manager (like LVM) and a filesystem (like ext4, xfs, or btrfs), and it’s licensed under CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it. It’s not something that’s commonly used.

  • ZFS Licensing and Linux

    We at Canonical have conducted a legal review, including discussion with the industry's leading software freedom legal counsel, of the licenses that apply to the Linux kernel and to ZFS.

    And in doing so, we have concluded that we are acting within the rights granted and in compliance with their terms of both of those licenses.

Latest on SCO

Filed under
Linux
Legal
  • SCO vs. IBM legal battle over Linux may – finally – be finished

    A breach-of-contract and copyright lawsuit filed nearly 13 years ago by a successor company to business Linux vendor Caldera International against IBM may be drawing to a close at last, after a U.S. District Court judge issued an order in favor of the latter company earlier this week.

    Judge David Nuffer said that all of SCO’s claims against IBM are dismissed, and that briefs for a final legal certification of the judgment would be due Feb. 26, with responses, if necessary, on March 11. Nuffer re-opened the case in 2013.

  • SCO's last arguments in 'Who owns Linux?' case vs. IBM knocked out [Ed: some history]

    The end of the near-immortal “Who owns Unix?” case looks to be near after a US judge knocked out the two remaining arguments with which the SCO group hoped to attack IBM.

    As we reported on Tuesday, Judge David Nuffer of the US District court found against SCO's attempt to work a breach of contract angle in its long-running dispute with IBM, which centres on SCO code that may or may not have made it into Linux and AIX.

FOSS Licensing

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • Confused by license compatibility? A new article by Richard Stallman may help

    Richard Stallman has published a new guide on gnu.org titled License compatibility and relicensing. Gnu.org is home to a whole host of resources on free software licensing, including frequently asked questions about GNU licenses and our list of free software licenses. Our license list contains information on which licenses are compatible with the GNU General Public License as well as a brief description of what it means to be compatible. This latest article by Stallman provides a more in–depth explanation of what compatibility means and the different ways in which it is achieved.

  • The most important part of your project might not even be a line of code

    What is licensing? Why does it matter? Why should you care? There are many reasons that licensing is an important part of a project you are working on. You are taking the time to write code and share it with the world in an open way, such as publishing it on GitHub, Bitbucket, or any number of other code-hosting services. Anyone might stumble across your code and find it useful.

    Licensing is the way that you can control exactly how someone who finds your code can use it and in what ways.

The case for educating judges on open source licensing

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OSS
Legal

Copyright is copyright, and open source licenses are just another license. What this case illustrates is the need for judges and lawyers to understand what open source software is: not just software made available under a license, but software that has an accompanying ethos.

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Oracle raises questions on open-source license for Android with OpenJDK

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Android
OSS
Legal

Oracle has raised questions whether a version of Google's Android operating system running OpenJDK code will at all get an open-source license.

Google told a court in California that it released on Dec. 24 new versions of its Android platform that are licensed for use under a free, open source license provided by Oracle as part of its OpenJDK project, a redesign that apparently aims to get around charges that the previous versions of Android infringed Oracle's copyrights on Java.

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No single license to success

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OSS
Legal

OSI (Open Source Initiative) has tracked many licenses and approved some as well, maintaining a list of the nine most widely used and popular. Each license has its unique requirements and benefits from the reciprocity of GPL (GNU General Public License) to the permissive MIT. Each has its strong proponents and opponents. Some feel that without GPL’s compulsion human greed will end open source as we know it. Others feel that freedom is the key to success and such compulsion hinders creative use.

The reality is that the strength of open source is in its diversity, including a diversity of licenses. No single license has been nor will be the pivotal point to open source success. License diversity is very evident from the data gathered by the Black Duck Knowledgebase. A quick view of the top 20 licenses used in open source projects today shows an even spread.

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Linux Foundation quietly drops community representation

Filed under
Linux
Legal

The Linux Foundation is an industry organisation dedicated to "promoting, protecting and standardising Linux and open source software"[1]. The majority of its board is chosen by the member companies - 10 by platinum members (platinum membership costs $500,000 a year), 3 by gold members (gold membership costs $100,000 a year) and 1 by silver members (silver membership costs between $5,000 and $20,000 a year, depending on company size). Up until recently individual members ($99 a year) could also elect two board members, allowing for community perspectives to be represented at the board level.

As of last Friday, this is no longer true. The by-laws were amended to drop the clause that permitted individual members to elect any directors. Section 3.3(a) now says that no affiliate members may be involved in the election of directors, and section 5.3(d) still permits at-large directors but does not require them[2]. The old version of the bylaws are here - the only non-whitespace differences are in sections 3.3(a) and 5.3(d).

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Remix OS GPL Violations and More Android Leftovers

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Android
GNU
Legal
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More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS

  • Diving into Drupal: Princeton’s Multi-site Migration Success with Open-source
    Princeton University’s web team had a complex and overwhelming digital ecosystem comprised of many different websites, created from pre-built templates and hosted exclusively on internal servers. Fast forward six years: Princeton continues to manage a their multisite and flagship endeavors on the open-source Drupal platform, and have seen some great results since their migration back in 2011. However, this success did not come overnight. Organizational buy-in, multi-site migration and authentication were a few of the many challenges Princeton ran into when making the decision to move to the cloud.
  • GitHub Invites Developers to Contribute to the Open Source Guides
    GitHub has recently launched its Open Source Guides, a collection of resources addressing the most common scenarios and best practices for both contributors and maintainers of open source projects. The guides themselves are open source and GitHub is actively inviting developers to participate and share their stories.
  • Top open source projects
    TechRadar recently posted an article about "The best open source software 2017" where they list a few of their favorite open source software projects. It's really hard for an open source software project to become popular if it has poor usability—so I thought I'd add a few quick comments of my own about each.
  • Dropbox releases open-source Slack bot
    Dropbox is looking to tackle unauthorized access and other security incidents in the workplace with a chatbot. Called Securitybot, it that can automatically grab alerts from security monitoring tools and verify incidents with other employers. The company says that through the use of the chatbot, which is open source, it will no longer be necessary to manually reach out to employees to verify access, every time someone enters a sensitive part of the system. The bot is built primarily for Slack, but it is designed to be transferable to other platforms as well.
  • Dropbox’s tool shows how chatbots could be future of cybersecurity
    Disillusion with chatbots has set in across the tech industry and yet Dropbox’s deep thinkers believe they have spotted the technology’s hidden talent: cybersecurity.

Desktop GNU/Linux

  • Entroware have unleashed the 'Aether' laptop for Linux enthusiasts featuring Intel's 7th generation CPUs
  • New Entroware Aether Laptop Pairs Intel Kaby Lake with Ubuntu
    The new Entroware Aether is the latest Linux powered laptop from British company Entroware, and is powered by the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors.
  • Freedom From Microsoft v1.01
    But we can be Free from Microsoft! As we saw above, there is a powerful – and now popular movement afoot to make alternative software available. The Free Software Foundation, and the GNU Project, both founded by Richard Stallman, provide Free software to users with licenses that guarantee users rights: the rights to view, modify, and distribute the software source code. With GNU-licensed software, such as Linux, the user is in complete control over the software they employ. And as people contribute to modify Free Software source code, and are required to share those modifications again, the aggregate creative acts give rise to the availability of many more, much more useful results. Value is created beyond what anyone thought possible, and our freedom multiplies.
  • Review of the week 2017/08
    This week we had to cancel a couple snapshots, as a regression in grub was detected, that caused issues on chain-loading bootloaders. But thanks to our genius maintainers, the issue could be found, fixed and integrated into Tumbleweed (and this despite being busy with hackweek! A great THANK YOU!). Despite those canceled snapshots, this review will still span 4 revisions: 0216, 0218, 0219 and 0224. And believe me, there have been quite some things coming your way.

Security Leftovers

  • [Older] The Secure Linux OS - Tails
    Some people worry a lot about security issues. Anyone can worry about their personal information, such as credit card numbers, on the Internet. They can also be concerned with someone monitoring their activity on the Internet, such as the websites they visit. To help ease these frustrations about the Internet anyone can use the Internet without having to “look over their shoulder”.
  • Password management made easy as news of CloudFlare leak surfaces
    In the last 24 hours, news broke that a serious Cloudflare bug has been causing sensitive data leaks since September, exposing 5.5 million users across thousands of websites. In addition to login data cached by Google and other search engines, it is possible that some iOS applications have been affected as well. With the scale of this leak, the best course of action is to update every password for every site you have an account for. If there was ever a good time to modernize your password practices, this is it. As consumers and denizens of the Internet, we have a responsibility to be aware of the risks we face and make an attempt to mitigate that risk by taking best-effort precautions. Poor password and authentication hygiene leaves a user open to risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft, just like forgetting to brush your teeth regularly can lead to cavities and gum disease. This leaves us with the question of what good password and authentication hygiene looks like. If we stick with the (admittedly poorly chosen) dentistry analogy, then there are five easily identifiable aspects of good hygiene.
  • Security: You might want to change passwords on sites that use Cloudflare
  • Smoothwall Express
    The award-winning Smoothwall Express open-source firewall—designed specifically to be installed and administered by non-experts—continues its forward development march with a new 3.1 release.

Leftovers: Ubuntu and Derivatives

  • 'Big Bang Theory's' Stuart wears Ubuntu T-shirt
    Am I the only person to notice that comic book shop-owning Stuart (Kevin Sussman) on the "The Big Bang Theory" is wearing an Ubuntu T-shirt on the episode airing Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017? (It's Season 10, Episode 17, if that information helps you.) The T-shirt appearance isn't as overt as Sheldon's mention of the Ubuntu Linux operating system way back in Season 3 (Episode 22, according to one YouTube video title), but it's an unusual return for Ubuntu to the world of "Big Bang."
  • Unity Explained: A Look at Ubuntu’s Default Desktop Environment
    Ubuntu is the most well-known version of Linux around. It’s how millions of people have discovered Linux for the first time, and continues to draw new users into the world of open source operating systems. So the interface Ubuntu uses is one many people are going to see. In this area, Ubuntu is unique. Even as a new user, rarely will you confuse the default Ubuntu desktop for something else. That’s because Ubuntu has its own interface that you can — but probably won’t — find anywhere else. It’s called Unity.
  • A Look at Ubuntu MATE 16.04.2 LTS for Raspberry Pi
    Installing Ubuntu MATE onto my Raspberry Pi 3 was straight forward. You can easily use Etcher to write the image to a microSD card, the partition is automatically resized to fill your microSD card when the pi is powered up for the first time, and then you are sent through a typical guided installer. Installation takes several minutes and finally the system reboots and you arrive at the desktop. A Welcome app provides some good information on Ubuntu MATE, including a section specific for the Raspberry Pi. The Welcome app explains that the while the system is based on Ubuntu MATE and uses Ubuntu armhf base, it is in fact using the same kernel as Raspian. It also turns out that a whole set of Raspian software has been ported over such as raspi-config, rpi.gpio, sonic-pi, python-sent-hat, omxplayer, etc. I got in a very simple couple of tests that showed that GPIO control worked.
  • Zorin OS 12 Business Has Arrived [Ed: Zorin 12.1 has also just been released]
    This new release of Zorin OS Business takes advantage of the new features and enhancements in Zorin OS 12, our biggest release ever. These include an all new desktop environment, a new way to install software, entirely new desktop apps and much more. You can find more information about what’s new in Zorin OS 12 here.