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TomTom Can License FAT Without Violating the GPL

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the ask-a-master-license-delver dept.

GNU is Not Unix 261

dp619 writes "Capped per-unit royalties make FAT licensing agreements permissible under the GPL, and SD Times has found that Microsoft's public license policy caps royalties at $250k. If the royalties are capped — as they seem to be — TomTom should be able to license FAT without violating the GPL. And if that is the case ... TomTom needs some serious explaining to do as to why they aren't licensing FAT. That said, Microsoft still needs to explain why it just cannot say that folks won't violate the GPL if they license FAT under its terms."

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frist post! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27176865)

they're grrrrrreat!

What... people lost? (-1, Redundant)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176873)

Can't anyone find this place without their TomTom to reply normally?

this is good news! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27176877)

you fags can suck my fat cock without violating my heterosexuality.

Re:this is good news! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27176919)

Hmm, seems to be a bit more of an effort to fp and otherwise troll /. just lately. Not quite the heady old days of 20721 (lol craigpanda) but good to see all the same. Think about your breathing.

No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works. (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176883)

This story is nonsense.

First, to be sued you have to have someone willing to sue you. That would be the copyright holders of the GPL code that can't be distributed. They are:

Werner Almesberger
Gordon Chaffee
Wolfram Pienkoss
OGAWA Hirofumi

Those are the listed authors of the vfat code in the Linux kernel.

I don't see why those folks would want to sue TomTom. In general the kernel team isn't interested in suing to enforce the GPL, and the only person to bring such a suit, Harald Welte of gpl-violations.org, isn't involved with this code.

One of the possibilities in this case is that other companies than TomTom want to see the patents in question invalidated, and don't want to see TomTom bought by Microsoft, and will help TomTom with funds, etc. Whatever agreements go on about that will happen behind closed doors.

TomTom probably would not want to pay a capped royalty of a quarter million for something as bad as the FAT patents without at least exploring any less expensive paths to invalidate the patent. Like the Doctrine of Laches, for example. That code has been in the kernel longer than the usual Laches interval, which in general would hand MS and automatic loss.

Less expensive ways to win, in this case, may also mean "with someone else's money".

A capped royalty payment is in general NOT in compliance with the GPL version 2. What is "fixed" in GPL3 is the Novell loophole of licensing customers of the other company rather than the other company directly. Microsoft is not required to offer TomTom a license that uses the Novell loophole. Whatever they offer TomTom may still be out of compliance with GPL2. But that doesn't matter if the developers don't want to sue.

Jeremy is either being misquoted (likely) or he's a bit off-base this time.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177005)

>I don't see why those folks would want to sue TomTom.

How is this germane?

Microsoft has already sued TomTom.

You seem to be arguing from a premise you have yet to state.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177103)

TomTom (probably) can't pay Microsoft for a license to the FAT patents without violating the GPL. The people who wrote the code that is (probably) covered by Microsoft's patent would then have the right to sue TomTom (for violating the GPL).

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177049)

Why wouldn't they want to sue? Lots of people would love to see the Microsoft patent get invalidated, of those lots of people are confident it will be. If that number out of the original population is greater than 25%, there's a 1 in four, or real, chance one of those guys wants to sue, on principle if not on principal. I'm sure they would likewise get financial help from others to fight just like TomTom would, just different sources.

Sue TomTom and let them decide to take their chances with copyright law or open source law, one being rather established and one rather less so. End result is the same, only TomTom does it involuntarily.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177209)

They would be heroes, of sorts.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177357)

GPL developers suing TomTom over their copyrights would not get the chance to invalidate the patents. Their suit would be a copyright case. It's TomTom who can invalidate the patents if they decide to fight Microsoft that way. It's not even clear that they have to take the trouble, they could show that the vfat code has been in the kernel long enough for the Doctrine of Laches - which says you lose the right to assert your patent if you wait for the market to develop first - to apply.

Re:Why not? (5, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177583)

GPL developers suing TomTom over their copyrights would not get the chance to invalidate the patents.

Worse than that, they would be playing right into Microsoft's hands, scaring device developers away from Linux towards WinCE.

Re:Why not? (4, Interesting)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177711)

Why would someone develop for WinCE? Not to troll, it just seems like a dead platform.

Re:Why not? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177595)

Consider MS describing the linux implementation as non-infringing - as it is distributed source-only (in the general case) for "research purposes".

No significant market infringing patents then?

Does Redhat pay a license fee for RHEL, or does it leave lfn support out altogether?

Re:Why not? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177617)

I've only got Debian around here so I can't check Red Hat. But I suspect that, on the advice of counsel, they ship the vfat code.

Re:Why not? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177845)

I would suggest the Doctrine of Laches could only consider binaries being shipped by a major distributor - source code usually being recognised as a non-infringing description of the patent. Taking this into account TomTom is probably one of the few people distributing an implementation without a license commercially.

Not sure if a court would consider this as submarining anyway - MS have fairly aggressively defended this patent in the past (especially against preformatted flash drive and camera/phone vendors).

Re:Why not? (1)

turey22 (1495813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177805)

I honestly think that this is a retarded way of doing this. Dont MP3 players, cameras, and many more items use Vfat? They justed did this cause they know that now everyone is using the FAT32 system and since they see that they use there patent attack. Microsoft is a great company at times but shady business.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177097)

Maybe they won't, but I wonder if TomTom can really take the risk of being sued later for willful infringement?

Considering how long copyrights last nowadays, the kernel developers easily have 70+ years to discover the infringement and pursue them.

They might like to seek out the kernel developers of the code involved in the relevant modules and license their work under more permissive terms for use in TomTom's products...

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177135)

Hehehe.. anyone who wrote ANY code in that device and put it under the GPL can sue Tom Tom for placing extra restrictions on the redistribution of the software.. as the license specifically states that extra restrictions are not allowed.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177381)

"placing restrictions" would mean written license terms beyond those in the GPL. It's a different section of the license from the part about patent rights. I don't see that it would apply in this case.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177211)

Okay but can microsoft sue the vendor of every linux laptop which supports vfat?

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (4, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177497)

Certainly MS could sue anyone who they claim violated their patent and didn't buy a license. It has nothing special to do with laptops or Linux.

The question is whether they would succeed.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (5, Informative)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177319)

You're correct Bruce, I'm off base this time. I got contacted by the writer this morning who told me that the SFLC had told him that a fixed cap would work with GPLv2. So being in the middle of coding something (ie. not paying enough attention), and remembering the fixed price we paid to get access to the EU Workgroup Server docs, I just agreed that it sounded like this would be a work-around for v2, but not for v3 where section 11 is much stricter about patent licensing (explicitly the bits about extending the license downstream), and bingo - there goes the story with the quote. You know how these things go :-(. My fault, and I'll be more careful in future.

Looking closely at the license here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20060207034921/http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/tech/fat.asp [archive.org]

the devil is in the details. Someone just mailed me a comprehensive analysis and agreeing to this license, even with a royalty cap, would violate GPLv2 in several ways.

There is a field of use restriction : "Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft."

Modification restrictions: "devices are fully compliant with certain required portions of the Microsoft FAT file system specification"

and a per-manufacturer limit: "a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per manufacturer".

So yes, I got it wrong and this license is in no way GPLv2 compatible.

Sorry for the mistake. Blame me, not the journalist who was just trying to get his story.

Jeremy.

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177465)

Thank you, Jeremy. I suspect you may be a bit out on a limb on the GPL compliance angle, too. As you can see above, there are only a few people who are direct copyright holders of the code that exercises the patent. The rest of the kernel isn't at issue. I think those four may be the only people with standing to sue. The question then is: does suing deter Microsoft, or only deter TomTom from embedding Linux in their device?

Obviously how TomTom conducts itself will be important. If their CEO has an on-stage hug with an MS executive and actively helps Microsoft circumvent the GPL, that would probably irk some developers. If they get bought by MS, they'd probably start embedding WinCE. If they just try to go on doing business as well as they can without allowing themselves to be a mouthpiece for a Microsoft FUD initiative, the key copyright holders might not have a reason to object. I would feel better about TomTom, though, if they hadn't had to be dragged into GPL compliance. But my experience is that companies usually commit GPL incompliance out of ignorance and bad process rather than intent.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:No lawsuit likely, here's how it actually works (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177911)

I see another problem with this and that is that it shoots a hole in the GPS licensing.

What good is open source if you still have to pay royalties to patent trolls in order to use it?

Fuck em (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176889)

Just switch file systems. Seriously, why the hell are you using FAT anyway.

which? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176925)

Can someone explain to me if this suit is over the driver or the FAT formatted storage?

Re:which? (4, Informative)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177043)

IIRC it isn't about FAT, but about using long names in FAT.

Re:which? (2, Interesting)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177153)

Say I format a floppy on a Windows machine using FAT and it has some long file names on it. Do I have to pay a royalty to Microsoft for for the privilege of owning the floppy or for the privilege of reading the floppy on my Linux machine sitting right next to it?

Re:which? (2, Informative)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177355)

IANAL nor do I pretend to know much of the topic, but I understand that the person who wrote and distributed the software tha uses MS's workaround for using long filenames on FAT would have to pay the license, not the end user.

Re:which? (2, Interesting)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177439)

Thanks for replying again, quickOnTheUptake. I'm just trying to gauge how possible it would be for TomTom to just use ext2/3 as it's main storage and have a FAT partition (unreadable for the device because it would lack the drivers) that auto-runs a ext driver install when connected to a Windows PC.

Re:which? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177575)

Maybe tomtom could just use linux with 8.3 filename support?

Re:which? (4, Informative)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177367)

Actually the lawsuit is over multiple patents, some of which are the FAT patents, all of which are dubious...

United States Patent 6,175,789
Beckert , et al. January 16, 2001
Vehicle computer system with open platform architecture

United States Patent 7,054,745
Couckuyt , et al. May 30, 2006
Method and system for generating driving directions

United States Patent 6,704,032
Falcon , et al. March 9, 2004
Methods and arrangements for interacting with controllable objects within a graphical user interface environment using various input mechanisms

United States Patent 7,117,286
Falcon October 3, 2006
Portable computing device-integrated appliance

United States Patent 6,202,008
Beckert , et al. March 13, 2001
Vehicle computer system with wireless internet connectivity

United States Patent 5,579,517
Reynolds , et al. November 26, 1996
Common name space for long and short filenames

United States Patent 5,758,352
Reynolds , et al. May 26, 1998
Common name space for long and short filenames

United States Patent 6,256,642
Krueger , et al. July 3, 2001
Method and system for file system management using a flash-erasable, programmable, read-only memory

Re:which? (2, Insightful)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177917)

"Vehicle computer system with wireless internet connectivity" That's a radio. Microsoft patented the freakin radio. Anyone who has a radio newer then 1990 has a chip in it and it does some computing.

Re:Fuck em (2, Informative)

volxdragon (1297215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176941)

It's quick, it's dirty, it's easy, and developers are lazy. I have seen many embedded products that use FAT just out of convenience for the developers (many of the embedded CPUs have reference bootrom code available from the CPU manufacturers and those generally support FAT partitioning and not EXT*).

It's about interoperability, stupid (4, Insightful)

Jonner (189691) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177001)

Or just maybe it's because people expect to be able to see some files when they plug their GPS receivers into their Windows machines. If Windows had an Ext2 driver bundled with it, I wouldn't ever format a USB drive as FAT either.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177025)

All of these comsumer devices come with all kinds of crap CDs with "required" software anyways. Just stick whatever you'd need to use to use the thing on one of those. No big deal, people are used to that sort of crap.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177131)

Except that if you're installing a filesystem driver into Windows, the odds are too high that you'll cause instability and crashes. Most consumer goods manufacturers wouldn't be willing to take that chance.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177459)

*blink*

You'll only get instability and crashes if your FS driver code sucks. Windows is crummy for a lot of reasons, but "randomly crashes for no goddamn reason even though all the bits were being twiddled correctly" isn't one of them.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (2, Informative)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177553)

Ext2IFS isn't very good, though, and IIRC that's the main ext* FS driver on Windows.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177817)

Yeah, if you want to be able to use a file system from both Windows and a Linux-based system, it's much more practical to use either FAT or NTFS than Ext2. I think the real problem is that there's no device class for a virtual file system interface of some kind instead of just the low level mass storage device. Ideally, it would be up to the device how to store the files internally and it would just present a high level interface.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177849)

I concur, I kept getting blue screens all of a sudden doing something with vmware I think it was under server 2003 (my memory fails me somewhat)... removing ext2ifs stopped this from happening.

FAT's just very simple, easy to program, easy to understand, very widely supported, metadata has a small footprint (as a % of total filesystem size) and, especially in cases of mostly WORM like access patterns, is very much sufficient for a wide range of needs.

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (1)

finity (535067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177685)

I've been wondering about the feasibility of creating a new filesystem driver for Windows. I've used a few, but none work well. If a company (TomTom) poured some money into it, I wonder what could get done... Then they wouldn't have to use vfat, they could use ext2 / whatever.

I bet they could have used UDF or something...

Re:It's about interoperability, stupid (2, Interesting)

Jonner (189691) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177853)

Yeah, UDF would probably be the best vendor-neutral choice, but you couldn't just format your device as UDF, plug it into a Windows machine, and copy files to it, since the implementation in Windows is incomplete and buggy AFAIK.

Re:Fuck em (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177017)

That, and it's pretty much universal, (almost) everything from Amiga to Windows can use FAT.

However, I'm not really sure what TomTom does, ie: what implications does the file system have on its use? and couldn't any transfering be converted into something more generic between FS and other IO?

Couldn't they just as easily use Ext2? Or make their own TTFS or whatever.

Re:Fuck em (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177433)

couldn't any transfering be converted into something more generic between FS and other IO?

No, because users can copy updates directly to the SD card, then stick the card in the TomTom, without ever hooking up the TomTom device to their computer.

Re:Fuck em (4, Funny)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177561)

That, and it's pretty much universal, (almost) everything from Amiga to Windows can use FAT.

Come on, you could have gone with z/OS and gotten extra points here.

The memory cards / SD cards use fat (2, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176993)

The memory cards / SD cards use fat

Re:Fuck em (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177013)

FAT is useful for thumb drives that you want to be able to use in Windows systems.

I COULD use NTFS but my thumb drive is slow enough without the overhead (at least, I assume FAT is faster).

Re:Fuck em (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177851)

fat has a minute speed advantage over ntfs, but not within human perception probably, it's the usb comm that slows them down. Anyway, ntfs metadata updates are why you don't want to put ntfs on a thumbdrive unless you turn off those updates, otherwise windows will be continuously writing microupdates to it constantly and make it's lifetime go down if you leave it plugged in for long periods of time.

Re:Fuck em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177047)

Because it works, it has little overhead, it's recognized by about everything on the market and it's the most fucking logical choice for this.

Re:Fuck em (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177069)

Just switch file systems. Seriously, why the hell are you using FAT anyway.

PC users who want to be able to exchange data between their TomTom and their Windows XP/Vista PC.

There are essentially 5 filesystems available... FAT12, VFAT/FAT16 (Microsoft), FAT32 (Microsoft), and NTFS (Microsoft).

FAT12 has limitations that make it essentially unusable (no long filenames)

This difficulty in exchanging files with removable media is essentially a result of Microsoft's Windows monopoly.

They have patented all the filesystems they implemented in Windows, and the only modern filesystems the OS supports are filesystems they have patented.

Yeah, someone could develop a custom filesystem (ala VxFS) and sell it as an add-on application. It would probable be about as successful as Netscape Navigator was, compared to Internet Explorer, and since the OS itself couldn't be hosted on such a filesystem, such a product would have great difficulties in the marketplace.

Re:Fuck em (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177243)

FAT12 has long filenames all right. You still see small SD cards formatted as FAT12 these days. FAT12/16/32 is typically chosen based on the device size.

Re:Fuck em (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177331)

In traditional FAT12, filenames are limited to 8 characters, plus a . and an optional extension up to 3 characters.

LFNs in FAT12 are only possible with the VFAT extensions, or by some similar hack. MS doesn't have a patent on FAT12, but they have a patent for the extension to use long filenames on FAT12.

Re:Fuck em (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177537)

Sure, but the same applies to FAT16. I just wanted to point out that FAT12 isn't inferior to FAT16 in this regard, and, in fact, is still widely used on small devices. VFAT was developed for FAT16 but also "backported" to FAT12, so FAT16 and FAT12 are essentially identical as far as filenames go. In fact, all three filesystems share the same LFN hack. The only real differences are the FAT entry size and, for FAT32, some reorganization and cleanup (for example, the root directory is a normal directory on FAT32, part of the data cluster area, and can grow using the normal FAT methods).

Re:Fuck em (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177077)

To what, though?

If they change to NTFS, they still have to pay MS. If they change to something like EXT3, then Windows users cannot use the Tom Tom without an additional driver. Plus, you'd be forcing people to format their currently very interoperable USB sticks to something that would make them worthless on most Windows computers.

Re:Fuck em (2, Informative)

Toveling (834894) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177089)

So that the flash cards, which are generally loaded from a Win/Mac with map data, can easily interoperate?

Re:Fuck em (2, Informative)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177311)

Mac OS X drivers [sourceforge.net] and Windows drivers [sourceforge.net] are available for ext2. FAT is not absolutely necessary for cross platform compatible file storage hardware.

Re:Fuck em (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177385)

That's true, but:
1. You now require your customer to install software on their PC. No using the work PC or a friend's PC to update your Tom Tom.
2. You require your potentially brain-dead customer to figure out how to re-format a USB stick.
3. Without yet another reformat, you render the USB stick useless for any other computer besides your own.

Re:Fuck em (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177423)

Tom Tom Home [tomtom.com]

TomTom HOME is our free software program that gives you access to a huge array of services as well as the global community of TomTom users. It is the only tool you need to manage, update and personalize your TomTom to enjoy a premium navigation experience: buy and install maps, make back-ups, download free software updates, shop and much more.

Since a Tom Tom owner will be installing software on their PC or Mac anyhow the addition of an ext2 driver would be innocuous.

because, because, and because (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177907)

What about where you'd just be downloading update's and sticking it on the memory card, say, on a computer that isn't yours to be able to be installing system level drivers on? Maybe a work machine, a friends laptop who isn't comfortable with having extra bits of software installed on the system their livelyhood depends on, or, a machine that's used to run something that the new driver code crashes? (The latter one is the reason I've had to uninstall ext2 driver support on my windows machine).

What if someone has a large memory card that they want to use for their tomtom updates, but also wants to backup their phone's addressbook 'n messages onto? Then their phone has to support the same FS too.

What if someone's out and they wanna take some photos, and for one reason or another, the one memory stick with space available on it they have to hand is the tomtom one... their camera would also now have to support the same filesystem.

These may seem far fetched to you, but they are possibilities that become unpossibilities one you start switching devices to non-ubiquitous filesystem. So, here's the bigger question: why close those doors?

Re:because, because, and because (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177953)

Or if you manage to get a general consensus between hardware vendors most devices could shit with this driver and all of them could use the 1 driver. You have flash right? Same deal. You use java right? Same deal. Hell talk to sun they might package it in for ya.

Re:because, because, and because (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177963)

That was ship no shit

Re:Fuck em (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177203)

Memory cards.

Internally, very few devices would consciously choose to use FAT, as there are much better filesystems for flash chips. Furthermore, I don't even believe it's possible to use FAT as a root filesystem for Linux due to lack of proper permissions and case-sensitivity.

Re:Fuck em (4, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177441)

Internally, very few devices would consciously choose to use FAT...

If any of my devices consciously choose what file system to use, I have a hammer that will correct such behavior.

Re:Fuck em (3, Funny)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177967)

...first machine to ever become conscious... wow this could be an amazing step forwards fo&#!%*!!BLAM!!! Oh well, good job we didn't also program it to feel pain. ...someone take that hammer off him. *sigh* right here we go again

Re:Fuck em (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177947)

"I don't even believe it's possible to use FAT as a root filesystem for Linux"

I think you can... not in earlier days for sure, because you can't make special files needed to populate /dev on a fat filesystem, but these days /dev is often mounted as a ram filesystem and populated based on info gathered from sysfs, the root filesystem can be a simple, (optionally) readonly thing and have stuff mounted in. It won't be able to do everything a full filesystem makes handy (such as using symblinks+libraries for version control) and you'll need to make use of things like tmpfs for anywhere you need to stick named pipes/sockets etc, and yes you lose security, but I can't think of any reason why you couldn't have a basic linux system using just vfat and boot time created tmpfs

Re:Fuck em (4, Insightful)

squidinkcalligraphy (558677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177237)

Everyone uses it? you can plug in the SD card from the gps (or camera or whatever) straight into a card reader on _any_ computer from the last 10 years and it will read it. Moving away from it will be like moving from IPv4 to IPv6. Slow and messy. But necessary one day - those flash devices are getting bigger and bigger, and windows won't let you create a FAT fs bigger than 32G (though it is possible) as it gets horribly inefficient. MS is pushing exFAT, but being incompatible with FAT, they face the same problems as any other fs in this regard, and lawsuits like this one might end up biting them back.

Re:Fuck em (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177371)

FAT is simple and compatable with everything.

Tsarkon Reports Greased Up Yoda Doll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27176953)

Tsarkon Reports 9 Step Yoda Grease 9 steps to greasing your anus for Yoda Doll Insertion!
v 4.50.2
$YodaBSD: src/release/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/yodanotes/9stepprocess.sgml,v 4.50.2 2009/03/12 04:40:45 tsarkon Exp $
  1. Defecate. Preferably after eating senna, ex lax, prunes, cabbage, pickled eggs, and Vietnamese chili garlic sauce. To better enhance the pleasure of this whole process, defecation should be performed in the Return of the Jedi wastebasket for added pleasure. [homestead.com]
  2. Wipe ass with witch hazel, which soothes horrific burns. (Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda certifies that his lips, raw like beaten flank steak from nearly continuous analingus with dogs, are greatly soothed by witch hazel.)
  3. http://cover6.cduniverse.com/CDUCoverart/AToy/Large/Front/6652895.jpg [slashdot.org] ">Prime anus with anal ease. (Now Cherry Flavored for those butthole lick-o-phillic amongst you - very popular with 99% of the Slashdotting public!)
  4. Slather richly a considerable amount of Vaseline and/or other anal lubricants into your rectum at least until the bend and also take your Yoda Doll [theswca.com] , Yoda Shampoo bottle [homestead.com] or Yoda soap-on-a-rope [homestead.com] and liberally apply the lubricants to the Doll/Shampoo/Soap-on-a-rope.
  5. Put a nigger do-rag [firstlinemfg.com] on Yoda's head so the ears don't stick out like daggers!
  6. Make sure to have a mechanism by which to fish Yoda out of your rectum, the soap on the rope is especially useful because the retrieval mechanism is built in. [homestead.com]
  7. Pucker and relax your balloon knot several times actuating the sphincter muscle in order to prepare for what is to come.
  8. Slowly rest yourself onto your Yoda figurine. Be careful, he's probably bigger than the dicks normally being shoved up your ass! [thegreenhead.com]
  9. Gyrate gleefully in your computer chair while your fat sexless geek nerd loser fat shit self enjoys the prostate massage you'll be getting. Think about snoodling [urbandictionary.com] with the Sarlaac pit. Read Slashdot. Masturbate to anime. Email one of the editors hoping they will honor you with a reply. Join several more dating services - this time, you don't select the (desired - speaks English) and (desired - literate). You figure you might get a chance then. Order some fucking crap from Think Geek. Get Linux to boot on a Black and Decker Appliance. Wish you could afford a new computer. Argue that cheap-ass discount bin hardware works 'just as well' as the quality and premium hardware because you can't afford the real stuff. Make claims about how Linux rules. Compile a kernel on your 486SX. Claim to hate Windows but use it for World of Warcraft. Admire Ghyslain's courage in making that wonderful Star Wars movie. Officially convert to the Jedi religion. Talk about how cool Mega Tokyo is. Try and make sure you do your regular 50 story submissions to Slashdot, all of which get rejected because people who aren't fatter than CowboyNeal can't submit. Fondle shrimpy penis while making a Yoda voice and saying, use the force [toysrgus.com] , padawan, feeel the foooorce [toysrgus.com] , hurgm. Yes. Yes. When 900 years you reach [lemonparty.org] , a dick half as big you will not have. [toysrgus.com]

All in a days work with a Yoda figurine rammed up your ass.

I HAVE A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS!

GO LINUX!!

Tux is the result after trimming Yoda's ears off so that Lunix people don't rip themselves a new Asshole

What you can do with you ass after sitting on a GREASED UP YODA DOLL. [gayfistingjournal.com]

y______________________________YODA_ANUS__- [hotlinkfiles.com]
o_________________.'_:__`.________________y [hotlinkfiles.com]
d____________.-.'`.__;___.'`.-.___________o [hotlinkfiles.com]
a___________/_:____\_;__/____;_\__________d [hotlinkfiles.com]
s_,'__""--.:__;".-.";:_:".-.":__;.--""__`,a [hotlinkfiles.com]
e_:'_`.t""--.._'/@.`;___',@\`_..--""j.'_`;s [hotlinkfiles.com]
x______`:-.._J_'-.-'L___`--_'_L_..-;'_____e [hotlinkfiles.com]
________"-.___;__.-"__"-.__:___.-"________x [hotlinkfiles.com]
y____________L_'_/.------.\_'_J___________y [hotlinkfiles.com]
o_____________"-.___"--"___.-"____________o [hotlinkfiles.com]
d______________.l"-:_TR_;-";._____________d [hotlinkfiles.com]
a_________.-j/'.;__;""""__/_.'\"-.________a [hotlinkfiles.com]
s_______v.'_/:`._"-.:_____.-"_.';__`.v____s [hotlinkfiles.com]
e____.-"__/_;__"-._"-..-"_.-"__:____"-.___e [hotlinkfiles.com]
x_.+"-.__:_:______"-.__.-"______;-.____\__x [hotlinkfiles.com]
_v;_\__`.;_; I Yoda Have A _____:_:_"+._;__ [hotlinkfiles.com]
y_:__;___;_;_Greased Up ME In __:_;__:_\:_y [hotlinkfiles.com]
o_;__:___;_:_MY ASS! This Goes__;:___;__:_o [hotlinkfiles.com]
d:_\__;__:__; On FOREVER!______:_;__/__::_d [hotlinkfiles.com]

Ground Control to Yoda Doll Ballad : "Soddity"

Synopsis: --Major Tom goes to the bathroom and shoves a Yoda doll up his ass, and then gimps back to his desk to post AC Trolls on Slashdot. -Yoda Doll to Major Tom. - Yoda Doll to Major Tom. - Take your ex-lax bars and put my do-rag on. - Yoda Doll to Major Tom. - Commencing countdown, rope is on. - Begin insertion and may Goatse's love be with you. -- This is Yoda Doll to Major Tom, - You've rectally been flayed! - And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear. - Now it's time to leave the crapper if you dare. -- This is Major Tom to Yoda Doll, - I'm stepping through the door. - And I'm farting in a most peculiar way! - And my ass looks very different today. - For here... - Am I shitting in the tincan? - Far...too busy posting trolls. -- Slashdot censors you... and there's nothing I can do. -- Uploading one hundred thousand files, - I'm feeling very ill. - I don't think my feces know which way to go. - I can't tell my intestines from spaghetti- - code. Yoda Doll to Major Tom, your prostate's dead, there's something wrong, - Can you hear me, Major Tom? - Can you hear me, Major Tom? - Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear... Am I shitting in the tincan? - My ass like a baboon's - Slashdot censors you - and there's nothing I can do.


The Yoda Pledge

I pledge Allegiance to the Doll
of the Greased Up States of Yodarica
and to the Republic for which it shoves,
one nation under Yoda, rectal intrusion,
with anal lube and ass grease for all.

hello.mpg lyrics.
I'm doin' this tonight ,
You're probably gonna start a fight .
I know this can't be right .
Hey baby come on,
I loved you endlessly ,
When you weren't there for me.
So now it's time to leave and make it alone .
I know that I can't take no more
It ain't no lie
I wanna see you out that door
Baby , bye, bye, bye...

A picture of your ass after YODA. [bmezine.com]

They actually can't, most likely (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176971)

Most likely the "cap" only applies to TomTom, not other 'licensees' of the software. For example, if TomTom sold a program to another company that relies on FAT technology, and the other company develops a different product based on the same kernel, Microsoft (if they follow common practice) would require the second company to license the FAT technology, to ship a product based on it.

Unless their standard agreement would allow TomTom to sublicense the technology, and include an unlimited royalty-free license when they distribute the Linux source code that corresponds to the software they are shipping in binary form, then the "capped" license still violates the GPL.

The GPL doesn't say you can distribute software under the GPL with capped royalties.

The only way this works is if TomTom pays the full $250,000, and gets unlimited licensing for them and all recipients of the software from them.

TomTom cannot require people who receive source code under GPL terms to report when they redistribute, in order for TomTom to pay for another license. The reporting requirement would be in violation of the GPL.

See the GPL version 2 [gnu.org] (which applies to the Linux kernel), these are some quotes from the License:

We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

...

For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

...

Re:They actually can't, most likely (3, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177095)

The only way this works is if TomTom pays the full $250,000, and gets unlimited licensing for them and all recipients of the software from them.

It goes further than "the software". For this to work all recipients of the software must have all the rights granted under the GPL, which means they must be able to modify and redistribute the code, even as a completely different product. If a recipient of the code wanted to use it in a blender that stores data in memory in FAT format, the recipient must have the right to do so royalty-free in order for the GPL to remain intact.

Basically, the $250,000 cap would have to effectively grant unlimited use of the patent in all GPL'd software in order to distribute any software that uses the patent under the GPL. I seriously doubt Microsoft's licensing allows for that.

Re:They actually can't, most likely (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177993)

"a blender that stores data in memory in FAT format"

I'm stealing that idea *runs off to 'innovate'*

tomTom has to explain nothing (5, Insightful)

NatteringNabob (829042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176981)

They are the victim of an attempted extortion racket over a couple of bogus patents. Why on earth should extortion victims have to explain why they didn't just pay up instead of taking the bastards to court?

Several non-FAT patents involved. (4, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27176985)

The Microsoft v Tom-Tom suit covers a half-dozen or so patents, only two of them FAT-related. (Besides which, the FAT patent has been thrown out in Germany.) Most if not all of them are obvious or have prior art, like the FAT patents, and may well not hold up under Bilski. What does it gain Tom-Tom to license a (potential invalidatable) patent like FAT if they're still being sued over half a dozen others? If they have to go to court anyway, might as well try to get them all overturned - they can always offer to settle later.

Re:Several non-FAT patents involved. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177065)

> (Besides which, the FAT patent has been thrown out in Germany.)

            Citation needed.

Besides, Tom Tom is Dutch, not Deutsch.

the article is obviously a troll (0)

cozytom (1102207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177051)

First Microsoft has a lot of explaining to do as why anyone should license the FAT file system.

TomTom didn't write the code, they licensed it from, well not sure. They are following the gpl, and that is the end of the story. Microsoft needs to be talk to the licensor, not suing one of their own customers, besides.

Microsoft didn't learn squat from their puppet SCO.

This isn't the strategy of a company in it for the long haul.

Sadly, many including the poster don't get it... (5, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177079)

TomTom should be able to license FAT without violating the GPL. And if that is the case ... TomTom needs some serious explaining to do as to why they aren't licensing FAT. That said, Microsoft still needs to explain why it just cannot say that folks won't violate the GPL if they license FAT under its terms."

Ohh yes they will violate the GPL. I have lifted the comment below (in bold), from this [itbusinessedge.com] informed user who I trust on these issues. He also drives home the motivation behind Microsoft's actions. Take a read.

Samba maintainer Jeremy Allison pointed out in a recent blog posting by writer Glyn Moody that companies who sign up to Microsoft's licensing cannot continue to distribute their code under GPLv2.

Section seven of GPLv2 - called the "Liberty or Death" clause - states that you cannot distribute code if outside restrictions have been imposed.

"What people are missing about this is the either/or choice that Microsoft is giving TomTom," Alison posted.

"It isn't a case of cross-license and everything is ok. If TomTom or any other company cross licenses patents then by section 7 of GPLv2 (for the Linux kernel). they lose the rights to redistribute the kernel at all."

In other words, Microsoft is eroding Linux and open source and slowing their development. A deal with Microsoft prevents GPL'd code from returning to the ecosystem whence it came, with any improvements or updates, as companies that do patent licensing deals with Microsoft must keep it in-house.

Re:Sadly, many including the poster don't get it.. (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177501)

Nobody got the sarcasm. The "informed user" is Rob Enderle, who is, according to his own web site, paid to take opinions by certain software vendors. Or he just psychotic. The point he is trying to make about holding back code doesn't make legal sense, because that's not in GPL compliance either.

Re:Sadly, many including the poster don't get it.. (5, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177649)

How... odd. Enderle is always good for a chuckle. Like this paragraph:

FOSS folks sold me, during the SCO days, that they were sincere in their claim that if they used code that belonged to someone else and it became a problem, they would simply stop using it. I saw zero risk to open source from Microsoft, but Iâ(TM)m seeing a lot of FUD coming out of the FOSS side, and now Iâ(TM)m getting concerned.

Heh. Enderle. All concerned for FOSS. A big believer in the honesty of FOSS developers. That's rich.

royalty free redistribution? (4, Informative)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177111)

Setting aside the idiocy in assuming that the patents are valid after being rejected twice by the USPTO before finally being revalidated [cnet.com] and ... [arstechnica.com]

GPL V2 Terms and Conditions [gnu.org]

11. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Library at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library.

Microsoft does have the presidence in their favor due to the final decision of the USPTO and forcing Lexar to pay them off for their lame patents, but only a fool would simply give in to extortion.

Re:royalty free redistribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177431)

Precedence, from precede, to come before.
Presidence, from president, the appointment/office.
FYI

Just drop support for short filenames (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177167)

All the Microsoft "FAT patents" still in force have to do with the horrible hack used to support both long and DOS-type "short" ("XXXXXXXX.XXX") filenames. Nobody uses "short" filenames any more, and under UNIX/Linux, there's not even an API to talk about short filenames. So make an implementation that's long-filename only. You give up backwards compatability with DOS and Windows 3.1. Big deal.

Re:Just drop support for short filenames (4, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177269)

That would make it incompatible with all versions of Windows. At which point you might as well use another filesystem.

FAT files need the stupid short names. It's a requirement. You can't physically have a FAT filesystem without short names. The patents are about the fugly hack that long filenames on FAT are (which makes them compatible with short filenames; it doesn't add that capability to them).

How about we find a way to invalidate FAT patents? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177223)

Seriously. How much of what exists in FAT existed previously in things like CP/M? The long filenames translation thing? That may take some serious digging, but perhaps it could be ruled as "too obvious" since both the need and the backward compatible solutions are somewhat obvious in that it couldn't likely have been done any other way. (Yes, I am talking out of my ass a bit here.)

But seriously, what happened to the fight by invalidating patents?

It's the whole GPL they are after? (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177283)

Question : Don't you have to show that you've been harmed in order to bring a lawsuit? I'm not a lawyer, but I always thought that in order to sue somebody, you had to be damaged by them.

Now, let's say Tom Tom or any other company ponies up to Microsoft and distributes some piece of hardware bundled with Linux, and that's obviously a violation of the GPL. Clearly Tom Tom broke the license and they are not entitled to distribute it.

The question is, is the GPL owner harmed?

Well, one could make the argument that the answer is no, as everyone who actually had a Tom Tom device could in fact obtain the GPL code for themselves, and could update the code in the device. In fact, a person owning a Tom Tom might perhaps just state that a replacement in deed, because, if the Tom Tom GPL code is the same as the code it would be replaced with, which it has to be, then a physical act of copying the code over to make it legal is silly.

What this could be then, would be really Microsoft trolling for the ultimate legal showdown, which is thus: Microsoft makes a bunch of noise but ultimately gives Tom Tom a vfat license, rendering Tom Tom in default of the GPL. Somebody sues Tom Tom, at which point, Microsoft's pocketbooks open up and they support Tom Tom in the lawsuit, arguing that, well, because any person who is distributed the GPL by Tom Tom, can get it from somewhere else, Tom Tom's infringement is actually academic.

Thus, the attack would be, you can't be damaged by someone redistributing your GPL code against the terms of the license, because the person they are distributing it to can get it directly from you, and the GPL is actually worthless.

Even more... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177309)

Is the thought that a lot of these companies that are using GPL code might actually be complicit in this plan. Poor Richard Stallman... he thought up the GPL after Emacs was swiped from him. Now, a bunch of companies are signing on with the likes of Microsoft not even over the matter of patents, but, over a more coordinated strategy to essentially just take the GPL code for their own products by turning the GPL into another kind of public domain.

Re:It's the whole GPL they are after? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177485)

Question : Don't you have to show that you've been harmed in order to bring a lawsuit?

Depends on where the suit is brought to court, but in the US, it's basically possible to sue over any insult or damage, no matter how real or imaginary. It's up to the judge, whether or not the plaintiff is tossed out on his ear.

Same logic applies to Copyright (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177527)

If I pirate a copy of Windows, ignoring the EULA and reverse engineering it to my heart's content, is Microsoft actually harmed?

I wasn't planning on buying a copy, so there's no monetary damages. Thus, you can't be damaged by someone pirating your software, and software licenses are actually worthless.

This is sarcasm, obviously. Microsoft and the GPL both rely on a sense of common decency, without it, they die.

They should put this nonsense. (2, Insightful)

Ragingguppy (464321) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177299)

I say challenge them in court and put this nonsense down once and for all. There is tones of prior art. The vfat code was written before the patent was filed. They should just challenge Microsoft in court. I mean really. Whats wrong with challenging them. I'd say this is the safest bet at this point.

Re:They should put this nonsense. (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177489)

Because $250K is a bargain compared to lawyers and courts when your a company. They have many times that tied up in inventory management for their devices, it's a relatively small amount of money for a consumer products business.

a few relavent points... (5, Informative)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177345)

Way back when the whole thing about fat being patented hit slashdot there were a few articles. One in particular was about nearly every camera manufacturer ponying up the dollars after the patent was uphelp... they all paid $250k to use fat (so no, this isnt new - and this was all on slashdot by the way).

Also, people keep missing the point of the patent (i.e. whats being licensed) keep an eye on whats being licensed here, its important. This is not "oh your flash card has a fat filesystem on it, you have to pay for it". Its "your device can read and write fat"... NOT THE STORAGE CARD! its the DEVICE that can read and write FAT (specifically long-file names capable FAT). Do we get what the license is for now?

Now what filesystem exactly would they switch to? joe blogs goes and downloads the update, plugs his flash card into his windows box and (formats the flash card if required - as fat or ntfs). Then plugs that into the tomtom device. Tomtom device doesnt read fat(32) and so it doesnt work...

i.e. tom tom are essentially forced to license a patent based the fact they are forced to implement fat in their device.

I personally hope tomtom fight it. from the words of (whats is possibly) the worlds most moronic OP "TomTom needs some serious explaining to do as to why they aren't licensing FAT.". You dont think Tom-tom already knew about it? you dont think they ever read the (very very public) news about it happening to the camera makers?

But in reality, it should read more like "the patent office have some serious explaining to do in order to justify why FAT was ever allowed to be patented". Those patents should never have been allowed - there is nothing remotely inventive about fat with long file names.

Re:a few relavent points... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177783)

The way I see it, TomTom is not 'forced' to license FAT.

It is to their advantage to do so, just like all the others things TomTom needs to license. TomTom, like all businesses, is motivated to maximize profits. Its FAT handling improves the product by offering its customers a pleasant FAT-compatible experience. FAT compatability is more valuable than the alternative choices.

If its valuable, then pay the damn licensing fee.

This is essentialy no different than the situation that had arrisen when the LZW patent was still in effect. Yeah, patent laws suck.. but its law.

Someone owns it: pay them their fee.

Re:a few relevant points... (2, Insightful)

cheros (223479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177909)

AFAIK, the original idea of patents was to give an inventor (read: the actual people who come up with an idea) a TEMPORARY market monopoly so that they could benefit from their invention without all & sundry copying it.

So far, so good. However, note "temporary" - the concept there was that eventually the idea would contribute to the common good. That, however, happens rarely.

Combine that with a questionable approach (I'm putting this mildly) to approving patents with plenty of prior art of falling well outside the boundary of what can be patented and you have an innovation stifling mess that only lawyers derive any benefit of - and very rich companies that can afford those lawyers.

I'm all for paying of what is due. I'm against a system that can be abused to stop competitive innovation or take an invention without paying.

Just what we need... (3, Funny)

dirtyhippie (259852) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177435)

Microsoft still needs to explain why it just cannot say that folks won't violate the GPL if they license FAT under its terms.

Just what we need... Microsoft offering legal opinions about GPL enforcement.

No, not opinions (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177883)

I don't care for their opinions. It would be nice if MS could, for once, stick to the facts.

But hey, that's like asking the NSA not to snoop..

Get rid of FAT (2, Interesting)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27177707)

Is someone connected high up with VLC, GIMP or even Mozilla that can start piggy-backing the ext2fs driver installer (with the users permission of course) on installation of such programs? Heck it would go a long way to fixing such problems.

TomTom deverves the suit anyway (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27177857)

Didn't they patent Augmented Reality based gps navigation recently? They seem to have aninterest being a patent troll, so even Microsoft may be on the wrong side, TomTom has deserved getting fingers burnt anyway.

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