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The FSF, Linux's Hit Men

CmdrTaco posted about 11 years ago | from the they'd-had-to-be-called-that dept.

GNU is Not Unix 1230

PrimeNumber writes "Forbes has this story about the Free Software Foundation and its quest for Cisco and Broadcom to release the source of GPL'ed linux source used in routers. Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this. However it did help me gain insight into software from a PHB and suit perspective."

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LINUS HIT MY ANUS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207890)

FP

This second post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207896)

brought to you by your friends at the GNAA!

Of course! (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 11 years ago | (#7207897)

Don't they expect us to defend our own IP?

Re:Of course! (2, Funny)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#7207933)

Definately not! That is a right reserved for multinationals! God forbid that a bunch of unwashed hackers and their legal thugs could threaten the Good and Honest Coporations working to make the world a better place!

</sarcasm>

I should point out... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 11 years ago | (#7207953)

...that by "our", I mean everyone. We all have a right to use the kernel, so I'd say that gives us the right to defend it to its licensed lettter.

Re:Of course! (2, Funny)

missing000 (602285) | about 11 years ago | (#7207965)

Of course they do. It's for the greater good right?

I love being called a commie before breakfast!

Re:Of course! (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 11 years ago | (#7208086)

The original post claims the FSF aren't painted in a very good light, and I guess he's right. It seems to me that this report does not fall into the category of unbiased reporting.

But who expects that under the Forbes masthead?

FSF is an acronym (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207902)

Fart
Shit
Fart

though not necessarily in that order

Captain's Log: My Anus is too Fucking Tight (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207904)

One day Captain Kirk was maiming his cock with a horseshoe when suddenly Mr. Spock ran up to him and shoved his pointy ear up his butt. "What is this for!" the fag captain said. "FAGS FOR YOU AALL!L!!!" the ancient alien howled as suddenly he farted and Captain Kirk twirled around in a daze and his foreskin twisted and his kidney stones turned into wooden beads. He pulled out his pistol and shot lasers at his chastity belt and suddenly he hurdled his dick into Captain Kirk"s bellybutton and it tore his flesh while Spock fucked his stomach. Kirk hollered out loud and Mr. Spock threw his shoes to the floor and wrinkled his penis until Kirk bellowed out to make it stop. A maelstom of shit whizzed around the ship and suddenly a giant fag appeared out side and the U.S.S. Enterprise went up his butt. "Oh what the hell have you gotten us into NOW!" Captain Kirk said as he oozed a condom back on his dick and put his panties back on. "OOH!H!!!!!!" Mr. Spock started fucking him again and shoved his phazer up his butt. He dissolved his glands and exploded his turds and finally a queer klingon hurdled through the door and smashed Kirk with his butt hairs. A maniac sucked his dick and suddenly Mr. Spock fagged Kirk so hard that his intestines burst open and he died.

Sounds like a Microsoft ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207906)

... organized FUD campaign

Re:Sounds like a Microsoft ... (1)

TheLogster (617383) | about 11 years ago | (#7207985)

This is probably going to open a can of worms, but here goes.... Having never read the GPL license stuff, but if I have a closed source software, and use some open source "bits" that have been distributed under GPL, can't I just encapsulated the GPL stuff in a library and give the source to the library, and not the complete source to the software. My personal feelings towards OpenSource software, is that is it is good for research and academics, but I find it difficult to understand how a person can earn money by releasing the source to the software. (Now if it is ok by the GPL to pay for the exe and the code, then that would a different story) I get the impression that OpenSource software is becomming analyous to Free (as in beer) software. We all have to earn a living to afford all of the gadgets we love so much..

Re:Sounds like a Microsoft ... (1)

RyoSaeba (627522) | about 11 years ago | (#7208094)

From what i understood about the GPL (someone will correct me if i'm wrong), you can't even use a GPL library in a proprietary software if you distribute the software (keeping it inhouse is another matter).
What you mention is more the LGPL, or 'Light' (or 'Library', i never know) GPL, which allows you to link proprietary a software to for instance a LGPL library.
Thus, glibc is released under LGPL to allow proprietary software to be distributed under Linux and still use glibc

Re:Sounds like a Microsoft ... (1)

the morgawr (670303) | about 11 years ago | (#7208124)

I'll try to answer your questions. Here goes:

if I have a closed source software, and use some open source "bits" that have been distributed under GPL, can't I just encapsulated the GPL stuff in a library and give the source to the library, and not the complete source to the software

No, if the software was LGPL you could, but under the GPL, any code that is used at runtime (e.g. the entire thing) has to be made available.

if it is ok by the GPL to pay for the exe and the code

Actually the GPL says you can't charge for the USE (i.e. a EULA), but you can charge for distribution. You also only have to give a copy of the source to people who have the binary. The problem is that under the GPL anyone is allowed to redistribute both the source and the binary. Before the internet was wide spread this worked out really well (people used to pay over $100 for emacs). With the internet however the marginal cost to distribute the software is 0. So no matter how little you charge, someone will just give it away. Also the GPL isn't about making money with software, it's about getting the most USE out of your software. In that sense the people who benefit are the purchasers not the developers.

Forbes is a Microsoft shill anyway (5, Insightful)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | about 11 years ago | (#7207911)

The last several Forbes articles that even mentioned Linux were just plain old bashing.

Now, maybe I'll RTFA.

Re:Forbes is a Microsoft shill anyway (4, Insightful)

Glass of Water (537481) | about 11 years ago | (#7208112)

No need to RTFA, it's pure FUD.

A summary, if you like: beware of using this software (which thousands of people have developed and give away for free) because you might have to actually honor the license that comes with the software! Imagine that.

Don't use Linux (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | about 11 years ago | (#7207916)

If you have proprietary secrets to protect, do not develop that code under GPL. Use some other closed source option.

At least get it right (2, Insightful)

isn't my name (514234) | about 11 years ago | (#7207922)

While I disagree with most of the author's conclusions, I can understand how someone steeped in traditional business models would feel that way. However, I hope that enough people can call Forbes on this egregious misdefinition of what code is actually covered by the GPL that they publish a retraction. The article clearly implies that anything you write to run under Linux must be released for free.

Re:At least get it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208014)

I can understand how someone steeped in traditional business models would feel that way.

I don't then. What does the author of this article expect? Maybe he knows something we all don't, but when was the last time Microsoft (For example) let someone use an unlicenced copy of Windows in their product? Does the author believe that a traditional software house would sit down the director of the infringing company and happilly sort it all out over tea and crumpets, perhaps?

What a fool. The re -baiting peice at the end was a real shining example of his idiocy, too. Thats the same level as calling someone a poopy head and then running away before they can answer back.

Re:At least get it right (2, Insightful)

Amiga Lover (708890) | about 11 years ago | (#7208091)

Under the license, if you distribute GPL software in a product, you must also distribute the software's source code. And not just the GPL code, but also the code for any "derivative works" you've created--even if publishing that code means anyone can now make a knockoff of your product.

I'm quite stunned at this statement. It's like, you've just gotten a software's source code, someone elses work, to use in your product for free. free. no payment. just you have to hand back what you take.

Now the bit about even if publishing that code means anyone can now make a knockoff of your product is what amazes me. Hello. If you're looking at it that way, then you, in the first place, by using GPLd code have gone and made a "knockoff of" someone ELSES product.

Hypocrisy.

Re:At least get it right (1)

henrygb (668225) | about 11 years ago | (#7208100)

The following paragraph in the Forbes article is clearly an attempt at a summary of the GPL:

Under the license, if you distribute GPL software in a product, you must also distribute the software's source code. And not just the GPL code, but also the code for any "derivative works" you've created--even if publishing that code means anyone can now make a knockoff of your product.

The first part of that looks fair enough. The second is a combination of oversimplification and hyperbole, but it is no worse than most /. comments.

mod humble AC up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207924)

Linux's Hit Men
Daniel Lyons, 10.14.03, 7:00 AM ET

NEW YORK - In the world of "free" open source software, there is no greater villain than SCO, owner of the Unix operating system.

The Lindon, Utah, company has outraged Linux lovers by suing IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ), claiming IBM stole Unix code and put it into Linux. Some fear the lawsuit by SCO (nasdaq: SCOX - news - people ) will impede the adoption of Linux.

But the spread of Linux could be hurt by another group--and ironically, it's the free-software proponents themselves.

For months, in secret, the Free Software Foundation, a Boston-based group that controls the licensing process for Linux and other "free" programs, has been making threats to Cisco Systems (nasdaq: CSCO - news - people ) and Broadcom (nasdaq: BRCM - news - people ) over a networking router that runs the Linux operating system.

The router is made by Linksys, a company Cisco acquired in June. It lets you hook computers together on a wireless Wi-Fi network, employing a high-speed standard called 802.11g. Aimed at home users, the $129 device has been a smash hit, selling 400,000 units in the first quarter of this year alone.

But now there's a problem. The Linux software in the router is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which the Free Software Foundation created in 1991.

Under the license, if you distribute GPL software in a product, you must also distribute the software's source code. And not just the GPL code, but also the code for any "derivative works" you've created--even if publishing that code means anyone can now make a knockoff of your product.

Not great news if you're Cisco, which paid $500 million for Linksys. In Cisco's case, it's even trickier, because the disputed code resides on chips that Linksys buys from Broadcom. So now Cisco is caught between the Free Software Foundation and one of its big suppliers.

For several months, officials from the Free Software Foundation have been quietly pushing Cisco and Broadcom for a resolution. According to Free Software Foundation Executive Director Bradley Kuhn, the foundation is demanding that Cisco and Broadcom either a) rip out all the Linux code in the router and use some other operating system, or b) make their code available to the entire world.

And if they balk? Kuhn raises the threat of legal action. "We defend the rights protected by the GPL license," he says. "We have legal teeth, so if someone does not share and share alike, we can make them obey the rules."

The legal teeth belong to Eben Moglen, a Columbia Law School professor who acts as pro bono counsel for the foundation. Moglen says his chats with Cisco have been friendly, and he believes the matter will be settled without a court fight. Cisco and Broadcom wouldn't comment.

The dispute, which was leaked to an Internet message board, offers a rare peek into the dark side of the free software movement--a view that contrasts with the movement's usual public image of happy software proles linking arms and singing the "Internationale" while freely sharing the fruits of their code-writing labor.

In fact, the Free Software Foundation runs a lot of these "enforcement actions." There are 30 to 40 going on right now, and there were 50 last year, Kuhn says. There have been hundreds since 1991, when the current version of the GPL was published, he says. Tracking down bad guys has become such a big operation that the Free Software Foundation has created a so-called Compliance Lab to snoop out violators and bust them.

Who pays for this? The 12-employee Free Software Foundation has limited resources. So it seeks donations. And sometimes it collects money from companies it has busted.

Last year, the foundation alleged that OpenTV, a San Francisco company that ships a set-top box containing Linux, was violating the GPL. The drama took months to resolve and ended with OpenTV writing a check for $65,000 to the Free Software Foundation. "They paid us a very substantial payment for our time and trouble," Moglen says.

Sometimes it's the other way around--the foundation gets paid by private companies for whom it acts as a sort of hired enforcer. Last year a Swedish software company called mySQL asked for help resolving a dispute with NuSphere, a subsidiary of Progress Software (nasdaq: PRGS - news - people ). The companies had made a deal to work on software that would include mySQL's GPL-licensed database program. A dispute arose over contract issues, and also over the GPL, which mySQL claimed NuSphere had violated. In the end, Progress resolved the matter by walking away from the partnership.

Afterward, mySQL made a $25,000 donation to the Free Software Foundation. Was this payback? "I won't say that," says Marten Mickos, chief executive of mySQL. "But of course, why would we give them money if not as a sign of gratitude?"

The mySQL versus NuSphere squabble demonstrates another risk: These disputes might scare companies away from using open source software. Joseph Alsop [PersonId=142453], chief executive of Progress, reckons the fiasco with mySQL cost his company $10 million in lost development and marketing work. Now he says he is cautious about working with GPL software. Instead, Progress uses an open source database program distributed under the less onerous Berkeley Software Distribution license.

In some ways, these Free Software Foundation "enforcement actions" can be more dangerous than a typical copyright spat, because usually copyright holders seek money--say, royalties on the product that infringing companies are selling. But the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties--it wants you to burn down your house, or at the very least share it with cloners.

Or maybe, as some suggest, the foundation wants GPL-covered code to creep into commercial products so it can use GPL to force open those products. Kuhn says that's nuts--"pure propaganda rhetoric." But he concedes that his foundation hates the way companies like Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL - news - people ) and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) generate billions of dollars by selling software licenses. "We'd like people to stop selling proprietary software. It's bad for the world," Kuhn says.

So far, none of the Free Software Foundation's targets have decided it is bad for the world and gone to court. This despite the fact that the foundation has $750,000 in the bank and one lawyer who works for free, part time, when he's not teaching classes at Columbia University.

Will Cisco and Broadcom be the first? Probably they'll decide, like everyone else, that it's cheaper to settle than to fight.

Such a pity, comrade.

So... (1)

kormoc (122955) | about 11 years ago | (#7207925)

They say it's a pitty people can't exploit the GPL as much as they want? It does sound like what the suits want...

Tis such a pitty comrad my ass...

Great quote: (4, Insightful)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | about 11 years ago | (#7207926)

In some ways, these Free Software Foundation "enforcement actions" can be more dangerous than a typical copyright spat, because usually copyright holders seek money--say, royalties on the product that infringing companies are selling. But the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties -- it wants you to burn down your house, or at the very least share it with cloners.

1) Hah! Let's try:

@companies = ("Microsoft", "IBM", "Oracle", "SCO");

foreach (@companies) {
$quote =~ s/Free Software Foundation/$_/g;
}
There has been more than one story about Microsoft and IBM using licensing or patent disputes in order to screw competitors. SCO's entire existence seems to depend on wanting you "to burn down your own house". Oracle's in there for completeness. I'm sure there's other examples.

2) And holy FSOF, since when did complying with the license the software is released under become such an onerous act? When it forbids you to release benchmarks of .NET software (MS)? When it includes clauses saying "If you're in Europe, and you have the right to reverse engineer this software, you explicitly give up that right even though you don't have to" (Synplicity or Matlab, I forget which -- installed recently at work)? Evidently these crack-induced clauses are perfectly acceptable; why, then, does Forbes' writer swallow a camel and strain at a gnat?

Grr, this is going to bug me all day...

What greater compliment could be wished for? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207927)

This should be considered a compliment.

It's like the Republican Right calling the ACLU, "hit men" (as has been frequently done in more or less words).

"Thank you sirs! Anytime you feel the urge to violate, suppress, or eliminate liberties and freedom, just give us a ring and we'll get on it."

WTF? (2, Insightful)

Verteiron (224042) | about 11 years ago | (#7207929)

This a very ignorant, poorly-informed article. I find it especially surprising in a magazine like Forbes, which (although I'm not a regular reader) I thought had a reputation for honest writing/reporting.

The author obviously has no idea what the GPL involves, and demonizes an organization who's concern is to enforce a simple set of rules. Does he think Linksys would get such leniency from the BSA, Microsoft's hitmen?

Re:WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207951)

Forbes has a FOX News show. Fair and Balanced. No spin zone. We report you decide. Therefore, the article must be true

Re:WTF? (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 11 years ago | (#7207952)

In what way does the author not understand the GPL? I thought it was summarized very well. Or is this post just a troll?

Re:WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208050)

Yes, it appears your post is a troll.

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

iworm (132527) | about 11 years ago | (#7208054)

He seems to understand (or imply) that the GPL is something that sneaked out of the woodwork and crept up on these companies AFTER they had innocently and reasonably taken a lump of code and developed a product with it.

He does not make clear that these companies would have been completely aware that they were taking an existing software product which, like all others, would have a license attached. Basic due diligence would then mean that the license should be read and complied with.

The GPL did not come along and ambush these companies - they CHOSE to make use of GPL software. So tough-titty to them.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208088)

No you're right, the author does seem to understand the GPL, he just hasn't thought it through. He speaks about Broadcom releasing the source as though it would bring their share price crashing down as every Korean clone maker jumps into their market, but never paused to wonder where, why and how Broadcom originally got hold of that source code and why they might want to use it. Its not like one day the FSF submarined them with a dubious GPL requirement that they couldn't have reasonably known about before hand.

Re:WTF? (1)

Lagged2Death (31596) | about 11 years ago | (#7208099)

The author refers to the GPL's requirements as "onerous." They're not.

The author implies that complying with the license is difficult and/or risky. It isn't.

The author says that complying with the license (as these companies agreed to do when they used GPL code) is somehow "burning down one's house," and implies that compliance is an unreasonable thing to ask. It isn't.

QED.

Re:WTF? (0)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#7207961)

"I thought had a reputation for honest writing/reporting."

If you believe any mainstream newspaper, TV or radio publication is honest these days, you need a serious reality check.

Re:WTF? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 11 years ago | (#7207972)

I believe stuff from the BBC and Reuters is pretty much straight from the source. Are you saying I'm wrong?

Re:WTF? (1)

Azghoul (25786) | about 11 years ago | (#7208063)

Actually, yes, I'd say you're wrong. Any news of any consequence ought to be checked out using at least 2 competing sources. Then you decide which is telling the truth.

Blindly believing any single source is just setting yourself up for disappointment...

Re:WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208024)

your tinfoil beanie is on crooked, but you might want to wait until the black helicopters are gone before you adjust it.

Re:WTF? (1)

ekuns (695444) | about 11 years ago | (#7208058)

I would have thought -- naively -- that Forbes would contain good reporting. But after RTFA I read several other Linux-related stories on their web site. ALL of them were propoganda in the guise of reporting. The kind of things one would find on an editorial page, not on a news page.

Is that considered to be real reporting in the financial world? I hope not. Portraying open source as communism or angry hordes is fine and good for an editorial page or an opinion column. But as news?

And all those gripes about the FSF -- it's the same old complaint of, "Hey, I cannot take the stuff you wrote for free and use it in my proprietary code the way I want to." Well, then, write your own!!! I don't get how that is onorous.

And since when is indemnification a "standard practice"?

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

aborchers (471342) | about 11 years ago | (#7208087)

Here's what I sent Forbes via their comment function:


I'd like to be diplomatic, but the tone of this article is just ridiculous.

Since when is it an onerous act to expect a licensee to comply with the terms of the license? These companies used GPL-protected code and then wanted to balk at the license by not distributing the changes as required. How is that different from a software purchaser deciding it is acceptable to copy and redistribute proprietary software protected by a more "traditional" license?

While it may be an affront to the proprietary software industry's ways of doing business, the GPL is a sound contract that anyone is free to accept or reject as conditions for use of the protected software. The payment for receiving the "free" GPL software is that modifications must be released back to benefit the public. If that isn't acceptable, then these companies should not use GPL code and should either create or purchase another operating system.

Spare us the "comrade" and "dark side" nonsense. This is a simple contract dispute based on U.S. copyright law. Your mockery of it reflects poorly on your journalistic credibility.


Questionable Article (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | about 11 years ago | (#7207931)


Joseph Alsop [PersonId=142453], chief executive of Progress...

What's 'PersonId'? They're keeping track of you :)

But the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties--it wants you to burn down your house, or at the very least share it with cloners.

I think RMS is a kook, with some fairly questionable ideas, but this sort of imagery does not contribute to the idea of objective journalism.

Re:Questionable Article (1)

Croaker (10633) | about 11 years ago | (#7208098)

He's number 142453? Man, The Village must have been getting pretty crowded over the last few decades... "I'm not a number! I am a free man!" "Ah-hahahahahaha!"

Ahem... (2, Funny)

ActiveSX (301342) | about 11 years ago | (#7207934)

Such a pity, comrade.

(-1, Troll)

Re:Ahem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208120)

What did you expect after the claim that we sing the "Internationale"? I think that the GPL is hated because it turns the same system which propietizes information around to enforce openness of information. The power of the GPL is similarly inevitable as that of commercial licenses. GPL software is not free for the taking, which is what the industry obviously wants.

use of GPL code (1)

nattt (568106) | about 11 years ago | (#7207944)

It seems to make sense that if you save lots of money by basing your code on GPL code, or modifying GPL code to make things work for your circumstance or customers, then it's only fair that you give back to the community that developed the GPL code in the first place.

If you don't want to get caught using GPL code and breaking the GPL license, then spend the money to hire the programmers to write new code from scratch.

I'm a zealot (4, Insightful)

wazzzup (172351) | about 11 years ago | (#7207947)

[Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this.]

I only read what I want to hear and ignore others perspectives, right or wrong.

Re:I'm a zealot (1)

JWW (79176) | about 11 years ago | (#7208106)

Well, I read it anyway, and it is wrong.

So, I'm not a zealot ;-)

Re:I'm a zealot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208114)

Yes you're right, the dirty little secret is out. We protect our IP and enforce our licences just like the other guys! We have an agenda, darn us! Nobody told the poor people using GPL code this. Apart from the LICENCE file. Nobody reads those though, right?

Who'd have thought? Apart from this guy at Forbes, obviously.

So, let me see... (1)

Dehumanizer (31435) | about 11 years ago | (#7207950)

Those companies wanted to use GPLed software while violating the GPL, and then are shocked when they aren't allowed to?

Forbes should shut it (1)

abartlett_219 (600259) | about 11 years ago | (#7207959)

OK...so basically Forbes is bashing Linux and the FSF for protecting it's IP. Hrm...maybe they should bash the entire software industry for suing one another.

Furthermore, what good is the source code to a router? Most of the code they are using in it anyway will already be open. Only thing Broadcom/Cisco wrote more than likely was the modules to control the chipset.

Re:Forbes should shut it (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 11 years ago | (#7208069)

Forget reputation, though you can look for that too if you want. Take a look at the other articles linked to under that "Linux at Work" inset.

Then judge for yourself.

It's always a bad idea to say something that could be taken out of context as slander, so why not just let their own words speak for themselves.

You just know (1)

kurosawdust (654754) | about 11 years ago | (#7207960)

Somewhere right now Stallman is reading this and smacking his head saying "I knew I never should've hired programmers named 'Icepick' and 'Knuckles'!"

What a bunch of Jerks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207963)

The article describes action taken by the FSF to protect the GPL and the community. I am happy that the FSF is there working for us all. Any godamn suited vulture that tries to take our rights away is gonna get his ass fried in court. GOOD. Fuck the suits.

The Dark Side? (1)

countach (534280) | about 11 years ago | (#7207964)

Maybe I'm crazy, but why is forcing someone to share "the dark side of free software???"

Furthermore, the FSF isn't demanding damages or money, they're only asking their licence to be obeyed. How is this "worse than commercial" like those clowns at SCO asking for big $$$ for supposed harm?

They should get a clue. Nobody strapped anybody down and forced them to use free software. And nobody is now trying to enforce some obscure clause in some new way. They are simply asking for the #1 tenet of the GPL to be upheld. Sheesh.

Re:The Dark Side? (1)

rknop (240417) | about 11 years ago | (#7208075)

Furthermore, the FSF isn't demanding damages or money, they're only asking their licence to be obeyed. How is this "worse than commercial" like those clowns at SCO asking for big $$$ for supposed harm?

Indeed. On one side, we have the FSF saying, "everybody play fair and play by the rules." On the other side, we have proprietary companies saying, "Aha! You were caught! Cough up the protection money!"

And, yet, somehow, the author of the article seems to think that the FSF's approach is the more onerous and the more damaging to society.

Hello?

A fine example, in my opinion, of the complete perspective that a lot of American society has lost. What matters is the stock market and the business bottom line and how various people can fit into an economic model. Honesty, playing fair, and individual rights and responsibilities are laughed at as irrelevant at bessed, dismissed as intrusive and onerous at worst. Depressing, really.

-Rob

FSF to much hype fo rnothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207966)

Really, I can't listen to this crap anymore the good FSF and the fine GNU/GPL and how much they kiss arse each other.

Where is the FSF when we need them ? All their shouting is nothing more than spreading a religion in the public. Where is the FSF finally putting a lock behind SCO ? Where is the FSF protecting us from being ripped off for our work ? I saw so many closed source programs where open source code has been abused (e.g. niche marked operating systems who has been ripping off open source drivers)...

I think you people shouldn't hype the FSF that big and carry their shit with bells and whistles outside. They are not more than a little organisation with RMS ontop of that who made a big 'marketing' out of all this. Look at their membership prices, their CD prices and book prices. For an organisation who pray the open source mentality I can tell you that they are sitting at the top to rippoff peoples work.

I also bet they are cooperating with SCO. I know this may sound like a rant for advocates, zealots and people following an religion and hype but on the otherhand this makes a lot of sense.

Such a pity, comrade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7207967)

YHBT. YHL. HAND.

Daniel Lyons (5, Informative)

AsparagusChallenge (611475) | about 11 years ago | (#7207969)

Remember "What SCO wants, SCO gets" [forbes.com] ? Same author. Don't expect any love from him.

Just go ahead and censor things... (1)

KDan (90353) | about 11 years ago | (#7207974)

Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this.

So are you saying we can't deal with negative criticism (even if it's structured like a falling card castle - haven't read the article yet, I don't know).

Daniel

Re:Just go ahead and censor things... (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 11 years ago | (#7208003)

Of course not. All ready, all of the posts about this article have been screaming "TROLL!!" without even reading the fucking article. OSS zealots tend to be a bunch of immature kids.

Re:Just go ahead and censor things... (-1)

Darren Winsper (136155) | about 11 years ago | (#7208071)

Liar.

Re:Just go ahead and censor things... (1)

rknop (240417) | about 11 years ago | (#7208105)

Of course not. All ready, all of the posts about this article have been screaming "TROLL!!" without even reading the fucking article. OSS zealots tend to be a bunch of immature kids.

Meanwhile, we've got NineNine here making a blanket statement about all the posts, clearly without having read them.

You can find immature kids everywhere.

-Rob

Re:Just go ahead and censor things... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208122)

As opposed to rational, intelligent adults with lives who don't spend all day reading Slashdot and posting inflammatory comments on Linux articles.

Get out a bit more, mate.

So... (1)

beady (710116) | about 11 years ago | (#7207980)

The GPL isn't allowed to be upheld then? Is that what Forbes is trying to say?
I mean, its not like linksys were forced into using and adapting GPL software, and now Forbes, and clearly lynksys et al. feel that they should be allowed to renege on the deal? No way.
Seriously, why could they not use bsd licensed stuff from the word go. Hell I would if I was in that kind of business.
And the word Comrade at the end of the article. Come on, thats just stereotyping of the worst variety.

stupid article (1)

blueskies (525815) | about 11 years ago | (#7207982)

the tone of this article is ridiculous. Open source doesn't mean Public Domain!

Re:stupid article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208101)




the tone of this article is ridiculous.

Please note the this is slashdot and around here we spell it "rediculous." Your future compliance would be appreciated. Thanks.




FSF Mafia (1)

DasAlbatross (633390) | about 11 years ago | (#7207984)

This author makes it sound like the FSF put a gun to these people's head, made them usen open source software, then tried to nail them for it. They could have written their own proprietary code and never had to release it. The chose to use GPL code, now they have to play by the rules. It's that simple.

shouldn't read it? (1)

derrith (600195) | about 11 years ago | (#7207987)

okay, the suggestion that because the OSS community isn't portrayed as a nice and friendly group of folks and therefore we shouldn't read the article annoys me. If open source is to appeal to everybody and their mother, shouldn't they community learn what it is other people think of it? Because an article portrays the community in a negative light, it's different, and I think that it might behoove the community to learn why people dislike open source and whether or not htere is a good reason

Slashdot: the free fifth column (1)

sammyo (166904) | about 11 years ago | (#7207988)

To quote the article:

"For months, in secret, the Free Software Foundation, a Boston-based group that controls the licensing process for Linux and other "free" programs, has been making threats to Cisco Systems..."

Clearly we are a subversive crowd, WOO!

The business community does not get it. And they will PAY!

There are so many misunderstandings in the first paragraph, really someone should get a paper letter to the editor, I'm sure they discount anything from email.

Way to have an open mind...... (1)

TJ6581 (182825) | about 11 years ago | (#7207989)

Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this.


So instead of reading things which can cause us to question our preconceptions we should label all Slashdot stories like so:

RMS Approved!

Guaranteed not to cause terrorism in children!

NCH (Nothing controversial here!)

Telling other people not to read something because you don't agree with it is moronic. Submitting a story to Slashdot and then telling people not to read it it just asinine.

I really don'to understand this article (1)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | about 11 years ago | (#7207991)

What is the problem here. I'm not a fan of the GPL myself, but I can't understand what this article is on about. If you use GPLed software, or create derivative works based on it, you have to abide by the conditions in the licence. Its exactly the same as if you use commercial software.

Its really not that difficult, If you don't agree to the licence, don't use the code.

Re:I really don'to understand this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208033)

Its quite straightforward really, they just defending the big corporatitons right to break the law as and when it pleases and pay off anyone who argues.

Bad light? Where? (1, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 11 years ago | (#7207998)

This is exactly what I want to see in print about FSF. Yes, you can use our stuff to make money, but if you get greedy & don't share we're going to take your ass down. Any other company in the world would do the same thing, why shouldn't the FSF do the same?

Jaysyn

Boo hoo. (1)

Unknown Kadath (685094) | about 11 years ago | (#7208001)

So it's only okay to use the court system in defense of a monopoly or proprietary information?

The FSF's attempts to enforce their licensing is fair, not knee-breaking or Communism, as the writer implies. You used the code, you're bound by the license--which is not kind to closed-source business models. Cry me a fuckin' river.

-Carolyn

How is this Useful? (1)

Azghoul (25786) | about 11 years ago | (#7208006)

"Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this."

How in the world is this useful? The idea that reading something that you might not agree with is "bad" is bad for you is incredible on a site that most people might think is open-minded.

Please! Read this! If you ask me (which of course noone did, hehe) I'd think everyone here /ought/ to read it just to see the community's reputation from another point of view.

My comments to the writer. (1)

smkndrkn (3654) | about 11 years ago | (#7208019)

Keep in mind that whoever uses software released under the GPL must read it first. If you do not agree...you don't have to use it and you can write your own code for whatever purpose you desire. Just because said companies are now at risk of "knock-offs" by releasing the code does make me feel any sympathy for them and this article is basically saying that they didn't play by the rules and now they shouldn't have to follow them because its not fair...oh boo hoo.

There is always two sides to a story... (1)

Noryungi (70322) | about 11 years ago | (#7208026)


Frankly, what did you expect from Forbes magazine? These people looooove closed-source companies making lots of $$$.

They also do not understand the business benefits of GPL: strong, stable, mature code that is freely modifiable and that will actuall ensure that your competitors will have to share whatever modifications and improvements they make to the code with you.

This is the basis for much "coopetition" between firms, which has produced some fairly advanced open standards. This is also why IBM is invested in Linux in such a big way.

Actually, I think this may have an interesting effect: it will get people (maybe even PHBs) interested in the work of the FSF. And maybe some will see though all the FUD and exclaim: "A 'free' operating system?! That's too good to be true!".

Besides, I do think the solution is, for Cisco, quite easy: release the Linksys/Broadcom code that is under GPL. Then, if they don't like the GPL, they can always either replace it or use a code that's under a different license (BSD).

If it takes "hit men" to enforce the GPL, then so be it! What makes it bad when these people enforce the GPL, and not when they "protect their Intellectual Property"? (think *cough* SCO *cough*)

This kind of propaganda is scary! (1)

GuardianBob420 (309353) | about 11 years ago | (#7208032)

This is propaganda from the world of the 'haves', make no mistake. This is the same type of BS people heard about the EPA back in the 80's - that they were militant, annoying buearocrats that are just looking to cause trouble for others for basically no good reason. Of course, that's crap - and the propaganda war fought on these issues has resulted in (1) DMCA, (2) PATRIOT Act, (3) 'Clear Skies' initiatives that sour our air and water...
The point being: we must understand the enemy, we must understand his message, we must make our message heard, and we need to let your average American (or whereever you may be) make an informed, rational decision about who's speaking up for your better interests...

That is a good description of the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208104)

"that they were militant, annoying buearocrats that are just looking to cause trouble for others for basically no good reason"

That is a pretty good description of the EPA. The EPA exists primarily to protect and increase its own power. That is not propaganda, it is just the truth about the nature of bureacracies.

"Hit men", "dark side", "in secret" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208034)

Yes, what demon RMS is. This naive journalist thinks the FSF is a lawyers' cartel. Imagine that, RMS the Suit.

Hired enforcer? (2, Insightful)

Geeky (90998) | about 11 years ago | (#7208036)

Sometimes it's the other way around--the foundation gets paid by private companies for whom it acts as a sort of hired enforcer

So to the PHBs at Forbes it's presumably OK for the BSA to act as an enforcer for one type of license but not for the FSF to act as an enforcer for another?

Balanced Views (2, Interesting)

Letch (551512) | about 11 years ago | (#7208039)

Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this.

What a stupid thing to say. How can anyone claim to have a balanced view of an issue if they refuse to read any articles that oppose them?

Beautiful (1)

12357bd (686909) | about 11 years ago | (#7208042)

10.000.000$ vs 25.000$

Beautiful.

Sig? Katma??

Generate dollars? (1)

benjj (302095) | about 11 years ago | (#7208043)

But he concedes that his foundation hates the way companies like Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL - news - people ) and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) generate billions of dollars by selling software licenses. "We'd like people to stop selling proprietary software. It's bad for the world," Kuhn says.

Nice use of the word "generate". It leaves the impression that those no-good opensourceniks want to stop Microsoft from "generating" money - that is - making money out of nothing.

Poor old Microsoft is there, generating money for the economy, doing nothing wrong! And these hippies want to stop it! Communists! It's not like it charges obscene amounts to businesses through its monopolistic practises.

Re:Generate dollars? (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 11 years ago | (#7208084)

What, and MS and Oracle doesn't generate income? Of course they do! Last I checked, college kids writing software for free most definitely have an adverse effect on the economy. But if you don't think so, just tell me where you work, and I'll follow you around, offering to your managers to do your job for free. Then you can tell me about "generating" money.

What did they expect? (2, Interesting)

infiniti99 (219973) | about 11 years ago | (#7208045)

They used some code, and now they have to abide by the licensing rules of that code. This is no different than if it were some proprietary code like Windows. I don't understand this "GPL-creep" bullshit, as if these companies are using GPL code by accident. There is no way such code can wind up in your program unintentionally. Anytime you pull code from the internet, check the license. If there is no license mentioned, don't use it! Only use code if it says you can, not because it doesn't say you can't.

Forbes may be making the FSF look like the bad guys here, but really, what are the alternatives? If this were Windows or some proprietary software, you'd have the BSA breathing down their neck.

What a slant! (1)

Art_XIV (249990) | about 11 years ago | (#7208052)

This is a fine example of journalism with a 'slant'.

I don't see the Big Deal, Forbes magazine. If these companies didn't want to make their source code open and public, they shouldn't have used GPL'd code.

Maybe Linksys & company should have used SCO instead of Linux for their devices? ;)

Pointer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208056)

The article mentions a "leaked" discussion of the dispute. Anyone have a pointer?

Happy Coders (1)

camliner (685937) | about 11 years ago | (#7208060)

--a view that contrasts with the movement's usual public image of happy software proles linking arms and singing the "Internationale" while freely sharing the fruits of their code-writing labor. /sings Tra-la-la-la-la! /skips away

If stealing GPLed code is OK... (1)

Captain Kirk (148843) | about 11 years ago | (#7208062)

...lets all go down the newsagents and steal copies of Forbes magazine.

Silly article by a silly magazine that is propped up by ads from closed source It vendors.

God forbid they pay for something (1)

dstutz (639854) | about 11 years ago | (#7208066)

I don't see what the problem is with the FSF going after these companies for using GPL'd code. How is it a bad thing? These companies have 2 choices, use GPL'd code and get their product out the door faster and cheaper BUT they have to now share their code. Or they can spend a LOT more time and develop everything in-house so it really is their product and they can earn all the proceeds. Why do they expect that they can just grab up this "free" code and expect to make tons of money off it?

Killer penguins (2, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | about 11 years ago | (#7208076)

Linux hitmen? The image comes to mind of The Penguin's army of radio-controlled penguins in "Batman 2".

Arrgh! (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 11 years ago | (#7208078)

Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this.

Because ya know, we don't ever wanna hear nuthin' bad 'bout our boys, no sir, no sir.

Whatever happened to "know thy enemy"? Instead of telling people to not read this piece because it has bad things to say about the open source community, why not advocate reading it carefully to pick out the other side's arguments, analyze them, and learn how to counter them when your own boss starts quoting the article?

...cuz' simply saying, "They're full of shit! open source is great!" isn't gonna change any minds, folks. Learn how they think, study their arguments, and develop good responses, and you're in the game. Ignore it because it doesn't agree with What You Know Is True, you're just that shirtless, fat, face-painted idiot in the stands.

Oh yes... (1)

johneee (626549) | about 11 years ago | (#7208080)

" Forewarning: The open source community is not portrayed in positive light so you might want to skip reading this."

Because god forbid you actually read something that you might not like. What on earth is that?

Better to say, "Forewarning: this has viewpoints that right or wrong, run directly contrary to your own. You should read this to see what some people out there think and are reading in an influential magazine."

Forbes have some mighty strange views (1)

azaris (699901) | about 11 years ago | (#7208081)

Too bad they left out angles like "large multinationals ripping off independent OSS dev teams to boost profits" and "blatant copyright violations". At least the article makes it clear you shouldn't attempt to violate the GPL because the FSF will come after you. Maybe they'll follow this article with a similar blather about the BSA?

I guess we've entered a stage where it's bad to steal for profit but even worse to share something for free.

I don't get it (1)

zr-rifle (677585) | about 11 years ago | (#7208083)

What's Forbes' poin after all? In their article they picture the FSF as some kind of Al's Hit squad that settles out any dispute over it's own goods.

It's not like the FSF puts decapitated horse heads in the beds of Cisco CEOs.

It's more like this: I'm a young software programmer. I contributed free software by writing a driver for some random hardware and distributing it under the GPL. Now the manufactorer has taken this driver, modified it to make it work with it's new line of hardware and made it proprietary. Since I am a student I can't afford to pay the costs of a lawsuit against some major hardware manufactorer, so the FSF acts on my behalf to make my rights stand out.

Libre Society (1)

locarecords.com (601843) | about 11 years ago | (#7208090)

...

This might be found interesting in lieu of the comments about free/libre/open-source ness... The Libre Society [libresociety.org]

This is a good article for the /. community (1)

jbelcher56 (694028) | about 11 years ago | (#7208093)

I think that this community insulates itself too much from what is going on in the business world. This is a good representation of how the business world views the open source model. Its good to see some constructive discussion on the issue, since these are the real people running the world, as much as we would love to deny it! The first step in fixing a problem is identifying the problem.

Good Article, Bad Publicity (0, Offtopic)

EchoMirage (29419) | about 11 years ago | (#7208096)

This article will be met with much dispute on Slashdot, and rightly so, to an extent. However, there are a few well-made points in the article, and there are some things that the FSF has clearly gone overboard (again) with. Take this quote from FSF Director Bradley Kuhn:

"And if they [Cisco] balk? Kuhn raises the threat of legal action. 'We defend the rights protected by the GPL license,' he says. 'We have legal teeth, so if someone does not share and share alike, we can make them obey the rules.'"

Make them obey the rules? Yes, technically that's what legal enforcement of a license does, but Brad could definetely have phrased it in a way that didn't make the FSF look like a schoolyard bully. A better way to say this would be: "We would, if necessary, defend the code-sharing clauses of the GPL, but we would of course want to work with Cisco before that to have them see the benefits of voluntarily sharing this code, as many other companies have done."

I've met Brad before, and while he's a decent and friendly guy, he's pretty deeply into the free software zealotry. As has been hashed and rehashed multiple times, the zealotry that exists within certain wings of the free software movement is a prime reason why many businesses are still extremely skeptical about the whole free software/Linux thing. Making wild-eyed threats like this and having them appear in Forbes (which more than a few CFOs and CIOs read) is a pretty big black eye for the FSF and the free software movement...

This is irony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208103)

After years of railing at Microsoft and its ilk for being a bit TOO vigorous in "protecting their IP", /.ers now rail against Forbes for bashing the GPL for being vigorous in "protecting their IP".

I thought the whole purpose of the open source movement was to make IP more about the technical personnel who support the systems than the systems themselves...

What is the world coming to?

Poor, dumb bastards (1)

Headius (5562) | about 11 years ago | (#7208107)

The article is so blind to the truth it's absurd. Yeah, the FSF flexes a little muscle once in a while to rein in companies that violate GPL. Yeah, it's a tough burden to either switch operating systems or release your modified source to the world. Yeah, it would be great for those companies if they could just use GPL'ed code without following any rules.

The bottom line, however, is that companies that use GPL'ed software are saving millions in development costs they'd otherwise have to swallow. Developing an embedded OS with the feature set and robustness of Linux would take hundreds if not thousands of man-months. That adds up to a lot of dough saved by going with available, open-source solutions.

And then, true to form, the PHBs, Executives, Suits all decide that they're not going to give back to the community. They're going to break the very rules that allow them to use such powerful software without paying cent one for the right. I support FSF's efforts to put the smack down on these companies at every turn. If you get something for free and then refuse to follow the rules under which you are allowed to use it, what right do you have to keep it?

Forbes, Proud Guadians of Deception (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7208113)

Ah, the sweet smell of scum.

Here's some interesting facts about old Steve-O:

1. Steve-O owns a cattle farm on his 100 acre+ Bedminster estate.

2. Steve-O, despite living in the own of the richest little suburbs in the world, PAYS NO PROPERTY TAXES!

Just thought you should know that, because this is corporate culture which obviously extoles the virtues of screwing over the bottom half - and telling the bottom half "its their fault" for being not rich, and the only way to fix it, is to become rich and to join them in screwing.

So in this case, Forbes peppers otherwise good reporting with: "Linux developers spend time in their mother's basement playing..." etc. Nice, huh?

This has more to do with the tired old fogeys who make their money via extortion and pollution being pissed off at seeing "computer" people - Linux and Microsoftie alike - at their country clubs. They never did quite embrace the fact that technology can make or break a company (Walmart v. Kmart), and are obviously looking at this without any understanding of the need of reliable technology in the Enterprise.

They do recognize that SCO is nothing more than a legal FUD machine - but they admire them for it! But all they see in our camp is a bunch of commies, not Libertarians. Which shows us Libertarians how many enemies we really have.

Bias (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | about 11 years ago | (#7208117)

I sent email this morning to the editor on his bias..lets flood the email box..shall we?
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