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Mosix looking into GPL concerns

sengan posted more than 15 years ago | from the doing-the-right-thing dept.

Linux 90

The Mosix people are now looking into the Linux GPL issue. Since it was Linus and the other core kernel developers who gave the binary module dispensation (binary modules may be inserted into the kernel as long as they do not require kernel modifications of their own) it seems odd they are talking to the FSF about this. But at least this is a move in the right direction.

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Binaries Permissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000563)

Only Linus has ever given such permission. No
other developer. As such his permission is rather
irrelevant legally.

A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000564)

It seems to me that MOSIX is trying to do the right thing, inded, they were trying to do the right thing before we jumped all over them.

A few points of concern here.

1) I'm not sure how this works, but if Linus said 'binary modules are exempt, if they require no kernel mods', then it would seem these guys are in violation. It makes some sense to me that this stipulation is to prevent exactly what is happening here. If you may NOT modify the kernel in order to accommodate your binary only module, then you are pretty much limited to providing drivers for subsystems that exist already, eg: filesystems, network devices, net protocols....
You can't add hooks into the kernel and re-write it from scratch.... then distribute it.

That point may have been unclear (or perhaps I have it wrong).

2) People shouldn't be QUITE so judgemental about this kind of thing. Give people a chance to respond. Not everyone on earth is an evil money-mongering bastard. All license terms and laws are open to some sort of interpretation, no matter how hard we try to make it clear. If someone gets it wrong, are they trying to find a 'loophole' or did they just understand it differently? What's the difference?

Correct, boy wonder! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000565)

It was never Linus' permission to give. This is the beauty of free software. Linus holds tremendous power, but if he ever screws up, it can easily be taken from him. And it is very hard for him to screw up, with so many talented people behind him.

In this case, Linus can alter licensing for HIS code contributions, but not for the other contributions. And very little of the kernel anymore is Linus' code anyway.

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000566)

I'm not so sure he did. I don't think their module falls under the module clause because it requires a modified kernel. But say it didn't require kernel modifications; their module would be in the spirit of that exception (though not in the spirit of the GPL). If they had written a similar module to run as a server on top of Mach, and thus along with the Hurd, no one would cry foul. In overall kernel design, I think Linus viewed those two situations as identical.

Everyone quotes Linus as saying that the kernel is "the one part of the operating system that needs to be blazingly fast," as a reason he chose a layered design for the kernel instead of a microkernel one. What's less often remembered was that he thought that microkernels were just abstractions to force people to write very modularized code (like how you can force people to use object-oriented design in Smalltalk), but that you can organize your code just as modularly without incuring the extra overhead that comes with forcing it (like writing object oriented programs in C instead of C++). By that world view, modules are just like servers running on top of a microkernel--no subject to the license of the microkernel, because they're different programs. In this case they just happen to run in operator mode.

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000567)

No, it can't pollute the kernel. Hence the reason for only allowing binary-only modules to be distributed if they run on a stock kernel, with no unofficial patches. In order to augment the kernel with anything but a driver or something where there is already some kind of module support, you have to modify the kernel. Period.

Can someone tell me how this applies? The drivers written for the Proxim RangeLan II cards are distributed as source by the author (bless his soul) but the source includes a binary library that contains the core of the proxim driver, as it was built with proprietary code from proxim that cannot be distributed. Does this violate any clause? The driver source is free. It includes a library... which is freely distributable.... but no library source.

Any GPL lawyers can explain this to me? I'd appreciate it.


A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000568)

What happens when the patches to the kernel become mainstream parts of the kernel? Suddenly the binary module idea is valid again.

What is to prevent the MOSIX guys from "forking the tree" and making their own Linux kernel, releasing it under the GPL, and claiming the exact same "binary module" rules?

Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000569)

I think it's great that they've heard the concerns of the community and are taking a second look at the way their licensing works. Let's be nice to them and see if we can all make some progress together.

Another question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000570)

An operating system is developed using the GNU libc.a library which is linked into the kernel. Both the front end and back end of libc are used and provided by the operating system. (I.E. read, write, etc. are provided for libc, and the OS also uses printf, sprintf, strcpy, etc. from the libc.)

Is this now considered a "derived work" of libc? Or, since this is a kernel, something else? What about distribution? Does the source for the entire thing need to be distributed? What if libc is used completely unmodified in binary form for the linking? Etc., etc.

he doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000571)

Any binary module is probably a violation of the GPL (usual disclaimers apply). There is just an _unwritten_ (correct me?) agreement that the GPL will not be enforced for binary modules meeting certain criteria. All copyright holders of the kernel have followed Linus' lead up to this point.

x

A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000572)

If he says binary modules are exempt, they are. In other words, the kernel DOES have a special version of the GPL that allows for binary modules. I guess you could call it the LKPL.

Linus decreed it, and none of the developers complained.

What if company X made a binary only, comercial libc that did garbage collection? Then you change the link of /usr/lib/libc.so to point to it. Are all GPL'd programs that link with that libc in violation for linking with non-GPL'd code? No.


Binary modules aren't derivative. As in our above example, libc is a standard API. The kernel has a standard API. As long as they coded to a standard API, and not to the kernel source, they are ok.

Even if they used a modified kernel, they could just have somebody else document the modified API, and code to that instead.

This binary modules rule is a type of shrink-wrap rule, not a copyright issue. And if you tried to get your money back from Microsoft on Windows Refund Day, you know that shrink wrap rules are bogus.

Sorry to say it, Linus is wrong on this one. It's not legally enforcable, because it doesn't violate copyright law.

And for what it's worth, the L-GPL is worthless. You get the same result by just using the GPL, because the whole 'linking' clause is invalid. Is it illegal to read a copyrighted book? Is it illegal to paraphrase a copyrighted book on a research paper? No.

You are perfectly legal to link with any library or program (linux kernel) that you want to, regardless of it's silly licensing rules. The only thing that applies is copyright laws. As long as you don't use their source code, you are ok.

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000573)

So these guys could have their migration driver as 99% their orignal code, int he form of a library, and the source for the loadable module, consisting of not much more than main(){starthere();}

??
doesn't sound quite right to me.

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000574)

If Linus added this exemption before anyone added thier code,...then yes, he did indeed have the right to do this. Anyone adding thier code to the kernel is doing so by permission from Linus since he is the copywrite holder (is he not?). At any rate, whoever owns the copyright to the origional kernel pretty much has say since the rest are derivatives of that person's ownership. If the person changed the copyright (which it is his right to do at any time) it was the coders responsibity to make a descision at that time. Either they stick with one of the older versions with the old copyright, or they accept the new copyright and deal with it.

That is how I would judge it if I were faced with this kind of delema.

And all you people who are talking about "taking" Linux from Linus should really take a step back and evaluate what you have just said. I think it is total bullshit that this is the kind of response a person gets for sharing thier code with the world. Prettly low....instead of stealing someones work because you legaly can, and you don't happen to like the what they are doing why don't you do your own fucking thing? Don't you think Linus deserves even some miniscule of respect?

Also, I never did see this exception in the kernel licence....were is it?

A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000575)

Nothing is keeping them from forking away under GPL. That's the beauty of free software: Everyone gets to do what they want.

If any of us don't like their fork, we are free to stick with the Linux-managed one, and we too are all free to make our own kernel mods. We simply must make our modifications available to others so they too can use our advances. Yayy! Happy Free Software!

Notice the date on RMS's message! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000576)

It's November 15th, 1998. They gave it an honest attempt to clear the copyright issues before they went on with this.

As for kernel modifications, MY interpretation is that Linus agreed for binary modules as long as they don't bother HIM with modifying the kernel. This also sits well to me with his claims in his interviews that he wrote Linux for his own personal pleasure and use and just finds it "a nice thing" to see that others find it useful as well.

No Subject Given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000577)

my reading of Linus' permission is that it's ok
to distribute a binary modules, as long as it uses
the 'natural' interfaces that come with Linux. Those interfaces
are not guaranteed to be there and cannot be
modified by a 'companion' patch.
Linus's 'permission' should be taken as a gift.
If MOSIX wants to abuse this gift, then it will
be removed, and will hurt other people. Shame on
MOSIX!

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000578)

What about devices that cannot have Open Source drivers written because of patents, NDAs, or whatever? Binary only-module device drivers can be written to allow these devices to be used with Linux.

Should people who are in need of such a driver be told to get lost? Isn't a binary-only driver better than none at all?

Remember that if the thought of running a binary only driver causes you to vomit, tremble, or is a mortal sin in your GPL-only religion, you don't NEED to use such a driver.

However, I get the feeling that most users do not get up every morning and pray to a software license, and wouldn't be too upset, in fact they might even be (*gasp*) HAPPY that they can finally run their device under Linux, if they were given a binary-only driver. Most people have been using binary-only drivers under other OSes for years anyway.

CLUE PHONE - MOSIX does NOT violate GPL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000579)

The GPL applies to modification of GPL'd code.

MOSIX has released the complete source for all of the GPL'd code that they modified. This alone satisfies the GPL.

Creating self contained a binary module NOT DERIVED from GPL'd code is perfectly legitimate and could NEVER be disallowed under the GPL.

The spirit has been violated, but definitely NOT the law.

MOSIX is LEGALLY right & MORALLY wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000580)

The GPL applies to modification of GPL'd code.

MOSIX has released the complete source for all of the GPL'd code that they modified. This alone satisfies the GPL.

Creating a self contained binary module NOT DERIVED from GPL'd code is perfectly legitimate and could NEVER be disallowed under the GPL.

The spirit has been violated, but definitely NOT the law.

Quoting out of context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000581)

Their page says that they will stop distribution if there are license problems. That, however, won't cut it.

Here's what they said (boldface is my own):

If we unintentionally violated the GNU GPL than we will stop the distribution of MOSIX until we correct this violation.


IMHO the part you're leaving out is significant. It sounds like they are interested in doing the right thing, or are at least willing to consider it.

At any rate, I agree with the remainder of your post (not that I'm qualified to judge :).

Another answer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000582)

You missed the question. It said,

"An operating system is developed using the GNU libc.a library which is linked into the kernel. Both the front end and back end of libc are used and provided by the operating system. (I.E. read, write, etc. are provided for libc, and the OS also uses printf, sprintf, strcpy, etc. from the libc.)"

As in, someone takes libc.a and develops a tiny, fast OS around it and links it into the kernel. (Nowhere was Linux mentioned or any other existing OS mentioned.)

Now, care to answer the question that was asked?

They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000583)


> This means that source for the module has to
> be provided for the cost of shipping. Linus
> et al. can demand that, and I sure hope they
> will.

If this action take place I will be uninstalling the servers we are using and installing windows at home. I have never heard such childish (If it's not my way then I will destroy you) behavior since third grade. grow up and get a life. People, corporations, and even educational locations have right to try and protect their material. I personally think that their dual release is totaly within the spirt of the gpl (something I truly hate.) By attacking these people you have basically made Linux's opponents arguments for them. If you actually win this case I would expect Linux to be pulled from all businness , and educational computers. I would also expect a large majority of endusers will pull their copies.

WHY:
Because this argument basicaly says if you modify some part of the kernel whatever else you create around this is now gpl.

Needs MAJOR clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000584)

Then Linus needs to draft a new license. The terms of the GPL are mutually exclusive to Linus' addendum. As such Linux requires a non-GPL license to reflect Linus' intentions *OR* it needs to fully go GPL and thus eliminate the binary modules.

20/20 hindsight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000585)

This sounds like pulling a Microsoft. Once you have more power, then make changes to suit your best interests at others' expense.

No, it sounds like Machiavelli. Or simple self-interest.

Besides, the linux community has traditionally never given a damn about the proprietary vendor's interest. Perhaps some members of the community got lax, but that doesn't mean that the community as a whole lost its principles.

Only Linus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000586)

Idjit. Linus holds the trademark for Linux and...

Who said a thing about trademarks? This is a copyright infringement. Linus does NOT solely own the copyright for the kernel. Idjit.

Don't waste /. bandwith with stupid, inaccurate drivel.

Good suggestion. Why don't you take it?

A question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000587)

Yup, but the GNU tar package doesn't contain any of those Solaris binary libraries. If you took GNU tar, modified the code a little, and shipped it with your own binary libBetterTar.so, you would be violating the GPL, since you've extended the tar program and refused to release code with your binary.

Another question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000588)

Even if the kernel used a C library, it would be okay. libc.a is under the LGPL, which gives permission to link the library to non-GPL'd programs, as an explicit exemption. You still couldn't modify libc.a itself, however, without being bound by the same (L)GPL source redistribution requirements.

They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000589)

No this is not true. The GPL states that all they
have to do is stop distributing the modules and
request that downloaded copies be erased. In
other words, if there are additional requirements
which contradict with the GPL, the GPL requires
that distribution of the work be stopped.

Hypothetical Situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000590)

Assume there are two companies here, MO and SIX, and that binary only modules are a legitimate route.

MO has an idea about improved resource scheduling algorithms, and makes GPL kernel modifications, along with a GPL module which provides these algorithms. This is perfectly legitimate, and may in the future make it into the core distributions.

SIX sees these modifications and decides that they can write more efficient code than MO has provied, but need to incorporate propietry code into their algorithms, so they release them as a binary only module, which inserts into kernels with MO's patches applied.

Is there a problem here?

If there isn't, is there a problem with MOSIX being both companies?

Would it solve the problem if MOSIX provided an inferior algorithm which was GPLed as well as the binary only module?

Legally I think that they'd be in the clear, ethically I'm not so sure. I have a bad feeling about it, but if that's the licence...

Neil Dobson
neil@vorkosigan.demon.co.uk
(Never posted, may not post again, therefore AC)

They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000591)

Oh, dear.

Because this argument basicaly says if you modify some part of the kernel whatever else you create around this is now gpl.

No, "basicaly," you're wrong. This argument says if you modify some part of the kernel, whatever code you specifically link against the kernel is GPL. It says absolutely nothing about any higher-level program; you can still distribute your WordPerfect or whatever, because it only links against the LGPL'd libc.

It does not apply to "whatever else you create around this," unless that "whatever" is inseperable from the kernel, and useless without the kernel. A kernel module for Linux 2.2 is inseperable from the kernel, since it doesn't work without the kernel. WordPerfect 8 is a seperate work because it doesn't need any particular libc/X.

They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000592)

>Congratulations. You've just got the point of the GPL. Run home now and uninstall those linux boxen.
>
>If it weren't for Linus' specific (slightly dubious) exception for binary modules anything that used anything outside the standard syscall interface (see the top of
>COPYING) would have to be GPLed. That's why Redhat, SuSe, or Microsoft can't run off and codehoard.
>
>
Hmm let's see:
-> I am a developer and I create a sound subsytem for linux.
->? I release some modules and so does other devlopers and everyone says this is a useful interface.
-> The original devloper decides to make binary only modules to agree with N.D.A. and to make a little money.
-> A second party decides to do the same thing.

Now lets see according to this argument if I patch the kernel then develop around it I must sacrafice my source code the GPL virus, but if someone else devlopes the interface I don't have to. hmmmm

Can we say OSS. I knew we could.

Also I thought the header files for module devlopment were released under the GNU Library liscense. ( allowing them to #include without losing your source code.) to allow for this. If this is true and their is no cross >>>code> Interface
They would, at worst, just lose the current version of their code which they could obsucate (spelling error here) and then release it. (GPL says nothing about the level of readability.)


They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000593)

And also, this only applies if you distribute the code. Any company could make this sort of modification if they never, ever release it.

What's going on here (I think) is that the MOSIX folks would really like to get their kernel mods into the official kernel, to spare them the burden of having to re-patch them into every subsequent release. But, if they want that, they will have to contribute the source of their module. Linux may be free, but when it comes to work, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Hypothetical Situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000594)

The concept is the same regardless of the source of the GPL'd code...

Well, actually, if you're the sole copyright owner on the work (i.e. ALL of the GPLed code came from you), then you can re-release that code under whatever other terms you want. The GPL's restrictions only come into play if some other party wrote some of the GPLed code.

M$ Owns the Linux Kernel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000595)

Drink me.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000596)

"These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.



"Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program."



This whole section is in relation to derivative works. The modifications to the kernel are derivative works, the module isn't, because it doesn't use any GPL'd code. If I link with the C library is my code a derivative work? No. If I link with the kernel is my code a derivative work? Of course not.


The decree Linus made is a contract, much like the Windows EULA. It has nothing to do with copyright law and is not enforcable. The section you highlighted above in the GPL is only about derivative works.


Example, NuMega Inc makes a debugger called Soft-ICE/W. With this debugger, you can disassemble Windows while it's running, step through system calls, reverse engineer, etc. This is a direct violation of the Windows EULA. They are perfectly legal to do this. It's not a copyright violation, it's an EULA violation. Copyright is the only thing the GPL can cover legally, and we all know that EULA's are not legally binding. They are just fluff ment to scare kids ;)

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong - NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000597)

By the same token: "While WordPerfect/Oracle/SAP may run on other operating systems, it cannot run on Linux without the Linux kernel". So what? That doesn't make them part of the kernel. Every application can be broken by changing some particular system calls in the kernel. That Linus chose to implenent in his own version of the kernel the system calls used by WordPerfect and not those used by MOSIX is neither here nor there.

Binaries Permissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000598)

More importantly, such permission is not relevant because it is not needed. My understanding is that one can make a module without using any GPL'ed code (just the names of exported symbols and perhaps some constant definitions from GPL'ed header files--code that does not lead to any GPL'ed code in the binary after compilation).

If this is true, then someone making a module has no more need to get permission of any kernel developer in order to release under whatever license they want than I need to get Microsoft's permission to write Windows drivers, or Apple's permsission to write Mac drivers, or Sony's permission to write PlayStation games.

All Linus's permission means is that making a binary module (that follows his rules) will not get you in social trouble with the vast majority of the Linux community. If you don't care about the social and political aspects, then Linus's permission is irrelevant.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000599)

I'm very curious to know the outcome of this also.
It seems to me, however, that they could say "Our kernel extensions allow for loadable modules to extend multiprocessing"
and then they *ALSO* provide their own version of a compatablemodules.
in other words, their project just defines an API

Hypothetical Situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000600)

Just because it is a 'loadable kernel module' doesn't make it 'part' of the linux kernel.
Yes, it runs in kernel-space, yes, it conforms to the linux kernel API, but that does *NOT* necessarily make it not allowed.. it's just like any other binary, it just 'looks and acts' like a kernel module.


It will be interesting to see how this is worked out in the end.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000601)

If it uses anything other than the documented linux system calls, then it falls under the License.
In other words, if their kernel module is 100% their code (if it doesn't require the presence of the linux kernel source tree or any part thereof, to compile) then it is perfectally fine. If it *DOES* require linux kernel specific calls (and it does, if it is to register itself with the kernel once loaded...e tc... look at module programming docs), then it is bound by the license, and therefore cannot be distributed in binary form if it requires any modifications of the standard kernel.

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000602)

Yes, but many people bought their computers before they realized that they want to run Linux on it. I've seen others who have been a bit careless about the hardware they bought. (Example, when it was a new chipset, a friend of mine bought a card with an S3-virge chipset. At the time, it was unsupported, but most S3 chips were supported, which lead to the confusion)

Or in my case, my work gave me a laptop with a Neomagic chipset in it. (It's now supported by Xfree86, but only recently) I never would have bought a Neomagic on my own, but I had a choice: 1) Stick with NT only, 2) get the binary-only Neomagic X server from Red Hat 3) Stick with 640x480 16 color graphics.

For me, I'd take the binary only server over 640x480x16 any day.

Linus made a big mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000603)

I've been experiencing crashes, reboots, hangs, and many other strange and intractible problems with binary drivers for many OSes over many years.

So I'm very happy to use Linux and be able to fix problems.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong - NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000604)

My point was that user programs and kernel modules are equivalent under the GPL.

As pointed out elsewhere on /. even M$ doesn't dare to make any claims on Windows device drivers (== Windows kernel modules) written by third parties. For Linux people to be more imperialistic than M$ and try to lord it over people who write Linux kernel modules is pathetic.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong - NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000605)

In fact MOSIX interacts with the kernel only through the /proc filesystem and not through system calls so its relation to the kernel is much less intimate than that of most other modules and programs. The fact that these interfaces are "currently defined" only in the kernel patched by the MOSIX for Linux package and not by the kernel as published by Linus is immaterial. The Linus version of the kernel may be more popular but it is not privileged in any way over any other version that MOSIX or you or my cat or anybody else cares to publish.


Also remember that MOSIX used to run on many commercial operating systems VMS, BSDI etc. so according to your logic it is also a part of the whole which is VMS+MOSIX etc. So it actually belongs to COMPAQ or BSDI or whoever. Of course these companies never claimed any such thing. The funny thing is that the Linux community is making claims which would be viewed as ridiculously greedy and grasping were they to be made by commercial companies.

Your arguments are fraudulent - VMS not GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000606)

You seem to be roaming about endlessly in search of clues. VMS is not GPL, BSDI is not GPL. You seem to be great at finding instances which are not at all similar, claiming that they are, and then leaping to ill-founded conclusions.

Why don't we stick to discussing the kernel, modules, and the GPL.

Not grasping, defending GPL boundaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000607)

I really don't think that anyone who is argueing that MOSIX is violating the GPL is doing it because they want the code. I suspect there are *crackers* who read slashdot who could just waltz in and *take* it, if that were the case (Israeli installation or no).

This discussion is *really* about definding the boundaries of the GPL against a possible erosion which could then be purposefully exploited by commercial entities.

Your arguments are fraudulent - VMS not GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000608)

Gee, let's start at the first sentence!

"Note! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls, ..."

So right off, we see that MOSIX is NOT excluded here.

And I just don't agree with you on section 5.

"Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this license to do so, and all of its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it."

The phrase which covers MOSIX would be in section 2, following the section that covers independent works.

"But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and this to each and every part regardless of who wrote it."

This would apply to MOSIX-BETA-7, even if it might not apply to MOSIX-BETA-8.

I disagree also that the GPL derives its validity from copyright law. It has a steel trap if you do not accept it's terms.

Section 5.
"Nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the program. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this license."

Copyright law says that they cannot copy/modify/distribute without permission. The GPL say, to get permission, you agree to abide by this license. If you don't you can't copy or modify the program.

It's because they modified the kernel, and distributed their code, which required the modifications, and distributed it together, that the GPL now applies to MOSIX-BETA-7.

And, now, of course, all subsequent versions of that code......And this is the result of their actions, they should have had a lawyer read the GPL, instead, they may have thought they knew what it meant, but they were wrong. And they asked the wrong person for clarification, they should have asked Linus.

So what are you going to do? Sue them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000609)

I think we are going to see more and more violations of the GPL. With the increasing commercialization of Linux we'll see more and more people who want to make a buck by keeping their work proprietary.

Let's assume a company blatantly and openly challenges the conditions of the GPL, what recourse does the Linux community have to force them to comply? Take them to court? Is there a fund to pay for the legal fees? Funny that you end up in a situation in which you end up taking the same action as a closed sourced companies (e.g Apple. MS) took to protect their proprietary work.

Mark my words. Greed rules and corrupts.

The GPL and those who would dilute it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000610)

Sorry, not exaggerated. Precise.

You're the one doing the association. I merely stated existence.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000611)

Gee, you seem to know a lot about it, perhaps you're one of the developers?? If so, care to let us know?

GPL and copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000612)

It is a derivative or collective work.

And yes, the license can take away rights if you voluntarily enter into it by modifying and distributing the code. That is exactly what happens when developers add code to the kernel - if they distribute a binary, they must release their source code. It is the WHOLE INTENT of the license. Are you saying that that could be gotten out of as well by individually copyrighting additions to the kernel?

And the part you quote is not applicable. It is not "mere aggregation", because it is covered by the prior clause. The kernel was modified for it, and it was distributed together with the kernel. The phrase you quote would have to do with "merely aggregating" or putting together two unrelated things, such as distributing say WordPerfect and the Linux kernel, where no modifications have been made to the kernel. As soon as there is modification to accomodate a module AND that module is distributed together with the kernel as a whole system intended to be used as a whole for a single purpose, it's not "mere aggregation".

As to whether gentle persuasion has been tried, the situation has been discussed on the kernel mailing list, and I believe that communication is ongoing, which has resulted in the web page listed above. I am certainly not e-mailing the MOSIX crew, nor do I intend to. I am merely discussing my view of the situation in light of my knowledge of the GPL. My understanding is that at least some of the kernel developers DO consider it a violation of the GPL, and they ought to know their intent and the meaning of the GPL.

And if the MOSIX developers should happen to read /. I do not consider that a problem. They should know what people think of the situation. I agree that it is a shame that some /.ers are probably e-mailing them with less than gentle words. It can only be disruptive to the discussions and negotiation which are probably being attempted.

Needs MAJOR clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000613)

I don't know the legalities of who owns the copyright on the kernel. I'll assume it's linus

DON'T Assume it's Linus. If you do, any of you're conclusions will be wrong because it's *not*. Linus himself says that the current version of the kernel contains 5-10% code that he wrote. Legally, Linux is a "collaborative work", with many authors, so a change in license from GPL to "GPL+binary-only" requires the consent of *all* contributors to be legally meaningful.

You're right though, that an author isn't bound by their own license, and if Linus had written 100% of the kernel, then he could do what he likes WRT licensing.

MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000614)

THANK YOU for the first sensible post dealing with whether or not MOSIX is a "derived work" of Linux!

Setting aside the legal technicalities, and looking at it from the point of view of common sense, is MOSIX a "derived work"? The answer to that question is obviously yes. MOSIX is clearly a new kernel which adds clustering support to Linux. Rather than create an operating system from scratch, they created the "Multicomputer Operating System for UNIX" by enhancing an existing OS.

Under the GPL, derivative works must be GPLed, and if MOSIX doesn't qualify as a derivative work, I don't know what would. Technicalities like whether or not the enhancements are in a separate binary module or not are simply irrelevant. It's clearly contrary to the spirit of the license for the MOSIX enhancement to not be returned to the community as free software, and I'm confident that most judges would agree.

Why should the MOSIX team be able to build a proprietary, multicomputer OS out of code that was licensed under the GPL to specifically disallow such proprietary enhancements? Considering that probably 90% of MOSIX is actually GNU/Linux, what return (in the form of useful source code) do we get for contributing most of the source code to their product?

Some allowance can be made for things like binary-only drivers (if Linus and the other authors feel it's useful), since although these would technically fall under the GPL, they aren't really creating a new OS, but merely extending support to particular types of hardware -- Linux is still Linux (from a common-sense point of view).

The MOSIX situation is totally different, and action must be taken now to prevent this from continuing. If nothing's done, Linux will lose one of it's key advantages over the BSDs, as everyone (including Microsoft) decide that they too should create a new, proprietary OS based on Linux (using "binary modules" to provide the features, of course).


Sure they will after you sue their butt over $$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000615)

Where are the $$ these guys are after?

The market for clusters isn't so large in Isreal. Any commercial development of this program (which seems to be the aim behind these shenanigans) is going to reap rewards in countries which respect copyright.

This is annoying. And it will happen more often as people try to figure out how to make money out of free software, by hook or by crook.

But that IS what the GPL is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000616)

(Not sure if the above post is actually a troll)



WHY:
Because this argument basicaly says if you modify some part of the kernel whatever else you create around this is now gpl.


How long have you been around Slashdot? This is precisely the function of the GPL. It STOPS closed code. It REMOVES barriers to innovation and the need for idiotic licensing, and forces compatibility.


Why wasn't MO6 coded for Windows NT eh? Why not?


BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T. MS WOULD HAVE THEIR BALLS ON TOAST.


Other people have different views though. Maybe this should be released for *BSD. That way there would be no license problems, and they would get to use the kernel source. A more generous license than Linux, with correspondingly greater scope for abuse (or is this abuse?) by companies (Apple for example). MO6 for *BSD would be fine.

They're not right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000617)

This is one piece of work, which contains a kernel modification. It therefore must be GPL'd in full, as per license.

These guys saying it is two seperate things because they are distributing it in two bits is kind of like Microsoft saying IE is a part of its OS, but even more stupidly disingenuous, because the integration is very obvious.

MO6 is a difficult thing to run on Linux (it looks interesting and nice) and keep proprietry, since it operates at a sub-process level. They either should go fork *BSD or set up some kind of wrapper environment for processes which can be run as a genuine LGPL-linked module. MO6's approach is half-assed, they should have thought this one out better.

A question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000618)

The FSF has GNU software for MS windows and DOS,
which obviously contains DLLs. The compiler should be immaterial. But all that proprietary stuff was there before, and you are just building on it.

GPL can't function in reverse, that would be removing prior copyright.

A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000619)

Good point, if you allow binary modules this is legitimate. The GPL does not allow modules, since the modules are clearly dependent, and do not consist a whole in themselves. They exist because of Linus' approval.

On the other hand this approval could be taken away by Linus, who still holds copyright on the kernel. He could even go on a case-by-case basis if he wanted.

Also the question of Linus' ultimate authority is moot.

A problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000620)


"You are perfectly legal to link with any library or program (linux kernel) that you want to, regardless of it's silly licensing rules."

No, because then you breach those licensing rules and are using that program illegally and out of license.

Licenses can say anything they like. It could make you have to use the program in the nude and covered in cream whip if it wanted.

A license is a contract and you sign it when you use the program. If you don't want to use it, don't. Also, GPL should be what matters here, not Linus. Linus gave a verbal agreement, and on very shaky ground anyway. GPL notices are all over the source.

M$ Owns the Linux Kernel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000621)

hehehe

By that reasoning Microsoft is illegally holding back it's GPL'd Win98 and NT code.

The driver writers own the rights to their driver code. They can choose to make two versions of it (since it is theirs), and then GPL one for use in Linux. The other version can be released subject to the millions of Windows licensing restrictions.

Or, they can go on Linus' word, and release a binary, which reduces its usefulness and has questionable legality.

But its a cool idea.

They will have to provide source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000622)

>The GPL has specific provisions against providing obfuscated source code; it's not considered source at all.

I reread the kernel GPL last night 2.1.131
1.) No prevsions are give for modules unless they are considered normal use. ergo all the sound drivers are now free.

2.) The GPL says "machine readable" unless there is a new version this allows for obfuscate source.

Der Shaten

Another GPL Violator:4Front (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000623)


Hey,

Lets start legal procedings against the following company, They actually make money off the binary modules for the kernel and they help devolp the kernel patches.

http://www.4front-tech.com/


MOSIX is LEGALLY wrong, and ETHICALLY wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000624)

The license involved in these cases was not GPL.
Your're comparing apples and oranges.

he doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2000625)

There is just an _unwritten_ (correct me?) agreement that the GPL will not be enforced for binary modules meeting certain criteria.

Are you referring to an agreement among the developers of the Linux kernel, or an agreement between those developers and other people/companies who provide proprietary, binary-only modules?

The reason I'm being nit-picky is because legally, there can be no agreement (or contract) between parties unless there is some exchange of value. An agreement between the developers would be meaningful, since they share and improve each other's code, and the "value" exchanged is the code itself.

For proprietary developers like the MOSIX team who leech off the work of Free Software developers, there is no exchange of value, and thus no contract. What this means is that regardless of what Linus and the other developers may or may not have said in the past about binaries, they are under no legal or moral obligation to allow the practice to continue in any particular instance. If proprietary MOSIX bugs them (as it should, since it's clearly an attempt to hijack Linux's source code to create a proprietary, multi-computer OS), they should revoke MOSIX's license to use Linux. Any or all of the acknowledged developers of the Linux kernel could do this simply by writing them a letter and saying: "Your license to use my code contribution to the Linux kernel is hereby revoked -- any further use or redistribution of my code in association with MOSIX is a violation of my copyright".

At this point, I know you're thinking WHAT?! are you crazy? You can't revoke the GPL!!! There's no "termination clause". I know this is how most people think the license works, but please hear me out:

The GPL is basically a "shrink-wrap license", which is actually an offer that creates a contract as soon as the user's actions indicate their acceptance of the terms (rather than using signatures). In the case of the GPL, redistribution of the original code plus any enhancements under the GPL is the signal that indicates acceptance of the license. Normally, if I take GPLed code, enhance it, and redistribute it under the GPL, there is a contract between me and the original author, since there's been an exchange of value -- my enhancements in exchange for his base code. In this case, the original author couldn't revoke the license, because a perpetual contract has been formed (no termination clause).

However, in the case of MOSIX, there is no agreement/contract between the Linux developers and the MOSIX team, since they have returned nothing of value to the Free Software community. The Linux kernel hackers can and should therefore revoke MOSIX's license to use their software unless they agree to release it under the GPL.

A pithy way of summarising all this would be to say that contractual agreements must be symbiotic, not parasitic to be enforceable, and since MOSIX is clearly a parasite, the Linux developers are free to withdraw their offer of allowing the use of their source code.

IMHO, this is an important weapon we can use to prevent abuses of the GPL by proprietary developers -- it's possibilities should not be overlooked.

A question. (1)

Patrik Nordebo (170) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000626)

The GPL makes exceptions for libraries included with the compiler or operating systems, such that they may be non-free.
And if you don't distribute the binaries, you're not in violation of the GPL, because it doesn't cover use, only distribution.

Only Linus... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000627)

Don't waste /. bandwith with stupid, inaccurate drivel.

I think you summed it up right there (the only accurate part of your post).

Linus does not have any legal authority over Linux. He holds copyright over the portion of the Linux code that he himself wrote (he estimates that to be around 10%). In order to give permission to link binary modules, every copyright holder would have to authorize the license change. That includes everyone who has ever contributed code to Linux, or whose GPLd code the Linux team has used.

Amounts to "Bastardizing the Kernal" (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000628)

Posted by Mr. Assembly:

Why do they need a "support package" to screw an interface for their binaries?? The argument I find cogent is other people hooking on proprietary doo-dads eventually effecting a closed, non open source standard that is owned by some large company that would just assume to pee on your need for know how "their" interface works and implement FUD policy torwards anybody who might.
Stallman today called this a "big loophole" given by Linus, and would "take a lot of work to close". I would suggest that the other owners of the kernal code tell these guys to back off...

They're right... (1)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000629)

It goes against the spirit of the GPL (and Linux). The module is, for all practical purposes, and enhancement to the Linux kernel. It's not a device driver or file system or other traditional "add-on". It should be free, but they found a loop-hole.


On the bright site, we know this kind of thing won't become common because their patches will never make it into the mainstream kernel. They'll have to keep producing patches against each new kernel version.


Non-GPL libraries. (1)

Scott Wood (1415) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000630)

But wouldn't that only apply to distributing statically linked binaries? Dynamically linked binaries (which are almost always what is distributed) do not contain the libraries until they are linked together at runtime, which is when the derived work is formed. The only issue is whether the header files that are compiled into KDE are restricted by the Qt license. Whether this is true depends on what they contain... IANAL, but IIRC #defines and prototypes and the like are not copyrightable. If, OTOH, there are macros or inline functions in there, that could be a problem, unless Qt were to exempt the header files from their license.

They will have to provide source. (1)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000631)

Their page says that they will stop distribution if there are license problems. That, however, won't cut it. If Linus et al. determine that the binary module exception doesn't apply since the mosix module requires kernel modifications, the binaries which have been distributed since yesterday automatically fall under GPL. This means that source for the module has to be provided for the cost of shipping. Linus et al. can demand that, and I sure hope they will.

--

They will have to provide source. Sure they will. (1)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000632)

The only source they have to provide is the modified kernel, because it's a derivative work. Their module is their own code.

The module uses GPL'ed kernel header files and requires extensive kernel modifications to function; the module cannot be separated from the modifications: it is one functioning whole. And that whole is a derivative work of the kernel and hence has to be licensed under GPL unless Linus et al. grant an exception.

--

A problem. (1)

Digital Commando (2881) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000633)

The way to do that would be to specify that derivative works must export have the same interface, or else the license reverts from GPL+exceptions to GPL. That probably necessitates a *detailed* binary interface definition for each release.

20/20 hindsight (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000634)

It wasn't a bad decision when he made it. Coming from a position of weakness as Linux was, it was a good way of boosting 3rd party driver support.

Today however, now that Linux is enjoying a stronger position, I think it would be a good idea to reevaluate that decision.


--

Incompatible licensing (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000635)

IIRC, the GPL has safeguards against linking GPL code to code with incompatible licenses, a la QT/KDE.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean Linus' decision was unconstitutional?


--

Non-GPL libraries. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000636)

Isn't that what all the hubub about QT was about? Linking against a non-GPL library?

If one was in violation, the other would surely be too.


--

They're right... (1)

perfecto (2989) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000637)

they are technically correct except it's wrong what they are doing. did the kernel modification provision say absolutely no kernel modifications or no compiled kernels?? in my opinion it's stupid to make kernel modications because if that code is changed, you have a maintanence nightmare!

"The lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths."

Linus did exactly the right thing (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000638)

Face it, we are not going to get most new hardware support without this. So there. And what Linus allows sounds no different than allowing binary-only programs to run on Linux and people don't seem too upset about that (yea, some are...)

What Mosix is doing should be totally disallowed. Even if they give the complete source code for the "kernel mods". With these rules MicroSoft could make "MSLinux with Windows compatability" where they provide a giant "binary module" and "kernel mods" which implement 500 new system calls, all of which call a numbered entry point in the "module".

Any kernel modifications must be approved by the development team and Linus and put into the official source tree. And if somebody convinces them that they really need their new module interface added (unlikely imho), there should be a requirement that a "reference implementation" of that module be provided with working source code so other people can understand exactly what the modifications do. (this reference implementation must be fully functional, but it may be useless, possibly because it is no faster than doing the same function some other way because it does not include the secret hardware/software that the module writers have).

They're right... (1)

orabidoo (9806) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000639)

calm down, Linus and co are *not* clueless, when it comes to licensing. You are allowed to make binary-only modules for Linux, as long as 1) you stick to the published, exported interface (i.e list of symbols), and 2) your module doesn't require specific kernel mods. so MOSIX is wrong on the 2nd count, and no, you can't port Linux to the BlahBlahCrap processor and hide most of the code in a binary-only module, or anything like that. you can, however, hide most of the drivers that way.

Linus made a big mistake. (1)

jerodd (13818) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000640)

Since a module for Linux can do almost anything, his decision to allow binary-only modules means that the Linux kernel is down the toilet, since almost anything can be done to it without revealing the sources. The kernel could be heavily modified or ported to new platforms with most of the code kept in a ``module''.

I think I will stick with GNU. They understand that freed software means just that: freed. There are no exceptions for ``modules'' to be nonfree. Given the recent thrust towards the commercialisation of Linux, this could be the beginning of the end of free GNU/Linux was we know it. Thank God that GNU will go on.

Cheers,
Joshua.

A question. (1)

jerodd (13818) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000641)

Firstly, I did not realise Linus said that non-freed-source modules were valid only without kernel modifications. My error; that's quite a bit more reasonable.
I have a question, however, concering a project on which I am working:
I am working to getting a highly modified Linux kernel running in OS/2. It's difficult, due to things like the fact that Linux and OS/2 have different ideas of what the flat selector should be, and the gyrations neccessary to trap software interrupt 128 in OS/2. But it's doable. (No mail about it please; it's nowhere near pre-alpha quality yet.)
This kernel is compiled with a non-free compiler (IBM C Set/2) and linked with a number of non-free libraries. They aren't kernel modules, either: they are statically linked with VMLINUX.DLL. Am I violating any licences?
I have decided my situation is the same as running Linux on a CPU that uses lots of microcode. Since JCXZ or LAHF is probably invoking reams of microcode, and that microcode is non-free, it's the same situation as linking VMLINUX.DLL with DOSCALL1.DLL and DDE4CRTM.DLL.
Feel free to post your comments or mail them to me.

That's why I use the GPL. (1)

jerodd (13818) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000642)

I use the GPL because I want to be compensated for my hard effort in writing software. I consider having other people add to my work, and in reciprocalicity allowing me to use their works, to be compensation.

MOSIX is violating the Linux copyright. They can't do that. It's no different than making pirated copies of Quake 2; you have to either follow the software licence, or not use the software at all.

If you don't like the GPL, don't use it. Stay away from GPLd works. Use only non-free software. But do not dare to join the Church of Emacs!

Linus' position on binary modules (1)

Your own stupidity (14554) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000643)

From Kernel Traffic [opensrc.org]

"Bend Over, Boy, Because You Have It Coming To You."

RTF License (1)

Your own stupidity (14554) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000644)

The COPYING file in the Linux source tree is helpful:

NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the Linux
kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.

Linus Torvalds

----------------------------------------

GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
Version 2, June 1991



[I won't reproduce the rest of it here.]

Which brings up the question: Does the term "user programs" also include modules? Obviously a module runs in kernel space, but for the same reason can't use "normal system calls". I think that passage was probably written to reassure developers that they could write proprietary apps. And supposedly Linus has given the okay to proprietary modules, so long as they don't require kernel modifications.

The MOSIX developers are walking a very thin line here. They have a proprietary module that requires kernel mods, but the kernel mods themselves are GPL'd. OTOH, it sounds like the only mods they are making are in adding a /proc interface. It's too bad there's no method of having a module make additions to /proc when it is loaded. We could avoid the whole issue that way. Looks like maybe it could be done with a proc_register() call, but then I'm no kernel hacker.

A problem. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000645)

From what I can see, they provide two things: the binary-only module, and the GPL'd modifications to the kernel sources needed to use the module. As long as they keep any mods to the kernel sources themselves GPL'd and in source form, the module itself should fall under the module exception. What would violate the license would be distributing a modified, binary-only kernel, and they aren't doing that.

A problem. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000646)

The exception only covers modules that don't require kernel modifications. So it doesn't matter that they're claiming that the two are seperate products--the modules dependancy on the patches means it has to be GPL'ed.

I don't see this. You might have a point, if the kernel mods depended on the module ( ie. you can't run the modified kernel without the non-GPL module ). Their mods, from what I can tell, leave the kernel usable without their module and could in fact be used by modules other than theirs if someone wanted. When they released the GPL'd patches they essentially created a new published kernel interface subject to the GPL, and they can release a non-GPL module that uses that interface.

Frankly I'd rather not require all kernel modules to be GPL'd. It's just not in our interest. I'd like everything to be GPL'd, but given the choice between having the functionality non-GPL'd and not having the functionality, I'd rather have it.

EULAs have actually been upheld in court - 1997 (1)

ibis (16191) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000647)

Actually, EULAs have been upheld in court. The judge, however, seems to have made enforceability dependent on three conditions. One of those conditions is that a refund must be available for those who don't agree to the terms. I forget what the other two are. You will find links to the case and an analysis of it at http://www.metasystema.org/dell.mhtml [metasystema.org] . The links I refer to are near the bottom of the page.

An open letter to the Mosix group. (1)

Yohimbe (17439) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000648)

Everyone:
Copy and send this to mosix@cs.huji.ac.il [mailto]

Dear Sirs:

While I have no interest at this moment in pursuing load balanced clusters in linux, it is something that I believe is a powerful and useful addition to the linux computing environment.

As such I respectfully implore you to consider releasing the load balancing and process migration tools under the gpl.

While this is of prime political interest within the open source community, it would garner tremendous publicity and also aid you in providing a rich tool set.

Other similar efforts like Beowulf have made significant impact in the programming community and it would be a shame if your efforts, especially as they are research oriented , go unappreciated, since the research community at large cannot benefit from it.

Only Linus... (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000649)

With respect to copyright law, what Linus says about works derived from the Linus kernel is pretty irrelevant, since he does not control the copyright to the entire kernel.

A problem. (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000650)

What is to prevent the MOSIX guys from "forking the tree" and making their own Linux kernel, releasing it under the GPL, and claiming the exact same "binary module" rules?

I dunno. What's to prevent MS from firing all their programmers? It's the same situation.

The Mosix people, if they fork the code, keep the benefits of Free Software (think speech not beer), but lose most of the benefits of the Open Source development of Linux. In short, what they have to lose is the massive free (think beer not speech) labor of all the developers who have worked on Linux up to this point, and who will continue to improve Linux in years to come.

Who said they can do that? (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000651)

IF they distribute a work derived from Linux, they MUST do so under the terms of the GPL.

The only practical exception I can come up with is if the Israeli governmental-military-industrial-research complex says "This is for us, it's classified, you can't have it!"

Copyright law? What copyright law? We have this fission bomb, see, and we're just itchin' to use it...

20/20 hindsight (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 15 years ago | (#2000652)

It doesn't really matter to me if you run Linux or NT Server - Enterprise. What does matter to me is that the Linux kernel be protected against commercial interests who would take the code and hijack it if they could. This is not as farfetched as it sounds. Imagine this -

Microsoft Linux. Linux at the core, with loads and loads of MS extensions built in. Per the GPL, they release their mods to the kernel, with great fanfare - "MS has joined the Linux community!" However, all their mods amount to would be APIs for their proprietary, non-GPL, non-free modules. They would ship this as part of Windows 9x, Windows NT, Windows 2000, etc. Suddenly, MS- Linux (tm) is shipping on 50,000 machines per day, and before too long, thanks to the MS marketing machine, "Linux", in the mind of the computing public, means "MS-Linux". Naturally, all the commercial software provideers would jump on THIS bandwagon, and Linux would be back to being a niche OS. All the gains made in the marketplace in the last year would be lost, as Linux was uninstalled and MS-Linux was installed on servers throughout the corporate world.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being a niche OS. It's just that I have this dream that someday EVERYONE will have free software, not just the techno-elite who feel that if you can't write a browser in PERL then you barely deserve to compute :)
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