cecom writes "What would happen if terrorists started shooting bazookas at offshore oil rigs? It appears that would certainly be easier than flying planes into them. Are oil rigs well guarded? Are the oil companies liable for the cleanup & etc in case of a terrorist attack? In short, could we easily see the current environmental disaster magnified a hundred times and is there anything we can do to protect against it other than completely banning offshore drilling?" top
cecom writes "In a post on Freedom to Tinker today Andrew Appel announced the release of an in-depth study of the Sequoia AVC Advantage direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine. This report was previously suppressed by the judge.
cecom writes "At NVIDIA's recent NVISION conference, Sweeney sat down with ArsTechnica's Jon Stokes for a wide-ranging conversation about the rise and impending fall of the fixed-function GPU, a fall that he maintains will also sound the death knell for graphics APIs like Microsoft's DirectX and the venerable, SGI-authored OpenGL. Game engine writers will, Sweeney explains, be faced with a C compiler, a blank text editor, and a stifling array of possibilities for bending a new generation of general-purpose, data-parallel hardware toward the task of putting pixels on a screen." Link to Original Source top
cecom writes "After major improvements in SMP support in FreeBSD 7.0,
benchmarks show it performing 15% better than the latest Linux kernels on 8 CPUs under PostgreSQL and MySQL. While a couple of benchmarks are not conclusive evidence, it can be assumed that FreeBSD will once again be a serious performance contender.
cecom writes "Ubuntu has now semi-officially declined to fix the notorious "High frequency of load/unload cycles on some hard disks may shorten lifetime" hard drive bug in a comment attached to the bug report.
This bug drastically shortens the life of laptop hard disks and is shared by most, if not all, Linux distributions. The nature of the problem makes it less likely that a fix can easily be developed by the community — it requires coordinated testing on variety of hardware and cooperation from HDD manufacturers. A feat that apparently Microsoft has managed to achieve; reportedly the problem is not present in Windows XP. Debian was among the first to deliver a workaround, however it is not really a solution addressing the core of the problem. On the other hand the "wait-until-somebody-else-fixes-it" attitude of commercial Linux vendors (as is well known Dell uses Ubuntu on its Linux laptops) poses some serious questions." Link to Original Source
This came up in a discussion in RWT. One poster presented very good
arguments about why Sun's releasing of Java under GPL is
not as great as it seems because Sun can _at any time_ retroactively
change the license, thus closing the source again, making
distribution illegal, rendering all derived work created under the
GPL illegal too.
To quote from the article:
"In the context of software licensing, this means that there is
nothing that can be done to stop the licensor from changing the
licence conditions, including makinq them non-free or withdrawing
the software altogether. It doesn't matter if an open source licence
claims to be irrevocable. Because the licence hasn't been paid for,
The law requires "a written instrument signed by the owner of the
rights licensed." So, if you release something under GPL, but you
haven't signed a legal document with pen and paper, it is not really
Nonexclusive licenses given for free are generally revocable, even
if they purport to be irrevocable. Even if the GPL license is
treated as signed and is covered by 205(e), it might still be
From David McGowan, Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law
Quoting a little:
"Termination of rights
[...] The most plausible assumption is that a developer who releases
code under the GPL may terminate GPL rights, probably at will.
[...] My point is not that termination is a great risk, it is that
it is not recognized as a risk even though it is probably relevant
to commercial end-users, accustomed to having contractual rights
they can enforce themselves.
The Free Software Foundations GPL FAQ disagrees with the conclusion
I reach here. The FAQ asks rhetorically can a developer of a program
who distributed it under the GPL later license it to another party
for exclusive use and answers No, because the public already has
the right to use the program under the GPL, and this right cannot be
withdrawn. 89 Similarly, Lawrence Rosen, general counsel to the Open
Source Initiative, has stated (in an FAQ on the SCO/IBM case) that
Linux is available free, forever. Neither statement addresses the
issue I raise here; I am not aware of the legal basis for either
statement. I read them as understandable efforts to keep community
members from over-reacting to low-probability risks. That may be
sensible real-world pragmatism, a question I leave to the
entrepreneurs. As a strictly legal matter, however, these comforting
statements are too strong.[...]
What would happen if an author terminated GPL rights? If a single
rights-holder held all the rights in the program, then termination
would stop future F/OSS development of that program; users would no
longer have the right to distribute modified versions of the code,
or even unmodified copies of the versions they had."
Botom line: if for example Microsoft bought Sun in a hostile
takeover Free Java would be dead. Similarly, if Oracle bought MySQL
AB. Or if somebody bought Trolltech. Or if Linus Torvalds died and
who ever inherited the copyright to his parts of the Linux kernel
didn't care about free software.