[linux-elitists] Internet.Com shut down linuxstart web hosting

Paul J Collins sneakums@sto-kerrig.org
Fri Jan 12 13:16:30 PST 2001


>>>>> "RM" == Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> writes:

    RM> begin  Paul J Collins quotation:
    >> I mailed that Reichard once about some gar in an article he wrote
    >> about AIX/5L, regarding its lack of accuracy and poor reporting.  The
    >> response was less than measured, as I recall.

    RM> For perspective: I really do think that Keith Reichard, with
    RM> all his foibles, is one of the _better_ things associated with
    RM> internet.com .

One thing that irks me is the way that, for example, stories on
LinuxPlanet are posted on LinuxToday without any outright statement
that they are part of the same company.  Maybe I'm being a dork about
this, though.

This is the letter I wrote at the time.  I'm not going to post his
response, since I'm not inclined to go asking his permission.

From: Paul J Collins <sneakums@eircom.net>
Subject: IBM AIX 5L
To: kreichard@internet.com
Date: 03 Sep 2000 20:31:16 +0100

Quote from: http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/reviews/2268/1/

> The inclusion of so many GPLed tools -- which could be viewed as an
> essential part of the operating system given how IBM is deploying
> AIX 5L -- will not change AIX's status as closed-source software,
> however.  Technically, all GPLed software will be released on a
> separate CD-ROM and not considered to be part of AIX, Wachs said,
> although there are some IBM enhancements (such as the journaled file
> system) that will be released both as binaries and as source code.
> Still, this distribution method seems to strain the language of GPL
> and certainly comes close to directly violating the spirit of the
> GPL, which does not allow for closed-source tools based on Free
> Software.

I'm having a little difficulty with this whole paragraph.

  (I prefer the terms ``free software'' and ``proprietary software''
  to ``open source'' and ``closed source''; I will use them here.)

To take the filesystem issue first: as the copyright holder, IBM has
every right to license the code base twice, one under the GPL and once
under whatever its standard proprietary license is.  An issue would
only arise if IBM took modifications made to the GPL'd branch and
folded them into the proprietary branch without the author of said
changes licensing said changes back to IBM.  I note that your article
doesn't state which free license IBM's journaled filesystem code is
using; it is the GPL.

The statement ``( ... the journaled file system) ... will be released
both as binaries and as source code'' misses the essential point that
a source release does not imply freedom.  It would have been better to
state that some IBM enchancements will be licensed under the GPL (and
whatever other licenses they are using, such as the IPL), and to then
go on to say that this means the source will be freely available
(which is still a over-simplification).

As for the tools issue (Why preface the sentence with ``technically''?
Either the statement is true or it isn't), it is a violation of
neither the letter nor the spirit of the GPL for a vendor of
proprietary software to distribute GPL programs, even if they are
``essential parts of the operating system''.  In fact, before the
advent of Linux, during the period when the BSDs were embroiled in
legal issues, there was *no* free unencumbered kernel upon which to
run the GNU Project's software.

There is special provision made for running GPL programs on
proprietary operating systems:

Quote from the GNU GPL, version 2, section 3:

> However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need
> not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source
> or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so
> on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless
> that component itself accompanies the executable.

Such provision would not have been made had it been considered
unacceptable to run GPL executables on proprietary operating systems.
As further evidence of this philosphy, note the existence of the GNU
Lesser GPL, under which many GNU libraries are licensed.  The use of
the license would allow IBM (or anyone else) to use the GNU C Library
as the standard C library for their system and even build proprietary
software against it.

As for the separate CD thing, I assume that the GPL tools' executables
will be installed as part of the regular OS install (since the are
essential parts of the operating system!), and that the CD will
contain the source code.  If this is true, then IBM is being more
accomodating than it is obliged to be: the GPL requries only that the
source code be available from a central point, e.g. by mail or an FTP
server.

Yours,

Paul Collins.

-- 
Paul Collins <sneakums@sto-kerrig.org> - - - [         ]
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