Archive for the ‘GPL’ Category

It’s Been 80 Days Since I Asked About GnoBSD Sources

May 3, 2010

Did you think I’d forgotten? Not on your life. Back on the 12th of February, I asked where the sources for GPL’ed software contained within GnoBSD were provided. To this date, the guy who’s put GnoBSD together has whiffed at providing them on his site as required by the relevant licenses of those projects. That’s not just Gnome, but everything he distributes under the GPL.

All he’s done in the interim is suggest that he’s provided binaries from ports without modifications with the exception of two packages.

That’s still not in compliance with the license. From the GNU site:

I want to distribute binaries, but distributing complete source is inconvenient. Is it ok if I give users the diffs from the “standard” version along with the binaries?
This is a well-meaning request, but this method of providing the source doesn’t really do the job.

A user that wants the source a year from now may be unable to get the proper version from another site at that time. The standard distribution site may have a newer version, but the same diffs probably won’t work with that version.

So you need to provide complete sources, not just diffs, with the binaries.

Can I make binaries available on a network server, but send sources only to people who order them?
If you make object code available on a network server, you have to provide the Corresponding Source on a network server as well. The easiest way to do this would be to publish them on the same server, but if you’d like, you can alternatively provide instructions for getting the source from another server, or even a version control system. No matter what you do, the source should be just as easy to access as the object code, though. This is all specified in section 6(d) of GPLv3.

The sources you provide must correspond exactly to the binaries. In particular, you must make sure they are for the same version of the program—not an older version and not a newer version.

How can I make sure each user who downloads the binaries also gets the source?
You don’t have to make sure of this. As long as you make the source and binaries available so that the users can see what’s available and take what they want, you have done what is required of you. It is up to the user whether to download the source.

Our requirements for redistributors are intended to make sure the users can get the source code, not to force users to download the source code even if they don’t want it.

The second answer from that FAQ points to section 6 of the GPLv3. It clearly states that source must be made available from the distributor of the binary via one of the listed mechanisms. Pointing to another source — whether a ports tree, an upstream packager, or a project site itself — is not among those mechanisms. And such availability of sources isn’t incumbent on being asked to provide them via one of the listed mechanisms: if you distribute object code you must make the source available, period.

This isn’t a new issue or novelty. It’s required developers who’ve based their distros on others to maintain their own source trees rather than point to upstream distros. Mepis had to do this. So have Ubuntu and Knoppix. And everyone else.

So, too, does GnoBSD.

Someone twat commented complained on the previous entry about the lack of GPL compliance of GnoBSD that because this was BSD no offer of sources was required. The issue at hand wasn’t the OpenBSD part of what he was offering. It was the stuff licensed separately under GPLv2, GPLv3, or later. That raving dufus, who claimed to be not involved with GnoBSD, suggested the binaries in GnoBSD were from unmodified sources (so how would he know this to be a factual representation?). Too bad for him that he was wrong about the GPL’s requirements.

Tick-tock-tick-tock… Where are the complete and complying GPL’ed sources for GnoBSD?

UPDATE/ADDENDUM: The first GNU FAQ question above is relevant for several reasons. OpenBSD’s ports aren’t static. Maintainers update patchsets all the time. The GnoBSD site doesn’t give a timestamp for determining what has and hasn’t been patched since the particular release. Did the guy who put GnoBSD together run cvsup? When? Will the present ports tree now compile to reproduce the exact same product he’s distributing or something different?

As for the second and third questions, there is zero offer of corresponding sources used to produce the GPL software he’s still distributing aside from pointing to a ports tree which may or may not have changed since he produced his image(s) of what he calls GnoBSD.

Where the Fuck Are the GPL’ed GNOBSD Sources?

February 12, 2010

The lonewolf developer of GNOBSD doesn’t have much information on his website, but he does offer links to torrents. I’d like to know where he maintains and provides sources. Are they contained in the image(s) or available in a separate location? Since this is based on Gnome, and most of Gnome is GPLv2/3, he is required to provide his sources along with makefiles and patches, etc.

If you want to distribute something like this, there are rules to follow.

Playing With ion3 on AA1

July 24, 2009

I decided to see how much work it’ll take to force ion3 to work the way I want it to on my AA1. I’ve used ion before and I love the general concept. What I haven’t liked — hated in fact — is the author’s default set of bindings. Many of these rely on the function keys, which are also used by various applications, as well as other bindings connected to the META/alt1 key. The settings for ion can be customized to suit any user’s needs by editing series of files used for configuration, starting with ~/.ion3/config_ion.lua which overrides the system defaults.

I downloaded the latest zero-install binary tarball and, as recommended for those of us not using zero-install, just unarchived it in /opt. Since /opt/ion3-[version number string]/bin isn’t in, and never will be, added to my $PATH, I’m using the full path string to launch ion3 from my .xinitrc.

Why not use the Ubuntu package? For starters, it would’ve resulted in adding — along with the ion3 package — over 18MB of stuff, quite a bit of it I recognized as stuff I removed already. Second, the package is outdated and possibly in violation of the terms of the author’s license (modified LGPL); Valkonen requires packages be updated within 28 days of his stable releases or be marked as “obsoleted and unsupported,” and that such packages be renamed.

While some have taken exception to the author’s terms, which also includes the renaming of any package which includes patches he doesn’t support (which is fair — why should he answer for or address downstream bugs for things he doesn’t even include?), I find them fair. As I’ve written before, this is no different than issues related to “IceWeasel” due to copyright issues with Mozilla Firefox. But it is markedly different from issues like what happened with MurgaLua and DSL last year: Murga had released his bindings under GPL and complained when the runtime was recompiled so that separate parts could be used independently — which is one of the basic ideals of the GPL’s freedoms: allowing the user to control how something works on his or her system; in the process, he wrongly accused DSL of removing copyright attributions when, in fact, he’d left out anything in his own bindings about his copyright. The tarball DSL made available was his own tarball, unchanged in any form or fashion — complete with the copyright notice he’d included as well as the GPLv2 text in the COPYING file. It’s that file which mentions that anyone is free to use, change, and redistribute the code, including those bindings, so long as the source is made available along with changes. DSL complied in every term of the GPL and the files included with the bloated runtime Murga provided, but still offered to add further lines to provide the author of the bindings a copyright notice everytime they were invoked. If you don’t specify your terms up front, you have nobody else to blame. So boo hoo, you fucktard. Murga chose a license antithetical to his desires and chose to add strings to the GPL in such a way that the user really wouldn’t be free to use the code as he or she sees fit but only as Murga sees fit (which gives him a bloody fucking copyright notice even for things he didn’t write). If you’re upfront and clear about your terms, like Valkonen is, others know what is or isn’t allowed.

Once I untarred and copied the full path into my .xinitrc, I was able to startx into ion3. The first thing I did was unsplit the two empty windows by killing one because 512 pixels (minus borders/padding) isn’t going to work for my browser. That was the first thing I wanted to get up and running.

I remembered from the last time I ran ion3 that F3 (run command) works similarly to dwm — type the first letter or two or more of the application you want to open and a list matching those letters pops up; tab-completion through the list will take care of the rest. I like this approach and the only reason I prefer ratmen(u) is because ratmen(u) allows me to fine tune things a bit more, e. g., customizing how apps open or close or changing them as they run (such as the mocp menu I showed as an example once before). The command menu in ion3 does allow the user to add flags/options so it’s still very flexible.

Finally, one of the things I hope to get out of using it is better handling of applications like GIMP and Skype which use too many windows. As much as I love using ratpoison, it’s clumsy and awkward when it comes to such things. I don’t consider that ratpoison’s flaw, I consider it a shortcoming of those applications which open too many windows rather than operate within one frame or doesn’t give users an option setting to manage things in one box rather than two or three or more.

I’ve just installed ion3 so I still have some editing/reconfiguring to do. I’ll probably give this a shot for a while and decide if it better suits my needs than ratpoison. I should have plenty of time this weekend to mess with it because I can’t put any weight on my ankle yet.

“Free Software Community” = Freeloaders

July 15, 2008

I saw a headline and snippet in my news feeds this morning that made me wonder if the article was worth reading or just more inane BS confusing what “free” means with respect to the GPL. I should’ve known that it would be belly-aching about price.

Why all the fuss over whether you can sell something that is free? How fair is it if a company like Best Buy starts distributing open source software and is actually making a profit from it? According to the licensing, it is perfectly fair! Maybe not 100% ethical, but fair! Personally, I’d like to see them donate something of their proceeds back to the open source projects they affect, but they aren’t obligated.

The GPL is not about free (gratis) software. It’s about freedom.

Contrary to the author’s claim earlier in his article that associating a price with “free software” is like nailing jelly to a tree, there’s quite a bit more involved here. Best Buy isn’t merely “selling” copies of Ubuntu for $20 a pop and pocketing all but the cost of the media and packaging. Included in the package is documentation and a sixty-day service plan with Canonical.

That’s worthless? That’s hard to quantify? That’s like nailing jelly? I don’t think so — not when you run a company with a payroll. Canonical isn’t staffed by volunteers. Neither is Redhat, whom the author also mentioned in the article.

I think the “gratis” nature of opens source software has led to a subculture of entitlement. How else do you explain the comment that charging for distribution and service is “not 100% ethical”? That remark followed allusions to the GPL and LGPL, both of which are neutral on the point of charging for either software or service.

The Free Software Foundation was founded by Richard Stallman, who wrote the GPL. The FSF site is very clear about the “price” of “free” software. They have at least one page specifically focusing on the issue of selling software. Are they opposed? Nope. They want people to charge as much as they can for “free” software.

But that’s beside the point in this case. Entirely. Because it’s not the software that causes there to be a $20 charge. The service — paying someone to answer questions and help with setting up a new operating system — has a value. Is it unethical in any degree to pay people for their time to get out of bed and come to work? I think it’s just the opposite.

Such is the state of “free” software today. The “free software community” has been infiltrated by freeloaders. They don’t care about freedom, just how much  they have to pay. As soon as you talk about exchanging money for software and/or service, you see their true colors.

By the way and for what it’s worth, last time I looked it seemed like Canonical does “donate something of their proceeds back to the open source projects.” Just like many other companies — Redhat, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, etc. — do.

How much do the freeloaders give back to the “community”?

Thoughts on Freedom and Free Software

June 30, 2008

As I’ve written in various places, many users of open source are clueless when it comes to what various licenses are all about. Today, one hapless and muddleheaded chap decided to try and stir some shit and gave us prima facie evidence that users are confused over what “free software” — as defined by the Free Software Foundation — is really about.

This issue arose when the aforementioned person complained that I hadn’t yet submitted an extension even though I’d previously written that I was withholding it pending release of what’s now called dslcore. Because of his snotty, demanding attitude I decided that from now on I won’t submit anything unless users who want particular extensions are willing to support one of two projects used by DSL: either OpenSSH directly or vim (which is “charityware” with contributions directed to help children in Uganda). I chose these as my “bounty” targets because they’re worthwhile causes and supporting both of them further supports DSL and its community. I thought this was fair since the submissions cost me time away from things I value and are probably of some value to others.

Nope. Too many users see “free” software and demand it with respect to cost. (And rarely to freedom.)

The snotty, demanding person took exception to this and, as you can see above, suggested it was at odds with GPL. There are a couple problems with his analysis in the context of the particular libraries the thread was about: not one of them is under GPL. OpenSSH is BSD licensed, zlib has its own “permissive” (in the view of FSF) license, and OpenSSL has a relaxed license as well. All three allow their code to be used in proprietary systems without accompanying source code. Sell it, change it, do what you will, just give credit where it’s due.

The other problem is an error that is far too common among Linux users: the GPL is NOT against the sale of software. In fact, FSF openly encourages people to sell free software so long as it’s in compliance with the freedoms enumerated by the GPL. You can charge whatever you want for it, but you must not put an excessive or prohibitive cost on the source code (which must accompany GPL binaries).

That’s because “free” in the GPL has nothing whatsoever to do with cost. It has to do with freedom — whether the user has unfettered access to the source code, can use it as he or she sees fit, can change it as he or she needs, can redistribute it.

Unfortunately, this error persists and users don’t think in terms of freedom. It’s ironic the person quoted above raised the name and circumstance he did because the developer in question publicly offered his code under GPL and then attached strings the license doesn’t allow and complained there was some violation (nope) when users actually exercised their rights under the GPL. The offenses the developer initially stated were that the bindings had been separated against his wishes and then redistributed, but those are freedoms central to GPL. As it turned out, the only changes to the code were after the false accusation of GPL violation — DSL added copyright information where he’d never bothered to put it himself because he assumed he could control how users compiled the various pieces of the runtime he assembled.

When it came to that developer’s demands, many DSL users were open to compromise and even insisted that I be just like they are in that regard. No debate about what it means to compromise away your freedom, no discussion desired at all. I was called obstinate, told to go start my own distro, and to leave the forums alone and post my thoughts here on my blog instead. They didn’t care about the GPL. They didn’t care about their freedoms. They only cared about the cost.

What’s the cost in the long run, though, when you lose your rights to use code because you don’t stand up to a petty tyrant of a developer who offers something under the GPL and then pulls the rug out as soon as you use your freedoms that license allows?

I’m hardly one to defend the GPL. I have a list of entries categorized as “FSF sucks” reflecting some of my grievances against GPL. But the prevailing confusion over it — what it actually means — doesn’t serve the wider community who use and rely on software licensed under it.

Such confusion causes whiners like the person quoted above to whine even louder because they don’t understand GPL isn’t about price or money at all. Not only do they object to even a token “bounty” like he did, they’re willing to overlook the conditions beyond the GPL that a developer tried to slap on DSL and all its users. They’re more concerned that something is offered “without charge” than “with strings.” They’re offended when someone offers to do something for a few dollars that will benefit either a project they already benefit from or a program that helps children in a nation ravaged by HIV/AIDS; and they’ll roll over and give away their rights — not to mention their dignity because false accusations were leveled against DSL without any apology — as long as a developer will give them a freebie.

I think the free software movement has its work cut out when it comes to educating the masses. The masses aren’t software ideologues, they just want free (as in beer, as in price) software. And they’ll trade away their freedom to get it.

More of My Stuff, More GPL, No More Community

June 21, 2008

In addition to compiling gpg (etc.) yesterday afternoon, I went ahead and grabbed the last GTK1 sources for Sylpheed and compiled with gpg support.

I compiled all the above to /opt so I could submit for MyDSL. That may or may not occur now. I asked yesterday that my submissions licensed under GPL be withdrawn from MyDSL until DSL either receives confirmation that sources are not required (which would be very surprising to me) or DSL figures out a way to make the sources for its GPL’ed extensions available in compliance with GPL. This was an issue I was dealing with behind the scenes to keep things from being as “dramatic” as they’ve become. So much for that effort. DSL isn’t even mine and other users only seem to care that version X.Y is available, screw any requirements.

I don’t think the whole issue of licensing — with respect to both the freedoms and the responsibilities — has sunk in among many in the DSL community. This is unfortunate. Some seem quite willing to sacrifice their freedom in the name of pragmatism or even assuaging someone’s fragile ego, while at the same time being dismissive of the obligations to make source available (whether at cost or for no charge) for things released under GPL.

It’s also very unfortunate things have turned so ugly so quickly, but things start to stink when people come in and stir up a lot of shit like John Murga did (and in the way he did it) and disrupt the community. Between the suggestions I start my own distro and leave if I don’t like things, requests that I not share opinions or explain things people seem too willing to overlook (i.e., the GPL’s freedoms and responsibilities), the principles that should matter a lot more than the pragmatism (go ahead and include Flash, Opera, and everything else that has strings attached while you’re at it), etc., it makes me wonder why I even bother helping others or why I’m even participating in any “community.”

Think I’ll take the rest of the weekend off to figure that out.

GPL and GPL-with-Strings, Part 2

June 20, 2008

There are lies and then there are damned lies. Sometimes it gets worse.

The DSL team where sloppy when they violated GPL in this instance as it would have been easy enough for them to comply, while still undermining the standard platform I am(was) trying to create. Maybe I would have only been half as annoyed, and just complained a little, but as it is they removed my copyrights from my work which added insult to injury …

John Murga

The above quote is not just a lie or a damned lie, it’s a goddamned lie. First, the GPL was not violated. There were zero changes made to source, just in the compilation; the source is also available (had he asked to see it and compared it to his own he would find no changes where he said there were some). Second, no copyrights were touched. Robert Shingledecker has posted the relevant code directly from Murga’s own tarball to show what was (or rather, wasn’t) there; after being proven wrong, Murga asked for an attribution to be added where there was none. Third, there was no injury. Fourth, the only insult was Murga’s decision to throw a public tirade and make unfounded accusations against others.

The only thing that changed with respect to attributions in the recompilation is Murga’s name at the invocation of any part of the runtime — lua, FLTK, sqlite, zlib, luafs, luasocket, etc. — even though he wrote none of that. That’s what hurt his feelings. Not that the GPL was ever violated.

I’ll reiterate what I posted this morning in the DSL forums: It appears that DSL didn’t violate the GPL in this instance, the author of the bindings did. Not only does he want to dictate how his code is configured and compiled, he demands credit even when it’s not due him. Both points are in violation of the license he chose — he wants to control the entire runtime and he demanded credit not due him even when his bindings weren’t used.

The FSF and SFLC have traditionally come to the assistance of developers when the GPL has been violated. Would they be interested in standing up for users when an author starts making demands and attaching strings to code he or she places under the GPL?