Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Foolproofing Open Source

Filed under
OSS

Imagine Bill Gates sends you an e-mail asking how Microsoft can improve the software license for Windows. He wants to make sure the legal language works better for your business.

Imagine that.

Well, that's exactly what is about to happen with Linux. It's yet another reminder of how Linux and open source are different -- but also good for business. Patents, intellectual property, and software licenses matter in open source. And the legal news on open source continues to be good for companies, consumers, governments, and developers of software.

STRONG FOOTING. Any discussion of open-source software and the law begins with software licenses. The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the world's most widely used open-source software license. It continues to be a very good license for different kinds of software.

The competitors to Linux and open source always stress the risk that users and companies face if they use this software to run their business. You may be surprised to learn that the GPL has never been successfully challenged in court since it was introduced in 1991. That's a very good thing to know if your business runs Linux.

The influence of the GPL extends far deeper than explaining the rights under which tens of millions of people can use software such as Linux. More than 70 percent of all open-source software relies on the GPL.

COURTING CONFUSION. Guess what? In the coming months, your company may very well hear from those involved in updating the GPL. The next version of the license is being drafted now under the direction of the Free Software Foundation. This may be the first time in history that customers themselves have been asked to help define the terms of a software license this important and widely used. That's good for everyone. It also gives another meaning to the "give back" provisions of the GPL. It's a practice that other software creators may want to embrace, I think.

Many advocates of open source, however, have been criticized for the proliferation of too many software licenses. I believe this criticism is justified. Part of my job as the CEO of Open Source Development Labs is working with the development community, large customers of Linux and open-source software, and global information-technology vendors to tap leading legal experts in the industry to try to halt this practice.

Who cares about a lot of licenses? You should.

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

CuBox-i4Pro Review

A bundled microSD card arrives preinserted into the rear of the CuBox-i, and it’s loaded with a version of Google’s Android operating system. Interestingly, SolidRun has gone to the effort of seeking the certifications required to load the Google Apps suite onto the card, meaning users receive Google Mail, YouTube, Google Maps and full access to Google Play straight out of the box. An even newer build, based on the latest Android 4.4 KitKat branch, can be downloaded from SolidRun’s website and provides an entirely useable desktop Android experience. Read more

Working on 3.19 – the kernel column

Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux kernel version 3.18 in time for the holidays. In his mail, Linus noted that the previous RC, release candidate 7, had been “tiny” (in terms of changes and bugfixes), so it was time to get the final release out. The latest kernel includes support for storing AMD Radeon GPU buffers in regular application memory (building upon similar work done by Intel for kernel 3.16), and overlayfs (which we have covered previously), amongst a number of other less interesting new features. A full summary is provided at Kernel Newbies. Read more

The top 10 rookie open source projects

Open source has become the industry's engine of innovation. This year, for example, growth in projects related to Docker containerization trumped every other rookie area -- and not coincidentally reflected the most exciting area of enterprise technology overall. At the very least, the projects described here provide a window on what the global open source developer community is thinking, which is fast becoming a good indicator of where we're headed. Read more

First thoughts on KaOS 2014.12

The latest snapshot of this rolling release distribution includes initial support for UEFI, the KDE 4.14 desktop, systemd version 218 and the Qupzilla web browser. I mention Qupzilla because I feel it is a rare gem in the open source world, a quick capable browser that perhaps does not get the attention it deserves. KaOS is available in just one edition, a 64-bit x86 build. The ISO we download for KaOS is 1.6GB in size. Read more