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GPL Licensing: FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free, Red Hat on Compliance

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Legal
  • FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free

    The Free Software Foundation has added the Commons Clause to its list of non-free licenses among a number of recent updates to its licensing materials. Other changes clarify the GNU GPL position on translating code into another language and how to handle projects that combine code under multiple licenses.

  • More companies want fairness to open source license enforcement

    The 16 new companies in this announcement are a diverse set of technology firms whose participation makes evident the worldwide reach of the GPL Cooperation Commitment. They comprise globally-operating companies based on four continents and mark a significant expansion of the initiative into the Asia-Pacific region. They represent various industries and areas of commercial focus, including IT services, software development tools and platforms, social networking, fintech, semiconductors, e-commerce, multimedia software and more.

    The GPL Cooperation Commitment is a means for companies, individual developers and open source projects to provide opportunities for licensees to correct errors in compliance with software licensed under the GPLv2 family of licenses before taking action to terminate the licenses. Version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2), version 2 of the GNU Library General Public License (LGPLv2), and version 2.1 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv2.1) do not contain express “cure” periods to fix noncompliance prior to license termination. Version 3 of the GNU GPL (GPLv3) addressed this by adding an opportunity to correct mistakes in compliance. Those who adopt the GPL Cooperation Commitment extend the cure provisions of GPLv3 to their existing and future GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x-licensed code.

The Latest Relicensing Stories

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OSS
Legal
  • RISC OS goes Open Source, supports royalty-free Raspberry Pi projects

    As the new owners of Castle Technology Ltd, RISC OS Developments Ltd are proud to announce that RISC OS, the original OS for ARM processors is now available as a fully Open Source operating system (OS), via the Apache 2.0 licence under the continued stewardship of RISC OS Open Ltd.

    A high performance, low footprint OS, incorporating the world-renowned "BBC BASIC" provides a modern desktop interface coupled with easy access to programming, hardware and connectivity. RISC OS was one of the first operating systems to support the massively successful Raspberry Pi, for which it remains an ideal companion. Now truly Open, RISC OS make an ideal choice for royalty-free ARM-based projects.

  • Finally! The Venerable RISC OS is Now Open Source

    It was recently announced that RISC OS was going to be released as open-source. RISC OS has been around for over 30 years. It was the first operating system to run on ARM technology and is still available on modern ARM-powered single-board computers, like the Raspberry Pi.

  • Making the GPL more scary

    For some years now, one has not had to look far to find articles proclaiming the demise of the GNU General Public License. That license, we are told, is too frightening for many businesses, which prefer to use software under the far weaker permissive class of license. But there is a business model that is based on the allegedly scary nature of the GPL, and there are those who would like to make it more lucrative; the only problem is that the GPL isn't quite scary enough yet.

    The business of selling exceptions to the GPL, where one pays the copyright holder for a proprietary license to the code, has been around for a long time; MySQL AB was built on this model, for example. Companies that buy such a license normally do so because they fear that their own code may fall under the requirements of the GPL; vendors tend to take an expansive view of what constitutes a derivative work to feed those fears and encourage sales. It is a model that has been shown to work, and it has generally passed muster even with organizations that are committed to the spread of free software.

MongoDB Becomes Less Affero GPL-Like

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Server
OSS
Legal
  • Fed up with cloud giants ripping off its database, MongoDB forks new open-source license

    After Redis Labs relicensed the modules it developed to complement its open-source database, from AGPL to Apache v2.0 with a Commons Clause, the free-software community expressed dismay.

    And, inevitably, some responded by forking the affected code.

    Today, the maker of another open source database, MongoDB, plans to introduce a license of its own to deal with the issue cited by Redis: cloud service providers that sell hosted versions of open-source programs – such as Redis and MongoDB database servers – without offering anything in return.

    "Once an open source project becomes interesting or popular, it becomes too easy for the cloud vendors to capture all the value and give nothing back to the community," said Dev Ittycheria, CEO of MongoDB, in a phone interview with The Register.

    Ittycheria pointed to cloud service providers such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Yandex. Those companies, he claims, are testing the boundaries of the AGPL by benefiting from the work of others while failing to share their code.

  • MongoDB switches up its open-source license

    MongoDB is a bit miffed that some cloud providers — especially in Asia — are taking its open-source code and offering a hosted commercial version of its database to their users without playing by the open-source rules. To combat this, MongoDB today announced it has issued a new software license, the Server Side Public License (SSPL), that will apply to all new releases of its MongoDB Community Server, as well as all patch fixes for prior versions.

    Previously, MongoDB used the GNU AGPLv3 license, but it has now submitted the SSPL for approval from the Open Source Initiative.

  • MongoDB license could push open source deeper into cloud: Is this what industry needs?

    Things just got serious in open source land. Despite the occasional Commons Clause or Fair Source licensing attempt to change the meaning of the words "open source" to include "the right for a private company to make money from its open source efforts," we've stuck to the Open Source Definition, and it has served us well. Open source communities have become the center of the innovation universe, giving us exceptional code like Linux, Kubernetes, Apache Kafka, and more.

  • It's MongoDB's turn to change its open source license

    The old maxim that the nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from could well apply to open source licensing. While now nearing a couple years old, the last WhiteSource Software survey of the top 10 open source licenses found close competition between the GPL, MIT, and Apache licenses. While the commercial-friendly Apache license has dominated the world of big data platforms and AI frameworks, MIT and GPL (which has "copyleft" provisions requiring developers to contribute back all modifications and enhancements) continues to be popular. GPL and variants such as the AGPL have been popular amongst vendors that seek to control their own open source projects, like MongoDB.

  • Matthew Garrett: Initial thoughts on MongoDB's new Server Side Public License

    MongoDB just announced that they were relicensing under their new Server Side Public License. This is basically the Affero GPL except with section 13 largely replaced with new text, as follows:

    "If you make the functionality of the Program or a modified version available to third parties as a service, you must make the Service Source Code available via network download to everyone at no charge, under the terms of this License. Making the functionality of the Program or modified version available to third parties as a service includes, without limitation, enabling third parties to interact with the functionality of the Program or modified version remotely through a computer network, offering a service the value of which entirely or primarily derives from the value of the Program or modified version, or offering a service that accomplishes for users the primary purpose of the Software or modified version.

    “Service Source Code” means the Corresponding Source for the Program or the modified version, and the Corresponding Source for all programs that you use to make the Program or modified version available as a service, including, without limitation, management software, user interfaces, application program interfaces, automation software, monitoring software, backup software, storage software and hosting software, all such that a user could run an instance of the service using the Service Source Code you make available."

    MongoDB admit that this license is not currently open source in the sense of being approved by the Open Source Initiative, but say:"We believe that the SSPL meets the standards for an open source license and are working to have it approved by the OSI."

    At the broadest level, AGPL requires you to distribute the source code to the AGPLed work[1] while the SSPL requires you to distribute the source code to everything involved in providing the service. Having a license place requirements around things that aren't derived works of the covered code is unusual but not entirely unheard of - the GPL requires you to provide build scripts even if they're not strictly derived works, and you could probably make an argument that the anti-Tivoisation provisions of GPL3 fall into this category.

New Paper From Mark Shuttleworth and Eben Moglen

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Ubuntu
Legal
  • Automotive Software Governance and Copyleft

    The Software Freedom Law Center is proud to make available a whitepaper by Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, Ltd., and Eben Moglen, Founding Director of the Software Freedom Law Center and Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. The whitepaper shows how new capabilities in the free and open source software stack enable highly regulated and sensitive industrial concerns to take advantage of the full spectrum of modern copyleft software.

    Software embedded in physical devices now determines how almost everything – from coffee pots and rice cookers to oil tankers and passenger airplanes – works. Safety and security, efficiency and repairability, fitness for purpose and adaptability to new conditions of all the physical products that we make and use now depend on our methods for developing, debugging, maintaining, securing and servicing the software embedded in them.

  • SFLC: Automotive Software Governance and Copyleft

    The Software Freedom Law Center has announced the availability of a whitepaper [PDF] about automotive software and copyleft, written by Mark Shuttleworth and Eben Moglen. At its core, it's an advertisement for Ubuntu and Snap, but it does look at some of the issues involved.

Open Invention Network is a Proponent of Software Patents -- Just Like Microsoft -- and Microsoft Keeps Patents It Uses to Blackmail Linux Vendors

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Linux
Microsoft
Legal

OIN loves Microsoft; OIN loves software patents as well. So Microsoft’s membership in OIN is hardly a surprise and it’s not solving the main issue either, as Microsoft can indirectly sue and “Microsoft has not included any patents they might hold on exfat into the patent non-aggression pact,” according to Bradley M. Kuhn

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​Redis Labs and Common Clause attacked where it hurts: With open-source code

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OSS
Legal

After Redis Labs added a new license clause, Commons Clause, on top of popular open-source, in-memory data structure store Redis, open-source developers were mad as hell. Now, instead of just ranting about it, some have counterattacked by starting a project, GoodFORM, to fork the code in question.

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Vember Audio’s Surge Plug-in Liberated Under GNU GPLv3

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GNU
OSS
Legal
  • Surge Synth Set Free

    Vember Audio tells us that, as of 21th September 2018, Surge stopped being a commerical product and became an open-source project released under the GNU GPL v3 license. They say that, for the existing users, this will allow the community to make sure that it remains compatible as plug-in standards and Operating Systems evolve and, for everyone else, it is an exiting new free synth to use, hack, port, improve or do whatever you want with.

  • Vember Audio’s Surge synth plugin is now free and open-source

    Reviewing Vember Audio’s Surge synth over a decade ago, we said: “This is a big, beautiful-sounding instrument. It's not cheap, but few plugins of this quality are.” Well, the sound hasn’t changed, but the price has; in fact, Surge has just been made free and open-source.

    Thanks to its wavetable oscillators and FM-style algorithms, Surge is capable of creating some pretty sparkling sounds, but it also has analogue-style functions that make it suitable for producing vintage keyboard tones.

    Vember Audio says that it’s been set free so that it can continue to be developed by the community and remain compatible with current standards and operating systems.

The Software Freedom Conservancy on GPLv2 irrevocability

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GNU
Linux
Legal

For anybody who has been concerned by the talk from a few outsiders about revoking GPL licensing, this new section in the Software Freedom Conservancy's copyleft guide is worth a read.

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My code of conduct

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Linux
Legal

There are many “code of conduct” documents. Often they differ a lot. I have my own and it is probably the shortest one:

Do not be an asshole. Respect the others.

Simple. I do not care which gender people have when I speak with them (ok, may stare at your boobs or butt once) nor their sexual preferences. Colour of the skin does not matter as most of my friends I first met online without knowing anything about them. Political stuff? As long as we can be friends and do not discuss it I am fine. Etc etc.

It works on conferences. And in projects where I am/was involved.

Someone may say that part of it was shaped by working for corporation (is Red Hat corpo?) due to all those no harassment regulations and trainings. I prefer to think that it is more of how I was raised by parents, family and society.

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FOSS, standard essential patents and FRAND in the European Union

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OSS
Legal

As part of the research project on “The Interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND licensing in Standardisation”, a workshop was organised by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CONNECT) to present and discuss the intermediate results to date. The workshop took place in Brussels on September 18, 2018. I presented a set of observations from the research on the case studies performed as part of the project that are outlined below. Other speakers where Catharina Maracke on the issue of legal compliance between Open Source and FRAND licenses, Bruce Perens on “Community Dynamics in Open Source”, and Andy Updegrove on “Dynamics in Standardisation”.

You may ask what the relevance of this debate is for the wider Free and Open Source Software community. The obvious answer is that to distribute software “without restriction”, the user needs all the usage rights associated with the program. While most FOSS contributors assume that this is naturally the central motivation for anybody to contribute in the first place, there is a long history of attempts to maintain some sort of exclusive control over a piece of FOSS code, possibly using other rights than copyright.

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More in Tux Machines

Fedora: Qubes, rpminspect, rpminspect, and ProcDump

  • PoC to auto attach USB devices in Qubes

    Here is PoC based on qubesadmin API which can auto attach USB devices to any VM as required. By default Qubes auto attaches any device to the sys-usb VM, that helps with bad/malware full USB devices. But, in special cases, we may want to select special devices to be auto attached to certain VMs. In this PoC example, we are attaching any USB storage device, but, we can add some checks to mark only selected devices (by adding more checks), or we can mark few vms where no device can be attached.

  • David Cantrell: rpminspect-0.9 released

    Very large packages (VLPs) are something I am working on with rpminspect. For example, the kernel package. A full build of the kernel source package generates a lot of files. I am working on improving rpminspect's speed and fixing issues found with individual inspections. These are only showing up when I do test runs comparing VLPs. The downside here is that it takes a little longer than with any other typical package.

  • Fedora pastebin and fpaste updates

    A pastebin lets you save text on a website for a length of time. This helps you exchange data easily with other users. For example, you can post error messages for help with a bug or other issue. The CentOS Pastebin is a community-maintained service that keeps pastes around for up to 24 hours. It also offers syntax highlighting for a large number of programming and markup languages.

  • ProcDump for Linux in Fedora

    ProcDump is a nifty debugging utility which is able to dump the core of a running application once a user-specified CPU or memory usage threshold is triggered. For instance, the invocation procdump -C 90 -p $MYPID instructs ProcDump to monitor the process with ID $MYPID, waiting for a 90 % CPU usage spike. Once it hits, it creates the coredump and exits. This allows you to later inspect the backtrace and memory state in the moment of the spike without having to attach a debugger to the process, helping you determine which parts of your code might be causing performance issues.

Programming: Interview With Guido van Rossum, Python Picks and New Release of Picolibc From Keith Packard

  • Interview Guido van Rossum: “I'd rather write code than papers.”

    Guido van Rossum (1956) is the founding father of the Python programming language, one of the most popular development tools in the world. In 2019 CWI will award him the Dijkstra Fellowship. What led you to come up with a brand new programming language during your time at CWI? “I started at CWI as a junior programmer on a research team with Lambert Meertens, Leo Geurts and Steven Pemberton. They wanted to develop a language which would enable people without programming experience – such as scientists – to start writing computer programs fairly quickly.” “It was at the time that Basic was on the rise due to the arrival of the microcomputer. Meertens looked at this inadequate language with horror. ‘Stamp out Basic!’ Was his motto. In the end, ABC, as our language was called, would not work. The target group could not use it on their microcomputers, which were not powerful enough for it, while Unix users already had other tools. Those users thought ABC was an odd man out.” “Then I came across the so-called Amoeba project. That was a distributed operating system based on a microkernel, developed by Andrew Tanenbaum at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Sape Mullender at CWI. Not aiming at popularizing their operating system, their first and foremost goal was writing papers. Scientifically it was a breakthrough indeed: those papers are still being studied. I myself was not a researcher but a programmer on that project. I must say thought that there was an atmosphere at CWI in which programmers had a major input in the projects.”

  • Python Tears Through Mass Spectrometry Data

    At the November 2019 Python Frederick event, Conor Jenkins showed the group how mass spectrometry works and how Python saves huge amounts of time when processing the large amount of data produced by a mass spec analysis.

  • Wingware News: Wing Python IDE 7.1.3 - November 14, 2019

    Wing 7.1.3 adds improved and expanded documentation and support for matplotlib, improves the accuracy of code warnings, fixes automatically debugging child processes on Windows with Python 3.8, fixes installing the remote agent from .rpm or .deb installations, solves several issues with runtime type introinspection, allows Open from Project and similar navigation commands from non-Browse vi mode, improves debugger reliability, and fixes about 30 other minor usability issues.

  • Easily specifying colours from the default colour cycle in matplotlib

    Another quick matplotlib tip today: specifically, how easily specify colours from the standard matplotlib colour cycle. A while back, when matplotlib overhauled their themes and colour schemes, they changed the default cycle of colours used for lines in matplotlib. Previously the first line was pure blue (color='b' in matplotlib syntax), then red, then green etc. They, very sensibly, changed this to a far nicer selection of colours.

  • Typing Mercurial with pytype

    Following the recent introduction of Python type annotations (aka "type hints") in Mercurial (see, e.g. this changeset by Augie Fackler), I've been playing a bit with this and pytype. pytype is a static type analyzer for Python code. It compares with the more popular mypy but I don't have enough perspective to make a meaningful comparison at the moment. In this post, I'll illustrate how I worked with pytype to gradually add type hints in a Mercurial module and while doing so, fix bugs! The module I focused on is mercurial.mail, which contains mail utilities and that I know quite well. Other modules are also being worked on, this one is a good starting point because it has a limited number of "internal" dependencies, which both makes it faster to iterate with pytype and reduces side effects of other modules not being correctly typed already.

  • Two Books About the Kivy GUI Framework

    The Kivy Python GUI framework is intriguing. Not only it’s cross-platform but also supports Android. Java is too verbose and low level for me and Kivy is an opportunity for developing native Android apps without leaving Python. Outside of the Kivy project documentation, there are few third-party advanced tutorials that go in more depth than the official tutorials. So, before diving into the code of the Kivy demos, I wanted some books to explore more features and get a broader picture of the framework and what it can do. I found two potentially interesting books: Building Android Apps in Python Using Kivy with Android Studio: With Pyjnius, Plyer, and Buildozer by Ahmed Fawzy Mohamed Gad (Apress, 2019), and Kivy - Interactive Applications and Games in Python - Second Edition by Roberto Ulloa (Packt, 2015).

  • A Qt GUI for logging

    A question that comes up from time to time is about how to log to a GUI application. The Qt framework is a popular cross-platform UI framework with Python bindings using PySide2 or PyQt5 libraries. The following example shows how to log to a Qt GUI. This introduces a simple QtHandler class which takes a callable, which should be a slot in the main thread that does GUI updates. A worker thread is also created to show how you can log to the GUI from both the UI itself (via a button for manual logging) as well as a worker thread doing work in the background (here, just logging messages at random levels with random short delays in between).

  • Picolibc 1.1 Released With POSIX File I/O Support

    Longtime X11 developer Keith Packard has spent a lot of time in recent months while being employed by SiFive working on Picolibc as a new C library for embedded systems. Picolibc is designed solely for embedded use-cases at this point and was formerly developed by Keith under the name newlib-nano. Picolibc 1.1 is out now as the project's second stable release.

  • Picolibc Version 1.1

    Picolibc development is settling down at last. With the addition of a simple 'hello world' demo app, it seems like a good time to stamp the current code as 'version 1.1'.

VXL Launches CloudDesktop On the Go (CoGo), a Truly Portable Linux Micro Thin Client

VXL, a leader in thin clients, endpoint management and digital signage software solutions, launches its new, low cost, CloudDesktop On the Go (CoGo). An ultra-compact and highly portable USB key, CoGo repurposes legacy PCs into a fully functional Linux thin client. Available with a lifetime perpetual license and priced at a highly competitive $77 including first year support, CoGo offers users up to a massive 50% saving over equivalent software solutions. CoGo allows businesses to extend the life of ageing PC hardware by using it to access server-hosted computing sessions or virtual desktop infrastructure. Users simply plug CoGo into a PC and boot from it. The VXL Gio Linux firmware is instantly useable without overwriting the local OS and the converted PC can be managed as thin client. Read more

ALT Linux: Worthy Linux Alternatives, With a Catch

ALT Linux may have a problem with getting English language updates on some of its most recent product releases. The primary geographic audience it serves may not make English a top priority. Yet many of its products are available with the English language intact. The great variety of Linux distros available make ALT Linux a very viable source of options for anyone looking to sample the flexibility the Linux operating system offers. I like the starter kit inventory maintained by the ALT Linux developers. Distro hoppers particularly can focus on trying dozens of desktop varieties without having to adjust to separate distro designs. All of the ALT Linux distros share a common, simple design for ease of use and reliability. Read more