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Bell-Labs Releases New Version Of Plan 9 332

Posted by Hemos
from the from-outer-space dept.
F2F writes "Plan 9 from Bell Labs Fourth Release was announced yesterday marking a major overhaul of the entire operating system. VMware images are now supported, together with hoards of new hardware. The operating system now sports a new security model (on top of the old one, which was already quite secure), new network-resident secure storage system and improvements in the thread library, among others. See the release notes here: release4 notes or simply go to the download page at: plan9 download." T. adds: erikdalen sent in these links to critiques of the Plan 9 license from Richard Stallman and Nathan Myers.
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Bell-Labs Releases New Version Of Plan 9

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  • Support for electronic mail has been extended in many ways and now includes some new spam filtering tool

    Is this the first OS to have spam filtering built right into it? Sounds neat, until they can really handle long file names.....
    • by F2F (11474)
      should read the entire release. names of arbitrary length can already be handled by p9
  • Well.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gangis (310282)
    I've used Plan9 in the past, and while the new version does look good, frankly I find the GUI quite cheesy. It's just my opinion, but I wouldn't want a pastel-colored theme as my desktop. Also, with my experience with this alternative OS, it's difficult to work with. Maybe version 4 will be better... Who knows?
    • Well those bell-labs guys have never been very good at UIs, though often they seem to invent great algorithms for making their cheese. :-)

      [Another funny point -- the names of the (cpu-specific) linker programs (at least in a previous incarnation of plan9) were things like `l8', `lm', etc -- e.g., the letter `l', and a single letter code for the cpu type -- for a program which you don't invoke manually 99% of the time. I can understand why making `rm' short is a good idea, but the linker?

      I'd hate to have the job of coming up with new non-conflictng single-letter cpu codes...]
      • the single letter is not any sort of limit, the postfix can be arbitrarily long.

        you have it the wrong way round, by the way, it's 8c, 8l etc.

        and it's the loader not the linker. The unix type compile pipeline is not followed.

        see How to Use the Plan 9 C Compiler [bell-labs.com] by Rob Pike

  • Pretty Secure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IronTek (153138)
    Considering one would have to be one heck of a hacker (cracker, etc, whatever...pick your adj, I don't want a debate!) to even figure out how to begin to go about hacking a Plan 9 system, I'd say it's a pretty secure OS.
    • there is no security through obscurity
      • What about out-right confusion? (There IS a difference!)
      • there is no security through obscurity

        Then why do you hide your email address?

      • I believe there is such a thing as "security through obscurity," but mainly only as part of a well-designed security model.

        For example, if you have a webserver and a large netblock, and only have ssh listen on one IP outside of the netblock, you could argue that you're trying to protect your server through obscurity -- the way of getting a shell is "obscured." But obviously, this method isn't exactly extreme security, it just makes things slightly harder for a would-be {hacker | cracker}. Something like this should merely complement an existing security plan.

        On a similar note, why do you think military/defense stuff is often kept secret? The obscurity makes things a little more secure, but the Army isn't useless if people figure out what they're doing.

  • The Plan 9 Licence (Score:5, Informative)

    by F2F (11474) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:03AM (#3424548)
    The problems with the Plan9 licence generally do not bother much of the developers, even though occasionaly flamefests erupt on the plan9 mailing lists.

    According to the people at Bell Labs, if the Lucent lawyers agree, Plan9's licence could immediately be changed to something more in terms with RMS' revolution.

    Unfortunately those same lawyers have been petitioned quite so many times already.
  • by jo42 (227475)
    It don't support much hardware [bell-labs.com], do it?

    Not to mention that it needs to be beaten by a big honkin' pretty [bell-labs.com] stick.

  • by eap (91469)
    Didn't they become Lucent Technologies a long time ago?
  • by cperciva (102828) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:06AM (#3424561) Homepage
    don't use their code.

    When people are offering you something for free, it's pretty rude to complain that they're not offering you even more.
    • by j09824 (572485) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:30AM (#3424650)
      When people are offering you something for free, it's pretty rude to complain that they're not offering you even more.

      It is decidedly not rude, however, to explain to others what the problems with a self-proclaimed "open source" license are and why they shouldn't use the code either. It is also not rude to explain to the authors, politely, why one can't use the license the way it is; that may help the authors figure out how they might be able to grow their user community.

    • People like to have something to complain about. A more constructive thing to do would be to e-mail them saying how much you've enjoyed previous versions, how you're sad to see it not supported any more & how you'd be willing to pay for new versions if they reversed their decision.
    • If Lucent's offer were free and clear (like a GPL or OS license), it would be rude to complain about it. But it's not.

      The license is actually an IP monkey trap. It pretends to be open, tempting us all to invest our time and effort into the release. But it's actually very restrictive, and gives Lucent many ways to pull the rug out from under us once we've "trapped" ourselves by investing our time and effort.

      If Lucent is serious about getting people to use the release, they need to offer it under some License which involves a true fair exchange. I'm surprised that this isn't self-evident to the Plan 9 developers.

      --Mike

    • I think the points were 1) Lucent is claiming it's an "open source" license when it is not (and the term "open source software" is a registered mark, I believe). And 2) if you are considering using this OS, especially in a commercial setting, it is vitally important to understand the license, because it tells you what rights you get or give up by downloading the software.

      When people are offering you something for free, it's pretty rude to complain that they're not offering you even more.

      They aren't offering it "for free", they are offering it "with strings attached".

    • I'm always amused, well, maybe BEmused at the fact that some people seem to care more about the quality of the license than they do what the software does. Especially with something like Plan9 -- as far as I can tell, its a research/experimental operating system, not a global conspiracy to take over the world market for operating systems.

      It kind of reminds me of political people of both the right and the left -- they evaluate solutions to problems first on the ability to adhere to the preferred political paradigm rather than the technical merits.

      And its not that those questions aren't sometimes appropriate, I'm just surprised how often it turns up BEFORE someone asks if the technical merits might make what the license is a moot point.
      • I'm just surprised how often it turns up BEFORE someone asks if the technical merits might make what the license is a moot point.

        That's because the `technical merits' have no power to make the license a moot point (unless I suppose the software is so horrible that no one cares). If the license makes it impossible for you to realistically use the software, then you can't use it, no matter how great it is.

        I guess you could study it to get good ideas -- but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there are patents lurking in there too (especially considering that it's from bell labs)...

        • That's because the `technical merits' have no power to make the license a moot point (unless I suppose the software is so horrible that no one cares).

          That's what I was getting at. If the software isn't compelling, who cares? And I guess it would make sense to see if the software was compelling on its own merits before the tedious licensing politics got dragged out again.

    • No, when people are offering something that they say is free, but actually has hidden restrictions or responsibilities, it's not free at all.

      Here's a lawnmower for you. It's free! But if you use it to cut your lawn, you have to come over to my house and cut my lawn too. Don't complain, it's free, isn't it?

      -Russ

      • Hang on, that sounds awfully GPL-like...

        I remember someone a while ago saying something to the effect of 'If I give you apples but then force you to give away any pies you make with them, I'm not really sharing'.

        I know why people like GPL but it's not the pinnacle of freedom by any means.
  • ...from outer space?
  • Great! (Score:4, Funny)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oylerNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:07AM (#3424564) Journal
    Now I can go confuse all my marginally OS-literate coworkers and friends, and be amused while they try to sort out OS 9, Plan 9, and MacOS9...

    The entertainment possibilities are endless.
  • UI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GypC (7592) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:08AM (#3424572) Homepage Journal

    Plan9 has some really cool ideas, the more Unix than Unix everything-as-a-file paradigm, the network transparent file system, directory merging, the list goes on and on.

    But I just can't get past the mouse-intensive UI. I absolutely hate it.

    • by dduck (10970)
      Hmmm... I think this is a case of "Stop complaining, start coding!". Writing a new WM for Plan 9 can't be that hard, considering the number of WM's available for other open platforms.
  • by slideshot (201483) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:08AM (#3424573)
    Funny, last time I heard about Plan 9, it involved turning humans into zombies to take over the world. Guess plans really change when the R and D department is cut.
  • Glenda (Score:4, Funny)

    by Roto-Rooter Man (520267) <cleanthosepipes@hotmail.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:13AM (#3424589) Homepage Journal
    Plan 9 has the best OS mascot ever. [bell-labs.com]
  • Hoards (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by 1u3hr (530656)
    VMware images are now supported, together with hoards of new hardware.

    That's HORDES, as in the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan, meaning lots, not HOARDS as in a secret treasury. Also, for future reference, probably LOSE not LOOSE, and FAZE not PHASE are the words intended.

  • Plan 9 is old hat (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by countach (534280)
    While it's cool, in a 70's kind of way that Plan 9 makes everything into a file, it's really pretty old hat. A file is a very kludgy, primitive notion compared to making everything into an object.
    Making everything a byte stream is consistent - sure, great - but byte streams are pretty pathetic. Some kind of OO file system where everything is an object, and you can hook objects together would be something much cooler. Something kinda like a lisp machine combined with a persistent store, where you can operate on any object using standard language constructs.

    So who gives a %&*#@ about Plan 9. Let it die.
    • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:27AM (#3424641)
      I think you should re-read what plan9 is all about. It's not about everything-is-a-file. That's unix.

      Plan9 is in no way unix.

      It tried (and succeeded) to do several things.

      Plan9 removes the distinction between operating system, library, and application. These are things that an OS researcher cares about but a user doesn't.

      So if you are developing plan9 apps, you *never* worry about the actual hardware. You worry about the program itself. The systems guys can map it to whatever hardware they want later.
      You create your own personal computing environment the way you like it, and that environment can be mapped onto whatever sized plan9 installation you find later.

      Yes.. it makes everything a file, or more accurately, every resource has a name in a tree-like structure. (not so much that everything is a file but a file is just another resource).
      communications between resources is via a standard protocol (9p) that can be networked.

      A system like you are proposing COULD go on top of plan9. That's more of a programming level thing than an OS level thing.

      The thing is, plan9 offers no real benefit to a single user on a single computer. Running plan9 on your laptop is of no real use.
      Running plan9 on your laptop because you are developoing apps that will ultimately run on the globe-wide corporate plan9 system.. that's where plan9 excels, because the little namespace you construct on your laptop.. when you plug your laptop into the global network, you can re-map your cpus for a given application to the supercomputing cluster in shanghai, the storage vault in the Caymans, and the 12 gig removable drive on the workstation next to you, and the application you wrote sees nothing different at all.

      • when you plug your laptop into the global network, you can re-map your cpus for a given application to the supercomputing cluster in shanghai, the storage vault in the Caymans, and the 12 gig removable drive on the workstation next to you, and the application you wrote sees nothing different at all.

        Sounds good. So why can't I accomplish the same thing by coding on a platform such as Java (cross-CPU/cross-OS) and simply map my storage to wherever I want (via SMB/NMB on Win32 or NFS on Linux/BSD/Unix). My application would see nothing different at all.
        • the obvious one is 'speed', but i'll give you another hint -- security. t

          he plan9 security model actually works.

          more info at: http://plan9.bell-labs.com/sys/doc/auth.html
        • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:42PM (#3425120)
          You can. But that's a drastically simplified way of doing things.

          Sure, we can make drive F: just about anything these days, or we can network mount / to anything we want.

          In plan9, every application works within a private namespace. Resources in that namespace can be mapped to anything, easily. It's not just about getting the files from somewhere else. it's about using different memory, processors, etc.
          It's like symlinking EVERYTHING.. even all your devices.. but that doesn't even really cover it.
          It's more than that.

          It's not about platform independence.. it's about moving from a small scale system like a laptop to an absolutely huge-scale system like nothing you've ever seen before. It's about looking at resources.

          From a developer (or user) point of view.. everything in plan9 is an abstraction.
          A window has the same properties as a native screen. Keyboard input is identical everywhere.

          It's not about processor-architecture independent code actually. Code still has to be built for the proper platform. (it can be re-built with absolutely zero modification, however)

          It's about re-mapping any kind of resource somewhere else at will. It's about scaling up to huge systems.

          It's not just about code that can run anywhere.. it's more like, you sit at your workstation and run some code. It runs locally.. everything is local except say part of your namespace which is the equivalent to a networked home directory for your project. Then you want the project to run somewhere else... so you run another clone of it, but this time you adjust the namespace for the app to use the big CPU cluster rather than your desktop. Everything looks and feels the same, exactly. Your workstation coudl be at home, or on your boat even.

          With java, sure you can move stuff around, upload it elsewhere, run it elsewhere..
          with plan9 you can basically run a huge collection of computers as one big computer with lots of different resources.

          Or to quote (or probably mis-quote) something from the plan9 site..
          Instead of building a system out of lots of little Unixes, we build an OS out of lots of little systems.

          You look at a plan9 installation as one giant computer with resources, not as lots of independent computers that can communicate with each other.

      • Plan9 removes the distinction between operating system, library, and application. These are things that an OS researcher cares about but a user doesn't.


        Isn't removing this distinction exactly what Microsoft wants to do? Then they can sell anything and call it Windows ...err... I guess they do that now. Sigh.

    • by smcdow (114828)
      A file is a very kludgy, primitive notion compared to making everything into an object.

      This kind of comment keeps popping up here. I wouldn't write off files just yet. Files are simpler, but so is their interface. The API to files is very shallow, and you get right to the implementation layer very quickly. Objects obviously provide much more sophisticated functionality, but the API is also more complex (while seeming simple) and requires much more overhead (read: cpu cycles) in the interface layer before you get down into the implementation.

      If performance is paramount, then files - with their simple, dumb byte-stream interface - are the way to go. If you care more about clean interface and don't mind spending a lot of cpu cycles in the interface layer (rather than in the implementation), then something like persistant objects are good.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:15AM (#3424601) Homepage
    RMS argued that the bit about "all your modifications are belong to us" was really denying you the rights he finds important. I beg to differ.

    By the looks of things, there's no restriction on you modifying the gode, with the exception that you must make your modifications available to the company. This would be sort of like forcing everyone who hacks the linux kernel to send in patches, which could be a useful thing to do. But there's no restriction on people messing with the code in the first place.

    I'm not saying this software is free by Stallman's definition, but perhaps this is not quite as bad as he makes it out to be.

    OS competition, if nothing else, motivates everyone to write better software (unless you're a monopolist, but we won't get into that). As a linux partisan, I say "Bring it on"

    • ==[ This would be sort of like forcing everyone who hacks the linux kernel to send in patches, which could be a useful thing to do. ]==

      Why? I thought Linus had enough problems processing the number of 'functionality patches' he already receives. Don't the majority of them get dropped already?
    • RMS argued that the bit about "all your modifications are belong to us" was really denying you the rights he finds important. I beg to differ.

      That's not his critique. What he said is that they don't grant you unlimited rights on the code, but require you to grant unlimitied rights on your modification. That's quite a difference. He even mentiones that "... this does not by itself disqualify the license as a free software license ...".

  • too little, too late (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe Plan 9 could have made an impact 10 years ago if it had been free, but the window of oppurtunity is gone. Outside of a few die hard experimenters there are very few who have either a need or interest in Plan 9. I can attest to this by my own personally experience: I'm a user of another unsuccessful OS which missed the boat of oppurtunity. You don't get a second chance in this industry. Miss the brass ring and game's over.
    • thats presuming the indention is mass market penetration.

      Lucent use plan9 internally for many departments and it is used in some of their telephone systems.

      It is a research OS and pegs itself as nothing more.

      It has many unique features and because of that can be an influence in you rday to day projects.

      I use the things I have learned from plan9 daily in my code.

      Even just using wily & the rc shell on FreeBSD is enough reward for me.
  • by AndrewRUK (543993) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:22AM (#3424625)
    One of RMS's criticisms of the Plan 9 lisence is that:
    Plane 9 lisence: Distribution of Licensed Software to third parties pursuant to this grant shall be subject to the same terms and conditions as set forth in this Agreement,
    RMS: This seems to say when you redistribute you must insist on a contract with the recipients, just as Lucent demands when you download it.
    The GPL states that: You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
    So, it seems to me that RMS is criticising Plan 9's lisence for doing exactly the same thing as the GPL does. Can you say hypocrite, Richard?
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:00AM (#3424773) Homepage Journal
      Nope. Acceptance of the GPL is optional by end users. There is no requirement that someone you distribute GPL'd code to accepts the GPL. If they choose not to, then they have full rights as granted by copyright law, ie they can:
      • Backup, load it into memory, and run it (fair use)
      • Modify it
      • Give or sell the original and all copies made and still in existance to a third party, keeping none
      What the Plan 9 licence does is make the licence involuntary - you cannot give someone the code without forcing them to accept the licence, making it a "viral" EULA, not a "virual" licence.

      That's the difference. That's why Stallman objects to it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Incorrect. You can give someone GPL'd software without requiring them to agree to the GPL. The recipient only needs to agree to the GPL if they want to do something above and beyond what copyright law permits them to do (further distribution, for example).
    • While I agree that RMS can get a little... vehement at times, I don't think he's being hypocritical here. Yes, the GPL requires that you allow people to receive your code under the GPL if you redistribute GPL code, but it doesn't require that they accept it. When receiving GPL'd code, you are free to reject the GPL -- you just aren't allowed to redistribute it, etc. afterwards.

      The Plan 9 license requires acceptance of the license to get the code. A small distinction, and honestly not one I think it's worth getting upset over, but I don't think RMS is being hypocritical.
    • I think the difference that he's pointing out is that this License appears to require a contract between the distributor and the third party.

      The GPL on the other hand is a contract beween the copyright holder and all the people taking advantage of the rights granted by the GPL --- there are no contracts needed between the users and distributors.

      Only when you take advantage of the rights granted by the GPL (modification and/or distribution) is there a need for a contract to exist. So there is no contract needed for you to download the software, and use it.

      The person that owns the server you downloaded it from would be bound by the GPL, because they are distributing (unless they're the copyright holder), but you would not, until you modify or distribute the code.
  • RMS's first point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zapman (2662) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:35AM (#3424670)

    From the license:

    You agree to provide the Original Contributor, at its request, with a copy of the complete Source Code version, Object Code version and related documentation for Modifications created or contributed to by You if used for any purpose.

    Stallman's point:

    This prohibits modifications for private use, denying the users a basic right

    I'm not 100% sure I see his point. If you make use of the code for any purpose, and Lucent asks you for the changes you made, you have to give it to them. IANAL, but it seems that they just want to be able to see all changes that get made.

    The rest of RMS's points make sense, and this clause:

    The licenses and rights granted under this Agreement shall terminate automatically if (i) You fail to comply with all of the terms and conditions herein; or (ii) You initiate or participate in any intellectual property action against Original Contributor and/or another Contributor.

    is truly awful. See the link from Nathan Myers for a well written explanation of just how bad this is.

    • His point is that Lucent shouldn't have the right to any changes you make, merely those changes you publish.

      If you write something for completely personal use that falls under the license, why should Lucent have any rights to it? What if your changes turn out to be dangerous or highly embarassing?

      This clause basically gives Lucent rights to a seach warrant on your development machine. Keep software companies out of my computer. That's what I ask.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @10:36AM (#3424673)
    Ok, here is my response to RMS' response: (if he can comment on any licence that annoys him, I can comment on the comments!)
    You agree to provide the Original Contributor, at its request, with a copy of the complete Source Code version, Object Code version and related documentation for Modifications created or contributed to by You if used for any purpose.

    This prohibits modifications for private use, denying the users a basic right

    I don't recall a "basic human right" being the right to modify code without releasing it. Surely this is more free than the GNU licence, which enables a company to use and modify GPL code as much as they want, and profit from it, without releasing the modifications, as long as they are only using the code internally.
    and may, at Your option, include a reasonable charge for the cost of any media.

    This seems to limit the price that may be charged for an initial distribution, prohibiting selling copies for a profit.

    That "free software" might be sold without value added services at profit has been shown time and time again to be unworkable. This, of course, makes complete sense -- if I can buy one copy then redistribute it for nothing, why would anyone pay? In fact, I like this term, if I put it in a licence it would stop people even trying to make money off of my software by using their heavy marketing machine (which I might not have). If I'm not selling my work for profit, you're certainly not going to!
    Distribution of Licensed Software to third parties pursuant to this grant shall be subject to the same terms and conditions as set forth in this Agreement,

    This seems to say when you redistribute you must insist on a contract with the recipients, just as Lucent demands when you download it.

    Does my licence to use GPL-licensed software end if I break the terms of the GPL? It certainly should! I don't want anyone using my GPL-licensed software if they're not following the terms of the GPL.
    1. The licenses and rights granted under this Agreement shall terminate automatically if (i) You fail to comply with all of the terms and conditions herein; or (ii) You initiate or participate in any intellectual property action against Original Contributor and/or another Contributor.

    This seemed reasonable to me at first glance, but later I realized that it goes too far. A retaliation clause like this would be legitimate if it were limited to patents, but this one is not. It would mean that if Lucent or some other contributor violates the license of your GPL-covered free software package, and you try to enforce that license, you would lose the right to use the Plan 9 code.

    Well, RMS, I agree. You agree that, if you export or re-export the Licensed Software or any modifications to it, You are responsible for compliance with the United States Export Administration Regulations and hereby indemnify the Original Contributor and all other Contributors for any liability incurred as a result.

    It is unacceptable for a license to require compliance with US export control regulations. Laws being what they are, these regulations apply in certain situations regardless of whether they are mentioned in a license; however, requiring them as a license condition can extend their reach to people and activities outside the US government's jurisdiction, and that is definitely wrong. The Export Administration Regulations refer to export from the US. So, if you're not in the US, and aren't exporting from the US, this term simplifies to, "Space intentionally left blank". Anyone who dislikes this term should take things up with the US government, not Lucent. Lucent just doesn't want to get in trouble with the .gov.

    2.2 No right is granted to Licensee to create derivative works of or to redistribute (other than with the Original Software or a derivative thereof) the screen imprinter fonts identified in subdirectory /lib/font/bit/lucida and printer fonts (Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Sans Italic, Lucida Sans Demibold, Lucida Typewriter, Lucida Sans Typewriter83), identified in subdirectory /sys/lib/postscript/font.
    I'm no font nerd, but I imagine the group creating the software are completely unrelated to the creators of the font. Also, aside from the fact that code and font data can both be stored on a computer, what has the GPL got to do with copyright terms on fonts?
    ...As such, if You or any Contributor include Licensed Software in a commercial offering ("Commercial Contributor"), such Commercial Contributor agrees to defend and indemnify Original Contributor and all other Contributors (collectively "Indemnified Contributors")

    Requiring indemnities from users is quite obnoxious.

    IANAL, but if you sell something for profit (say you're Boeing selling an aeroplane) which uses components from another manufacturer (say Rolls Royce), then your client doesn't sue Rolls Royce if the plane falls out of the sky, but Boeing. If ya don't like it, put in a NO WARRANTIES clause. What software doesn't?
    Contributors shall have unrestricted, nonexclusive, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free rights, to use, reproduce, modify, display, perform, sublicense and distribute Your Modifications, and to grant third parties the right to do so, including without limitation as a part of or with the Licensed Software

    This is a variant of the NPL asymmetry: you get limited rights to use their code, but they get unlimited rights to use your changes. While this does not by itself disqualify the license as a free software license (if the other problems were corrected), it is unfortunate.

    Errr, "contributors shall have". That's any contributor. Not just Lucent. Which is exactly what the GPL provides, no?
    • I don't recall a "basic human right" being the right to modify code without releasing it.

      It is quite a basic right to be able to buy or download something and use it in the privacy of your home or business without having to explain how you are using it. If you buy a server and add RAM you don't have to demonstrate your changes to the computer maker, you don't have to send them blueprints, and you don't have to allow an agent of the computer maker into your home to inspect your computer. We enjoy this "right" with most things we buy, but not necessarily with software, so I can see where Stallman is coming from.

      Does my licence to use GPL-licensed software end if I break the terms of the GPL? It certainly should! I don't want anyone using my GPL-licensed software if they're not following the terms of the GPL.

      The GPL covers distribution, not usage. In fact it's up for debate whether a license can or should limit your use of the code.

      I think Stallman's claims are nit-picky but valid. But if you are taken into court over this license, I guarantee the lawyers and judges will be reading this license just as carefully if not more so than Stallman did, so if nothing else, I appreciate him uncovering these possible problems.

    • I don't recall a "basic human right" being the right to modify code without releasing it. Surely this is more free than the GNU licence, which enables a company to use and modify GPL code as much as they want, and profit from it, without releasing the modifications, as long as they are only using the code internally.

      So I decide to hack plan-9 on my PERSONAL laptop to investigate some security techniques that I may want to patent. I have to submit these hacks to the Plan-9 guys even if I decide to abandon the project or move it to Linux.

      In fact, I like this term, if I put it in a licence it would stop people even trying to make money off of my software by using their heavy marketing machine (which I might not have). If I'm not selling my work for profit, you're certainly not going to!

      Why not? Isn't the goal of releasing open source software to get it into as many hands as possible? Do you think that Linus is offended that Red Hat has taken Linux into the business world by selling them copies?

      Does my licence to use GPL-licensed software end if I break the terms of the GPL? It certainly should! I don't want anyone using my GPL-licensed software if they're not following the terms of the GPL.

      No. The GPL is not a EULA. It is a *redistribution license*. The GPL *never* prevents someone from using software and it isn't even clear whether such a provision would be legal in practice. Using stuff is a basic human right. Redistributing stuff is restricted by copyright law.

      Errr, "contributors shall have". That's any contributor. Not just Lucent. Which is exactly what the GPL provides, no?

      No, the GPL gives no special rights to contributors. Anyhow, Lucent and other BigCo's are likely to always be the only contributors. You could contribute a patch without becoming a "contributor" if you sign over your rights to it. This is, of course, what their lawyers will require!

      If you don't know much about the GPL or really understand the issue why did you feel the need to do a point-by-point rebuttal?

    • 2.2 No right is granted to Licensee to create derivative works of or to redistribute (other than with the Original Software or a derivative thereof) the screen imprinter fonts identified in subdirectory /lib/font/bit/lucida and printer fonts (Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Sans Italic, Lucida Sans Demibold, Lucida Typewriter, Lucida Sans Typewriter83), identified in subdirectory /sys/lib/postscript/font.
      I'm no font nerd, but I imagine the group creating the software are completely unrelated to the creators of the font. Also, aside from the fact that code and font data can both be stored on a computer, what has the GPL got to do with copyright terms on fonts?

      Not much.. RMS is criticising the fact that the Lucida etc. fonts included with Plan 9 aren't free/open source/whatever and can't be modified, redistributed etc. I suppose this may make re-distribution of the Plan 9 OS a bit difficult, as in the screenshot here [bell-labs.com], Lucida seems to be used quite extensively in the windowing system.
  • A careful reading of the RMS criticisms seems overreaching. The criticisms are relatively minor, and his commentary appear to be wild overreactions from here. Admittedly, these terms could be repaired, and if it matters someday, they probably will be. But to characterize the license as unacceptable or worse seems to me to go way too far.

    I'm not sure what's wrong at the end of the day with a retaliation clause -- such an idea might profit free software products. Imagine if suing someone for infringing a patent by distributing open source software required a company to retask all its servers to use new proprietary systems software.

    RMS also complains about the clause requiring commercial distributions to indemnify the supplier as wrongful because it is "quite obnoxious" to require users to indemnify. That clause doesn't apply to users, of course, but only to commercial contributors.
    • "The criticisms are relatively minor, and his commentary appear to be wild overreactions from here."

      Yeah, well I never expected FreeSoftware-friendliness from the slashdot crowd.

      OTOH unlike you I read through the license for myself, and found the point about "why include the US export restrictions in the license itself?" truly obnoxious as well. In fact, I also refuse to regard it open-source (as it's discriminatory against specific countries), let alone Free, until there's a non-US version with a sensible license (gpl/bsd/apache/whatever, but not the current crock).
  • It's good to see that my good friends at Lucent have finally decided to give me the fame that I deserve. It's been a long time a coming, and I feared looking like a leathery casino queen, as I aged. See, despite being an odd looking bunny, I still smoke a pack and a half of Lucky Strikes a day, in addition to eating a lot of virginia ham. Regardless, Let's Get it On.
  • Distribution of Licensed Software to third parties pursuant to this grant shall be subject to the same terms and conditions as set forth in this Agreement,

    RMS doesn't like this section. How does this differ from GPL?
  • ...doesn't like the license he doesn't download Plan 9. There! Problem solved!
    • the problem is that he tells other people not to download the code because he doesn't like the license.
      • I suggest that if you're not interested in Stallman's comments, don't bother reading them. He didn't put out an ad campaign, he just put a comment on his website. You sought his advice and you recieved it. He's not forcing you to do anything.

        I may or may not agree with him, but I agree that he has a right to put his opinion on his organization's website.
        • no, i can't do what you suggest to me, even if i wanted to: it is not easy to not pay attention to stallman -- he's got that 'in your face' attitude that's hard to avoid.

          ---
          Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 20:42:45 -0600 (MDT)
          From: Richard Stallman
          To: presotto@plan9.bell-labs.com
          Subject: Plan Nine deep-sixed by non-free license
          Reply-to: rms@gnu.org

          I was excited to hear that Plan Nine might become free software, but it turns out that the license is too restrictive to qualify. We will have to urge people not to use the Plan Nine software under its present license.

          ---

          that said, you can now possibly see the point in my original comment. and no, i'm not dave presotto, i'm quoting this out of comp.os.plan9, where people like you often visit to share their views of what's free software and what's not.
    • It's a bit more than not liking the licence. Lucent claims that Plan9 is open source software. Stallman pointed out that their licence fails several tests for open source licenced software.

      What's your problem with that?
  • Plan 9 License (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:21PM (#3425279)
    The Plan 9 License [bell-labs.com] has changed since RMS registered his complaints [gnu.org] about it.

    The "agree to provide" clause no longer says "if used for any purpose" but rather "if distributed in any form, e.g., binary or source". This is basically what the GPL does too.

    The "reasonable charge" clause is followed by a sentence that says you can charge whatever you want for products or services you've added.
  • VSTa (Score:2, Interesting)

    by erikdalen (99500)
    An OS that is worth checking out if you like the ideas in Plan 9 is VSTa [vsta.org]. It is a GPL'ed OS borrowing a lot of ideas from Plan 9. It's microkernel. But not as mature as Plan 9. /Erik
  • by j1mmy (43634)
    two reviews of the license and no reviews of the software itself.
  • I'm really fuzzy on this, but wasn't there a follow-on to Plan 9 being developed by the name of Brazil? What happened to it?
  • Interesting question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kraf (450958)
    How does the plan 9 resident storage compare to the QNX qnet transparent network storage ?
    • I know nothing of QNX but here's some stuff about plan9 :

      For each process one creates a namespace (possibly inheriting the one from the parent process)

      All file and resource access is through the 9P (now 9P2000) protocol, one writes 9P servers to provide a namespace, for instance KFS provides access to the files stored on the local terminal, yesterday provides access to the backups.

      One builds up, per process, the namespace for that process (and optionally inheriting that of it's parent).

      So, for instance, at boot one would mount KFS to give access to the local disc, #AUX to give access to the VGA card, #A to give access to the sound card, and maybe run ftpfs to mount a remote ftp site.

      processes can then manipulate this files using the expected /dir/file symantics and need not worry about knowing the protocols required to say write to a file using ftp :
      echo 'hello remote ftp' > /n/ftp/incoming/hello

      This has the benefit of taking the complexity out of my applications and into the 9P library so I can place my trust in the authors of 9P and get on with the important work of solving my problem and not battling with protocols.

      I hope this goes some way tro answering your question.

      M

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