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

    by IronTek (153138) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:02AM (#3424543) Homepage
    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.
  • by cperciva (102828) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:06AM (#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 dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:15AM (#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"
  • by AndrewRUK (543993) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:22AM (#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 mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:27AM (#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.

  • by j09824 (572485) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:30AM (#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.

  • RMS's first point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zapman (2662) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:35AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:36AM (#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?
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oylerNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:47AM (#3424720) Journal
    Huh? Do you even understand the conversation?

    The only thing that could mark you more clueless, would be if you started touting Windows.NET as the true modern OS.
  • by smcdow (114828) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:57AM (#3424758) Homepage
    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 squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:00PM (#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 on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:01PM (#3424777)
    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).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:08PM (#3424797)
    The GPL does not require a contract. RMS is very emphatic that an end-user must not be required to accept a licence to use free software. He is very much anti-EULA. Let me rephrase this in words you can understand: you do NOT have to accept the GPL (or even know that it exists) in order to use GPL'd software. You can break every rule there is in the GPL, and you will still be allowed to use all GPL'd software legally. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT THE GPL IN ORDER TO USE GPL'D SOFTWARE.

    This is where the GPL differs from the Plan 9 licence (or "Plane 9 lisence" if you prefer) and why RMS is not a hypocrite.

  • by div_2n (525075) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:19PM (#3424843)
    This line of thinking leaves you in one big mess when the secret gets out. Then what are you left with?
  • Re:it is sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by entrox (266621) <slashdot@@@entrox...org> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:47PM (#3424919) Homepage
    Oh the irony: some slashdot poster complaining about the _comments_ of RMS regarding a license, which in his opinion is not free. In case you haven't noticed, but RMS _started_ the free software movement and he invented the GPL. He has all the right in the world to publicly state his views.

    And who is this 'we' you mentioned? I respect RMS and I listen to what he has to say (which doesn't imply that I always agree).

    You're the pathetic one here.
  • by Tony-A (29931) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:56PM (#3424965)
    unfortunate thing is that security is only as strong as your weakest link
    That's true if you use a "everybody inside can do everything, nobody outside can do anything" model of security. If you can set up security properly, one dumb and careless user would allow an attacker to do no more nor less than that dumb and careless user should be doing anyway.
  • by fatphil (181876) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @12:58PM (#3424975) Homepage
    "It's not about everything-is-a-file."
    and
    "Yes.. it makes everything a file"

    Nice juxtaposition, I thought.
    So which way round was it?

    Did anyone else think that
    "every resource has a name in a tree-like structure"
    sounded a bit like the Windows(TM) registry?

    FP.
  • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:30PM (#3425089)
    So you want to change it from a namespace to an object space. That would work.. but you still need some form of communication between objects that can be abstracted over the network. Bytestreams anyone?

    Putting objects on top of this would be no more kludgy than putting them on top of the underlying architecture. Bytestreams reflect reality.

    IF you want to design a system that can utilize hardare the way plan9 does and use objects instead.. how would it work? Probably very similar to plan9
  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:33PM (#3425094) Homepage

    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.

  • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:42PM (#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.

  • Re:it is sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:49PM (#3425141) Homepage Journal
    I think his comments can be summarized as any license RMS has not written, RMS does not consider free.

    No, RMS considers any license that satisfies a few logical points (listed here [gnu.org]) to be a free license. Notably, Public Domain, XFree86 licensed and Copylefted software is considered Free Software (in addition to GPLed software). There are few licenses that meet that requirement, and he generally has critical views of aspects of them (generally in loopholes) - but then, he has critical views of the current GPL for the same reason. That's why there's a version associated with it. :)

    --
    Evan

  • by rbeattie (43187) <russ@russellbeattie.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @02:02PM (#3425193) Homepage

    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

  • by F2F (11474) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @02:14PM (#3425244)
    the problem is that he tells other people not to download the code because he doesn't like the license.
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2002 @03:44PM (#3425583)
    Then why do you hide your email address?

    I think you are confusing privacy with security. Security = not having someone hack your computer. Privacy = not being bombarded with spam, the press, peeping toms, etc. Both privacy and security may go hand-in-hand but they are not the same.

  • by j1mmy (43634) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @05:22PM (#3425939) Journal
    two reviews of the license and no reviews of the software itself.

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