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+ - Project Aims to Build a Fully Open SoC and Dev Board->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "A non-profit company is developing an open source 64-bit system-on-chip that will enable fully open hardware, 'from the CPU core to the development board.' The 'lowRISC' SoC is the brainchild of a team of hardware and software hackers from the University of Cambridge, with the stated goal of implementing a 'fully open computing eco-system, including the instruction set architecture (ISA), processor silicon, and development boards.' The lowRISC's design is based on a new 64-bit RISC-V ISA, developed at UC Berkeley. The RISC-V core design has now advanced enough for the lowRISC project to begin designing an SoC around it. Prototype silicon of a 'RISC-V Rocket' core itself has already been benchmarked at UC Berkeley, with results results (on GitHub) suggesting that in comparison to a 32-bit ARM Cortex-A5 core, the RISC-V core is faster, smaller, and uses less power. And on top of that it's open source. Oh, and there's a nifty JavaScript-based RISC-V simulator that runs in your browser."
Link to Original Source

+ - Android Motorcycle Helmet/HUD Gains Funding->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Skully Systems has achieved Indiegogo funding for a high-tech Android 4.4 based motorcycle helmet with a head-up display (HUD), GPS navigation, and a 180-degree rearview camera. The Skully AR-1 helmet launched on Indiegogo on Aug. 10 and quickly blasted past its $250,000 flexible funding goal and has already surpassed $900,000 in funding. The helmet runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.4, with both screen size and safety in mind, according to Skully’s Tow. 'You should not think of it as being Android as seen in a phone; it doesn’t run the same skin,' wrote Tow on the Skully forum page. 'You instead should think of it as a variant of Linux, not Android per se. What counts is the device drivers, graphics rendering for our turn by turn directions and vehicle telemetry, etc. More nerdy things like communication over the I2C bus to the image processing module.' Helmets are available starting at $1,399, with shipments due in May 2015."
Link to Original Source
Businesses

Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL 191

Posted by timothy
from the he-actually-wrote-the-book dept.
lrosen (attorney Lawrence Rosen) writes with a response to an article that appeared on Opensource.com late last month, detailing a court case that arose between Versata Software and Ameriprise Financial Services; part of the resulting dispute hinges on Versata's use of GPL'd software (parsing utility VTD-X, from Ximpleware), though without acknowledging the license. According to the article's author, attorney Aaron Williamson (former staff attorney for the Software Freedom Law Center), "Lawyers for commercial software vendors have feared a claim like this for essentially the entire 20-odd-year lifetime of the GPL: a vendor incorporates some GPL-licensed code into a product—maybe naively, maybe willfully—and could be compelled to freely license the entire product as a result. The documents filed by Amerprise in the case reflect this fearful atmosphere, adopting the classically fear-mongering characterization of the GPL as a 'viral' license that 'infects' its host and 'requires it to become open source, too.'" Rosen writes: I want to acknowledge Aaron's main points: This lawsuit challenges certain assumptions about GPLv2 licensing, and it also emphasizes the effects of patents on the FOSS (and commercial) software ecosystem. I also want to acknowledge that I have been consulted as an expert by the plaintiff in this litigation (Ximpleware vs. Versata, et al.) and so some of what I say below they may also say in court. Read on for the rest (and Williamson's article, too, for a better understanding of this reaction to it). An important take-away: it's not just the license that matters.

+ - Enforcing the GPL

Submitted by lrosen
lrosen (220835) writes "I am responding to the article in Opensource.com by Aaron Williamson, "Lawsuit threatens to break new ground on the GPL and software licensing issues."

I want to acknowledge Aaron's main points: This lawsuit challenges certain assumptions about GPLv2 licensing, and it also emphasizes the effects of patents on the FOSS (and commercial) software ecosystem. I also want to acknowledge that I have been consulted as an expert by the plaintiff in this litigation (Ximpleware vs. Versata, et al.) and so some of what I say below they may also say in court.

Let's be open about the facts here. Ximpleware worked diligently over many years to create certain valuable software. The author posted his source code on SourceForge. He offered the software under GPLv2. He also offered that software under commercial licenses. And he sought and received and provided notice of United States patent claims related to that software.

Unbeknownst to Ximpleware, Versata took that GPLv2 software and incorporated it into Versata products – without disclosing that GPLv2 software or in any other way honoring the terms of the GPLv2 license. The reason Ximpleware became aware of that GPLv2 breach is because some months ago Versata and one of its customers, Ameriprise, became embroiled in their own litigation. The breach of GPLv2 came out during discovery.

Ximpleware has terminated that license as to Versata. This is exactly what the Software Freedom Conservancy and others do when confronted by GPL breaches.

That earlier litigation is between two (or more) commercial companies; it is not a FOSS problem. These are mature, sophisticated, profitable companies that have the wherewithal to protect themselves. I know that in my own law practice, whether I represent software vendors or their commercial customers, we typically provide for some level of indemnification. Perhaps Ameriprise and the other customer-defendants can count on Versata defending them against Ximpleware. Such a commercial dispute between big companies – even if it involves the GPLv2 software of a small company and separate indemnification for copyright or patent infringement – is between them alone.

But as to Ximpleware and its GPLv2 copyrighted and patented software, there are a few misunderstandings reflected in Aaron Williamson's article:

1. The notion of "implied patent licensing" has no clear legal precedent in any software licensing. While it is true that goods that one purchases include a patent license under what is known as the "exhaustion doctrine," there is no exhaustion of patented software when copies are made (even though copying of the software itself is authorized by GPLv2). For example, a typical commercial patent license nowadays might include a royalty for each Android phone manufactured and sold. Companies that distribute Android phones and its FOSS software acquire patent licenses so that recipients of their phones are indeed free to use those phones. But that isn't because of some implied patent licenses that come with Android software, but because commercial companies that distribute phones pay for those patent rights, directly or indirectly. I think it is entirely reasonable to require that commercial companies get their patent licenses in writing.

2. Versata's customers who received the (in breach!) GPLv2 software all moved to dismiss Ximpleware's infringement claims against them, pointing to Section 0 of GPLv2, which says that "[t]he act of running the Program is not restricted." What that sentence actually means is just what it says: The GPLv2 copyright grant itself (which is all there is in GPLv2) does not restrict the act of running the program. Nor could it; that is a true statement because running a program is not one of the enumerated copyright rights subject to a copyright license (17 USC 106). The authors of the GPL licenses have themselves made that argument repeatedly: The use of software is simply not a copyright issue.

3. Because there are U.S. patent claims on this Ximpleware software, Section 7 of GPLv2 prohibits its distribution under that license in the United States (or any jurisdictions where patent claims restrict its use). If Ameriprise and the other defendants were outside the U.S. where the Ximpleware patents don't apply, then GPLv2 would indeed be sufficient for that use. But inside the U.S. those customers are not authorized and they cannot rely on an assumed patent grant in GPLv2. Otherwise GPLv2 Section 7 would be an irrelevant provision. Reread it carefully if you doubt this.

The Versata customers certainly cannot depend on an implied patent license received indirectly through a vendor who was in breach of GPLv2 since the beginning – and still is! Versata ignored and failed to disclose to its own customers Ximpleware's patent notices concerning that GPLv2 software, but those patents are nevertheless infringed.

Should we forgive commercial companies who fail to undertake honest compliance with the GPL? Should we forgive their customers who aren't diligent in acquiring their software from diligent vendors?

As Aaron Williamson suggests, we shouldn't ignore the implications of this case. After all, the creator of Ximpleware software made his source code freely available under GPLv2 and posted clear notices to potential commercial customers of his U.S. patents and of his commercial licensing options. Lots of small (and large!) open source commercial companies do that. Although it is ultimately up to the courts to decide this case, from a FOSS point of view Ximpleware is the good guy here!

There is rich detail about this matter that will come out during litigation. Please don't criticize until you understand all the facts.

Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag (lrosen@rosenlaw.com)"

+ - Elon Musk: Robots are "Potentially More Dangerous Than Nukes"

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Elon Musk, the Tesla and Space-X founder who is occasionally compared to comic book hero Tony Stark, is worried about a new villain that could threaten humanity — specifically the potential creation of an artificial intelligence that is radically smarter than humans, with catastrophic results. Yeah, we've all watched Battlestar Galactica, but these analyses are getting really creepy!"

+ - Tiniest Linux COM yet?->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "An open-spec COM that runs OpenWRT Linux on a MIPS-based Ralink RT5350 SoC has won its Indiegogo funding. The $20, IoT-focused VoCore measures 25 x 25mm. How low can you go? Tiny computer-on-modules (COMs) for Internet of Things (IoT) applications are popping up everywhere, with recent, Linux-ready entries including Intel’s Atom or Quark-based Edison, Ingenic’s MIPS/Xburst-based Newton, Acme Systems’s ARM9/SAM9G25 based Arrietta G25, and SolidRun’s quad-core i.MX6-based MicroSOM. Now, an unnamed Chinese startup has raised over six times its $6,000 Indiegogo funding goal for what could be the smallest, cheapest Linux COM yet."
Link to Original Source

+ - What Makes a Good Open, Hacker SBC?->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "LinuxGizmos and Linux.com have teamed up to conduct an annual Rate your favorite hacker SBCs survey, to let the hacker/developer community generate a top-10 list of favorite currently shipping single board computers, and to indicate which features were most important in casting their votes. The survey lists 32 SBCs — from A (APC Rock) to Z (ZedBoard) — and lets participants enter alternatives if their favorites aren't included in the list. Participants can also optionally enter a raffle for a chance to win some Tux, embedded Linux, and Android related swag. The 10-day survey ends on May 17th, after which results and trend analysis will be published."
Link to Original Source

+ - U.S. Military Drones Migrating to Linux->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter. Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon’s control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a May 2 Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs. Raytheon’s tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement universal UAV control qualities. As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft."
Link to Original Source

+ - Intel Unveils Tiny $99 MinnowBoard Max Open SBC-> 1

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at MinnowBoard.org, with the higher-end $129 $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."
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+ - Linux-powered Telepresence Robot Gets Personal->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Suitable Technologies has announced Beam+, a smaller, less costly, consumer model of its Linux-powered Beam mobile telepresence robot. The Beam+ offers essentially the same capabilities as the professionally-oriented original Beam, but it's smaller, lighter, has a much lower price tag, and offers a few scaled-back specs including reduced audio quality, shorter battery life, and a smaller display. The original Beam model, introduced two years ago, currently starts at $16,000, and the new Beam+ will be sold for about $2,000. However, the Beam+ is currently available for pre-order at a special price of $995 for the first 1,000 units ordered. The remotely-piloted Beam+ can be controlled via a WiFi or 4G LTE cellular connection, and runs Robot Operating System plus low-latency Skype-like video conferencing software on top of an Ubuntu-based embedded OS. An entertaining Beam+ demo YouTube video is available here."
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+ - Roku Gets Sucked Into TVs->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Roku, which shipped its 5 millionth streaming media player last year, is now having its Linux-based STB technology embedded directly within Smart TVs, known as Roku TVs. Roku CEO Anthony Wood announced Roku TV this week in a blog post this week. It culminates a six-year evolution from the company's initial Netflix Player by Roku in 2008, to the company’s current 1,200-strong channel store — which represents 'more options than all the other Smart TVs in the market,' claims Wood. The company’s success can most likely be attributed to its having made an API for channel developers readily available, along with a consistent focus on providing a low-cost, easy-to-use, reliable product. The first Roku TVs will be made by TCL and Hisense, which together accounted for roughly nine percent of the global TV market, says Roku. Various Roku TV models from TCL and Hisense (and perhaps others), in sizes from 32 to 55 inches, are expected to ship this fall. No word on pricing."
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+ - Google Launches Android Automotive Consortium->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Google announced an initiative with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvidia aimed at fostering and standardizing Android in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. The Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone, says the group. The OAA is further committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. In its FAQ, the OAA suggests that this is not a full-blown Android in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system, but rather a standardized integration stack between automotive systems and mobile Android devices. However, the OAA FAQ also discloses broader ambitions for 2015 and beyond: 'We're also developing new Android platform features that will enable the car itself to become a connected Android device.'"
Link to Original Source

+ - Russian Startup Offers Wireless Remote Controller for Cars->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "A Russian startup called Virt2real has produced a small $120 Linux-based WiFi controller board for remote control and video observation applications, and has demonstrated its use in a remote controlled car. Inspired by Back to the Future and James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, Virt2real's Bond Car demo (YouTube video) shows a Vauxhall (Opel) Vectra being remotely controlled by an iPad via WiFi. The iPad interface includes touchscreen-based steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator, which are mirrored in the car by a mechanical contraption that physically turns the steering wheel and pushes the brake and accelerator pedals. The company is now accepting orders for the first 1,000 of its Virt2real controller board, and is working on a Virt2real-based Bond Car it that will work with most cars."
Link to Original Source

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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