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Comment Re:Forfeit all revenues from sales (Score 1) 330

I find it interesting that VW are throwing their software engineers under the bus over this.

This just isn't something that a couple of developers could independently do, unless VW's oversight and change control is absurdly sloppy. It's going to require at least someone involved in the testing telling the software engineers "we have a problem, can you do something to make the car pass in the test cell" - software engineers don't just generally add code like this for fun. One would imagine there would also be code reviews and audit given that engine management system software is now a safety of life issue (think drive-by-wire throttle, which this code would likely touch).

While it's probably true that Cxx level management weren't aware of what was going on, I find it extremely hard to believe that at least some layers of management were not actively involved with this, and people auditing the software were not actively involved in this. If they weren't, and really just a couple of software guys can put code into the engine management system with anyone being the wiser then this is probably worse (and then the Cxx level people definitely carry some of the culpability for allowing such a sloppy regime in safety critical systems).

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 330

Well, no. Where I live an electric car is powered by natural gas (the only generation we have here). In the UK, depending on where you lived, your electric car may be nuclear powered, gas powered, wind powered or coal powered. Coal is on the wane, being replaced by natural gas and wind. If you live in France, your electric car is nuclear powered pretty much all the time (France generates more than 100% of its power needs with nuclear, exporting the balance to neighbouring countries).

Comment Re: ZFS is nice... (Score 1) 267

But it's combined by the user at runtime, not by canocal. The GPL allows an end users to do this.

This is a way that people kid themselves about the GPL. If the user were really porting ZFS on their own, combining the work and never distributing it, that would work. But the user isn't combining it. The Ubuntu developer is creating instructions which explicitly load the driver into the kernel. These instructions are either a link script that references the kernel, or a pre-linked dynamic module. Creating those instructions and distributing them to the user is tantamount to performing the act on the user's system, under your control rather than the user's.

To show this with an analogy, suppose you placed a bomb in the user's system which would go off when they loaded the ZFS module. But Judge, you might say, I am innocent because the victim is actually the person who set off the bomb. All I did was distribute a harmless unexploded bomb.

So, it's clear that you can perform actions that have effects later in time and at a different place that are your action rather than the user's. That is what building a dynamic module or linking scripts does.

There is also the problem that the pieces, Linux and ZFS, are probably distributed together. There is specific language in the GPL to catch that.

A lot of people don't realize what they get charged with when they violate the GPL (or any license). They don't get charged with violating the license terms. They are charged with copyright infringement, and their defense is that they have a license. So, the defense has to prove that they were in conformance with every license term.

This is another situation where I would have a pretty easy time making the programmer look bad when they are deposed.

Comment Re:Perl? LOL. (Score 1) 161

I'm not sure I'd reject a language out of hand just because people can write terrible code with it. I'd rather reject those programmers.

I do agree with you on K & R style, though. Vertical space is valuable real estate.


Comment Re:ZFS is nice... (Score 1) 267

Uh, that doesn't work. The problem is that doing exactly what you've written down is contriving to avoid your copyright responsibility by deliberately creating a structure in someone else's work which you believe would be a copyright insulator. If you went ahead and did this (I'm not saying that you personally would be the one at Ubuntu to do so), I'd love to be there when you are deposed. Part of my business is to feed attorneys questions when they cross-examine you. I have in a similar situation made a programmer look really bad, and the parties settled as soon as they saw the deposition and my expert report. See also my comment regarding how Oracle v. Google has changed this issue. You can't count on an API to be a copyright insulator in any context any longer.

Comment Re:ZFS is nice... (Score 1) 267

I think you need to look at this in the context of the appeal of Oracle v. Google. We had a concept of an API being a boundary of copyright based on 17 CFR 102(b) and elucidated by Judge Walker's finding in CAI v. Altai. That stood for a long time. But Oracle v. Google essentially overturned it and we're still waiting to see what the lower court does in response.

Comment Re:Perl? LOL. (Score 1) 161

Except that their regex engine isn't very fast. I prototyped a project that used a lot of regexes in both python and perl and the python implementation was between 4 and 7 time slower. I really wanted to use python, but it wasn't the right tool for the job.

That's why anyone with a clue will see statements of "only viable" with comic disdain.

Say what you will, but perl is very, very good at parsing text.


Comment Re:Not the total cost! (Score 2) 415

You also have to include the cost to maintain the fossil fuel plants that back up the fossil fuel plants, in the fossil fuel analysis.

The UK National Grid maintains a "spinning reserve". This has to be big enough to cope with a couple of large fossil fuel or nuclear plants going offline suddenly, which does happen from time to time (and there have been blackouts when there was not enough spinning reserve when two power stations went offline - for unrelated reasons - within minutes of each other). From the point of the UK National Grid, nuclear, coal and gas are seen as "intermittent power sources". Sizewell B, one of the largest generators in the country, could go from full capacity to zero in an instant, without any warning, if a problem occurs - and suddenly you're without a terawatt of generating capacity. Wind power on the other hand doesn't suffer this problem, wind generators are small and numerous and the loss of one of them doesn't have that kind of impact since at most they are only about 2MW each. Over the period of the next hour or two, wind is also extremely predictable. The wind doesn't just unexpectedly stop blowing. Also in the UK, it tends to be windiest when power demand is highest, those dull winter days when it's doing horizontal rain and everyone's got the lights on.

Of course you still need an alternative for when the whole country is under a high pressure system and there's not much wind at all. But any power generation system alone isn't a silver bullet, that's why we don't just have solely nuclear, or solely gas, or solely coal, or solely oil - we have a mix of different fuelled generation.

Comment CDDL and GPL don't mix (Score 3, Informative) 267

Regardless of what Ubuntu has convinced themselves of, in this context the ZFS filesystem driver would be an unlicensed derivative work. If they don't want it to be so, it needs to be in user-mode instead of loaded into the kernel address space and using unexported APIs of the kernel.

A lot of people try to deceive themselves (and you) that they can do silly things, like putting an API between software under two licenses, and that such an API becomes a "computer condom" that protects you from the GPL. This rationale was never true and was overturned by the court in the appeal of Oracle v. Google.