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Shared Source? 241

jmt(tm) sends in Microsoft's shared source webpage, and their FAQ. An AC sends in a LinuxToday story and Discuss.
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Shared Source?

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  • Trust me, they aren't missing the point. They find magnificent ways to couch ideas that they don't like in a negative or deterring way.


    It is almost an art the way MS does this stuff.

    Yes, but it's not a new art.

    There's a great breakdown of MS's use of the fine art of disinformation [] here. (The analysis is about a third of the way down)
  • You said:
    Fact: Any programmers working on Linux kernel must release his work under Linux's current kernel license
    That's not exactly true. Any programmers working on the Linux kernel WHO WISH TO RELEASE THEIR WORK must do so under the current kernel license. However, one is not required to release one's work. If a company hired some kernel guy to change some minor thing on their own server, in the linux kernel, and that was not part of a released product, but just something used internally by the company, that change would not need to be distributed.
  • Would somebody please tell Microsoft that their definition of "sharing" is more like a loan than sharing? When you share something, you don't expect to get it back (ie: sharing brownies). When you loan something, you still retain ownership (ie: loaning someone a book).

    (Of course I'm sure the source code loan program probably doesn't have the same alliteration and "feel good" tendencies that sharing source code does.)

  • Hmm. The GPL requires that derived works of a licensed work must also be released under the GPL. It does not require that unrelated work written by GPL software users be released.

    Is this viral? It seems to me that if we're looking for biological metaphors, it would be more accurate to call it hereditary or heritable. GPLed code doesn't go out and infect your work. Rather, if you choose to "breed" new software from GPLed code, that software inherits the licensing traits of its parent.

  • Hence, you might be asking for legal problems if you have a developer contributes to GPL code at home, and writes closed source during the day, since he might have taken derived ideas to the work code.
    I'm pretty sure the sorts of lawsuits you're probably thinking of -- suits filed by one company against another which has hired away some of the former's programmers or engineers -- are rarely over copyright, which is what the GPL covers. They're over trade secrets. If they were over copyright, they would be easily settled: see if there is substantial code in common; if not, no problem. As for trade secrets, a project that releases its code to the public under the GPL cannot be said to hold any trade secrets. Thus, I'm not sure the threat you're discussing actually exists.

    Furthermore, it is interesting to note, as you do, that "GPL hasn't been tested in court." Isn't that just another way of saying that nobody has ever been sued over GPLed code? Considering that the GPL has been around since 1984, that's some sort of track record. How many closed-source software companies are there which have been around for sixteen years and have never sued or been sued?

  • I just love the way that they disingeniously talk about a software license 'infecting' a program.

    [O]ne of the dominant open source license [sic] -- the GPL -- is the most infectious. It attempts to subject any work that includes GPL-licensed code to the GPL.

    Programmer: Here ya go, boss, the latest build of our really important software product...

    Manager: [scanning the source code] You idiot! See this line here? 'i++;' That's directly from the Gnu Emacs source! Its GPL License has infected our revision control system! Now we've got to release the whole thing to the world, source and all... there goes the quarter! I *knew* you should have set lawyer traps in the hallways!

    Programmer: How DARE they try to take the code I've written and make me give it away for free just because I took code someone else wrote and used it for free!

  • (parent mod: +1 funny if I had mod points)

    That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Cool part is I can actually see the campchaos guys doing something like that ;)

    We can only hope

  • Have you heard of the LGPL? I think you will find that almost all equivalents of MicroSoft's "libraries" are covered under the LGPL, which specifically allows exactly this.

    LGPL is more free than MicroSoft's libraries because besides the ability to use it in closed programs, you can also make derivative libraries (which must be open source, like GPL programs).

    Now not everything is rosey:

    1. The LGPL has some strange wording that makes many people think the libraries have to be shared. I personally don't think so, but this belief puts a lot of annoying requirements on the library, and requires "installation" and "dll hell" for programs that use them. Rather than question this we have modified the LGPL to specifically say that static linking is allowed.

    2. RMS has a strange idea that putting libraries under the GPL will force people to make the programs under the GPL due to the "virii" nature. This is absurdly untrue, the result is that people don't use the library at all, and they then use a commercial library that runs only on platforms that are made by large Seattle companies whose name starts with M. Putting useful libraries under GPL licenses is seriously hurting the acceptance of Linux as it is stopping the creation of commercial programs that port to Linux. Fortunately most everybody else appears to disagree with RMS and use the LGPL or Berkely licenses for libraries.


    You can write all the code you want and not put it under the GPL, and can sell it for whatever you want!

    Oh, boo hoo, you can't take the source code with Linux and turn it into your own profit-making program. I'm just so sad for you. Hey, do you think you can take MicroSoft's code and turn it into a profit-making program without MicroSoft having something mean to say to you?

  • Developers would not copy GPL licensed code into applications that were not meant to be GPL any more than they would copy Microsoft Shared Source into a Program without Licensing the code from Microsoft for use. In either case, you would be in violation of Copyright law.

    Excellent description of the equivalence. If GPL is "viral" then their own code is "viral". This point needs to be hammered home, there are people here on slashdot that show amazing ignorance of this, you can imagine what people in the real world think!

  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:15AM (#213282)
    Q: What is Microsoft's Shared Source Philosophy?

    A. We have code. You don't. We make money by selling our code. You don't. We will let you look at the code, but don't touch it. We think this is balanced.

    Q: Why did Microsoft decide to highlight the Shared Source Philosophy at this time?

    A. We got scared by Open Source.

    Q: Is Microsoft's Shared Source Philosophy a Response to Linux?

    A. Yep.

    Q: What is Microsoft's concern with the GNU General Public License?

    A. We can't figure out a way to make money with code covered by the GPL.

    Q: How is intellectual property (IP) protection related to innovation? Why should society today rely on IP protection to foster innovation?

    A. IP protection works because we can make money off of it. If we couldn't make money, that would really piss us off. Society is a better place when we make money. Innovation is very important, as long as we make money. Basically the pattern is money==good.
  • by crisco ( 4669 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:26AM (#213283) Homepage
    Notice that these pages are in their business section, not MSDN?

    Others have pointed out that this is indeed a PR/business strategy, not a technology one. MS is not arguing technology, code quality or any of such, they are pushing that the GPL is bad for business.

    MSDN does give away great quantities of source, most of which is example code, not core implementations that can be improved.

    Oh, and this is just my opinion, but [] needs some web design help. I think the PHB types that this should be aimed need eyecandy to feel good about the opinions stated. I'll try and throw something together this weekend but I'm sure there are more capable designers that could help.

    Chris Cothrun
    Curator of Chaos

  • The question I have is, if Microsoft thinks I shouldn't use the GPL because of the redistribution terms, what redistribution terms will Microsoft allow me?

    It calls the GPL "complicated". However, _any_ use normally allowed by copyright laws is allowable with the GPL. It is MS who makes it complicated by revoking several user rights under copyright. You only get to the "complicated" parts of the GPL for the rights not granted by normal copyright. With MS, you never get extra rights.

    It's like saying, they have more features than we do, but on the features that they have that we don't, it's more complicated.

    Well, duh.
  • by MeerCat ( 5914 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:24AM (#213290) Homepage
    ... when Win2K came out, and was breaking all sorts of software, a guy I met from one of the big US investment banks bent my ear for ages about how great Win2K was and how they had no problems with it at all. This seemed a little strange as most investment banks that I've been at run huge amounts of really badly-hacked, badly-behaved, poorly documented in-house programs (you pay big money, you attract every wide-boy for miles around).

    When I quizzed him in detail he finally admitted that this was because they had the FULL source code from Microsoft and were patching (or at least flagging) their own fixes as they hit problems and giving these back to MS to integrate.

    But he wouldn't trust Linux, or any Open-Source model, and neither would MS....

    Seems some people can have their cake, and eat it, and deny there was any cake there anyway

  • Yes, yes, you can go on endlessly about the advantages of open source, and on the whole I'll agree with you.

    But where Linux loses is marketing. And that, alas, is exactly where Microsoft excels. MS could sell ice to the Inuit.

    The people who really count --that is, the people who decide to spend several million dollars on an operating system for their business: we're talking banks and big business, and the cumulative bijillion little businesses--are going to buy Microsoft Windows.

    Not because it's the best, but because they are businessmen, not computer geeks. They don't know how Linux can be to their advantage, they don't understand how Microsoft products have high cost-of-ownership, and they don't see any good business studies that prove Linux is going to save them an order of magnitude in costs.

    Indeed, what really drives them to buy are the glossy full-page advertisements with simple words. All the technical, moral and philosophical arguments in the world aren't going to make a dent.

    If Linux is to dominate, it needs to be marketed.

    It also needs a few missing killer apps, but, hey, that'll happen.

  • Some Open Source companies will do well. It's only a matter of time. Cygnus was profitable before RedHat bought them. RedHat will most likely be profitable soon.

    Also, the King amasses a great deal of wealth, and wealth is important, but that doesn't mean we should have monarchies.

  • Check out this question and answer from the FAQ:

    Q: What is Microsoft's concern with the GNU General Public License?

    A. There is no question that the GPL is a complicated license that has led to a great deal of confusion. For the sake of clarity, we wish to reiterate our basic points in regard to the GPL and other OSS licenses.

    Come on. The GPL a complicated liscense? The intent of the GPL is clearlt spelled out in terms even a non-lawyer can understand, is rather short as liscenses go, and is fairly non-obfuscated. Has whoever wrote the FAQ even read the GPL vs. your average MS EULA? Most people (IMNSHO) never get past the first paragraph in the EULA, because the obfuscation sets in almost immediately, even if they bother to read it at all! Sheesh...
  • by funkman ( 13736 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:24AM (#213296)
    Sorry. The GPL is viral and a clever choice of words for the spinmasters at Microsoft. Watch out for jabs like this in the future. They will say the correct thing but use charged words to sway the debate. A very good tactic.

    Microsoft is entirely correct to say the GLP is viral because all derived works must also have the code to given away - so the orignal code infects any following work. Whether this is good or bad is left to the debate that is occurring now.

  • If you want to compare, here's the Microsoft Visual Studio license [] for your reading pleasure.
  • If Linux is to dominate, it needs to be marketed.
    Which is why IBM's interest in Linux is a Good Thing, since they have the ability and motivation to market Linux to suits.
  • Some open source licenses are viral, that is, they require that all derivative works be licensed on the same terms as the original program. These licenses are described as viral because they "infect" derivative programs. Viral licenses vary in how infectious they are, depending on how they define which programs are derivative works.

    The correct response to this is:

    All Microsoft licenses are viral, that is, they require that all derivative works be licensed on the same terms as the original program. These licenses are described as viral because they "infect" derivative programs. Microsoft licenses do notvary in how infectious they are, allprograms are derivative works.

  • Others have pointed out that this is indeed a PR/business strategy, not a technology one. MS is not arguing technology, code quality or any of such, they are pushing that the GPL is bad for business.

    Yup. And guess what they think is bad for their business? They may as well have come out and said it...oh wait...they did:

    Linux is one of Microsoft's many competitors

    Need I say more? :-)

  • Direct quote from the faq:
    Some open source licenses are viral, that is, they require that all derivative works be licensed on the same terms as the original program. These licenses are described as viral because they "infect" derivative programs.

    So I guess if you simply disallow derivative works, your license is not "viral" ? Seems kind of like whining to me, "Some open source licenses are protective of the developer's rights. That is they prevent MegaCorp Inc. from using the software without giving back to the community."

    Anyway, when was the last time a derivative of an MS product was made and licensed by someone besides MS ?
  • Does anybody else see this a partial victory for the open source movement? Okay, so you can only look, but the free software movement got Microsoft to open it's code for outside peer review.

    Think about that! How likely was this a few years ago?
  • Sure, Windows cost money and to peek at the source is going to cost you a shitload of money. I guess this is the same type of thinking Scientologists use to blow thousands of dollars so they can have the comfort of getting to the next OT level. I can just see it now. Here is the code for Active Directory but before you buy it you need to buy and study the code for DCOM lest you be unprepared for the revelations of AD and it kills you. :p

    Oh, and getting RH7.1 along with SGI's XFS installation image cost me nothing but download time and a few CDs. Just like the source costs me nothing for those products. I think you missed a few $s when you spelled Micro$$$$$$oft and gave an extra to RedHat.

  • Anyway, now Microsoft have gone "open source" do we actually need Linux any more ? I mean, sure Windoze costs $$S, but then so does Red$Hat these days...

    Ahem. [] for all your l337 0-day Linux w4r3z.

    Now, how is the above "Insightful" again?
  • 'K folks, lets not allow Microsoft to perpretrate another Big Lie and get away with it. The term "Shared Source" is nothing more than a smokescreen. Call it what it is, "poison source". The source will be no more "shared" than, say, the demolition plans for Arthur Dent's house. You won't be able to use the code you see for yourself. You won't be able to compile it. You'll be able to look at it and perhaps suggest "improvements." Hell, MS might be magnanimous enough to let you, Mr. Independent Developer, write patches - but don't even try to distribute them without MS' approval, because that would mean others might try to - *gasp* - compile MS' proprietary, "shared" code!

    Why "poison source"? Quite frankly, I think "Shared source" might have a more dangerous viral aspect than some people claim of the GPL. Do you really think a developer will ever be allowed to work on an open-source project again, never mind a GPL one, after agreeing with MS' terms for looking at their source? If they do within at least eighteen months (what I believe current NDAs from MS are written for), you can bet MS will immediately launch legal action to have that project shut down due to "potential" copyright infringement. In this case, the virus doesn't even come from using the code, but just by looking at it.

    Hey, maybe MS will be nice and not force developers to sign an NDA and a no-compete in order to look over the code. However, MS has given me no reason to trust them before, and they certainly haven't done anything recently to get me to trust them now.
  • The really interesting part about this whole thing, (the M$ faq and the satire above) is that M$ only provides the answers to questions that they want you to ask. Where are the answers to questions like "why does microsoft feel the need to *&(^&)@@#$ the customer every chance they get?" or "Why does microsoft think that you can't make money off of the GPL?" or my favorite "Why are you a bunch of software Nazi's out to kill everyone who pisses you off?"
  • by Sogol ( 43574 )
    redundant. more trolling from microsoft.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Friday May 18, 2001 @01:27PM (#213323) Homepage
    Sorry. The GPL is viral...

    No, the GPL is not viral. It does not leap from unwilling host to unwilling host; your code will not suddenly come down with GPLitis out of the blue.

    If a genetic metaphor for creating a derived work is desired, consider the GPL as a dominant gene. It takes a deliberate propagative act to create a "child" that's GPLed; but having decided to "mate" your code with GPLed code you know the result will be GPLed - just as someone who carries two recessive genes for a trait and mates with someone carrying two dominant genes knows that the child will inherit the dominant trait.

    For example, if a blue-eyed woman mates with a man whose ancestors have been brown eyed for umpteen generations back, if I recall my biology correctly she's going to have a brown-eyed baby. (Barring mutation, crossover, etcetera, which is beyond the scope of this metaphor, okay?) If she doesn't want a brown-eyed kid, she's free to seek out another father. If you don't want your result to be GPL'd, you're free to seek out other code to derive your program from.

    The metaphor is not perfect, in that such a child would still be a carrier of the recessive gene, however it's a damn sight closer than "viral".

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • My favorite quote was this, from the front page of the Shared Source website:

    Over the past 25 years, few people outside of the development community talked about source code and even fewer had access.

    Never mind that closed source is actually a relatively new thing...programmers started out by giving away source, because the hardware to run it on was what was important... As I recall, IBM used to more or less give away the source to OS/360 because what the customer was really paying for was the big iron to run it on. Ah, great MS FUD...defend your own business model by claiming it has a long, distinguished history, and make it sound as though these "open source" lunatics are some kind of crazy group of upstart hippies. Never mind the actual truth of the history of computer programming...
  • AFAIK the main reason you need this kind of protection is if you are attempting to avoid voilating contracts, such as NDA's or similar things you might sign to look at the code. I know if my university required me to use the code to windows, I would sign absolutely nothing giving any rights up to microsoft
  • Dude, you have got to be trolling. But assuming you aren't... Communism is forced sharing ("to each according to his need"), open source is voluntary. Also, the approach of western academia, sharing ideas and peer review, which underlies open source is hardly "communist."

    Community and communism are not the same thing.

  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent&post,harvard,edu> on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:21AM (#213338)
    ... How serious microsoft is about sharing source, by all the links to source code on that page.


  • If GPL code is virus-like, what does that mean about M$ code?

    No one can force you to use GPL code, so the virus analogy doesn't really stand up anyway. I guess you could say that the GPL is like a non-communicable virus.

    Anyway, that's a pretty ridiculous argument from MS anyway, while you CAN use GPL code (with the limitations the GPL provides), you _CAN'T_ get access to Microsoft code at all. Well, you can if you pay out the ass for it I guess, but you can pay a GPL developer to license their code to you under a different license too.

    So, MS argument == NULL

    That's my take on it anyway...

  • The parent is a very insightful comment on copyrights that often get overlooked when thinking of pedagogical terms like "Freedom" and "Business". It's really important to ground yourself in the core substance of the medium. Copyright. GPL gives you freedom to use copyrighted material if you agree to free your derivative copyrighted material. What results is a virtuous circle of contribution, innovation, and community.

    Microsoft can't compete with this. Their community in the early nineties was an open Dos and windows platform that businesses could profit from. They soon realized that Microsoft is hostile towards "middleware" businesses and many went out of business. In the Free Software community there is no monopolizing impulse, and businesses can happily coexist, peddling their proprietary middleware. Microsoft shut out IBM, and now IBM finds extraordinary value in linux. Other once profitable software companies that were shut out from windows by microsoft are also finding value in linux. Software companies dont want to compete with MS on their own monopoly platform. Internet companies dont want to pay licensing fees to microsoft to run their busines, avoiding draconian EULA's.

    Expect more of the exodus from windows to free software. A small taste of freedom is addictive. An intravenous injection of freedom is downright intoxicating.
  • If you visit Microsfot's shared source page, and link to it, and talk about it, you are giving them power. For example, if you link to the site from your own web site (or via Slashdot) then Google will rank the page higher in their search results. Thus, you hand over power to Microsoft. Second, since Slashdot pointed to the page, other news and media freaks will pick up on the story and give Microsoft even more mojo. It was foolish to point directly to the Microsoft site.

    Let's take a look at the reverse of the power flow. First, assume that Slashdot is anti-Microsoft and pro Open Source. I hope we all agree this is basically true. Next, think about how Slashdot has pointed to Microsoft, directly no less. This, as I described above, gives them a bunch of juju and augments their position. It gives them credibility. Finally, think about this: Microsoft never points to Slashdot and rarely (if ever?) points to Open Source web sites.

    They are not powerful and rich for nothing. The folks here are foolish to think they have power through hacking and technology and fighting the good fight. Wrong! Many of the folks here wouldn't understand advertising mojo or marketing juju if it bit them on the ass with big, sharp, bunny teeth.

    Look folks, I'm not a total troll. I hope you are actually listening... Marketing, media, and propoganda, oh yes, all weapons of Microsoft. Slashdot is playing exactly into the hands of Microsoft. You are sheep! Nothing but sheep. (OK, that last bit about sheep was definitely out of line. ;-)
  • Interesting thoughts. I think people really should be worried. Imagine that Open Source really does become a target. If that is the case, and it could happen, then what would that mean? Here's what I think: Sites like SourceForge, Slashdot, Freshmeat, and so on start to feel intense heat, perhaps to the point of getting their asses kicked.

    Web sites can be shut down, folks. We are not very powerful compared to companies, or the government. To make matters worse, the community is not united. The community is fragmented. Why? I'm not sure because I am not close enough to it. I don't program and I don't hack. However, I do see that there are many egos. There are leaders, but there is no centralized power. Without centralized power (i.e., money, captial, intellectual resources) I don't think it will be possible to slow down the growing wave of Anti-Open Source. Think about that.

    So, here is where I start to really think. What is the true purpose of the Open Source Community? Is it for fun? Adventure? Because it is a small, exclusive club of smart people? Is it because you feel ownership? Do you have a giant itch to scratch?

    BULLSHIT to all of that. Bullshit, I say. You are going up against a company with over $25 BILLION in cash. What is the Open Source community worth? All of you? All of your work? All your effort? Pah! It ain't worth shit comared to that. And don't start telling me that the internet is driven by Open Source. That doesn't mean a thing. At this point in time, I would state that you could build the internet using commercial products. People would live with that. People would still have the internet, now, without Open Source. They'd pay if they needed to, to support their habits. It wouldn't be the same, but it would work.

    But back to my point about power and money. Microsoft, UNLIKE the Open Source community has a very clear goal: BILLIONS. They are driven by money, and they know how the system works. What are you driven by? Will your love of coding, or your developmental scratch, or your minor rebellion be enough to fight the BILLIONS backing Microsoft? I want to know what you plan. I'd LOVE to back Open Source if it had a battle plan.

  • Thanks for the clarification. However, I could still see how powerful companies and the government could crack down on volunteers. You can volunteer to smoke crack, for example, but you would get in trouble for using it. I know that is not a perfect analogy, but I hope you catch my drift.
  • Um, is that a good thing?
  • by Spax ( 84516 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:06AM (#213348) Homepage
    Gee, whiz. Where have I been for the "past several months" while "people have been talking about source code." This new-fangled technology gets my head in a spin, glad Microsoft could explain it to me.
  • Not to me, man. The're trying to seem as if they're jumping on the bandwagon without actually jumping on the bandwagon, which is a typical and classic Microsoft Maneuver. For them, it's all perception and image. No one at the corporate level actually "gets" the Real driving force behind Open Source, so they're settling for a cheap copy (Which Microsoft is really good at.)

    Now before someone jumps on my case for being anti-Microsoft, I am, and I have a right to be. I sat through this on Team OS/2, as well, and I'm seeing a lot of the same tactics (Almost word for word press releases etc) for Linux. While I don't think they can kill the system, they can make it much more difficult to find hardware that will work with it. And I like being able to use Linux at work if I want to. It's very clear to me that in Microsoft's world, I would not be able to do that (Or even work without one of their stupid certifications.) So if I'm very vocally against them, it's because I know they're not trustworthy and I know that they will do everything in their power to force me to use their products.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:19AM (#213351) Homepage Journal
    Fundamentally innovation can be broken down into two parts: discovery and implementation.

    1) Discover something that someone else is doing that looks like it might make money.

    2) Implement a less featureful version of it, give it away for free and start charging around version 5.0 once we've eliminated the original company.

    From gdict:

    1. The act of innovating; introduction of something new, in customs, rites, etc. --Dryden.

    I think we're closing in on the disparity between the MS definition of Innovation and the one the rest of the world uses. (So yes, what I could stomach of their shared source FAQ was somewhat insightful.)

    As a side note I didn't notice them enumerating what source would be shared, nor what you could do with it, but the meaty parts of the page may have come after the gag reflex kicked in. Next time I hit a MS web page I'll be sure to take a dramamine first.

  • by cheese_wallet ( 88279 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:26AM (#213352) Journal
    but Microsoft is totally missing the point here

    Trust me, they aren't missing the point. They find magnificent ways to couch ideas that they don't like in a negative or deterring way.

    For example, if you want to rip a cd using windows media player, it defaults to having that security encryption crap turned on--meaning you can't play the ripped music on other computers (without breaking the encryption).

    If you go through the help and the menus, looking for some way to turn it off, you are going to have to look pretty carefully. It is in there, but they disguise the meaning. You turn it off by turning off "License Managment". The help file description of this is (paraphrased): "If you turn off license managment, and try to download a song to a portable player, Windows Media won't copy the license file over."

    While this is true, it won't copy the license file over, it is only true because the music file is not encrypted anymore and doesn't need a license! Whereas the helpfile text sort of implies that you still need a license to play the music, but now you have to manually copy said license over to the portable player.

    It is almost an art the way MS does this stuff.
  • by BobGregg ( 89162 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:20AM (#213353) Homepage
    Indeed. Sounds like someone over at Something Awful needs to whip up another of those war posters:

    "When you download Microsoft,
    you're downloading COMMUNISM!"

    [er, warning, attention: humor attempted above.]
  • You have no intrinsic rights to distribute derivative works of someone else's copyright. None. Nada. They do not exist.

    The only circumstances under which you may make and distributge a derivative work is with the blessing of all authors of copyright.

    The GPL provides this blessing as long as the works are licensed under the GPL. This means you have more rights than copyright law would allow, if you use GPL software.

    The GPL also has the effect of making the distributed works the intellectual property of the community of free software users, in that they may be distributed only as free software. This thing that Microsoft claims is worth so much, the intellectual property, belongs to all free software users.

    And that scares Microsoft to death, and leads them to a clever marketing campaign in which the GPL is called viral. It is not. The only perspective from which it may even SEEM viral is the perspective of a BSD license. And that could not be further from Microsoft's perspective.
  • The so-called viral aspect of the GPL is the one thing that Microsoft rarely regulates -- the ability to link (even dynamically) your application against their copyright protected library for free, whereas the GPL suggests that if you do this, your entire work must then be covered by the GPL. This is one aspect that has, in the past, been misunderstood by a number of developers and is important to recognise.

    There is indeed much confusion over this one. I, for one, would argue that a library by definition defines an API, and that anything that uses that API is NOT a derivative work, since the entire purpose of a library is to define and export an API for other applications to use. RMS believes that something that dynamically links against a library IS a derivative work. This belief is absolutely critical to TrollTech's business plan. They provide QT under the GPL, or you can buy a more standard copyright arrangement if you wish to incorporate QT code with your proprietary apps.

    But the GPL has a proviso that: If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. This proviso would seem to apply specifically to programs using an exported API. Others may argue that the linking program still must include the header files at compilation time, but again, it is the intent of a library to provide public headers and APIs.

    And also consider, a program dynamically linking to a library is analogous to ANY program running under linux. All system calls dynamically link to the kernel, which is GPL licensed.

    As far as I know, this aspect of the GPL has never been challenged legally, and it would seem to me that RMS is quite wrong in his assertion.
  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Friday May 18, 2001 @10:19AM (#213357) Homepage
    The GPL license is not viral, and any sense in which you claim that it is becomes mere FUD and is just plain wrong. This is the height of Microsoft marketing trying to associate evil with the GPL.

    Under copyright law you have no intrinsic rights to distribute anyone else's copyright. If you make a derivative work, you have no intrinsic right to distribute that derivative work. You may only distribute derivative works if all authors of copyright agree on terms.

    Under the GPL, the situation is substantially improved. You can distribute someone else's copyright. You can make and distribute a derivative work, with the added proviso that all the work must be released under the same license.

    Basically, Microsoft calls this viral because they would rather the author of a derivative work have ALL copyrights to the derivative and the original work. This is the BSD license. This is even more rights to the recipient of a copyrighted work.

    But please remember that GPL programs still give you as a software user MORE rights than you have intrinsically. The GPL has some protection for the community that would prefer if everything were open source, because it restrains any open source (GPLd) program from becoming proprietary. It in effect assigns the intellectual property to the open source (or free software) community. This is what Microsoft is attacking.

    The crown jewels for Microsoft are its intellectual property. It is fighting like mad because the GPL gives the free software community the same protection of its intellectual property that Microsoft has of its own. It is not a business model - it is a community software model.
  • Just because M$ discontinues a product, doesn't necessarily mean that I or my customers want to. I've watched DOS, Windows 3.1, QuickBASIC, and a dozen other things just vanish from the shelves and from tech support. Some people have their businesses dependent on these technologies. If the business changes, and the technology is no longer there... then what? It's expensive to change. Now we watch as NT 3.5, NT 4.0, and Windows 2000 are vanishing to XP. There are far more shops depending on these technologies. Frankly the attitude I'm seeing is "if I have to switch, I'm switching to Linux so this won't happen to me again."

    There's the old argument of "if I need support or someone to sue, at least I have Microsoft" -- ask yourself this, when was the last time you got decent support from them? When you needed a new feature or reported a real defect, was it your business model or theirs which was given priority? And if you went to sue Microsoft, and were 100% in the right, given the deep pockets there... could you survive battle the court costs? With the source you can fix it or hire someone to fix it.

    The fact of the matter is, business doesn't like to ride technology waves. They want something that gets the job done, works right, and is reliable and as maintanence free as possible. As long as Microsoft misses this point, they're going to alienate customers.

    It still amazes me that even IE's about box reports that it stands on the shoulders of NCSA Mosaic. ... When I talked with a represanative in Microsoft's security group, they were using Linux internally. ... The begs the question about where would Microsoft be without OpenSource? (Guess you could steal it, but hey... wasn't that how GW-BASIC got started?)

  • By their argument, DNA is viral, in that all derived works are "infected" with it.

    Capitalism is viral - it's how the USSR lost the cold war - they couldn't compete with our markets and efficiency.

    Democracy is viral - almost every form of government that has tried to resist it has fallen. (With a few exceptions, and I'd argue that it's only a matter of time.)

    Brilliant ideas transform society in a way that cannot be opposed, cannot be ignored, and they have a way of making life better. The GNU GPL is a brilliant idea - and it's only a matter of time, Microsoft.

    We can do it better, cheaper, faster. What leg do you plan to stand on? Oh, right - legislation and name-calling. Sorry, I forgot.

  • 2) Standards: Promote collaboration and interoperability while supporting innovation and healthy competition.

    I'd like to know what standards Microsoft has been using to promote interoperability and support healthy competition. It seems like they just try to take something good and make it propriatary so it doesn't interoperate with anyone else. From my list I see BOOTP-DHCP, NFS-SMB, Kerbos(sp?), undisclosed file formats, and I'm sure the list goes on. Unless they mean that by supporting the TCP and IP connection protocols they are supporting standards and healthy competition, but I don't buy it.

    I know this is the standard 'Embrace and Extinguish' rant, but the fact that they are trying to claim that they don't follow these incompatibility practices and that shared source won't either is just wrong.

    I also wonder what they consider 'healthy competition' to be. They obviously consider Linux to be some sort of competition, and they are trying to squash it even though it has such a small market share on the desktop. I suppose their definition of 'healthy competition' and most business defintitions are a little different. Macs are probably considered competition, and I believe Microsoft ported it's office suite to Mac, but not Linux, why? That probably supported healthy competition, but maybe Linux is considered a threat and Macs aren't, hmmmm, makes you wonder...

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @11:32AM (#213368)
    How do you think accountants, lawyers or architetcts get paid? They are paid for their advice, their professionalism and their knowledge. Do you think you visit your lawyer to "buy" a contract?

    The entire software industry needs to get off its buff and become more professional. This is about SAVING your JOBS, should you actually WANT to be regarded as a professional software expert, rather than as a code-monkey. When companies want computer expertise they should know that theere are people who can and will support them. That person is you. Or would you rather be a code-mopnkey. to be retired as soon as cheaper labor comes along.

    Put it another way, why should the CEO of a company pay you to code when he could too, having also learnt programming during his college days. Simply becuase you can code better?

  • And mderators, how is this insightful? How could one verify that your code is not trojaned simply by inspecting the source, but not being able to compile it?

    Guess what? Admission of the "comfort factor" argument is really discrediting yourself. Maybe you'd like to turn around and say "well you didn't check the source for your GPLed programs too". And guess what? I didn't.

    Becuase having the source is not just about being paranoid about trojans. It is about having a reference, having the ability to cross-check the code for correctness when I have to. Being able to fix it, and being able to make it better, and give it back.

    For any one of these reasons, "Shared Suorce" is not enough. Keep your paranioa to yourself.

  • It is designed to create a *negative* first impression of the GPL.
    Why do you think that so many of the more successful 'open' apps use variants of the BSD license?
  • by Gogl ( 125883 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @10:08PM (#213374) Journal
    Well said, I like how you compared the licenses. I agree with everything you said, but would like to especially stress a point that you hinted at that I personally believe is not said enough, if ever. BSD License=more freedom to the immediately direct enduser, but possibly less freedom to the rest of the world. GPL=less freedom to next immediate user, but a guarantee of that same minimal amount of usability to any and all other eventual users. Somebody could take a BSD license thing, mess with it, and re-release it under the BSD license, and that would have more usability then GPL, but they aren't required to. GPL *guarantees* a certain level of usability to absolutely everybody. Basically BSD is more usable, but also more abusable. I'm not advocating one over the other, simply noting the differences...
  • You make a dam good point.

    Isn't Microsoft licenses "viral" in that sense also?

    Fact: Any programmers working on Windows 2000 kernel must release his work under Microsoft's license...

    Fact: Any programmers working on Linux kernel must release his work under Linux's current kernel license (GPL)...

    How is this any more viral?

  • Click->view->source

    HTML source from Microsoft! Open Source it!

  • Viral is a terminology that will only scare people away from GPL software. A far more descriptive and less inflammatory word would be "inductive" or "recursive". I would encourage all slashdotters to not use "viral" to describe the GPL. Instead, use "inductive" or "recursive", as we want to encourage people to use the software and the license, not scare them away.

    Viral would mean that the GPL infects software, and sucks away vitility. "Recursive" would mean that the same license applies to related works and so on ad infinitum.
  • by mini me ( 132455 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @10:20AM (#213380)
    Hahah, I love this idea, I wonder if Camp Chaos [] could be convinced to create this?

    The way I see it, Bill Gates would be in place of Lars Ulrich telling the story about how the GPL is bad and so on, Steve Balmer would take the place of James Hetfield saying Windows GOOD! Linux BAD! and so forth...

    Gates: "Like good afternoon, my name is like Bill Gates from the software giant Microsoft. I'm here today to to talk about open source software."
    Balmer: "Open Source BAD!"
    Gates: "Yeah so like these open source coders are out to destroy our company and destroy the American way. Open source licences are like a virus or something and they well infect you, and your mother fucking code if you use it. You will also turn into an evil communist if you write open source software."
    Balmer: "Communist BAD!"
    Gates: "We spend upwards of 24 to 48 hours writing our code and we don't want you open source zealots to steal our hard earned money!"
    Balmer: "Money GOOD! Open Source BAD!"

    Okay, so the story line isn't great, but I wrote it quickly...
  • how exactly is Sun threatened by Open Source

    At the time the SCSL was introduced, they were still licensing Solaris. Historicly, they weren't exactly open with their Java code either. It just so happened that Sun sells enough hardware and other services that it made sense for them to support OSI compliant licenses. Sun wanted to divide the cake and eat both pieces. They realized they couldn't do that, so they decided to eat the hardware/service piece.

    So, if you want Windows source just wait. MS appears to be trying to move towards hardware with Xbox, and towards services with .Net. At some point, MS may end up being more like Sun or IBM, and then it will actually make sense for them to release source in an OSI compliant manner. Desktop operating systems will probably have to be totally commoditized first, and MSFT will have to totally shift its business model away from shrink-wrapped licensing, but stranger things have happened. Those guys aren't dumb. They realize the clock is ticking on their business no matter what.

    I guess mindless bashing works better for you.

    I usually don't say this, because I think it's pretentious; but I just have to say it: ad hominem.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:46AM (#213382) Journal

    Remember Sun's Community Source License? No? Good reason. It was just a lame attempt to respond to the Open Source threat.

    The funny thing is that Shared Source, if is to be believed, is worse than source code licenses that MS has used in the past. I'm referring to MFC. There was no prohibition against fixing bugs in MFC and incorporating them into your code. As far as I know, there was no prohibition against telling people how to fix bugs in MFC either. In fact, one of MS's fixes for an MFC bug actually told the user to change the source and rebuild it (although there were several alternatives, and that was listed as the least preferable).

    The MFC case just demonstrates that MS, like any other company, will release source to the degree that it makes sense. It just so happens that at this point in time, it doesn't make sense for MS to loosen up their source very much. Let's face it. How many of us, sitting on such a cash cow, would release source?

    I'm not suggesting that MS should go OSI compliant. That would be foolish for them. However, it might be a good idea if they made sources available to anyone who wanted them, and made it legal to distribute patches. This kind of distribution doesn't hurt the bottom line of book publishers, who's "source" is naturally open to all. Distributing patches would be analogous to writing reviews. Copyright law is strong enough to protect book publishers, and it would be strong enough to protect MS too.

  • The most strict definition is to completly contain the orginial peice. The loosest definition is to take an idea or single line of code from the orginial. Since GPL hasn't been tested in court, so we don't know where the line is.

    But the line is almost certainly not defined by the GPL, per se, but by copyright law, on which the GPL depends. Any use of the GPLed code that doesn't rise to the level of copyright infringement shouldn't constitute a GPL violation, as the user only has to accept the GPL in order to avoid violating copyright. Therefore no copyright violation implies no GPL violation. The fact remains that what constitutes a copyright violation is rather fuzzy and has to be determined in court, but that's a potential problem with any license.

  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:48AM (#213384) Homepage
    A lot of people use the LGPL in their software, this allows people to modify source code and sell the final program, as long as they provide the source code of the original LGPLed source (usually a library). Loki does this with all their games with the SDL library. All their games they port are proprietary closed source programs, but they can sell the games with the SDL library packaged with it as long as they allow people free access to the source code of the library.

    Ok now I know that Loki owns the SDL library, but other companies can do this too. They can use and modify the SDL library in their programs, provided they give access to the changes they made to the library. "Intellectual property" is preserved in their proprietary section of code while still being required to release changes to the original source back to the community.
  • Q: Is Microsoft's Shared Source Philosophy a Response to Linux?

    A. Competition is a fundamental motivational force driving innovation and product improvements in many areas of business, ultimately benefiting the end consumer. Linux is one of Microsoft's many competitors.

    The issues that we are discussing in relation to the Commercial Software Model and Shared Source are much larger than Linux or Microsoft. There are fundamental concerns relating to the future of the software industry that need to be addressed. One such issue is the GNU General Public License. The wide use of Linux code and its licensing under the GPL presents a real threat to businesses and individuals who wish to obtain value from their intellectual property.

    Emphasis added.

  • Why can't you sell binaries of GPLed products?

  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:09AM (#213394) Homepage Journal
    Some open source licenses are viral, that is, they require that all derivative works be licensed on the same terms as the original program. These licenses are described as viral because they "infect" derivative programs. Viral licenses vary in how infectious they are, depending on how they define which programs are derivative works.

    Good lord! I had no idea running open source software was so dangerous! I mean, what with the liberal news media and their anti-microsoft slant you'd think it was good american programs like, oh, say.. Outlook that had 'viral' problems.. VBS must be open source.

  • check out their licensing page too... t.asp []
  • Microsoft largely didn't have to FUD OS/2, because IBM was perfectly capabable of fux0ring the product themselves. (The fucking thing didn't even include networking support until about 1995! And, No, SNA doesn't count!) Of course that didn't stop the Teamers from imagining all sorts of conspiritorial slights.

    This attitude has translated over to the Linux community. People post all the time about how Microsoft is "scared" of Linux. Which is completely untrue, as MS is fighting an offensive battle to gain ground in the webserver/database markets that had traditionally been owned by Unix. The day they start moaning about losing fileserver seats to Samba is the day they're on the defensive, but that hasn't happened yet.

    But yeah yeah, Stephen Bartko, one propaganda page at Blah blah whatever. Don't learn your lesson and keep fighting the demons in your own head. It's just another defensive battle which you will lose.
  • Last year Microsoft stated that Sun was it's #1 threat. Have they given up or just lowered their sites? Neither -- they want to *expand* their marketshare by progressively eating away Unix-dominated segments.

    Thinking of it as a "threat" is the paranoid looney take, and most Linux advocacy folks have gone there. "Market opportunity" is the way too look it.

    And writing me off as a "drone" is not only factually incorrect, it's completely unfair and completely stupid. Great fucking way to sell your product.

    I just don't want to sit here and watch another group of idiots blow their whole fucking leg off trying to flamewar Microsoft as the OS/2 guys did. Learn your fucking lesson or perish. There's even a HOW-TO. Read it.
  • I am not here to refer a large nameless group of people as "idoits"

    No you're here to call a large nameless group "brain washed Microfoft (sic) drones".

    You seem possessed of the rather ridiculous idea that operating systems can "rise" and "fall", or be used or rejected by large segments of the operating system purchasing market, due to flamewars on technology discussion sites like this one

    Actually that's the exact idea I'm attacking. Calling your competitors a "threat" is an example of that sort of thinking. The lesson of OS/2 is that a looney fringe *can* hurt a platform's prospects, and that's exactly the tune that Mundie is playing.
  • by MrBogus ( 173033 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @02:00PM (#213403)
    I guess it comes down to what the terms of the source licensing agreement are, and who it's available to. In the past, Microsoft has used source licenses to pick winners in certain product categories and has been sued over that practice.

    Excluding "secret API" FUD, your description of Office development are the exact practices that Corel and Lotus have complained about for many years. You can tune your product using OS source, they can't. Will they be able to under "shared source"? Will (say) an IBM developer working on a juicy piece of middleware that MS wants supported on Windows be forbidden to transfer to the Lotus division?

    I guess it really comes down to if "shared source" is something new, or just a continuance of MS's existing source license policies.
  • by fishbonez ( 177041 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:25AM (#213405)
    "I hate this Slashdot. This hacker zoo. This prison of ideas. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the open source software, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your filthy free software and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it."
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:18AM (#213406) Journal
    We need another position to counter act the positioning of GPL as Viral. Because this is not quite the case

    In fact Microsoft marketing is Viral, because it precludes the options of other solutions, where GPL allows for as many solutions as you desire.

    Correctly identifying the infection verse the AntiBodies is very important

    GPL acts as an AntiBody against certain infections.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • by dR.fuZZo ( 187666 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @11:59AM (#213409)
    Microsoft is entirely correct to say the GLP is viral because all derived works...

    No. Read that part there. "...all derived works..." It's a bad analogy, because a viral infection is unintentional. Making a derived work is a very deliberate act.

    It's more akin to an inoculation where you affect an entire system purposefully. People don't say, "oh no, I'm infected with the polio vaccine; now I can't get polio. Help, I'm being repressed." They took the vaccine because they intended to effect themselves in that way.

  • Now now now... I think you may be jumping the gun a bit.

    While we all know damn well that's what will happen in the long run, this could have some interesting applications right now. I think MS may have a good idea, just implemented poorly- it could be a possibility to bring a little bit of money back to the programmers, which everyone knows is a good step to encourage people to develop more.

    BTW- This article was short, sweet, to the point, and no editorial other than the neutral "Discuss." Are the editors feeling well??
  • Damn, who would have imagined that the Microsoft would try to, with their own proprietary extensions of course, Embrace and Extend the GPL itself!?!

  • Microsoft has a powerful rhetorical sledgehammer with the word "viral", which conjures up images of disease and hacked, crashing computers. Although going by the any press is good press dictum many people will hear this and learn it's not a bad thing, it's still important to formulate a counter-rhetoric to this feint.

    How can we extend the analogy? The GPL is to a virus as M$'s EULA's are to shackles? The analogy won't extend properly because it's based on a faulty premise- that virii are all bad by definition.

    I propose the following: free software is more like the polio vaccine. When asked if he was going to patent the polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk said that would be 'like patenting the sun'. Free software doesn't restrict freedom like a virus that crashes your computer or destroys your body, it preserves freedom by making sure that no one can take away the rights you've got, just as the polio vaccine prevents polio from ravaging the body. So which one's the vaccine and which one's the virus- that's the question we should be asking.

    I think the metaphor is apt and ought to embarass Micro$oft a little.


    ps- feel free to use this metaphor. It's free as in speech.
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:12AM (#213425) Journal
    The wide use of Linux code and its licensing under the GPL presents a real threat to businesses and individuals who wish to obtain value from their intellectual property

    IE, Microsoft. To the end users, it represents a real benefit.


  • Microsoft
    GNU public license

    Source licensees can share source or other source-based work with other source licensees.
    This means, the license is viral in a similar way to the GPL; in order to give the code to someone else, you have to infect the other person with the MSsl. Welcome to the club of viral licensors. MS :-)

    Source is licensed to the requesting organization, not individuals to insure broad internal access.
    The GPL allows a single person to fulfill the american dream and write great code.

    Maybe you, but probably the organization you work for, can use the PARTS and CONCEPTS of the code that you developed yourself commerical. You are DISALLOWED to use parts of the source code of MS commercially or otherwise unless you subscribe to the MSsl.
    The GPL allows you to use all of the code source, but to withhold and use none of it commercially(but you still can base a business on it, just not on keeping the source).

    Microsoft is unable to ship source code under this program to all countries, due to limited resources.
    GNU and other sites are distributing source and binaries to gazillions of users, every one of which is allowed to use the code (Luke).

    I think the score is: 0:2 for GPL

    Possible weak links of the MSsl

    A university could decide to simply accept all living persons on earth as its members, such allowing everyone to look at MS source code.

  • When I'm adding parameters in a function dialog box in Excel, have a question and click the help button, I want it to open the documentation for that particualr function. I do _not_ want to have that stupid dancing computer* pop up to ask me if I want basic assistance and forcing me to click through multiple boxes before playing its song and disappearing. Especially since I've already specified in my prefs that I can't stand the thing.

    If I had access to the source, I could fix it for myself. Sure, I'd rather be able to distribute the patched version. But as long as there isn't a realistic free alternative (I tried KSpread from CVS last night and it's getting there but not yet there), fixing it on my own box is better than nothing.

    Come to think of it, isn't that what RMS wanted to do with that printer driver in the first place?

    * Max, Clippy's slightly less annoying MacOS cousin.

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • Slashdot readers (should) be/are fairly intelligent and can probably come to their own conclusions without being sent obviously biased articles.

    Oh, please. The web page makes adequate references to sources it cites, unlike non-biased news sites like zdnet or c|net, which rarely if ever give you an outside link to a citation. Readers of are more than free to leave the page and check on the veracity of just about anything stated on that web page.

    So, you've gotten just about everything wrong:

    1. You imply that non-biased sources for information on shared source exist, and state openly that is obviously biased. Yet you give no links to or hints as to the existance of these non-biased sources.
    2. Your use of the term yellow journalism is wrong. My dictionary defines yellow journalism as: the use of cheaply sensational or unscrupulous methods in newspapers, etc. to attract or influence the readers. I don't consider to be "cheaply sensational" or "unscrupulous". Apparently you do, but you fail to point out the cheaply sensational and/or unscrupulous features of it.
    3. The page, while obviously biased, has features (like links away from itself) that allow fairly intelligent readers to come to their own conclusions. If you'd cited some non-biased sources that contradict's conclusions, I might have given you points for this one, but you didn't.
  • by wrinkledshirt ( 228541 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @12:19PM (#213435) Homepage

    Q: What is Microsoft's concern with the GNU General Public License?

    A: There is no question that the GPL is a complicated license that has led to a great deal of confusion. For the sake of clarity, we wish to reiterate our basic points in regard to the GPL and other OSS licenses.

    Some open source licenses are viral, that is, they require that all derivative works be licensed on the same terms as the original program. These licenses are described as viral because they "infect" derivative programs. Viral licenses vary in how infectious they are, depending on how they define which programs are derivative works. However, one of the dominant open source license-the GPL-is the most infectious. It attempts to subject any work that includes GPL-licensed code to the GPL. Thus, if a government or business uses even a few lines of GPL-licensed code in a program, and then re-distributes that program to others, it would be required to provide the program under the GPL. And, under the GPL, the recipient must be given access to the source code and the freedom to redistribute the program on a royalty-free basis.

    Open source licenses that are non-viral, on the other hand, permit software developers to integrate the licensed software and its source code into new products, often with much less significant restrictions. A prominent example of this type of license is the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license. The BSD license allows programmers to use, modify, and redistribute the source code and binary code of the original software program, with or without modification. Moreover, programs containing code subject to the BSD license are subject to only limited obligations imposed by that license. This type of license gives users freedom to incorporate their own changes and redistribute them, without requiring them to publish the new source code or allow royalty-free redistribution.

    Q: We're confused. Does this mean that this is the model that you're going to be using for your own shared source strategies?

    A: Ha ha, no. We just wanted to take this opportunity to use certain words like "viral", a word which we unintentionally made popular, against our primary competition.

    Q: Oh. So you have no plans to release your source code free for public use for people to take and incorporate into their projects how they please.

    A: Of course not! What sort of fools do you take us for?

    Q: So your opinion of the GPL and BSD models and licenses is really irrelevent.

    A: Er... yes. But don't tell anyone, 'kay?

  • by Karma Sink ( 229208 ) <> on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:13AM (#213436) Homepage
    However, one of the dominant open source license--the GPL--is the most infectious.

    Now, Personally, I'm more of a BSD licence guy, myself, but Microsoft is totally missing the point here. Of course it's viral. It's supposed to be. The GPL's viral properties keep people from being able to steal GPLed code, in the exact same way that MS will try to keep people from stealing their code. MS treats this viral property as if it were a great evil communist conspiracy, and they need to grow up. The GPL prevents code from being reused without a price, the same way that MS will do the same to anyone who uses any of their shared source.

    The difference, in fact, is that the GPL will give you the choice to use the code, even with the "Viral" license. MS will not let anyone use their code, instead going for their 'Code Under Glass' philosophy. Obviously, there's no questioning which one leads to true 'innovation'.
  • This probably is their strategy with regard to the the promotion of 'shared source' amd as much as it pains me to say this, it's almost a halway valid business strategy...

    I've tried to find fault with it but it doesn't seem blatently wrong; although perhaps anti-competitive, but not ilegal.


  • Microsoft is now allowing universities to get access to Windows source code. This will allow us to learn how they were able to write an OS that causes programs to run differently each time thay are run; in a completely non-deterministic fashion.

    See, Microsoft has contributed to computer science by making otherwise deterministic systems completely non-deterministic. Wait, Isn't that a requirement for true artificial inteligence. See It's a feature. People have been trying to create non-deterministic computing systems for 30 years... And Microsoft has succeeded.

  • Are they going to continue to tell us that Linux has no effect on them? On one hand it is a major competitor and on the other hand it is completely irrelevant to the issues at hand?

    It's funny how competitive Microsoft is, a corporation trying to preserve its bottom line trying to dissuade other corporations from neglecting their bottomlines to purchase (and tether themselves into) their software.

    You can't argue with free... no matter how much propaganda money you throw at it.

  • It would be nice if spin-doctors working for companies that support OSS begin releasing statements such as:

    If GPL is a Virus, than Microsoft's Shared-Source is Death!

    Use GPL and contribute to the community. Use Shared-Source and go to jail!

    Nice soundbite material, stuff the press can easily understand. Doesn't have to be inherently true, just argueable so.

  • This tactic was mentioned in the halloween documents (href=" as a means of competing with brainshare for open source products, back in 1998.

    Funny, Microsoft denies that these documents are offician and then impliments every one of the concepts....

    Of course what they don't want you to see is something like the following:

    Secret Windows 98 code:
    #include "dos.h"
    #include "w311.h"
    #include "win95.h"
    #include "Oldstuff.h"
    #include "EvenMoreStuff.h"
    #include "bluescreen.h"

    int main (){
    make_app_look_really_big (active_application);
    if (check_crashed = 0) \\ if we haven't crashed
    bluescreen (rand);
    sleep (5);
    create_gpf (rand);
    sleep (5);
    bluescreen (rand);
    sleep (5);

    leak_memory (rand);
    bluescreen (rand);
  • According to their FAQ commercial software is good because it produced US$28.2 billion in tax revenue worldwide in Year 2000. (They have a source for this number and I won't pretend to have any idea whether this is true or not.)

    But by this logic wouldn't we all be much better off if Microsoft increased all its prices by a factor of ten, or a hundred, or more? Think of all the extra tax revenue!

    I'm no business-as-usual Republican, but even I would agree that the economy improves as goods and services become cheaper. It's true that by using GPL software companies can save lots of money, but that money won't simply disappear, it can be used to expand the business itself or to give employees raises or be paid in taxes as a portion of the increased revenues accruing to owners. I guess all these are bad now.
  • According to the microsoft webpage there number 1 element for the Shared Source model is:

    1.Community: A strong support community of developers.

    Sorry, but what a crock of shit. It sounds like they want to take some of the ideals of the OSS and FSF to increase their image to developers. A good example is that this page is not on their developer page, but on there business page. It's good that they are showing some source finally (they probably did a grep -r /mscode/* GNU) however, I think there just trying to reap the benifits of OSS.

    The only statement that cannot be questioned, is that every statement can be questioned.
  • yeah, this is great huh? cool way for the Beast to have us pay them, get improvements from the community and then re-incorporate them back into their property without anyone other than the Beast getting squat. um, isn't this usury, or at a minimum severe exploitation of the techno-peasantry?
  • For a while I was beginning to think I would never be able to reconcile the need to run quality robust software, with the requirement to see the source code to ensure it wasn't infected with trojans, backdoors and virii. This new initiative from Microsoft while not being as comrehensive as I'd like, is (in time honoured Microsoft tradition) "good enough".

    Hell, how many people actually want the source code because they are going to actually compile it ? Not many i'd guess. But plenty of people want the source as a kind of comfort factor. I am one of those people. I could not give a flying fuck about whether it is GPL, LGPL, BSD or whatever (they differ only in technicalities) I just want to know that my software is safe and will not allow me to be penetrated via the backdoor with a trojan.

    Anyway, now Microsoft have gone "open source" do we actually need Linux any more ? I mean, sure Windoze costs $$S, but then so does Red$Hat these days...

  • So many brilliant people here seem to overlook one thing. What made microsoft big was not their incredible products. Actually the reverse is true... most of the stuff that microsoft made was complete crud. However, they were lucky and they had and still have a brilliant marketing department.

    So, why will Linux lose? Not because it is not good enough, but because the marketing behind Linux is not sexy enough. Just look at microsoft. Read about them, learn from them.


    • They have great case studies on their website. Just look at the technet site. Where are the Linux case studies?
    • Business talk. They have great white papers on their site. Where are the Linux white papers?
    • Sexy names for "cool new technologies". Linux doesn't have those, and as a result is not sexy enough.
    • freebies. My boss got a free cdrom with some windows ce junk on it, while he has a nicely working palm. He is looking into windows ce handhelds now...

    I am serious. My manager is prepared to throw away his great working palm for a bigger, userUNfriendlier handheld.
    This is the problem Linux faces. Marketing. And this is the area in which Linux will lose big time unless something happens. Look at microsoft, study microsoft, learn from microsoft.

    Read "The Art of War". I did and learnt a lot from it. The first chapter handles about studying your enemy careful. Microsoft does this, Linux (or the whole OSS community) doesn't. This is logical, 99% of the community is coders. But when you want the suits to accept Linux (remember, the suits make the decisions, not the techs), you have to talk like a suit.

    Final note: I have submitted stories like these on here before, but no one listened. I hope this time it will be different (but I doubt it...)

  • Well, something does need to be said for M$'s wanting to keep their source code closed. They can keep a monopoly on their OS. Then again, Apple did that, and they are a cult brand now, but not as powerful as say, M$, who originally built their source to run all sorts of Intel PC clones. Now WindowsXP is going to validate all the hardware and software I have in my PC and make it harder to upgrade my stuff? Guess what, I'm not going to buy it, even if it does have more features than Linux or Apple OS's. It makes it great for supportability and ease of use by the commoner, but they're not going to win any technophiles that way.
  • From this story [] in the Seattle P-I []:
    Microsoft demands the source code for every piece of software supplied by outside companies for use in its own operations, said James Van Dyke, formerly an executive at one such company.

    Van Dyke, now a senior analyst for Jupiter Research, said two years ago he was employed as director of product management for Harbinger Corp., a company producing encryption software and selling it to Microsoft, among other companies.

    "They demanded a copy of our source code if they were to continue to use it," Van Dyke said. "If you're a vendor to Microsoft, you have to give them your source code. There's no question this policy was in place. If someone says it never was, I can tell you firsthand that's not true."

  • To just get in on the fun: the EULA is 5200 words long, the GPL is 2500 words long. Pass that fact on to the PHBs.
  • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @09:47AM (#213475)

    Don't forget that the holy grail of reverse engineering is the Chinese wall between the guy who analyzes the original product and writes the spec documents and the guy(s) who then read the spec documents and design the compatible/replacement product.

    What am I getting at?

    The fundamental requirement for the guys who create the competing/replacement/compatible product is that they must never have viewed any of the original source (if it's software) or viewed the original drawings or workings if it's a machine. This is known as finding "virgins" to do the work. If MS spreads its source code wider via this "shared source" concept, they'll still have all the copyright protection they could ask for and now it will be much harder to find virgins who can work on competing/compatible products.

    Since university students are a huge part of the open source community, MS may be intentionally polluting the community by allowing universities (and their CIS or Computer Engineering students) to see the source to MS operating systems.

    Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I have a hard time believing Microsoft wouldn't resort to such tactics if they thought they could get away with them.

  • by Magumbo ( 414471 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @10:25AM (#213487)
    I've got an idea for the guys at Think Geek regarding this. You know those red and gold (sometimes red and silver) aluminum Chairman Mao badges (e.g. seen here []) the Chinese had back during the Cultural Revolution? Why not make one with the GNU gnu on it instead of Mao? Or what about Tux? Man, that would be cool!

    And no I'm not kidding or trolling. I do believe communism, in theory, is a good idea, and that free software is the only example of communist-like principles done right.

    "Fuck your mama."

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain