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Caldera

Caldera to Open Part of UNIX Source 141

Andy Tai writes: "According to this Caldera press release, Caldera is beginning to release the components of the original Unix source code under the GPL or other licenses (such as Caldera's Open Access license). While some of these Unix utilities (grep and awk) may not be very useful, since GNU equivalents have been available for many years, the original Unix tools going GPL has a big symbolic meaning--the original Unix is gradually becoming Free Software! Unix was the giant RMS aimed to replace. Now GNU is gradually taking the place of the original Unix."
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Caldera to Open Part of UNIX Source

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  • Rather, GNU is slowly becoming irrelevant as people decide to release free software on their own terms.

    Besides, just cause the source is being opened doesn't mean that Unix is becoming free. It's just becoming open source. This seems to be the same ghastly mistake that I've seen many people modded down for. Surely such an error should be clarified on the front page... unless it's really that confusing and we should just admit that the ideologies so highly regarded (and viciously defended) here are arranged as a house of cards similar to Microsoft's own source code.

    Hey, at least "embrace, extend, crush to death" is easy to follow along with.
    • by lupercalia ( 310569 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2001 @08:46AM (#2202001)
      Er, read the article. The source is not just being open sourced, but GPLed. So it *is* becoming Free Software.

      It doesn't have to be official GNU software to be Free; it only has to be under a Free license.

      And don't think for a moment that this would have happened without both the GNU project and the Linux kernel -- dare I say GNU/Linux? The GNU utilities have gotten better than most of their proprietary equivalents, and Linux is quickly getting better than the proprietary Unices. That's why the vendors are slowly giving way to the unstoppable Linux. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Please, Mr. Insightful, please tell me with a straight face that this is happening on their own terms. Please tell me this would have happened in the absence of Linux/BSD.


      I'm not saying it's a completely bad thing, just take off the rose colored glasses. OSS copied Unix, mostly replaced it, and this is an attempt by Caldera to try and get some market share back, or just throw out some (now irrelevant) code that won't do them any good any more, thanks to Linux et al. They were #1 in servers, you guys copied their functionality and gutted their customer base, so what should they do now?


      And it is 'free' but hardly on their own terms.

    • I agree, somewhat. I'm not sure that GNU is becoming irrelevent more than it's evolving. Every movement evolves over time into something more (and different) than it originally was. the GPL had the explicit and stated purpose of damaging the commercial software market back when it was first written, but it has served a greater purpose. It has given rise to a whole sociological structure which has grown out from - and perhaps beyond - it, prompting others to follow the path laid out by RMS, but aparently, given his recent comments, not to the degree he'd like. I wouldn't presume to suggest that the Open Source movement has outgrown it's original leadership - on the contrary, it's important to have many voices promoting various degrees of orthodoxy in any movement, but companies who has previously subscribed to a software product model are beginning to see value in Open Source (as opposed to those founded specifically to make use of Open Source) and allowing these companies to adopt aspects of the value structure of the Open SOurce movement without having questions of orthodoxy thrown at them from all sides is critical to that adoption.
      "Our intention is to steer the middle course in the public debate -- it's not a case of free or Open Source versus proprietary, but both, as the situation warrants. We believe the industry is evolving to a model where source code is freely available, innovation is nurtured at the grass roots, and businesses, such as Caldera, can add value as both product and service companies."
      Open Source moderates like Ransom Love are important to the movement and while I applaud Caldera's decision, I don't believe it will signal the decent of GNU (software or philosophy) into irrelevence, but rather it signals the evolution of Open Source.

      --CTH
      • I'd like to personally congratulate Ransom Love on this one - for the first time in recent history, he's managed to open his mouth and not immediately cram his foot in edgewise. It's nice to see the guy start to have a clue about Linux and the open source world.

    • "Rather, GNU is slowly becoming irrelevant as people decide to release free software on their own terms." NOT!

      A quick search on sourceforge finds 12,038 of 25,460 projects use the GPL. The developers choice, mostly. So their so-called "own terms" is the GPL in the overwhelming majority of cases. The remaining 13000+ projects are divided amongst a bunch of different licenses, none of which comes close to the GPL's 12,000.

      GNU is far far far from irrelevant. Get your facts straight before splattering mis-truths about.

      Maybe I misunderstand you, but to me (and yes, I use the GPL for my projects) I kindof equate releasing code under the GPL with supporting the GNU project, at least it's ideals of software freedom.
      • A quick search on sourceforge finds 12,038 of 25,460 projects use the GPL. The developers choice, mostly. So their so-called "own terms" is the GPL in the overwhelming majority of cases.

        Being licensed under the GPL does not make something GNU software.

        Get your facts straight before splattering mis-truths about.

        Please follow your own advice.

        Dinivin
        • I did get my facts straight. And I didn't even come close to saying that all GPL'd software is GNU software. But that wasn't the topic, now was it?

          I even qualified my comment by stating my own bias. You're just looking to pick a fight, aren't you?
          • No, it doesn't look like he is to me. Are you?


            Read it again:

            Rather, GNU is slowly becoming irrelevant as people decide to release free software on their own terms.


            That's what he said, and to that you gave a call right outta the eighties: NOT!


            You:

            I did get my facts straight. And I didn't even come close to saying that all GPL'd software is GNU software. But that wasn't the topic, now was it?


            See the above. The question: "is gnu still relevant?" Part of GNU is officially "GNU Software." Not all free software. Not all GPL'd software. It doesn't matter how many of those projects on Sourceforge are under the GPL or the LGPL- they're not official GNU software, or part of GNU as an organization. Get over yourself buddy.

            Now, if you're a non-native english speaker, I think I could look past this.

          • The original poster remarked that GNU is becoming irrelevent.

            You responded by (incorrectly) pointing out that the vast majority of projects at sourceforge are GPLed and, therefore, GNU isn't becoming irrelevant.

            I responded to you by pointing out that being GPLed doesn't make a project GNU, therefore your point is moot (we won't even go into the incorrect statement that the majority of projects at sourceforge are GPLed).

            You have yet to show that "GNU isn't even close to becoming irrelevant."

            Dinivin
            • GNU is irrelevant when many projects are GPL'ing their code? Let's see, GPL stands for . . .

              GNU General Public License.

              Hm. What are those 1st three letters? Oh, GNU. Yea, everyone's adapting THEIR license. Why? Maybe because they ARE relevant?

          • I even qualified my comment by stating my own bias. You're just looking to pick a fight, aren't you?

            He he. If you're user ID wasn't so low, I would say "Welcome to the world of posting on slashdot!". ^_^
      • by Anonymous Coward
        A quick review of sourceforge finds 25,460 projects, 25,400 of which are skinnable graphical front ends for MP3 players.

        The rest are logfile manipulation perl scripts.

        Get real, guys.
    • This is either a troll or the poster is clueless. The software mentioned in the article *is* becoming free (as opposed to open source), as it's being released under the terms of the GPL.

      Incidentally, if a moderator were to mod the above post as off-topic or a troll, then he/she would most likely get meta-moderated as unfair, because that post looks reasonable when read out of context... Bummer. :-(
    • Sure seem to be a lot of people confusing GNU and GPL. They're different things.

      If a Unix uses the GNU suite of tools, then how is GNU irrelevant?

      If a Unix is released under the GPL license, then how does that have anything to do with the GNU suite of tools?

    • Rather, GNU is slowly becoming irrelevant as people decide to release free software on their own terms.

      Heh, that's a laugh. Caldera is releasing the source under the GPL. In other words, they are releasing the source under GNU's terms.

      The reason that they are doing this is also pathetically obvious. No one in their right mind is going to use SCO's crufty awk and grep when they can use GNU's much better equivalents (unless their need for these pieces of software are trivial). Caldera is farming out these packages in the hopes that someone will take an interest in them, and so that their few remaining Unixware customers will stop bugging Caldera about fixing them.

      Now Caldera will be able to say "You have the source, fix it yourselves, or better yet download the GNU tools and use them."

      It is also fairly straightforward why they are releasing the source under the GPL and not some other license. If you have a large useable codebase that is currently proprietary you would be crazy to release it under anything but the GPL. After all, the copyright owner of a GPLed work can still release closed source proprietary packages of the code (released under a different license), however the GPL guarantees that your competitors can't scoop up your code and do the same.

      The GPL, and with it all developers that are willing to release source under the GPL (like those wacky folks at the Free Software Foundation), are winning the war of the Free licenses. Sure, there are some major Free Software packages that are still available under BSD and X style licenses, but the vast majority of new software (especially software donated by corporations) is released under the GPL. Mozilla, Open Office, KDE, QT, MySQL, and now Caldera's grep and awk are all released under the GPL.

      In short, being GPL compatible is more important now than it has ever been, giving the FSF more power than ever.

      • It is also fairly straightforward why they are releasing the source under the GPL and not some other license. If you have a large useable codebase that is currently proprietary you would be crazy to release it under anything but the GPL. After all, the copyright owner of a GPLed work can still release closed source proprietary packages of the code (released under a different license), however the GPL guarantees that your competitors can't scoop up your code and do the same.

        I'm all for the GPL -- but what does it offer Caldera in this case that a proprietary license with source released to customers on similar terms (change it in-house, but no distribution allowed) wouldn't do? Competitors would still be legally prohibited from using the code, thanks to standard copyright legislation.

        (I understand the other benefits of releasing under the GPL -- especially the PR aspect :) -- but I do take issue with your contention that the GPL was the only way to go for them to prevent improper usage.)
        • Yes, Caldera is basically pulling a publicity stunt with this software release. In fact, for all the good that their versions of awk and grep are likely to do they might as well be releasing the original UNIX version of hello-world.c. GNU grep and gawk are far superior to Caldera's version, and there are already BSD versions of grep and awk for those folks that don't appreciate the GPL.

          Now, if their version of awk and grep were cool, then the GPL would make better sense. They would almost certainly lure more developers to their version (so they would get free help maintaining their software), and if they required copyright assignation they could still continue to release binary versions under a different license.

          In this particular case the one really good reason for using the GPL over some proprietary license that allowed source access is that the GPL is much easier to adminster for both Caldera and their customers. The GPL is also clearly GPL compatible, and that helps as well. Sure, there are other ways of preventing "improper" usage (they could have maintained the software under the old commercial license, for example), but the GPL is one of the better ways to release source code while still maintaining a modicum of control over the source.

  • This is a welcome addition to the Open-Source community. I'm glad they've made the contribution.

  • Not useful? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by castlan ( 255560 )
    I would say this is indeed very useful, if you have any Legacy UNIX machines still operating. Now their (in some cases) ancient software can be updated or bugfixed where they were previously unsupported. Similar programs, like grep, can be comprehensively compared for differences in functionality. They can also be generally compared for efficiency of code, and (in the case of GNU compatible licensing) even be possibly merged with their GNU equivalents.

    This is, for many I'll guess, more than just symbolic.

    And I'll bet that RMS feels damn fuzzy inside...
    • I would argue this. First off, these ancient utilities have been hacked to support threading etc. This makes them incompatible with the legacy UNICES. The value of these two tools are in my opinion purely educational.

      Alex
  • Now that linux can replace all the "gnu" stuff with "original" unix counterparts, doesn't this effectlively create a true linux distribution free of the laws of the FSF? Interestingly enough IMHO the free software foundations freedoms seem restrictive. What is true freedom if you have to have a license to restrict that freedom? Gimme the good old public domain days!


    I hope they can release a compiler! :)

    • Brings to mind, in a former life, I was co-author of a public domain program, and also found the FSF/GNU to be too restrictive. The program was a composite of snippets of public domain code from wherever, and there was no way to sort out who wrote what parts, what was PD and what was original, etc. So, we had to say "NO" to to RMS himself. That was a drag! - I like and respect RMS and to have our program asked to become GNU was quite a compliment, but ah, well "the devil's in the details..."
    • Contents of limited source release (requiring signed licence agreement): regexp libarary (including grep), awk, and AIM perfomance benchmarks.

      Contents of GNU libraries: autotools, bash, binutils, C library, chess, emacs, gcc ...
      http://www.gnu.org/software/software.html

      What's so great about AT&T unix, anyway?
      • Mainly the historical value. People want to look at the code to see how things were done then. It ran on, IIRC, 8 bit machines as well as 16 bit. It might be interesting to port it to a 286, if you could find one, as the 286 probably had as much, or more, power as the PDP-8.
    • Traditionally, the unix kernel is named unix or unix.00. Replacing a kernel does not replace the OS.

      The kernel itself is nearly worthless, all it does is boot and provide system calls, etc. The whole slew of other programs and utilities are what makes the OS. If UNIX utility source code is released it will just get sucked into GNU as the GNU tools are way better than old UNIX ones for the most part. The GNU replacements typically have like 500% more functionality than classic ones and have only slightly lesser performance in some cases. Anyone who really cares if UNIX grep is 3% faster that GNU probably doesn't consider price to be a factor anyways. Personally, I use grep maybe once a month or so, big deal.


      Having used both old SCO and Linux, I would have to say that Linux is far superior. SCO had its bugs too, but everyone was so scared because it was so expensive that "exposing a bug" was more like "you aren't supposed to be using this, come over to my office, etc."

      Linux, however is more understood and it is acceptable to do things like ~reboot~ and stuff that would usually crash a SCO box.

  • The GNU versions of utilities, as was mentioned, have now become a superset of the original utilities that they replaced - who would give up bash for funky 'ole sh (even ksh?)?? It is a symbolic victory, nothing more. The richness of driver support for the Linux Kernel is another example - the hardware support for SCO/SysV pales in comparison.
    • Point taken regarding most Unix utilities versus the GNU ones, but ksh versus bash is a bad example. Bash is only just now catching up with ksh as a scripting language. Its wasn't until the most recent release of bash that I could get many of my 10 year old ksh functions to execute under bash. Plus, there is a version of ksh with scriptable Motif calls build in (ala tk/tcl).
  • GNU's Not Unix.. But Unix is Gnu? :)

    Bad joke, please forgive me :)
  • I don't mean this to be interpeted as flamebait, but, if most of what is being released is of little real value (as michael seems to be implying) then Caldera's motive must be that they need some positive PR.

    Granted, benchmarks are interesting and useful, but I don't see the value in releasing a bunch of code that has been replaced, other that to try and get a little positive press from the Open Source folks.
  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2001 @08:43AM (#2201995) Homepage

    This would have been great ten years ago, but today the original "awk", "grep", etc are worthless. Even when I started with Unix ~1990 the first thing I did when I got a new Sun box was install the GNU tools. Even then the commercial versions were generally inferior.

    If I were the cynical type (who me?) I'd say that Caldera has realised that everybody prefers the GNU utilities, and that their proprietary versions have no commercial value. They figure they might as well score some PR points by releasing the code.

    Contrast this with IBM, which has ported and Freed it's JFS - a modern file system that represents an import feature (and selling point) of AIX. So when will Caldera release SCO's clustering code? Probably ten year's after Linux clustering is mature.

  • ..from what i understand...is at&t developed UNIX, opened the code in the 70's or so, it got closed and bought, what did get out evolved into BSD, Linux, ETC..., and now their opening it back up again..... why the heck did they close it in the first place? it was already out and being used, and then later adapted...was it just corporate greed in action?

    odd
    • Re:so basically.... (Score:2, Informative)

      by NitsujTPU ( 19263 )
      The source code was distributed with UNIX, but the terms of the license pretty much said not to sell the code or give it away. It was open source (the souce comes with the product), just not "free" in the way that that the GPL states or as in beer. BSD was originally rooted in college students rewriting large chunks of this code as part of a course in operating systems, the code made its way into textbooks and could be bought and sold. AT&T didn't like this obviously. I remember large parts of this story being in "Geeks (1.0 or 2.0)" so you might go there for more details.

      By the By, linux is not based on ANY of this code, it was written from scratch, which is why it is posix but not unix (and only posix if the distribution is posix, many fail this test).
    • "why the heck did they close it in the first place? "

      To make money, you know those grean papers that pays you bills.
  • makes you wonder... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    if one day Windows will be GPL too.
  • by |guillaume| ( 151395 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2001 @08:48AM (#2202010)
    Unix was the giant RMS aimed to replace. Now GNU is gradually taking the place of the original Unix."
    So from now on I guess we will have to call it GNU/Unix.
    • Re:Name it right... (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Reminds me of on the Atari ST, there was a multitasking kernel called MiNT (meaning Mint is not TOS, TOS was the Atari OS). Eventually Atari
      employed the MiNT creator, and released a new OS based around MiNT, MiNT became Mint is NOW TOS.

      Seems GNU could do the same thing GNU's NOW Unix
    • In that case, GNU should expand to "GNU's not GNU/Unix". Hrm... something is wrong here.

      OTOH with the original Unix tools and the Linux kernel, you'll put an end in the "Linux vs. GNU/Linux" war.
  • ...I know, obviously they can and they are. :) But I was just under the impression that the UNIX copyright was owned by AT&T. How can Caldera release the source to it? I'm glad they are, though.
    • Re:Can they do that? (Score:2, Informative)

      by ixmo ( 207698 )
      Few years ago, Santa Cruz Operation (aka SCO, a long-time producer and seller of Unix for i386) bought the AT&T Unix sources (and the name) from Novell. Few months ago, Caldera acquired SCO. So Caldera now owns Unix.

      By the way: Ray Noorda, one of Caldera's founders (or financees) and former Novell CEO, was the guy who BOUGHT the Unix sources during his time at Novell. VERY bright guy he is!

      ix

      • Yes, Novell realized back in the early 1990s that NetWare on its own could not continue to defend itself from the onslaught of Windows NT. Noorda's answer: buy UNIX from AT&T, and turn out a version of UNIX that could easily integrate into existing NetWare shops as an application server (which NetWare just couldn't do reliably).

        The result, UnixWare, flopped horribly.

        UnixWare 1.0 demonstrated that Novell didn't know anything about Unix. After a somewhat improved 2.0 release, Novell finally sold it and Unix Systems Labs to SCO.

        SCO did their best with UnixWare and OpenServer, but Linux and Windows started eating into their already small market big time. So their solution was to throw in the towel: sell it all to Caldera, including OpenServer, and hope they could do something with it.

        Caldera is probably the best thing that as happened to UNIX since it left AT&T. Unlike Novell, Caldera understands what it can do. Unlike SCO, Caldera understands where it needs to go in the future.

        Incidentally, though I don't remember the exact order of events, Noorda's interest in *nix on x86 was the reason for his (rather, The Canopy Group's) funding of Caldera in the first place.
  • Will he be happy that UNIX is released under the GPL, thus fulfilling his original dream when starting the GNU project? Or will he still be annoyed at Caldera (and Ransom Love)?

    I really, really hope that he is gracious enough to acknowlege contributions to his cause, no matter who they come from. If he can, it will go a long way toward redeeming himself from the recent /. controversies. C'mon RMS, restore my faith :)!
  • by m0RpHeus ( 122706 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2001 @09:02AM (#2202056)
    I can almost see it... a few years from now... GNU IS NOW UNIX!

    BWAHAHAHAHA!
  • by SEGV ( 1677 )
    Hasn't the source to the original (Aho Weinberg Kernighan) version of awk been available for quite awhile?

    [Although I suppose that may not have been the AT&T Unix version.]
  • The drawback is: you currently can't compile awk on Linux - awk's yacc source file makes problems (unfortunately I never worked with yacc, else I'd fix it by myself :-/). libregex brings many warnings, but grep compiles without problems.
  • Perhaps we can take the best of Unix and put in linux, eh?

    --Prepare yourself, the day [yi.org] is comming

  • Since GNU is NOT UNIX i think it is quite cool that original Unix Tools are Open source...
    but what does that mean: HP-UX, AIX etc. also open source? aren't these systems also depending on the original unix programs or are these systems 100% proprietary?
    • ...does that mean: HP-UX, AIX etc. also open source?

      Nope. Licensing is not retroactive. The proprietary versions are still subject to their original license (i.e., they'll need Caldera's permission if they want to GPL their Unix-derived code), but any future derivations will be GPLed.

  • I suspect that the cost of supporting the old Unix utilities as proprietary code is a bit higher than supporting the GNU utilities. I look for them to GPL every thing except the kernel (including drivers). There are some things that can't be GPLed because of copyright or licensing issues, and those will be open-sourced in some other way. Certainly is cheaper than hiring (or keeping) developers on staff...
    • There are some things that can't be GPLed because of copyright or licensing issues...

      Not so. Because of various acquisitions over the years, Caldera owns all the copyrights, and is the one who holds all the licenses. Whether or not to use the GPL is entirely Caldera's decision to make.

  • GNU's Now UNIX!

    F.O.Dobbs
  • While releasing it is a great gesture and a nice thing to do. And it is pretty cool in the fact that at least someone has gotten the clue that older software should be set free. It still feels wierd.

    Kinda like your ex-wife returning years later saying "sorry, will you take me back?" after you've gotten remarried.

    Thanks for releasing it though. It will make great material for acedemic discussions and dissection.
  • That's what happens when something stagnates long enough. It gets replaced by something else that is better. Note that this would not happen to Microsoft; they keep adding new value to their product faster than it can be replicated by someone else. That way they prevent competitors from copying them and stealing their market.
  • So what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by alsta ( 9424 )
    The GNU versions of grep and awk are much better than the original UNIX variants. Also, people have had access to the GNU versions for a long time and they are well within their capabilities to support any of the arguments/options that their UNIX counterparts do. With that out of the world, what does this whole Open Sourcing of grep and awk mean?

    It's rather like throwing us Linux users a bone. Nothing more. The aforementioned utilities are aged and not terribly useful. Granted, this is a start. But until we see some SVR5 kernel source code and perhaps some POSIX implementation code, this is nothing more than getting a headline on slashdot.

    I think Caldera expects some immediate return here. Regretfully they can't expect this in terms of monetary means. I am not going to buy Caldera Linux because they are nice and release two utilities.

    What could potentially be useful is the regex engine. Even though the DFA and NFA engines are both pretty specified and there are GNU implementations of both DFA and NFA compliant engines, there are the matters of POSIX regex which are implemented halfway. This regex engine has been POSIX certified which means that implementational considerations may be dealt with. That is if Caldera was going to use GPL for this. If Caldera uses its own license, which pretty much restricts people from using derivative code, it's rather useless anyway except for educational purposes.

    Now when I see an anonymous CVS repository containing the kernel, threading library implementation et al and these are signed with GPL/BSD compliant licensing, then I'll jump. Before that, I'll just sit tight.

    Alex
  • In other troll news today, RMS is trying to take control of UNIX. Using his dreaded GPL license and several years of hard work, the so-called-GNU project has been spitting in the face of other UNIX contributors. AT&T is not pleased and has threatened to leave the project and fork the code into a new project called Plan 9.

    today's subliminal message:
    Build a peer-to-peer interactive supercomputer using Octave, Matlab*P, and COSM.
  • We'll see if they purge Dennis Ritchie's complier/login backdoor.
  • Finally it struck me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by new500 ( 128819 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2001 @06:18PM (#2202492)

    . . .

    Why anyone can open source virtually anything.

    This may be a simple argument, and I know full well (now nearly entering my second decade in business for myself) that there are pitfalls and management snafus galore in what I am about to say

    . . . _but_ . . .

    [preamble] for all the years I fought to understand what it takes to make a living independantly in business, and damn, I tried and only when I'm getting old do I lear the implest of thinsg a child could understand by rote (repetition learning) there are forces afoot in business which are a simple function of wider systems - of capital, society and economics for sure, you've come across those before - but most of all in terms of indidual motivation to go out and set up a business.

    [more preamble] I like to tell colleagues (who are cherished people for having put up with me for all these years - (we're a partnership not a corp)) how when Seymour Cray moved from Cray Computer to set up Cray Research (Cray 3 and 4, which though amazing never came to production) and even when he had _all_ that kudos, respect, and massive funding(well, 100mln usd is still big to me;), of all the 50,000 or so people who were directly or indirectly dependant on his old firm, only 6 or so - just a handfull - people went with him to the new venture. It's a story that makes me sober even after a long cold beer.

    [now to the point] What I am saying is that even if IBM or SUN or Microsoft opened their crown jewels to the public and gave them away - and I'm presuming here for the sake of agument that Microsoft giving away it's source would not make them the laughing stock of the known universe - then who just who is going to set up and compete with them?

    I'll qualify that statement a little bit. I guess if you are a small and needy company, you could get very hurt by doing this. But my perspective as the founder of such a company is that - short of someone else completely bs talking away your customers, which is always a real likelihood, and something to be managed in any event if you want to survive - maybe _then_ you don't want to throw your tech and IP into the hands of ruthless competitors.

    My point stands, however (I think) that the amount of energy and resources required to set up and compete with any company, whatever the size, is huge.

    I know you are saying that if I gave you the secrets to my business, then you'd be at some VC's door and getting funding in a second. But then, if your memory is good, or you have a penchant for studying financial markets, ask yourself why there are always industry or philosophy based booms and bust. - someone works out the internet is a good idea and everyone and their dog gets on the bandwagon, leaving no funding or attention for anything else. Remember a little further back to the conglomerate boom of the seventies. It was just the same. Or for railroads (the very reason why the NYSE exists today because all the burnt investors who'd bought worthless paper wanted a systematised environment to offload their bum purchases).

    Community - financial techincal social or ad - hoc is a _movement_, it takes some motivating and working on. Individuals with good ideas, or sometimes even good observations on code (outside of open - source that is) so rarely make a difference. Politics and business is about propogation of relatively simple ideas. Therefore observations based on early knowledge about complex underlying systems are rarely capitalised or successful. The world is looking elsewhere.

    I hope that some guys over in some companies who are large enough to not feel frightened by the downside to what I say listen up. You _can_ open source everything , especially if you are big and strong. In that spirit I just tried to convey to you some smple thoughts which - believe you me, or pity me as you will, took me a good deal of investment to come up with over the years.

    Anyone wanting a more intelligent or expanded argument better reply and I'll come back with what I can later.

    • I think you're missing the point if you think it's all about competition. Imagine Microsoft opened it's code... now let's say some medium size company that has been paying a few thousand dollars to license all of it's employees to use Windows and Office. Now this company only has to buy a CD for $30 and pass it around to everyone in the company. Microsoft's profit just decreased by several orders of magnitude. I would expect the NASDAQ to collapse shortly thereafter.
      • .

        I think you're missing the point if you think it's all about competition. Imagine Microsoft opened it's code... now let's say some medium size company that has been paying a few thousand dollars to license all of it's employees to use Windows and Office. Now this company only has to buy a CD for $30 and pass it around to everyone in the company. Microsoft's profit just decreased by several orders of magnitude. I would expect the NASDAQ to collapse shortly thereafter

        .

        Well, I ought to come clean here just a little - checking back on my user history [slashdot.org] might have given you a clue to my response to your comment.

        In essence, companies can healthily expand their presentation of even crucial systems and knowledge to the public. There's good reason for this to become a worthwhile social and economic function of corporations, just like they file accounts with the SEC or whoever. Companies so often die, without a trace of heir experience being left or else enclose knowledge within themselves that no - one can ever learn from their mistakes, or their learning processes. I remember coming across the Autofile [fourmilab.ch] some time back and realising what a power of information it was to see how a small company started. Good coders can extrapolate the same experience within software.

        I'm not going to tell you that everythng should be GPL'd - I didn't say that. Nor did I say that you could cookie cutter / rip / or compile any "freed" code for commercial advantage.

        For that to happen you'd have to uproot nearly a century of copyright law development. And I refer you, in part, to some of my earlier posts by way of a quick but sparse advocates's explanation.

        You can't simply take someone's ideas and work and re -use it.

        The real reason why big corps are still scared of open - cource, even non - GPL open - source is because free distribution tends to imply a free license to use _for_personal_interests_ in copyright law.

        That's the same basis of argument that you can keep a copy of a newspaper or CD you bought but not sell copies to other people. Which is a freedom which DMCA et.al - or rather the process of Case Law interpretations driven by ill advised commercial protagonism of a poorly written law, could manage to infringe.

        There's nothing to say that by my "freeing" some code you have any right to circumvent my right to charge a fee for its use. Technicians in the audience might now comment how a corp has become equivalent to a person in law (it has rights, and can be sued for manslaughter and be held accountable) but I can only assure you that whilst corp = person for some analogies, corp != person in legal reality.

        You might use my "freed" code and burn your own CD for your own use, non - profit. But could you explain to me how a company - as distinct from a non - profit organisation - could claim it was not using my code for gain?

        Amusingly, - nay, importantly - most of copyright and asociated trademark and IP law is derived from the concept of Tort of Deception - that you gain something by being not what you purport to be, or that you get advantage by assuming the "makeup" of another person's work.

        That, if you think about it, would be applicable to the code scenario you suggest. A user without an explicit license to derive benefit from my ("freed" code) work would be using their computer to pose as the results of my original effort. I hope that's some help. By way of disclaimer I manage and regularly defend IP property for a living, when not writing code or postng to /.

    • What is Dell's intellectual property? Compaq? Gateway? What does ANY of them have that one of the others can't do?

      They make PCs. They make white boxes with a brand name. They assemble commodity parts, interchangeable components available from multiple manufacturers.

      The PC drove the minicomputer out of business, and has driven the mainframe to a niche role. Precisely because every vendor copied every other vendor's best stuff, did it even cheaper, and then improved on it. Not to found some dynasty where it could rest on its laurels, but to sell the next 6 months worth of product. They had to keep moving to stay alive, and this gave us Moore's law.

      Is this BLATANTLY obvious, or is it just me? A smaller slice of the bigger pie. Absolute ruler of nothing, or a regular citizen in a rich and prosperous country...

      Rob
  • the original Unix is gradually becoming Free Software!

    I think some has a woody.

    Now GNU is gradually taking the place of the original Unix.

    Gee duh! How much does UNIX cost? How much does GNU/Linux cost? What is easier for people to use UNIX or some GNU/Linux distro? Its all about numbers people

  • Every time I look at the Caldera logo, I don't 'see' it as intended: It looks like a red globe with part of the classic Mickey (one ear and part of his face) shadowed in Blue.

  • Sorry, but at this point, I view SCO's/Caldera's UNIX source code as contamination and a distraction. The GNU utilities and other free software utilities are much better written, much more robust, and often much more efficient. In fact, the reason why the GNU utilities were so mature and widely used by the time Linux came around was because many people had already been running almost all open source systems on their proprietary workstations for years: MIT X11, GNU utilities and compilers, and a few non-GNU free software packages. That's also what O'Reilly got started on.

    The original UNIX source code is best relegated to the historical archives. If you are considering packaging that stuff up for an open source distribution, you should get your fingers slapped :-)

    • And how would you know that the original UNIX tools aren't as good as the GNU tools? I would much rather have tools that are backwards-compliant with tons of scripts written back in the 70's and 80's. Who knows if the GNU tools are able to do this? I personally don't have the _need_ for this thing, but many others do.

      And, getting slightly off topic, I am sick of the attitude of some people in the Linux community that all GNU tools are better than anything else out there. This doesn't necessarily apply to you, but it is an attitude that is very prevalent in the community any more. If you honestly believe the GNU tools are better, please provide me with some reasons.
      • And how would you know that the original UNIX tools aren't as good as the GNU tools?

        Well, because I started using UNIX in 1981 and have used pretty much every major version starting with V7, including Bell Labs internal versions. I have also lived through the evolution of the GNU tools and reported many bugs in them over the years (it's pointless to report bugs in the UNIX tools--they never get fixed by commercial vendors) and used them side-by-side with the UNIX tools.

        The GNU utilities were written from the ground up with the idea of imposing no fixed size limits, being able to deal with binary inputs, and being backwards compatible with the UNIX utilities, and they have largely succeeded. The GNU tools often also use better algorithms and better data structures internally.

        UNIX utilities used to just dump core on commands like "grep foo /vmunix", although much of that has at least been fixed. They often still have arbitrary limits and other problems. Try something like the following on Solaris:

        $ perl -e 'print "x" x 1000000,"\n";' | awk '{$i++}'
        awk: record `xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx...' too long
        Broken Pipe
        $

        I still have scripts from the early 1980's, and they run fine with the GNU utilities; that was a major goal of GNU. I shudder at the thought of having to go back to the commercial UNIX equivalents of the GNU tools.

      • The GNU tools do offer backwards compatibility by striving for posix compliance and offering strict posix compliance modes (i.e. setting the POSIXLY_CORRECT env variable for gnu grep, gawk, etc..) which disables the improved behavior which may cause problems for those 70's scripts of which you speak.

        As far as knowing that the original unix tools aren't as good as the GNU (or even the updated SVR4 stuff as you do say "original") equivilants.. If you have to ask, I would have to assume that you just haven't used them to any degree. Really. Get an hpux 9.x box off ebay or just find an old 3.X version of SCO (derived from SVR3.2) and install it over your linux partition. You'll be very greatful for the fact that things have progressed since that time. The gnu utilities offer richer feature sets which aid in system administration, have a more uniform interface method, and are plain less buggy and more secure due to sane programming guidelines. That and proprietary unix vendors would go years without fixing known bugs. These are the reasons people had been installing the gnu utilities long before linux helped make "open source" a popular buzzword. Back in the day when mindless managers hadn't heard of it and so couldn't forbid it ;)

  • GNU's Not GNU?
  • I'd be careful with the use of the word 'original' - it implies that you're getting the source from circa 1970 or something.

    Actually what you're getting is the current version of the source as used in the latest version of Unix (Open Unix 8 as they're calling it).

  • Read the article! They release some tools under the GPL, but the OS is not released under the GPL, nor are parts of that OS. The source of the OS (Open Unix 8) is released to members of the development program who 'request' the sourcecode (hey, where did we hear that before!) :)
  • While many will see this annoucement as proof that the GNU camp has finally "beaten" the commercial
    Unices, I think we should concentrate on what can be gained from the release of some or all of the official "UNIX" code. I think one positive aspect is that now we (the GNU/Linux community) have access (possibly) to the real /bin/sh and real /bin/csh and (hopefully) many other "real" Unix commands, it may be possible to create a Linux which *IS* Unix (not just a clone). I think the blurring between Linux and other Unices will help to reinforce Linux as a mainstream Unix (and so get support from major software producers, the sort of people who currently support HP, IRIX and Solaris but not Linux). We should also be thinking about what we can do to add back into the Unix source... This should be a two-way path! I think the announcement by Caldera is a positive move, and should be generally welcomed. Persoanlly, I wonder what effect this might have to the BSD camp? Might it be time to "heal" those old wounds and reunite Unix. I accept there are now GNU<->BSD license issues, but the chance for a unified Unix must me one step closer!

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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