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User Journal

Journal Journal: My favorite rebuttals ...

Sometimes I manage to make valid points and things are good, but hardly worth remembering. My favorites are the times I manage to nail a solid response to common Slashdot drivel. This is where I'm going to start tracking my favs in perpetuity. Here we goes:

MS Doesn't Brainwash PHBs
User Journal

Journal Journal: The Looming Handset OS War

Getting anything onto a handset takes a very close relationship with the handset maker. That real estate is extremely limited and every bit is accounted for. From MS's financials, they are subsidizing their phone OS to gain traction and that's a dangerous gift for the handset makers to fall for. If MS does manage to capture a majority of the handset market, handset makers can expect them to raise prices and eat into their profit margins.

That said, Nokia is the big fish to contend with in handsets. Due to Symbian, MS won't get Nokia to buy in unless they can get everybody else to buy in first. MS has gotten Samsung, Siemens and now Motorola to at least try their OS. They've even gotten Ericsson to dabble in portions of it. Although they've yet to make quantifiable inroads, the relationships required to turn up the heat are well established and cannot be taken lightly by the remaining of the Big 8, namely Nokia, LGE, Panasonic, and NEC. Keep you eye on the Japanese handset market, they (not Europe or the Americas) dictate the direction of the handset market. If the Embedded Linux Consortium holds together, it could pose the single most significant barrier to the MS Smartphone ever gaining traction.

Journal Journal: BM Patents: The End of Innovation as We Know It.

The current darth of business method patents can all be traced back to the State Street Bank vs. Signature Financial Group case heard before the Supreme Court in 1996. More information on the case is available here.

This article is a WIP ...

Journal Journal: SCO: Did SCOs Own Developers Submit the "Copied" Code?

Looks like SCO's case against Linux had yet another leg kicked out from under it. Due to some craft detective work, it appears that basis of virtually all of the infringing code SCO claims is in Linux was actually contributed by SCO developers post-Caldera acquisition.

This particular link details many submissions by Chris Hellwig while employed by SCO. These submissions appear to center around ABI and JFS, both points of infringement according to SCO.

This second link details the submissions of Tigran Aivazian which center on the Kernel core and microcode.

If these developers contributed code to Linux, it's entirely likely that they used that same code back in the SCO product line. In this case, there was no misappropriation as SCO currently claims and the issue is effectively moot.

With regards to the GPL and copyrights, there is a Copyright notice in the Linux kernel code from Caldera. Remember, Linux is the "program/work" released under the GPL, each individual file need not bear a copyright notice. Also, a quick grep reveals that there are many contributions from "", "", and "" email addresses. That said, SCO has stated that the 2.2 kernel is not infringing, this means that the infringing code was inserted in the 2.4 timeframe which dates to January 30, 2001. The oldest development release of 2.4 I could locate was dated August 11, 2000. Not so ironically, Caldera purchased SCO on August 2, 2000, so code donated by Caldera from the SCO code base to 2.4.0 would fall under the GPL. All that time between August and January was available for Caldera (ie. ex-SCO) developers to donate SCO code to Linux.

Journal Journal: Linux: 10 Reasons why HW Vendors Don't Provide Linux Drivers

This is just a discussion piece. The idea is to list the top reasons why many hardware vendors do not provide Linux drivers for their hardware. Although there is no blanket answer for this question, the following list is my first crack at it:

1) There are already open source drivers for the chipsets used in the products

2) They have no Linux trained engineers to write and support the drivers in the first place

3) They are afraid of the GPL'd nature of Linux

4) The drivers contain 3rd party code and the 3rd party will not approve a Linux platform release.

5) They don't believe that providing a Linux driver will have a material impact on sales

6) They don't want to risk angering MS and risk loosing access to driver bundling and/or early software releases

7) The drivers rely heavily on infrastructure built into Windows (ie. Win-Modem drivers)

8) They are reselling rebranded 3rd party hardware

9) They prefer to release technical specifcations and let the community build open source drivers that can be directly incorporated into the kernel source tree

10) They are working on drivers but have not released them to the public

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list but I believe it covers most of the reasons I've heard either in person or via postings. I didn't want to get into rebuffing any of these points since that could get very verbose. These points are just here for discussion purposes.

Journal Journal: Linux: SCO Blew it, now everybody go home

I've put A and B together and have a near bullet proof argument that SCO has released any "copied" code under the GPL intentionally or not.

The crux of this case is that SCO knew about the "copied" code in March, yet they continued to distribute the software until May, and even as late as July. Normally, this would not appear to be a cause for concern. However, when we combine section 4 of the GPL with public comments by Mr. Chris Sontag, VP of SCO Source, we have a concrete statement of absolution. As per section 4 of the GPL:

4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.

Now, a quote from Mr. Sontag, SCO will continue to support SCO Linux users and "hold them harmless from any SCO intellectual property issues regarding SCO Linux and Caldera OpenLinux products,". The statement is repeated in question 8 in a document on the Caldera site here. Long story short, this is a breach of the GPL. They cannot only absolve Caldera Linux users under the GPL, so SCOs license under the GPL was effectively terminated, and as a result they've unwittingly freed the infringing code to the GPL in the process as per section 4 of the GPL.

Mr. Sontag should have kept quiet because beyond the IBM suit, this case now has a near 0% chance of succeeding, even if code was copied verbatim. The only remaining possibility, assuming code was copied verbatim, would be for SCO to have the GPL itself completely discredited.

Journal Journal: Linux: Binary-only kernel modules and the GPL

Binary-only drivers are acceptable but they cannot be part of a "distribution" which includes the kernel. The key word here is "distribution" since the GPL prohibits redistribution of GPL'd work without source code. As a distributor, you can get around that limitation by either making the binary-only drivers separate downloads or place them on separate physical media from the kernel.

Let me try to explain why this is acceptable as I understand it. Almost all bin-only drivers use GPL'd wrappers. A GPL'd wrapper is simply a kernel module that is open source and which interfaces with the kernel for a binary-only driver. If the binary only driver then communicates solely via the API presented by it's wrapper then there is no violation of the GPL. This is tricky to explain but the concept is that since the author of the GPL'd wrapper and the bin-only module are one and the same, there is no GPL conflict since the copyright owner is free to redistribute without regards to the terms of the GPL.

Journal Journal: Linux: The utilmate expression of capitalism?

A particular comment that I have finally grown tired of hearing is that Linux is somehow driven by communistic tendencies. These ill informed comments always make me pause to wonder where these individuals draw such assumptions from.

A capitalistic society is one that values free and open competition. Such societies are characterized by many sellers selling closely related goods to many buyers. On the other hand, a communistic society is one in which goods are owned in common and as such there is no concept of trade. Linux is fully owned by the copyright holders. The GNU General Public License is exactly that, a license. There is no transfer of ownership ever mentioned in the GNU. Since there is no transfer of ownership and much less any common ownership, it cannot be communistic in nature.

Reverting back to the subject of capitalism, the GNU GPL fully supports the right to charge for the act of distributing Linux. This means you are free to charge $1,000,000,000 for your Linux distribution if you care to try. However, you are highly unlikely to actually get $1,000,000,000 for your distribution when a competitor can sell the same Linux software for $50. In this sense, it's a prefect free market product, many people can sell their distributions containing Linux to many buyers. Contrast this with Microsoft which operates in a monopolistic market.

In monopolistic markets the fundamental mechanics of capitalism and free markets no longer exist since barriers to entry are insurmountable to any competitors. Those who seek to protect such monopolies, by preventing the state from restoring a free and open market, are in effect advocating a form of fascism which has as a central tenet the forceful suppression of competition.

This is why I simply cannot reconcile the view of those who think Linux is communism in disguise. To this end, I have three possible explanations: either the individual is ingorant of the provisions of the GNU GPL, the individual is ignorant of the tenets of capitalism/communism, or the individual is in effect exposing fascism over capitalism. Personally, the fact that Linux, via the GNU GPL, encourages free and open competition means that it is an expression of the truest form of capitalism.

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If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields