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DrDOS Inc Breaking GPL 460

Posted by Hemos
from the bad-news-bears dept.
Bob Dobbs writes "DR-DOS 8.1 (DrDOS Inc) came out at the begining of this month, however instead of an upgrade to DR-DOS 8.0 the new product is based on work available on the internet. The work includes shareware utilities, a badly patched version of the kernel work by Udo Kuhnt, drivers (Samsung, ESS) and utilities from FreeDOS and others (e.g. pkzip). Full information on the FreeDOS site. (Cheers FreeDOS!)"
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DrDOS Inc Breaking GPL

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  • by MajorDick (735308) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:45AM (#13864245)
    I mean, Caldera, err...SCO

    The funny thing is DrDOS was Sued , pre Caldera, and won, then Sued MS once (or right before) Caldera Bought it, I think Caldera pulled something like 200 Mil if I remeber out of the suit against MS

    Maybe we should have taken it as a sign of things to come
  • People use DOS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajiva (156759) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:47AM (#13864270)
    Do people out there really use DOS? I can understand an old point of sale system that might still be running DOS 3.3 or 5.0, but why upgrade something that is still working fine. And if you do upgrade, why to DOS?

    --
    http://blogs.sun.com/javawithjiva [sun.com]
    • It is used in many specialized situations.

      I use CNC machines that were built around DOS-based PCs.
    • Re:People use DOS? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enigma_Man (756516)
      Try upgrading the BIOS on your PC without it.
      • Re:People use DOS? (Score:4, Informative)

        by avdp (22065) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:59AM (#13864382)
        Award Bios has a windows-based fully-graphical utility to upgrade its BIOS. you don't boot into it or anything, it just runs in Windows. Not sure how they do it, but there is no DOS involved. The new BIOS is just there after you reboot.
        • Manufacturers have their own windows-based flashers also, but the original BIOS needs to have special switches built into it to enable flashing from Windows, even with the Award Winflash utility (which is a terrible program by the way) (it's dumb, I know, but that's how it is). So if your BIOS is older than the date they started including the switches, or your manufacturer chose not to (or didn't know to) include them, you can't ever use the windows flashers.
      • Actually my IBM/Lenovo T42 Notebook can upgrade its BIOS pretty much automatically within Windows. I have this 'Software Installer' tool by Lenovo which downloads all driver, software and BIOS updates, and with one click installs everything in one go (after agreeing to the EULA, of course).

        The BIOS update actually gets applied at the next reboot, where it prompts me to make sure the notebook is plugged in with a fully charged battery, but there's no DOS in there as far as I can tell (it's an interface wi
    • Re:People use DOS? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      most rollercoasters run DOS in their embedded pc's as well as lots of other computing hardware doing real work (data collection etc...)

      DOS is still a real-work (tm) operating system unlike windows.

      linux is starting to take over in the embedded OS arena simply because you can do much more than you can in dos.

      windows = plaything. DOS = real work OS.
    • Re:People use DOS? (Score:5, Informative)

      by afidel (530433) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:56AM (#13864358)
      I use it regularly for turning old PC's into Citrix clients. When a donated 486 can be turned into a functioning PC for free there's a lot of value in that. I would love a version of DOS with a built in TCP/IP stack and a LANMAN client, it would save me a lot of work having to do all the voodoo magic that it takes to get that stuff working under plain old MSDOS or its clones.
      • Re:People use DOS? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Cramer (69040)
        A little company called ThinkNIC did the same thing with Linux. (they used a tiny mediagx system complete with a freakin' winmodem.) It'd likely take the same amount of work to build a linux image from scratch, but it'd be much easier to maintain once you had it in hand. (Seriously. Who makes DOS drivers anymore?)
    • Re:People use DOS? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ankarbass (882629)
      It's used for embedded applications. Yes, I know linux is also. For some applications, however, all you need or want is a dos compatible file system and an easy way to input and output text information or simple vga graphics. With an embeddable DOS, and an old copy of TurboC (or Quickbasic, believe it or not), a few hours spent rewriting the startup code, just about any old-school engineer can be up and running. The code is understandable by one person AND you can buy licenses for cheap. Yes there's no char
    • It's considerably easier to produce a bootable DOS system from scratch and in less space than it is Linux or something else. Therefore, I expect there's a whole range of applications where it has its place. Basically anywhere a PC is expected to do one thing and one thing only would be a candidate for FreeDOS.
    • I wrote and maintain a DOS application for a publishing company. A few years back they asked me to write a small database that would work on their Windows machine. Since I had (and have) no Windows development tools, I decided to install DOSEMU on one of my Linux computers and use a DOS-based compiler that I still had laying around in my computer junk pile to write their little program.

      That publishing company has grown and now has a multi-user LTSP system running, and my little DOS program has gro
    • I use a DOS boot disk every single time I prep a new hard disk or new system (which in my role as hardware guru for the local user group, is often). I run the partitioner from DOS and do the initial setup in DOS. Thus I not only have more direct control, I also discover sooner when something isn't working. And the whole process is a matter of a few minutes, with no large OS to install and no drivers to locate and/or fight with.

      With a seriously screwed-up machine, it's often much faster to fix Windows from a
  • by psycho8me (711330) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:47AM (#13864274) Journal
    You cannot "break" the gpl. It is a license, not a contract. If you do not agree to it or violate it's terms, you have no license to use the software or make derivative works. If that occurs it is simple copyright infringement.
    • by schon (31600) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:57AM (#13864366)
      you have no license to use the software or make derivative works

      s/ or / to /g

      From the GPLv2, section 0:

      "Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope."
    • You absolutely can break a license. However, I believe you're correct as far as the GPL goes - although there doesn't seem to be an explicit statement to this effect, it appears that an acceptance of the GPL followed by a violation of its terms constitutes automatic revocation of the license.
      • by mrchaotica (681592) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:27PM (#13864596)
        Actually, there is an explicit statement in the GPL to that effect. Namely, term 5:
        You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it.
  • Dell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrEp (89884) <crb002&gmail,com> on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:52AM (#13864312) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't Dell sell some computers with DrDOS? You might try harrasing Dell's lawyers about it. You would probably get a much quicker response. I don't think Dell will be happy knowing that one of their vendors is giving them "pirated" software to install.
  • DrDos Source Code (Score:3, Interesting)

    by graemecoates (592009) on Monday October 24, 2005 @11:57AM (#13864363) Homepage
    Having looked at the DR-DOS pages, there's a link to "Source Code" (here [drdos.com]).

    "Email sales@drdos.com" regarding source code so the site says. However, if there's no GPL file included then it'd be a breach.

    Additionally, from TFA, it'd be interesting to see whether the distribution breaks the terms of the two shareware products that have apparently been included. (Ranish Partition Manager 2.44 & PKZIP 2.04g by PKWARE)
    • Re:DrDos Source Code (Score:3, Informative)

      by ari_j (90255)
      The actual language from the site you linked to is "Email sales@drdos.com for price quote." A price quote is not distribution.
  • by iambarry (134796) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:06PM (#13864439) Homepage
    I'm not sure if I understand correctly.

    It sounds like DRDOS's latest version is just a bunch of software that can be downloaded free from the internet. A collection of GPL'd or other OSS licensed software. They are trying to charge $45 for what would otherwise be free.

    But why would this be illegal? If they have not modified any of the software, how would this even violate the licenses?

    I don't get it. Apologies in advance if I'm being dumb.

    --Barry
    • They are trying to charge $45 for what would otherwise be free. But why would this be illegal? If they have not modified any of the software, how would this even violate the licenses?

      You're confusing "free as in beer" with "free as in freedom." The online utilities they are copying and trying to sell are "free as in freedom" and they cost only a small service, that is if you redistribute them you have to include the original copyright info, license, and offer to provide a copy of the source. That is the

  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:12PM (#13864479) Homepage Journal
    I haven't had my coffee yet, so I may be wrong; but here's what I understand of the issue:

    1)OpenDOS is released circa 1996 by Caldera, with source code for the kernel included. Not sure under what license, but I don't think it was GNU/GPL (correct me if I'm wrong).

    2)Someone starts independent work on the OpenDOS source code and creates several revisions.
    But relicenses under the GPL

    3)A company named Device Logics comes along, buys the rights to DR-DOS from Lineo (who was split off from Caldera a couple of years before they became SCO) and releases a new version (8)

    4)THe guy independently working on the kernel releases Fat32 inhancements, which are snatched (against the terms of teh GPL) by DR-DOS nee' Device Logics

    5)According to the letter by Jim Hall ITFA they also distribute two FreeDOS programs without providing source (this is cut and dried; the maintainers of those programs clearly have a case there; but I'm mentioning this for completeness).

    SOooooooo, what I wonder is this: if the Original IP belonged to Caldera (and now, through aquisition, DR-DOS inc) aren't they free to do with it -and with derived products as
    they see fit?

    If TFA is true, I don't have a really high opinion of these guys (charging $45 for a couple of 3rd-party kernel inhancements and distributing GNU software illictly -without source); but look back at the original license for the kernel source and I bet you ten to one that there is a clause in there which allows this behavior by the owner of the DR DOS code base.

    • by jdavidb (449077) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:25PM (#13864582) Homepage Journal
      As far as I know, there is no Caldera IP in FreeDOS. I think you are conflating FreeDOS and OpenDOS. In particular, I think you're confused on point #2, which may or may not have happened, but was not the genesis of FreeDOS.
      • Device Logics/DR DOS is distributing kernel code written by someone else (Udo Kuunt) based on the original Open Dos source code. I am not sure what the legalese behind the original release of the OpenDOS kernel source code is, and I am not having much luck finding a copy of the license online; but for anyone whose interested, here's a timeline of recent DR DOS/Enhanced Dr DOS [tuwien.ac.at] history to refer to.

        Unless I read TFA wrong, the only way that FreeDOS enters into the picture is that two of the GNU programs distri
    • SOooooooo, what I wonder is this: if the Original IP belonged to Caldera (and now, through aquisition, DR-DOS inc) aren't they free to do with it -and with derived products as
      they see fit?


      Not necessarily. Despite popular understanding/opinion, if you create a copyrighted work and someone else creates a derivitive based on it you do NOT automatically get the copyright on that derivitive work. Each of you still owns their own contributions and neither of you can do anything with the derivitive without some
    • I believe that DR-DOS inc is at least required to formaly name the author of the revised software somewhere because of the GPL. Tonly other thing DR-DOS inc is required to do is provide the source code of the modified modules upon request by a licensed owner of thier produuct.
  • Jumping the Gun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:25PM (#13864584) Homepage Journal
    While DrDOS does look to be breaking the GPL (they need to provide the relevant sourcecode WITHOUT charging for it), this is the type of situation that scares companies away from working with GPL software. The link says they sent an email on 10/20/2005 and that they haven't received a response yet.

    So they gave a company 4 days to respond to something having to do with a legal license? So they were given 4 days to talk to read the email (I've taken 2 days off in a row before), talk to their lawyers (or FIND a lawyer if they didn't have one already), come up with a solution, and respond to the email? Seems like someone jumped the gun on this one.

    Many companies don't really understand the GPL, but will follow its guidelines if they're explained to them. But companies WON'T use GPL software if they see OSS bulldogs going after a company publicly when that company hasn't had a sufficient amount of time to respond.

    At least give them 10 days or so to get their stuff in order, THEN post about how they're screwing stuff up.
    • Re:Jumping the Gun (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ctid (449118) on Monday October 24, 2005 @12:33PM (#13864651) Homepage
      At least give them 10 days or so to get their stuff in order, THEN post about how they're screwing stuff up.

      I can't agree with this. In my opinion, they started screwing up at the point when they started trying to assimilate GPLed software into their commercial product. They could have read the GPL at that point and understood the requirements of the licence and then decided whether they still wanted to proceed. There must have been a significant amount of time between starting the process of creating DRDOS 8.1 and actually releasing the software; if there's a clock ticking, it starts when they started, not when the FreeDOS guys found them out. I don't think that the thing about not understanding the GPL holds water for a commercial company - it beggars belief that you would create a product based on code from someone outside the organisation without involving a lawyer at some point to check it out.
  • His name! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MoogMan (442253) on Monday October 24, 2005 @01:50PM (#13865260)
    Woah, 219 comments and no-one's made a humorous remark about Udo Kuhnt's name?!

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