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Glibc Is Finally Free Software 337

Posted by timothy
from the after-the-fact dept.
WebMink writes "Despite the fervour of some, the dark secret of every GNU/Linux distribution is that, until August 18 this year, it depended on software that was under a non-Free license — incompatible with the Open Source Definition and non-Free according to Debian and the FSF. A long tale of tenacity and software archeology has finally led to that software appearing under the 3-clause BSD license — ironically, at the behest of an Oracle VP. The result is that glibc, portmap and NFS are no longer tainted."
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Glibc Is Finally Free Software

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  • Re:Sleepycat (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @07:31PM (#33388096)
    It's an improvement over the GPL at least. I read and understood it in completion in < 5 minutes. A person can't truly understand the GPL even after spending > 3 months studying it; most /.'ers are aware only of a tiny (in)significant portion. Sleepycat isn't NEARLY as comprehensive, but simplicity is usually well worth that loss.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @07:37PM (#33388142) Homepage

    Interesting. But how is this "more free"? It's not quite a BSD license if they require the source and binaries contain that notice. Further, what I see is this re-branding of everything from Sun to Oracle all over the place. The latest updates for VirtualBox, OpenOffice and Java did little to patch or improve but most significantly changes everything to containing Oracle branding. I see this as no different.

    Calling this more free while also including requirements such as the ones illustrated above it s bit of a mixed message.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @07:56PM (#33388276)

    Just like you're never really free, unless you have the freedom to lock people up.

    Amusingly, when people use that extra freedom the BSD-license provides, people like you complain.

  • by Hangin10 (704729) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @07:58PM (#33388292)

    What.. how... huh?

    All that shows is someone not understanding their chosen license and getting angry that they didn't get credit for their work.

    Restrictions in the name of freedom is not freedom. Perhaps what you mean is that BSD doesn't work quite so well in a world where people hunger for fame and recognition. I'd bet Data would be BSD if Soong lived long enough to perfect things.

  • Oh no! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rajafarian (49150) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @07:58PM (#33388298)

    I've been living a lie all these years??? Fuk!

  • That pisses me off (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:08PM (#33388358) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, that's aggravating as hell. I just kind of assumed that GNU would have released all of their flagship software under the L?GPL and had no idea that they were distributing non-Free software. They were the one distributor I figured I'd never have to audit the licenses from. Are there any other hidden gems? Is there some shareware in Emacs? Maybe a bit of Shared Source in binutils?

    People have laughed at the BSDs for replacing a lot of common software with locally-developed, BSD-licensed equivalents. That's starting to seem like a much saner alternative.

  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans&gmail,com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:43PM (#33388530) Homepage

    Seriously, based on the article Oracle probably could have chosen to go all copyright infringement lawsuit-happy on every Linux vendor known to man. But instead they relicensed the old code under a free license...*checks the temperature in Hell*

    Oracle not being evil? Yeah, I tried to check the temperature down there, too. Unfortunately, all of my equipment loses too much precision in the microkelvin range.

  • How exactly do you put something into public domain legally, such that you can legally protect them to be in public domain? Really, serious question.

    It is a very good question, and the answer is to use the GPL.

    Um, WTF? GPL is absolutely not similar to public domain; the gpl-violations people repeatedly make this very clear.

    A better answer is, "that's not very clear, could you give an example of what you mean?". About the only thing I think it can sanely mean, is how to prevent other people from claiming it as their work (ie, plagiarism) and suing people (kinda like SCO suing people over Novell's copyrighted code). Maybe something like CC-zero is the answer (you keep a copyright, so you can sue them for... I think it was "slander of title" that Novell used), maybe just make sure your copy with the non-copyright notice gets well indexed by the search engines so any potential victims can find it when they need to defend themselves, maybe plagiarism can be a suable offence separately from copyright violation (I don't think that's the case here in the US, but I hear it might be in much of Europe).

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:50PM (#33388574)
    The GPL has more restrictions than the old Sun RPC license. Glibc had already been free software, the only difference is that now satisfies some misguided notions some people have, that is all.

    We really need to get away with this obsessive legality, and just start giving code away. Someone should be able to say "here, take my code and use it" without someone lecturing them on what they're doing wrong while the free software song is sung out of key in the background. Why don't people want to write or even use free software? Because of all the baggage that comes along with it.
  • Re:Sleepycat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Alastor (742410) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:03PM (#33388636)
    You aren't supposed to read the GPL, only its preamble. The rest of meant for lawyers and is as long as it takes to be bulletproof.
  • by bondsbw (888959) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:20PM (#33388710)

    You keep saying "public domain", but you are using it to define nearly the opposite concept.

    I like to think of it this way. Least free to most free: GPL, BSD/MIT, Public Domain. GPL is very restrictive as to what the licensee can or cannot do with the work. BSD/MIT both allow nearly any use/modification/extension, but requires the licensee to retain copyright notices. Public Domain requires neither; anyone can use and abuse it without retaining copyright notices.

    So is GPL more or less free than a commercial license? Usually less free, but it depends on what you want. The GPL is more restrictive in that source code must be provided, no charge, to anyone who gets a binary copy. Typical mega-corporation commercial licenses prevent modification or extension, and many times even use and reverse-engineering, but I'd say that smaller companies tend to be less restrictive in their licenses than the GPL (barring, of course, redistribution of the original source code).

  • Re:Sleepycat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:22PM (#33388726)
    Any legal agreement that can't be simplified for the common person to understand is not one that should be enforced or signed by that person. I have read the GPL many times over the years (as well as US copyright law) and while I can grok most of the GPL, parts of it continue to elude me. Its textual representation reminds me of bad software writing, decidedly worse than average federal law standards. State law, on the other hand....
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:26PM (#33388740) Journal

    Sleepycat isn't NEARLY as comprehensive, but simplicity is usually well worth that loss.

    When dealing with normal, reasonable people I agree because your audience is trying their best to understand the information you are trying to impart. When dealing with the law your audience is deliberately trying to misinterpret everything you have said to their advantage so you need everything specified absolutely precisely so that there is no possible way they can do that.

  • Re:Sleepycat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Psaakyrn (838406) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:31PM (#33388756)
    That's that the preamble is for.
  • Re:Yea.. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:45PM (#33388828)
    stallman's head is so far up his own ass...
  • Re:SCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:54PM (#33388858) Journal

    What? All this time and SCO never found this?

    A. I'm pretty sure we've established that SCO never really audited the code like they claimed
    B. Even if they had found this, it isn't their copyright and they have no standing to sue.

  • by Spugglefink (1041680) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @10:13PM (#33388954)

    That's a pretty vanilla 3-clause BSD licence just like you'd see anywhere else, I don't see a problem with it.

    Yup. The only thing different about it is that somebody actually bothered to change "The Regents of the University of California" to something else, and put in a date and so on.

    That's actually fairly rare to see. Most people who license code under BSD do so very poorly, just copying the boilerplate and never filling in the blanks.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @10:15PM (#33388966) Homepage

    "How exactly do you put something into public domain legally, such that you can legally protect them to be in public domain? Really, serious question."

    It is a very good question, and the answer is to use the GPL. But more to the point, if you put something into the public domain, then you by definition should be expecting that other people will take your work and close it up inside their own products/works. If you don't want that, then you don't want the public domain.

    Horseshit.

    If your answer to "how do you put something into the public domain, and ensure that it stays in the public domain" boils down to "use the GPL" then one of the following is true:

    • You don't know what public domain means
    • You don't know what the GPL says
    • You don't care that they asked about public domain, you just felt like saying to use the GPL (or, worse, that's all you know)

    The poster obviously knows what public domain means as he crafted a question specific to it.

    A lot of open source licenses specifically allow reuse in a closed system. It doesn't guarantee that a company will show you how they did something. But, it means that as long as people have access to your code, it exists. If it ceases to exist, well, nobody else cared. If it's available for the rest of time, people must have found it useful.

    The GPL is fundamentally not compatible with public domain in that someone else has to provide the source code once something is covered by the GPL. Public domain makes the knowledge public, and the application of it, is up to you.

    While everything you say about the GPL is true, you've either intentionally chosen to disregard what the poster asked, or you simply don't know why someone would want to put code into the public domain and ensure it stayed there.

    GPL software isn't evil, nor is public domain software, nor is BSD. All of the licenses have their own application. In this case, by putting glibc under a BSD license means that anybody is free to include that in their OS if they feel that will make it better. This includes FreeBSD, Linux, Oracle, and, yes, even Microsoft.

    The whole point of public domain (or even BSD software) is that you feel the world is a better place with your software being free than without. If someone you don't like happens to write better software as a result (and not have to GPL their code), then that is life.

    There's a whole range of licenses, and reasons why things are under those licenses. Sticking with only "use the GPL" limits you in that landscape.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday August 26, 2010 @10:54PM (#33389114) Homepage Journal

    FSF's non-blob criteria is incompatible with being able to boot modern PC's on modern CPU's. Good job, guys. Fedora, on the other hand, remains as free as possible a distro for modern PC's. I'll be interested to see how hurd deals with this problem.

    If this was really a concern they'd work hard on advancing the PC architecture to the point that it didn't need such reliance on firmware uploaders. I've never seen FSF do anything like that. Perhaps I missed it, but it seems like it's just ego-inflating to always have something bad to say about everybody.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:07PM (#33389162) Homepage Journal

    Call it the Zero-One Distribution License.

    The license simply states "You may expand upon the works of these two programs as long as you distribute your derivative works freely, full source included, upon completion of a stable build of the program."

    Then have the two programs simply be a binary 1 and binary 0.

    Just get about ten million geeks to sign the thing to make it a solid license, and then start contacting lawyers.

    Collectively sue the absolute shit out of everybody. Force change in software licensing/EULA law is guaranteed.

  • by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:35PM (#33389280)

    Um, WTF? GPL is absolutely not similar to public domain; the gpl-violations people repeatedly make this very clear.

    A better answer is, "that's not very clear, could you give an example of what you mean?". About the only thing I think it can sanely mean, is how to prevent other people from claiming it as their work (ie, plagiarism) and suing people (kinda like SCO suing people over Novell's copyrighted code). Maybe something like CC-zero is the answer (you keep a copyright, so you can sue them for... I think it was "slander of title" that Novell used)

    Um, WTF? being able to prevent other people from claiming it as their work is absolutely not similar to public domain; copyright lawyers repeatedly make this very clear.

    Seriously, how does my post warrant a "WTF" and not yours? The original question wasn't clear. I was stating that if what if what he meant was that he wanted to be able to keep other people from closing up the work, then "public domain" wasn't the right thing, something like the GPL would be. I don't see how your assumption that he was asking how to keep other people from claiming the work as theirs is any clearer. The whole point is that his question is internally inconsistent. I was giving an answer to one interpretation with lots of "ifs" to be sure that's what he meant, while explaining exactly what public domain meant and why it wouldn't be proper in any interpretation of the original question.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:29AM (#33389420) Journal

    I still don't understand why someone didn't just rewrite the code from scratch, using the original as a spec.

    There are a handful of unix libc implementations out there, so someone, in fact, did.

    Additionally, have you ever heard of a derivative work?

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:33AM (#33389584) Journal

    I understand being snide about "linux desktop" Lock-in, Pre-installation, Ignorance etc etc

    The reasons that you gave, plus the rest of your comment, tell me pretty conclusively that you don't.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:54AM (#33389672)

    lots of them around . They typically aim for positions of power .

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:28AM (#33389790) Journal

    One problem with all freedom-vs-authoritarianism arguments is that each side takes such a long time to acknowledge that the other has a different view of the notion of "harmless".

    One of the consequential mistakes made by those campaigning for the freedom[tm] side is the assumption that the authoritarians just have a huge ego: "How dare you impose your opinion on me!!!"

    But the authoritarian is sometimes (N.B.) the one with the lesser ego. He doesn't want alcohol or drugs or gambling or driving or whatever regulated for his own sake, but because he wants to create a more cohesive / safe society - one where prevention is chosen over cure as a solution to problems developed by individuals which others must then solve.

    The entirely freedom-oriented argument might sound enticing at first: "He's harmless - leave him be!" But a junkie, for example, tends not to be harmless, as he's got to get his fix somewhere. Even if he is a junkie with a small retirement account, however, he may get to the point where he needs medical attention. Then who is supposed to pick up the cost? "Leave him to die! He abused his freedom!" some cry. Suddenly, the freedom guy seems less cuddly and kind.

    The offer of security can be abused by tyrants, just as the offer of a cheap meal to any prepared to sit quietly at a table can be abused with a vial of poison. The freedom guy argues from the view that man is so egotistic that an offer for comfort will inevitably be accompanied by an abuse. In the extreme, he is taking the hilariously two-faced Thatcher's rhetoric seriously: "there is no such thing as society" except as an oppressive system which must be crushed.

    To return to alcohol: we have seen that an outright ban does no good, whatever your aim. But its manufacture and sale is still heavily regulated. Is this an imposition of ego? Should it be treated as cocaine at the end of C19? Should cocaine be so treated? What about all other prescription drugs? If I can make them and sell them, why should anyone stop me?

    Well, a lot of people that causality Inc. sell these batches of unregulated drugs to are going to get addicted or overdose. A brain is just another part of the body - to say that it is perfectly rational or perfectly informed is a philosophical fantasy. It will be tempted. It will be weak. It will be ill. And society judges that it's immoral to take (too much) advantage of that - especially when society will have to pick up the pieces.

    Where we have deregulated the extent to which advantage can be taken of the weak, we end up harming everyone: the subprime mortgage hiccough is an obvious contemporary example. Particular individuals got very rich from associated dealings, at the cost of everyone else involved.

    But the authoritarian would stop the salesman selling the mortgage to the unemployed black in in Alabama [youtube.com].

  • by Trogre (513942) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:07AM (#33390118) Homepage

    It looks like they're trying to pull a Lucas and reset the copyright clock.

  • Re:Debian, too? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:36AM (#33390454)

    You want lawyers to not be by the book?! Read the license terms, it was legal.

    Except that they (and consequently we) didn't have the rights to distribute it under the terms of that license. All distribution of glibc until now (and since the NFS-related portions were added) has been illegal. Sun/Oracle could have sued anyone distributing it if they chose to.

  • by apoc.famine (621563) <<apoc.famine> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:02AM (#33392802) Homepage Journal
    Believe me, I love Linux. Been running it is my main OS for 7-8 years now. But Compiz and PulseAudio are not fixed. At all. (At least under Kubuntu)

    My last upgrade still required me to purge PulseAudio before my audio worked, and I get regular notices that "composting was too slow and has been disabled". The last time that happened, I was sitting with my hands 6" from the keyboard and mouse, reading slashdot, with no other programs running. I hadn't touched the computer for at least a minute. And this is on a dual-core desktop, with a decent video card, and a couple GB of ram.

    I've been holding off on an entire system wipe and reinstall, because I need to get around to getting a couple new hard drives anyway. I'm hoping that fixes at least the Compiz problem. But I'm still not impressed with Compiz. If I'd ever seen PulseAudio do anything but destroy all the sound on my computer, I might like it. The philosophy is fucking fantastic, and I've been drooling about it ever since it was announced. It's something that Linux desperately needs. To generically say that everything is fixed, however, is a sweeping overstatement. For you, perhaps. But based on my searches to fix the issues I have, a ton of people are still having a terrible time with those things

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