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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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  • by Nerull (586485) <nerull@tdsCHICAGO.net minus city> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:17PM (#33388018)

    http://spot.livejournal.com/315383.html [livejournal.com]

    This actually gives details.

  • by FunPika (1551249) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:19PM (#33388028) Journal
    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*
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by forkazoo (138186)

      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.

    • SCO (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NuShrike (561140) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @10:36PM (#33388782)

      What? All this time and SCO never found this?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by belmolis (702863)

          SCO actually did hire a consultant to audit the code. Then they ignored his report that there was no infringement.

    • by Alien Being (18488) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:30PM (#33389040)

      Larry Ellison is one of the most contemptuous little pricks I've ever seen at the helm of a major software company. Unlike SCO (new and old) however, Oracle always did actually produce something real.

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Unlike SCO (new and old) however, Oracle always did actually produce something real.

        SCO had a couple of very real UNIX products out there in the '90s, especially back when Linux was still an unsupported toy. I was even unlucky enough (from an ease of use perspective they made Solaris look like Ubuntu) to have to look after a bunch of them in a previous job - though by the time I'd left I'd gotten them about 90% migrated to a combination of RHEL and WBL.

        • by silentcoder (1241496) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:45AM (#33390272) Homepage

          >SCO had a couple of very real UNIX products out there in the '90s

          No they didn't. You're confusing SCO from Utah with Santa Cruz Operations. SCO is a rename of the old company Caldera after they bought the name and rights from the original SCO - now known as Tarantella.

          PLEASE GET THIS CLEAR: The company that sued Linux and the company that made unixware ARE NOT THE SAME COMPANY. They are completely seperate corporations in completely different places started by completely different people and have NOTHING common.
          SCO actually did have two fairly decent products back in the Caldera years. Caldera Linux was perhaps the best desktop distro in it's day (though they were also the first distro to ship with a non-free DE by default [they used KDE back when QT was still non-free]), and DR-DOS was probably the best DOS replacement ever developed.

          The things - Caldera basically died during the UnitedLinux fiasco and never really had another product, they bought the unix business from SCO along with the name, while the old SCO focussed on their security business and became Tarantella, but never did anything with it - except to make the source code of the very first unix kernel available as a free download for curiosity purposes (this ended up counting severely against them in the case they lost- they had effectively declared the unix they owned to be a valueless thing of purely historic interest- and now they want to sue others for supposedly stealing it - ironically there really wasn't any of that code in Linux at any time because it really WAS just of historic interest. What the hell would Linux want with code written in the 1970's for 8-bit CPU's ?)

    • Oracle benefits from Linux: they can provide a complete platform for the main product on it.

    • by ArwynH (883499) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:23AM (#33389248)

      RTFA. The code was used within the permissions granted, so there was no copyright infringement. The problem was that the license, while permissive for 1984 was not up to modern FSF standards and was not GPL compatible (falling foul of the "no other restrictions" clause).

      There was no financial or legal reason for Oracle not to release the code and bad PR if the didn't. It is nice that they did release it of course, because, as I understand it, rewriting it would of been a nightmare.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        The code was used within the permissions granted, so there was no copyright infringement

        Actually, there was, just not in the way that you are thinking. The code contained conditions not present in the LGPL, and this meant that distributing LGPL'd code linked to it is a violation of the LGPL. This means that any downstream distribution of the LGPL'd code (glibc) was a violation of the copyright (owned by the FSF).

        Somewhat amusingly, this now means that the FSF has standing to sue anyone who has ever distributed a version of the GNU platform.

        There was no financial or legal reason for Oracle not to release the code and bad PR if the didn't

        Unless, of course, they wanted to point out the p

  • by Manip (656104) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:23PM (#33388046)
    Now that Glibc is free we can finally have the year of the Linux desktop we've been waiting for since 2001. I know tons of my friends who would always say "I wanted to use Linux but Glibc isn't free!"

    Now with that glaring hole in Linux's offering solved we can move on continuing to ignore the terrible User Experience.
    • by belthize (990217)

      Yes, but it'll cost them a beer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tuppe666 (904118)
      I understand being snide about "linux desktop" Lock-in, Pre-installation, Ignorance etc etc...but what terrible user experience are you referring to...I'm confused you state it as though I should understand, but I don't. I can name large problems with pulseaudio(fixed),compiz(fixed..shiny new version),3D support(only Nvidia to get in on the act but nouveau), wireless(fixed), i8xx intel(hopefully fixed), Flash 64 Bit+GPU accelerated(Gnash does both and YouTube...and its importance has been diminished), but w
      • by SheeEttin (899897)

        The bottom line is the worst thing...the most terrible awful thing I have to experience as a Linux Desktop User is the delay between clicking on Firefox and it appearing.

        That's because Firefox is hueg. It takes just as long to start up in Windows (if not longer).
        By the problems/software you reference, I take it you're on Ubuntu. If you're using a recent version, it should include ureadahead, which should make frequently-accessed files load faster (through caching or something).
        I had Firefox start up auto

      • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:33AM (#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 apoc.famine (621563) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (enimaf.copa)> on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:02AM (#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
  • Oh no! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rajafarian (49150) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:58PM (#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 @09:08PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and to boot, even though this was championed by Fedora, Fedora will probably stay on fsf's list of non-free software distros.

      fsf non-free distro list [gnu.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wrightrocket (1664871)
      I was wondering too, what else is hiding? When will these other time bombs explode?
    • 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

      Seriously. Same for the Debian folk. For years I had to compile netatalk by hand because the debian folk threw a shitstorm over compiling it against OpenSSL because of licensing problems, so it had no encrypted auth support.

      People on debian-legal are famous for being the most righteous, die-hard, by-the-bo

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:21PM (#33388422) Homepage

    I still don't understand why someone didn't just rewrite the code from scratch, using the original as a spec. The original code was released 25 years ago, and is not that huge an amount of code.

  • Sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philj (13777)
    Why the dig at Oracle? Are they the new target for the slashdot crowd?
  • 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/E

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