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Linux-SRT is a project developing a "soft real-time" extension to the Linux kernel; it appears to be oriented toward multimedia applications. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this system is that it is designed to not require any application changes at all - "quality of service" parameters can be set outside of the application itself. (Thanks to Martin Keegan).
StepByStep is a different approach to providing Linux help and documentation. The StepByStep guides do not attempt to provide any sort of comprehensive coverage of a topic; instead, they are intended to be concise, quick guides to making something work.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
January 6, 2000
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From: Larry McVoy <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 18:08:22 -0800 To: email@example.com Subject: you might want to read this Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org [hold] It appears to directly contradict what you are saying in http://lwn.net/2000/features/ncm-dvd.phtml The following court case, http://www.law.emory.edu/7circuit/june96/96-1139.html upholds shrinkwrap licenses, overturning a lower court's claim that shrink wrapis not enforcable. The basic summary is that the vendor can't do stuff like put a license inside that says "because you opened the box, you now owe us another $10,000, and paying us now is your only choice. Ha ha, gotcha.". However, the vendor _can_ put in the box, "your right to use this software is conditional on you obeying the following rules (spell out the rules). You can either agree to these rules or return your software for a full refund." In other words, a vendor can list rules, the court showed multiple examples - from insurance policies to prescription drugs to software - where such rules are listed and are expected to be obeyed. In addition, the court found that shrinkwrap does _not_ violate the UCC, as stated on your web site. The lawyer that OKed that web page appears to be sadly misinformed about the state of the law. And this isn't a recent case, this is from '96. --lm
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Shrinkwrap Licensing This is an update to my feature on shrinkwrap licensing, http://lwn.net/2000/features/ncm-dvd.phtml in response to the LWN editors' and Larry McVoy's comments. LWN introduced the feature with a statement: Should the court rule on the validity of these licenses, it will be interesting to consider how free software licenses differ legally-- if at all--from the commercial shrink-wrap variety. Free Software licenses are based firmly on international copyright law. The UCC (Uniform Commercial code) doesn't apply, because the copyright holders aren't selling you anything. Red Hat doesn't own the copyright on (most of) the code in their box. The UCC places obligations on Red Hat, but not anybody who is not party to the transaction, so the UCC doesn't weaken the GPL. Larry McVoy introduces a more troublesome issue: the U.S. 7th Circuit Court overturned a district decision and upheld a shrink-wrap license: http://www.law.emory.edu/7circuit/june96/96-1139.html The decision is troublesome because its reasoning is very sloppy, reading more like an undergraduate business-school essay than a serious legal document. It dismisses the difference between a license and a contract in one line. It similarly dismisses the very real practical problems of actually getting a refund after a product box is opened. The examples the court takes as valid shrink-wrap licenses are drawn not from legal cases, but from other recent attempts at the same trick which happen not (yet) to have been fought all the way to a court decision. The judges note there is little case law, taking it to indicate that the public implicitly accepts shrink-wrap licenses, despite that (as noted earlier) software companies have routinely avoided trying to enforce such licenses for fear of producing such case law. Its basic argument is expediency: because it would be inconvenient for vendors to obtain agreement from customers to give up their rights under the law, it is sufficient (according to that court) for the vendor simply to assert that customers don't have those rights: Not trying to return the product for a refund constitutes "agreement". A customer who prefers to retain those rights has no recourse other than to try to get a refund (and good luck!). The decision doesn't go so far as to say that a failed good-faith attempt at a refund might negate such an "agreement". Fortunately for the DVD case, the 7th Circuit decision is (I believe) not binding in the 9th Circuit, where the DVD case is being tried. Furthermore, Norwegian law, which has jurisdiction where the reverse-engineering is said to have occurred, does not (according to Otto Skrove Bagge) allow a license to eliminate reverse-engineering rights. Even if a contract-o-matic is held to constitute a valid contract, legally-invalid parts of such a contract are not binding. (Similarly, paragraphs common in real-estate title deeds in Los Angeles, forbidding sale to non-Causasions, are legally meaningless.) The 7th Circuit precedent cries out for well-reasoned contradiction. The DVD case might be an opportunity to evoke one, if only in passing. I am not a lawyer, and the above has not been reviewed for legal accuracy.
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 20:14:13 +0000 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: GPL as shrinkwrap license? [HOLD] As I understand it, the significant difference between say, the GPL and a typical EULA shrink-wrap license from a major proprietary vendor is that the GNU GPL is *not* an end-user license at all. Only distributors and software developers need to agree to the GNU GPL, the license itself says, in paragraph zero, "The act of running the Program is not restricted (...)" because the architects of the GNU GPL explicitly wanted everyone to be able to USE their software. This means that for the purposes of the UCC, GNU GPL software does not have any licensing restrictions applied to it. Purchasers of Gimp CDs are free to use them as frisbees, install and use them on as many machines as they like, and then re-sell the CD without any restriction. Similarly, purchasers of a book are free to read it, use it to prop up a table, discuss the plot with friends, then lend it to those same friends and finally sell it second hand. Other rights are reserved to the publisher, and there are extensive license agreements in place, but like the GNU GPL they DO NOT MATTER to end-users.
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 02:21:59 -0800 (PST) From: Juergen Weber <email@example.com> Subject: Buffer overflow protection To: firstname.lastname@example.org Hello, in the security section of Dec,30,99 you write: > But Linus's main point has always been that a > non-executable stack is a band-aid solution which > does not fix the real > problem - poorly written applications. In an ideal world where there are only wizards like Linus you could fix the poorly written applications problem. The great inventions of computer science made programming more error-prove. Of course memory leaks are signs of poorly written applications, but humans will always make mistakes. So the java approach of freeing the programmer of memory allocation was the way to go. So the real solution is to disallow the execution code on the stack. Juergen (please make my email address "anti-spammed")
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 07:16:35 -0700 From: Ray Whitmer <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: GNU/Linux I read your recent item on the name of: GNU/Linux versus Linux. At first, it sounded to me like a silly dispute. But after reviewing the GNU's page on this topic, I find that GNU's claims warrant consideration. Most developers understand that GNU has for years supplied many pieces, and Linux was "only" a plugged-in kernel, predating the Linux kernel by many years. I believe GNU claims 28% of the current size versus 4% in the Linux kernel, although it is not clear to me which pieces they count. There are also many other large valuable parts of the combined O/S without which the kernel would be much less useful -- I think especially of the XFree project. It is not easy to make sure everyone receives due credit as things evolve over time. Calling it just Linux may seem to trivialize those other efforts. While it is not clear how to make this fair to everyone, perhaps in the future multiple kernels will become available to plug in, and it will become even more obvious than ever that the Linux kernel itself, while quite important today, is only a small part. I have friends who value FreeBSD and other OS's -- there could be value in joining compatible parts of various movements under a more-generic banner. Ray Whitmer email@example.com
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 12:34:02 -0600 (CST) From: Dave Finton <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Comment on your white paper I do disagree with your assertions about Linux vs. NT. In fact I will highlight a few "innacuracies" in your white paper (http://www.auroradev.com/whitepapers/open_source.htm) that need to be addressed. These aren't minor hiccups, but serious drawbacks to what I was hoping would be a serious commentary on open source vs. NT You said: Since Linux is a network operating system, Linux may be a threat to high-end NT, but not to desktop Windows: Microsoft Access, Office, and VB development will continue to flourish independently of the network architecture. I reply: NT *will* continue to flourish... even in the high-end and well as the low end. But you've seemed to miss the point that Linux is already flourishing at all these levels as well. Over 30% of all web servers use Linux. Linux is being taken seriously in our university (U of Minnesota Duluth) ITSS department, which has always been staunchly Netware-, Solaris-, and NT-centric. Linux is around you in all levels; you simply fail to see it. Also Linux is booming on the desktop. People who I didn't even think would consider using it (i.e. the "average joe") are telling their friends they've installed Red Hat or Mandrake Linux on their machines and really like it. And guess what? They're *using* it too, in increasing numbers. Frankly, your hypothetical situation does not exist in the real world. You said: The Palm Pilot was the last great hope in the anti-Microsoft camp. Microsoft responded with Windows CE, a lean and mean operating system designed to run on handheld computers, palm devices, car radios, and cell phones. This great new OS supports color screens (where is that color Palm Pilot?) and much superior handwriting recognition. There are CE versions of all your favorite Office Products, and a Visual Basic developer?s kit for CE. I could not tell you how to wirte an application for Palm Pilots (not even Java with its Write once Run many fame can run on a Palm without major modifications to the core language.), however, I can create a Pocket Access or VB application for the CE in minutes. I reply: Ah, so that's why Palm Pilot still is beating CE in virtually every market I know of, and has been doing so for *years*. Portability of apps to the CE devices cannot overcome Windows' flaws on the handheld devices. Palm is simply better. You said: Most Linux installations in production are UNIX shops that run $160,000 + SUN servers. You can get the same power, scalability and performance with Microsoft Cluster Services and NT for one third the price! I reply: Uh, Linux is free, and it comes with the same power, scalability, and performance with Beowulf Cluster services and Linux comes at zero thirds the price! Linux is making *serious* inroads into many markets, particularly in formerly NT-centric shops where Microsoft has disappointed IT managers one too many times. NT is simply not a cure-all. Mind you, neither is Linux, but I can't agree with your premises here. I find your "white paper" technically misleading and innacurate, and cannot take it seriously as such. I have to implore you to take a serious look into the marketplace. The results may surprise you. - Dave Finton p.s. On a final note, you're probably assuming that Microsoft is unbeatable. Remember when they said the same about IBM and DEC? Nobody's glory years last forever. --------------------------------------------------------- | If an infinite number of monkeys typed randomly at | | an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite | | amount of time, they would eventually type out | | this sentencdfjg sd84wUUlksaWQE~kd ::. | | ----------------------------------------------------- | | Name: Dave Finton | | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | | Web Page: http://surazal.nerp.net/ | ---------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 08:17:56 -0500 To: email@example.com From: "Gregor N. Purdy" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Fwd: An idea LWN-- I sent the following to the FSF after reading about the Amazon.com boycott. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Someone else has to have thought of this, but I haven't run across it anywhere in my "travels" yet. As long as the current PTO stance remains uncorrected, things like this will happen. If the past is any guide to the future, any correction to this will take a long time. Therefore, while pursuing a correction to the policies and practices of the PTO is vital, we should be looking for ways to relieve some pain in the interim. I suggest that we seek out "Angels" in companies that are making money from free software, such as Red Hat and VA Linux, and via fundraising through LPF and GNU to fund a legal entity that will file for and defend patents with automatic free license granting similar to the provisions of the GPL. So, we can put together patent applications for important techniques that we fear will be stolen from the community by companies through inappropriate PTO usage. Once patents are granted, usage of the techniques will fall under the license agreement mentioned above, which will state that no entity holding software patents that are not licensed under this license may use the technique (not even for a fee). As the portfolio builds, and hopefully with a lot of help from the commercial folks who live by free software both in funding and in generating patents, we can start to carve out some free territory. And, by setting an example, hopefully we can pull in other companies that *want* to play with the free software folks, convincing them to either (a) transfer their patents to this other entity or (b) retain official ownership, but permanently license them according to the GNU Intellectual Property License (GIPL), or whatever the thing is called. Stop software patents! But, in the mean time, take some defensive action. Besides, this would probably bring a lot of attention to the issue... If companies are creating the patents in order to get recognition of their achievements (an idea which fails for the "simple and obvious" category), then there shouldn't be any issue subsequently licensing them this way or transferring ownership. The free software community has always been big on giving credit where credit is due (and only where due). For those companies doing it for the purpose of protectionism (weak) or extortion (evil), hopefully we can create an uncomfortable environment for them between now and when the problem is fixed. --Gregor N. Purdy Focus Research, Inc. email@example.com
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 12:29:07 -0500 From: atorrey To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Thoughts on the Amazon boycott This is likely to get me flamed, but I have serious doubts about the potential effectiveness of the Open Source community's call for a boycott of Amazon.com over the One Click software patent. While we like to tell each other how 'special' we all are, the practical hard fact is that the Open Source world, even if we include all our friends, is not all that big a percentage of the world. Even the most successful boycott is unlikely to have a major impact on Amazon's bottom line. (A similiar logic could most likely be applied to other calls for boycotts of other companies for S/W patents) Indeed, Amazon is big enough that there are often few on-line alternatives, especially if one also finds Barney igNoble obnoxious. While I am not saying to dump the boycott, to me it is not using our talents to their best advantage. Amazon is a marketting specialist, and a boycott is trying to beat them at marketing, why tackle them on their own turf? If you want to beat someone, it is best to work from your strongest position. Why not let Amazon keep their patent, just like we let another major corporation keep it's O/S, and go for 'world domination' with our strongest skill set. Go to Barnes & Noble, and offer to help them develop a non-patent infringing, improved, equivalent to One Click. (One possible idea - how about if the system enabled a single checkout from an entire shopping session, involving multiple e-stores?) Obviously it would have the string attached that it would be Open Source, perhaps with a limitation in the liscence that it was only open to companies that did not use software patents to limit competition... Which idea would you think would make Jeff Bezos more nervous - the thought that a few hundred geeks might take their business elsewhere? Or that those same geeks, who include some of the worlds best programmers, are going to go help the competion build a better website? ART (Please do not include my E-mail address, if you must, please anti-spam it...)