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Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
February 22, 2001
From: "Neuer, David" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RTLinux patent Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 09:59:52 -0500 I am opposed to software patents. However, if one has to patent software, this is the type of licensing I'd like to see more of. The idea of saying, "OK. I can play by the IP rules. And according to those rules and my terms, to use my IP you either have to a) fundamentally eschew traditional notions of IP protection by making anything you do with my IP a possible stepping stone to your own competitors' economic success -- by licensing your work under the GPL; or b) pay me huge -- possibly prohibitive -- sums of money" pleases me due to the irony of using IP law to defeat the purpose of the same twisted IP laws. It's only unfortunate that there are so many alternatives to RTLinux in the real-time space that this type of licensing situation won't help to precipitate the demise of software patents. I'd love to have seen this happen in a market segment so dominated by big, proprietary software companies that the sound of their lobbying efforts to do away with software patents became deafening.
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 16:36:36 +0100 (CET) From: Jean-Marc Saffroy <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RTLinux patent: probable prior art The concepts covered by the RTLinux patent seem so broad that there is probably prior art that could invalidate it. A colleague of mine, who was already working here when our lab was still the OSF Research Institute, has reminded me of the MkLinux and MK-PA projects: both are general purpose operating systems (Linux and HP-UX) running on top of a real-time scheduler (the OSF implementation of the Mach microkernel). You can find more detailed information on these (old) projects here: http://www.ri.silicomp.com/technologies/os.html#info I don't know if this is enough to invalidate the patent, but at least this is the proof that the ideas in the RTLinux patent are certainly not new. Regards, -- Jean-Marc Saffroy - Research Engineer - Silicomp Research Institute mailto:email@example.com
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 10:48:29 -0500 From: Pierre Baillargeon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: RTLinux licencing In the article about RTLinux patent, Mr. Victor Yodaiken argues about the reasons behinds the licensing of his patent. If we are to judge his position from what has been reported, we are bound to find his reasoning incomplete. To quote his argumentation, according to the article: "Those who want to use the RTLinux method and do not want to license their code under the GPL are, according to Mr. Yodaiken, doing proprietary work. Such people should be both willing and able to pay for the previous proprietary work (such at the RTLinux patent) that they make use of. He sees people who wish to use RTLinux in proprietary products without paying as would-be free riders, and sees no justification for any complaints that they might make." And further: "Mr. Yodaiken expresses respect for those who are opposed to software patents (while disagreeing with them), but has little patience for those who wish to make money off other peoples' work." It would seem that Mr. Yodaiken fails to apply his own logic to himself. According to this logic, isn't Mr. Yodaiken taking a free ride and making money off the people who developed Linux? After all, if a company develops a proprietary solution using RTLinux, then RTLinux is making money from proprietary work using Linux, a free system. According to the logic, RTLinux would thus have to pay off the Linux developers. Also, can someone simply distribute their proprietary work under a dual license to get off the hook and make money while not paying any licensing? If that is so, then RTAI has nothing to fear.
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 09:12:40 +0100 From: Lothar Werzinger <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: RTLinux Patent issue As you stated the patent is mainly about two core issues: > Running a general-purpose operating system (i.e. Linux) as a > low-priority process under a real-time system. The general purpose > system is not allowed to block the real-time system from executing > whenever it needs to. > Placing an emulation layer between hardware interrupts and the > general-purpose system. Linux thinks it is working with interrupts as > always, but RTLinux is pulling the strings behind the scenes. I wonder if that would affect Companies like Venturecom (http://www.vci.com/) that provide a similar RT layer beneath Windows NT (RTX). It would be interesting if they may have a prior arts attack against the RTLinux patent. Lothar Werzinger -- Lothar Werzinger Dipl.-Ing.Univ. Dept. R&D (Abt. EW) Phone: +49-(0)9401/70-3499 KRONES AG Fax: +49-(0)9401/70-3679 Böhmerwaldstraße 5 WWW: http://www.krones.de D-93068 Neutraubling, Germany eMail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 16:10:17 +0100 From: Fred Mobach <email@example.com> To: Linux Weekly News <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: The RTLinux patent Hello, In the February 15, 2001 issue Mr. Yodaiken's position is been said to be : > His position is that he has made an innovation that he has a right to > exploit. Nonetheless, he wishes to make it freely available to anybody > who is working with code licensed under the GPL. He sees this as a > fulfillment of his obligation to the free software community" Perhaps it is time for Mr. Yodaiken to study the Free Software Foundation's opinion regarding Free Software licenses, which can be found at http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/license-list.html. I don't know why some think that Richard Stallman is radical, he does acknowledge here at least 13 other licenses as Free Software licenses. My stance at software patents is clear, see my sig. I deny anyone the right to impose limits on my freedom to write programs for my computers and the computers of my clients, friends or whomever else. Regards, Fred -- Fred Mobach - email@example.com - firstname.lastname@example.org Systemhouse Mobach bv - The Netherlands - since 1976 /"\ --software patents will burn in hell-- \ / --and software patent holders also-- X ASCII RIBBON CAMPAIGN / \ AGAINST HTML MAIL
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 23:54:01 -0800 To: email@example.com Subject: BIND vulnerablility From: Rick Moen <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear Ms. Coolbaugh and Mr. Corbet: I applaud your effort to cover the field of alternatives to the problematic BIND v. 8 DNS server, including the unusual and ambitious djbdns package. The latter's classification as "almost free" was... almost persuasive. In the name of completeness, here are some additional candidates, to add to your lineup of djbdns, CustomDNS, Dents, and ENS: Hubert Tonneau's Pliant DNS Server (http://pliant.cx/pliant/protocol/dns/) is implmented in his Pliant programming language, a cross between the logical and procedural language types. It has apparently reached a design-complete stage, as a "partial DNS server implementation, according to RFC 1035". It is offered under the GNU GPL. Roland Schemer and Rob Riepel's lbnamed (http://www.stanford.edu/~riepel/lbnamed/) is a DNS server implemented in Perl, capable of serving from SQL (and other) database back-ends, with the additional capability of managing a load-balancing system (e.g., for Web farms). It is BSD-licensed. Eddieware's lbdns (http://eddie.sourceforge.net/lbdns.html) is a very similar package, with full-featured DNS and support for and monitoring of load-balanced systems. It is offered under the Erlang Public License (very similar to the MPL). -- Cheers, "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us Rick Moen in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." email@example.com -- Artemus Ward (1834-67), U.S. journalist
From: "Scott Morizot" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 15:49:05 -0600 Subject: djbdns Hello, I read the letters from the djbdns supporters. As usual, they're a very vocal bunch. I don't really care that much about the DNS software any individual uses, but there is one point that is the key one for most people out there. djbdns doesn't support the full suite of DNS related standards. For instance, it doesn't support the IETF DNSSEC standard and the author of the software has repeatedly stated he has no intention of supporting it. He prefers his own approach. Similarly, he's stated he has no intention of supporting the IETF IXFR standard. Again, he prefers his own approach. And, last time I checked, djbdns didn't support the IETF Notify standard. Those are just three examples, but enough to illustrate the point. If you want to implement software that takes a different approach to issues than the standards outlined by the IETF, that's fine. I don't have a problem with that, and I doubt it bothers very many people anywhere. Maybe some people don't need those features or are perfectly happy with the non-standard approach. The majority of us, however, prefer to stick to products that adhere as closely as possible to the IETF standards. Right now that's BIND. Of course, the author of djbdns is perfectly free to submit his approach to the IETF for consideration as a standard in any area where he deviates. That's legitimate as well. Of course, if an approach is adopted as a standard, BIND will implement it as well. But the competition would be nice. However, particularly for something as critical as DNS, the majority of us will quietly stick with the product that strives to adhere to all of the IETF standards, not just the ones the authors like. All the protestations of its supporters aside, that's the issue that will keep djbdns a (comparatively) fringe player in the DNS arena. I don't think any of us would object to more real competition in DNS software. Heck, I don't think the ISC would object to more real competition. But most of us have been burned enough to want to steer clear of people and products playing a standards game.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 10:28:16 +0100 From: Sergio Callegari <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: SIAE law Your feature about the new Italian law 248/2000 is excellent, and it is very important to debate these new regulations, to make them known in countries other than Italy and to help confronting how intellectual property (IP) is protected in different countries. I would like to point out some other issues of the new law: 1) The new law suggests that it can have legal consequences to separate a medium from its SIAE stamp. However, the stamp is usually placed on CD plastic cases rather than on CDROMs themselves (I suspect that a stamp placed on a CD could make it useless). Unfortunately, this makes the CDROM medium extremely risky. Consider how often it happens to replace a broken CDROM case with a new one, or to place CDROMS in CDROM holders where only the disks fit and the cases do not. 2) SIAE means "Italian Society of Authors and Publishers" and is meant to protect IP. Originally, the money paid for each stamp was not a "tax", but simply a means of sustaining the Society. However, if you are an author, you cannot decide to have your rights protected by any other (cheaper) institute but SIAE. 3) SIAE is an institution that touches many aspects of the Italian people life. For instance, if you decide to have a party, say to celebrate your graduation, you have to pay SIAE for it, even if the admission is free. No wonder then that free software is now affected. 4) An extensive interpretation of the "for profit" clause of the law is often proposed, suggesting that one has profit even when he justs saves money. This means that even if you are not a professional and you have free software for personal use, you need to have it stamped. In fact, if you use a free office suite, you save the mony necessary for buying a commercial one. 5) Not only the free software movement is affected by the new law. Teaching might be too. Some publishers have suggested that "class notes" distributed in schools and universities courses should be stamped, because they save students the money necessary to buy textbooks or --- if the schools are private own --- they participate to the school business. Note that many aspects in the new law are still unclear, and some of our concerns might result excessive. Probably we will have to wait until clarification/actuation norms are emanated by the Government or until the law is actually enforced in some Court. In the meantime, I would be very pleased if in the future you could continue presenting features about how IP is protected in the various countries. Sergio Callegari
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 22:51:08 -0800 From: Pascal F. Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Italian law 248/2000 Dear editor. In a daily update section, you make reference to an Italian law (248/2000), which may harm the independent software authors and free software users. It seems that law requires to stamp all medium containing software, one stamp for each software. this is totally impractible, and therefore it could be used in very interesting ways. For example, I really doubt all computers owned by Microsoft in Italy bear one legally mandatory stamp for each of the softwares stored on their hard disk. May I suggest anonymous informants to tell the SIAE about this serious breach of the law ? I am looking forward for Microsoft executives put in jail for six months for the sole reason that they hold "illegal" copies of their own software ! ------------------------------------------------------------------ Pascal F. Martin.
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 21:05:21 +0100 From: Toon Moene <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: An "Un-American" essay Tracy R Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > Microsoft is speaking to lawmakers to have open source software > outlawed. > Their immediate goal in Washington is to poison our leaders on the idea > of open source software and prevent it from ever becoming officially > accepted and supported software in government offices. If you think so ("to poison our leaders") you read it differently than I do: "Linux is developed in a so-called open-source environment in which the software code generally isn't owned by any one company. That, as well as programs such as music-sharing software from Napster Inc., means the world's largest software maker has to do a better job of talking to policymakers, he said." This is a straight "guilt by association" argument; do not think "poison" - think "outlaw". If your leaders accept such a mode of discourse - well, you get the government you deserve :-) Far more scary is the following: "I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat." Uhhh, "education" - like: "Let me tell you this, buddy, and let us make no mistake about it!". >From a safe distance ... -- Toon Moene - mailto:email@example.com - phoneto: +31 346 214290 Saturnushof 14, 3738 XG Maartensdijk, The Netherlands Maintainer, GNU Fortran 77: http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/g77_news.html Join GNU Fortran 95: http://g95.sourceforge.net/ (under construction)
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 20:04:29 -0500 From: Thomas Hood <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Reaction to Tracy Reed's letter Dear lwn.net, I am sure you will get many letters on this subject, but I want to make sure that you get at least one. Because you not only published Tracy R Reed's letter about Jim Allchin's remarks but also endorsed it by saying that it 'gets the real point', I feel I must respond to one aspect of the letter. Reed says that "corporations are amoral". In the sense that Reed seems to mean this, it is nonsense. Corporations are creations of the state and thus of the people who comprise the state. Corporations derive their purpose from the purposes of citizens. Even if you agree with Locke that the pursuit of private property is a natural right, you cannot say that corporations are natural. We created them---through our governments, in order to serve our ends. As there is more to the lives of citizens than making money, there is more to the corporate purpose than making money. Admittedly, corporations serve their purposes largely because of the existence of the desire for profit. Corporations do seek to maximize profit. But that should not be regarded as their ultimate purpose, and it cannot in truth be regarded as the only purpose that actual corporations have. Corporations do not "make decisions without regard to compassion or ethics much like a computer." (That's insulting to computers, BTW.) The leaders of better corporations understand that their job is not only to enrich their shareholders. They understand that they have responsibilities to the society that allows their corporation to exist. To say categorically that corporations do nothing but grub money (or even more ludicrously to say that they are legally obligated to do nothing but this) is thoroughly cynical. We should not believe it, because it is not true. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn't one of the world's better corporations. :) Thomas Hood Instructor in Philosophy, Bishop's University Author of tpctl, ThinkPad Configuration Tools for Linux http://panopticon.csustan.edu/thood/tp600lnx.htm
From: "eeeg ilich" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: linux advocacy how-to Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 15:43:00 -0000 Perhaps it is time for the folks at lwn to re-read the Linux advocacy how-to. In response to Microsoft's Jim Allchin's comments regarding open source software you received a letter from Tracy R. Reed which you termed 'gets the real point of Allchin's remarks.' While the author has invited us 'to trash' the essay, I'll try to refrain from that, but I will respond to several of the weaker arguments in hope that we can elevate the dialogue. The opening comment, 'Microsoft is speaking to lawmakers to have open source software outlawed' cannot be substantiated and quite frankly lacks any foundation (well, at least given the links from his essay and lwn). It takes great imagination to accept this statement as true, while it is much easier, and quite frankly, more correctly, treated as FUD. Rather like the FUD Mr. Alchin produced. This is the hyperbole one would expect the advocacy how-to advises against. Mr. Reed would have served the community better had he simply stated what hitherto can only be verified: Microsoft's Mr. Allchin is attempting to stain the image of open source software in a rather childish, McArthyesque fashion. Fighting FUD with FUD leads to sensless debates that I am growing tired of reading in news groups and message boards. Of course the second paragraph does bring about an interesting, and probably quite accurate, view of Micrsoft's goals. This would come across as more valid had we not had the overly dramatic opening line. Continuing we are met with a little more hyperbole and a tagential discussion of the authors view on the roles of corporations in society. Statements like: "If the stockholders found out that a big company gave someone a break and didn't do everything they could to maximize shareholder value they would get their pants sued off." Aside from being inaccurate one wonders why it is even in this essay. Linux/open source is about better software. It is not about social economic systems. We are not going to win *any* 'Corporate America' is the root of all evil arguments. In fact when you go down that road people start debating that topic and the message gets lost. I could write paragraphs about how that statement is false. Really, name one case where stockholders brought upon a corporation's board or executives legal action for poor performance (note: fraud is a different issue). Finally, let's remember that Mr. Torvalds, Mr. Cox, K&R, Mr. Stroustrup all work for, gasp, corporations (the last three a very large one). Unfortunately, the most critical point of Allchin's comments are scarecly addressed. This being that open source threatens innovation. Allchin argues that firms will fear investing in new technologies and research. I gather this 'fear' stems from the fact that companies believe an open source/free software solution will replicate it. What the Reed essay does not examine is the fact that these same charges have been levied against a huge monolothic software firm that buys up its competitors (read: the real innovators) and does with them what it pleases. We need to emphasize the good things about Linux. We need to point out the features that Linux had first and which Microsoft only later added. And while Mr. Reed did show some evidence of the open source system benefitting society we need to concentrate on this area more. Mr. Allchin's comments on innovation are so easily attackable. Innovation is not going away any time soon. Nor, is open source. It has always been around in academia and because of that will never be illegal. Okay, sorry about that. Now it's time to trash me!