Microsoft will not distribute GPLv3

July 10, 2007

Apparently Microsoft has stated that it’s cross-licensing and distribution deal with SUSE Linux will end. Sort-of. Microsoft will continue to sell the support coupons (and provide source) for SUSE while it remains GPLv2. Microsoft further said that they will not sell or distribute GPLv3 software.

Read it here. 

What’s the problem? Well, Microsft has been selling to some heavy hitters like WalMart and Credit Suisse. These customers may have purchased the coupons with the intent of coverage for future versions (I understand the coupons to be good for 3 years), but if future versions of SUSE go GPLv3 these customers will be left high and dry, at least on taking advantage of emerging technologies and advances in the Linux kernel.
Here’s the real problem: Samba (the highly popular Linux file/print networking stack) has decided that future releases will be under GPLv3 starting with 3.2.0.

To be clear, all versions of Samba numbered 3.2 and later will be under the GPLv3, all versions of Samba numbered 3.0.x and before remain under the GPLv2.
The Samba Team would like to thank Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen and the Free Software Foundation for updating the GPL license, and also all the individuals and corporations involved in helping to create the GPLv3. We feel this is an important change to help promote the interests of Samba and other Free Software.

Without Samba there is no interoperability between Linux and Windows – or more specifically, SUSE Linux and Windows Server 2003, the very relationship that Microsoft was trying to leverage with the distribution plan it started earlier this year.


Open Source Bread, from the Amish no less!

July 6, 2007

Last week a friend came by to visit and dropped off a rather interesting looking 1 gallon Zip-Lock bag filled with about 1 cup of a rather mysterious looking beige gooey substance in it. On the outside of the bag, written in black permanent marker was a date.


(lets see you compile this GCC!)

Along with this mysterious bag was a computer printed text file:


Amish Friendship Bread
batter will ferment, get bubble and rise.
let the air out of the bag as it accumulates
Day 1  The day your bag was made (date is on the bag)
Day 2  knead bag
Day 3  knead bag
Day 4  knead bag
Day 5  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk; stir
Day 6  knead bag
Day 7  knead bag
Day 8  knead bag
Day 9  knead bag
Day 10: Pour out contents of bag into a bowl (NO METAL!)
Add 1-1/2 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cup flour and 1-1/2 cup milk, mix well.
Measure out 4 seperate starter bags bu putting 1 cup of batter into each.
Use 1 gallon bags
Pre-heat your over to 325 degrees
With the remaining starter add the following:
1 c. Amish friendship bread starter
2/3 c. oil
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
Butter 2 loaf pans and lightly coat with cinnamon sugar mix. Divide batter into
pans and bake for 1 hour
Feel free to add raisins, nuts and dried fruits as you like
Be sure to write down the date the new bags were started on, and let your giftee
know what day they recieved it, just so they get it right
Keep one for yourself if you want, you could be baking every 10 days, or give
them all away! But then you have to home that someone gives you another

We put aside the irony of the instructions for Amish bread being computer generated and diligently kneaded the bag every day and added the appropriate amount of ingredients on Day 5.

Today was day 10 and thus the bread was baked. It smelled sour coming out of the bag and only God knows how many generations of milk are in this thing sitting on my counter… But we mixed and divided and added and mixed and buttered and baked.

I must say, it came out delicious. A super sweet treat, and the crust was crunchy like a good buttery sweet pastry. Sliced hot and buttered it was like a little piece of heaven melting away in my mouth.

Thank you, Amish people, for this fine food and friendship builder!

As I was sitting outside enjoying the last half of the first loaf this afternoon a though occurred to me, “This is good, why doesn’t someone market it?” It would be a neat addition to a local cafe – every ten days the owner puts out their tasty friendship bread as a treat to their customers. Every now and then I could walk into my local espresso shop to find a surprise treat in the pastry bin.

But what does the cafe owner do with the starters? Does he keep them? This doesn’t seem very nice, especially if he was given the starter by a friend and didn’t cheat by finding the starter recipe online. But even if he did it is still specific that the batter is to be divided and shared. It’s specific in the recipe that you are to give away a portion of the batter to some friends as well as keeping a portion for yourself to make more with.

Hmmm… taking a root item, modifying it slightly and giving it back to the community… Why does this seem familiar? Oh yeah! It’s the FOSS principle – Free and Open Source Software is intended to be used by all freely and redistributed by all as they see fit within certain licensing agreements, just like my gooey mass of ancient milk/flour/sugar batter in a bag.

By this logic then the recipe is the “source” and the rule of sharing becomes the license. Ironically this marries up nicely with the GPL (among others) so does that make this bread “Open Source?”

And if it does, does that owner have the right to sell portions (slices) of the bread without also providing the source for that bread (starter bags)? Considering that the recipe is already in the public domain, I wonder if it’s too late to license this bread uder the GPLv3 to keep corporations like WonderBread from taking a free starter and tivoizing it?

Or maybe WonderBread decides that they hold the original patent on bread, but instead of suing the Amish they partner with them to distribute bread support coupons (the instruction sheets) while it is still up to the community to actually distribute the gooey crap in a bag? So long as you have a cross licensed WonderBread/Amish Friendship Bread instruction sheet you are free to bake and use as much bread as you like.

Is Microsoft really “conveying” GPL software?

July 6, 2007

First – the basic history – Microsoft claims that Linux code is in violation of over 200 patents owned by Microsoft. Microsoft developed a technology partnership with Novell (Suse Linux) in which it would distribute Suse Linux support coupons to Microsoft customers.

Many pundits claim that this was Microsoft’s way of sheltering its Linux users (including powerhouses like Credit Suisse…) from potential Microsoft patent infringement suits. The further claim is that this was Microsoft’s way of paying over $300 million USD to Novell for the partnership (er license?).

This was all under GPLv2. Now that GPLv3 is out, the talk in the FOSS crowd is that if Microsoft¬† continues to distribute Suse Support Certificates then it is effectually “conveying” a GPLv3 work which (a GPLv3 distributor) which means that it would be suing itself for distributing patent protected works. Microsoft disagrees with this statement citing

[Microsoft is] “not a party to the GPLv3 license, and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license,”
“In fact, we do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspect of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPLv3 code in the future.
  -Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft VP of Intellectual Property and Licensing

Here’s the rub, as I see it:

Is Microsoft distributing GPL software? I don’t understand how they are. They are selling support coupons to their customers. They are not selling or distributing code of any sort. THey are literally mailing their customer little slips of paper with a 10 digit number that they can redeem with Novell for new or continuing support of their Linux servers.

This is like holding the Girl Scout responsible for selling you The Coupon Book 2007, you tearing out a coupon for a free side salad at Red Lobster and subsequently suing the Girl Scouts because you got sick on some improperly prepared shellfish while you were there.

Now I’m no fan of Microsoft, but I don’t really see it. Maybe one of the readers here can enlighten me. What am I not seeing that the Free Software Foundation is seeing about Microsoft being in voiolation of the GPLv3?

GPLv3 versus Tivoization – will it prevent this in the future?

June 30, 2007

So I sat down yesterday and tried to read the GPLv3 to make some sense of the ongoing furor over it and whether or not it is better or worse than GPLv2. To be fair, I am a relative newcomer to GPL, FOSS and the whole free software movement. I think that this actually may give me a little more insight into the GPLv3 debacle because I am not generally biased for or against free software.

Read the entire piece on my Opinions page