Ciaran O’Riordan's articles

Updating Debian keys for the uninterested

Despite having an aversion to configuring and maintaining security and crypto software, I accepted that I had to update my system in response to the recent big Debian security problem. If I can do it, you can do it. Below are my notes, but keep in mind that my security rank is somewhere between ignorant and uninterested.

Do software patents exist in the EU?

Frequently Asked Question: Do software patents exist in the EU?

Answer: The problem is that software patents exist in some ways in the EU. The power of patent governance is split between a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.

The legislature (the European Patent Convention) says that software ideas are not patentable.

The executive (the European Patent Office) ignores this and approves software patent applications.

The judiciary (the national courts) usually declares the EPO's software patents to be invalid whenever there is a court case.

Transcript: Richard Stallman, honary degree speech, Pavia 2007

The University of Pavia, in Italy, recently awarded Richard Stallman with an honorary degree. Stallman gave a short speech, his “lectio doctoralis”, on the ethical imperative to use free software, focussing on individuals and schools. The speech has been transcribed by Alessandro Rubini, with checking by Dora Scillipoti and Luca Andreucci. The transcript text, with translations, will later be re-published in a more permanent location. I will add a link to the permanent location when I know it.

FSFE & Samba interview about Microsoft anti-trust

When Monday’s anti-trust verdict was announced, the FSFE andSamba team talked to the gathered journalists and then sat downfor a group interview with Sean Daly.

Thatinterview is on Groklaw now, and I think it came out very well.There’s Carlo Piana and Georg Greve for FSFE and Jeremy Allison andVolker Lendecke of Samba.

InformationWeek opens its mouth to change feet (GPLv3)

In trying to respond to recent criticism about misrepresenting facts regarding Linus Torvalds and GPLv3, InformationWeek has managed to show exactly how incorrect their first article was.

Their misleading GPLv3 article from last week drew criticism for using false evidence to suggest that Linus is on a new anti-GPLv3 and that Linus's insults are "the latest sign of a growing schism".

FSFE's 2007 General Assembly meeting

From Friday June 29th to Sunday July 1st, FSFE held its annual meeting of the General Assembly in Brussels. Starting at 10am each morning, we were in the meeting room until 8pm, 10:30pm, and 5pm. Being an employee, I was there as a guest.

In preparation for the meeting, a two year executive summary of FSFE's projects was published.

History of glibc and Linux libc

The “Linux libc” fork of the GNU C Library is now a mostly forgotten event. The fork lived from 1994 to 1997/8—just before my time—but I’ve found interesting accounts of it by others.

The main sources of information are:

IcedTea Java, unrelated patent deals, and FSDaily

The IcedTea project has been launched by GNU Classpath. It's goal is to make Sun's recently freed Java implementation, called OpenJDK, work in free software environments. This involves replacing some binary blobs with code from GNU Classpath, and making or adapting a free software build system for OpenJDK.

Act now on next week's EP vote on IPRED2

"IPRED2", a proposed EU directive to criminalise copyright, patent, and trademark infringement, will be voted on next week in Strasbourg. The MEPs are talking about it in their meetings this week, so it is important to contact them as soon as possible to tell them what we think.

I will be sending an open letter from FSFE to the MEPs tonight, after translations are completed.

GPLv3: Simplicity and Length

Everyone wishes that free software licences were shorter. The good news from the GPLv3 process is that by changing the LGPL from being a whole licence to being an additional permission that can accompany the GPL, the LGPL has shrunk drastically and the proposed GPL and LGPL texts, combined, are shorter than the current GPL and LGPL combined. But GPLv3 itself will indeed be longer than version 2 is.

Why GPLv3 says additional permissions are removable

As with any copyright licence, software developers who use any version of the GPL can also grant additional permissions to recipients for code that they hold the copyright of. That is, they can say that you can distribute the software under the terms of the GPL, and they can additionally say that, at your option, you can also distribute the software in this way or that way.

About such additional permissions, the following words are proposed for GPLv3, in discussion draft 2: "When you convey a copy of a covered work, you may at your option remove any additional permissions from that copy, or from any part of it." As I see it, these words actually don't change the nature of such additional permissions at all. This topic has come up a few times when I've been discussing GPLv3 with people, so here's my understanding of this issue.

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