There's been a lot of noise on the internet recently about the fact that the Windows-based software being used in the remote control system of drones use by the American military has been hit by a virus and this has caused the Department of Defense (DOD) to use GNU/Linux which is a more secure option. This has, predictably, caused raised eyebrows and demands by some that any military organisation should be prevented from using GNU/Linux in offensive weapons systems.
I'm sure I don't need to explain SOPA or ACTA to regular readers of Free Software Magazine. They're toxic. End of. But RWA? It stands for Research Works Act. It's not the big sexy beast of the other two but it is, in its way, just as insidious and as harmful to the freedom of scientific publishing as SOPA and ACTA are to internet freedom and it's all interconnected. Here's why.
This is getting seriously ridiculous. Relative to the power and feature sets computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. But they don't come much cheaper than the Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer designed specifically to encourage children to program. My colleague, Ryan Cartwright wrote about it right here on FSM.
I am becoming more and more convinced that the real thread to free software (and I am talking here about software released under a free license, not software that you can download and use for free) is contempt. Proprietary software is a competitor, but not a real threat. Proprietary software cannot really kill free software: no matter how many law suits you start, how many patents you file, how many pre-installed versions of Windows you have, common sense will always win. Contempt, however, the the real danger.
The internet has been awash with the fallout from Oracle's stewardship of OpenOffice.org and Ubuntu's announcement that Xorg would be replaced by Wayland and Unity would be the next desktop. The F-word was used. A lot. No, not that F-word. The other F-word. Forking. OpenOffice.org has already forked to LibreOffice and I've no doubt that Unity haters will fork off to Gnome Shell 3. Fair enough. It's all about choice in the end and choice creates competition and competition often creates innovation and cross fertilization (as well as fragmentation).
RepRap (replicating Rapid-prototyper) is a 3D printer and it is impeccably free and open source under both the GPL and the Creative Commons Licence. It's early days but the implications and the promise are potentially enormous in their own right -- but the fact that it is resolutely not proprietary is what caught my attention.
Fashion is fickle. One day thin clients and clusters are the fashion de jour, the next it's Web 2.0, Virtualisation or distributed computing and Grids. They who live by the sword of fashion will surely perish by it but a new model has been strutting its stuff along the catwalk of web fashion and she goes by the name of Cloud Computing. Like all fashions there is a deal of hype surrounding it but there is a consistent concern emerging from all that hype and is about the dangers of proprietary cloud computing. Richard Stallman has called it a "trap". He is right--but it is more than that. It is a well-baited, DRM-like honey trap for the unwary. That is not immediately obvious. Like all good traps it suckers you in before the wire noose tightens around your neck. You don't have any wire cutters in your rucksack but you do have the GPL and free software to effect an escape. Can it save us from vendor lock in and proprietary software?
Choosing to release a piece of software under the terms of a free software license is an important step through which many programmers and writers first approach the free software community. However, the myriad of licenses available can sometimes confuse and disorient the user, sometimes making this first step much harder than it should be. Let's try and make things clearer.
Terry Hancock seemed to raise a few hackles when he presented case recently that "copyleft has no impact on project activity?!)". I'm not certain why, because it seemed he was just asking a question really (you'll note the question mark). In that piece he mentions the reasons developers choose a copyleft licence. As a -- somewhat small-time -- developer of free software this topic interests me. Terry made a few statements about why developers choose a copyleft licence as did Tony Mobily in his editorial for issue 20. So let me tell you why this developer chose (and continues to choose) a copyleft licence?
Richard Stallman wants to popularise the term GNU/Linux instead of using the currently popular term Linux. He correctly states that the term Linux, besides being thoroughly inaccurate, totally fails to introduce new users to the legal and philosophical concepts that underlie the basis of the GNU/Linux OS; but is it feasible to make such a change at this late stage?
Some weeks ago, trolling through prospective articles for Free Software Daily, I encountered a blog, describing the evolution of “Linux”. It was aimed at Newbies. The blog correctly described Linus Torvalds as the creator of the Linux kernel and a few more recent developments, but that was it. No mention was made that Richard Stallman actually created much of what is now called “Linux”, no mention of the GPL, or how it works, no mention of the copyleft legal concept and no mention of other responsibilities placed on users and developers.
All of Richard Stallman's worst fears confirmed in one blog.
When the story about Microsoft shelling out $100,000 to Apache for ASF sponsorship broke across my radar it rather tickled my funny bone and my curiosity. When ASF Chairman Jim Jagielski declared that "Microsoft's sponsorship makes it clear that Microsoft "gets it" regarding the ASF" I had a fit of the giggles--and then, like many others, I started to ponder on the reasons why and what it actually meant.
Free software is about freedom from control. This article discusses how the free software ideals should be applied to hosted personal health record software and how Microsoft's newest PHR, HealthVault, is a threat to free software.
Heard about HealthVault?
When we consider the situation Microsoft finds itself in with regard to the GNU General Public License (GPL), it is important to consider how one determines when someone has accepted the GNU GPL and, hence, when someone is actually bound by its terms. Many people receive software that has been licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL all the time. However, simply receiving software licensed under the GNU GPL does not, in itself, mean that one has accepted the terms. Indeed, there is no contract to sign when receiving said software and certainly no “End User License Agreement”.
How does License Proliferation effect medical software and what can we do about it? How to choose a license for your medical software project? What are the implications for the medical FOSS community of various software licenses? This is intended to be a complete guide to free and open source software licensing for medical software. Please comment on how I can make it better.
Sharing medical software: FOSS licensing in medicine
Today marks the rebirth of Java. Sun has announced their intent to release thesource code for Java under the GPL. If this isn't some of the bestnews in a long time, I don't know what is.
The freeing of Java
Sun isn't releasing all of the code. It seems there are partsof Java Sun doesn't own, and for which Sun hasn't been able tonegotiate releasing under the GPL. But, it appears this is a tiny bitof the code.
Days ago I read this announcement about Sun moving Java's license to free software, and in particular that some parts of it will be released under the GPL
Today on www.sun.com they are announcing a webcast today at 9.30 Pacific Time
Are we nearly there?
Now that the new versions of Ghostscript are available under the free software GPL license other projects relying on Ghostscript can be fully GPL software as well. One of these projects, PDFCreator, I recently tested and I must admit I'm impressed.
PDFCreator allows you to make a PDF of anything you can print, documents, spreadsheet, presentations, anything with a print function. PDFCreator even has encryption and security features that would make it perfect for a corporate environment.
With the draft of the GNU General Public License Version 3 (GPLv3) have come many interesting comments, although not all of which I have found positive. While I understand proprietary vendors have offered complaints against a license they do not even use, I was surprised that Linus Torvalds had taken some issues which I thought were in any case misguided criticisms.
With the introduction of the GNU GPLv3, the GNU Lesser General Public License (L-GPL) has seen much less attention. This has changed with the recent GPLv3 conference in Barcelona, and I think it has changed for the better.