Linux Mint and GPL license Violation

Chat about anything related to Linux Mint

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Postby jett on Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:39 pm

dido...windows people dont know about gpl and sff?w/e
xp people know whats easy and simply if they see it doesnt work, simply it wont be used. and we dont want people to stop using linux.
we want to attract attention and get people to switch over.
we need to beable to give anyone a cd and tell them yes this will work just install and go. people dont want excuses for why things dont work.
simply put, the standard joe doesnt want to take the time to learn how to input commands and scripts and learn to program and become an IT administrator. Were working with people that listen to Britney spears like to push big buttons, and use ipods. right now a large portion of the community is techies, but hopefuly soon that wont be so and more people will start to see the advantages to linux.
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Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 

Postby Helmut on Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:36 am

Quote:

In the long rung it will help Linux propagation, and isn't that what we all want?

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Postby Fragadelic on Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:30 pm

Raven-sb wrote:Hi,

I registered to respond to this topic because it's sometime I feel strongly about. This post is not intended to be a flame so please forgive me if it comes across as one.

I find it extremely ironic that free software zealots have no problems with installing propriety drivers themselves but they do have a problem with distributions including those drivers to make life easier for their users.

I also find it ironic that one of the most talked about open source technologies today is the 3D desktop, however in order to use that desktop closed source drivers must be installed.

It is also interesting (as noted by Distrowatch here http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20060515#news ) that these FSF zealots go after the little guy on the block (like Kororaa or Linux Mint) and completely ignore the big corporation distributions who include these drivers such as Linspire/Freespire, Mephis, Mandriva, or Xandros.

I have every respect for RMS , the FSF, and the GPL. However there are a lot of contributors who made Linux what it is today, and not all of them agree with RMS. To those who don't want to run a system with some closed source drivers enabled, I say use a Linux distribution that doesn't include them.


You hit the nail square on the head!

It would be even better if they went after those guys since they actually have money but the problem is that they also have lawyers and legal battles cost money.

Unfortunately the Linux community is full of hypocrites.

I fail to see how closed source free drivers are worse than open source reverse engineering.

It isn't ok to provide closed source free stuff but you are free to provide reverse engineered solutions like samba,ntfs,etc.

Mint doesn't include the 3D drivers from ATI or nvidia yet anyway but I guess the codecs are enough to bunch up the panties.

The way I look at it is that I have the right to use it since I paid for the content. What good is the content if there is no way to use it.
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Postby clem on Fri Dec 08, 2006 5:25 pm

I fail to see how closed source free drivers are worse than open source reverse engineering.


Well, I have to disagree with that. Linux is GPLed and open-source. Through the GPL the developers distribute their work and contribute greatly to the World with something that is not only free, but modifiable and redistributable. So when a company violates that GPL by modifying the code, and redistributing something I can't modify... even though the developers of the kernel took assurance that I should be able to.. I have to say no. I don't care if it's free of cost.. it's not nice morally.

Now reverse engineering is different. Somebody got a great idea, and instead of contributing it to the World, he sold it and made sure nobody could do it again (through patents or proprietary licences, or just through non distribution of source code). So when somebody else manages to exploit the same idea, and free its use for everybody else by reverse enginering it, I say yes. I don't care who got the idea first.

The way I look at it is that I have the right to use it since I paid for the content.


The way I look at it, if something became a standard and not only does everybody use it, but everybody "needs it": de facto, it belongs to the World. It becomes public domain. If it's not free of cost people pirate it (Windows users mostly), if it's patented people disregard the patents, if it's closed people reverse-engineer it. Personally I don't care if it's patented, restricted, or who it belongs to. If it is a standard and if people got vendor-locked by it, I don't consider it to belong to its inventor but to the people themselves. For this reason I have little or no respect for the licences of these software. I am grateful to the companies who made them, but the day they made everybody need them, they can't legitimately put conditions on these people's usage of their software.

For these reason Linux Mint violates a lot of patents and licences (although this is only true in some countries), but it does not violate the GPL and is careful not to do so. You see, it's not about some law, it's about what we think is right.

Clem
Last edited by clem on Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Fragadelic on Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:13 pm

With respect to closed source free I meant the ati and nvidia drivers.

That is their IP and their technology.

I wasn't referring to stealing gpl software and closing it.
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Postby clem on Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:01 pm

I understand what you meant Tony and I'm not arguing it. But you compared GPL violations to reverse-engineering, and while they're both against US law (as I understand it) I find one unacceptable and have no problem with the other.. so I just wanted to react on that.

The mentioned drivers do need to be linked to the kernel in order to work. So , whoever it is that links them, they need someone to break the GPL in order to work. That's why I have a problem with them.

On the other hand, they are de facto a standard in personal computing, and people do need them. So I understand the fact that no licence should be in the way of making users able to use their hardware.

It's a very debatable question, and as I said before I have mixed feelings about it. In the end I want to help users using what they need, no matter what license, but I also want to respect the GPL because it's an ideal and a beautiful thing that ought to be respected. Nvidia and ATI are to blame... the kernel developers have a point, but the users do as well... so the question is still open.

In Bea envy was added. I know it doesn't violate the GPL but it makes it easier for the user to do so. I suppose this is the best compromise we can achieve on this... but again, I don't really know what to think of it.

Anyway.. I'm talking too much and not focusing on what's important here: among all the licenses and regional laws that we can disregard and ignore in the name of our alienable rights to use our computers the way we should be able to, the one license that definitely still has importance and ought to be respected is the GPL. Don't mind the reverse engineering :)

That's what I wanted to say. :)

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Postby Fragadelic on Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:19 pm

lol - I'm not against the GPL as a license either.

I just find it a bit hypocritical to on one hand say that what nvidia and ati have to keep closed due to third party agreements should be opened up breaking those legal agreements while at the same time providing functionality to proprietary closed formats by reverse engineering.

All these companies involved have invested a large amount of money to either invent or acquire the technology and software.

The question isn't what should have been done in the past as we can't change that, but what happens moving forward. Unfortunately this uncertainty harms linux adoption more than anything else.

I'm not a big fan of reverse engineering or breaking the GPL but we are kind of forced to do both if we want to have a usable system.

How do the firmware/drivers for the IVTV project and the WIFI stuff fall into all of this? They must all link to the kernel in order to be usable and are closed source yet nobody seems to make anything of these cases.

I'm just glad I'm not directly involved on either side of this.

None of us will ever truly know enough about this until it actually goes to court.
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Postby clem on Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:53 pm

None of us will ever truly know enough about this until it actually goes to court.


But even if there was a court decision on it, would it change whether we think it's right or wrong? Would it affect anybody? Would it change anything? And most of all... what value would it have outside the country the court decision was made in?

Software patents are there in some countries and nobody cares about them. Worldwide they have no value. It's simply down to the level of legitimacy they have in people's mind.

If people can donate to a project like this one, maybe sometimes send some money to a shareware maker, and at the same time crack the latest version of Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft Office... it shows somehow that the law doesn't change people's attitude, but that their opinion and moral values define them.

I would like to see the GPL win a court decision. I would be happy to see that, and happy for the citizens of the country, but I don't honestly think it would change anything. For those who believe in it, there's no need for legislation... and for those who are against software patents, any kind of legislation is null and non-applicable.

I'm not saying "go break the law", but I want to stress the fact that legislation is often very local and that it doesn't have the same level of influence on people that ideals have.

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Postby scorp123 on Sun Dec 10, 2006 4:14 pm

tenshu wrote:Respecting the law isn't a choice it is a duty

Whose law? Yours? And no, you are wrong: What is one's "duty" and what isn't ultimately is a choice too. :D If good or bad is another question and mostly depends on the question if you got caught or not and if yes, by whom? :lol:

tenshu wrote:I were comprehensive in my last posts, but now i'm sure Linux Mint is an Ubuntu including GPL infringements.

GPL infringements?? How and where? And no, I don't think you were comprehensive at all. In fact I think you are confusing a lot of things. In fact I think you have no idea what you are talking about.

I am a Linux user since 1996, and "Linux Mint" definitely isn't the first Linux distribution I see with MP3 and DVD codecs. SuSE for example shipped them until very recently with every copy they sold (until SuSE 9.2). With SuSE 9.3 they still offered the now missing multimedia codecs as online update via their official *.suse.com and *.suse.de online-update servers. From SuSE 10.0 onwards (since being owned by Novell which as a USA-based company probably has to be extra-cautious because of that crazy DMCA) they still offer all the multimedia stuff via extra repositories, e.g. packman.de

Again, to me it looks like you don't know what you are talking about. :D


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Clarification please

Postby Arlough on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:33 am

I admit, I am new to Mint and a toddler in the world of Linux, so bear with me.
Could somebody please explain this alleged violation of the GPL in Mint.
I understand that some don't think there is a violation, while others think there is, but what I want to know is, "What is the supposed violation specifically or conceptually?"
I ask this because I want to know how people view the GPL as well as what Mint is.

Is Mint really Ubuntu code with propriatary software on the disk as well? If so, wouldn't the Ubuntu part be redistributable and therefore within the GPL? (Similar, let's say, to a dinner that someone has added a garnish of parsley. The parsley would not be considered part of the dinner,) Or did Mint change the Ubuntu source so that the propriatary could not be seperated from the OS even if someone wanted to? (Like adding pepper to the dinner. The pepper is now part of the dinner, and you can't have dinner and ignore the pepper the way you could with the parsley.)

I see the FSF vs. capitalizm issue like this.
If I have a friend who owns an icecream shop, and I go to a birthday party where he gives me icecream, I am not going to pay him for it because it was a gift made for everyone there to enjoy. At the same time, if I went into his icecream shop to get icecream, I would not expect him to give it to me for free simply because he could do so at the party, I would expect to pay because I know that this shop is his source of income and he has to pay for the icecream maker, electricity, rent, and his family's food, etc. I do not begrudge him for making money on the icecream he put time and money into making it. And I can still eat the icecream, even though I paid for it. And it even tastes good.

I like Linux, and I enjoy every step I take that leads me from Windows. But I would have no problem buying, for example, "Nero for Linux" if it is the best software for my needs. I know that someone had to go to work and program that software. I know that this person did that instead of doing other things that would make him/her money. I don't have a problem paying this person for his/her time and skill. And if there happens to be a better product for me out there that is free, I would use that instead.

Free software is a gift of the programer(s) and/or the company(ies) that release the software. It is not a right. And I do not think that I am entitled to sit around and take while others put time and effort into creating. If you don't like the fact that someone wants you to pay for, or even just not copy and modify, then write your own software. If you can't, then deal with the fact that we have to pay for the service of someone writing it for us in some way. Even if that means paying by dealing with the inability to change the software.
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Postby clem on Mon Dec 11, 2006 6:50 am

Could somebody please explain this alleged violation of the GPL in Mint.
I understand that some don't think there is a violation, while others think there is, but what I want to know is, "What is the supposed violation specifically or conceptually?"


Hi,

Linux Mint does not violate the GPL. This is not an opinion or my interpretation, it is a fact. Tenshu made this allegation because he thinks, for some obscure reason, that the GPL forbids a distribution to include proprietary packages and GPL ones on the same CD. It is not clear to me what Tenshu exactly thinks or based this allegation on... and it is not clear either if Tenshu ever read the license or actually ever installed Mint to see what was inside it (for instance... he kind of assumed that ATI and Nvidia drivers were included in Linux Mint, which is not true).

On another issue, somebody mentioned that Linux Mint did not made the source available for its GPLed packages (which is a GPL violation). As soon as we heard that we addressed the problem and made the source code available.

The GPL is very important to us. Of course we're not violating it.

We are based on Ubuntu and we do add proprietary packages. We also modify some GPL packages but we release them under the GPL and distribute our source code with it. For instance, here are three software you'll find in Bea:

- gnome-panel
- firefox
- flash plugin

The flash plugin is proprietary.
Firefox is GPL, we distribute the source code with it.
Gnome-Panel is a Linux Mint modification of the original Ubuntu Gnome-panel. We release it under GPL and distribute the source code and our modifications with it.

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Postby scorp123 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:00 am

clem wrote:Tenshu made this allegation because he thinks, for some obscure reason, that the GPL forbids a distribution to include proprietary packages and GPL ones on the same CD. It is not clear to me what Tenshu exactly thinks or based this allegation on... and it is not clear either if Tenshu ever read the license or actually ever installed Mint to see what was inside it (for instance... he kind of assumed that ATI and Nvidia drivers were included in Linux Mint, which is not true).


I contacted "Tenshu" via e-mail and I provoked him a little to be more specific with his accusations. In my opinion he indeed thinks that the GPL forbids any proprietary components in a Linux distribution, and he believes that whatever proprietary components are included with Linux Mint (e.g. MP3 and DVD codecs) were linked against GPL code, thus violating the GPL.

Although he might be a nice person (he was nice enough to answer in a friendly manner to my slight provocations ... at least I give him that credit!) I think "Tenshu" doesn't understand a few things. Specifically:

- what are codecs? How are they used? ==> he should look that one up, e.g. on Wikipedia or some other source.

- What does the GPL precisely say? ==> I think he never read it. He believes that the GPL forbids proprietary code everywhere, e.g. one cannot ship GPL'd code with non-GPL programs on the same disk, regardless if those non-GPL programs are "clean" (e.g. they are not known to violate the GPL in any way).

- I don't think he understands the concept of "linking" and "compiling", and thus he also fails to understand why Nvidia's and ATI's drivers are "problematic" in terms of the GPL whereas other programs (codecs, Acrobat Reader, RealPlayer, etc.) aren't, as they are not linked vs. GPL code or compiled using GPL code.

- He got the thing with the "grey area" totally wrong: "clem" was talking about Nvidia's and ATI's drivers and that they are considered "grey area" by some (on one hand they are closed source, on the other they link vs. the Linux kernel and thus probably violate the GPL), but he was talking about proprietary software in general. Now he believes that the creators of Linux Mint are "violating" the GPL on purpose, even breaking the law on purpose.

Again, while he might actually be a nice guy, he really got several things totally wrong. I asked him to return here and finish the discussion he started but walked away from ... Let's see.


Regards,

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Postby Fragadelic on Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:46 am

Most licenses are very confusing and written in legal-speak. As a result, they are still left up to interpretation by the individual and even a court of law would have to decide which interpretation it accepts.

I believe Clem is not necessarily going to include ati and nvidia drivers but rather a tool to install and configure them easily from within Mint. This would leave the choice up to the enduser if they want to install them or not and not force them to use them by default.

Codecs are a whole other ballgame.

IANAL so I can't say for sure abotu anything either way.

As for the 3d drivers, as long as Clem just makes a tool to download install them it will be fine.

AMD/ATI and Nvidia have a DOJ issue right now against them so we'll have to see how that all plays out too. It might be that they are forced to open up their drivers but this is pure speculation at this point since the DOJ has said nothing regarding the inquiry.
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Postby scorp123 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:21 pm

Fragadelic wrote:Most licenses are very confusing and written in legal-speak.

I find the language of the GPL very clear. Especially since it's available in many other languages too. The only effort it takes is to to actually read the darn thing and not post stuff about things one didn't even care to read. Tenshu unfortunately did that.

Fragadelic wrote:As a result, they are still left up to interpretation by the individual and even a court of law would have to decide which interpretation it accepts.

There is at least one court ruling in Germany which found the GPL perfectly clear in its language and perfectly legal. No room for interpretations there. Same for some ruling by US courts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPL#GPL-related_disputes

Fragadelic wrote:I believe Clem is not necessarily going to include ati and nvidia drivers

He doesn't have to.

Fragadelic wrote:but rather a tool to install and configure them easily from within Mint.

You mean something like "apt-get install nvidia-glx" :D

Fragadelic wrote:This would leave the choice up to the enduser if they want to install them or not and not force them to use them by default.

And the difference from the current situation is ..... ? :)

Fragadelic wrote:Codecs are a whole other ballgame.

Agreed. Software patents suck big time :evil: I just hope they're smart enough over here in Europe never to adopt this BS. I personally think that the current patent system in the USA is horrible. Just look at the story about RIM and their "blackberry" devices and the money they had to pay for nothing to those patent trolls. That's really the last thing we need over here.

Fragadelic wrote:As for the 3d drivers, as long as Clem just makes a tool to download install them it will be fine.

OK, maybe you didn't know this, but there really is no need for such a tool in my humble opinion. You can just install the drivers via "apt-get" or a simple "point and click" inside synaptic :D Linux Mint and Ubuntu really are that simple 8) The next Ubuntu release 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" probably will even ship with these drivers pre-installed, apparently. Now *that* will sure cause interesting reactions ...

I know of at least one Gentoo-based distribution which still ships with the Nvidia and ATI binary drivers pre-installed on their ISO image, and no, it's not Kororaa ... they gave up after Greg Kroah-Hartmann (a Linux kernel programmer) threatened them with a lawsuit. Let's see what his reaction to Ubuntu 7.04 will be :)


Regards,

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Postby Fragadelic on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:31 pm

You can also install the codecs,etc with similar fashion but that is not the point of Mint. I think Clem wants a button or menu option that is in the line of "Setup 3D" so it is a one-stop click option.

You don't even have to go to apt-get as it is found in Synaptics for both nvidia and ati but they are not the latest drivers. Envy is there to pull fairly current nvidia drivers but nothing currently exists for ati.

The included nvidia drivers have a serious security issue with them that was correct in the 1.0.9xxx versions and if I'm not mistaken the version on the repo is 1.0-8774 or something similar.

The question about the GPL stems from how nvidia and ati link to the kernel since the actual linking part is GPL but it links the blob through it. There is definitely some room for interpretation there since the actual piece of code between them is GPL.

Of course if you try to take GPL code and close it, that is a big no-no and would lose in court for sure.

I agree that the US patent system is a joke.
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Postby clem on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:44 pm

There'll be a tool in Bianca called mint3D. It will be present in the System->Administration Gnome menu and it will do the following:

- See which driver you have. (it already does that)
- See if you have 3d acceleration. (it already does that).
- If your driver is not good enough or doesn't have 3d acceleration it will tell you to fix the problem yourself.
- If your driver and 3d acceleration are ok, it'll propose you AIGLX and/or Xgl.
- It will set up AIGLX or Xgl for you.

As you can see it'll make it easy for you to enable 3D effects, but it won't help you install your driver.

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Postby scorp123 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:46 pm

Fragadelic wrote:You can also install the codecs,etc with similar fashion but that is not the point of Mint. I think Clem wants a button or menu option that is in the line of "Setup 3D" so it is a one-stop click option.

Aaaah ... cool 8)

Fragadelic wrote:You don't even have to go to apt-get as it is found in Synaptics for both nvidia and ati but they are not the latest drivers.

Yes, I noticed. I had to pull the latest NVidia drivers from a different repository to enable Beryl.
Code: Select all
# Nvidia Beta driver
deb http://albertomilone.com/drivers/edgy/nonlegacy/32bit binary/


Fragadelic wrote:The question about the GPL stems from how nvidia and ati link to the kernel since the actual linking part is GPL but it links the blob through it. There is definitely some room for interpretation there since the actual piece of code between them is GPL.

Exactly .... but right now nothing is proven. Even Torvalds himself called this a "grey area". Nvidia themselves claim that they are not violating the GPL. I tend to believe them for I doubt that Nvidia would be that stupid ...

Fragadelic wrote:I agree that the US patent system is a joke.

On the positive side it makes people create cool web sites such as http://www.groklaw.net Poor SCO ... anyone checked their share price lately? :lol:

BTW ... cool idea about the flag avatars :D I changed mine too :D
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Postby clem on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:50 pm

I always thought the Swiss flag was like the Swiss chocolate. Really nice but not big enough :)
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Postby Fragadelic on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:58 pm

The grey area is not so grey for Kororaa since they removed the drivers from their live cd.

In this respect, the BSD's are better but there are no ati drivers for bsd. Nvidia and ATI both know that Linux is more mainstream even though both combined are a very small market share compared to windows pc's and macs combined.
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Postby scorp123 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:32 pm

clem wrote:I always thought the Swiss flag was like the Swiss chocolate. Really nice but not big enough :)


You know the difference between the Swiss flag and Swiss chocolate? You can eat both until you get sick, but the flag won't make you fat :lol:

Talking of the Swiss flag ... there are some really stupid T-shirts one can buy featuring the Swiss flag ...
http://www.spreadshirt.de/shop.php?sid=39243&search%5Btext%5D=Love

Oh wait ... there is a sexy tanga too :lol: I have to talk to my wife ... :oops: :lol:

You see, sometimes the opposite is true ... The Swiss flag is almost too big, depending on the application :lol:


Regards,

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