Free Software Foundation Files Suit Against Cisco For GPL Violations
echerlin at gmail.com
Sat Dec 13 01:27:52 EST 2008
On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 4:53 PM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:
>> Some of us are new to one or another part of this issue, and need a bit more background.
>> o Can you list the offending binaries and explain their faults?
> Sure. For example, "ls" is part of the Coreutils. In 8.2.0, it's
> licensed under GPLv3+ (try "ls --version"); in earlier releases, it's
> licensed under GPLv2+. In both cases, OLPC is shipping binary copies
> of "ls" on the flash media of laptops. This means that it must ensure
> that every recipient has either the actual source code of "ls", or has
> both a written offer of such source code and ready access to redeem that
> offer for the actual code.
Interesting. I have never received a Linux system with either the
source code or a written offer of source code. I certainly know where
to download it.
> One of the original ideas at OLPC was that all the source code would be
> put on the school servers and every school would have a server and so
> the kids would all have access to the sources. See
> http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/4286#comment:8 . That didn't work in
> practice, because many laptops go to places that have no school
> servers. It didn't work for G1G1 either. See also
> http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/4417 .
Presumably we could have included a CD, regardless of whether
recipients had drives.
> There are also some packages for which OLPC doesn't seem to have
> SRPM's that match its RPM's: http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/4835 .
Wouldn't surprise me. Who is supposed to take care of this stuff?
> In addition, there's a bigger problem with the packages that are
> licensed under GPLv3 (24 packages in 8.2.0, and growing). GPLv3 bans
> "TiVoization" which is the way that the TiVo company figured out how
> to cheat the GPLv2. They used a ton of GPL software to build a
> product, flashed the binaries into a physical product, and provide all
> the matching source code -- but the firmware in the physical product
> will never let you reflash the binaries. This means you are "free" to
> modify the source code and recompile it, but you can never actually
> modify it IN THE PRODUCT.
> GPLv3 bans this, for products designed for household or consumer use.
> If the vendor themselves has the power to reflash the binaries, then the
> consumer must be provided the keys and instructions required to do so.
OK, now I know what you are talking about. Yes, I would prefer
children to have complete software freedom. I don't see it happening.
I expect that if faced with this question directly, governments would
uniformly assert that they are the consumers, and that no court in
their countries would disagree, since the government paid for the
equipment. I also see no way that a US court would hold any of this to
be a license violation, given that the source code is delivered to the
> OLPC follows exactly the TiVo model. It comes with DRM that prevents
> the kids from reflashing their own laptops, even though OLPC can
> reflash them with new versions. The DRM directly affects modified
> versions of the kernel and initrd, which do not contain software
> licensed under GPLv3. Coreutils ("ls") is GPLv3 though. Normally, to
> modify "ls" you wouldn't need to reflash; you could just log in as
> root and install the new version on top of the old version (with "rpm"
> or "yum" or "cp"). But some of the countries who distribute OLPC
> laptops want even more control -- they have disabled root access
> completely for the kids. This means the kids can't just login as
> root; they'd need to reflash to install a modified version of "ls",
> and they can't. This violates GPLv3.
> In addition, one of the key deliverables for the 9.1 release is
> limited-time "leases" that would make the laptop refuse to boot, if
> some third party who has OLPC connections doesn't issue it a new lease
> periodically. Part of the implementation strategy was/is to avoid
> cheating by denying every laptop user the ability to reset the
> laptop's clock. This can only be enforced if root access is removed.
> Thus Uruguay's mistake is scheduled to be spread into every country as
> of the 9.1 release. This violates GPLv3.
> OLPC has a complicated process for getting the keys that would enable
> you to reflash your laptop, get past the lease crap, (or merely to
> boot software, such as the Fedora 10 release, that isn't signed by
> OLPC's secret keys). This is the "developer key" process, which
> requires Internet access, a 24-hour arbitrary delay imposed by OLPC,
> and a lot of hand-holding and instructions. Many kids in the
> mountains of Peru and Uruguay do not have Internet access. There's
> supposedly a way to send a postcard to OLPC, but I think it has never
> been tried (it neglects to tell the kids to include their serial
> number and UUID, which are required; and it would require that the
> kids correctly type in a long string of random letters and digits.
> The Support Gang has had lots of trouble with *adults* with email and
> telephones being unable to do such things.)
> It may also be that the rootless Uruguayan laptops have also removed
> the instructions on how to get a developer key (I haven't seen their
> distro; is there a copy of it anywhere publicly accessible?). Even in
> OLPC's mainstream software releases, it is never clearly explained
> what restrictions are built into the product, what a developer key is,
> why OLPC is required to offer you one, why you might want it, why your
> laptop won't boot a Fedora SD card or an Ubuntu release, etc. That
> info is scattered around the wiki.
> The last suggestion I heard from OLPC along these lines was that the
> kids aren't actually the owners of the XO laptops, so it doesn't
> matter what we do to the kids. The *schools* own the laptops and we
> can give *them* the keys to the DRM. This kind of legal sophistry,
> besides being exactly opposite the OLPC party line ("the kids own the
> laptops, they take them home every night, they teach them to their
> family, etc"), just left me disgusted. I'm sure OLPC can carefully
> structure its operations and its paperwork and its customers to deny
> freedom to as many kids as it wants -- but why does it want to? Every
> white-box PC in existence, every other laptop in existence, comes with
> freedom. Freedom to run any Linux distro on it, or Windows, or
> anything -- without permission from the manufacturer. The OLPC comes
> with DRM, like the TiVo, the iPhone, and the Google G1 phone. While I
> think it's important to teach our kids just how to jailbreak the
> restricted gadgets that greedy corporations throw at them, I don't
> think OLPC should be one of those vendors throwing DRM at kids. GPLv3
> agrees with that sentiment.
Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
More information about the Devel