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01.28.14

Tuxera GPL Violations Alleged

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Patents, Samsung at 2:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unable to cover up the deeds

A band-aid bandage

Summary: Microsoft’s partner Tuxera is claimed to be violating the GPL, adding insult to injury (helping Microsoft make money from Linux shakedowns, using code that was illegally copied)

LAST year we campaigned with great success for Samsung to obey (i.e. comply with) the GPL after it had gotten caught violating it [1, 2. 3], specifically when it served Microsoft with patent traps (exFAT). Samsung’s GPL violations go years back and they show that this company, which has just liaised with Google on patents (Google too is becoming patents-greedy), is no friend of FOSS. Samsung also commits crimes, but that’s beyond the scope of our coverage.

Another company which can easily be confused or mishandled as a FOSS company because it uses Linux (but mostly provides proprietary software with Microsoft patents) is Tuxera. Like Xamarin, all it really does is promote Linux dependence on Microsoft patent traps (the ones that allegedly have Samsung paying Microsoft for Linux). exFAT (promoted by Samsung and Tuxera) as well other forms/variants of FAT are not really needed, we need to abolish them.

The woman who told us about Samsung’s GPL violations contacted us earlier today to say that based on this file (forked to https://github.com/rxrz/asuswrt-merlin just in case), Tuxera is violating the GPL.

As the reporter of this violation put it, “download the blob, run `modinfo` on it:


filename:       thfsplus.ko
license:        GPL
description:    Extended Macintosh Filesystem
author:         Brad Boyer
depends:       
vermagic:       2.6.22.19 mod_unload MIPS32_R2 32BIT

“it’s MIPS32, so `strings` won’t give the function names, rather something like this:


`strings /tmp/thfsplus.ko | grep -i tux`:
<6>Tuxera HFS+ driver 3013.11.18
/opt/tuxera/rakesh/tuxera_delivery/output/asus-router/tuxera-file-systems-3013.11.15.1-bcm4706.build/hfsplus-kmod/fs/hfsplus/extents.c
/opt/tuxera/rakesh/tuxera_delivery/output/asus-router/tuxera-file-systems-3013.11.15.1-bcm4706.build/hfsplus-kmod/fs/hfsplus/bnode.c

“Seems like a GPL violation to me,” she concluded. “I’d like to have that source code now, since it’s been based on native code from Linux.”

12.27.13

Free/Open Source Software Takes Over the Web at All Levels

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The role played by Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is increasing on the Web, owing to a large degree to growing CMS communities (tens of thousands of developers) that appreciate the GPL

IT IS gratifying to see how the World Wide Web becomes GNU/Linux-dominated also and Free software-dominated, owing to migrations to FOSS CMS options. A recent example is LinuxDevices, which was converted from a proprietary CMS to WordPress and then put under LinuxGizmos.

CMS Wire recently published a January 2014 overview of new Free/Open Source CMS options and releases [1]. CMS Observer published “Best Free Social Network Software” [2]. It’s clear that FOSS has grown dominant in many of these areas that involve Web sites, rising from the bottom of the stack (GNU/Linux) to databases, programming languages, and even the programs themselves. WordPress 3.8 was recently released (with an unfortunate back door) [3,4], affecting many millions of Web sites. WordPress updates too quickly, alleges FOSS Force [5], but at least it’s a sign of this project’s health. It’s exceptionally active and development is rapid. As we are already running some Drupal 7 sites (Tux Machines uses Drupal) we are planning to move away from WordPress some time in the foreseeable future, perhaps when Drupal 8, which is going to come out in 2014 [6], is finally reaching stability. Drupal, having gained ground in US Federal government [7] and large corporations like HP [8], is probably one of the best success stories of the GPL (Apache is not GPL and Linux is still GPLv2, just like Drupal at GPLv2 or later). Apart from the leading duo, WordPress and Drupal, there’s also Joomla [9] and Pi Engine [10], among many other options. It is extremely improbably that proprietary CMS options will ever make a comeback. Some of them (like TypePad) already try to turn free/libre in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. What’s New in January 2014 for Open-Source CMS
  2. Best Free Social Network Software
  3. WordPress 3.8 Content Management Platform Gets a New Look

    The new release of the widely deployed open-source content management system platform includes more than 600 different changes and bug fixes.

  4. WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Available For Download

    WordPress has been released version 3.8 “Parker” named in honor of Charlie Parker, bebop innovator. The company claims it features a modern new design and most beautiful update yet.

  5. WordPress – Too Fast For Comfort
  6. Drupal 8 to take open source CMS ‘to the next level’
  7. Drupal shop in the DC area makes technology work for the unemployed

    When the US Federal government shutdown from October 1 – 16 this year, a small Drupal shop in the Washington DC area turned a list of freelance gigs for furloughed employees in a Google doc into a website in five hours. Unfurlough.us went live at 1:00 am EST on October 4, accumulating 50,000 page views in a little over a week.

  8. HP Launches Portal to Sell Its Software Online

    HP leveraged third-party software to build the Pronq site. Pronq is using the open-source Drupal, a widely deployed content management system that is also used by the White House and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as the front-end technology.

  9. The Joomla Project Announced Joomla Framework 1.0

    The Joomla community announced Joomla Framework 1.0, making a major step forward for the Joomla project.

  10. Pi Engine v2.3.0 Release

11.28.13

Glyn Moody on GNU GPL Against Software Patents and Microsoft Racketeering

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GPLv3

Summary: How the General Public License can help fight the likes of Microsoft, whose only answer to GNU/Linux domination is now taxation of GNU/Linux (through patent extortion)

THE TABLET on which I’ll record Richard Stallman tomorrow dons a GPLv3 sticker. We wrote about the GPLv3 quite a lot back in 2007 when it was new. We needed the GPLv3 because of patent deals such as Novell’s. Microsoft was rapidly signing (or looking to sign) more extortion deals against Linux and in the middle of 2007 it announced a large-scale campaign to shake down all GNU/Linux vendors.

Towards the end of 2013 we have this moderate view from Dr. Glyn Moody. He explains today: “A theme that has re-appeared on this blog many times over the years is that of software patents. As I’ve noted before, they are perhaps the biggest single threat to free software, especially since the decline of Microsoft. Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.

“That’s already manifest in its Android licensing strategy. Note, in particular, that it refuses to discuss what exactly Android allegedly infringes upon. This means that it can sign secret deals with companies willing to go along with this ploy, giving the impression that there is a problem, without offering the slightest proof to that effect…”

“Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.”
      –Glyn Moody
Moody’s analysis then proceeds to explaining how the GPLv3 relates to all this. Now that Microsoft’s super-trolls and other trolls such as Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3, 4] are going after legitimate companies we must recognise that fighting patents with patents (like OIN does) is not a solution. Trolls cannot be confronted by a reactionary lawsuit and here we have a story of a patent troll winning again. To quote TechDirt, where Moody is a writer: “There’s a reason why patent trolls love east Texas — and big part of that is that the juries there have a long history of favoring patent holders, no matter how ridiculous or how trollish. That was on display last night, when the jury in Marshall, Texas sided with patent troll Erich Spangenberg and his TQP shell company over Newegg. As we’ve been describing, Newegg brought out the big guns to prove pretty damn thoroughly that this guy Mike Jones and his encryption patent were both not new at the time the patent was granted and, more importantly, totally unrelated to the encryption that Newegg and other ecommerce providers rely on. Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones’ patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones’, should have ended the case.”

Recently, when big trolls like Microsoft were risking a loss to their patent leverage, lobbying/AstroTurfing from Microsoft paid off. So we are left in a situation where Microsoft’s extortion — not just patent trolls — is a real issue. The GPLv3 is a partial solution to that, if only more projects (like Linux) adopted it…

11.01.13

Banning Military Use of GPL-Licensed and Other Freedom-Respecting Software

Posted in GPL at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brandon Bryant responsible for 1,626 assassinations without trial (many innocent civilians included)

Brandon Bryant

Summary: How we can deal with problems of controversial or even criminal aggression when that aggression depends on Free software

SEVERAL software licences get notably criticised for having terms in them that explicitly ban use which may aid war/murder people. Linux uses the GPL, which has no such terms. The same goes for GNU.

We are increasingly made aware — even by the corporate press — of a previously-secret war waged by Linux-powered CIA-operated drones. This is one of the most disgusting wars in the world. People are being labeled based on electronic communications and then hunted down (without trial, without second assessment) by flying machines that shoot Hellfire missiles at cellphones owned by those people (so-called ‘militants’, which basically means adult males or old adolescents), never mind who’s around them at the time (just call them “human shields” after they’re dead). Nothing has increased doubt and hatred towards the United States like these dirty drone wars, which are about eliminating people almost autonomously rather than address the key issues (which may be ideological and thus addressable in other means). In Techrights alone, hundreds of daily links were posted to deal with this subject without delving into it so deeply. Contrariwise, a lot of the corporate press has helped cover up the atrocities (calling all who are killed “militants”) and parroted the Pentagon’s talking points, barely ever speaking to the people who are most affected by these drone strikes. Even this week — never mind the past few years — CNN tactlessly labels one of the murderers “American drone warrior” [1], even though he says his trainers reinforced the idea that this job was just “video game” (with real living targets).

After the war crimes in Iraq and beyond (Cheney is still not being arrested, let alone trialled [2]) we should know better the correlation between law and life. It’s not just about Arabs; the US did similar things to south Americans (see [3,4] in the news) when they had turf wars against the Soviets.

Software licences are a form of law and life is impacted by it to a great extent. One can authorise murdering people — even US citizens — without a trial in the US. That’s because laws got rewritten. The government carries out the murders with approval that goes all the way to the top (the White House and the juridical cornerstones). Software licences can be used as a tool against brutes, or at least a deterrent. If Microsoft Windows crashes drones into the ground, as it did before the US Army switched them to Linux, then that’s a good thing. It probably saves innocent lives. Let the proprietary software EULAs do the killing; use Free software licences to limit the actions of the cowardly assassins who sit down in air-conditioned offices, with or without a joystick in their hand (running a lethal, weaponised Linux-powered toy via satellite). Don’t let any of them portray themselves as victims (e.g. of “trauma”). They should be brave enough to confront families whose loves ones (mostly innocent people) they were blowing to pertinent bodyparts because they were “following orders” from CIA/NSA (they were free to quit this ‘job’ all along, nobody pointed a drone to their heads).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Confessions of an American drone warrior

    The first time Brandon Bryant fired a Hellfire missile from his U.S. drone, it was a cold January day.

    “His right leg was severed,” Bryant told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “I watched him bleed out from his femoral artery.”

    “It was shocking,” he said. “It’s pixelated, and it doesn’t really look real. But it was real.”

    [...]
    1
    The “video game” aspect of his job was reinforced by his trainers, he said.

  2. Lawyers Advise Toronto Police Chief to Arrest Dick Cheney “as a Person Suspected of Authorizing and Abetting Torture”

    Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

  3. Obama’s Betrayal of Honduras

    Do the people of Honduras have the right to elect their own president and congress? That depends on whom you talk to. In 2009, the country’s left-of-center President Mel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup that was heavily supported (andaccording to Zelaya, organized) by the United States government. After six months and a lot of political repression, the coup government was re-established with an election that almost the entire hemisphere – except, you guessed it, the United States – rejected as illegitimate.

  4. Record number of nations oppose US embargo of Cuba in UN vote

    In an overwhelming UN vote, 188 countries have called on the US to lift its 53-year trade embargo on Cuba. Havana has slammed the financial sanctions as a flagrant violation of human rights and said they are tantamount to genocide.

    The recording-breaking opposition to the embargo saw Israel isolated as the only country to vote in support of the US. Palau, the island nation that got behind the US last year, abstained in the 22nd UN annual vote, along with Micronesia and Marshall Islands.

09.20.13

Big Money in FUD Against Free/Libre Software Licensing

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

False red flags

Light in the sky

Summary: Black Duck mentioned in the context of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) as FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) becomes somewhat of an industry standard

Some ‘former’ Microsoft employees saw potential in FOSS FUD and went on to initiate companies that monetise this. One such company is Black Duck and “someone pushing Black Duck,” iophk says, showing an article that speaks of IPO [1] for this firm.

Black Duck’s main product seems to be proprietary software (with software patents on it) that allegedly helps find GPL violations in proprietary software developed in proprietary software companies. Some FOSS, eh? Surely a friend of FOSS, no? Or just a fiend rather.

In other news that iophk shared with us, the GPL is being upheld again [2], making the world of software a freer place. As FOSS becomes more prevalent in this world we shall vigilantly track those who try to stand in its way. The most widely used/sold platform, namely Android, is showing how dominant FOSS has become so quickly.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open source opens the way to Black Duck IPO talk
  2. Germany: Open Source must remain open: obligations for the sale of electronic goods containing Open Source software

    The District Court of Hamburg, Germany, recently had the opportunity to review the conditions governing the use of Open Source software. In a decision that bolsters the enforceability of open source software licenses, the district court confirmed that the defendant had lost its right to use the software licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2) when it failed to fully reveal the underlying source code. The court rejected the defense argument that requiring the defendant company to comply with the conditions of the GPLv2 was unreasonable (decision of 14. June 2013, file no. 308 O 10/13, available in German here).

08.20.13

The Conservancy Behind Samsung’s Decision to Embrace GPL After Violating the GPL

Posted in GPL, Microsoft, Samsung at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Software Freedom Conservancy did well

Summary: The fuller story behind Samsung choosing the GPL for a previously-proprietary piece of software that helps Microsoft

A few days ago we wrote about Samsung [1, 2, 3. 4] deciding to make it seem like it never violated the GPL licence, having done so before. Well, the group which years ago told us not to taunt Samsung over it claims to have just played a role. To quote:

Conservancy’s GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers worked collaboratively with Ibrahim Haddad, the Group Leader for Open Source at Samsung Research America, and fellow community leaders, throughout the process after this code first appeared on GitHub. Conservancy’s primary goal, as always, was to assist and advise toward the best possible resolution to the matter that complied fully with the GPL. Conservancy is delighted that the correct outcome has been reached: a legitimate, full release from Samsung of all relevant source code under the terms of Linux’s license, the GPL, version 2.

LWN wrote:

The Software Freedom Conservancy has announced that it has helped Samsung to release a version of its exFAT filesystem implementation under the GPL. This filesystem had previously been unofficially released after a copy leaked out of Samsung.

This is good work, but without the leak, would it have happened? Without some public shaming, would Samsung have cared? Sometimes there’s no choice but to be brave (blowing some whistles) and potentially rude/crude.

08.17.13

Success: Samsung’s GPL Violation and Subsequent Leak Officially Mean exFAT Driver is Being Made Free Software

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Samsung at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s hawkish patent extortion possibly jeopardised

Bald eagle

Summary: Just like Microsoft after its unintended or secret GPL violations, code is being made GPL-licensed and the violations covered up as though they never happened

Over the past few weeks we have covered the latest noteworthy GPL violation by Samsung [1, 2, 3. 4].

“It looks like Samsung may have fixed the licensing problem,” said iophk. “Now how to put this in a positive light? It’s strange that the big companies act as if they are under no obligations to follow copyright and seem to do so only under duress.”

It seems like pressure and leaks have worked in the same way that Snowden’s leaks led to bogus government and NSA “transparency” (making public what’s already leaked). Based on Michael’s report, Samsung makes the code GPL-licensed all of a sudden.

Back in June, Phoronix was the first to report of a native exFAT file-system implementation for Linux that appeared on GitHub. It later turned out that Samsung accidentally leaked their exFAT source code. The solution has now been corrected with Samsung formally open-sourcing their exFAT source code.

The exFAT driver talked about in June was modified from an accidental Samsung source code leak that the independent developer found on GitHub. It was a confusing situation and he removed references to the original Samsung source code and it led to a confusing situation in the weeks that followed with tons of comments in the forums.

This was reported to GPL-violations and gave Samsung bad publicity, so they released it as Free software. As for what it means to patents on FAT, I am not qualified to say. It’s not GPLv3 though.

“This was reported to GPL-violations and gave Samsung bad publicity, so they released it as Free software.”In the past, GPL violations by Microsoft were also handled in this way. Microsoft decided to pretend the violation was open-sourced to rewrite history. iophk calls it spin, noting that “‘accidentally leaked’ == Samsung got caught ripping off kernel code” (indeed).

iophk quotes: “While Samsung accidentally put out the source code in the first place, they have now formally released the code under the GPL after it was discovered they violated the GPL in the first place. Samsung was shipping this closed-source exFAT driver on a tablet yet they were relying upon GPL-only symbols.”

iophk says that “all that aside, it’s an improvement that they have properly licensed the code finally… too bad it took all that trouble… Their image got tarnished a bit and that could have been avoided if they had just respected copyright from the start. It was also a bit of necessary extra work.”

This resolves the problem/dilemma for the leakers. Without them, this would not have happened. What does all this mean to Tuxera, Paragon, and patents on exFAT in general? Lawyers might tell.

08.13.13

Behind Samsung’s Latest Gross Violation of the GPL and Samsung’s Continued Support for Microsoft’s Patent Racket Against Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Samsung at 11:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quick Guide of license compatibility with GPL
Quick Guide of license compatibility with GPL

Summary: A call for advice on how to handle another Samsung violation of the GPL and betrayal of the community

As a quick reminder, over 6 years ago we called for a boycott of Samsung, which proved that it didn’t care about freedom and actively worked against it. In 2 posts [1, 2] from the past few weeks we covered yet another violation of the GPL by Samsung. This one required a leak to be shown and we spoke to the leaker, who prefers to remain anonymous. We consulted internally to see how this can be dealt with.

“Not enough data to do more than guess,” iophk wrote, “I do recall that the SFLC disapproved of the ‘robin hood’ approach to freeing code that had been ripped off.

“This one required a leak to be shown and we spoke to the leaker, who prefers to remain anonymous.”“I guess it depends on the provenance of the code. If it is ripped off from the kernel then it comes under GPLv2 or later (IIRC). Then it comes down to v2 or v3. I like what v3 accomplishes, but I do not. like mixing copyright with patents in the same license. Can v3 provide any protection if Microsoft starts to claim to have patents on *FAT?”

This is an interesting possibility that we are exploring. Samsung’s GPL violations are in an implementation of exFAT, a very common extortion tool against Linux distributors. “Here is the latest info from the most recent kernel,” writes iophk. “It is v2 only.”

It is v3 which deals with patent provisions. iophk continues: “Linus likes v2 very much but seems to have removed the “or later” clause that I vaguely recollect being there. Can rxrz [the leaker] say which version of the kernel exfat-nofuse came from? If it is a later one, then maybe v2 is the only option. If it is an earlier one, there might be a choice between v2 and v3.”

He later, upon further investigation, adds: “Here’s the oldest commit in Git, which has the same preamble. So I’m not sure under which circumstances v3 could be used. It is certainly a safe bet with v2.”

“We could like to relay the leaker’s question to the wider community.”We spoke with the leaker of this code, who wrote: “I just wanted to do a good thing.

“But now I have decided to put the LICENSE file there, containing GPLv2, since Samsung has stolen that code initially from the Linux kernel tree. (I believe it fits this code the best, v3 may be better though, I don’t know)”

We could like to relay the leaker’s question to the wider community. To quote her, the leaker: “Could you please help the project and make up a LICENSE file content for it? It happens that I’m not too good with legal things myself…”

I promised to work with our community at Techrights or anyone else who reads this to address this issue. Any suggestions of ways forward from here? Or licensing?

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