I used to have the iframe for the Maverick Meerkat launch here, but somehow it was breaking MT.
I used to have the iframe for the Maverick Meerkat launch here, but somehow it was breaking MT.
Via Slashdot, it's official that Red Hat has released RHEL 5.1. They are touting improved virtualization capabilities but just as important is the broad hardware support from the smallest server to the big IBM System Z mainframes as well as Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Congratulations Red Hat!
(In the interest of full disclosure, I work for IBM in the Linux Technology Center and as a project manager helped shepherd features into the base RHEL 5, and the RHEL 5.1 update.)
This week I've moved to a new job in IBM's Linux Technology Center (LTC). I am moving from my role as an “Area Project Manager”—covering development teams doing networking, filesystems, RAS, device drivers, and more—to being a “Technical Resolution Manager”, one of a team of professionals that handle escalated customer complaints. It will be good to get close to customers, understand their needs, and get them what they need from IBM. After six years at IBM this will be my fourth role.
In the new role, while I'm getting trained, I'll be working out of the Beaverton, Oregon lab a little, but I should be able to keep my work-at-home status when I'm up to speed. It's great to be able to work from my office, even if it encourages me to be working more hours than your typical 9-to-5.
In other Linux news, Brian Warner has put together Planet LTC, a aggregation of blog posts from LTCers around the world. There have already been a lot of interesting posts to read.
The Free Standards Group (FSG) has launched the LSB Developer Network (LDN) as a resource for Linux developers who want their programs to work across the various Linux distributions by coding to the interfaces defined by the Linux Standards Base (LSB). This should be a great resource for Linux developers interested in having their code run on as many Linux implementations as possible.
IBM has released version two of the Redbook Linux Client Migration Cookbook. It should be a useful free resource for those looking to migrate to Linux on the desktop. While primarily focused on IT, others can benefit from the chapters on technical differences and integration how--tos.
Full disclosure: I work for IBM in the Linux Technology Center.
Most folks are probably not into the intricacies of software licenses, but suffice to say that interesting controversies can come about because of their wording. Core to the issue is how TiVo hardware, which is shipped with a Linux kernel, requires an encrypted key embedded in its kernel, preventing users from modifying the kernel and running their own version.
One argument goes that once you have bought the hardware and software you should be able to fiddle with it (accepting that you have voided your warranty). Another goes that TiVo negotiated agreements with service providers so they could offer their hardware and modification endangers those agreements. It's been an interesting debate so far.
There are plenty of other debates (for example, issues with playing DVDs and other encrypted source material) and I've only barely scratched the surface.
Eben Moglen's 6/6/06 Keynote for the Red Hat Summit is a must hear. I wish they had posted a transcript.
Linus Torvalds stated (in a linux-kernel email) that it is unlikely that the Linux kernel will be moved to the version 3 GPL license:
The Linux kernel is under the GPL version 2. Not anything else. Some individual files are licenceable under v3, but not the kernel in general.
And quite frankly, I don't see that changing. I think it's insane to require people to make their private signing keys available, for example. I wouldn't do it. So I don't think the GPL v3 conversion is going to happen for the kernel, since I personally don't want to convert any of my code.
The key issue with GPLv3 is the restrictions on DRM (which I highlighted before), which Linus apparently accepts from a practical standpoint. I have to agree with the position that a license term that makes use of code less free is not in keeping with the goal of release software as open source. If it's “open” then you have to accept that some people may do things you find repugnant (like using it to access restricted content).
Linus only speaks for his code, of course, but that's a significant portion of the Linux kernel.
The folks at GrokLaw have posted a “diff” of GPLv2 and v3 here.
Some of the new language is particular hostile to recent events in Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), where copyright holders go to extreme measures to prevent the misuse of intellectual property by means of encryption, hidden programs, and other programatic means that may, in fact, be harmful to end users and their computers.
Digital Restrictions Management.
As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works. Each of its provisions shall be interpreted in light of this specific declaration of the licensor's intent. Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users' privacy, nor for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License.
No covered work constitutes part of an effective technological protection measure: that is to say, distribution of a covered work as part of a system to generate or access certain data constitutes general permission at least for development, distribution and use, under this License, of other software capable of accessing the same data.
Interesting language, but I wonder about its enforceability. Who's going to pay to argue in court about the nuances of the words above? The RIAA, for example, loves suing people in order to establish precedent, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I'm sure they wouldn't mind suing some open source developer in order to edfend DRM.
Another change is that the loaded language “distribute” has been softened to “propagate” in order to avoid the way some copyright laws are worded.
To "propagate" a work means doing anything with it that requires permission under applicable copyright law, other than executing it on a computer or making private modifications. This includes copying, distribution (with or without modification), sublicensing, and in some countries other activities as well.
Also, care is taken to define Source Code and Object Code.
The "source code" for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. "Object code" means any non-source version of a work.
The "Complete Corresponding Source Code" for a work in object code form means all the source code needed to understand, adapt, modify, compile, link, install, and run the work, excluding general-purpose tools used in performing those activities but which are not part of the work. For example, this includes any scripts used to control those activities, and any shared libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is designed to require, such as by intimate data communication or control flow between those subprograms and other parts of the work, and interface definition files associated with the program source files.
Complete Corresponding Source Code also includes any encryption or authorization codes necessary to install and/or execute the source code of the work, perhaps modified by you, in the recommended or principal context of use, such that its functioning in all circumstances is identical to that of the work, except as altered by your modifications. It also includes any decryption codes necessary to access or unseal the work's output. Notwithstanding this, a code need not be included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has it.
Complete Corresponding Source Code need not include anything that users can regenerate automatically from other parts of the Complete Corresponding Source Code.
As a special exception, the Complete Corresponding Source Code need not include a particular subunit if (a) the identical subunit is normally included as an adjunct in the distribution of either a major essential component (kernel, window system, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs or a compiler used to produce the executable or an object code interpreter used to run it, and (b) the subunit (aside from possible incidental extensions) serves only to enable use of the work with that system component or compiler or interpreter, or to implement a widely used or standard interface, the implementation of which requires no patent license not already generally available for software under this License.
According to govexec.com the White House has mandated that all government systems be IPv6 compliant by June 2008. This is a strengthening of the march to IPv6 as the DoD had been pushing its own requirements on this area for some time.
With this person in place, agencies will be charged with developing, by the first quarter of fiscal 2006, an inventory of existing IP-capable equipment and an analysis to determine the financial impact and risks of the transition, Evans said.
The industry will of course be happy about this:
Jawad Khaki, corporate vice president for Microsoft, pushed for a “market-based conversion to IPv6 [as] the most technologically feasible and least disruptive” transition process. He speculated that the flexible nature of IPv6 would mean that conversion activity would happen “at the edge of the network” with home computers, eventually moving to “encompass the rest of the global Internet infrastructure.”
“To reap the benefits from IPv6 federal agencies first must begin to plan and develop requirements that will take full advantage of what the new protocol offers,” committee Chairman Tom Davis said. The Virginia Republican expressed concern about the security and competitive risks associated with the IPv6 transition.
Entrepreneurs! Start your engines!
(Full disclosure: I work for IBM's Linux Technology Center and managed the network group within the LTC for two years.)
Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet.com highlights Kenneth Brown's latest screed asserting such wild assertions as
…open source is the product of disgruntled employees, leftists, and those who hate the idea of private property.
Mr. Blankenhorn asks,
So I want to aim this question squarely at political conservatives. Does this idea resonate with you? Is there something unsavory about open source, with Linux, and with the public domain, something politically incorrect?
To me, the biggest difference between open source and communism is that open source is given, Communism is imposed. I don't know if I count as a conservative, however, but I am a free market capitalist. I'm not a disgruntled employee (IBM pays me to work on open source), I'm not a leftist, and I certainly believe in private property.
Microsoft fears open source because it is a disruptive innovation targeted squarely at Microsoft's platform monopoly. The idea is that a “gorilla” such as Microsoft can be deposed by loosening their death-grip on the specification of the platform enabling general-purpose computing. Microsoft's core competency since the 80's has been to own platforms. After all, they got their shot at the IBM PC because they made BASIC for everything, and IBM felt it needed BASIC for its Personal Computer. DOS was an afterthought. Imagine what the world would be like if CPM-86 won instead.
The fact that alternatives exist and enjoy broad support from a ton of different vendors makes it harder for Microsoft to dominate the market for general purpose personal computing platforms. Open source is also deposing a lot of other platform players from their niches in the process. Like any disruptive innovation you can either harness it or try to deflect it. Microsoft wants to deflect anyone away from a platform specification it cannot control. The same thing happened with Java not that many years ago, you'll recall.
Microsoft's latest reaction to Firefox with vaporware pronouncements about Internet Explorer 7 illustrates this effect. Microsoft would have done nothing if had not been for Firefox. Monopolies are never forced to act unless someone can scramble over the barriers to entry in a market. Rumors abounded that Microsoft was going to stop updating IE for old platforms in hopes of leveraging its web browsing platform power into moving people off of old unprofitable personal computing platforms onto its modern “lock-in” strategy.
I know people that still run Windows 98. I, myself, run Windows 2000 Professional when I need to run Windows. I don't need to be locked-in to a successive upgrade cash stream to make Bill Gates richer. I need to get my work done. Microsoft no longer addresses my pains as a customer.
When I do have pain, though, open source is alluring. I can often download something close. I can either modify it myself if I'm feeling skilled or hire someone else to modify it. Then, under the rules, I release my changes to the outside world to use if they want. My pain is sated and my cost is sating the same pain for everyone else. I don't have to do it if I don't want, and if someone else does it before I do, I benefit. The fact that I don't have to do it separates it from Communism.
You see, Communism is all about the state owning the means of production and (supposedly) providing for the needs of everyone. That's not compelling to me. I still profit directly from my work, after all, and that makes me work as hard as necessary to beat my competitors. Microsoft, if they want my money, will need to work harder too. If they feel they can compete with open source, let them. They have the resources to do almost anything, after all.
Instead they spend their money in shabby whining and name-calling.
Update: I'm adding this one to the Beltway Traffic Jam.
IBM sells point-of-sale terminals running Linux to Circuit City. Computerworld article here.
Some may note that it's important that SUSE Linux was recommended over Red Hat in this article, but I don't know the details of the deal.
Novell shipped SLES9 today. Much of my work in the past year at IBM has been targeted at this important release. I am also happy to see that EVMS is mentioned (that's one of my teams) although they didn't necessarily describe it very well. It would be better to visit the EVMS web page to find out more.
Items not mentioned in the article include my group's contributions of a new JFS release, IPv6 and mobile IP enhancements, and the fact that SLES9 is the first major 2.6 kernel release of an enterprise distribution. Add in that SLES9 is the first official release of a distribution that supports Infiniband.
20:04 8/4/2004 Update: Newsfactor has also mentioned this release.