I recently read through James Turner’s “Open Source Has a Funding Problem” on the Stack Overflow blog. I recommend it. Great addition to all the new writing on open software funding and business realities.
There was one minor error that bothered me, mentioned just in passing:
For example, having a dual licensing of MIT for non-commercial and a custom license for commercial purposes.
I get what that means. I think others will, too. But legally, it doesn’t work.
The well-known log4j security vulnerability of December 2021 triggered a lot of renewed discussions around software supply chain security, and sometimes it has also been said to be an Open Source related issue.
This was not the first software component to have a serious security flaw, and it will not be the last.
In a first-time ruling by Italian courts on open source licensing, a software vendor has lost a civil case for failing to comply with open source license requirements.
On December 13, the law court of Venice, Italy quietly affirmed the legal enforceability of open source software licenses in a case involving the GNU General Public License, perhaps the most well known open source license, in what was something of a test case within the country.
Open source software is important because it offers a way for software to be distributed freely and without cost, while allowing users to modify the software to suit their needs and distribute it to others.
For as long as I can remember I’ve got this dream of a passive income software project. At first I thought of it as a hosted service, probably something monitoring related, or high-available cloud hosting-ish. That’s the kind of stuff a sysadmin dreams of.
Now that I’m a developer for a couple of years, exposed to a few different languages, design patterns and software architectures, that idea is still lingering around, but no longer focused on a hosted piece of software. The web is just too fast paced, bloated and way too much work compared to a piece of cross platform software.
In my spare time I’ve been chugging along on a piece of software, which I’m contemplating selling. In my case the commercial aspect is made more difficult because I also want to release the software with a GPL license.
This post describes the initial hurdles I’m encountering, next to just programming the software.
Windows 11 lets you choose your default browser, but it takes a lot of clicks and Microsoft sometimes forces you to use Edge, anyway. Firefox had a workaround, but Microsoft calls it “improper” and will soon block it.
The upcoming Windows Update won’t block you from changing the default browser in Windows 11. The patch will force links using the microsoft-edge protocol to always open in Edge. These are specific links opened through Windows 11, such as those directly from the taskbar’s search feature. Firefox’s workaround and EdgeDeflector made it so these links would still open in your default browser. Microsoft is about to roll out an update that disables this workaround, calling it “improper” on Mozilla’s part
OK, this is a post I’ve been planning for months, I think? Several past drafts have been injured and killed before I gave birth to this one, the succesful one. So, let’s jump straight into it: I wanna talk about GNU.
GNU. Not the FSF, not RMS… Why are all these three letter acronyms? Are all of these cover operations of some three letter agency? I hope saying that doesn’t get me into any trouble, so you better read my post before I suddenly disappear… Just kidding! But I will address the FSF and RMS some time in the future… Now, let’s just focus on the GNU.
This comes from a cultural thing that has bugged me for very long time. The Anglo FOSS community is way over this kind of stuff, except for the few people who still listen to the BS the FSF spits out… But the Spanish community loves the FSF and RMS so much it’s unnerving. Actually, I almost was about to write this post in Spanish, but then I realized that I enjoy writing in English way more than in my native language… for some reason?
So, this post is to cut off the falsehoods, the half truths, the weird propaganda around GNU. Some of it comes from the FSF, but most of it actually comes from their fans. This is not just a “culture war,” but this has actual, tangible technological consequences… and that’s what bothers me at most.
Let’s get into this, shall we?
And, by the way, if someone at the FSF is reading… Please, no emails? Thanks! We are acquainted already, and last time wasn’t very pleasant, OK? Nope, I will never say “GNU/Linux,” because…
GNU is just a userland.
But as in all good stories, there’s a lot of nuance, a lot of history… and people who defend the “GNU/Linux” name aren’t just idiots… In my opinion they confuse some historical accidents with what really goes on in a Linux system…
Software piracy is the act of distributing software that one does not have the rights. For example, if I share a copy of Adobe Photoshop with you, then that’s obviously software piracy because I don’t have the rights to distribbute that software. Probably only Adobe does. I didn’t author it and I don’t own the copyrights to it.
What about software that was written and published specifically to be allowed to be copied, such as software published under the General Public License? The GPL specifically says that anyone can copy or redistribute the software:
if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.
It would seem clear as day that you therefore cannot pirate GPL software because anyone has the right to copy it. For most of the decades of involvement I’ve had in the Linux community this seemed well understood, but recently things are getting weird.
First off, if you haven’t kept up with the saga of Amazon Web Services and Elastic, here’s the briefest of recaps. A few years ago, AWS basically forked ElasticSearch to offer it as a service, much to the open source community’s dismay. In response, and after some time, Elastic decided to change the licensing on ElasticSearch earlier this year to restrict its downstream use, again, much to the open source community’s dismay. AWS then announced it would fork the project to keep it fully open source, suddenly becoming the apparent good guy in the scenario. Finally, just a few months ago, AWS released OpenSearch under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2), essentially completing the circle.
Well, until now.
Many people will tell you that running your own email server on the internet is crazy, and that the likely result is the email you send will end up in the recipient’s spam folder if it is delivered at all. They aren’t wrong, running your own email server on the internet is up there with rolling your own crypto in the list of technical things you should never do. While I’m all about defying established convention, there’s a twist to this this story that makes it less crazy than it sounds. Let’s go on a journey for the reasons behind the change, alternatives I considered, why I chose to run my own email server, and how I configured it.
The Stockfish project strongly believes in free and open-source software and data. Collaboration is what made this engine the strongest chess engine in the world. We license our software using the GNU General Public License, Version 3 (GPL) with the intent to guarantee all chess enthusiasts the freedom to use, share and change all versions of the program.
Unfortunately, not everybody shares this vision of openness. We have come to realize that ChessBase concealed from their customers Stockfish as the true origin of key parts of their products (see also earlier blog posts by us and the joint Lichess, Leela Chess Zero, and Stockfish teams). Indeed, few customers know they obtained a modified version of Stockfish when they paid for Fat Fritz 2 or Houdini 6 - both Stockfish derivatives - and they thus have good reason to be upset. ChessBase repeatedly violated central obligations of the GPL, which ensures that the user of the software is informed of their rights. These rights are explicit in the license and include access to the corresponding sources, and the right to reproduce, modify and distribute GPLed programs royalty-free.
2020 was a bad year at the end of a bad decade for software freedom. This post discusses how software rules everyone’s lives, how bad the situation is for software freedom, why software freedom matters, and explains why I believe that free software developers should direct their efforts toward emerging language ecosystems.
GitHub is currently causing a lot of commotion in the Free Software scene with its release of Copilot. Copilot is an artificial intelligence trained on publicly available source code and texts. It produces code suggestions to programmers in real time. Since Copilot also uses the numerous GitHub repositories under copyleft licences such as the GPL as training material, some commentators accuse GitHub of copyright infringement, because Copilot itself is not released under a copyleft licence, but is to be offered as a paid service after a test phase. The controversy touches on several thorny copyright issues at once. What is astonishing about the current debate is that the calls for the broadest possible interpretation of copyright are now coming from within the Free Software community.
GitHub recently announced a tool called Copilot, a tool which uses machine learning to provide code suggestions, inciting no small degree of controversy. One particular facet of the ensuing discussion piques my curiosity: what happens if the model was trained using software licensed with the GNU General Public License?
The big Android news of the week was the announcement that Microsoft is adding Android support to Windows 11. Alongside the existing Windows Subsystem for Linux, they are adding a Windows Subsystem for Android. Android apps will live alongside Windows apps in the Microsoft Store, and installed Android apps will live alongside Windows apps on desktops and notebooks.
This should be a positive development for Android and app developers. Adding hundreds of millions of potential users does not happen all that often. I thought that Google might be aiming for Android-on-Windows with the introduction of ARC five years ago as a way of getting apps onto Chrome OS. Extending that to Chrome browsers on Windows would have been very interesting. Microsoft adding it to Windows 11 has the potential for much better OS integration than Google might have been able to pull off.
However, there is a dark cloud with all of this: the primary source of Android apps for Windows 11 users appears to be the Amazon AppStore for Android.
Windows has always existed to be a stage for the world’s innovation. It’s been the backbone of global businesses and where scrappy startups became household names. The web was born and grew up on Windows. It’s the place where many of us wrote our first email, played our first PC game and wrote our first line of code. Windows is the place people go to create, to connect, to learn and to achieve – a platform over a billion people today rely on.