Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Back page page.
Linux and Me is the title of a book in progress by Barry Kauler. It's an introductory work, with current chapters covering installation, X server setup, and the Linux command line. More is to come.
Alpha users may want to have a look at AlphaNews.net, which covers current happenings with the Alpha processor.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
June 1, 2000
Two years ago this week, as covered in the May 28 LWN, LWN got its own domain at LWN.net. A proposal went out for a thing called the "Linux Standard Base;" it was signed by numerous Linux luminaries. Two years later the LSB has made progress, but many of its goals remain unfulfilled.
ZDNet chimed in this week with a delightful piece:
But Linux is a communist operating system in a capitalist society. Its popularity is going to lead toward its fragmentation. [...]
The above was written by a guy named John Taschek, who apparently hasn't learned a whole lot since...
The development kernel release was 2.1.103; work was in progress toward the 2.0.34 stable release. Red Hat 5.1 was unleashed upon the world, as was Debian 1.3.1 r8.
One year ago (the May 27 LWN), the Linux world was dealing with the first Mindcraft report. Pacific HiTech changed its name to TurboLinux. The development kernel was 2.3.3; the stable release was 2.2.9. Kernel hacker Ted Ts'o announced his move to VA Linux Systems. SGI announced that its XFS journaling filesystem would be released for Linux. Slackware 4.0 was released. Linuxcare got slapped down by Red Hat for its "Simply Supported" poster.
Also, this week in 1998 and 1999 both were marked by the Linux Expo, held in North Carolina. Linux Expo isn't happening this year, it's a victim of the Linux trade show glut. It is missed. See our coverage from 1998 and 1999 to get an idea of what went on.
Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 10:30:58 -0500 From: Andy Johnson <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Apache != GPL I take issue with the following statement from the front page of the Linux Weekly News May 25, 2000 edition: >Lineo goes on to state that it does not see a number of types of code - such as kernel or Apache modules - >as "derivative works" that are covered under the GPL. Apache is not distributed under the GNU GPL or any other Free Software Foundation license. The Apache license is much more permissive; Lineo has every right to make "derivative works" of Apache and resell them as long as the comply with Apache's license. The Apache license is mainly concerned with keeping Apache's copyrights intact, and making sure the customer knows Apache technology was used to create the product. Several companies have used Apache and its liberal licensing terms to create successful business models, and there is no reason Lineo should not be able to, either. Of course, several third-party Apache modules have been released under the terms of the GNU GPL, and Lineo could have licensing issues with them. However, Apache itself is not licensed under the GNU GPL. Whether this statement originated with Linux Weekly News or Lineo, I felt it needed to be pointed out.
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 10:39:42 +0100 To: email@example.com From: Nick Huxley <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Debian not including KDE In response to the letter in the LWN edition on 25th May on Debian not including KDE officially and for that matter the letter regarding the "opening up" of motif, efforts are being made to deal with both these problems they are the Harmony/FreeQT project and lesstif project. Yes Harmony is still going and to my knowledge it is the only place where you can get LGPLed template datatypes like Arrays, Lists etc. The project has completed a sizable amount of work and still needs more help so if anyone feels strongly about it then help us code. A site exists on http://www.yggdrasil.com/~harmony/source.html with the latest version of the code. Regards Nick
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 12:19:05 +0200 From: J.H.M. Dassen (Ray) <email@example.com> To: "Alan W. Irwin" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: When will KDE and Debian get together? In a letter to LWN you write: >As far as I know this is the only major open-source package that is not >officially supported by Debian. I suspect this bad situation is a leftover >from the old flame wars that used to erupt between GNOME and KDE >supporters. It was alleged at the time of those flamewares that although >KDE itself was GPLed, the package could not really be considered free since >it depended on the Qt-1 library which was not. This is a common misunderstanding. "Debian's stance on KDE copyright and licensing issues" (http://www.debian.org/News/1998/19981008) gives an extensive analysis of the KDE issue. The issue is /not/ KDE's dependence on a non-free library, but the incompatibility between KDE's licensing terms and the licensing terms on the Qt library it depends on. >What is ironic about the exclustion of KDE from Debian now, is that the >Qt-1 library is actually officially supported by Debian! It is not. The "non-free" section of Debian mirrors (from which qt1 .debs are available) is /not/ an official part of Debian GNU/Linux and is e.g. not included on the official Debian CD images (http://cdimage.debian.org). >I personally think this whole situation is rather petty, but I was willing >to give Debian some slack so they could gracefully back down from their >impossible position especially now that both Qt-2 and KDE-2 are coming out >under free licenses. While Qt2 is under a free license (after a drafing process in which Debian's Joseph Carter provided extensive feedback), this license, the QPL, is unfortunately not compatible with the GPL. This has been pointed out to Troll Tech, but has not resulted in changes in the QPL. >But in the interests of fairness, I don't see why this official Debian >discrimination against KDE continues. Because there have been no fundamental changes in the situation. After analysis of KDE's and Qt's licensing terms (both the non-free Qt1 licensing terms and the free QPL), the Debian project has concluded it cannot legally distribute KDE binaries. For the Debian project to be able to legally distribute KDE binaries, KDE's and Qt's licensing terms would have to be made compatible. This could be done in many ways, the most relevant of which are: - license KDE under the GPL plus an explicit exception granting the right to (re)distribute binaries linked against Qt - license KDE under a different free license like the Artistic License or - release Qt under a BSD-style license; see http://qt-interest.trolltech.com/auo1.html Many people within Debian have lobbied with both the KDE project and Troll Tech for one of these changes to be made. Regrettably, so far this has not resulted in a change that would allow the Debian project to legally distribute KDE binaries. HTH, Ray -- Pinky, Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? I think so, Brain, but "Snowball for Windows"? Pinky and the Brain in "Snowball"
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 09:31:54 -0500 From: Mike Renfro <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: When will KDE and Debian get together? Note: I don't speak for Debian, my employer, or anyone else. > As far as I know this is the only major open-source package that is > not officially supported by Debian. I suspect this bad situation is > a leftover from the old flame wars that used to erupt between GNOME > and KDE supporters. It was alleged at the time of those flamewares > that although KDE itself was GPLed, the package could not really be > considered free since it depended on the Qt-1 library which was not. Unless you consider the conslusions reached by several people who have extensively read both the GPL and the QPL invalid, this is more than a mere allegation -- it's a fact. > What is ironic about the exclustion of KDE from Debian now, is that > the Qt-1 library is actually officially supported by Debian! The qt1g package is in the non-free area, which is where all software packaged for use on a Debian system, but *not* conforming to the Debian Free Software Guidelines is held. licq, an otherwise free program with strong, if not unbreakable ties to the Qt toolkit, is held in the contrib area. The licensing difficulties with GPL'd programs using Qt1 (and maybe even Qt2) can be seen at: http://cgi.debian.org/cgi-bin/get-copyright?package=licq What it boils down to is that programs released under an unmodified GPL cannot be linked against non-free libraries, *except* when those libraries are distributed as a standard part of the system. And that exception applies primarily, and perhaps exclusively to proprietary operating systems. GPL'd programs could be linked against Solaris' libc, Motif, or ncurses, or to Microsoft's MFC. But the odds of Qt falling into that category is minimal. My understanding is that if the KDE people add a clause in their licensing that explicitly allows linking with Qt and QPL-licensed programs, that everything is cleared up. As not every application in KDE is solely authored by KDE developers (KDE interfaces wrapped around other GPL'd programs, for example), this might become difficult to achieve on every program. Point 5 of the Debian Social Contract (http://www.debian.org/social_contract) gives more detail on the situation of contrib and non-free software packages in Debian. Point 4 somewhat explains why the software is packaged and archived (top priority is the needs of the users) but why they're relegated to a separate area (the goal of providing am integrated system of 100% free software, with no restrictions preventing value-added development or commercial software running on Debian). > I personally think this whole situation is rather petty, but I was > willing to give Debian some slack so they could gracefully back down > from their impossible position especially now that both Qt-2 and > KDE-2 are coming out under free licenses. Thus, I was very > disappointed by the interview with Martin Schulze pointed to in your > 18 May issue which in Babelfish translation seemed to indicate that > KDE-2 would not be officially supported under potato, but it might > be under woody. The reasons might be legitimate ones but they were > obscured in translation. I would appreciate LWN looking further > into this mess to see if reason will prevail. Potato went into code freeze in mid-January (http://www.debian.org/News/2000/20000116). Qt2 was available at that time, and is currently included in the main (DFSG-compliant) area of the potato archives. KDE2 is *still* not released; if it is released before woody goes into code freeze, and if it is free enough to distribute in the main archive area, then I can only assume it will go in. KDE2's exclusion from potato is therefore a completely technical issue, not a licensing issue. Links to recent threads exhaustively discussing this issue include: http://www.debian.org/Lists-Archives/debian-devel-0001/msg01030.html http://www.debian.org/Lists-Archives/debian-legal-0001/msg00081.html http://www.debian.org/Lists-Archives/debian-legal-0001/msg00109.html -- Mike Renfro / Instructor, Basic Engineering Program 931 372-3601 / email@example.com
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 05:10:38 -0700 From: Joseph Carter <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Cc: "Alan W. Irwin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, Subject: Re: When will KDE and Debian get together? On Thu, May 25, 2000 at 12:19:05PM +0200, J . H . M . Dassen wrote: > While Qt2 is under a free license (after a drafing process in which Debian's > Joseph Carter provided extensive feedback), this license, the QPL, is > unfortunately not compatible with the GPL. This has been pointed out to > Troll Tech, but has not resulted in changes in the QPL. Much of it ignored. Or at least, tentatively agreement and acceptance with last-minute rewriting. Bottom line: There's an underlying problem with KDE. GPL software and Qt (any version released so far) have incompatible licenses. KDE knows this, but they don't wish to be burdoned by the touchy legal situation admitting this problem would create for them, so they openly attack the GPL or outright ignore the problem. Troll Tech is in an ideal position to solve this problem, but isn't really willing to do so out of spite for the GPL, for Richard Stallman, and for the "Free Software community" (or much more accurately, the Slashdot community, most of whom are just trolls and bandwagon-hoppers) who flamed them for encouraging people to violate the GPL by claiming it was legal to use Qt with GPL'd applications. All that is required by a GPL'd application to be linked with Qt is a specific exemption for Qt from being considered part of the software. A few authors are unwilling to provide that (I'm not, but so far none of my code is used within KDE to my knowledge..) but the vast majority of people I've talked to say they would if asked. The KDE people seem to believe that those who object will find out their code is being used and make sure to tell them to stop using it. Forgiveness is easier to get than permission it seems. There are a few people out there genuinely hostile to KDE because of their clear belief they can do what they want because it's not like anyone is going to sue them for it. Nobody really wants to talk about this sort of problem in KDE. Companies such as Red Hat simply ask their lawyers if using KDE will get them sued and their lawyers answer that nobody is going to sue them over KDE, so it gets included. Someone needs to talk about it. Allowing this to continue jepardizes the GPL, setting clear precedent for how this untested license will be interpretted if ever people wind up going to court with it - I've already been witness to projects which have openly defied the GPL. The QuakeLives project, a project based on Id Software's QuakeWorld source code released under the GPL last summer, is a prime example. First they tried to release source code for most of their QuakeWorld-based project, but leaving out a few key files necessary to compile or use it. Then they released a new version under the GPL's terms lacking the features they left code out of their last release for. That point on, they have refused to provide ANY source for ANY release, attempting such things as "closed" beta testing (if you got the client and asked for source, you weren't an official beta tester and therefore your GPL'd binary was "warez" so they didn't have to give you anything) to binary patches for their precompiled binary to moving all of their code into a DLL without which the binary would not run to a click-through agreement in which you "gave up your right" to source to be allowed access to binaries! Their excuses in all these cases are very similar to the excuses KDE has given people about their own legalities. Which is exactly the point: KDE is actively working to tear down the GPL simply so they can do something they know (and many of them even admit) they shouldn't be doing because it's too late to change now. It's not like they'll be sued for it, right? -- Joseph Carter <firstname.lastname@example.org> GnuPG key 1024D/DCF9DAB3 Debian GNU/Linux (http://www.debian.org/) 20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC The QuakeForge Project (http://quakeforge.net/) 44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3 <JHM> Being overloaded is the sign of a true Debian maintainer.