HP's Martin Fink arguing for copyleft licenses

Fabian Keil freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de
Tue Nov 3 14:25:59 UTC 2015

Hugo Roy <hugo at fsfe.org> wrote:

> ↪ 2015-11-02 Mon 13:57, Fabian Keil <freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de>:
> > > > While the fact that they are licensed under the CDDL might be inconvenient
> > > > for GNU/Linux distributions, for various other operating systems it's not
> > > > a big deal and (from their point of view) even preferably to a more
> > > > restrictive license like the GPL.    
> > > 
> > > The fact that there are more permissive licenses than the GPL doesn't
> > > mean it's not a big deal to make a GPL incompatible license.  
> > 
> > I never said that. My point is that other parts of the free software
> > community are happily using ZFS and DTrace right now. Thus Mr. Fink's
> > claim that the "the community" can't use them due to their license is
> > ridiculous.
> > 
> > It's like claiming that "the community" can't use gcc versions after 4.2
> > because parts of the community have a policy to tolerate GPLv2 code in
> > the base system but reject GPLv3 code due to the perceived risks for
> > downstream consumers.  
> It's not the same claim. In one instance, there is a *choice* to
> reject the license (GPLv3) while, in the other instance, you *can't*
> use the license (CDDL) because it conflicts with the already-used
> license.

Nobody is forcing anyone to use the Linux kernel, thus there's
at least one choice too (use another kernel).

Debian GNU/Linux users could, for example, migrate to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.
Obviously such a migration has downsides but it certainly is an option.

Another option would be to come to the conclusion that ZFS can actually
be used with Linux under certain circumstances:

A couple of GNU/Linux distributions are already including ZFS:

> If you combine this with the fact that the CDDL itself has allegedly
> been chosen *because* (or designed so that) it's incompatible with a
> license that's used *a lot* by the community, I think it's really not
> far fetched to say the tactic was entirely anti-community and,
> instead, was pursuing another agenda.
> This is also supported by the fact that they filed for patents on the
> technology, thus even making sure other implementations under a
> different license are excluded (which isn't the case with gcc, you can
> fork, reimplement, start a competing project, etc.).

My impression is that lots of companies file patents to "prove"
to their share holders how innovative they are and to protect
against patent threats from competitors (that aren't patent trolls).

Former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz has someone anecdotes
about the latter case:

| I feel for Google – Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too.
| In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called
| Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know
| the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP
| = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.)
| If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.”
| My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your last
| presentation, and Keynote looks identical to Concurrence – do
| you own that IP?” Concurrence was a presentation product built
| by Lighthouse Design, a company I’d help to found and which Sun
| acquired in 1996. Lighthouse built applications for NeXTSTEP,
| the Unix based operating system whose core would become the
| foundation for all Mac products after Apple acquired NeXT in
| 1996. Steve had used Concurrence for years, and as Apple built
| their own presentation tool, it was obvious where they’d found
| inspiration. “And last I checked, MacOS is now built on Unix. I
| think Sun has a few OS patents, too.” Steve was silent.
| And that was the last I heard on the topic.

Microsoft threatening OpenOffice is another example in the post.

> The fact that some projects in the community can still use ZFS with
> the CDDL is just a minor side-effect.
> Thus I disagree with the claim being “ridiculous” as you wrote and I
> wouldn't downplay what looks in retrospect as a very nasty tactic
> (which failed).

I may have missed it, but IIRC Mr. Fink merely claimed that
"the community" can't DTrace on ZFS due to the CDDL but did not
suggest that this was the result of a "very nasty tactic".

I consider the first statement to be obviously false and thus
ridiculous while the second statement is hard to confirm or
disprove from the outside and thus a valid opinion.

> PS: please note that I used the word "allegedly" and "looks" -- I have
> no specific knowledge of what really happend on ZFS and behind the
> choice or design of the license. But there sure are some elements
> raising questions... and in the end we have a missed opportunity,
> because I really do hear that ZFS was awesome.

I agree that ZFS indeed was awesome (I've been using it since 2007).
The good news is that it is still available and has become even better
since then. For details see: http://www.open-zfs.org/

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