Pious Crusades

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From: Gregory Alan Bolcer (gbolcer@endtech.com)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 11:00:37 PDT

This is hilarous only in that the editor finally got to use
his deep knowledge and history degree to make a good analogy.
No link as it's a paid subscription for LinuxGram. Also, stuff
deleted in the middle.

            Sun Finds & Exploits Hole in the Precious GPL
                        By Stuart Zipper

  A gaping hole has been discovered in the GNU General Public License (GPL),
the legal document at the heart of open source, and dear Sun has driven a
Mack truck named Solaris x86 straight through it.

  At least that's how open source demigod Bruce Perens assesses the situation
and he's the primary author of the "Open Source Definition," the philosophical
basis of the open source movement.

  A less forgiving Donald Becker, CTO of Scyld Computing Corporation, however,
says nuts to that. It's not a matter of an obliging hole in the GPL for Sun
to sidestep through. It's that Sun has released software, namely its
Linux-to-Solaris driver porting kit, in gross violation of the GPL.

  If Perens is part of the Linux pantheon, then Becker is the godfather of
Beowulf, the famous clustering technology used in Linux.

  Becker also took his plaint to Perens a week later at a session on licensing
at LinuxWorld, where Perens was on the panel. The issue was discussed briefly,
with no resolution.

  Now Perens has ruled, or should one say opined, that Sun is perfectly within
its legal rights - not that he particularly likes it. He cites exceptions in the
GPL allowing for Sun's ported drivers "as long as the drivers are runtime loading
and are not distributed with the kernel."

  Becker also says that there are hints that Sun may be getting a little nervous
about the situation. In the past few days the controversial porting kit has disappeared
from the publicly accessible part of Sun's web site and has moved to a password-protected
area for registered developers only.

[Editor's Note: Back in the mid-15th century, the Dominicans and Franciscans,
those two great rival mendicant religious orders, went at each other hammer and
tong over whether the blood that Christ shed while he hung on the cross was
still hypostatically united to the Godhead and therefore worthy of adoration or
whether, because the blood was outside Christ's body, it had ceased to be
divine and therefore could not be adored. The friars raised such a ruckus that
they drove the pope, Pius II, the only pope, I might add, to write his autobiography,
to utter distraction. Things got so bad that Pius had to shelve his crusade against
the Turks, who were pressing in on the West, to mediate the dispute. Now, I happen
to know this because I wrote my master's thesis on it and I can honestly say that up
to this moment in time there were only a handful of people now alive able
to recall the controversy that stymied Pius' crusade and kicked up a fuss with the
good people who heard the friars' sermons and mutual vituperations. I only bring up
the subject now, not that I haven't been trying to work it into the conversation
for years, to make two observations. First, dear readers, it is obvious that you
would have to go a far way to find another publication whose editorial
staff was so perfectly prepared to report on the current state of the computer
industry and second that the more things change the more they stay the same. - MOG]

Gregory Alan Bolcer        | gbolcer@endtech.com    | work: 949.833.2800
Chief Technology Officer   | http://www.endtech.com | cell: 714.928.5476
Endeavors Technology, Inc. | efax: 603.994.0516     | wap:  949.278.2805

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