[Aboriginal] aboriginal

Rob Landley rob at landley.net
Thu Oct 6 12:22:23 PDT 2011

On 10/05/2011 05:21 PM, John Spencer wrote:
> On 10/04/2011 10:04 PM, Rob Landley wrote:
>> On 10/02/2011 07:28 PM, maillist-aboriginal at barfooze.de wrote:
>>> On 09/27/2011 02:32 PM, Rob Landley wrote:
>>>> On 09/25/2011 10:39 AM, maillist-aboriginal at barfooze.de wrote:
>>>>> On 09/25/2011 07:09 AM, Rob Landley wrote:
>>>>>> On 09/24/2011 11:51 AM, maillist-aboriginal at barfooze.de wrote:
>>>>>>> hi, was playing around with aboriginal lately.
>>>>>>> since i haven't seen you on #uclibc lately, i thought i'd just
>>>>>>> write a
>>>>>>> mail...
>>>>>> I'm on the road at the moment, with limited internet access.  I get
>>>>>> home
>>>>>> the 27th.
>>>>>>> i was wondering why gcc 4.2.1 has been chosen (i know that 4.2.4 is
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> last one that builds without dependency libraries)
>>>>>> 4.2.1 was the last GPLv2 release.  I've built newer ones, but don't
>>>>>> distribute them.  I'll probably check in a script to do so at some
>>>>>> point, and add a config option for it.
>>>>> hmm... what's the difficulty with GPL v3 if i may ask ?
>>>> 1) It's not the license the Linux kernel is under, and is incompatible
>>>> with the Linux kernel.
>>> hmm, didnt know that. is that only for binary distributions ?
>> Pretty much all open source licenses only put conditions on binary
>> distribution.  Restricting source distribution means "you aren't
>> remotely open source".
> hmm. that means you have to add a note to the linux distribution that a
> DVD containing the sources
> can be ordered at address xy. or you just put up a download which
> contains all the sources.
> that's slightly uncomfortable since it is more work, but not really a
> big problem, since you basically just have
> to publish your already existing build environment plus some tarballs.

Oh I'm mirroring all the gplv2 stuff (and possibly some bsd stuff) at

I've spoken to Eben Moglen (co-author of both GPLv2 and GPLv3) about
this when I visited the SFLC's office in New York (which was handling
the busybox license enforcement lawsuits), and he _almost_ convinced me
that GPLv3 wasn't worth opposing.

But what he couldn't convince me was that it was actually required.  The
FSF did it as a giant ego trip, they trod all over the Linux community,
and I am _NOT_ a GNU developer.  I'm a Linux developer.  The
GNU/Linux/Dammit crusade is an attempt to write history; Linux was a
reaction to Andrew Tanenbaum's Minix (and 0.0.1 was written under it),
and has no more relationship to the gnu project than FreeBSD, Solaris,
AIX, or MacOS X do.

Computer history is a hobby of mine, and I wrote up some of the REAL
history on this topic (as I understand it) last year:


Linus used the FSF as a tools vendor in _exactly_ the same way the Sun
developers did, but he didn't try to claim GNU/Solaris.  (Even when Ian
Murdoch got hired to do project Indiana, which was opensolaris with
mostly FSF packages for the root filesystem!)

That said, the third parties like Code Sourcery who actually write new
code push that code upstream under the project's current license, and
since the FSF successfully recaptured EGCS stuff like armv7 and
microblaze support is either in external forks or only in newer versions
of gcc/binutils after the gplv3 switch.  And pcc and llvm/clang have a
long way to go to build a workable Linux system even under x86...

>>>> 2) The FSF is crazy and I don't trust them to enforce anything after
>>>> they destroyed Linksys and chased Cisco out of the Linux business.
>>>> (Cisco outsources all Linux work now so as not to get any FSF
>>>> copyrights
>>>> on them.)
>>>> Specifically, after what the FSF did to the Mepis distribution I know
>>>> they go after individuals.  (Mepis was an Ubuntu reskin that had
>>>> officially partnered with Ubuntu, had press releases from both sides to
>>>> that effect, and was relying on Ubuntu's upstream source repositories
>>>> for all the packages they hadn't modified.  The FSF sued the one
>>>> full-time guy doing Mepis for not mirroring all those unmodified source
>>>> packages.  I can send you links if you like.)
>>> hmm if thats true, that's pretty evil.
>> That's what I thought, yes:
>>    http://lwn.net/Articles/193852/
>>    http://landley.net/code/toybox/licenserant.html
>>    http://landley.net/notes-2008.html#13-12-2008
> i've read that all, but it doesn't seem unnecessarily cruel.
> a) both cases are about GPL 2 / LGPL 2, not GPL 3

After almost two decades of dealing with it (EMX under OS/2, baby!) I
understand the nooks and crannies of GPLv2 pretty darn well.  I don't
pretend to understand GPLv3 in that detail, and don't want to.  It's a
much bigger and more complicated license.

Plus, most of what I distribute _isn't_ FSF code, and the versions I do
are older versions they're less interested in defending.  I'm limiting
my exposure to the crazy people.

> b) in the case of the mepis distribution (which is commercially
> oriented) the guy obviously missed to provide proper
>     build scripts to let the user easily change his code.

He did a bog standard debian derivative.  All that stuff was extensively
documented in Debian already.

> i don't see
> any reference to a court trial or similar, it looks
>     more as if the FSF just contacted the guy and told him to change his
> stuff, which he obviously did.

The FSF has lawyers (although Moglen got fed up with them and left to
form a new organization, the SLFC).  This guy was a garage operation
that did not have the budget to even show up in court and plead "not
guilty" with representation other than a public defender.

It's the same way patent trolls shake down small companies for payments
because defending against a patent lawsuit _when_you_succeed_ costs on
average over $2 million per instance, and a lot of small businesses
either can't afford or think it's good busienss to settle for 1/10th of

The FSF was threatening to sue this guy, which would have bankrupted him
long before a verdict.

> c) the cisco case: it seems the FSF was trying to talk with cisco for
> about 2 years to get them to provide source and
>     build scripts for every piece of GNU sw they used.

Did I mention that when that happened I was coincidentally working a
brief contract at cisco (a couple months, helping them set up their new
open source strategy)?


I had gotten to know the developers quite well (I was working directly
with the remaining guys who had moved to california when Cisco BOUGHT
Linksys in the first place), and when it went down I got their side of
the story?

Trust me, the FSF was talking out of its ass here.  It led to me washing
my hands of the SFLC:


>     since cisco didn't manage to do that, it was actually necessary to
> go to court, to prove that the GPL is not a farce
>     but something to care about, even for big business.

Hi, I'm the guy who introduced BusyBox and the SFLC and was the plantiff
in about half a dozen lawsuits in the US and even one in Europe.  We
very much proved that GPLv2 is enforceable in court, it had nothing to
do with the FSF, and the FSF's actions put a stop to my participation in
such activities.

They did it because once again, they were utterly irrelevant and felt
left out, so they struck out blindly to grab the spotlight.  The end
LINUX DEVELOPMENT ENTIRELY.  (Outsourced what they couldn't immediately
kill to Red Hat, if I recall.)

>     if cisco had followed the instructions received by the FSF, they had
> gotten away with the costs of one salary for the
>     open source officer.
>     additionally, i can still get linksys routers at the local computer
> store. so the linux business of cisco was not
>     really destroyed...

A) A large chunk of the linksys routers don't run Linux, they run some
other embedded micro-OS outsourced from Taiwan that fits in 2 megs of
flash.  (This is why they came out with the WRT54GL with the L standing
for Linux, for the people who wanted something to install OpenWRT or
similar on back before 8 gazillion other companies had cloned it.)

B) Development on the Linux stuff has ceased and the Linux engineers I
knew no longer work for the company.  Cisco still owns the Linksys name
and the old products they'd already developed still exist, but it's not
updated (except for security fixes, which are outsourced).

>> Then in 2006 (YEARS after the kernel locked down its license), the FSF
>> quoted Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, "I am altering the
>> bargain, pray I don't alter it any further", and the Linux kernel
>> developers went "When we said we were sticking with GPLv2 we meant it",
>> the FSF guys said "you'll change", the Linux developers came out with a
>> statement that they wouldn't:
>>    http://lwn.net/Articles/200422/
> well i guess switching to GPLv3 could have really pissed of the majority
> of corporate kernel investors (intel et al.),
> so that was never a real option...

If you think that Linus is particularly influenced by that, you don't
know him very well.  (And Samba switched to GPLv3 years ago, corporate
types continue to use it anyway because it interfaces with Windows and
they want to do that.  Linux has not, and won't.)



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