September 23, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: GPL violations abound?

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

A controversy over an apparent GNU GPL violation was settled quickly this week, although other questions remain about the the Free Software Foundation's role in enforcing the GPL.

As you remember, the Free Software Foundation sent out a press release September 14, saying FSM Labs had violated the GPL with its patented RTLinux distribution. Early Monday, Victor Yodaiken, CEO of FSM Labs, responded by saying the accusation may have been a misunderstanding, and he questioned whether the FSF was mixing its GPL guardian role with its activism against software patents. At any rate, by late Monday, the two sides came to an agreement.

The FSF also put out a position paper recently describing its defenses of the GPL. However, some leaders of the Open Source community question whether the FSF is helping or hurting the Open Source movement. Other Open Source leaders, it should be noted, still see a vital role for the FSF.

In other GPL violation news, Microtest's DiskZerver was also accused this week of violating the license.

Red Hat's small loss

Linux company Red Hat reported a $100,000 quarterly loss after adjusting for those expensive one-time charges. Red Hat's local newspaper noted that Red Hat holding its own was cause for "cautious optimism."

New this week

KDE 2.2.1 was released this week, causing ZDNet to proclaim that the Linux desktop rivals Windows.

The Open Source Initiative approved four new Open Source licenses this week, just a couple of weeks after public criticism over how long the group was taking to evaluate license applications.

Microsoft 'opens' Hailstorm

Microsoft, apparently bowing to some criticism, announced this week it was "opening" its Passport and Hailstorm Web services. Others noted, however, that the announcement really didn't mean much, with Microsoft still requiring partners to include proprietary technology in their .NET-compliant Web services. So much for openness.

Speaking of Microsoft, the new Nimda worm plagued Microsoft servers and email this week. So much for security.

Protecting your privacy

With talk in the U.S. Congress of allowing law enforcement agencies to spy on Web users without warrants, we thought the LinuxWorld review on how to install GnuPG was particularly timely. In fact, the leader of the GNU-Darwin project argues that using encryption programs such as GnuPG is your patriotic duty as a way to combat terrorism.

New in NewsForge

Stories NewsForge reported first this week:

Dan Berkes tries to get U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings to explain his reasons for introducing the vague and ominous-sounding Security Systems Standards and Certification Act. Hollings, apparently, doesn't want to talk about it.

The FSF's Richard Stallman warns the United States against taking away freedoms after the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon September 11.

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