August 4, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: HP flip-flops on DMCA; Microsoft extends license scheme deadline

-By Grant Gross -

It was a week of big tech companies having second thoughts. Hewlett-Packard threatened to sic the DMCA on security researchers, then backed off; Sun may have talked about releasing StarOffice for the Mac, then said it wasn't so sure; and Microsoft gave a deadline for its new scheme to bleed more money out of software licenses, then extended that deadline.
Let's start with HP, the company that's been courting the Linux community heavily lately. HP first threatened to sue SnoSoft under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act after the security collective exposed a flaw in HP's Tru64 Unix operating system.

As most NewsForge readers know, the Linux and Free Software communities aren't huge fans of the DMCA, because they see its anti-circumvention provisions as an assault on freedom to do research and to program. Even HP's in-house Linux advocate Bruce Perens expressed surprise at the company's threats. Within a matter of hours after the news broke, HP issued a short statement saying it would not pursue a DMCA action against SnoSoft, saying the company will not use the law to prevent research.

StarOffice for Mac: Yes or no?

Just over a week ago, C|Net's reported that Sun and Apple were working together on a StarOffice port to the Mac. Then, Sun said no, that wasn't the case. Then, C|Net reviewed its first story and noted that the Open Source project OpenOffice continues to move toward a OS X port, even if Sun doesn't.

In the meantime, Robin "Roblimo" Miller wrote a column on why a StarOffice port to the Mac would also be good for Linux.

What if you tried to sell a license and no one came?

Microsoft first gave July 31 for the deadline as its new licensing scheme, then must have thought, "Oh, what the heck -- we're such nice guys, let's give our customers another day to send us their money." Some Microsoft resellers were telling customers they had an extra day to sign up for what essentially is a license rental scheme.

Maybe that deadline extension had something to do with the little problem of many Microsoft customers looking elsewhere instead of paying the new license fees.

Speaking of licenses

Tina Gasperson reports that the Open Source Initiative board is mulling whether to allow click-wrap agreements on Open Source licenses. From the discussion on the story, that may not be a popular move.

Also, we report that RealNetworks is seeking public comment on its proposed Public Source License.

Odds 'n' ends

Because of donations from the Linux community, is remaining open instead of shutting down August 1, as its publishers had intended.

Was there a Trojan in an OpenSSH download? Lots of people seem to think so.

Success story of the week

More reports this week of non-North American countries embracing Open Source software: One major South African newspaper says Linux is becoming mainstream there, while the Spanish Public Administration is experimenting with Linux on the desktop and other Free Software.

Newly released

openMosix 2.4.19 has been released.

The Mandrake 9.0 beta has been released, with a full version expected in September.

Lycoris has released a new version of its Desktop/LX Linux operating system.

Newly reviewed reviews Mozilla 1 and Netscape 7 as contenders to the Internet Explorer Web-browsing crown.

New at NewsForge/

Among the other stories we reported first this week:

Jack Bryar has a few interesting things to say about Open Source business plans in the finale of his long-running business column here at NewsForge.

Tina offers up a Q&A with Sarah Brown, a D.C. technology advocate and good friend of the Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman. Brown talks about ways to advocate Free Software in Washington, among other things.

Stock news

Despite some rebounds during the week, the Nasdaq again closed lower this past dropping from 1,262.12, July 26 to 1.247.92 this Friday. Our list of 11 Open Source-related stocks didn't fare quite so badly, with six up and one even for the week.

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 7/26 Close 8/2 Close
Apple AAPL 14.34 14.45
Borland Software Int'l BORL 8.05 8.58
Caldera International CALD 1.02 1.15
Hewlett-Packard HPQ 11.66 12.80
IBM IBM 66.40 67.88
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e2.15 e2.20
Red Hat RHAT 4.71 4.40
Sun Microsystems SUNW 3.78 3.66
TiVo TIVO 3.00 2.67
VA Software LNUX .66 .66
Wind River Systems WIND 5.62 4.60
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