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Reiser: MS Settlement Reflects Deep Failure To Understand Implications of Patching Technology

Jan 30, 2002, 18:25 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Hans Reiser)

Hans Reiser, author of ReiserFS, has issued a press release today that weighs in his opinion on the Microsoft settlement:

"The positions of the DOJ, the States, and even Lawrence Lessig are based on a failure to understand that something unique to the software industry, which programmers call "patching" technology, makes software products infinitely separable if an essential facility called 'source code' is provided. No disclosure of APIs, and no structuring of APIs, can accomodate all potential products in the manner that disclosure of source code plus use of patching does. Every line of source code is a possible location for insertion of new code that forms a new product. This new code can be distributed separately from the original source code, and post-sale added by the consumer, via what programmers call a 'patch.' Patching technology fundamentally changes product separability, making separation dependent on the essential facility called 'source code.'

"Non-programmers seem to not yet understand this. Persons who work in the Linux industry know this from experience, and I will try to convey this experience as someone who has built a business from the sale of patches (for the ReiserFS filesystem) in the only market where I had access to kernel source code..."

Press Release

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