ServerWatch: Enterprise Unix Roundup: What's in a License? XFree's Instructive Flap
Feb 21, 2004, 05:30 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)
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"When we're not rounding up enterprise Unix news, we watch TV.
Lately, we've come to admire the great TV enabler: TiVo.
"Aside from its obvious virtues, TiVo is something of a design
win for embedded Linux, and that's why we found a copy of the GNU
Public License (GPL) printed in the back of our TiVo manual. The
GPL requires enterprises distributing software under its
jurisdiction (such as the Linux kernel), let users know they're
entitled to see the changes made to the source code. In this case,
you could write TiVo Inc. and ask for a CD of the source code used
for some of the software that runs its machines. The company would
be obligated to hook you up. This may seem a rather pointless
requirement for something as non-fiddly as a TiVo (we're not even
sure how or why we made it that far in the manual), but it's part
of the world of open source/free software licenses.
"We've looked into the question of these licenses before, and
we're all for them. They work. People like to pick at whether
there's a business model to be built around selling software under
these licenses, but that's not a technical question; it's inside
baseball for the day traders. We think the fact IBM, HP, Sun, Dell,
and others sell Linux boxes is proof enough that free software
works despite its license..."