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BitKeeper EULA Forbids Working On Competition 694

Posted by timothy
from the that-isn't-the-santa-clause dept.
Col. Klink (retired) writes "BitKeeper's new EULA forbids working on the competition. Larry McVoy has told Ben Collins that he can't use BK because he works on subversion (a free revision control program). In fact, you can't use BitKeeper if you OR your company have anything to do with competing software. Free Software advocates who were upset when Linus decided to use non-Free software now have the opportunity to say 'I told you so.'"
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BitKeeper EULA Forbids Working On Competition

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  • by Bartab (233395) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:21AM (#4396199)
    Note that only the use of Bitkeeper for free is affected by this clause. It still seems like this was a bait-and-switch maneuver on the part of BitKeeper, also there seems to be some personal animosity with the Subversion crew.

    Subversion isn't quite up to par, yet, but it does seem like the switch to 2.6/3.0 "soon" would be a good time to switch revision control systems to something less... counter productive.
  • Illegal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giminy (94188) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:35AM (#4396223) Homepage Journal
    Forgive me if I'm stupid, but doesn't an EULA say what you can and can't do with respect to the product that the EULA covers? Reverse engineering and stuff like that are, grudgingly, acceptable terms of an EULA, but saying you can't do something that is not directly related to the software program covered by the EULA seems a tad on the side of illegality.

    I have a feeling that if anyone challenged the agreement, the law would force it to change. Granted you have to accept the EULA in order to use the software...but if I made a EULA that said you were no longer allowed to own a firearm if you used my product, it would be tossed to the wind in a second. In a sense, Bitmover's EULA infringes on my right to compete, yes/no? If Bitmover doesn't want people to use an idea they have, they should file a patent for that idea, or otherwise rely on copyright/trademark law to prevent people from "stealing."
  • RMS was right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raahul_da_man (469058) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:41AM (#4396230)
    Many slashdot posters seem to think Richard is just a voice crying out in the wilderness, but increasingly he seems to be a prophet.

    Many years before this happened Richard pointed out the flaws of relying on non free software. Will any of the slashdot posters who called him crazy then apologize now?

    Linus is wrong and Richard was right. You can't be "pragmatic" and use the best tool for the job if you want to keep your freedom.
  • by Perdo (151843) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:44AM (#4396236) Homepage Journal
    Put yourself in their shoes.

    Would it sit well with you as a kernel developer if, for instance, microsoft was using linux as their development platform for their next OS?

    What if you knew that they were using it in production with in house changes and additions with out releasing source code?

    This is where BitMover is sitting. Developers are using their software to assist in developing their competition and doing it in violation of their licensing agreement.

    BitMover is just doing what we would do if the shoe was on the other foot. This issue will be solved in the same way the open source community always deals with challenges.

    The open source community will produce a better alternative under the GPL without using their software. Just like Windows is not the developer enviroment for the kernel, BitKeeper will not be the revision control software used for Subversion.

  • You can... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sunnan (466558) <sunnan@handgranat.org> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:49AM (#4396242) Homepage Journal
    "You can't be "pragmatic" and use the best tool for the job if you want to keep your freedom."

    You can, but non-free software can't be the best tool for the job.
  • by Fefe (6964) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:50AM (#4396244) Homepage
    This guy is giving away a free version of his software to help kernel developers and now you double standard hypocrites actually whine that he does not like this free version to be used by his competition?

    Be grateful that he gave you this software in the first place!

    The subversion guy should be talking to his customers and find out what they want instead of using Bitkeeper to copy. Respect must be earned, not copied.
  • by TsEA (109514) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:50AM (#4396245)
    If you actually read the link in the story, you will see that it prevents you from using it if you are developping (or aiding development) of an alternative.

    This actually means that if I am both a subversion hacker and a kernel hacker, I can't use BitKeeper anymore for my kernel hacking....

    Anything good (or sane) about that?

    And by the way, the GPL clearly gives the right to microsoft to use linux, even modify it, if they aren't distributing it... I think most conscious kernel hackers already know that.

    So that really makes them the bad guys (I didn't see any anti-Microsoft clause in the GPL)

    So that really makes them the bad guys ;)
  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @05:53AM (#4396247) Homepage
    What part of this says you can develop what you want by acquiring a commercial license?

    Nothing, but that doesn't make your point. To determine if the claim is true you need to compare both licenses for both versions. The license on the $0 version might differ from the other version.

    Of course none of this matters if you recognize that Linus Torvalds is arguing a rather selfish point--one should use the programs that get the job done, proprietary or Free Software (or anything in between). No regard is given for the ethical and larger social ramifications of our choices; we are being asked by Torvalds to consider only our own desires. I encourage you all to consider your software freedom and recognize that the practical benefits of better programs and a better society where we can share freely come (in part) from the freedoms and attention paid to ethics found in the Free Software movement.

  • So many people here are getting all upset because BitKeeper is not free. Well, there's nothing wrong with trying to make money off of some software, while helping the community at the same time.

    No business in their right mind is going to help a competetor take their market share. Maybe BitKeeper can't help if Subversion takes that market on its own, but they are not going to help them do it.

    Disclaimer: I have a huge interest in Subversion, and I've been contributing to their mailing list for almost a year. I love Subversion. But I still implore all you Slashdot hippies: do not assume that all non-free software is evil, and do not make BitKeeper the bad guy just because they want to make money.

    Free software depends on a few companies' ability to actually make money developing and using free software. Without industry support, free software will never make it past a select few geeks' basement computers. If you like free software, then you should support BitKeeper's decision. BitKeeper has helped the FS community in the past, and their support for the kernel project has been wonderful. Support them, help the FS industry grow, and everyone benefits.
  • Re:RMS was right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nagora (177841) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:07AM (#4396273)
    Many slashdot posters seem to think Richard is just a voice crying out in the wilderness, but increasingly he seems to be a prophet.

    The real problem is that RMS may or may not be a prophet but he insists on acting like god and pissing off people just by his tone. The real message gets lost in the ensuing flamewar. Overall he has become counter-productive to his own aims

    TWW

  • Re:Illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:07AM (#4396275) Homepage Journal
    The sad part is that many software companies tries to control HOW you use the program, WHO uses it and WHAT they use it for.

    The gargantual licenses used by software companies nowadays are taking ridiculous proportions.

    We are all lucky that RMS once upon a time came up with the GNU GPL to ensure end users rights and that at least some software gives you a lot more freedom that restrictions.
  • by AceMarkE (154966) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:11AM (#4396282)
    Aw, enough already. Look, this isn't personal, and it's partially cause I'm way too tired right now and therefore easily annoyed.

    With that said...

    I'm sick of people acting like "Software Freedom" is a life-and-death issue. Linus is right. If it works, use it. If it doesn't work, don't. If the Free Software product is better, use it. If the proprietary/closed/whatever version is better - use it. Or contribute to the open product until it's better, THEN use it. The key point here is, USE WHAT WORKS.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of open-source stuff, I admire RMS and the GNU project for everything they've contributed to the computing world, and I enjoy having the freedom to tinker with stuff. In the end, though, I'll use whatever is going to work best for ME in whatever situation.

    The world won't end if people use proprietary software. Get over it.

    Mark Erikson
  • by otopico (32364) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:20AM (#4396301)
    Nonsense.

    The whole point of using a tool is to get a job done. If I need to hammer a nail, I could go and use a free rock to do the job, or I could go to a store and buy a hammer. Both will do the job, but one is better suited to do that job. It doesn't make me evil if I buy a proprietary solution.

    The reason people like Linus use whatever gets the job done isn't due to their selfishness or social apathy, but because they have a job to do. This isn't ending world hunger or curing all disease, it's fricking software.

    One of the things that make free software people look absurd is the religious fanaticism some of the free software folk feel is necessary. They forget that in the grand scheme of life and the universe, software, free or commercial doesn't really matter. You want people to do it your way, forgetting that free software also means freedom to use what you want, even if it isn't free software.

    Quit trying to make it a moral issue. It is an issue of choice. People have the right to use what they want. If you don't like that then maybe you are more like the closed source software houses than you wish to admit.

    Hypocrites.
  • Read the thread (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blender98 (258057) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:32AM (#4396323)
    If anyone bothers on read the whole thread (ha!), they'll find that this only affects the free use of BK.

    Larry's main concern is that someone who wants to implement a competing version control system does not use a free version of BK to do so. He is not attempting to prevent the subversion people from using bitkeeper; he just doesn't want them using it for free.

    Before people start jumping up and down and screaming "antitrust", let me just state again that he is simply insisting that people who work on competing products but BK, rather than using it for free. He is by no means restricting anyone's trade.

    Furthermore, BK is not required to checkout source code from a BK repository -- SCCS suffices, and Rik van Riel, Jeff Garzik and others make snapshots available every couple of hours.

    The long and short is that nobody need use bitkeeper for kernel development (the source code may be obtained in a timely fashion using existing tools). If you don't like the BK license, don't use BK!

    Larry has a responsibility to BitMover and its employees. He has salaries to pay, and making it easier for competitors to duplicate BK does not make that any easier. By providing BK and bkbits.net for free, he is doing the kernel community a service -- how about we cut him some slack?
  • Re:RMS was right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nathanh (1214) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:40AM (#4396341) Homepage
    Many years before this happened Richard pointed out the flaws of relying on non free software. Will any of the slashdot posters who called him crazy then apologize now?

    No, they won't.

    Hating RMS is a religion. Facts don't faze the fanatics.

  • by kevin lyda (4803) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:46AM (#4396351) Homepage
    you made a lot of good points until the small projects with a small number of people bit. that's crap. free and open bsd use cvs for one thing; they are not small.

    cvs works for developers with a clue about cvs. that's not to say that a better version control system couldn't be developed - one can and should. but saying cvs is crap for large projects is demonstrably false.
  • arch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chris_sawtell (10326) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:56AM (#4396367) Journal
    It looks to me as if arch [gnu.org] is a pretty good alternative yo Bit-Keeper.

    Anybody used it for a big project?

  • Re:Illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bartab (233395) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @07:00AM (#4396375)
    As has been pointed out, non compete licenses are illegal. Refusing to do business with competitors is illegal, etc, etc.

    However, BitKeeper isn't saying they won't -sell- licenses to competitors. Just that competitors can't use the free license. The Commerical license does not have the problem clause.
  • by javilon (99157) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @07:33AM (#4396424) Homepage
    'So many people here are getting all upset because BitKeeper is not free'

    No, I am upset because it is used to develop Linux (which is free) and because is the only non free tool used to do it.

    I think Linus is wrong on this, because by using it, in a way, he is forcing it upon other people involved in kernel development.

    If BK where used to develop windows I wouldn't have any problem with it.
  • Re:Illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by standards (461431) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @07:34AM (#4396425)
    if I made a EULA that said you were no longer allowed to own a firearm if you used my product, it would be tossed to the wind in a second.

    How so? I will contract with you if you do not own a firearm. If you do own a firearm, I will not contract with you.

    What's so illegal about that? I am not the US government, but a private person. Unless the discriminatory action is clearly specified in law, I can discriminate against you all I wish.

    I don't think there is a law that says I, as a private individual, can't discriminate against gun owners. If there is, please let me know. And please don't bother to quote the constitution - that's for discrimination by the Federal gov't.
  • by ebyrob (165903) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @07:49AM (#4396446) Homepage
    Free software depends on a few companies' ability to actually make money developing and using free software.

    Ya, and commercial software relies on free software to keep it honest enough that computers can actually remain a useful tool to the human race...

    We all need each other, lets have a group hug.

    P.S - I don't think most of the point is that bitkeeper is bad, just that it was a bad idea for the kernel to rely so heavily on a commercial product in the first place. From some posts, it even sounds like the development team could have licenses to bitkeeper that wouldn't limit what they can work on if they're ready to shell out the bucks...
  • by croftj (2359) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @07:59AM (#4396450) Homepage
    Then you should really consider starting a "free the source" fund to collect enough money for the required number of licenses needed to work on subversion.
  • Re:Read the thread (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jrfonseca (575890) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:03AM (#4396456) Homepage
    I've read carefully all the thread on http://kerneltrap.org/node.php?id=444 but I don't share your opinion.

    Larry first presented BitKeeper designed to both aid the kernel development and to be comercially viable. So far these two goals haven't collided: people could use freely BitKeeper for kernel development and BitKeeper has been growing as a comercial product.

    But this changes does affect everything: it prevents people that (even if just remotely) contribute somehow to different SCM products and which were using BitKeeper freely has they were incentivated to revert their habits. The problem is not that they can't find a way around, but that Larry is taking away a present which had been given away freely.

    The worst is that this change does not seem to be made to protect BitKeeper business model but seems instead a act of bad faith against a particural set of people.

    This radically change my opinion about the usage of BitKeeper and the trust on the people behind it, and from I've read Debian maintainers feel the same.
  • by MobyTurbo (537363) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:24AM (#4396485) Homepage
    BitMover is just doing what we would do if the shoe was on the other foot.[...] Just like Windows is not the developer enviroment for the kernel, BitKeeper will not be the revision control software used for Subversion.
    I have moderator points today, but I guess I'll give them up for this article because I don't see anyone else bringing up the most common useage in the legal field of this particular form of license agreement.Of course, IANAL. :-)

    I'd agree with your perspective concerning Bitkeepers IP rights if this was the only way this clause is used in a shrink-wrap license. However, it is more often used in court in a semi-fraudulent manner. More often than not, Bitkeeper could claim that a developer was "contaminated", and unless it was *very carefully* documented otherwise, with the sort of documentation rarely available in an open-source project, it can shut down the competitition. I'd hate to think that Bitkeeper's lawyers would do something so cynical, but its a common practice with this sort of contract. About the only remedy is to start the entire project over from scratch and work in "double-clean" rooms, but that's practically impossible in an open source project.

    Kudos to Bitkeeper's lawyers for proving that fascism is alive and well in the commercial software industry when it comes to competing with open source projects. Until they drop this clause open-source developers should boycott their tools, because doing otherwise is too great a risk. Maybe they'll get the message, if not, Bitkeeper will go the way of gopher, another product which got a license like this and was dropped like a hot potato by developers in favor of www, and of course the competition ended up being better. :-)

  • BK Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysticalreaper (93971) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:29AM (#4396493)
    What's the short version?

    A) The license forbids you to use BK to further a direct competitor to BK. Distributing a competitor, while using BK, like Red Hat does, is allowed.

    B) This license is the FREE license. Remember the saying, "Beggars can't be choosers?" They can't. Are you using BK for free? Then you can't expect to choose the license. If you buy the program, you can develop whatever you like with it.

    C) Anyone still has the ability to be a kernel hacker without using BK whatsoever. The old tools still work, Linus and everyone else still accepts standard patches. It's just the old tools are actually worse than BK. BK was chosen purely on technical merits, it's only the license that's raising questions.

    Point B) is important. Because this is the FREE license, it means that BM is not violating anti-trust laws by forbidding competition, because you can purchase the product, and get unrestricted use. Companies are not required to provide free samples of their products to competitors to help them out. Also, it means that BM is NOT acting like MS when they pulled the same stunt in their EULA. (Adding a clause stating that you cannot use MS products to harm MS in any way).

    Summary: Bit Mover is acting reasonably, and completely within their rights as a company to define the acceptable uses of their free gift to users. The issue should is not whether or not Bit Mover is 'cheating' people. The issue now is whether or not to use Bit Keeper personally.
  • by yerricde (125198) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:47AM (#4396535) Homepage Journal

    why should a company develop a piece of software, and give a limited (???) version away for free in hopes of people paying for the full version, only to allow people to use the free version to create competing software?

    Except the incident in question doesn't involve using the free(beer) version of bitkeeper to work on a replacement. It involves somebody who works two jobs: in one job, he uses free(beer) bitkeeper; in the other, he works on a replacement. The EULA crosses that separation of jobs by restricting the person, not the use of the software.

  • Re:RMS was right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:06AM (#4396589) Homepage
    Don't insult my reading comprehension. That's rude and unnecessary. I read and quoted your entire post and asked you to clarify. However, you did clarify your point.

    Your reading comprehension appeared off to me as well.

    RMS is a crank. There is no contradiction between doing something good and being a crank. Schockley invented the transistor and won the nobel prize but he was an utter crank who spent most of his later years writing racist tracts on Eugenics with the same basic premise as Murray/Herstein but without taking the trouble to hide the racism motivating the work.

    The BitKeeper license is simply the logical extension of the GPL viral clause. Instead of coercing people to only use free software bitkeeper forces you to only use their software. This is not so different if you remember that when GPL was written FSF was the only game in town.

  • by Znork (31774) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:13AM (#4396614)
    The problem with licensed proprietary software is that you can never make more than a snapshot judgement on it. You do not have the data necessary to make a judgement than will be valid for more than a few seconds.

    I see nothing where Larry McVoy swears the license will never be changed to exclude anyone providing non-BK repositories. I havent seen a mail where he swears that people working for for-profit corporations wont be excluded. I havent seen him promise that BK wont exclude anyone with a beard either in the future.

    How do you make a judgement then? How well does it do what it's supposed to do? How well does it do what you need it to do? Well, how much does that matter when _you may not be allowed to use it at all tomorrow_? What value does it have for you then?

    Software freedom isnt necessarily the deciding factor if your choice matters the next five minutes. But when you make a choice that must be valid over a decade youd better have a crystal ball to see how whoever decides the license is going to act for the next ten years.
  • by InodoroPereyra (514794) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:24AM (#4396641)
    Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of open-source stuff, I admire RMS and the GNU project for everything they've contributed to the computing world, and I enjoy having the freedom to tinker with stuff. In the end, though, I'll use whatever is going to work best for ME in whatever situation.

    Fine, but you don't seem to understand that if everybody did what you do, you wouldn't have free software to enjoy. So, in short, you adopt a comfortable "I use the right tool for the job" attitude, you "get sick" of people who really stand for free software and finally use their software when it is done. Brilliant.

  • moot point (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hanwen (8589) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:27AM (#4396655) Homepage Journal
    I think that LM's concerns are overrated: If you're developing your own source control system, the first thing you'd like to do, is self-host your repository, and kick the competitors SCM from your own working environment.

    This is similar to how it works with compilers, the guys from Mono tried to get off the Windows C# compiler as quickly as possible.

  • by Tikiman (468059) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @09:41AM (#4396691)
    I'm sick of people acting like "Software Freedom" is a life-and-death issue. Linus is right. If it works, use it. If it doesn't work, don't. If the Free Software product is better, use it. If the proprietary/closed/whatever version is better - use it. Or contribute to the open product until it's better, THEN use it. The key point here is, USE WHAT WORKS.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm in favor of open-source stuff, I admire RMS and the GNU project for everything they've contributed to the computing world, and I enjoy having the freedom to tinker with stuff. In the end, though, I'll use whatever is going to work best for ME in whatever situation.

    Quite a selfish viewpoint you have there - it turns out that the best solution for YOU may not be the best for society at large. Perhaps you need to brush up on FSF philosphy [gnu.org]. No one said it as "life-or-death". But if businesses had their way, there would be no free software - and you don't find that the least bit scary? Think about it - you have 0 rights to your hardware unless you start dishing out cash and accepting possibly onerous license agreements. In other words, you give up all of your rights.

    So you have a choice - live in a world where free software is a critical force for maintaining the rights of consumers, or live in a world where you just want whats "best", and therefor implying that the world would be just fine without free software. I hope you thing the first, because the second is a scary world indeed.

  • Their site is uncomfortably cagey about the $price. That probably means, some suit dickers with your boss, feeling out "what the market will bear". IE the most money they can get.

    You need to understand that it is exactly this issue that causes a lot of the problems. It is really worth reading all of the talk transcript [eurorights.org] from the guy who is going to debate the RIAA VP next week. It is exactly because of the desire to extract every dime available under the utility curve that leads to the desire to create non-transferable licensing (restrict right of first sale) and a host of other evils that almost everyone objects to.

    How awful is it if you actually PAID MONEY for the software? Face it, if your boss doesn't have bucks, you don't have a job. Somebody's paying for the Linux kernel to be developed - if it costs 1% more, is that a big deal?

    It isn't that simple. If a commercial tool is needed to participate, it limits the scope. Not everyone working on any given free source project is getting paid. Ok, so you can grab bitkeeper for free to work on the Linux kernel, that's sort of ok, but now they say you can't work on some projects if you do that. Sort of silly if you ask me, since it just gives them (BitMover) a black eye in the community and it won't slow down the development of the free alternative. It is, in fact, pretty easy to argue the opposite based on discussion of the issue here. Lots of people who were on the fence for this issue are going to move away from their product.

    The transcript that I linked above makes the point that we don't actually know if BitMover is hurting or helping themselves. If they just GPLed their tool, and charged for support, commercial licenses, and other stuff, they might do better in the long run. It is a leap of faith, but you gotta ask how much the change of EULA language will hurt them in the long run. It will encourage more people to push the free alternative, and work to make that tool competetive. If it was GPLed, they would have the whole community behind them, and a lot of people would buy their books and support in gratitute for the gift of their software.

    These issues are even more stark if you want to work on free hardware. The free tools are in a primitive state, so you are in a bind of choosing a less desirable tool vs something free. The producers of the commercial tools are afraid of their business drying up, so they won't do anything if it might help the free tools compete with them. You say, ok, so I'll find a tool I can use for free on free hardware even if it is closed source, but that slows down the free alternatives.

    This is where you start to get just how important GPL is and why it is such an important innovation. One of the big problems in the sub-chip level hardware design is that the big tool makers have everything locked up and they don't talk to each other very well.

    There are some open standards, but the whole mentality of closed intellectual property creates this situation where the best minds are all working to recreate the same tools and chip functions in each closed universe. This is even worse than it is for software because there aren't nearly as many people working in hardware as with software, and it is getting more complex just as fast.

    My gut tells me that any company that makes the leap of faith and frees their intellectual property under GPL or similar terms will get back much more than they give up. It's hard, if not impossible to prove this, but instictively we know this when we look deeply at the issues.

    On a side note, RMS doesn't think that the GPL is appropriate for hardware. It's bits all the way down until you start replicating the physical parts, and unlike software, it isn't possible to actually use it until you physically replicate it.

    Nothing stops me from downloading the ISO images of RedHat's latest release cutting as many one-offs as I want on my CDR, or even making a run of CDs, and cutting them out of the loop completely. I can even offer my own support services to compete with RH. Doing this with chip or board level fabrication has considerably higher entry barriers, so potential "Red Hat Hardware" vendors would have less to worry about.

    As long as I've come this far, I want to finish with a comment about the LGPL. From where I stand, RMS's stance on the LGPL is a take-back that is just as damaging, if not more so, as the EULA change being discussed. LGPL gives you a lot more choice in terms of integrating free and proprietary subsystems and components. Where free libraries have significantly extended functionality, he explicitly recomends GPL over LGPL. As an example if you want all the GNU goodies that make command line work so nice in bash, you have to either write your own or be ready to release your entire project under GPL. I might even agree with his goal of all software being free, but my choice is limited. What if I'm doing this work for an employer who is not ready to release the whole thing? I can't choose GPL, but I could choose LGPL.

    This is the one case where I would claim that it goes beyond style, and the message itself actually hurts the movement.

  • by naasking (94116) <naasking@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @10:01AM (#4396739) Homepage
    Put yourself in their shoes. Would it sit well with you as a kernel developer if, for instance, microsoft was using linux as their development platform for their next OS?

    Yes.

    What if you knew that they were using it in production with in house changes and additions with out releasing source code?

    No problem. Distribution requires source changes to be available, not use.

    The open source community will produce a better alternative under the GPL without using their software. Just like Windows is not the developer enviroment for the kernel, BitKeeper will not be the revision control software used for Subversion.

    You're right, it's called OpenCM [slashdot.org]

  • by SDF-7 (556604) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @10:13AM (#4396775)
    He probably doesn't seem to understand it because what you said doesn't follow at all.

    What he said was "Use what works - and if nothing does, either write your own or help out those who _are_ writing what you need" (loose paraphrasing).

    There's nothing implying that _only_ non-Free software will fill your needs, nor is there anything implying that people will automagically stop writing Free software just because someone is willing to pay for a non-Free piece they feel does the job better. You seem to be implying that everyone should use only Free software - regardless of the competence of the software for the task at hand, and frankly - that's either just silly or you need to look in the mirror and confess that you've become a zealot.

    If there's a need for a piece of software, someone will write it. If it is someone who believes in Free (and presumably not necessarily free unless they have a day job) software, they write it and it fits the need, people will use it.
  • by fwr (69372) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @10:40AM (#4396848)

    Would it sit well with you as a kernel developer if, for instance, microsoft was using linux as their development platform for their next OS?


    I don't see why it would bother kernel developers.


    What if you knew that they were using it in production with in house changes and additions with out releasing source code?


    This is explicitly allowed by the GPL, so for any kernel developers to have a problem with this would be hypocritical. Anyone can use any GPL software in house in a production environment with as many custom changes they want without releasing those changes to everyone in the world as long as they do not distribute their custom version outside their organization. Perhaps you meant something else than what your words clearly say? That you mean an "in house" "production" environment is somehow equivalent to distributing a version of a GPL software package outside (not in house) your organization with custom changes and not releasing the source code? That would be illegal, but that's not what you said.


    This is where BitMover is sitting. Developers are using their software to assist in developing their competition and doing it in violation of their licensing agreement.


    Not it is not. Their new license apparently goes well beyond that. It says that developers using (the free license version of) their software for a non-competing product, such as the kernel, can not work on a competing product, regardless of what other revision control software they use to build the competing product. So, no Linux kernel developers, or anyone else that uses the "free" version of BK, can contribute to some competing products. This is quite different than you portray.


    BitMover is just doing what we would do if the shoe was on the other foot. This issue will be solved in the same way the open source community always deals with challenges.


    I don't believe you understand what the issue is.


    The open source community will produce a better alternative under the GPL without using their software. Just like Windows is not the developer enviroment for the kernel, BitKeeper will not be the revision control software used for Subversion.


    One would hope that the community produces a better alternative under the GPL. If BM wants to limit the use of their software to create a competing product then I don't see a problem with this as much as what they are doing, which is described above.
  • by Skjellifetti (561341) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:03AM (#4396908) Journal
    The bullshit sure is thick around here today.

    Quite a selfish viewpoint you have there - it turns out that the best solution for YOU may not be the best for society at large.

    Who are you to impose on the rest of us your vision of what is best for society at large -- especially when your vision conflicts with what is best for someone else?

    But if businesses had their way, there would be no free software - and you don't find that the least bit scary?

    Not at all because it won't happen. You will always be free to write software and licence it as GNU/BSD/Whatever so long as your software does not steal rights that belong to someone else. Note that the "so long" clause has many implications that will be fought out in the courts, legislatures, and international orgs like the WTO in the coming months and years.

    Think about it - you have 0 rights to your hardware unless you start dishing out cash and accepting possibly onerous license agreements. In other words, you give up all of your rights.

    What rights are you giving up? When you buy a product, you enter a contractual arrangement with the seller. You only get those rights that you purchase. Want more rights to the something? Then convince the seller to sell them to you. Think about a plot of land you are considering buying. Does the sale include the mineral rights? Does it include deed restrictions? Why is software different? Some companies sell their software as purely closed source, some sell it with source code. In each case you have bought a different package of rights. Why does any product offered for sale have to include all potential rights to that product? Unbundling the product into seperate packages of rights enhances the public welfare by increasing the choices available to both sellers and buyers. Fewer people would buy the product if the seller were forced to include all potential rights.

    So you have a choice - live in a world where free software is a critical force for maintaining the rights of consumers, or live in a world where you just want whats "best", and therefor implying that the world would be just fine without free software.

    Huh? Why does a willingness to pay for a particular feature set that is currently provided only by closed source vendors imply "that the world would be just fine without free software." Your logic escapes me.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:07AM (#4396920) Homepage
    One question: if you're making some kind of version controll system, why whould you use BK to develop it? Once it's working, wouldn't you use itself? Before it's working well enough, just do it by hand or with CVS or something.
  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:09AM (#4396924) Homepage

    I can understand (to a degree) preventing someone from using BK for free to develop a competing product, but to rule out working on competing software period is somewhat more destructive.

    Necessity truly is the mother of invention. We invent because of some dissatisfaction with the present way of doing things. To make something that is necessary (or even quite helpful) more expensive for anyone who wants to invent a better replacement is to deliberatly kill innovation.

    I imagine that Edison used either oil or gas lights while working on the light bulb. Henry ford probably used some form of transportation other than his feet while preparing to make automobiles. Imagine if they had been unable to afford the increased cost?

    I suppose next, we will see OS licenses that disallow use of a computer to develop a better OS, or chipsets that don't allow the development of a new chipset.

    "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants". The BK EULA is like the 'giants' forbidding Newton from standing on their shoulders. Perhaps the oil companies would like to charge $100/gallon if you work on electric cars?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:14AM (#4396942)
    "No business in their right mind is going to help a competetor take their market share."

    And that's how it starts. "We're gonna make sure they don't mess with us. Our product is better, and this change just ensures they won't catch up"

    Then it's "Customers are trying to migrate to their product. Why should we make that easy? Lock them in, make sure they have to throw away code if they don't want to keep paying"

    And finally "If you see a customer has their stuff, insist it be removed already. Threaten to eliminate their discounts, talk about lawsuits, go over and personally rip out the power cord. I don't care, and I don't want to hear about it"

    BK hasn't begun making its way down the slippery slope yet, but honestly I can't see a way it can avoid it. Once a company starts complaining about how people use its products it's stopped thinking like a business and started thinking like the mob. See also the music & movie industries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:23AM (#4396961)
    This, my friends, is the fallacy commonly known as "appeal to autority [nizkor.org]". Tell your family and colleagues! It's fun.
  • Re:Illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reziac (43301) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:28AM (#4396982) Homepage Journal
    But this sounds more like "If I contract with you, I'll wait til you are thoroughly dependent on our product, then at some arbitrary time I will suddenly change the contract so that you must throw away all your existing firearms, even if you need them."

    You can't unilaterally and retroactively change the terms of a contract -- if you do, that gives the other party the right to vacate the contract, because it is no longer what they agreed to. IF an EULA is an enforceable contract, then it falls under normal contract law -- and that cuts both ways.

    I'm not being very clear here, but you get the idea.

  • by Ektanoor (9949) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:35AM (#4397015) Journal
    Sorry to those who buz talk about "beggars cannot be choosers". The philosophy of Open Source and Free Software is not about begging and getting for gratis. It is an exchange, someone offers a service and ethically I have a duty to offer some feedback. It worked very well while we were a few tens of thousands. Today the masses came in and we have lots of seemingly "beggars" around. But this is not the hear of the movement and we shall keep our efforts to show people how things really develope. The problem of having supposedly "beggars" is similar to the problem of Anonymous Cowards in /.. If we take them away, we jeopardise our ideals. "Beggars" and ACs are a side effect of a world that is not perfect and which we should fight for being a little more correct. Not marginalising the masses but bringing to them the real meaning of the Open Source, Free Software and Free Speech is the real duty we shall not ever ever forget.

    Now about this blatant monopolistic and ridiculous license. I may understand a commercial interest when someone declares a agreement void because I work on something that may hinder my partner. Development, production are things that are interim to a work where I and my partners should trust each other ofr a common cause. Using or developing some product while I do the same thing "on the side" for a concurrent product, is somehow a dubious behaviour from my side.

    However sell/resell? Who's the jerk that wrote this license? Who's the stupid lawyer that forgets centuries of commercial ethics and practices? Who is he to hinder my right of choice and the right of choice of my clients? Any exclusivety on distributing, selling or lending anything is a conception that immediately forces a special agreement of rights and duties between two partners, sharing a common profit. Not something that "I should do or else". This is monopolism and it is ethicaly criminal to state such things in this way. No matter I get this thing for free or under a fee, claiming that I have not a right to choose what is best for me is the worst of dictatorships ever. They hinder the very principal of market with this.

    Imagine this situation. I have a market. I try to find the best product so that this market lives on. Under this agreement either I cannot test their product if I sell something similar, I am forced to stop selling it to test their stuff or I have to pay them a fee to test their product. This, I would just call blackmail. If everyone starts doing it, it would be much worse than Windows EULAs.
  • by lpontiac (173839) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:36AM (#4397018)

    A lot of people seem to commenting that there's nothing wrong with BitKeeper being licensed as it is. This isn't really being argued ..

    The argument is that because BitKeeper's license is as it is, that the Linux kernel developers shouldn't be using it.

  • by gotan (60103) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:43AM (#4397038) Homepage
    This example illustrates a more general problem:
    Lately we see more and more license changes for existing software, BitKeeper and various Microsoft products are only the most notable cases. License changes accompany updates and patches, or it's just a document on some website that changes.

    Most Software isn't ever a `finished' product, it's subject to changes called `new version', `upgrade' or `patch'. Often the customers depend on having the latest version of a software, be it for security reasons, compatibility issues, or just part of a leasing contract for the software. The software makers use these changes in the software to change the license terms in the software. In the BitKeeper example, someone using BitKeeper in a large project probably depends on it, or it would at least cause a lot of additional work and delay the project to switch from BK to something else.

    This means, that even subtle license changes may have a huge effect on anyone depending on that software, done right such a license change might even ruin someones business (imagine someone using free BK on some project competing with BK, and imagine BK had gone one step further and made their "no competition" clause mandatory on all new licenses. Done just a few months before some critical timeline this might have killed the whole project. Even so any project using BK for a competing open-source product would probably have a hard time or even falter).

    To protect businesses from being at the whim of software-makers there should be some regulations in place, that only allow license changes within reasonable limits, and demand that such changes are announced some time beforehand, so the customers have time to react. Most companies protect their business by making sure that they can't be cut of from any resource they depend on, they should realize that software is just such a resource and enforce license terms that don't allow for ugly surprises due to one-sided changes. But since few companies have the leverage to change Microsofts license terms i think there's a need for legislation considering software license changes.
  • by pbryan (83482) <email@pbryan.net> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @12:22PM (#4397202) Homepage
    Would it sit well with you as a kernel developer if, for instance, microsoft was using linux as their development platform for their next OS?

    If I were a Linux kernel developer, how people would use my kernel is none of my business.

    What if you knew that they were using it in production with in house changes and additions with out releasing source code?

    If I knew they were distributing binaries to Linux without accompanying source code, I would insist that they rectify their apparent violations of the GPL.

    This is where BitMover is sitting. Developers are using their software to assist in developing their competition and doing it in violation of their licensing agreement.

    Actually, BM is restricting the license to BK, not based on how it's used, but on who uses it. If you're a competitor to BM, you do not qualify to use the Gratis version.

    It's not open source software. It's commercial software. This may be ultimately incompatible with its use by open source developers. This is no surprise, right? Linus seems to make choices based on the merits of technology and practicality, not politics. If too many barriers to the use of BK emerge, I have a feeling he could make a different decision.

    BitMover is just doing what we would do if the shoe was on the other foot. This issue will be solved in the same way the open source community always deals with challenges.

    Placing restrictions on how a piece of software is used violates the "free speech" elements of any open source software license. It would stop being open source software. How people use the Linux kernel is none of the developers' business. How they redistribute it, however, differs with certain licenses.

    The open source community will produce a better alternative under the GPL without using their software. Just like Windows is not the developer enviroment for the kernel, BitKeeper will not be the revision control software used for Subversion.

    I don't think the SV folks ever considered using BK as their revision control system. I think the issue is, a SV developer could not accept the Gratis license to BK to work on the Kernel, because he was excluded because he works on a competitive project.
  • by shlong (121504) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @12:37PM (#4397271) Homepage
    free and open bsd use cvs for one thing; they are not small.

    Actually, most of the interesting, complicated, and/or highly distributed work in FreeBSD happens in Perforce. The only thing that CVS gives us that Perforce doesn't have is the ability to replicate the repository. Unfortunately, that's also 90% of the reason why haven't fully switched over to Perforce.
  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @01:31PM (#4397538)
    BitKeeper, back when I used it (2-3 years ago) had some nifty features, yes -- but was prone to corrupting the repository on a regular basis. What's more, Larry deliberately changed the license so that my then-current employer was no longer in compliance. Suffice to say that more than a few people there still consider him an asshole for that.

    If Red Hat is going to put money into a better version control system, I'd hope that that would be either Subversion or arch [regexps.com]. (The author is flat broke and has no web hosting unless someone gives him some, so that link may not work; also see here [gnu.org] and here [linuxjournal.com]). Arch is brilliant, functional, much more reliable than BitKeeper (at least, much more reliable than BitKeeper was when I used it)... and for someone as utterly friggin' brilliant as Tom Lord to be utterly penniless (as in, unable to buy beer, much less pay rent) is just wrong.
  • by Jerry (6400) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @01:50PM (#4397619)
    Microsoft won't be as "friendly" as McVOY in 'preventing competition', but they won't show their claws until the MONO work is essentially done and lots of Linux coders have followed the pied pipper Icaza into the .NET honeypot. THEN they will release a modified EULA preventing the use of .NET or .NET compatible tools in conjuction with GPL software projects of any kind. They have already done this with a certain SDK.


    That's why I won't be using MONO or .NET. I also downloaded BitKeeper, but before I read the entire license, including the non-compete stuff. After I read it I deleted the packaged.


    I'm still looking around for a CVS replacement. I will look at Subversion but does anyone know of an FTP for Arch? The Arch site is down permenantly.


    A side note: Judging from the number and flavor of posts on this and other topics that diss the GPL and Open Souce, and extoll the virtues of propriatary code and restrictive EULAs, it seems to me that the number of WinXX users are consistantly exceeding the number of Linux users on Slasdot. Anyone else notice this?

  • by Patersmith (512340) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:03PM (#4397680)

    I don't care. It is principally wrong to allow someone to dictate what you can and can't develop on a given compiler, RCS, operating system, DBMS, programming language, whatever.

    What if Microsoft changed their Windows or Visual [insert language here] EULA tomorrow to say that you can't use their products to work on anything that, in their reasonable judgement, competes with any of their products?

    It might not sit well with kernel developers if Microsoft were to use Linux in their business, but what business is it of ours to tell anyone what they can or can't do with Linux? Actually, I'd bet 100:1 odds that Microsoft has at least one Linux box in Redmond.

    Not only is it bad judgement, it's anti-competitive in my opinion.

    I hope you're right and the open source community comes up with something better.

    When will people learn? Every time you put up a stupid block, you WILL be coded around.
  • by YoungHack (36385) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @02:49PM (#4397916)
    It would be like MS saying you can't use MS Word if your using it to write up a document critical of MS, or to write up source code for something competing with an MS product.

    Is this a joke? That's apparently exactly the license on FrontPage 2002. You may not disparage Microsoft.

  • by dubl-u (51156) <[2523987012] [at] [pota.to]> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @03:57PM (#4398218)
    RIAA, MPAA, BK

    I see somebody had an extra bowl of Drama Flakes for breakfast.

    RIAA and MPAA want complete control over all media distribution so that they can extract monopoly rents. They eagerly manipulate public opinion, corrupt our government, and sue anybody they can.

    BitKeeper has so far only tried to exercise a modicum of control over the free version of their own software, so that you don't use it to put them out of business. Plus they don't want their price list public, a pretty common thing for businesses to do.

    I know this is Slashdot, but you should at least try to keep your hyperbole plausible.
  • by Uggy (99326) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @04:06PM (#4398256) Homepage
    In my company (Free software based) we get our investors always talking about competition and patenting the living shit out of everything we can get our hands on. They talk about NDA's, closing stuff, hiding stuff, denying access to etc.

    My response has been and will always be: "What are you afraid of? Our clear objective is to do it better, keep our lead, solve customers' problems, give good service, and not sit on our asses and collect checks."

    Just do it better. There are enough incompetent people in the world. We shouldn't have such a weak view of ourselves that we fear THEM, should we?

    Investors don't like to hear that, but then I suppose, it's hard to keep fear from the equation.

    If Bitkeeper really wants to be around they should just make sure their product is better than the competition's. If there exists someday a free software alternative that is as good, they they had better make sure they excel in the service area, that they respond quickly and promptly to their clients' needs.

    If the free software alternative exceeds their closed source version, then they should switch to it. They could lay off part of their developers, save a bundle, and hire more service folks. They can then happily maintain their extraordinaryily content clients with the high level of support and care to which they have become acustomed.

    It's really simple, IMHO. Your fear will end up consuming you until such a time as you end up nothing but an insane reactionary, screaming and hurling insults at your last loyal client.
  • Well of course. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2002 @06:57PM (#4399008)
    Larry's had his dirty laundry exposed here on /.

    Lets go through it, shall we?

    1) He looks bad in the initial article. So he's pissed.

    2) Everybody points out that since he won't post his price he wants too much.

    3) Subsequently, somebody posts the prices, and Larry gets his shorts in a knot.

    4) Larry threatens to sue a bunch of kids.

    5) Everybody laughs at Larry.

    6) People start pointing out that the company is run by a bunch of incompetents.

    7) Who would buy software from these guys?

    8) I mean, personally, I don't care. But when I buy software, I try to buy from companies that are run by adults, but maybe if you pay that much for software, you'll accept whatever crap he throws over the fence.

    My advice?

    Read what Lunkhead Larry wrote and make your own decision? Whoops, didn't mean to say "Lunkhead". I'm sure Larry is doing well for somebody of his ability.

  • by GreyWizard (567129) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:07PM (#4399318) Homepage Journal

    The argument that GPL code is 'better' is not persuasive if it doesn't fit in their business model. Not everyone has academic salaries or other means of support, so these are real concerns of people who support the idea of Free Source in a deep way.

    Proprietary software companies are not the only employers in the world -- in fact they employ less than 10% of software developers! The rest are working for companies that do something else but need specific software for some internal purpose. The right way to address the concerns of wages for free software developers is to create a robust free software industry, but even in the meantime there is no need to make the free software movement to pander to the interests and business models of proprietary software companies by watering down licenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2002 @08:14PM (#4399351)
    He's not saying that these people can't use it.

    What he is saying is that "Here's this product that I charge money for. As a gift to the community, I intend to give it away to a certain category of people. This category does not include anyone who works on competing products (even free, as in either beer or speech, competing products). These people are welcome to pay for the license, however."

    This is a perfectly reasonable stance on his part. It would also be a perfectly reasonable stance for the Linux Kernel group to say "Okay, we won't use it".

    The real debate going on here isn't so much about the license change, but what the future effects of subsequent license changes could be, especially if it gets to the point where the Kernel group do decide to drop it.

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