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Red Hat will give eCos Copyrights to the FSF! 197

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the very-cool-gesture dept.
An anonymous reader notes "Businesswire reports in this article that RedHat will assign its copyrights for the eCos embedded OS to the FSF. This is great news, considering that they have stopped developing it in 2002. Hopefully this will mean new life for the project."
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Red Hat will give eCos Copyrights to the FSF!

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  • by SpanishInquisition (127269) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:01PM (#7964199) Homepage Journal
    You mean like HURD?
  • by Fortunato_NC (736786) <{verlinh75} {at} {msn.com}> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:01PM (#7964201) Homepage Journal
    how come it looks like they added CPU architectures and features in 2003?
  • tax writeoff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TedCheshireAcad (311748) <ted@fc.AAArit.edu minus threevowels> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:01PM (#7964207) Homepage
    Notice this is a healty tax writeoff at the beginning of the year. Hmmmm....
    • Re:tax writeoff (Score:5, Informative)

      by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot&cvilleweekly,com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:05PM (#7964240)
      Probably not, unless they can show lost profit due to this maneuver. I once tried to donate a few websites to some organizations. After I'd developed them, I found out that I can't deduct one dollar of their value. Not one. Basically, the only thing you can easily take a deduction for is hard goods or cash.
      • Of course you can't. (Score:4, Informative)

        by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:41PM (#7964565) Homepage
        Saying this is like saying that you can deduct your hourly wage for the time you spend volenteering att he soup kitchen after work.

        You can deduct goods, not time or services rendered. Not unless the donation of those services have a direct impact on your companies bottom line (ie, the donation nof thoe services meant lost time where you could have made profit from soemthing else ).
        • >Not unless the donation of those services have a direct impact on your companies bottom line

          What's really interesting is that Microsoft is allowed to pay reduced taxes due to "donating" software licenses to schools. Giving the licenses away costs them nothing, increases their market share, makes their monopoly even more firmly entrenched, and yet somehow still is a tax deduction.

          It makes the tax paying public look like fools.

      • You should have produced the source code for them on a CD and given them over. That would count as actual items, you see.
        • oh, and in time honoured fashion, here it is in Slashdot mode

          1) Write Website Code & Burn to CD 2) Value Website at $$$$$ 3) ????? 4) Profit!!!111one
      • Why would one want a tax writeoff at the -beginning- of the year? The -end- of the year makes more sense. We pay taxes now on -last- year's activities, not this year's.
        • Why would one want a tax writeoff at the -beginning- of the year? The -end- of the year makes more sense. We pay taxes now on -last- year's activities, not this year's.

          You pay taxes all year long. This will count for their CY04 taxes, even in January. Besides, I doubt this move was motivated by financial or tax reasons -- they probably donated it because they have no interest in the project and feel the community's needs are best met by the FSF taking control. This isn't the first time Red Hat did somet

      • Re:tax writeoff (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        you did not do it right.

        I was albe to write off 4 websites for non-profit groups.

        1 - document hours spend working on it.
        2 - Bill the group a real invoice for services rendered.
        3 - get from them your form showing the donation amount.

        Voila! tax writeoffs. a website is no different than donating IT time. Time spent as labor is time spent as labor, there are no provisions for it must be on specific items.

        My CPA was who showed the correct proceedure to get things documented correctly to make it deductable
        • Huh.

          Your CPA is better than our CPA, then. We followed all of those steps, and then bubkas. We even got the letters from the organizations listing the amount of the donation.

          Nothing.
    • Re:tax writeoff (Score:2, Insightful)

      by XpirateX (691224)
      More than a "beginning of the year" coincidence, I would also consider RedHat's (fairly) recent move toward a very specific market (servers). It seems they're trying to possibly focus their efforts more, and along the way have a few "give-aways" that could be nothing but good publicity.
    • calendar year == financial year == year end ?

      Here in the UK the three are usually different.
      Financial years rollover on April 1st.
      A Company's financial year rollover is chosen by the company.
      This is so that there isn't a pile of work needed to be done around Christmas.

      Is the US not the same / similar?
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:02PM (#7964208) Homepage
    This is great news, considering that they have stopped developing it in 2002. Hopefully this will mean new life for the project."

    The web site indecates new development as recent as September of last year.

    • by jifl (471653) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:50PM (#7964673)
      >The web site indecates new development as recent as
      >September of last year.

      Um, development has been ongoing, irrespective of Red Hat's loss of interest back at the start of 2002. There just hasn't been any big news since then. See the patch list [sourceware.org] for example.

      The eCos maintainers (of which I'm one) have been pushing for a solution to the copyright issue for quite some time. It's good for everyone that Red Hat have donated eCos to the FSF.

  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:04PM (#7964230) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully this will mean new life for the project.

    I guess that kind of depends on whether anyone cares or not. Most people who might have used eCos for the commercial support aspect, are using the high powered and rock-solid QNX OS. And those who wanted free embedded OSes for home projects are already using Embedded Linux or *BSD. Even more difficult for eCos is that embedded Linux and *BSD distros are usually custom to the application. Why would anyone want the overhead of a prepackaged solution?

    Perhaps eCos has its uses, but it's a very small niche.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with QNX, of course, is that it is not Free.

      Maybe hacking eCos will give us the first "high powered, rock-solid and truly Free" embedded OS.

    • Re:Depends (Score:2, Interesting)

      by torpor (458)
      You painted an interesting picture, but left a big gap.

      There are a lot of commercial companies actually using Linux, for whom QNX and eCOS are not worth the investment in light of recent kernel advances.

      I've considered using eCOS in some of my commercial products, but found that Linux does just as good a job in the right hands... not that its the be-all/end-all of embedded operating systems, but it sure is nice to be able to use the same system on an Intel developers box and an [insert-cpu]-type embedded
      • Re:Depends (Score:5, Funny)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:24PM (#7964413) Homepage Journal
        You painted an interesting picture, but left a big gap.

        There are a lot of commercial companies actually using Linux, for whom QNX and eCOS are not worth the investment in light of recent kernel advances.


        I'm sorry. I could have sworn that I already stated that the other end of the spectrum is "already using Embedded Linux and *BSD". Oh wait. I did.

        You might save yourself some trouble if you read more carefully. :-)

    • Re:Depends (Score:2, Informative)

      by ams001 (659997)
      My guess is you are a staunch QNX user and you know very little outside the QNX marketplace. eCos is the fastest growing RTOS (used in projects) and is being used in far more projects than QNX. Don't believe me, read the latest market surveys (unfortunatley, not public as the reports cost $4000 a shot). As for rock solid commercial support, eCosCentric was founded by the original developers of eCos after being laid off by Red Hat and continues to be developed and supported both by the community and the m
    • Re:Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcspock (252093) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:32PM (#7964494)
      My last company used eCos to build handheld and stereo component MP3 players, so that's my experience with it. In the handheld space it was great; small footprint (i built 40K ram/200K rom mp3+wma players with it), low overhead, minimal MMU requirements. The problem, with that space at least, is that the entire segment has shifted to faster processors with better MMUs, bigger hard drives, and generally larger requirements, which warrants using Linux. Even the eCos team was aware of this, as they started adding support for CPUs with memory protection and implementing more advanced OS features, basically scaling eCos up to...a trimmed down Linux.

      It was very good and extremely competitive at the time though; i think the issue is just that this time has passed.
      • Re:Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        you still are not looking at the big picture...

        eCos on these Super fast processors can now deliver more than the same processor using a larger/slower OS.

        make a pocket video playback unit with eCos that is only slow and choppy with the larger players.

        just because you have more processing power does not mean it's smart to use it up with a larger platform that you won't use the added functionality.
        • No, i am looking at the big picture. I led a team of engineers building a home jukebox (think rio central, only affordable) using eCos. We had CD ripping, mp3 encoding, wma/ogg/mp3 playback, network streaming via UPnP, etc. We had 16MB of ram on board and 80k lines of code, and what we found out is as you expand your hardware and expand your codebase, you really need features like memory protection, and schedulers with feedback. With eCos memory protection was only available on a select number of processors
    • Re:Depends (Score:4, Informative)

      by jifl (471653) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:13PM (#7964850)
      [Uh oh! Advocacy war storm clouds gather]

      I think you need to read up more on eCos! To call eCos "prepackaged" is about as far from the truth as you can get. The big C in eCos stands for configurable, and it is far more configurable and customizable to your application than any Linux or BSD will ever be, and certainly QNX.

      eCos is for the deeply embedded market, and embedded Linux, even in 2.6 is so much bigger. eCos systems start from just a few KB (~10KB I think I remember), and scale up from there as you use more features - using configuration, just exactly the features you want, and with the semantics you want. You get the choice.

      Add to that that eCos is completely open source, and royalty free with no upfront costs either (although you do have the option of commercial support [ecoscentric.com] if you do want it), and you'll understand why eCos is so popular.

      eCos supports many more targets and architectures than QNX too.

  • Abandonware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rhubarb Crumble (581156) <r_crumble@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:05PM (#7964237) Homepage
    Is this the first time a software developer has expressly relinquished copyright for abandonware? Of course, eCos was never proprietary, so it's not quite the same...
    • Re:Abandonware (Score:5, Informative)

      by TwistedSquare (650445) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:23PM (#7964402) Homepage
      I remember reading (can't find mention on the site though) that Al Lowe [allowe.com], creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series, released the copyright on various old games (the ones owned by him rather than the publishers) for abandonware, since otherwise they would have died out... Confirmation would be good though.
    • This isn't abandonware in the traditional sense, where copyright is "relinquished" into the public domain. Rather, they are transferring the copyright to another organization, for them to retain copyright and re-license as they see fit. Assuming they GPL it, the code would be distributable and enforcable accordingly.
  • hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Suppafly (179830) <slashdot@s[ ]afly.net ['upp' in gap]> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:06PM (#7964249)
    I wonder what license the FSF will put on the copyrights when they get them?
    • Re:hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eric Smith (4379) *
      Hopefully they'll retain the modified GPL that it is under currently. Otherwise the developers will likely fork the last modified-GPL version.

      The eCOS license applies the GPL terms only to the actual eCOS license, but not to any user application code linked to eCOS. This is similar to how you can run an application program on a Linux kernel without the application being subject to the GPL. However, with eCOS, normally the application is linked directly to the eCOS kernel, so the modified license takes

      • What are the differences between this modified GPL and the LGPL, then?
        • If I link my proprietary code to an LGPL'd kernel and distribute the resulting derived work, I have to make available an unlinked (or partially linked) version of my code, so that the end user can relink it against a different version of the kernel.

          With the eCos modified GPL (which is essentially the same as the RTEMS modified GPL), if I link my proprietary code to the kernel, I am only obligated to provide the kernel sources (including any modifications I've made to the kernel). I don't have to provide

  • Go Red Hat! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fader (107759) <fader&hotpop,com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:08PM (#7964273) Homepage
    As much as everyone seems to hate Red Hat for being big and pushing for what they want, I have to say that I truly respect them. They've never been anything but fair, honest, and helpful to the OSS community. Sure, they sometimes make unpopular decisions, but they focus on their business and don't try to meddle in anyone else's. And they've certainly never pulled any stunt worthy of calling them the 'Microsoft of Linux' as gets thrown about from time to time. The worst they've ever done is ask that people redistributing their distro use a different name and artwork. I can't see how anyone could have a problem with that.

    And as this shows, they often go above and beyond the mere requirements of the GPL. They've released a good amount of software under the GPL when they really didn't have to. They pay a lot of developers' salaries, too.

    So I'd like to say thanks, Red Hat. I have nothing but good feelings toward you, and I hope you do better and better financially.

    (Full disclosure: I don't work for Red Hat, don't own any of their stock, etc. I knew one guy who worked for them, but he was a tech support grunt there for a few months and I wasn't even in contact with him then. These opinions are my own.)
    • Re:Go Red Hat! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Fair and honest - just as FOX is fair and balanced.

      It might be fair and honest on paper to dump their desktop clients in favor of enterprise clients, but I will never forget or forgive them for that decision.

    • Everyone doesn't hate Red Hat. In fact, quite a few people do respect this company, use its products, pay for its products, and are quite happy with it.

      Its just that those who hate RH are the only ones talking about it. You're only sampling data from one side of the argument, because you rarely get someone going to a lot of trouble to praise something as avidly as they might criticize it...

      Human nature. Get used to it, and try to read it properly.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306)
      ...Red Hat has been a decent company. They usually make their stance clear and try to be honest at all times. That being said, their product distribution methodology could use some work. They have burned customers time and time again by distributing pre-release software that lacked polish. This would tend to result in oddities in their OSes such as USB mouse lockups, GNOME menus that lose their icons when installing user icons, kernel versions that are unsupported by hardware drivers such as NVidia (thank G
  • This is strange. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Krapangor (533950)
    I always thought that code based on GPLed code falls under the GPL anyway and must be published.
    • Re:This is strange. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xianzombie (123633)
      True, but even under GPL, doesn't it still kinda belong directly to the original creator, if only by name alone?

      Perhaps this is RH's way of reliqusihing all ties.

      I don't see how it serves much of a specific purpose though.
      • by Frater 219 (1455)

        True, but even under GPL, doesn't it still kinda belong directly to the original creator, if only by name alone?

        Red Hat was the copyright holder. They got eCos when they bought (IIRC) Cygnus. Thus, what they are doing here is not simply licensing eCos to FSF; they are transferring the copyright to FSF. FSF now is the copyright holder, not simply a licensee.

        My reading of this is that it means that Red Hat is not interested in spending money defending the eCos copyright, if it should be violated. Only th

        • EULAs have never really been tested in court, and generally when confronted with violating them, people will back down. Until the stakes get high enough, the threat of a lawsuit is usually enough.

          But when the stakes DO get high enough, there is a world of difference between a license which has been found valid by a judge, and one which has not. Because the potential payoff is high enough for SCO, they are willing to go up against the GPL.

          Of course, even a judge's decision doesn't mean someone won't re-arg
    • Re:This is strange. (Score:2, Informative)

      by AndyFewt (694753) *
      Code != Copyright
      They've assigned the copyrights (not code) over to the FSF. The code has always been available from: http://ecos.sourceware.org/getstart.html
    • Re:This is strange. (Score:4, Informative)

      by The Lord of Chaos (231000) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:26PM (#7964433)
      AFAIK eCos was always published under the GPL.

      Assigning copyright to the FSF means that the FSF now owns the eCos codebase and they can do whatever they want with it including publishing it under the GPL.

      Basically the point of this is so that if a developer wants to contribute to the eCos codebase they fill out a copyright assignment to the FSF instead of RedHat from now on.

      • eCos was once published under the eCos License, which was similar to the LGPL but not GPL-compatible. It is now published under the GPL with the exception of allowing proprietary applications / extensions (this is important in the embedded software market).
      • This is incorrect. It was originally published under some license from cygnus, which i dont recall; then when redhat purchased cygnus it was RHPL.

        The last time i checked, they had transitioned to a modified GPL. In fact i dont think the license is GPL compatable, since the modification they made allows companies to opt out of open-sourcing code they link against eCos, basically avoiding the corporation-unfriendly aspect of the GPL.
    • It was under a different Open Source license.
    • That may be true, but the fact that the FSF now owns the copyrights means that the FSF can take over license enforcement. That's why they really did it.
    • I always thought that code based on GPLed code falls under the GPL anyway

      No, any original work you do can be licensed any way you want. If you combine your work with GPL'd code, then the combined result must be GPL if you distribute it, but your individual sections can still be under another license as long as that license is GPL-compatible or you don't distribute.

      Thus, any BSD-licensed bits in the Linux kernel are still BSD-licensed, even though the kernel as a whole is GPL'd.

      and must be published.
  • Good news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CelticWhisper (601755)
    Indeed, this is great news. And this is one copyright I won't mind respecting :-)

    It's good to see a company with its head screwed on straight, who can acknowledge when its time to move on from old wares and just let them go, instead of clinging to everything it's ever had its hands in, even when it's obviously pointless to do so.
  • I see on the eCos site a listing [sourceware.org] of support platforms, but can anyone point me to an actual project/product that used eCos?

    Thanks in advance.

    ---anactofgod---
  • Dreamcast Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Erwos (553607) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:12PM (#7964310)
    The Linux-Dreamcast port apparently uses eCos to do some of the initial booting. So, while I wouldn't say I've seen it used practically, it was a nifty application of the OS.

    -Erwos
  • by dr_canak (593415) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:15PM (#7964342)
    I'm a Redhat shareholder, not a lot of shares, and bought well after they bottomed out. I bought the shares for two reasons.

    The first was because I thought if any company had a shot a taking a piece of Microsoft, it was Redhat. I use MS products everyday, probably always will, but I'm one who believes that MS got where they are with unfair market practices and ended up a little too big for their (and our) own good. By buying Redhat shares, I figured I was backing up my philosophy with my wallet.

    The second reason is purely more pragmatic. Assuming Linux can take a stab at Microsoft, I believe Redhat is the most viable company to do it. In 30+ years, I'd like to think my decision to buy Redhat shares (when it was $12.00 a share) will be similar to people who bought Cisco, Oracle, MS, etc... back in the day. Sure the stock prices have wildly fluctuated, but look at the splits, and you realize just how much money there was to be made. So of course I would like to see that kind of return on this investment.

    Which is why I end up conflicted when I see news like this. On the one hand, giving away a copyright is exactly the kind of collaboration you see with the Linux development model, and why it *may* in the end surpass MS in some, if not all, applications. But as a shareholder, giving away copyrights is hardly a way to grow a business. It took time, money, and effort to secure the copyright. Who knows if this news really effected shareprice, but with the release of this news, Redhat is down almost .50/share. So as a stockholder hoping to make money on my investment, I'm not too thrilled with this kind of news.

    I suppose that's why you need to leave your emotional mind out of the market place, to avoid investing with your heart, and not your head ;-).

    just my .02 (- .50)
    jeff
    • by Xenopax (238094) <xenopax@@@cesmail...net> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:34PM (#7964507) Journal
      I'd like to think my decision to buy Redhat shares (when it was $12.00 a share) Haha, I got in at something like $4/share. Either way though, you have to be happy with their earnings report in December. Also, I don't believe giving away copyright will significantly reduce the share price. Anyone with half a brain who's invested in Redhat knows the company gives away its work and makes it up on the support side. Oh wait, I said half a brain, that rules out 99% of investors.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      eCos is something they picked up with the Cygnus acquisition, and I'd be very very surprised if they ever made a dime off of it.

      Taking exception with the management for continued funding for the project when they saw it wasn't going to make any money is one thing; but taking exception for throwing away the "value" in the copyright of the commercially unsusccesful project is another.

      Sure, you can use 20/20 hindsight and lambast them for funding it in the first place. And anyone familiar with R&D in

    • Note that the market as a whole is down today, as well. I don't think that Redhat's release of these copyrights has much to do with this very short term decline at all. I doubt that eCos was ever much of a revenue stream for them at all.

      It's not as if Redhat is somehow being forced legally to assign copyrights to some major portion of what generates profitability for them. eCos doesn't fit with what Redhat's business model is about any more, so they're giving it away.

      I say, "Good for them!"
    • I can understand your mixed feelings. Personally, I use open source extensively and have released some minor contributions to those projects I use. I think in the long run, it is a slow moving ball of snow at the top of a very large mountain: it doesn't look like much sometimes, but it will continue to roll and gain size and speed.

      That said, the commercial prospects around it will always be running madly on top of a rolling ball of snow (to continue with and strain the analogy). Some might manage to remai
    • I understand your concern, but there are many ways to look at the issue. First, Red Hat spent very little time on eCos. It was aquired when they bought a company, Cygnus I believe.

      Presumably, Cygnus was aquired more for their Linux solutions and experience, and eCos was sort of something that came along. I always saw it more as a hindrance to Red Hat. Red Hat had always been strictly Linux based, and now they had to justify this side project and make it fit with their business strategy. They tried a c
    • I bought x (x < 1000) when it was $3.60 a share. This wasn't a financial investment. This was a show of support -- financial activism, if you will.

      The way I see it, if folks that believe in open source software start to buy up some stock in companies that support open source software (directly or indirectly), than those companies will get a bit of a boost in share price. Who cares?

      Welp, in the case of Red Hat (at $4 a share), boosting the price by even a few percentage points helps keep it out of pe
  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:18PM (#7964364)
    I'm not certain what effect if any this has on the development of the software. To correct several misinformed posts: As the article mentions Red Hat stopped development on the project in 2002. The community continued which is why you see new releases after then. Second, the software was already open source - the licence has not changed. What has changed is that they given copyright over to FSF. The reason for this is that it is easier from a legal standpoint for the copyright of a project to be held by a single entity who can defend the entire project rather than each little peice being copyright of the respective authors. Since Redhat was no longer actively developing eCos, it made since for them to turn over the copyright to someone else. But unless people were resistant to contribute because RedHat still maintained copyright, I don't see how this will give the project new life. What may help more is having the fact that the project has a new maintainer (and the front-page slashdot article won't hurt either ;)
    • The Open Source license that Red Hat used for eCos isn't the GPL nor is it compatible with the same.

      With the FSF recieving ownership of the Copyrights on the code in question, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be relicensed under the GPL or LGPL the moment that the ownership changes hands.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:22PM (#7964395) Homepage
    Big customers should require that when a company drops a software product, it goes open source. This offers the option to keep the product alive if it's needed by the customer. Such terms are occasionally seen in the embedded world, but on a single-customer basis. A standard, well-accepted contract for software escrow and open-sourcing when the product is abandoned would be a useful thing to have.

    Vendors go bankrupt, exit a field of business, or simply discontinue products all the time. Deals like this could help small vendors, providing long-term customer assurance.

    • Good point. I know that some software vendors I have purchased from in the past have had clauses where their source code is held in escrow. If the company goes belly up then the customer base receives the source code out of escrow and can take off on their own with either in-house or contracted programming work.

      Most software vendors who have offered this assurance are typically smaller scale. So this idea is out there indeed.

    • Big customers typically will have as part of their contract with a vendor a clause regarding the maintenance of source code/hardware designs/etc in "escrow", to be made available to the customer if the vendor ceases operation or support of the product.

      Of course, this is no real remedy, since a customer that purchased the vendor's products typically doesn't have the resources to maintain the product on their own.

      Regardless, a customer that decided to purchase a closed-source solution is probably not at-tal
    • by JordanH (75307) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:54PM (#7964711) Homepage Journal
      Uhhh... eCos already was Open Source, RedHat just held all the copyrights. Now, the copyrights are assigned to FSF.

      The difference is that users can now be assured that eCos will be released under the GPL only in the future. The copyright owner can always license software out however they want and RedHat did use a GPL-compatible license. It was already Open Source, but it wasn't already Free.

      • RedHat did use a GPL-compatible license. It was already Open Source, but it wasn't already Free.
        eCOS most certainly was already free, at least as of eCOS 2.x. 1.x was under a different license, but 2.x was released under a modified GPL, which grants all the rights of the GPL and the additional right to distribute executables without having to distribute source code for any application software that is linked to the eCOS kernel.
      • Actually, it was already Free (according to the FSF). GPL software is a subset of Free software. Anything GPL-compatible is also necessarily Free. There are even some GPL-incompatible licenses which are still Free but the FSF advises against using them.

        Full definition: FSF Free Software Definition [gnu.org].

    • I absolutely agree that doing this would benefit any company buying software.

      But the net effect of requiring this escrow for general-use software (read: not a custom job for the client) would be to devalue most software company's assets in the event of a liquidation. When liquidating, companies look to realize as much value as possible from whatever assets they possess at the time. This usually takes the form of an IP sale.

      In such a case as you describe, no external company would be motivated to bid for
      • Realistically, the IP assets of defunct software companies typically have very low value. Yes, there are IP liquidators, but the number of "back from the dead and profitable" success stories is very, very low.
        • I will have to gather some data points to back this up, but my impression is, successful or not, quite a bit of software IP and money change hands during liquidation, so I stand by my original assertion.

          Given enough time, some of these products end up becoming the software equivalents of the unwanted fruitcakes we receive in December, constantly being bounced from one insolvent company to another.

          You're right they may not blossom post-liquidation. But there's still plenty of people willing to take the ch
    • no, the customer should demand that they get a copy of the code for personal use, so that they may support the product themselves if the source comapy goes down or discontinues the product. The customer should be able to use the code only for personal use within the company, and should not be able to use that code in any other product.
  • looks like September 19, 2003 was the last update. What to do you mean by "stopped developing in 2002"?
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:58PM (#7965248) Homepage Journal


    A spin off from the plan9 project was Inferno [vitanuova.com].

    The 4th Edition is now released under a dual licence such that all source code is available under a Free licence [vitanuova.com] (as defined by the FSF). The GPL it isn't but it brings the world of Limbo into the open.

  • by tdrury (49462) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @04:00PM (#7965271) Homepage
    The slashdot summary is (*shock*) misleading. Officially Redhat stopped support and laid off the eCos developers, but the core developer as well as the at-large developers have been continuously developing eCos after Redhat backed out. In fact, I didn't start developing the AT91/EB40 port of eCos until after Redhat dropped it. Commits to CVS were slow since they had to be funnelled through the former Redhat developers which were fewer and number and looking for new sources of income, but development has been continuous.
  • Let's use Microsoft for an example, since they're so fun to pick on here on Slashdot.

    Let's say MS was to release the source to Windows 98 4 years from now. Obviously no support for the software, MS is hoping everyone has upgraded. So, IMMEDIATELY people begin ripping the code apart, seeing blatant software security issues in the code.

    Who is responsible for the ensuing chaos that results from the hacks and cracks that occur because now everyone knows where the buffer overflows are. Microsoft indemnifies themself, and then the user of the original software is left to hang.

    I can think of one good example. I'm still a big fan of Quake II, and since the code release, there have been some SERIOUS cheats developed.

    Just a thought
    • If Windows 98 supports ends two years from now, and Windows 98 is open sourced four years from now, anyone still using it has no excuse for not upgrading, especially when numerous commercial and noncommercial alternatives are available. I know not everyone has scads of money to throw at upgrades, which is why they should be buying used hardware (and software - contrary to what the EULA says, first sale allows you to transfer software so long as you transfer all copies, licenses, and documentation) which is
  • This is redhat's way of saying sorry about the Fedora thing that pissed alot of people off.

    (translation)
    I suspect this is redhat's way of donating technology they weren't making any money off of and using the Positive PR to make up for Negative PR they recieved last time they dumped liabilities onto the community.

    Either way, works for me, thanks redhat :)
  • The only difference this makes is that the FSF are the people who can take legal action if someone decides to violate the GPL. The copyright holder is the legal owner in that sense. It makes little or no difference as to who may use, contribute or develop it.

    Naturally, I hope development will continue, much of my interest is in smaller things like microcontrollers where this is of use.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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