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VMware May Violate Linux Copyrights 443

Posted by Zonk
from the what-about-its-copylefts dept.
Nailer writes "Bloomberg believe VMware's IPO today may the largest technology offering since Google. But doubts have been cast over the company's supposedly proprietary ESX product, as top 10 Linux contributor Christopher Hellwig claims the software may violate Linux kernel copyrights. 'Is Hellwig right, and is VMware a derived product of Linux? Unless vmkernel can be loaded without the Linux kernel, it would appear so. VMware was developed from another, long ago OS created as a research project, but it's unclear whether vmkernel was ported from that OS or rewritten as the Linux-requiring binary blob. What's more of an issue is that VMware had these serious questions posed directly to them a year ago, repeated in a public forum many times since, but have yet to respond at all.'"
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VMware May Violate Linux Copyrights

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  • by captnitro (160231) * on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:36PM (#20227007)
    • Wait for big, innovative company to IPO.
    • Watch as share price goes up 90% on a day when the Dow is losing 100 points. Feel bad I don't work for that company. Boo.
    • Blog about possible copyright violations that would surely bring down EMC or VMW. Make investors nervous. Buy low.
    • Profit.
    • by MouseR (3264) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:41PM (#20227063) Homepage
      Your plan is missing a very important and crucial step:

        ?????
    • Don't forget:
      • Omit actual details in favor of baseless speculation.
      This is how you optimize FUD: keep the claims mysterious. SCO kept up this strategy for, what, 4 or 5 years?
      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:15PM (#20227539) Homepage

        Don't forget: Omit actual details in favor of baseless speculation. [...] This is how you optimize FUD: keep the claims mysterious. SCO kept up this strategy for, what, 4 or 5 years?
        I read TFA, and it included quite a lot of specific details, more than I expected, in fact. It may even be the case that it includes all publicly-available data (we don't have the ESX source code, so how exactly it interfaces with the Linux kernel is not entirely clear, but TFA can't be blamed for that).

        What details were omitted from TFA, in your opinion?
  • by JosefAssad (1138611) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:42PM (#20227071) Homepage
    Copyright gets infringed, licenses get violated.
  • by UncleTogie (1004853) *

    1. Build product using someone else's stable OS.
    2. Offer IPO.
    3. Get scads of cash in to pay off OS licensers and IP lawsuits, and....
    4. ....Profit!

    In short, they just paid off their Mastercard with their Visa card...
  • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:50PM (#20227173) Journal
    Whether or not VMWare violates Linux copyrights, the mere fact that this is being discussed may add to the perception of the GPL as a "viral" license, and steer developers/businesses away from using Linux and other GPL software in their products.
    • by sH4RD (749216) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:58PM (#20227271) Homepage
      So? If they want to make it closed source, they certainly shouldn't use Linux or GPL software in their products.

      Before you all massacre me: I see your real point, that they will fear using Linux as a base operating system for their products, even when that usage wouldn't cause their code to fall under GPL. But should that stop people from protecting their IP? Contributors to the Linux kernel and other GPL products have issued an exclusive license under which their copyrighted material should be released. Allowing corporations to desecrate this for the lofty goal of popularizing Linux doesn't make sense. GPL is what it is, and if it doesn't become any more popular because of it's "viral" nature or even perception of such, so be it. Otherwise you will just be destroying the authors goals - to keep the software free and open at all costs.

      Bottom line is, if it adds to the negative perception of GPL, it's worth advertising the positive, but certainly *not* worth dismissing the issue. Stand by the GPL principals, or don't use them in the first place.
      • by Otter (3800)
        If they want to make it closed source, they certainly shouldn't use Linux or GPL software in their products.

        That's fair, but the claimed definition of "using" software keeps expanding and the goal of GPL v3 is to create even more uncertainty around it. VMware doesn't (as far as I understand it, anyway) use Linux "in their product" by the usual sense of "in". It's absolutely not the base operating system.

      • by Lumpy (12016)
        Before you all massacre me: I see your real point, that they will fear using Linux as a base operating system for their products, even when that usage wouldn't cause their code to fall under GPL.

        Why? what sane person in any business that even basically understands computers would "fear" linux because they will have to release the code to the OSS parts you use? the GPL nowhere says you have to OSS everything you write after you even use GPL software. There are LOTS of Closed source kernel hardware drivers
        • by sH4RD (749216)
          Why? what sane person in any business that even basically understands computers would "fear" linux because they will have to release the code to the OSS parts you use?

          Only the incompetent executives will "fear" linux and the GPL, simply because they refuse to or are incapable of understanding the GPL.

          I think you answered your own question. Unfortunately there are a lot of incompetent executives.
    • In this case, good. If ESX violates the license terms of the Linux kernel/GPL, then it needs to come clean. The whole "viral license" schtick is a bunch of crap - proprietary code has much, much worse terms and no-one complains about those...
    • by monoqlith (610041)
      If this isn't being discussed, then it becomes permissible to make Linux-derived works and sell them as proprietary products without any consideration for the open source copyright holders or licensing.

      This goes to the core of what open source is about.

      It's much better to make your license and culture mean something than to entice corporations by coddling their proprietary impulses.
    • So what? Who cares? Forcing people to GPL all the code which uses functionality "derived" from GPL code is a feature of the GPL.

      I very much doubt that there're many bussiness building linux products that don't know this. Do you really think Vmware doesn't knows about this?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fishbowl (7759)
        >So what? Who cares? Forcing people to GPL all the code which uses functionality "derived" from GPL code is a feature of
        >the GPL.

        It's more than that. It is the right of the copyright holder.

        What is being alleged is that a corporation is abridging the rights of one or more individuals. The suggestion (raised several times already in this thread) that this should be overlooked because of their community affiliations, is preposterous.
    • Actually I thought the GPL would only take effect if someone was trying to distribute VMWare along with some GNU+Linux varaint (Ubuntu for example). Like proprietary graphics drivers cannot be distributed with GPL code, but can be downloaded by the user later. Am I wrong? What distributions include VMWare?

      • by monoqlith (610041)
        The article says that the reason why graphics drivers are allowed to be closed-source is that they have been ported from another OS, and so they don't qualify as Linux-derived works.

        I think the fact that you have to download those graphics drivers later is because the specific distributions have a policy that they don't want to include restricted drivers and want to stick only with GPLed code in their distributions.
      • The issue is not whether Linux distros include VMWare. The question is whether VMWare itself is based on Linux, and thus required to be open sourced.
    • But it is a viral license, and companies shouldn't use it in their proprietary software products.
    • by ianare (1132971)
      Which would be a good thing. I've released code under GPL, I certainly don't wan't "developers/businesses" taking my code and using it without following the terms of the license. It's not freeware.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:14PM (#20227511) Homepage

      Whether or not VMWare violates Linux copyrights, the mere fact that this is being discussed may add to the perception of the GPL as a "viral" license, and steer developers/businesses away from using Linux and other GPL software in their products.

      See, whether or not it's "viral" and whether you get to use Linux and other GPL software "in your products" depend entirely on what kind of software it is and what you're doing with it.

      If you merely took Linux code (which is copyrighted) and incorporated it into your product, you've just swiped code -- which, oddly enough, is illegal under the law and the not provided for in the license. If it was LGPL and you can link to it, then you can make it as part of your product since it is just plumbing.

      Nobody is saying you can't write your own closed-source application which runs on top of Linux. But, you don't get to steal parts of Linux or anything else under the GPL and pass it off as yours -- that's just plain old copyright violation. There's no blanket exemption to re-use it any way you choose; you must adhere to the license granted to you.

      So, if someone wrote software based on Linux and find themselves running afoul of the GPL, it's likely not because GPL code is 'viral', it's that you tried to steal code you had no right to. Which is entirely different from this whole 'viral' talk.
      u
      What companies need is an occasional reminder that they specifically can't just incorporate Linux and other GPL code "into their products" any way they choose. It just doesn't work that way. As an end user, you can make use of GPL'd software until you're blue in the face with pretty much no obligations. As a company, you can't just take parts of it without any consequences. It's not a public domain code repository to pillage to your heart's content -- it's Open Source (TM), and there are rules about what you can and can't do with it.

      I'm not sure that steering "developers/bsinesses away from using Linux and other GPL software in their products" is anywhere near as bad as you're thinking it might be.

      Cheers
    • The spirit of the GPL is meant to discourage closed source anything. Businesses SHOULD stay away from it unless they have a plan for profiting off of their own open source code.
      If you distribute your code, you're not even allowed to link to GPL libraries without your code falling under the GPL.

      There is plenty of great BSD/LGPL/MIT/etc licensed code out there which is much less of a legal nightmare.
  • by kerubi (144146) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:50PM (#20227177)
    You heard it here first. In the next major ESX release, VMware will ditch the Linux service console altogether in favour of their own proprietary one. Admins around the globe cheer as they have to learn yet another system.
  • Hey, if you're looking for somebody to pursue the case, it looks like Darl from SCO will be available soon!
  • by sl3xd (111641) * on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @01:59PM (#20227287) Journal
    There is, of course, a way that they aren't violating linux copyrights: They may simply be using the Linux Kernel to get the hardware into a known state prior to loading the VMkernel. Similar projects include LinuxBIOS, and Linux's own kexec (kexec lets you boot a new linux kernel without actually 'booting').

    Of course, it is a violation if ESX is actually running a modified Linux Kernel, instead of using the Linux Kernel as a bootloader. Using the Linux Kernel as a bootloader is a done deal; just look up 'kexec' for proof of it. (Though I'm fairly certain kexec isn't what VMware uses).

    But even then, remember that ESX is their "enterprise" product, which acts more like a hypervisor, and is not to be confused with VMware Workstation, VMware Player, or VMware Server.
    • The problem is wether the vmware software is "derivated works" or not from the linux GPL code.

      Some people thinks that any code that gets inserted via insmod is "derivated works" from Linux. Other people thinks that if you port a windows driver to Linux, it's not "derivated works", since it's derivated from windows. Some lawyers think many other (and different) things.

      It pretty much depends on what you understand by "derivated work". This is by far the biggest error in the GPLv2 - it's just not very clear on
      • It pretty much depends on what you understand by "derivated work". This is by far the biggest error in the GPLv2 - it's just not very clear on what it means.

        It's not so much that the GPL isn't clear, as that GPL tried to use an insanely broad definition, and the limits that copyright law imposes on this definition aren't clear.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Waffle Iron (339739)
        This whole debate gets tiresome. To put this to rest, somebody ought to write an NdisWrapper-style shim for BSD that will run any Linux kernel module, then release it under a BSD-style license. Then any binary Linux-compatible kernel module will by definition no longer be "derived" from Linux, since it could run without Linux.

        Of course, a better solution would be for the courts to rule that this silly legal theory that "won't run without X" === "derived from X" is bunk. "Derived" works should really only

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:20PM (#20227607) Homepage
      I moderated a panel at a conference about a year ago where one of the participants was Jack Lo, VMware's senior director of R&D, and I made the comment that I had understood that VMware ESX Server was based on a modified Linux kernel. He interrupted me and said that this was a common misconception, but that it was not the case. We didn't get into more details.
  • Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:00PM (#20227297) Journal
    The article has some interesting comments. One is:

    So according to VMware ESX actually has two kernels - the vmkernel, and a Linux kernel. This sounds a bit odd, given a computer can only run one kernel at a given time - otherwise which one determines who gets access to the CPU, memory, and other hardware?
    Perhaps the writer is missing the point of having a hypervisor, which is (drum roll) to allow two kernels to run at once.

    The license for the Linux kernel is quite different to the licensing for DOS that allowed Netware to use it for a bootloader.
    The license for Linux only applies if you are distributing Linux (fair enough, they are), and only applies to Linux and code which is a derived work of Linux. It does not apply, for example, to binary-only applications running on Linux and using system calls. Linux includes the kexec system call, which allows the running kernel image to be replaced with another, effectively making Linux into a bootloader. This was originally written as part of the Linux BIOS project, to allow Linux to be used as (another drum roll please) a bootloader.

    Linus Torvalds (the copyright holder for the Linux kernel)
    Not even close. Linux owns copyright on some small parts of the kernel, but does not require copyright assignment, and so these days much of the copyright is owned by other people (not relevant, but yet another error).

    Is Hellwig right, and is VMware a derived product of Linux?
    Hellwig is a troll.

    Unless vmkernel can be loaded without the Linux kernel, it would appear so.
    Rubbish. Interfaces can not be copyrighted. It is only a derived work if it is not isolated from the kernel via a public interface. From the description in the 'article,' it sounds like:
    1. Linux boots.
    2. Userspace tool kexec's the hypervisor (an odd way of doing things, so I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't actually what happens).
    3. The Linux kernel continues to run in a VM, providing an admin UI and drivers to the other guests, just as it does with Xen.
    Looking at the patches that the VMWare guys have been sending in for hypervisor support, it seems like step three, at least, is accurate. Xen does the following in a typical install:
    1. Linux is installed, with a Xen-compatible kernel.
    2. User reboots.
    3. Xen Hypervisor boots.
    4. Xen Hypervisor loads a Linux (or NetBSD or Solaris, or Windows with Xen Enterprise) domain 0 (privileged) guest, which runs the (userspace) management tools and provides device drivers.
    There has, I believe, been some work done making Xen boot using kexec from Linux, so you can skip step 2 if you want. If you do this, then you get exactly the same set of steps as VMWare ESX.

    Now, to be fair, Xen actually does include some code (stuff like atomic operations, for example) from Linux (and is GPL'd, making this a non-issue), but this was done to save time, rather than because the code has to come from Linux.

    • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by chrb (1083577) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:27PM (#20227697)

      Perhaps the writer is missing the point of having a hypervisor, which is (drum roll) to allow two kernels to run at once.


      No, you're missing the point. Linux is loaded first, then a closed source module, which loads a closed source OS. The closed source module is a derived work of linux.

      The license for Linux only applies if you are distributing Linux (fair enough, they are), and only applies to Linux and code which is a derived work of Linux. It does not apply, for example, to binary-only applications running on Linux and using system calls. Linux includes the kexec system call, which allows the running kernel image to be replaced with another, effectively making Linux into a bootloader. This was originally written as part of the Linux BIOS project, to allow Linux to be used as (another drum roll please) a bootloader.


      But they don't use kexec. They use a closed source module.

      Hellwig is a troll.


      Arguments should be evaluated on their merits, not on who makes them.

      Rubbish. Interfaces can not be copyrighted. It is only a derived work if it is not isolated from the kernel via a public interface.


      Did you miss the part about the closed source module? There is no public interface. This isn't kexec. VMware are distributing the kernel and a closed source module together. Can you name another company that does that?
  • Now the GPL may define a derived work however it wants but the GPL only applies if standard copyright law would deem the VMware application to infringe on linux copyrights. I'm not up to speed on this issue but if it only interfaces at a small number of points it very well may not. If the VMware app does not infringe on linux copyright then they do not have to accept the GPL to distribute it and there is no problem.

    Of course it's entirely possible that it would be declared an infringing product. I have n
  • Just say no to FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:11PM (#20227469) Homepage
    "So according to VMware ESX actually has two kernels - the vmkernel, and a Linux kernel. This sounds a bit odd, given a computer can only run one kernel at a given time otherwise which one determines who gets access to the CPU, memory, and other hardware?"

    Uhh, this is a virtualization system. The ESX kernel provides a hardware abstraction layer which the linux kernel in the service console can access.

    So yes, it IS running two kernels, the ESX kernel which has priority, and the linux kernel running on top of it in a VM like every other virtualized kernel, once it gets running. Duh.

    But the meat of the FA seems to be that "Because a Linux kernel is used to initiate the ESX kernel, and because the linux kernel has a binary blob driver to help in the bootstrap process, QED ESX kernel is considered a derivitive work, because Linus says that things which require kernel changes are derivitive works" WTF?

    FUD is bad. No matter the source.

    The Linux kernel allows binary blobs. VMWare uses an F@#)(* huge binary blob to bootstrap ESX and other stuff. OOOHHH SCARY bogeyman violate GPL. Either sue (Linus does have standing. The SCSI author actually does have standing if it includes his code anywhere in the hacked up kernel) or get off the pot.

    And Just say no to FUD.
  • by roscocoltran (1014187) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:12PM (#20227499)
    I've read somewhere that SCO was offering a special discount on linux licenses this week. Quick! get one before the offer ends!
  • So if I'm reading this right, anything that uses Linux as a bootloader is "derived from" Linux (because it depends on Linux, because nobody bothered to implement another bootloader) and must be GPLed? That seems very, very bogus, and I will be very annoyed if such nonsense is upheld. Just because something looked at your code funny once, does not automatically make that thing derived from your code.

  • Derived Works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:15PM (#20227543) Homepage Journal

    But some proprietary modules do exist, and they do that on one premise: Linus Torvalds (the copyright holder for the Linux kernel) has repeatedly stated that he doesn't consider drivers ported from other operating systems to be derived works of Linux. After all, if something can load without Linux, it can't really be considered a derived work.

    Sometimes I have to ask: where the fuck are the lawyers? Did we finally kill them all? ;-)

    Folks, software creators like Linus or the FSF people, can put whatever terms into licenses that they want, but one thing they can't do is define derived works. Congress does that (very poorly, so the courts end up mostly stuck with the job). And unless you make something that is a defined work, do never need to get bound to the license in the first place, so.. words in the GPL do not matter, and Linus' opinion does not matter. Well, it matters in the since that we're talking about smart people who have obviously given the issue some thought. But that's all.

    What I'm getting at, is that Linus is making an argument. He is not giving an authoritative declaration as a copyright holder or licensor. He can't.

    Linus has determined? (inferred? decided?) that if something works w/out Linux, it's not a derived work, and if it doesn't work w/out Linux, it is a derived work. I think that's very arbitrary, and brings up so many (apparent?) counter-examples that it would terrify everyone in the software industry except for maybe the BIOS guys.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vrmlguy (120854)
      Not true. First, Linus decides what isn't a derived work everytime he decides not to sue somebody. Linux is his creation, and only he has legal standing to sue. Congress could pass any law it wanted defining "derived works" and as long as Linus does nothing, no one else is allowed to sue anyone for infringement. Second, Linus can decide to sue, in which case the courts, not Congress, decides if his arguments have merit. Congress frequently passes laws that the courts promptly strike down; Slashdot read
  • 1. It details information that is from an older and nearly 2.5 year old revision of the Product. The Current Version is 3.0.x and the relationship of the Linux system and the VMKernel has changed substantially.

    2. VMWare licenses the Implimentation of Linux used in ESX from Red Hat, however nowhere is that mentioned in the Article.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)
      VMWare licenses the Implimentation of Linux used in ESX from Red Hat, however nowhere is that mentioned in the Article.

      Red Hat are not the copyright holders of (all of) Linux. They cannot license Linux under any terms other than the GPL.
  • get in on the IPO and figure out where to get off......
  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@nospAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:23PM (#20227633) Homepage Journal
    Go read this article (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08 /09/171248 [slashdot.org]) from last week and note that Dell apparently will be booting a version of ESX from BIOS. If ESX can be booted with an alternate bootloader, it must not be that closely tied to RedHat.
    • ESX lite would have the exact same problem as regular ESX: the BIOS boots the service OS (Linux 2.4), then the service OS loads VMkernel, then VMkernel shims itself under the service OS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vrmlguy (120854)
        Except that in this case the shim is much smaller, probably about the size of your average home router kernel. ESX lite supposedly doesn't have a console because of this, and it should be pretty easy to see what, if any, of the bootloader sticks around.
  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:27PM (#20227707) Homepage Journal
    I found this article to be nothing more than a poorly written rant of an opinion piece. Especially ridiculous were the Karl Rove tactics in which the author tried to "clarify" quotes by adding some text in parenthesis to reinforce his point. Example:

    I personally consider anything a "derived work" that needs special hooks in the kernel to function with Linux (i.e., it is not acceptable to make a small piece of GPL-code as a hook for the larger piece), as that obviously implies that the bigger module needs "help" from the main kernel.
    ~Linus Torvalds 19 Oct 2001
    Well let's ignore the "i.e." that I don't think Torvalds actually spelled out and read what this really is saying...

    I personally consider anything a "derived work" that needs special hooks in the kernel to function with Linux, as that obviously implies that the bigger module needs "help" from the main kernel.
    Well that's nice and all, but we need to keep in mind is that the kernel in question, Linux 2.4, was released in 2002. That means it fall under Version 2 of the GPL which, as far as I can tell, says that software is "derived" only if it includes GPL source code or it is linked with a GPL library. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in there that matches LT's "opinion" stated above.

    I think Christopher Hellwig put it best:

    I unfortunately don't have enough copyrights on that particular version to sue them.
    Exactly. Linux would've pushed legal action by now if they thought it would get them anywhere. The defense rests, end of story. So what is the point of this article? To whine about how unfair this is? Ok, maybe. But such is life.

    --
    Capitalism: When it uses the carrot, it's called Democracy. When it uses the stick, it's called fascism.
  • Hardware Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JumboMessiah (316083) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @02:28PM (#20227713)
    I've never used ESX, but I would imagin that no matter what, ESX needs driver support.

    Being a hypervisor, it has to access all kinds of devices like VGA consoles, serial ports, Fibre Channel HBAs, SCSI HBAs, IDE controllers (for CDROMs), Ethernet adapters, etc., etc. So my question is, where does the ESX hypervisor (vmkernel) get these? Does it pull them from Linux or did they write their own? This hardware _HAS_ to be setup, initialized, and arbitrated. Does vmkernel have it's own stack of device drivers, or does it conveniently run the ones in the Linux "bootloader"?

    I'm thinking there's more to this than just the binary blob issue...
  • Looking at an ESX server, you'll find what looks like a Linux OS. This isn't a secret - VMware call this the 'console OS'. Is ESX server based on Linux?

    I've never run ESX but I'd like to know what Linux 'looks' like. Most people who see a shell confuse it with the operating system. A bash shell looks pretty much the same on Solaris, Linux, BSD, Cygwin, etc.

     
  • This is where you need to get philosophical. Is vmkernel using kernel routines because it wants to or because it *has* to. Meaning, is vmkernel using the kernel routines to do all the vm related work that they could otherwise do equally well with their own code? Or is vmkernel using kernel routines that it MUST use to interface with the host to do I/O, implement the abstract syscalls, etc? Considering ESX runs on a number of platforms my *guess* is they probably favor the later. If they did just what they n
  • I'm sure (Score:3, Funny)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @03:30PM (#20228787) Journal
    This can be quickly resolved with some stock....
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @04:14PM (#20229371) Homepage
    I read the article and as far as I can see, while there may be a technical legal issue with the VMWare kernel being loaded by a Linux kernel (or some part thereof - insmod), thereby in some extremely technical sense making the VMWare kernel a "derived work" - this is really reaching in my opinion.

    Particularly since it would seem obvious that that they could easily rewrite the thing to do its bootloading in some other way. The Linux kernel appears to be have been used only as a convenience to make the system more portable than their original development OS. And this was probably done "back in the day" since they're using a 2.4 kernel.

    And if said Linux kernel being used is described as a "badly hacked 2.4 kernel", then who the hell cares? Hellwig seems to be pissed that VMWare asked the kernel maintenance list for some support or something, but basically seems to be on a "crusade" like the FSF fanatics. He's all pissed off about something that nobody else in their right mind couldn't care less about.

    Perhaps VMWare should rewrite their boot loader (they certainly have enough money and smarts to do so), but basically I agree with the first poster - this appears to be either FSF fanaticism or an attempt to influence the VMWare IPO or both.

    It's really beginning to seem like a religious crusade for some "fundamentalists" to root out "heretics" in the OSS world. The same socialists who deride proprietary companies for preventing "freedom" are more than willing to use a state-enforced license to drag people into line with their ideology. This is not "freedom". It is coercion.

  • by semenzato (445337) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @04:20PM (#20229473)
    I am a former VMware programmer. Obviously I do not speak for the company, just myself.

    VMware is not infringing anything. First, they have high standards of ethics. Even if they didn't, they would be too smart for that. When ESX was designed, there were other choices for the console OS, FreeBSD for instance. But they figured out that using Linux was legal and did so. Both VMware and Linux benefit from this. Yes, it is not a "standard", well-understood relationship such as running some app on top of the kernel. But it respects the technical aspects of the license and I believe its spirit as well (although my interpretation of the "spirit" may differ from yours).

    One could argue that Linux benefits more from VMware than the other way around. In many cases VMware ESX introduced Linux to corporate data centers that wanted nothing to do with it. The sales people had to work hard to convince potential customers that the product was NOT running on Linux, that Linux was just running in a separate VM to help along with various tasks.

    Linux is also helped by the fact that virtual machines offer a low-cost way of experimenting with new systems, and add a layer of freedom in the conservative corporate IT environment.

    As to whether VMware should be free software, there are situations for which free software is just not the right model and VMware is a good example. In the early years of the company, someone tried to start a competing free-software product (at some point called Freemware) but it didn't go far. VMware is a large (huge) system. It took a lot of unglamorous work from a lot of people under the same roof to bring it to life. It was almost a miracle that it would run. It stressed CPUs in truly novel ways. (The programmers hit and had to work around previously unknown bugs in the CPU.) I, the eternal pessimist, feared that we'd never be able to make it stable enough for a viable product. Fortunately I was wrong, and in any case Windows was a lot less stable than VMware those days, so it didn't matter that much.

    Luigi
  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @03:18AM (#20233761) Journal
    Oh my, do we really want this? Microsoft is spending hugely on their own Virtual Server range and we want to put road blocks in front of VMWare?

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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