Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Software

Stalwarts Claim Asus eeePC Violates GPL 247

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the seems-like-everything-neat-does dept.
WirePosted writes "Members of the Linux community have complained that the hot new sub-notebook from Asus, the eeePC, may have violated the spirit of the Linux General Public License (GPL). Some Linux advocates claim the eeePC has not included required source code with the installed Xandros Linux distribution and does not easily enable users to install another distro. However, there are indications that eeePC fans probably don't care."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Stalwarts Claim Asus eeePC Violates GPL

Comments Filter:
  • more than the spirit (Score:4, Informative)

    by crunzh (1082841) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:03AM (#21470759) Homepage
    If the following from the article is correct they violate more than just the spirit. However, the latest complaint has more to do with the modication of a particular module of the underlying Linux kernel concerned with managing the hardware interfaces of the eeePC. The module asus_acpi (ACPI - Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) was found by Java developer Cliff Biffle to have been modified so that it works with the eeePC. As Mr Biffle says in his blog, this would be fine except that Asus appears not to have followed the rules required by the GPL when making such modifications. Namely, they haven't distributed the source code for the modified module, nor have they attributed the changes to an author or given the new module a version number or name. Mr Biffle alleges that Asus also appears to have attempted to hide what it was doing by removing all references to asus-apc.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:19AM (#21470831) Homepage Journal
      RIght. They've taken a community-developed kernel module and have modified it, and then released the result as a binary-only kernel module without including the soure orat least posting an offer to obtain the source to the kernel module. That's a direct letter violation of of the GPL.Sounds like the author of asus_acpi has a lawsuit on his/her hands.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Sounds like the author of asus_acpi has a lawsuit on his/her hands.

        It sounds, though, like there isn't an attributable author.

        Is there anybody to sue??

        Can second, third, and fourth-hand distribution of unattributed but non-compliant formerly GPL'd work be prohibited?
        • by Karzz1 (306015) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:24AM (#21471171) Homepage
          Can second, third, and fourth-hand distribution of unattributed but non-compliant formerly GPL'd work be prohibited?

          Regarding the first part of your statement, it doesn't matter how many iterations of distribution there are. The *only* license that Asus has for distribution is the GPL. If Asus violates the GPL, they lose their right to distribute.

          As for the second part of your statement, what makes you think this code is not attributed? In the kernel tree on my current machine (using kernel 2.6.23) the file drivers/acpi/asus_acpi.c has the following as the first 10 lines of code:

          /*
          * asus_acpi.c - Asus Laptop ACPI Extras
          *
          *
          * Copyright (C) 2002-2005 Julien Lerouge, 2003-2006 Karol Kozimor
          *
          * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
          * it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
          * the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
          * (at your option) any later version.

          As far as compliance goes... compliance to what?

          And lastly, and probably most importantly, how did you come to the conclusion that the code was "formerly" licensed under the GPL? That is the *only* license Asus has granting them the permission to redistribute.

          I don't know if you honestly did not know this or if you are trolling. This really smells of troll to me though.
          • by that this is not und (1026860) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:06PM (#21471465)
            And lastly, and probably most importantly, how did you come to the conclusion that the code was "formerly" licensed under the GPL?

            Uh, I think everybody here agrees that this software is distributed in violation of the GPL, in other words, it was formerly distributed under the GPL and is now just a warez thing.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Karzz1 (306015)
              ...in other words, it was formerly distributed under the GPL and is now just a warez thing.

              Ok, I can see that. Thanks for the clarification.
          • by Bert64 (520050)
            Do consider tho, that this module is specific to Asus laptops, and there is a possibility that the authors of it might actually work for Asus and have granted permission for their code to be distributed under other terms in addition to the GPL.

            It could also simply be an oversight or a mistake, have Asus responded yet?
        • Asus....I'm pretty sure they had something to do with it :D
      • by Kristoph (242780) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:41PM (#21472125)
        From the blog that started all this ...

        I tend to assume incompetence before malice, and I really do believe they just messed up. (Even the asus_acpi stripping seems more like a botched search-replace job by some overworked driver author than a malicious act. Doesn't make it legit, of course.)

        Notice that neither the author of the blog, nor the author of asus_acpi has contacted ASUS and asked them to remedy the issue. It is therefore perhaps premature to talk about a lawsuit. In fact, you cannot even nullify a license without giving some reasonable (or contractually specified) time for remedy and you certainly won't win a lawsuit unless you actually let the offender know in advance what the violation is and what you want done to address it.

        ]{
        PS. Company X makes hot Linux platform. Company X neglects to release source for a module. Linux advocates call for lawsuit. It's not exactly a great way to promote Linux. I am not suggesting we should ignore GPL violations but we should at least be a touch more civilized about it. (Maybe, in this case, someone should contact ASUS and (gasp) offer to help them maintain the module in the proper way.)
        • by xenocide2 (231786) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:11PM (#21472803) Homepage
          How about someone make a video describing how to use the GPL / kernel source correctly in your product, complete with overdubbable audio (no speaking people on screen). Then just translate and distribute as widely as possible. Maybe hit up English, German, Chinese and Japanese, and more as you find the resources. If you think it's merely a matter of misunderstanding, a public education plan is a good solution as I can think of.

          Personally, I think the status quo is a great testament to the legal system and the FSF's work. The threat of a lawsuit makes it possible for a single person to force a large company to obey the license he set out to begin with. Despite having far fewer resources, if the truth is on their side they can win. Now, I can see your point about idiots on the internet calling for lawsuits. Copyright is a tricky thing -- as the blog author suggested, what if ASUS already negotiated permission with the two people listed in asus_acpi? It's probably a bit harder in the kernel's case, because it links with other objects and there is no central copyright holder (the blog author is simply incorrect on copyright assignment).

          I think the bottom line is that if you discover a potential violation, share this with a few intelligent people, like the people listed in the source code, Eben Moglen's new group, and Greg K-H before writing something Slashdot can find and sentence in a court of public opinion. I hear Greg KH has lots of experience talking to vendors and finding ways to make them happy to comply. It might be a business ploy -- company infringes GPL, Greg knocks on your door demanding work in compensation for the violation, as he holds significant copyright. I imagine this would work much better now that his business card can say "Novell". But this is baseless speculation.

          I hope Asus realizes that there are many purchases waiting for this cloud to clear out -- I'm not going to buy a device that only claims to have source code available. I want to see the real deal. And thats probably the best alternative to lawsuits: making it known that doing open source correctly sells, and doing it wrong does not.
      • "...That's a direct letter violation of of the GPL.Sounds like the author of asus_acpi has a lawsuit on his/her hands..."

        This is where the whole concept of the GPL becomes a jumbled mess. Asus is a Taiwan based business. China claims that Taiwan is a renegade province. Asus, much like many other manaufacturers, subcontracts a significant portion of its business to conpanies in mainland China. So, in which country is Richard Staallman and his cohorts at the FSF going to file their GPL violation lawsuit
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ewan (5533)
          The location of any lawsuit like this is the easiest part, you could file in the USA, Europe, or pretty much anywhere, since there's a distributor in each one of those regions, and it's the distributor who is in breach of the license, not the manufacturer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by babbling (952366)
          "The whole concept of the GPL" is that it is a LICENSE to use work already done. When it comes to what people refer to as "violations" they are not being entirely accurate. What they mean is that the party "violating the GPL" is not abiding by that license. So which license are they abiding by? Unless the party has permission to distribute the software under another license, they are distributing the software WITHOUT any license. It is plain and simple copyright infringement.

          So when you refer to "the whole
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mathfeel (937008)
      Yes, ASUS violated it, but can we have less sensational headline until AFTER someone ask them to comply and they refused??

      Then again, this is /.
  • Is it just me? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Is it just me? Or does there seem to be coordinated effort on the part of Microsoft and their cronies to fragment the Linux community by using legal offensives, everything from the patent agreements mentioned in TFA to out and out violations of the GPL, such as this one from ASUS? I think it's sort of a divide and conquer strategy... BUt I also don't think that they fully understand the dynamics involved ... there isn't just the 'purists' vs. the 'pragmatists'... we're a lot more complicated than that,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's just you.

      You're right that we're a lot more complicated than 'they' think (even though there isn't a single 'they' to reference)

      Further, nobody understands the dynamics involved. Notably, the 'leaders' on 'both sides' (the idea of there being 'two sides' is a gross misunderstanding in and of itself) do not understand.

      There's no coordinated effort. It's time to get over the idea that there's a villain in a volcano somewhere. Even if it does help some people to validate their 'righteous battle for goo
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Taagehornet (984739) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:59AM (#21471063)

      Someone wiser than I once said: Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence. I find it hard to believe that there's any evil scheme behind this alleged violation.

      The Linux community - or should I say the GNU/Linux community to emphasize my point - has always been fragmented. You might consider this a weakness, I however would say that the very lack of a single 'head' is one of the major strengths of the community.

      Furthermore, you are aware that Asus and Microsoft are two different companies?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jasin Natael (14968)

        Someone wiser than I once said:

        Umm ... Wiser isn't a word I would use to extoll Napoleon Bonaparte above myself, but speech is free (and cheap).

        Furthermore, you are aware that Asus and Microsoft are two different companies?

        If he wants to wear the tinfoil hat, what could be more damaging than making a minor, innocent-looking mistake, and then being attacked legally for it? Make no mistake: to someone without an intimate familiarity with the issues, ASUS being sued -- after releasing a top-notch product that will put Linux and FOSS in the hands of millions, no less -- for not including the source to a driver th

      • by AaxelB (1034884)

        Someone wiser than I once said: Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.
        I believe that'd be Hanlon's Razor [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:01AM (#21471083)
      Speaking as a free software developer, if I was MS I would put people on mailing lists and message boards for free software projects and then have them bitch and moan about every conceivable potential violation.
      To exemplify: I released a piece of software, (all original c:a 6000 loc) under the GPL. Some people started bitching to me that I had to include build files, or that my copyright text wasn't right and so on. This caused me to have to go and look it up in the license (which is not trivial because as an original author, not all conditions apply) just to be able to respond.
      By the third time this happened, I said screw it, and withdrew my software.

      License nit picking can sap developer enthusiasm like a scifi death ray. If MS really wanted to slow down the progress of free software, I'd say that this is a viable attack vector.
      • Re:Is it just me? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:41PM (#21473383) Homepage Journal

        This caused me to have to go and look it up in the license (which is not trivial because as an original author, not all conditions apply) just to be able to respond.

        As the original author, no conditions of the GPL apply to you (except that you can't keep people from distributing a GPL version of your software even if you decide not to anymore) because you already have the rights to copy it. In general, the correct response to any such trolls is "kiss my butt".

    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JohnBailey (1092697) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:50AM (#21471345)
      It would be nice to think that Microsoft put Asus up to selling a small low powered laptop with one of their pet Linux distros on it.. And deliberately breaking the license in the hope that the next Steve the Monkey Boy show could point and laugh at the Linux people being anti business. But I doubt it.

      Thanks for the mental image though. I like the idea of the Microsoft upper management seeing the sales figures and the internet buzz over a trojan horse project that was never meant to succeed selling out and a new market that Microsoft can't really compete in being revealed.

      A far more likely scenario is that Xandros delivered the distro customized for the Asus machine, and somewhere in the various legal departments, someone didn't bother following the terms of the license fully. I'll wait until Xandros and Asus respond before I start seeing malice where bureaucratic oversight is a good enough explanation. The product hasn't been out that long, so give them time to get the source properly organized and published before calling foul.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tapehands (943962)
      The reason why they need to stay vigilant is two-fold...it allows the community to take down blatant violations of the GPL, and, in this case, that source code could benefit the community.

      I don't know specifically if the asus hardware this module interfaces with can be found on any other computer, but even if it isn't, having this module for use with distros other than the bundled one would obviously be beneficial to the EeePC owners out there that want to toy around with it. It just boils down to going aft
    • by arivanov (12034)
      No. It is not just you. It is not a coordinated effort either.

      It is Taiwanese company and the GPL. Frankly they do not give a flying f*** about such things like copyright and intellectual property. There is a long history to this. They did it with Microsoft in the beginning as well and it took MSFT a lot of resources and some lobbying to get this one sorted out.

      Nothing short of an injunction on import by a court will make them get their head out of their arse. That is all it is about - they have most likely
  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:11AM (#21470793) Journal
    I was wondering when Slashdot would pick this story up. But what's this? Violation of the GPL "in spirit?" It's a lot more than that: they've modified the source code, but haven't distributed their modifications. A friend at work couldn't get Ubuntu working with his eee's wireless card for this reason.

    And why should the customers be the ones to care about the GPL? It's the people who wrote the GPL'd code that has been stolen by ASUS that care.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Someone with a little code in Linux should just do the lawyerish thing and send a cease & desist or a legal injunction to stop sales. That'd get them scrambling pretty quick to be in compliance.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eggnoglatte (1047660)

      And why should the customers be the ones to care about the GPL? It's the people who wrote the GPL'd code that has been stolen by ASUS that care.

      Because the GPL is designed to protect the customers' (i.e. users') rights, not the rights of the original authors. Specifically, under the GPL, Asus has no obligation to distribute the code to the original authors, UNLESS of course the authors are also customers having bought the eeePC.

      Nonetheless, the article is stupid anyhow; "However, there are indications that eeePC fans probably don't care" is such a lame statement one has to wonder why they included it at all ("indications" and "probably" aren't e

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110)

        Because the GPL is designed to protect the customers' (i.e. users') rights, not the rights of the original authors. Specifically, under the GPL, Asus has no obligation to distribute the code to the original authors, UNLESS of course the authors are also customers having bought the eeePC.

        That is what the GPL says... HOWEVER, the author's have every right to relicense the source code if they chose, and give Asus an exception. And more to the point, the software authors are the only ones who have the right t

        • by 7-Vodka (195504)
          You're both right.

          Now what?

          Arguing on the internet is like the special olympics: even if you win you're still retarded.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          That is what the GPL says... HOWEVER, the author's have every right to relicense the source code if they chose, and give Asus an exception. And more to the point, the software authors are the only ones who have the right to sue Asus for violating the copyright terms they chose for their work.

          When it comes to the kernel, only if you get all the kernel developers past and present to agree. Also, the right to sue also extends to all kernel contributors past and present, since their code is now being distributed against the terms of their license. The whole bit about the GPL applying to the work as a whole means far more people can sue than those that wrote the modified code.

          • Not if you want to sue under Copyright Law. Only the people who own the copyright can sue for its infringement, and even then it is not as clear-cut a case of infringement as you would hope. Without assignment of copyright to some sort of working group, there's a very clear limit on who can sue, and it's not all kernel developers.

            It's the kernel developers whose copyright has been breached, i.e. the owners of the code inappropriately modified. Different entities holding different copyrights on different
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mobby_6kl (668092)
      What do you mean, "stolen by ASUS"? The original GPL code is still there, freely available from wherever the ASUS folks got it from. The owners are still in full posession of the code. Does not compute. EOF
      • They're talking about the IP type of stolen, not the physical goods type.
      • by quanticle (843097)

        The original GPL code is still there, freely available from wherever the ASUS folks got it from.

        No its not. According to the story, Asus modified the code before distributing it. Because they haven't published their modifications (in source code form), their distribution of the modifications (in binary form) violates the GPL.

        • by ray-auch (454705)
          > No its not.

          Yes it is - you missed the word "original". Only the modified source code is allegedly not available. The _original_ GPL code will is still available where it was before, therefore it hasn't been "stolen".

          All of which misunderstanding demonstrates why "theft" and similar words are not appropriate in the context of copyright violation.
    • It's the people who wrote the GPL'd code that has been stolen by ASUS that care.

      If it was used for commercial purposes and forced a renegotiation with the original authors then this would be true, however the GPL liscences the software equally to everyone (except in regards to reliscencing for commerical use) thus they are stealing from everyone.

      When the authors offer their software under the GPL they ask the community to improve it but also protect it, reporting abuse is part of this protection.
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:16AM (#21470813)
    If there's source code that needs to be released then great, let them do it.

    However I don't understand this business about not being easily able to install another OS?

    I've wiped it a few times and installed Ubuntu.

    It has no CD/DVD drive, obviously that means you need a USB CD/DVD drive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fizzol (598030)
      Slashdot lives on hyperbole, misstatements, wild speculation and wrong information. What it comes down to is Asus needs to release the source code from the module they modified. On Slashdot that translate to a Microsoft conspiracy using Asus as its willing pawn. Sheesh.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AvitarX (172628)
        No, they distributed a lot more software under the GPL than just that module.

        The GPL puts the requirement on the distributer to provide the source for all binaries they distribute, not just modified ones.
        • by Fizzol (598030)
          Which you'll eventually be able to get from the Xandros or Asus website once they get their act together. Most of the eeepc's software is probably already up at Xandros' ftp site, in the standard files. They don't have to release code to proprietary stuff, just GPL stuff they modified for the eeepc, everything else should be available from Xandros. Right now, it's sounding like just the one module.
          • "Most of the eeepc's software is probably already up at Xandros' ftp site, in the standard files." That is confusing. Is Xandros distributing the Asus eeePC? Or is Asus distributing it? If Asus is distributing it commercially (using binaries) then isn't Asus responsible for distributing sourcecode? Pointing back to Xandros isn't good enough, is it?
        • by Kristoph (242780) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:56PM (#21472245)
          If you read the original blog you will learn they do distribute source, it just does not include the acpi module. The author of the blog suggests this is nothing more then an oversight.

          Nothing to see here. Move along.

          ]{
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by X0563511 (793323)
      Does the eeePC support booting from the net? (pxe, rarp, etc)
    • Prototypes of the EeePC were reported to allow you to boot from an iso image on a USB flash drive. Have you tried this with a production model? If it works, it sounds like it would be a great way of installing/upgrading; no more burning CDs, just copy the CD image to a removable drive.
    • by Jartan (219704)
      The story doesn't even talk about it being hard to install another OS. They just make some off handed comment in the first paragraph saying other people are supposedly complaining about it.
    • by Niten (201835)

      The point is that Asus's failure to release the source code to asus_acpi (and other GPL-derived software) means that, should a user decide to install the latest Ubuntu over the machine's default operating system, he or she loses whatever compatibility enhancements Asus made to the ACPI code in order to make Linux run well on this device. In essence, better battery life -- or whatever specific benefit Asus's modifications provide -- constitute a lock-in to Asus's particular Linux distribution, until Asus ful

    • Yes, you can wipe it and install another OS. And everything may well appear to work.

      But this is getting a bit more dangerous now, with some of the more badly-behaved ACPI implementations. Google for "Ubuntu destroys laptops".
  • I own an Asus EEE PC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrXym (126579) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:17AM (#21470821)
    I can't comment on whether it violates the GPL, but it does include the GPL text in the manual and there is a support DVD in the box. If they didn't include the source on the CD, then they could have and probably should in future.

    BTW the Asus Eee PC is a great little machine although like most Linux dists the UI is a little rough around the edges.

  • Half and Half (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A couple of things, let's wait an see.

    On the GPL issue I like that the poster actually purchased the PC. Give them a few weeks to respond to a request for the sources. Seems easy enough. The GPL is pretty clearcut.

    On the upgrades/breaking seals void warranty, that seems completely understandable. If you've tested hardware in one configuration with a specific set of components, that is obviously what you'll warranty.

    I don't understand why people think companies should warranty things if you add random, $15 n
    • by Sancho (17056)
      The US has a little-known comsumer protection law that prohibits voiding warranties based upon modifications to the product unless it can be proven that the mod caused the malfunction.
    • But that didn't mean if you unscrewed the housing and "upgraded" things we'd feel obligated to warranty it.
      FTFA:

      The Magnuson-Moss Act is a 1975 Federal law that lays down some rules for how consumer warranties work. One of the specific things it prohibits are "tie-ins," additional items or services you must buy from the manufacturer to make your warranty work.

      The difference between "Feel obligated", and "are in fact legally obligated", pays for the nice cars lawyers drive ;-)

    • by fluffy99 (870997)
      They are under no obligation to distribute the source with each computer. They do have to make it available which can be via written request if need be.
  • by DieByWire (744043) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:34AM (#21470919)

    ...there are indications that eeePC fans probably don't care.

    Which doesn't matter one bit.

    What matters is if the person(s) who's software they used cares.

    • by FroBugg (24957)
      Actually, it matters greatly.

      It means that crime (or a civil infraction) pays. Now it's up to the copyright holders to enforce their rights and make crime (or a civil infraction) unprofitable.
  • Violation? Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:48AM (#21470999)
    I mean... When looking at the GPL it clearly says that you need to meet all 3 specific conditions:
    1. You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
    2. You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
    3. If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on the Program is not required to print an announcement.)

    So, I certainly do not see anything mentioned that demands a version number or that the program be named. What is required are notices that the programs have been changed ("to protect the innocent" </joke>). And did the author of this article (or the people who are complaining) also read all the documentation to see if such notes are indeed present ?

    Then there's another thing.. The source code isn't installed or distributed. That too is a very one sided point of view. The GPL clearly learns us that you need to do one of these 3 points (thats one, not all):

    • Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
    • Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
    • Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

    Naturally section 3 doesn't apply here so its either 1 or 2. 1 states that they need to make it available, 2 says that they need to offer it. Which brings me to the following point; can anyone of these users grab the source code from the Xandros website itself? Because if they can then I don't really see anything wrong here. Note; we were talking about the spirit of the GPL right? If users can get the sourcecode somewhere else I don't see any violations being made. As long as Asus makes sure that this situation remains and that if those other mirrors someday stop distributing this software takes over.

    Personally, but thats probably just me, I don't understand the need for all this squabbling. Sometimes I also think this to be pretty hypocrite behaviour. When it comes to a widely appreciated website like youtube [youtube.com] almost every user agrees that while copyright and license violations are made they should only be enforced if the copyright holder demands it. Being a youtube fan myself I like the approach but at the same time agree that its totally wrong. How can one expect from such a copyright holder to find his/her work on the thousands if not millions of movies out there?

    But if those same guys are Linux OSF zealots then beware if you're closely touching or perhaps violating the GPL or any other open source license they favor. Because then everything is different and you should be made to comply

  • by deadline (14171) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:29AM (#21471201) Homepage

    I have a Eee PC. It is a nice little system. Once customized a bit is very usable for the hardcore Linux users. The 24 second boot time is nice.

    About the GPL. The manual has a printed version of the GPL, so I don't really think Asus is trying to hide anything. What is more likely, and more like most big companies, the Eee was under a deadline to launch before the Xmas season. The last thing to get done is probably posting source code. Has anyone asked the source code? (perhaps someone has)

    Their lawyers will make sure that it gets posted as they ship a license with every product that says it will be available. i.e. They could be in a boat load of legal trouble if they don't, not to mention class-action lawsuits, copyright violations etc.

    Any finally, here is company that has come out with a full Linux sub-notebook (just 25 days ago). Instead of floating the latest conspiracy theory, how about giving them the benefit of the doubt. But, then allowing/helping a company to do the right thing, does not make for interesting blog headlines. It is all about the page views.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cel4145 (468272)

      Any finally, here is company that has come out with a full Linux sub-notebook (just 25 days ago). Instead of floating the latest conspiracy theory, how about giving them the benefit of the doubt. But, then allowing/helping a company to do the right thing, does not make for interesting blog headlines. It is all about the page views.

      Exactly! Rather than assuming that Asus is intentionally doing something wrong here, the open source community should mentor Asus and assist them by assuming it is an oversight.

      • by domatic (1128127)
        The problem is that an awful lot of GPL non-compliant use of covered works in embedded applications is going on. It seems to be standard practice to be out of compliance by default until called on it. Once called on it, drag your feet as long as possible. The default practice should be compliance from day one. These large companies have legal departments don't they? If they use something like a Microsoft SDK, they aren't violating the licenses as a matter of practice on those now are they?
        • by cnettel (836611)
          In fact, I think there have been quite a bit of violations regarding proper redistribution of the DirectX runtime, and using MS icons within other products, for example. I'm not specifically pointing at Asus now, just pointing out that total compliance is not the norm. On the other hand, the "redistribute the source" part of the GPL is the whole point of it, not some half-assed extra requirement.
  • "Violation of GPL" is the best form of flattery. When a commercial company breaks all the rules just to use your GPL'd product. (don't get me wrong though,
    I still think that company needs to comply with the terms of the license)
  • I would be willing to become an Eee owner, but the possibility that it may not conform fully to the GPL turns me off. Unless I see the full source code as required by GPL, I'm not going to buy Eee.
    • A promising Linux prodct comes out and all the stalwarts who have been nailing their colours to the mast over their willingness to buy commercial linux computers start looking for excuses

      FWIW the vendor of a GPL product only has to provide the source to their customers, only then on request, and can make an administration charge for the code and can deliver it way they like - not just through the conventional public FTP server*, I don't suppose you considered buying an Eee and asking Asus for the code, a
      • Always found it confusing how "Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party" is interpreted to mean "only has to provide the source to their customers".
  • From the article: "However, the issue highlighted by the latest revelations concerning the Asus eeePC and the GPL signals a growing rift developing between Linux pragmatists such as Xandros and Novell's Suse, and Linux purists such as Red Hat and Canonical-funded Ubuntu." Dude... I mean - how 'purist' is Ubuntu when it delivers those binary nVidia/ATi blobs out of the box? You tell me.
  • My guess is that with the way that the GPL works, the copyright holder (i.e. contributor) to any other part of the Linux kernel
    or even to other GPL software that links with it, could sue a violator of the GPL if that violator is including
    the contributor's code in their distribution. Every extension of any part of a single connected GPL software system
    potentially violates the copyright of any other contributor, if they violate the license. It is one big cross-licensing
    of copyrights.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. I
  • Sorry, if you want to violate copyright terms and get some "benefit of the doubt" out of Slashdot, you have to give away for free the work of a team of hundreds of camera, sound, lighting, carpentry and special effects crews, artists, and so forth, who dropped $100M worth of work on an SF movie. Then you can have benefit of the doubt.

    But if you fail in the first month of your rushed-to-market product to post source code and hurt the feelings of authors who aren't getting any money for it either way, man,
  • by cbiffle (211614) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:31PM (#21472053)
    Hi. I wrote the blog post that iTwire cited out of context, and the submitter further mangled. I feel like I should clarify some things.

    I'm not accusing ASUS of malice, specifically, just incompetence. They included the GPL in their manual and posted a source tarball, it's just the wrong one. The outside of the retail box even cites the GPL. They've tried to cover their ass and simply screwed it up.

    As for the "OMG eee fans don't care!!11", that probably comes from the note I posted which states that I'm not planning to sue ASUS. In fact, what that means is that I've done the lawsuit thing before and simply don't have the time or energy. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have posted my evidence.

    I also don't know where that nonsense about making it hard to install another distro comes from, since I posted the info amidst a discussion of installing Ubuntu 7.10 (which I'm using to write this comment).

    And finally, I'm not a "Linux stalwart," I'm a "Mac bigot." It says that on my blog.
    • by swillden (191260)

      In fact, what that means is that I've done the lawsuit thing before and simply don't have the time or energy.

      And probably don't have standing, anyway.

  • Madwifi (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:43PM (#21472611)
    asus_acpi isn't even the worst of it. Their modified madwifi supports a chipset that the rest of the madwifi community has been wanting support for for months. I read something somewhere about madwifi being licensed in a way which allows this (which seems silly, on the surface, as the community now has to duplicate asus' efforts), but it still doesn't make sense to me. it's not a secret what the wifi chipset in the eee is, so I don't see what they gain by not allowing other linux distros to support it...it's not like they're making millions selling Xandros licenses.
  • When it comes to "information must be free", why do hardware vendors get a free pass? With OSS taken to its logical conclusion, a hardware vendor who bundles their product with open source software should be forced to document and share the schematics for the circuit boards and chips, the molds for the case, and so on.

    If "research and development" has no value with software, surely it shouldn't for hardware either. Any company in the US, or Mexico, or China must be able to exactly clone the eeePC and underc
    • I think the low barrier of entry is the biggest point.
      With software that does almost what I want but not quiet, its easy to write a small patch to change it. I've done this several times and I still wouldn't say I even know C, but it's just that trivial to add some gethostbyaddr() calls to make a network monitoring tool spit out hostnames instead of ip adresses for example.

      Not having the source is a huge change because then it becomes much harder, you're talking disassembling, patching the binary and hoping
  • Fortunately, selective enforcement of the law has never had any serious drawbacks.
  • Stalwarts Claim Asus eeePC Violates GPL

    There's a joke in here about Richard Stalwarts, but I can't quite figure it out...

  • Since when do you have to include it? I thought you only had to make it available 'at cost', but i don't remember seeing anything that requires you to ship it with the binaries.
  • Likeing something doesn't justify violation of the law. A lot of people are fans of dog fighting and football. Didn't keep one the games best out of a ton of trouble did it? IE was the #1 browser when the were taken to the mat for patent violations. Popularity wasn't even a factor in that decision.
    The GPL is clear, case law supports it. Asus isn't exempt by virtue of country of origin either, as the GPL has been upheld in courts around the world. Xandros has always treaded the edge of the rules, occa

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

Working...