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Software Freedom Conservancy: Distributing Linux With ZFS Is Illegal ( 379

LichtSpektren writes: Phoronix reports that Bradley M. Kuhn and Karen M. Sandler at the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFS) have posted a blog post today arguing that Canonical's plan to distribute Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" with support for the ZFS file system violates the Linux kernel's GPLv2 license.

On February 18, Dustin Kirkland at Canonical wrote on his blog: "We at Canonical have conducted a legal review, including discussion with the industry's leading software freedom legal counsel, of the licenses that apply to the Linux kernel and to ZFS. And in doing so, we have concluded that we are acting within the rights granted and in compliance with their terms of both of those licenses...The CDDL cannot apply to the Linux kernel because zfs.ko is a self-contained file system module — the kernel itself is quite obviously not a derivative work of this new file system. And zfs.ko, as a self-contained file system module, is clearly not a derivative work of the Linux kernel but rather quite obviously a derivative work of OpenZFS and OpenSolaris. Equivalent exceptions have existed for many years, for various other stand alone, self-contained, non-GPL kernel modules. Our conclusion is good for Ubuntu users, good for Linux, and good for all of free and open source software."

The SFS's blog post of today states: "We are sympathetic to Canonical's frustration in this desire to easily support more features for their users. However, as set out below, we have concluded that their distribution of zfs.ko violates the GPL."

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Software Freedom Conservancy: Distributing Linux With ZFS Is Illegal

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  • No winners here. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:06PM (#51585029)
    I'm not sure what anyone would stand to gain by arguing that Ubuntu is violating the GPLv2 license. It seems kind of ridiculous.
    • Re:No winners here. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:17PM (#51585149)

      As usual, it has less to do with the specific example as it has to do with precedents that may not be desirable. It seems like if you release these two things "separately", then nothing is wrong. However by including this other binary with this problematic license as part of a single distribution you are "apparently" breaking the terms of the GPLv2 which requires the distribution be under GPLv2.

      Hairs can be split about what a "distrubution" is. I can add ZFS to my own system and not be wrong. Why cannot a script add ZFS to my system for me during install? When does it become a "distribution", given that most of us don't install from optical media anymore, and frequently download bits and pieces as we need them for our system anyway. I'm trying to see the evil here that this narrowly avoids, but I don't yet...provided the terms of the various pieces of software are still met on their own.

      • by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:23PM (#51585203) Homepage

        That's the distinction of a distribution vs a software project. The distribution is heterogeneous: loaded with tons of open-source projects of different licenses. Maybe acknowledge this during the install process by having the user agree to the multiple licenses that are included in the distro.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When you compile Linux+ZFS into one binary you must decide on a license for this binary.
          This license can be neither GPL2 nor CDDL.

          It's different if the user gets Linux+ZFS as two different source packages with
          their respective licenses. Then the user can compile them into a binary
          which he does not distribute, so there is no need for a license of that binary.
          (This is the way Debian goes.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

            No one is combining Linux + ZFS into a single binary. Ubuntu has already said, over and over, that ZFS will be a separate kernel module (zfs.ko).

            This is no different from how Nvidia drivers are distributed, and Nvidia's drivers are completely proprietary. They've been distributing them this way for well over a decade now.

      • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:16PM (#51586489) Journal

        I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you want legal advice, pay my retainer.

        There is a *really* big hole in the analysis.

        Linux is *not* quite GPL; it, like many others, is better understood as "quasi-GPL", or QGPL.

        Since pretty much the beginning, the Linux developers approved, condoned, and encouraged binary, non-GPL modules. Standard legal analysis means that this trumps the boilerplate of the license/contract.

        The second serious error is arguing about the FSF position on linking. Under the rules of legal analysis, the author of a document's opinion is weighted at pretty much nothing: the author had his chance, and later comments are irrelevant. That is, there are about 7 billion people whose opinions on interpreting it come first.

        Now whether distributing Linux with that module violates Sun's CDL could be an entirely different issue; I've never looked at it.

        hawk, esq.

        • Reminds me of a related issue: the FSF's position on linking (which will not impact the issue at hand: ZFS in Ubuntu, but has been raised in different contexts).

          Basically, WordPress allows non-GPL modules even though WordPress itself is GPL. The FSF does not like that, and they hold that to extend a GPL application, every extension must be GPL, and they invoke the linking interpretation. Drupal on the other hand, takes the position that all modules must be GPL.

          The linking interpretation makes sense when you

    • Copyright holders who license under a free software license gain compliance and social respect for choosing a license that lets us run, share, and modify covered software. There is nothing to gain in saying popular GNU/Linux distributions don't have to comply with licenses but other distributors do. There is also a lot to gain by showing that licensing under a popular free software license (such as the GNU GPL) is enforcible. One such benefit: Every enforcement action taken showing how enforcible the GPL is

    • I'm not sure what anyone would stand to gain by arguing that Ubuntu is violating the GPLv2 license.

      Btrfs developers. ZFS on Linux makes alternatives less important and fewer people/companies invest time/money into creating that software.

      Then again, as TFA says: Oracle, why don't you just relicense the bloody thing.

      • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @06:22PM (#51587165)

        Making ZFS incompatible with linux was the whole point of putting it under the CDDL from the start.

        That said, having run ZFS since pretty much the start on Solaris servers here, it has to be the most overhyped piece of software ever released. Initially it was pretty much unusable for things like database loads, it was unstable as hell and had serious memory usage issues. These days, the glaring problems are largely fixed, but in an enterprise environment most of its features are of limited use as most of the storage will be on centralized SAN/NAS arrays anyway.

        The whole discussion is one of those that gives me flashbacks to the 90's, same as when some database guy specifies that they want their volumes on this many striped spindles...

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        It also potentially dilutes the authority of the FSF and some leading members of that like to imply they own linux - even going as far as putting "gnu" in front of the name of something that is not a gnu or FSF project.
        Having another non-GPL thing in the mix, after X, apache, nvidia and so on annoys them.
        It would be a non-story without such agitation.
    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      I'm not sure what anyone would stand to gain by arguing that Ubuntu is violating the GPLv2 license. It seems kind of ridiculous.

      I think the argument against it is a political one, not a legal question.
      Ubuntu having reviewed it by lawyers, I would feel comfortable that what they are doing is on the up-and-up.

      The 'Software Freedom Conservancy (SFS)' is an activist organization.

      They have an ideological stance against that which is non-GPL, even if what is being done is legal, they don't like what

    • by lkcl ( 517947 )

      I'm not sure what anyone would stand to gain by arguing that Ubuntu is violating the GPLv2 license. It seems kind of ridiculous.

      large companies - whether they are software libre companies like redhat or canonical, or proprietary companies like HP or Samsung - are supposed to be the "shining example" of what laws individuals are expected to follow. when those large companies are also making their money out of software libre, it is even *more* important that they set a good example.

      otherwise what happens is that smaller companies - and chinese and other asian companies across the world - go "oh look: canonical's lost its rights to di

    • Re:No winners here. (Score:4, Informative)

      by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:53PM (#51586863)

      The article explains why it is not ridiculous.

      Everybody in the free software community benefits from strong GPL enforcement. E.g., when Microsoft reused GPL code in one of their tools, they were forced to release their source when it was discovered.

      The ZFS license forbids releasing it under GPL. The Ubuntu binary distribution must be all GPL in order to satisfy the GPL's requirements.

      If Ubuntu starts picking which parts of the license it follows, you can bet everyone from minor devs to major corporations will start doing the same thing. Proprietary shops will absorb open source contributions in whatever predatory manner they can.

      The way to prevent it is simple. Enforce 100% of the requirements in the open source license 100% of the time, and set legal precedent whenever possible to establish those obligations as legally binding.

  • I happen to like using ZFS.

    But fine, distributing drivers with binary blobs is OK, while this little license incompatibility between two open-source projects is a big deal. Whatever, dudes.

    • Thanks to Oracle's ruling on Java a clean room implementation of ZFS is still owned by Oracle as the API and keywords are owned.

      No distro outside Solaris is safe and could open your employer to liability from an Oracle audit

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by brambus ( 3457531 )

        No distro outside Solaris is safe and could open your employer to liability from an Oracle audit

        I see this mistake repeated over and over in every licensing discussion on Linux and ZFS. The CDDL is not the license crying foul here, so Oracle has no standing to sue. It's the GPL that is trying to infect the CDDL'd code and the CDDL won't let it, hence the incompatibility. IOW, if anybody wanted to file suit, it'd have to come from the Linux side, not the Oracle side. I'll let you imagine the media fallout over anybody who would attempt to sue Canonical for including a piece of open source software in t

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:09PM (#51585069)

    Why oh why do we have to keep shooting ourselves in the foot?
    OK I'm a BSD user so, well, stones and glass houses, but even so the open source community's continuing ability to why things should not be allowed is depressing...most people in our crowd want our stuff to be USED by as many people as possible...

    • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:20PM (#51585183)
      The goal of the GPL is not to get the most widely used software (although that's a noble goal). The goal is to ensure that the users of the software are able to maintain and secure it so they don't get left hanging out to dry if something happens to their upstream vendor. When you receive software under the GPL you expect to have these freedoms. When software with multiple licenses is combined, users have to become lawyers to know what rights they actually have and whether these freedoms are protected. I'm not sure it's a concern in this particular case since both GPL and CDDLv1 protect the user's rights. (It's only distributors who are affected by this). But knowing that you can secure and maintain software is valuable. It would be undesirable to get into a situation where you think you have that right, but it turns out that you don't.
      • So that's why this instance is bull shit. Software Freedom Conservancy can go fuck itself. CDDLv1 isn't not some license that's going to prevent someone from using Linux. The fact that any user can download and use ZFS proves the point. There's no reason not to include it.
        • From a user perspective, the only practical distinction between GPL and CDDL is that CDDL code doesn't infect code linked with it. That's all. You can use the code, modify it, link it in your product and release it, but you are only obliged to release code for the original files (/w your modifications). The reason for the incompatibility is that the GPL would really like to infectiously spread itself over the CDDL'd code and take that freedom away, but luckily the CDDL has a clause not allowing the license
    • by lkcl ( 517947 )

      Why oh why do we have to keep shooting ourselves in the foot?
      OK I'm a BSD user so, well, stones and glass houses, but even so the open source community's continuing ability to why things should not be allowed is depressing...most people in our crowd want our stuff to be USED by as many people as possible...

      copyright law and the GPL are there for very good reasons. i've posted about this before, but a simple scenario which can easily be demonstrated as a real-world "nightmare scenario" that should tell you why you are mistaken is: security vulnerabilities in smartphones.

      let's take a simple GPL-violating Mediatek smartphone (for example the Fairphone 1). Fairphone created their first phone to reduce e-waste and also to tackle conflict materials problems and to provide factory workers with fair working conditi

  • One wonders if SFC sees a risk to the community from Oracle acting against Canonical. If not, they may inadvertently be playing dog-in-the-manger.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brambus ( 3457531 )
      But the joke here is that it's not Oracle who would sue. It would have to be the Linux Foundation (or some copyright holder of the Linux kernel), because it's not the CDDL that's imposing itself on the Linux kernel. It's the other way around.
      • Which makes this totally fucked.
        • I think it'd be absolutely hilarious if the Linux Foundation sued Canonical for including another piece of open source with the kernel. Frankly, I think it'd be so much bad PR for the Linux Foundation that they won't touch it with a 10' pole.
          • by pem ( 1013437 )
            It won't be the foundation. It'll be some lame-ass dev who has 3 bugfix lines somewhere.

            Watch how quickly those lines get replaced, and how that guy can't get a job afterward.

  • by poet ( 8021 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:10PM (#51585087) Homepage

    Linux does not have a stable file-system and volume manager that can come anywhere near the performance and stability of ZFS.

    • So don't use it. Use a BSD or opensolaris, or pay for your software. IANAL, but if this breaches the GPL and you don't like it then don't use GPL software. Or add the module to the kernel yourself and don't re-distribute. I don't understand why some people bitch about linux or the GPL. No one is forcing anyone to use it. In the meantime, millions of others will carry on using it successfully while not giving a flying fuck about re-distribution with incompatible software licenses.
      • by poet ( 8021 )

        Sure and I don't have a problem with BSD nor am I complaining about Linux or the GPL. The problem here is we have different attorneys both are biased saying different things about including ZFS and really the only people that get an opinion is Canonical and Oracle.

      • And I can add it after the fact Potsy. So what then. All they are doing is providing people with the option of using it.
    • All filesytems have the same stability. It's their implementation that can be buggy.
      Is the linux ZFS implemention more stable than its BTRFS implementation? And if so, does it matter for the 99% of us who are fine with EXT4 (and even EXT3)?

      • by poet ( 8021 )

        Yes, Linux ZFS is more stable than BTRFS.

        And if ext4 works for you great but comparing ext4 to zfs is like comparing a pinto to a corvette.

    • Also, is there anything blocking a clean-room GPLv2 implementation of ZFS for Linux?

    • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @06:07PM (#51587015)

      Sure. BTRFS is, arguably, a disappointment. It has a lot of the features of ZFS, but it doesn't seem to be anything like as user friendly or logical. When I played with it for the first time about a year ago, I found no out-of-the-box automated snapshot features, and had to install a package to handle this, which didn't seem to work reliably. It's also an enormous missed opportunity that BTRFS doesn't have the ability to natively do RAID-6, or the ability to use an SSD as a fast block cache in front of standard HDDs. ZFS has done all of this for many years now.

      I'm sure someone will reply with details of how to do these things. But with ZFS it was obvious and I didn't need to spend a lot of time googling.

      That said, there's nothing that says that ZFS on Linux is automatically stable either. It's been necessary to extensively modify it in order to make it work. Running either of these two filesystems in production on Linux would be a risky proposition. It's no wonder the major enterprise vendors haven't switched to use them yet.

      Unfortunately at the moment it looks like the short term future of filesystems on Linux is based around XFS. Longer term, bcachefs looks interesting. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:10PM (#51585091)

    The Linux Foundation, as the copyright holder of the Linux kernel, gets to determine what is and is not allowed.

    This is matter does not involve Software Freedom Conservancy (SFS) or Free Software Foundation (FSF), they are are not even parties to the copyright license used for the Linux kernel.

    In my professional opinion, Canonical can feel free to tell SFS to go pound sand.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:16PM (#51585129) Homepage

      Agreed. The SFC is not the owner of either of the works in question and is not the author of the license in question. They have no stake or standing in the matter.

      As authors of the GPL itself, I would say that Stallman or the FSF do have some say in the matter.

      The SFC can go pound sand...

      • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:18PM (#51585165)
        SFC only advises and warns, just like the FSF could do. Ultimately it's the copyright holders that can sue in court, and then it will be a judge or jury that decide the matter.
      • They do have a stake in creating press releases, for the sake of creating press releases though.

        And this article and subsequent conversation is the direct result of that.

      • by Lord Crc ( 151920 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:40PM (#51585357)

        The SFC is not the owner of either of the works in question and is not the author of the license in question. They have no stake or standing in the matter.

        It seems they do have a stake:

        The GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers is comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel. In addition, some developers have directly assigned their copyrights on Linux to Conservancy, so Conservancy also enforces the GPL on Linux via its own copyrights in Linux.

        From []

      • by pr0fessor ( 1940368 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:00PM (#51585567)

        Canonical only announced their intention and encouraged SFC to speak out because if law suites because now is the time to find out if any interested parties are going to sue... prior to actually starting and getting sued

      • No, neither the FSF nor Stallman have standing to sue. They do not hold ownership of either the kernal or zfs. They would be laughed out of court if they tried.
      • by pem ( 1013437 )

        As authors of the GPL itself, I would say that Stallman or the FSF do have some say in the matter.

        They can say what the fuck they want, and it has whatever weight the Linux kernel devs want to assign to it.

    • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:23PM (#51585207)
      IANAL but it's not required to assign the copyright to the Linux foundation. Many people contribute to the Kernel. It's GPL so you could fork it. And the Linux Foundation would definitely *not* automatically get copyright to your version. It's ultimately the Linux Foundation who could prove copyright to large swaths and take action bu the foundation could not take the kernel as is and relicense it under GPLv3 for example. They'd have to rewrite all the parts for which they don't hold the copyright.
    • by Olipro ( 1531021 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:32PM (#51585291)
      Copyright of the Linux Kernel is actually spread across all its contributors, The Linux Foundation doesn't have any overriding ownership. Though of course any particular author(s) code could be excised from it in order to make their copyright irrelevant.

      In any case though, the copyright holders get to determine what licenses or permissions to grant over the work, they don't get to then decide how the license should be interpreted - that's up to an arbitrator or a court. If Canonical's lawyers are incorrect in their interpretation then someone will need to bring a court case to have it resolved.
      • They would then have to prove that the license is violated of code shipped in the same ISO is a "combined work", which it obviously isn't, since they are separate files. They are no more a combined work than having a can of motor oil and an oil filter both sitting in the same box are a combined work.

        (automotive analogy) :-)

  • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:14PM (#51585121)
    Regardless of the legal situation, the holder of the copyright to the vast majority of the kernel doesn't object to binary modules. There are those who would argue that even certain user-space binaries are a GPL violation. Fortunately those voices haven't prevailed. I guess, at some point, to squelch any doubts, ZFS will have to get turned into something akin to a hybrid driver where code to load interchangeable binary blobs with a certain interface is contributed to the kernel under GPL and the blobs come with their own license. In this case it will be CDDLv1. This is somewhat of a PITA but it's actually good in the medium-term because it means that users face less ambiguity in terms of knowing under which license they are receiving code.
  • Hilarious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:17PM (#51585151)

    >The FSF, stewards of the GPL, have stated many times over the past decades that they believe there is no legal distinction between dynamic and static linking of a C program and we agree.

    The FSF is almost certainly wrong in this. Linking isn't going to even be considered in a court room. What they *will* consider is whether or not zfs.ko contains derivative work from Linux. Headers are now subject to copyright (as is my understanding) so it's very possible that it does. However, if they use "api-only" headers, such as posix stuff and it does not rely on being compiled against the GPL-ed version of the headers, then they are most likely going to be free and clear of any issues.

    Personally, the SFC can go eat a bag of dicks and die in a fire.

    • I wish you had posted this in a way that somebody could moderate it up. The headers are subject to copyright but there is a way to make hybrid kernel modules. Doing so is tedious and the result, from a technical standpoint, is something almost identical. But it creates a clear line where one license ends and the next begins and that's valuable.
    • Don't forget, they also consider php scripts that call each other as "linking", even though there is absolutely no linking stage - just an interpreter loading data. They truly are masters of the over-reach.

      Remember what Stallman said about Jobs - ""I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Let that be Stallman's epitaph.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:19PM (#51585171) Homepage

    Reading their piece, they sound like they are lawyers looking for a client, like they want to take Canonical to court over this. One likes to think that anyone who defends OSS must be on the side of the light, but I note that the Conservancy sued companies using Busybox over the objections of at least some of the copyright holders. This quote is kind of interesting:

    "But that didn't stop them from creating a self-funding legal machine where they never found any actual useful code that should have gone upstream, but they still demanded $15k or so in legal fees each time so they could go sue the next company."

    For those who didn't RTFA, the core of the question is this: Is a Linux distro that contains a ZFS module a combined product, derived from Linux and/or ZFS? Or are they two independent items that happen to be delivered in the same package. The Conservancy states "we have yet to encounter a Linux module that — when distributed in binary form — did not, in our view, yield combined work with Linux", and then they go on to say that the intend to "exhaust every diplomatic option...before seeking resolution from the courts".

    Only: nobody is asking them to take anyone to court. If Oracle doesn't like this (they are the primary holder of ZFS copyrights), I'm sure they have their own lawyers. So WTF is going on here? Instead of a patent troll, maybe we have a GPL troll?

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:27PM (#51585247)
    Oracle has been looking to profit form the free labor from open source software advocates ever since it was losing clients to MySQL which they later purchased. The original developers were so concerned they created MariaDB. And from this LibreOffice sprung to protect "OpenOffice" and after realizing Oracle was never going to make money on OO They give it to the Apache Foundation. Oracle has not had a history of playing nice with the open source community and their development on MySQL and related products has not exactly been dedicated. Suspect they are only doing it because it was a condition for the EU to allow the European portion of the take over of Sun Microsystems. Why hasn't Oracle just put put ZFS as a fully open GPL2 compliant code for all to use and improve? Probably, like OpenOffice, to see if they can exploit it to their benefit in some way, which could even sabotage Linux (or at least Ubuntu). Debian has the right idea in distributing the source only of ZFS. We'll see where this goes but I think The Software Freedom Conservancy is in the right, and in cases like this far better to err on the side of caution. If everyone lobbied Oracle, we could get a proper and compatible ZFS license that oracle couldn't do a poison pill or "about face" on later. Why not give that a try.
    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      I'm afraid that I don't see GPL(2) as "fully open" because it deliberately nobbles some (to my mind entirely legitimate) uses of the software, as in this whole issue in fact. Which is why I prefer to license under Apache 2 (or BSD, etc) to give users of code I create (or pay to be created) as wide a range of choices as to what they do with it as I can.

      Cue GPL vs permissive licence wars... 3... 2... 1...

      The point here is the GPL2 is not some global universal agreed maximum of "freedom". It is a local maxim

    • by armanox ( 826486 )

      Except in this case the GPL is the restrictive license, not the CDDL. Oracle has no grounds to file suit since their terms aren't being violated. It's that pesky GPL getting in the way, since CDDL isn't their brand of 'free' software it must be evil.

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:38PM (#51585341)
    I've read both arguments, and since I know everyone posting here has also (right?), I won't bother with too much of a critique.

    I have to side with Canonical on this one. Their short and sweet post pretty much puts to bed the legal ramblings of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The SFS article reads like they started out trying to make a point, then has to fallback on an academic lesson on GPL Incompatibility and Combined/Derivative works. I would go so far as to say their verbosity defeats their own argument, while managing to inset the letters "ZFS" wherever they can find room.

    Past that, as someone who uses ZFS on FreeBSD, ZFS is pretty fucking useful. Canonical's legal inclusion of ZFS as self-contained file system module is a big step forward for Linux.
  • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:42PM (#51585379)

    More accurate would be: "could give rise to a civil cause of action." We usually say that something is "illegal" when it violates criminal law, or some other statue passed by the legislature for a public purpose. Violating contract or license terms is not illegal in this sense. Any legal risk comes from the willingness of the aggrieved party to pursue a remedy. Crucially, there is no public stake in enforcing these rights: if the rightsholder does not want to pursue a remedy, nobody else will care. This is in contrast to activities which are prohibited by statue: the public at large has an interest in prohibiting these activities because they are bad for everyone for one reason or another. It's true that this claim could be based in copyright, which is a "creature of statue" so to speak, but copyright itself is designed to be enforced only by private parties. And more importantly, in this case the text of the license would be the determinative factor.

    Anyhow, it's just a semantic niggle, but it really annoys me when people write deliberately misleading headlines like "flashing your firmware is now illegal," when they are really just talking about private causes of action based on licenses or private contracts. In fact, the word "illegal" does not appear at all in TFA.

  • TFI says: "The FSF, stewards of the GPL, have stated many times over the past decades that they believe there is no legal distinction between dynamic and static linking of a C program and we agree. Accordingly, the analysis is quite obvious to us: if ZFS were statically linked with Linux and shipped as a single work, few would argue it was not a “work based on the Program” under GPLv2." And that's where it all falls apart. How do we know that it's not a "mere aggregation". See http://www.gnu []
    • There's a hell of a difference between static linking (the code is included in the final binary) and what we refer to dynamic linking, which is code we can optionally load into memory, executed, and then dumped, mix, lather, repeat. That same code can also be loaded by other programs, so it certainly is not part of the first one to load it.

      But then again, what do you expect from a couple of lawyers?

  • The summary dedicated 3x more space to a previous Canonical blog, than to the actual article being discussed in the Headline. Way to go!

  • ZFS can be replaced by btrfs in many cases. Yes ZFS is more mature and has more of a track record. But only by people using btrfs will it gain that level of testing in production environments. It is quite stable now and OK some may have data that they just can't bring themselves to trust away from XFS or ext4 or ZFS but I think it's time to look at alternatives to ZFS.

    • by rl117 ( 110595 )

      I've tried them all many times, and thrashed them all. Btrfs trashed its filesystems on more than one occasion. How many times do I get seriously burned by it before I say "enough is enough", and turn my back on it. Well, about four times to date. Then I discovered ZFS.

      ZFS rules. I've used it on Linux and now for the last two and a bit years on FreeBSD as well. It's everything Btrfs should have been, and much more. It works. It's robust. It has actual documentation and tools that work as documented

    • Anyone who trusts their data to ext4 is grossly misinformed and playing with fire. Almost any other filesystem with a journal is less likely to eat your data than ext4. If you're using ext4 it should be for data that you really don't care if you lose / if the system running it crashes until you have a chance to reboot. In other words, it's fine for laptops where people check mail and browse facebook, but it has absolutely no place in the datacenter.

  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:42PM (#51586065)

    Historically, there's been things like the original Andrew filesystem
    module: a standard filesystem that really wasn't written for Linux in the
    first place, and just implements a UNIX filesystem. Is that derived just
    because it got ported to Linux that had a reasonably similar VFS interface
    to what other UNIXes did? Personally, I didn't feel that I could make that
    judgment call. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but it clearly is a gray

    Personally, I think that case wasn't a derived work, and I was willing to
    tell the AFS guys so. []

    ZFS was clearly developed for a different operating system, and I don't think Linus would care. If he does, I'd like to see something he has written on the subject.

    Unless there is a copyright holder with reason and "standing" to sue, there is no violation.

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