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Java Programming

Corporate vs Open Source:Sun Stealing Blackdown? 246

Posted by Cliff
from the immovable-force-meets-immovable-object dept.
An anonymous submittor droped this in the inbox: "A Linux Today story talks about how Sun repackaged Blackdown's porting of JDK 1.2.2 and called it their own. Even the script wrappers for this thing are the ones Steve Bryne wrote for the Blackdown effort and even have the name of the Blackdown developers in it. This is ridiculous! Is this what happens when corporate meets open source?" We all knew something like this was going to happen eventually. Hopefully Sun and Inprise will realize their mistake and take steps to correct it. If they do not, though...what steps can the Blackdown team take to protect their work?
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When Corporate Meets Open Source

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  • well, not too surprising i suppose.

    my guess is that more companies do this than we realize, just probably on a smaller level.
    one example: that disk compression utility microsoft borrowed in dos 6.?

    it seems like companies wouldn't be so hideously stupid about it though...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    An important question, and one which I haven't seen answered anywhere, is what type of license the Blackdown folk had from Sun to work with the Sun code. It sounds like this is not really a violation- just that the Blackdown people were desperate enough to finish the product that they accepted a crappy license and have now paid the price for that. While this is not very "nice" of Sun, it's what you get for not working on a project with a strong, protective license like the GPL. Oh well... ~luge without his login
  • by Logan (7529) <logan@vt.edu> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:27AM (#1476546)
    Granted, it's only 1.1, not 1.2, but that's all I need. It works exceptionally well. Jikes + IBM's jdk will be the future of open source java development in Linux. Perhaps this is why Sun feels the need to desperately claim they are supporting Linux, when so far I've yet to see any real evidence of such support. This is my favorite attribute of non-proprietary solutions. When the vendor is lazy, other people can step in. I don't think Sun's learned that lesson yet, but they're bound to soon enough. Now off to http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com [ibm.com].

    logan

  • I am unfamiliar with the blackdown project so I don't know what liscense they use. However, did the sun team release an open source tool (i.e. the source code is still freely modifiable) and just not give proper credit or did they actually make it proprietary? If the first is the case don't jump on them too hard yet. The fact that the names of the developers is in the README is a good sign. This might have just been a marketing screw up (maybe whoever wrote the announcment didn't know anything about this). Besides it is a good thing if Sun puts its name behind an open source project (it gives it more credibility) of course they should have given proper credit (and should be urged to do so).

    The later (making the code proprietary) is more worrying and of course (whether you like it or not) is what the GPL is designed to protect against. Of course some developers don't mind this and hence release their code under differnt liscences (their choice).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some of us need 1.2, unfortunately. Do you know if IBM has any plans to support 1.2 or not? ~luge
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..in intent. They simply lack the power Microsoft enjoys to be more damaging.

    Please also note that Sun has decided to PULL JAVA from the ECMA standards process they were putting it through. Look here [cnet.com]. IBM (and probably others) are rightfully pissed off. When is Sun going to learn? The funny thing is, despite all the bad press they get from pulling these stunts, they seem to keep getting worse each time! Must be McNealy's ego.

  • by Myddrin (54596) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:29AM (#1476551) Homepage

    Devil = 1
    Isn't this perfectly legal under the Sun Community License? It's not real nice, but I was under the impression that all changes to the Java source belonged to Sun.
    Devil = 0

    Overall though, even if this is ok according to "the law", it still bites the big one. I really like Java, it has a great deal of potential, (INMHO) both as a language and as a VM... stuff like this just makes it look really bad.

    RobK

  • Though Sun touts itself as the Java company, I think Sun's behavior (and this incident is just one of may) shows that the real Java company is IBM. IBM has a quality JDK 1.1 implementation and will soon have their JDK 1.2 implementation done. Their JDK is developed in-house, and they don't put their name on other people's efforts.

    Disclaimer: I don't have anything to do with IBM -- just an observation.
  • Can any one tell us what the licence that the original code was released under? From the text it sounds more like a direct copyright violation than a license issue

    Most open source licenese don't seem to prohibit repackageing and sale but changeing a copyright notice to say it's your own is breaking the law in anyones book. Any additional information would be most apreciated, I havea feeling that their is more to this than meets the eye

    It should also be rememberd that this may not be sun's fault, for all we know some rogue employe grabed some source code of the net and told the boss he wrote it to avoid getting fired, I've come accross stories like that before, I guess however that sun would still have a degree of responsability for not checking

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:32AM (#1476554)
    When the Sun Source Code License was first introduced, there was a thread on /. stating that Sun would behave in exactly this manner. You would make improvements to the Code, and Sun would then claim the benefits, and wouldn't even have to acknowledge you or your work.
  • The article is exactly right; it's legal for sun to do what they did, and it is helpful to both java and linux. HOWEVER .... some snaps to Blackdown in the press release would have been very appropriate. From sun's point of view, other's contributions to Java are small compatred to the $ and effort the've put in to something that costs them money at an accelerating rate. BTW -- I'm using the blackdown JDK becase I want native threads on my SMP box ...
  • by jrwilk01 (88081) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:32AM (#1476556)
    The Blackdown folks did release their code back to Sun you know. And, the Blackdown project is not an open source project, they license the reference implementation of the JDK from Sun and modify it to run on Linux. Thats why its called the "Java Linux Porting project". Everyone should consider it a good thing that Sun is now taking interest. That means we will finally get a good JVM for Linux, something we have needed for a very long time.
  • The big question here is - what licence was the "stolen" software written in ? And how are they presenting it? If it was released under the GPL, then other companies may use the source, and I remember correctly, they ONLY need to provide the source (and licence it under GPL), but they don't need to give credits. .. I think..

    If the software was released into public domain, then sun has done absolutely nothing wrong legally, but of course a lot wrong morally.

    Wasn't this what happened to emacs? Someone made xemacs and made it closed source. Then Richard Stallman made the GNU licence and distributed all future versions of emacs under that licence - simply because the corp behind xemacs "stole his work". It wasn't stealing in the legal sense, but it was in the moral sense.

    Wellwell, I don't know enough about this to say for sure, but I have a feeling Sun has talked a lot to their lawyers before doing this, and thus - I guess nothing can be done.

  • Creative slapped their own copyright on other people's code and didn't even credit them. It looks like they didn't mean any harm. After the limited outrage that ensued, they properly credited the authors. I can believe that they just made a mistake. I can believe Corel just made a mistake too, and I can believe this is also a simple mistake and they'll be quick to make it right after it's politely pointed out to them.

    But it stinks, methinks.

    Companies do not mistakenly distribute other companies' commercial products as their own. If they did, they'd be in deep shit, so they're careful that way. Companies don't seem to feel they need to be careful with open source software. What are open source authors going to do about it?
    --

  • This story seems like Sun is moving in the same area as Microsoft. These companies are the best in what they do: taking credit.

    I'm sorry to say, but Sun is using the Java support to grow into an arrogant monopolist.

  • Which is here [http].

    It basically includes "do the work for us for free, and we will take it for us, and it won't even be stealing because the work will be ours, not yours". It is nowhere near open source, it is nowhere near fair either, and I really wonder why the people at blackdown have accepted to sign such a thing.

    And this is bad for real free software because of the "why bothering writing a free java sdk, blackdown's one is good enough" effect.

    OG.
  • by Logan (7529) <logan@vt.edu> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:36AM (#1476563)
    They intend to have a preview version of 1.3 for Linux available by first quarter 2000 (see http://www.ibm.com/java/jdk/oth er/portingplans.html [ibm.com]). Whether or not that means anything, I don't know, but I'm hopeful.

    logan

  • I was reading the article that anonymous coward was pointing to, because somehow I got the feeling from the discussion before that sun had been allowed to include Blackdowns code.

    Now the article does not mention any *stealing*. It just talks about Blackdown not being mentioned in the press release. And then it's not even Blackdown members who are complaining.

    (Since when are AC's allowed to post storied anyway?)
  • by brassrat77 (9533) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:39AM (#1476565)
    There's already an active thread on this at blackdown's java-linux mail list. Blackdown developers, some Inprise developers, and just folks. My impressions:

    - Inprise knows they started with Blackdown's work

    - The initial PR did not mention Blackdown. Could have been the stupid marketing departments

    - The Inprise folks say they are mentioning and crediting Blackdown in press interviews at the Java conference in NY

    - everyone agrees more communications between the teams would help

    - The SCSL apparently allows Sun to do anything it wants with any code provided back to them.

    And BTW, a new release candidate of blackdown's port was released yesterday!

    I'm concerned about Sun, too. Don't attribute to deliberate malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity [paraphrasing Pournell]. But keep your powder dry [anon.]
  • The blackdown code is sent directly back to Sun, so this is definately allowable. Indeed, changes the Blackdown team made (bugfixes) have been merged into the java code already, at least for Solaris.

    The problem comes just in that Blackdown has been around for four years, and Sun releases a new jdk one day (without cluing anyone in beforehand), and don't give Blackdown any credit.

    Technically, they don't have to give credit. But Blackdown has done a _hell_ of a lot more than Sun or Imprise have in getting java working on Linux.

    Note that although Sun would be to blame for not having Blackdown listed in the press releases, Imprise would be to blame for using code, scripts, and readme's from Blackdown. Imprise did the port to help get JBuilder out for UNIX platforms, Sun is just taking over the source tree.
  • by SimonK (7722) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:41AM (#1476567)

    It says quite clearly on a page pointed to by the Blackdown FAQ about licensing [javasoft.com] that Sun owns all changes made under the non-commercial internal use agreement that the Blackdown team have agreed to.

    If they object, having accepted the agreement, then that is their silly fault, frankly. To be honest though, I don't expect they will object as long as Sun give credit where it is due, and I imagine that their not doing so immediately is just a screw-up.

  • It appears that Blackdown wasn't releases as GPL code in the first place. Given that, and that Blackdown was based on code from Sun that is their SCSL, nothing was stolen.

    So the LinuxToday's article that Sun "stole" Blackdown is simply wrong.

    And yes, the spirit of free software is in the giving. If it was not the intent of the Blackdown developers, they are going to have a hard time taking back what was their effort.

  • it'll be a good JVM only it'll be ported by the blackdown team and then given to sun to claim as there own with an imprise JIT.

    the only way to go is with IBM. i wish IBM was working with blackdown.

    i wish sun acted better with java (TM). this action demonstrates to me how heartless they are. there's something so classless and wrong about using blackdown to port, taking there code and not hinting in the release that blackdown had anything to do with it. at least they left all the credits for the developers in.

    for now, i'll be using the blackdown port. it's the same as sun's port, except with better threading.

  • Just for the record, Sun still is the company who actually made the Java SDK. Blackdown just reconfigured it to work under Linux. Now, perhaps they should have put the proper acknowledgements and links along with the download. They could at least have asked the Blackdown-crew first. I'm assuming here. Anyone who know if they did?

    But is it really more wrong when a company does this thing, than when individuals or groups of people do it? I think the reason we react so harsh on this is mostly because Sun has ignored Linux support for so long concerning Java, in favour for their own OS.


    It seems ./ers do nothing but file complaints all day. Before this happened, Sun got criticized for not having a Linux version of the Java SDK on their pages. Now that they do, we complain about that. As long as we get to complain, we are happy ./ers?


    - Steeltoe
  • On a related note, Heise [heise.de] has two articles on Sun and Java (in german). One [heise.de] says that sun announced not to charge any license fees for the Java Standard Edition, while the other one [heise.de] notes the Sun just withdrew Java from the ECMA standardization process, due to copyright considerations. The interesting bit: The technical commitee of ECMA is now thinking about standardizing Java without the participation of Sun.

    So the sudden moves (no licence fees, linux support) may in fact be defensive maneuvres...

  • relax a bit. This is just a sign of big corporation snafu. The press office didn't talk to the developers. That's all.
    They'll put it right - because right now, I'm sure they're probably getting a serious bollocking (due not in small part to /.)

    what's slightly more interesting is the question about whether people would be so upset if it was another small company - and not the big'n'scary corp like Sun...because GPL does mean that one day some big incumbent corp will publish a boxed something and stick lots of money behind its marketing and sell more than anyone else.



  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hi, My Nale is Scott Mc Nealy. You've probably seen me before in such films as "The Backbone of The Internet", "A Rainy Day In WA", or "Everybody Says I Love You Bill".

    My PR dept. here at Sun kept telling me about this great website, Splashpot.

    So I am going to tell you about those allegations of us ripping off Blackgowns. Lemme tell you one thing. It cost us millions $$$ to come up with that cute steaming logo. Our lawyers keep crying "hungry" in our ongoing lawsuits. Our marketing dept. is glutonning millions still to hide the fact that we can't produce a stable VM. But let me tell you something -- we had to take that money from somewhere. Clearly, engineers are way overpaid.

    Love, dudes.

  • This could well be just stupidity on Sun's part, but has caused Sun to lose a lot of credibility with the open-source movement. I doubt that anyone will trust the SCSL anymore after this (if they did so before). Watch Sun's reaction to this very carefully - this is how we'll really find out where Sun stands (good company, stupid slip-up or bad company, preying on the good faith of open-source developers). Personally I'd still put my money on Sun turning out to be one of the good guys but, like any large company, it does have some real idiot PHB's (or did so when I worked there).

    HH
  • 'Hopefully more credit [to Blackdown] will appear on printed and online magazine in the next days. '

    --Paolo Ciccone , JBuilder dev.team, /.

    I think one has to accept a certain amount of crap from a press release. The PR guys might not have known better. Still, a public acknowledgement of the Blackdown work seems in order.

  • by DanaL (66515) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:51AM (#1476577)
    Not to mention that Jikes (a bytecode compiler made by IBM) is Open Source. They're actually giving back to the community, rather than (apparently) stealing from it.

    I *hope* Sun hasn't stolen Blackdown (has anyone got in touch with them? Have they made a statement?). It's entirely possible that Blackdown turned the code over to them and Sun completed it. Before we start burning Sparc boxes in effigy, we should get a little more information.

    Dana
  • the same code? Why is the release by Sun 21MB while the largest JDK 1.1.* release by Blackdown only 13MB? If you want to discuss the Blackdown 1.2 releases, the largest of those is 19MB in bzipped format. It doesn't appear to me to be the exact same package.
  • by Tenement (94499) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:55AM (#1476580) Homepage
    One of the things you're going to have to consider that these corporations have been dealing with TIGHTLY CLOSED source for the last several DECADES.

    Any large corporation is very slow to change beneath it all (that's just the nature of the beast)--even though it would seem that they've changed thanks to marketing hype, etc.

    If we voice our opinions (politely, preferably) about such things, most likely the changes will take place.

    It's impossible to expect someone that has put nails into the top shelf of a cabinent for 20 years, to get up, go to another part of the factory and start painting PERFECTLY.

    It takes JOB TRAINING. Who trains the corporations? The public does. Who trains the public? The media does. Who trains the media? Hmmm I'll stop before I start ranting..

    Just raise the 'penalty flag' tell them the mistake politely (especially in public), and wait a bit. They'll learn.

    With thanks,
    Tenement


    --
  • by Oates (18921) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:56AM (#1476581) Homepage
    At first, when reading this, I decided that I should start to abandon my Java work. Then I realized the awful truth of the world.

    Every place I've worked has happily used proprietary tools.

    I work for a consulting company. 1/3 of the people do mainframe work, about 1/2 work on VeeBee, and the remainder do training or work (like I do) in Java, C/C++, UNIX, etc. Our business is based on the fact that companies produce proprietary languages like VB, Powerbuilder, Delphi, Visual C++, etc. They may be based on standard languages, but they are NOT standards except to themselves.

    As long as there is money to be made in Java, I'll end up continuing to work in it. I might really want to be doing projects in Python or C++, but I'll end up working in Java because that's where the money is. And it's the same way for business. My clients don't care if Java is proprietary or not as long as their web-apps get done on time, just like they've always approached client server development.

    So, in the end, it doesn't matter to the people who really matter--the people who pay for my paycheck. If you want this to change, the staff people in these corporations need to convince their managers that only standards-based and open-source products should be used for development.

    Chris
  • Actually one of the Blackdown guys was pretty pissed when he posted a message to a linux list I'm on. I would have to say that he was more than justified in being pissed. How would you like to do all the work on project X and not get a damn bit of recognition for it in the end, even if the license agreement didn't state that I'd get that recognition? I know it would thoroughly piss me off. Its a pretty shitty thing to do on Sun's part if you ask me.

    Compare this to "Back to the Future" with the bully and McFly making him do his homework for him. Bastards..... Hello!?! McFly!

    J-

  • I am unaware of the licensing agreement the blackdown guys have with SUN but I suspect it'll be the SCSL. If it is then, sure enough, SUN have every right to release it under their own banner.

    The "stealing" argument would, therefore, be inappropriate BUT I feel that SUN are well out of line for not giving credit to the Blackdown team for it's efforts. To be fair, it may be SUN have given credit although it sure ain't in the original press release.

    Oh, and until SUN have native threads support, I'll be sticking with the Blackdown port for which I am very grateful.


  • Hmm I couldn't even get it to start up with the Java Application I was working on. Admitedly my app does push things a little bit...... must remeber to get five mins to log a bug with IBM. (But then when will I find five mins to read ./!)

    (NT4Sp5 is that helps anybody!)
  • Suppose I license my source code to you (and anyone else who wants it) on the condition that any works you derive from my source code are licensed back to me (and anyone else who wants it). Suppose further that you actually DO produce code based on mine. I think I (and anyone else who wanted to) would have every legal right to use your code.

    Specifically, if you produce code based on my GPL'd code, then I think I'd have a real solid legal basis for assuming that what you produce is GPL'd, regardless of what license you try to put on it. If you tried to fight it, I think you'd rapidly find yourself in MASSIVE hot water over your technical, legal violation of my "intellectual property rights," since you used my code in violation of my license. If you didn't want to share your code, you shouldn't have used mine.

    In this instance, if it were Sun (or some other big set of pockets) that did this, I'd definitely go for the big tamale - damages, treble damages, punitive damages, and criminal charges (despite what many think, willful violation of copyrights can be treated as criminal matters).
  • I think the blackstone code was a port of Sun's code, under a license that gave Sun the rights to the code. So this should be legal, although still not right. I can't get through to the article, so I can't be sure of this.
    treke
  • Noone is arguing that Sun's releasing the JVM is not a "Good Thing". Most people are even picking up on the fact that Sun was well within their rights under their license to do what they did. But it still sucks that they couldn't make at least a token reference to Blackdown to acknowlege their contribution.
  • The headline for this story is completely wrong. As is clear from some of the comments the license under which the blackdown team have done their work has always allowed this to happen.

    The real story is that the FSF and everyone else who has criticised the Sun community licence has been proved right. This licence has now been proved to be anti open source as we expected.

    Calling IBM a saviour in this situation is also naive. Their JDK is not open source either.

    Java must now decline as a language for open source/free software.

    Dave
  • It was only a matter of time until this happened. Considering how "big business" has traditionally had a ruthless streak (like certain companies who shall remain nameless, because we're all tired of hearing about them) I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner. It may have already happened and who would know? I would think this would be one of the problems with open source vs. closed source. With a piece of software being closed source and provided to the public only in binary form, who's to say some open source code hasn't already been "borrowed" without credit being given to the original author or any changes that were made, being made open. As well, this case or a similar one is bound to end up in court and what will happen then? I, for one, hope we will have some good lawyers who can argue effectively for the open source position. Lawyers that understand what it is really all about and can convey that message to a judge effectively so he can make an truly informed decision.

    ----------------

    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • ooops. Blackdown, it's been a looong night
    treke
  • I did have a problem with .java_wrapper. I had to replace a comma with a space at or around line 21:
    printf "%s",$src
    Should be:
    printf "%s" $src
    Or better yet:
    echo $src

    I could start any of the binaries that came with the jdk until I made that change.

    logan

  • by Neville (88610) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:07AM (#1476592)
    Apparently Sun crafted a patch to help bridge the gap between Solaris and Linux threads, but they haven't shown any indication of adding that code to the Blackdown tree.

    At the risk of treading on etiquette, here's a snip from a post made by one of the BlackDown contributors on a Sun mailing list:

    Well, as I said in another mail, it looks at least a lot like they started out with the results of 4(?) years of Blackdown porting efforts. You need to have been on board in order to get a feel for the awful amount of work necessary to convert Solaris' threading to Linux' threading, etcetera. That this results in a comparatively small patch file does not mean that they weren't 90% jumpstarted by the Blackdown effort, and indeed only added a couple of patches and a few bits of functionality.

    Of course, the really great thing is that a) we (Blackdown) were unaware of this effort, and b) we still have to see these fixes contributed to Blackdown. Not that it is really necessary, because the first team member already resigned so I think Sun and Inprise can maintain the port all by themselves in the future. I certainly won't lift a finger anymore to debug the Intel port...

  • But if I had any moderation point you would have an insightful point.

    I can GPL all I want in my spare time, but at work I'm in the hands of my management. Those guys think money first, ethics later. (at least they think etics) SO... How do we get management types to realize that open source is good for more than hobby?

  • Aagh! If this had only been posted at around 2-3pm yesterday, I could have asked the head of Inprise and Pat Seltz (?) who is the president of Sun's software division yesterday at a press conference. FYI, it was at the Javits Center in NYC, a public "unveiling" of Java 2 Enterprise Edition. They were both there and fielding questions ..

    Should'a, Could'a, Would'a..

    --

  • The 1.1.8 runtime does have a speed advantage. You should see its performance on NT and OS/2. It's faster than anyone's 1.2 implementation.

    http://www.volano.com/report.html [volano.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I mostly see your point, but including Visual C++ in your list of proprietary languages is just wrong. There's nothing specifically proprietary about Visual C++...I mean, sure the Win32 API is proprietary, but then so is the MacOS API or the Amiga API, or whatever.

    Its not like Visual C++ uses some mutant strain of C++.

  • Sun probably gave the, to blackdown, source under theire community license and gave them the right to publish theire work without paying anything to Sun.

    Because that license give Sun the right to use the modification in theire own codebase, Sun can do what they did. What they cannot do is remove the copyright notice from code written by the blackdown team.

    Now is it a good move from Sun, I don't think so. But the Blackdown project did nothing to protect themself.

    Now the blackdown project has to re-evaluate their mission. One thing that Sun will probably not do is write a JIT for every platform that Lunix run on. So maybe blackdown could concentrate on making the source compilable on many platform and to provide a JIT, which can be written from scratch so Sun cannot advertise it as their own, for the different platform.

    I don't know if someone else notice, but the Sun release run with green threads as default. It seems that they did not incorporate the new threading code that is present in the blackdown release.
  • Maybe it is not connected with this issue at all, but as its being announced just along with it,
    Id bet that the cancelling of a Java stantard [slashdot.org] plan is something to worry about.

    Ok. This withdraw would be a sad thing at any time.
  • by copito (1846) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:16AM (#1476600)
    While your hypothetical is correct, GPLed code has the feature (or failure depending on your POV) that it forces derived code to be GPLed.

    The code in question was not GPLed. Therefore the point is moot. In fact it was originally based on Sun code which was licensed with the requirement that changes became the property of Sun. Sun apparently used this to their advantage, as one might expect a business to do. You may argue the political sagacity of their move, but it seems perfectly legal to this non-lawyer.
    --
  • This story needs to be updated to reflect the actual situation, but since this is and Ask Slashdot:

    If Sun & Inprise don't ever credit them (I realize somebody said it's likely they will, but hypothetially..), then Sun is still within the terms of the liscense. Therefore, the most effective action to take is to do what this article has accomplished already: raise a huge stink. Make sure nobody will ever work under the exploitative SCSL ever again. (which should have been done from the beginning, IMHO, but whatever) So: problem solved. :)
  • by BrianH (13460) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:20AM (#1476602)
    I'm sure it happens all the time, but I doubt that people are stealing whole programs. The sticky area of the GPL, and an area that I've personally ventured into, is "micro-theft" of open source code.

    Here's an example: About two years ago I was developing an application for a client (who will remain nameless), and the app needed to have some simple word processing abilities (mostly just font support and page formatting abilities). While I got that portion of the application developed properly, there was a kludge in the code that I didn't particularly care for and which was slightly buggy. About 3 weeks after I wrote that portion of the app, I went over to a friends house and found him trying to track down a bug in a GPL'd word processor (which will also remain nameless). Since he had it open anyway, I decided to take a look and see how the author of that program had handled the bit I'd kludged. I liked the way the author had done it and a whopping 15 lines of his code ended up in my program (with just a little bit of editing).

    So the question is, did I violate the GPL? What if I had just been "inspired" by his code and re-written a similar bit of code from memory? Could/should I be sued? Can I be forced to open the source? (I actually sold the program and all rights to the client, so I couldn't do that anyway) Where is the "magic line" here?

    In case you can't tell, I've been wondering about these things for quite a while but this is really the first opportunity I've seen to bring them up :) What do you guys think? What qualifies as a GPL violation?
  • Sorry for the moderation to flamebait. The scroll wheel played tricks on me. Please moderate this up to 1.
  • "but at work I'm in the hands of my management. Those guys think money first, ethics later"

    So leave and start your own company that does things right.

    Then you can change things.

    I did and now only use two non free applications (Interbase and visual slickedit) thats changing as we move to postgresql and vim.

    Java may be next we already use python for many tasks that used to be java.

    Dave
  • Oh and as I forgot to say we are already contributing in work time to more than one project and have released tools under open licences. Now we are negotiating to release full products under GPL.

    Dave
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:26AM (#1476607)
    Blackdown mistakenly thought that Java was the next big thing, and that for Linux to remain viable it *needed* Java. They reasonably agreed to whatever license Sun would grant, simply to get a JDK available for Linux before Linux missed the bandwagon completely. A reasonable, indeed selfless act, which, had Java really been as important as Sun convinced many of us it would be, would have been critical to Linux's success.

    In hindsight it turns out to have been the other way around. Java, while a nice language in some respects, was basically just so much hype. Linux on the other hand quietly attracted 10-20 million users and snuck its way into corporate server rooms everywhere. It's growth rate appears to have not slowed down in the least, while Java languishes for lack of mindshare. Java needs Linux far more than Linux needs Java, and Sun successfully suckered good people into doint their work for them at no cost.

    Very unfortunate, but a good lesson why one should really think twice, or even ten times, before contributing to a project under Sun's "community" license.
  • by Little Brother (122447) <kg4wwn@qsl.net> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:31AM (#1476608) Journal
    By now most of us agree that Sun is completly within their legal rights to absorb the project. We also agree that it will probably help the Linux community. So why are we all upset?

    The way I see it is, we have been the victums of mininformitive news realease. Had the realease stated "O happy Day! Sun going to support Java for Linux!" We would, for the most part, been completly supportive of Sun. However the headlines, /.'s and the refrenced news article's both begin with calling into question the morality of Sun's actions. They have planted the suggustion in our minds that Sun has done a big bad no-no and violated someone's rights. Once that suggustion had been planted they could go ahead and tell what really happened and the truth appears very different when seen under the light of our preconceived notions.

    Questions? Comments, email me.
    Flames, raves, rants, complaints? Redirect to /dev/null

  • Why do you need 1.2? You can download Swing and most importantly Collections as seperate packages.
  • I'm not sure if you meant to say that IBM's JDK is not based on Sun's. It is; only the JIT is different, I believe (and I'm sure they have each fixed different bugs).

    I agree that IBM has been doing some good stuff with Java + Linux (JDK, Jikes, VisualAge, etc).
  • I'll tell you what - go download the tarfiles for EVERY package on the redhat discs, compile each one and install into a temp top level tree. Then tarball that temp tree so you can untar it into the root dir.

    In the proccess fix all the little bugs that crop up with make files and old library calls, make patches for each source file tree.

    Now, manage to build a boot floopy image and write an installer for your system. Heck - don't have to that's basicaly slackware.

    However come up with a useful package management system that others can and do use as well to do all that in a few key strokes.

    Then I'll lend an ear to your bitching about redhat or ANY distribution company making a living off the blood and sweet of coders. There is NOTHING to stop you and your closest geek friends from developing your own distribution. Just time and desire stop most people. New ones crop up all the time. Case in point - Mandrake actualy out sells Redhat now. However the BRANDING redhat has done is what works for them now. That had years of work behind it as well.

    So clean out your mothers basement where you still live and get to work on that distribution kiddo.
    --
    James Michael Keller

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My clients don't care if Java is proprietary or not as long as their web-apps get done on time

    But they should care if their chosen tools do an about-face due to some unforseen strategic shift on behalf of the single code maintainer.

    Sun owns Java and will take it where they need to take it to continue to undermine Microsoft.

    You currently have no protection against this.

    Once again, please look past the "pie in the sky" aspects of open source and try and understand how opening the source protects your strategic investment.

    Many companies demand the source even for commercial software they buy, precisely because of this.

  • by Garrett Rooney (1508) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @03:45AM (#1476616) Homepage
    > Wasn't this what happened to emacs? Someone made
    > xemacs and made it closed source.

    no, it wasn't. do some research before you go around badmouthing a perfectly legitimate open source project like xemacs.

    http://www.xemacs.org/About/XEmacsVsGNUemacs.htm l
  • They're not avaliable 'til friday, or so
    I hear 'round the IRC campfire.
  • I have to agree with you on that. I futzed around with blackdown for weeks -- finally got it working, and it was slow, buggy, and unreliable. I downloaded the IBM JDK in desperation, and it worked right, out of the box, was fast and reliable. In fact, it is subjectively faster on my $700 Linux box than Sun's JDK is on a fairly beefy Ultra 60.

    There was a post recently talking about how there was an opportunity for IBM to take over the Linux standards process. I think this would be wonderful: they seem to have a much better base in java than Sun does, and are much less antagonistic to OS's they don't make.

  • by Dacta (24628) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:00AM (#1476630)

    No estabilshed company is a friend of open source.

    Redhat, etc owe their existance to open source programs, but Sun, Oracle, HP, Corel and even Inprise are just using us to get what they want.

    Perhaps IBM is different.. They have at least tried. Maybe SGI, too - it looks like they need Linux to survive, now.

    But understand this: MS should no longer be the primary target of our flames, and matching Windows should no longer be the goal of our development projects.

    With the DOJ and the press watching MS like a hawk, we need to refocus.

    Linux is now, without a doubt the premier Desktop Unix thanks to GNOME and KDE nothing against *BSD, but Linux is slightly better here, if only because that is what most developers use.

    Next year Ittanium (sp?) comes out. Linux will be ready, for sure, and it will probably run flawlessly sooner than Windows2000 - but that ain't the game any more.

    World Domination, remember?

    Next year Montery also arrives. I still havn't seen even any speculation on how well Linux will compare to that.

    SCO, HP, Intel, IBM and Compaq makes a pretty impressive team - all (except SCO) have Linux projects, too. What's going to happen when Montery and Linux go head to head for the same space?

    Don't think that "Montery will be high end, and Linux will take the low end", either. That is just market speak for not having the features, yet. Both Linux and FreeBSD will, I believe, be very close to Montery (and Solaris) on Intel by next year.

    What's going to happen then? Can we rely on Red Hat and VA Linux's money to compete?

    Don't forget, these companies aren't like MS. They make pretty good software (for the most part).

    Things like StarOffice are dangerous to Open Source, because they give the power back to the companies - and yet they are just as cheap (to the consumer) as Open source.. until Sun changes the file format or something like that.

    Maybe it is time to play the Windows card? Linux does operate well in a Windows environment, and Windows computers are easily converted to Linux. Perhaps we need more open source software that interoperates well with MS stuff. Samba is great, maybe we need something that can provide DCOM services?

    My Enemy's enemy is my friend. Sun was a useful ally. Lets not get stabbed in the back.

  • by SoftwareJanitor (15983) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:06AM (#1476635)
    Its not like Visual C++ uses some mutant strain of C++. I doesn't? What the heck do you call goofy abominations like lstrcpy() lstrcmp() lstrcat()? Maybe the core language syntax is marginally ANSI-like, but their library implementations are highly wacked, not even including Win32.

    And if you use any of VC++'s code generation, you are going to get stuff that is MFC dependant, which is in turn Win32 dependant.

    Personally, I had a lot better luck with the Powersoft (Watcom) C++ compiler when I had to generate binaries under Windows. Their library implementations were much more normal.

  • by kemokid (122655) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:09AM (#1476637)
    It's interesting to consider this event in the larger light of what free software/open source is all about. It seems to me that many people in the "open source" world think that some other corporation (Sun, IBM, Netscape, etc.) will save them from the Great Satan. But of course the other corporations want to be Great Satan.

    This is one reason why some people prefer the phrase "free software" over "open source". Because, as RMS points out here [gnu.org], the phrase "open source" de-emphasizes the community aspect of free software, and has led some companies (most egregiously, Apple) to thinking that they can just open up a little bit of code and then get free development.

    For the record, I'm no free software firebrand. But given recent events, I've started re-reading some of RMS's tracts, and they continue to make quite a bit of sense. Sun is one company that just doesn't seem to get it (although the jury's not out yet). Does IBM get it? Too early to tell. It seems that the only ones that do are new companies (e.g. Red Hat/Cygnus, SuSE, etc.) that have started since the free software movement began.

  • Garbage collecting is my pet peeve... 1.2 has weak references possible, 1.1 you're stuck if you want to cache something but only if it's used by someone else as well.
  • Yeah, it bites that team Blackdown gets little recognition for their heroic efforts.

    Since 'tis the season, you can help Blackdown by going to their website and ordering books. It's not much, but it may be all they ever get.

  • And WHY should some more money to Rob, Hemos et al make any difference? This is (close to) the way Slashdot used to work even before Andover bought them. Effectively; nothing has changed, and that's probably as it should be.
  • It's really nice when the first post has content.
    Anyway from what I gathered from the relevent posts Blackdown aggred to give code back to sun and SUNs people are trying to do right by Blackdown and give credit but something went wrong and posably some market droid just skipped over that detail.
    So it's not like Sun is being an evil Microsoftian tyrent or anything it's just some minnor mistake and something Blackdown aggred to anyway. It's not Sun just walking away with an open source project and saying "te he it's ours now buddy".
    But don't be so harsh on Slashdot for jumping the gun. There is a pritty good reason for having a GPL in the first place [thow Blackdown code is not GPL but thats a diffrent story] it's not an abitrary liccens saying "It's free". There have been a few cases when someone would "port" public domain code and copywrite the results or take public domain and modify it and sell the results.
    On the surface this looked like exactly what Sun did.. but that isn't the case at all. Blackdown has an aggrement with Sun that LETS this happen Sun didn't just grab something becouse it's convenent.
    Accually it dose urk me that it's totally legal to sell public domain as commertal but try to give away commertal and you go to jail. Thats just wrong. I don't advocate stelling commertal software but I think theft of public domain should also be illegal.
    Also there is something of an advantage to burrying thies rants.. there is far more cogent data in the mod 3 to mod 5 area and I'm down here ancered by a score -1.. a "first post" post number 4... First posters beware slashdot dosn't update very fast you may not be the first poster after all.
  • by anothersmith (123839) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:23AM (#1476649)
    I've been using Sun hardware and software on projects for over 10 years and it has done a pretty good job scaling way beyond the wildest dreams of Bill and not crashing as soon as a load appears.

    If their marketing and communications were as good as some of their technology then we'd have MCPs sitting on street corners with cardboard signs offering to reboot computers for food.

    It's partly Suns own fault and this looks like another PR own goal but it's sometimes sad to see the slagging they get here no matter what they do. Among other things Sun created Java, not the dancing paperclip or the ten minute uptime. Take your pick but I know which camp I'm in.

    The SCSL isn't a great deal in my opinion but they have yet to force people to sign it at gunpoint.
  • by bocee (20173) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:25AM (#1476650) Homepage
    Although this could be interperted at least a fairly good thing for Intel, this is pretty bad for other architectures that rely on Blackdown's port. I use their port on my LinuxPPC box, and as LinuxPPC isn't as popular as Intel linux, there is only one Blackdown porter, who is pretty angry:


    Hi,

    I thought you might like to know that Sun is now officially supporting x86 Linux
    and didn't bother to inform their porting partners after using their efforts.
    There is no planned support for Sparc, PowerPC, arm, alpha, etc.

    Needless to say, the Blackdown porting effort is in serious jeopardy.

    My efforts for Java on Linux PowerPC will cease unless Sun makes a "*public*"
    change asap.

    If you use the JDK and want support to continue (at all for powerpc based
    machines) you might want to (politely) express your displeasure with Sun.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    ------------- Begin Forwarded Message -------------

    Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 11:39:58 -0500 (EST)
    From: Kevin_Hendricks
    Subject: Sun / Imprise Announcement: A Blackdown Porter's ViewPoint
    To: java-linux@java.blackdown.org
    Mime-Version: 1.0
    Content-MD5: jfrc0hb9tf/kXVy1gfHb0g==

    Hi,

    I just wanted the list to know that although we (Blackdown) knew Sun was going
    to make some release we had no idea it would not even mention the 4 years of
    work the Blackdown porters have contributed to this effort.

    I truly believe that the Sun / Imprise effort is based on an earlier Blackdown
    tree.

    If so, why has Sun not even acknowledged the existence of this second tree to
    us.

    If so, why hasn't Sun given credit to Blackdown where credit is due?

    Needless to say the people who have contributed their personal time and effort
    to the Blackdown project are *NOT* happy.

    I don't mind donating my time and effort to help Java on Linux.

    I *do* mind not having that effort recognized especially when it is used as the
    basis of a someone else's tree.

    Frankly, Sun's conduct here stinks.

    Unless Sun makes some public change crediting Blackdown where credit is due in a
    prominent place in their announcements / press releases/ web-page, I am finished
    as a Blackdown porter and the future of the entire Blackdown project is
    seriously at risk (most of us feel this way).

    If you have benefited in any way from the efforts of the Blackdown porting group
    over the last 4 years, please (politely) express your displeasure at Sun.

    Thanks,

    Kevin B. Hendricks
    (possibly former member of the Blackdown porting group!).

    --
    Kevin B. Hendricks
    Associate Professor of Operations and Information Technology
    Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario
    London, Ontario N6A-3K7 CANADA
    khendricks@ivey.uwo.ca, (519) 661-3874, fax: 519-661-3959


    This was posted to the linuxppc-dev [linuxppc.org] list a few days ago. Today, he posted to the list again, saying he had left Blackdown and asked if anyone wanted to take his place. For LinuxPPC users, this just plain sucks, as there is now no active jdk development for the platform. We can't blame Kevin, and I see this as a bad move by Sun all around.
  • A few things are reasonably clear... first, the Java licensing agreement Blackdown accepted allows Sun to do just what they've done... claim someone else's coding as their own work without crediting the coders. That's why SCSL isn't Open Source.

    Second, this was almost certainly an oversight by ignorant marketing/legal staff, not a deliberate attempt to steal Blackdown's work and market it as their own.

    So i think Sun should be judged by how they *react* to this criticism. Will they admit they were careless, and give proper (if not legally required) credit to Blackdown? Or will they get defensive and say that this is within their rights? Let's judge them by how they manage their errors, not by the errors themselves.

    And, if anyone from Sun is reading this (especially Sun management)... my trust in Sun as the guardian of Java purity, and the trust of many members of the community, is on the line here. If Sun demonstrates now that they will acknowledge the contributions of volunteers to Java, i'll feel a lot better about the justifications Sun has made for not turning Java over to an independent standards committee. But if you take the Blackdown volunteers' work without properly crediting them (even if it is legal to do so), then i will not be able to trust Sun with Java anymore, and will turn to other sources. And i will advise my employer to do so as well.

    Think about it, Sun.
    ---
    Maybe that's just the price you pay for the chains that you refuse.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @04:31AM (#1476654) Homepage
    C/Net also has articles on these items:

    Part of what is not mentioned in any of these articles is that the former head of Java development at IBM (Patricia Sueltz) was lured to Sun [cnet.com] towards the end of the summer and is now in charge of the Java effort there. While the article which announced the change emphasizes her wide view of Java and desire to keep Java unified, it remained to be seen whether this was lip service or not.

    My thoughts are that Pat Sueltz did enough good for Java while at IBM that she ought to be amenable and keep a listening ear for response from those of us who count ourselves as "individual" (vs. corporate) members of the Java Community. Feel free to use this link to the java.sun.com feedback page [sun.com], but please, be polite. Turning the wrath of /. on any company via their provided feedback mechanism(s) has bad karma, and a few well thought out, reasonable responses will get more attention that a thousand flame messages.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are many examples of 15 lines of code as a small script or utility with their own GPL licence. Would copying this into your own code be more or less a violation than copying 15 lines from a 1500 lines program? When it comes down to scripting you often realize that there is only one way to do something which makes the GPL a little bit worthless. Anyone making such a program would get a close solution. If the code can't be patented it can't have much protection from the GPL if used in a different context. Patrik
  • I think you need to understand the spirit of free software. The GPL is just the "suited-up" version of this spirit, to fight proprietry software.

    If what you are doing solves problems, and you just took a little bit of code, no one is going to care. Free code means you can look and can write code that has been shown to work. Any free software programmer that goes after such "transgressions" is a jerk, and just doesn't get it.

    What the GPL expressedly forbids, is precisely what Sun did to Blackdown. Take an entire existing project, slap on a few minor enhancements, and call it theirs. A pity Blackdown is not GPLed.

  • "They're actually giving back to the community"
    Or are they just looking for some free debugging and patching?
    Ooooh, I'm feeling cynical today! :)
    That said, IBM's effort is at least a genuine effort to work with the OSrc community, instead of Sun's "you've worked hard, this is ours to make profit on now you suckers" attitude.
    I don't know much about the Blackdown project, how long it took (someone mentioned 4 years) or how many people there were on it. And I'm sure that all of the committed, idealistic developers who gave their time & effort expected no reward other than the reward of NerdPay (ie just for the fun of it, because it's interesting). But it would have been nice to see something along the lines of "Scott (Scott? He's 'scot no friends :) MacNealy of Sin Microsystems announced that the Blackdown team had been awarded an all expenses paid trip to an exotic location/ nerd holiday in Silicon Valley / a top of the range Sin workstation in recognition of their efforts" - I think that would have been nice for them to say "thanks" to the Blackdown people. Whilst many of the Blackdown dev team may not have accepted it, at least Sin would have appeared to have tried to do at least a partially right thing.
  • Well, as someone who has been following the /. code base (including several mail groups and derivative versions of the /. engine), I can tell you that most of your assumptions about the /. code are false.

    First of all, the code running /. today is not a year older than the 0.3 preball, or the 0.2 code. The code page itself mentions that both are somewhat orphans as the code now in use is more like a 0.4 release.

    From what I understand, Rob Malda is now not the only coder working on the site -- supposedly andover.net has made it so possible for there to be three coders actively working to improve the /. engine.

    In the mean time, I know that Malda is seriously sick of all the whining about the "where's the code????" because he posts occasionally to one of the mail groups and said something to the effect that "every time someone whines about the code, he wants to delay the release one day more." [Rob -- feel free to correct me here...]

    I do feel that maybe the folks at /. and Andover should post a story which updates us all on the status of the newer code, and will probably e-mail [mailto] Rob with a request to do so.

    In the mean time, what I notice is that the response time is quicker, more stories are being posted, yes --some mistakes are being made, (and quickly apologized for), and it feels to me like things are becoming fun for Malda & co. again. (For a while they were burning the 70 hr a week candle, and just barely surviving monetarily).

    Just my $.02 worth, with feedback always appreciated.

  • We noticed the tremendous similarity to the Blackdown work right away, too, and were a little surprised that no mention was made of them in the press release, but that's marketing for you.

    It's wrong to say that they just repackaged the Blackdown work, however. Certainly the bulk of the package is Blackdown, but it appears that the Inprise part of this work is a new JIT system -- one that actually works. The JIT included with the Blackdown port is hopelessly broken. This has historically led to Linux JVMs having pretty much the poorest performance of any available JVM since you had to run it in interpreted mode.

    This is not the only change we noticed. We had all kinds of problems using the Blackdown code with native threads -- serious performance degredation and unreliability. Not so with the Sun/Inprise version.

    In our testing all run modes worked -- green, native, interpreted, and JIT. (Though there are some debugging messages that prove that this stuff is still not production quality.) This is a welcome change. Our testing shows a 60% performance improvement using native threads and JIT over the best we could get out of Blackdown RC2. That, my friends, is terrific news.

    I still want to look at the IBM JDK 1.2 when it finally comes out, but for the moment we have something that's good enough to perhaps be used in a production environment. Now if I only had a debugger that worked...

    jim frost
    jimf@frostbytes.com [mailto]

  • I really can't see how the GPL would fail. Perhaps you could point out something I'm missing.

    i write a piece of code. Under US copyright law, I have TOTAL control over it. Even if I grant you the right to copy, compile, and distribute my code, you have zero right to modify my code or write new code based on my code. The GPL does not infringe on your right to modify my code or use my code in your code, because you have NO right to do this unless I say so.

    What the GPL does is to say that, under certain conditions, I will grant you permission to modify my code or write code based on it. If you create a derivative work based on my code, and I say "No, you must take my code out of your code," then on what basis would you argue that you can use my code?
  • by jflynn (61543) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:05AM (#1476674)
    Sorry, but the only thing that has gone downhill since the sale, that I've noticed, is the greatly increased number of comments bemoaning Slashdot's descent into corporate evil.

    You shouldn't come here for accuracy. You might come here for breadth of view and new insights -- or just a place to rant :). You want accuracy -- maybe you'd like a real corporate news outlet like ABC or CNN better. Compare their Linux coverage for example, and see what you think about accuracy then. They check *all* their stories before release (and still manage to get them wrong -- go figure.)

    If you want easy to use, predigested news, you're simply in the wrong place. Slashdot news requires thought, and sometimes research, not just passive acceptance as truth.

    If this article is so bad, why not tell us why? Do you have facts that contradict it? Yes, the title is hyperbole, it was the credit that was stolen, not the code, but it's as accurate as most newspaper headlines. Seems to me this is an important story and I'm glad it ran. For a better written article try the place it broke, LinuxGrrls [linuxgrrls.com].
  • by DanaL (66515) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:06AM (#1476676)
    Well, I'm sure IBM is in for the profit and benefit to the company, that's how businesses operate. However, they do give back. Their compiler is open source. You can compile it and modify it (I'm sure there are some restrictions, I haven't read their license, but they took great pains to get it recognized as an Open Source license, presumably by OSI). Also VisualAge is closed source, but they ported it to Linux after an online petition generated over a 1000 signatures. They took Apache, had their engineers work on it and gave the fixes and improvements back to the Apache group (although I believe they initially tried to by Apache from them, at least they can be taught :) )

    They are a big, greedy corporation, but I think they understand how open source stuff can benefit them.

    I do hope, however, the Sun will give credit where credit is due to the Blackdown team when release the production version (what we have right now is a release candidate).

    Dana
  • The Blackdown team *knows* that the SCSL gives Sun the exclusive right to the modifications to the JDK source that they might "contribute" back to Sun. (I won't say what my own personal opinions of the SCSL are...) The issue here is not an issue of the Blackdown team not understanding the license, they certainly did/do.

    The issue here is that the Blackdown team has been working porting new versions of the JDK source to work on Linux for YEARS in good faith with the understanding that Sun would consider the results of their efforts the "unofficial but blessed-by-Sun Linux JDK". Blackdown trusted Sun to play fair and Sun turned around and stabbed them in the back.

    The amount of ill-will on the java-linux list is impressive. I wouldn't be surprised if the Blackdown team finishes their port of the Java2 JDK and then simply walks away from the whole thing.

    Sun has probably lost what little confidence Java-Linux proponents have had left and garnered the ill-will of a tremendous number of people.

    Now it's plainly obvious why they engineered the SCSL the way they have and why they are continuing to stick with it despite protests that it's not truly Open Source. They don't give a rat's ass about Open Source - they just see its developers as a resource to exploit. Good luck exploiting it any further now.

    -=-=-=-=-

  • In myt opinnion, this isn't much of an issue. Sun has done nothing illegal. They haven't even done anything unethical. Just sounds like people are complaining because they didn't say "we got this from blackdown", which they're allowed to do.

    I don't see RedHat acknowledging every single kernel developer, and nobody seems to have an issue with that.

    From how I see things, Sun is on our side. I just hope the goddamn memory leak problems in RMI are fixed in the new version ;)

  • by jflynn (61543) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:30AM (#1476685)
    You are right that Sun is within their legal rights under the SCSL. There is such a thing as unethical though. Removing credits from a project, or changing them is one of the most serious sins in the Hacker culture according to ESR's "Homesteading the Noosphere". I have to agree that nothing is more despicable. Free software contributors don't ask for money, all they ask is recognition that they contributed. Otherwise open source really is just faceless communism. Credit is very cheap to provide for anyone using the code.

    If someone collected contributions to a charity, and then claimed to be contributing the money themselves with no mention of the real contributors, people would be outraged, and rightly so. This is not much different. In the real world, the money goes where it's needed and seemingly no harm is done. But try getting contributions again from those that were shafted. The problem is the same for Sun. Unless they move to correct this quickly, I think the SCSL is dead.
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:34AM (#1476688) Homepage
    Indeed! Okay, who here thinks Blackdown would have had a finished product within the next six *MONTHS* if Sun hadn't stepped in to offer code and support?

    :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:40AM (#1476690)

    Congratualtions Sun. You have _finally_ done what more than 1500 Java developers have clearly been asking you to do for two years, TO THE DAY.

    Bug #4097810 was posted [sun.com] on December 8, 1997. The number one bugfix request (now request for enhancement) for the entire period, indeed the request that has had more votes than the rest of the top 25 requests COMBINED has been to treat Linux as a first tier platform, to handle the releases for Linux in-house, instead of the arm's length (although increasingly more direct) support that, to date, has been given to Blackdown.

    Today's announcement is great. This is what many hundreds of Java developers have been looking forward to, and what Blackdown and Sun have been working towards. I think that Sun and Blackdown deserve kudos for achieving this excellent result.

    The focus of clueless slashdotters, who literally don't know how Blackdown came to have access to the code in the first place, how much direct assistance Sun has given to Blackdown, and who haven't noticed that Blackdown is actively involved in what's happened today is on an equally uninformed opinion piece in LinuxToday.

    Wake up people, this announcement is what Sun, Blackdown and hundreds of Java developers have looked forward to for years.

    This story is not about open-source, it never was, Blackdown was working with confidential code from day one, and it is apparent from looking at Blackdown's site that today's announcement isn't a problem, it's just part of what they've been working towards.

  • by ralphclark (11346) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @05:45AM (#1476694) Journal
    Why is everybody beating up on Sun about this? It's not as if they removed the credits to the Blackdown team, they're all still there in the documentation. So what should Sun have done? Called it "Sun Blackdown Java?" That would only dilute the Java brand and make it look like it wasn't the 100% pure Java thing.

    I get the distinct feeling that Sun is coming under fire for this only because they are Sun and people don't like the SCSL. But what people need to realise is that Sun's support for open source efforts is a healthy thing for all of us. We now have an approved JDK and JVM. Yay! Much better that, than having Sun fight us tooth and nail, and publishing soppy MS-style "Linux Myths" pieces on their web site.

    Sun should be applauded for going as far as they have. After all, they are a pretty damn big company who *still* depend upon their IP to stay in business, and it can't be an easy thing for a dinosaur to welcome the new sleek, fast, sharp-toothed mammals right into their midst.

    If open source is as powerful as we all say it is, then Sun will realise in time that it is the way to go. We should give them our (guarded)support and go along with it. Yes, by all means, keep your powder dry.

    With Intel, IBM, SGI, HP, Sun (and Dell and Compaq too) all contributing to the cause in one way or another, we have the greatest opportunity to win the marketing war against MS. We have *never* been in a stronger position.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by EngrBohn (5364) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @06:05AM (#1476696)

    The GPL expressly does not forbid what Sun did to Blackdown. There is nothing illegal in taking a GPL'd program, making zero or more changes to it, and calling it your own, as long as you preserve the original copyright (of course, you may copyright any changes you make). The very fact that GPL does not require you to make mention of the original developers is what makes the "old" BSD license incompatible with GPL.

    As to whether people will offer you good or ill will is another story, as ESR has discussed many times.


    Christopher A. Bohn
  • by jilles (20976) on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @06:45AM (#1476705) Homepage
    Indeed another witch hunt. It seems the blackdown people got what they wanted in the first place: a port of the SUN JDK to linux. It would be a nice gesture of SUN if they gave the blackdown people some credit though. But on the other hand this is only a beta release and SUN is probably not giving much attention on packaging, documentation and such right now.

    I can imagine that for the average user the fact that some blackdown code is hidden in the product is not particularly relevant information so that might have been a reason for SUN not to provide this information. Probably blackdown is not the only contributing party to the product. I imagine they got some help from companies like IBM and inprise as well and they are not mentioned either.

    In a way the blackdown project must have been a bit of a failure in the eyes of SUN, I mean they put out their stuff to have it ported and in the end they had to jump in to get things to work.

    BTW. Has anybody actually tried the new JDK? How does it compare to the blackdown release? Is the performance any good or do we have to wait for a decent JIT to be released?
  • Where is the "magic line" here?

    I think the dividing line is code that provides some kind of functionality. I've been following the development of the Cygnus Java native compiler GCJ which has to deal with this issue. Since Cygnus expects to licence GCJ out to companies doing embedded development, they need to maintain full copyright of the code. So they have to decide about what amount or kind of code gives the contributer copyright privileges. That has only happened once so far that I know of, and that person introduced new functionality to GCJ. All other bug fixes they've accepted, sometimes many lines of code, haven't required signing any papers giving Cygnus copyright to that code. Which leads me to believe that it's only code that provides an implementation of an abstract concept as the magic line. But IANAL of course.

  • You just don't have to claim the copyright for yourself -- for example, you can assign the copyright to FSF (as required for those contributing to egcs) or perhaps to the orignal developer.

    Rereading your reply, I think some clarification is in order. The GPL & the MEULA [1] are licenses, not copyrights. If you own the copyright, then you have permission to grant people the right to copy your material. This is done with a license -- and you can use different licenses for different people, even. If you choose to use the GPL, then you are requiring developers who combine their copyrighted material with your copyrighted material to use the GPL if they distribute the combined result.

    [1] is this pronounced "moola"?


    Christopher A. Bohn
  • One of the things you're going to have to consider that these corporations have been dealing with TIGHTLY CLOSED source for the last several DECADES.

    Sorry, but check your local NIS and NFS sources. Chances are good they're still full of Sun copyrights. If there's one company that has a longstanding experience with releasing source code, it's Sun.

  • While reading your post, I couldn't help think of the Perl's [perl.com] mantra there's more than one way to do it. Skilled Perl types can look at code and, quick as a flash, code up something that does the same thing but looks vastly different.

    Python [python.org] on the other hand positively begs for everybody to do things in a similar way, if not the same way. This makes six or 12 month old code very readable and developers can continue to develop instead of helping maintainers maintain. But does it make small chunks of copyrighted Python code the building blocks for copyrighting the whole language? It's as dumb as copyrighting a sentence but we live in dumb times when it comes to technology.

    I know that's an extreme thought but who would have thought that Sun -- of all companies! -- would stick it to a seemingly non-threatening entity?
  • Well, it seems that Sun makes apologies [computerworld.com]. It's a first step in getting things straight.

    I just hope they've learned something here...




  • The GPL permits you to do what you've said as long as the new product is also available under an open source license

    Nope, with the GPL your derived work MUST be under the GPL, any other license, even Open Source, won't work, otherwise I take Linux, re-license it to the BSD style and then relicense the BSD style version to proprietary, would be too easy.

  • release candidate is newspeak for beta release. MS had 3 of them with windows 2000. It is not a finished product. As I understand it, the plugin is not yet ready for instance.
  • I may even be able to distribute my patch or the instructions to accomplish it so that people can do the same to their legally owned copies.
    Good point. The lawyers may disagree (and the courts may even back them up), but I've always felt that a patch was not a derivative work. If it is, then I'd argue that framing a picture for someone constitutes a creating derivative work.

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton

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