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Update to RDist License Discussion 53

Dennis Heltzel writes "MagniComp just changed their license (again) to freely allow distribution with Linux Read the news here. I wonder if RedHat will do an errata to their errata. " (This change was posted today, 17 July, 1999.)
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Update to RDist License Discussion

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  • Hold on your horses Senator McArthy. If you are unable to do business on such environment it's your problem. Business works and works well here. The fact you can't get a profit of it does not mean that GPL is communism.

    I would recomend you to read some books on economics (any book of AMERICAN Economics for dummies is good, start by that please) before blasting such statements.

    I wonder if you consider IBM a nest of communist wasps.

    A communist from the Iron Curtain
  • rdist 6.1.4 was the last version under a BSD style license. The only substantive difference between it and the current (6.1.5) version is a small change to the man page. I have a copy of 6.1.4 if anyone wants it.
  • Or just have people download it seperatly... Or include it as a "special free gift offer" on seperate media..
    Or just ask them for an exemption, I'm sure they would allow it to be bundled with any open software... They seem to just be concerned with people selling a service based wholly or to a large extent on their product...
  • > Maybe we should make a patch to rDist that
    > automatically includes a complete (tiny) linux
    > distribution that way it is always free :)

    O forget it. I just reread the license and the above suggestion still wouldn't make it Free Software since you cannot distribute modified versions.
    So you are still stuck if you find a bug or security hole in it since you cannot distribute the patched version :(
  • Agreed. Free software is good. However, I don't think licenses like 'free -- if you use it with linux' are as free as I'd like... Linux is nice, but it's not some kind of magical special case...
  • by Ektanoor ( 9949 ) on Saturday July 17, 1999 @12:28PM (#1797601) Journal
    In my opinion such kind of licensing is much worse than before. It would be better to have either a free open source licensing or a pure commercial one.

    In fact how can I use rdist in a heterogeneous environment? For example I have a network of several advanced workstations on Linux and some Solaris servers. So do I need to buy rdist just because I have such environment? What difference makes that I'm using one system and not another? This would look much like I would pay 50 cents on gas if I'm driving a Ford or 2,5 dollars if I use a Mitsubishi... It's nonsense.

    Such "advertising" "save-face" licenses should be avoided. Letting them on will lead us into a lot of bottlenecks. No one uses _ONE_ OS (no matter that one guy tries to lead us to it :) )
  • They could move it to the "Other Applications and Demos" disk

    That or somthing like it strikes me as a good approach. Placing non-free (speech) software that can be legally distributed into its own "ghetto" serves to deprecate its use while still making it readily available for those who truly need it and lack a free alternative.

  • by zoulasc ( 69941 ) on Saturday July 17, 1999 @01:09PM (#1797603)
    Well, get 0.tar.gz
    This version is based on Michael Coopers' rdist-6.1.3 with a *lot* of bug fixes (see, and still has the old nice BSD license, and will stay free.

  • Hum.

    I still see quite a lot of commercial fbsd's ...
  • It is only for linux non-free distributions. I don't think there are any for-profit (or any other than the original) distribs of the *BSD's, though. Is it illegal to make one?
  • It *looks* to me that all of this has been done in a sort of hurry, and is *not* the final license. Mind you, the guy posted a reply earlier on and made a very hasty fix. So I'd suggest giving him some time to figure out how and what.

    Give him a break
  • You're right in the point if I own these machines. However my work does not include only machines I own. And it rises a problem with understanding how "Linux distribution" should be interpreted. We have our own "Linux distribution", based on Mandrake. But is this a distribution in the broad meaning of the word?? In fact it is a overworked, perfectioned and language localized installation, distributed as a disk image. Ok this thing is non-profit. But if it would not? Or if any commercial client asks for it? Specially considering that I have already such requests on the line?

    Seriously I don't think this is a "license". Its wording is foggy both on its content and how it is presented. In one place they refer about a license concerning a certain type of OSes. In the license itself there is only a strange "exception point" that refers exclusively to Linux. Besides it does not clearly shows what will happen if I do something in behalf of someone else.

    One thing that clearly disturbs me is the apparently freedom of the "Scope of Grant" contrasting with strictness of "Title". The point is not "anti-copyright" mood. It is what I can do if I modify the source and try to make my "own" type of rdist. There is not a single word on this new license about modifying the source. The only indirect reference to the use of sources can only be found on the terms of "Title":

    "Title and related rights in the content accessed
    through the Software is the property of the applicable content owner and may be protected by applicable law"

    So this leads to an embroglio. IN FACT we have a slightly modified version of rdist working on a Solaris. Well still on old BSD licensing. But in a future that will mean that I've doubts if I'll continue to use rdist. Specially considering that in the new license:

    "MagniComp reserves the right at any time
    to alter prices, features, specifications, capabilities, functions, licensing terms, general availability of the Software."

    This is troubling. So they may modify the license such way that it will not fit my needs and requirements. They may discontinue or price it such way the product so leaving a part of my work in a technic swamp (how many times did this happen to me in M$ world).

    A little side note: READ THE LICENSE before using a new version of any product. Even if you use this product for 10 or 100 years. Recently a similar thing happened to a relatively known product on Web conferences. Without any clear notice, the author changed licensing from GPL to a strictly commercial one. I almost made a mistake of upgrading my GPL version with a "free/demo" when I noted some weird wording about "two versions" on the site. I looked at the license and only then I noted it was not GPL any more. Only a little bit later the author clearly recognized that it had changed lines. I respect his decision but clearly I cannot respect how he did it.
  • If you read it closely it allows you to use the software on any machine you own or lease. So in a heterogeneous network you can compile and install it on other machines and then freely use it. Just because it's not allowed to be included with Solaris does not mean that you can't compile and install it yourself.

    Although the exception is stupid especially when you consider that they admit that older versions are being distributed with other Unixes because of the BSD licensing.

    It would be nice to have a much better license however at least it can still be installed by individuals or companies on their systems even if it can't be included.
  • Sincerly I wouldn't be so radical about its end. X is a typical UNIX product. You're right about the fact that no one misses them. But X continues to live in several flavours and tastes. Frankly I think this is the way it should go. Diversity generates the market. If there is one thing that proves this thing is UNIX itself. That's the most successful long-living OS ever made.
  • I've read your comments and found them to be totally incomprehensible.

  • it allows you to use the software on any machine you own or lease.

    Not good enough! I'm a consultant, and so the vast majority of the Unix work I do is for clients. The clients pay for this service. Thus, if I were to install the MagniComp version of rdist, I'd have to have a commercial-use license of some sort.

    This is clearly NOT free software.

  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Saturday July 17, 1999 @11:11AM (#1797617) Homepage Journal
    So you can distribute it for free as a part of a Linux distribution, but not FreeBSD. Ugh.
  • It's pretty cool that they revised their license when their users spoke up. Progress... :-)
  • The license doesn't address the issue of redistributing modified versions of the software. Also, it is only free under certain circumstances. These factors combine to make it a bad basis for a branch if future versions have a more restrictive license. Hence, the community would be better served by branching from a version with a free software license.
  • by itp ( 6424 ) on Saturday July 17, 1999 @11:13AM (#1797620)
    I don't think that this license change is enough. This is not yet free software. What if I want to use it with FreeBSD, or GNU/Hurd, or whatever the next system I'm interested in is?

    This is not truly free software. Find an alternative package, or use the last version released under a BSD license. And I hope RedHat doesn't change their mind.

    Ian Peters
  • Their web page says that it is freely distributable with *BSD, but the license only excepts Linux distributions from commercial redistribution.

    So much for Red Hat FreeBSD. [That would be amusing.]

    Or is there a different license agreement with the versions distributed with the BSDs?
  • I can see the next version of Solaris being called "Solaris Linux" now, and including the Linux source code. Hey, it is a Linux distribution, so rdist is free!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I believe that the Debian free software definition clearly disqualifies licenses that say software is free when distributed with some or other system. And rightly so, IMO.
  • or Debian GNU/Hurd or NetBSD or OpenBSD or ...

    But is does provide a nice loophole. Just find the tiniest Linux distribution you can find or make one up yourself. Not very practical, but it would work. Maybe we should make a patch to rDist that automatically includes a complete (tiny) linux distribution that way it is always free :)
  • So if 6.0 has a free license, and 6.1 doesn't, why would we want to use 6.1? Anyone who actually uses rdist 6.x care to comment on any feature/bug changes that real users might care about?
  • Their new license is very clearly not conformant with the Open Source Definition. Certainly this won't get into Debian, I doubt Red Hat would be interested either.

    I'll try to get them interested in an OSD-compliant license. However, there are perfectly up-to-date versions of rdist that are real free software, and there are several good replacements for rdist, too.


    Bruce Perens

  • I quote: RDist has been and continues to be freely distributable with free versions of UNIX such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD, as well as with all Linux distributions whether the distributions are free or not.

    Looks pretty good to me.

  • Unless you actually read the license itself, rather than their (not legally binding) claims about it.
  • They could move it to the "Other Applications and Demos" disk
  • So, if you want to distribute RDist, you just have to add a Linux kernel to the tar file, or what? Doesn't seem thought out very well.
  • Remember when The Open Group (which I worked for at the time) decided that it needed more money to fund X11, so it changed the licensing terms for R6.4?

    Well, The Open Group isn't doing X development anymore.

    And RDist isn't nearly as essential or complicated as X (and there are competing products), so why do they think they can make money with that model?
  • In a way this makes sense. After all, MS, or more likely Apple, might decide to use BSD as the basis of their next operating system, and there's nothing that I know of in the BSD license to stop them. Personally, I prefer the GPL, but there are reasons behind this (as explained... I haven't read the license).

    OTOH, if it doesn't get distributed with the Linux that I use, it probably won't matter, as I don't know what it does that I need. And if I look for something that does that, what I'll probably find will be rSync (or some such).

    Also, if it's GPL, then I know what to expect. If it's some brand new license, then I need to read it carefully, and hope I haven't overlooked something. Too many licenses benefits nobody but the lawyers.
  • Well, The Open Group isn't doing X development anymore.

    And absolutely nobody misses them. Of course they didn't develop X, they just took it over when the X consortium disbanded. Much of X development was paid for with public funds.

    There's not much point in doing more X development, the product is nearing the end of its life-cycle. Look at the good work being done by the Berlin Consortium [] and other groups. That's the future.



  • by Anonymous Coward

    July 17, 1999: RDist has been and continues to be freely distributable with free versions of UNIX such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD, as well as with all Linux distributions whether the distributions are free or not. Our RDist License Agreement has been updated to clearly reflect this. We welcome all feedback on this and other areas of concern.

    The email address is . Go to it, people.
  • Darn, read the license...
    You can distribute it for free always..
    The only way you can get paid for a product that includes rdist is to ask them if it's ok...
    So, you can sell people your product and have them download rdist seperatly or send it as a "free gift" with their purchase... Many more loopholes then you gave them credit for ;-)
  • One of the best things about Linux is that *BSD is just around the corner.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin