January 14th, 2011


Joojoo, once more

Having complained about the GPL compliance of the Fusion Garage Joojoo tablet in the past, I'm thrilled to say that I spoke to their new CTO earlier in the week and they now have full source availability here[1]. Previous engineering practices involved editing binary Debian packages rather than rebuilding from the Debian source packages, so there may be a small number of cases where it's awkward to rebuild an identical binary, but I think it's pretty clear at this point that they've done everything practical to make up for past mistakes. I've been assured that all further product development will take license compliance into account from the start, so while things may have taken a little longer than I'd have liked I think everything has worked out for the best. I'd like to say thanks to Fusion Garage and Megan Alpers at McGrath Power for their help in getting all of this resolved.

[1] I've taken a brief look at their new downloadable tarballs. If anyone does find anything missing, let me know and I'll be sure to pass it onto the right people.

In other news

I'm thrilled to discover that GNU-Darwin, which carried the bold claim that "GNU-Darwin aims to be the most free software distribution", distributes copies of the XNU source code with Apple's additional license rider of "The rights granted to you under the License may not be used to create, or enable the creation or redistribution of, unlawful or unlicensed copies of an Apple operating system, or to circumvent, violate, or enable the circumvention or violation of, any terms of an Apple operating system software license agreement", which certainly sounds like a restriction of use to me.

Free software's awfully like sausages - wonderfully tasty, but sometimes you suddenly discover that you've been eating sheep nostrils for the past 15 years of your life. The typical direction is realising that you've build your entire business model on something that you're actually legally obliged to give to your customers and now they're actually trying to assert their rights, but sometimes people make assumptions about freedom that don't hold. Apple last released a free version of their kernel source in 2006. Everything since then has been encumbered by additional use restrictions.

Still, much better than Microsoft - huge portions of the OS source code are available for anyone to download, examine, modify and rebuild. Apple's to be commended for dropping so much code to the community despite it having bought them almost nothing in return. But if anyone from Apple's reading, I'd love to fix up the thermal handling on your hardware under Linux. I suspect we're doing something horrible to your machines, but I don't really know what yet.