[Samba] GPLv3 and Mac OS X

John H Terpstra jht at samba.org
Sat Oct 30 12:29:13 MDT 2010

On 10/30/2010 12:00 PM, Stephen Norman wrote:
> On 31/10/2010, at 1:03 AM, John H Terpstra <jht at samba.org> wrote:
>> On 10/30/2010 02:48 AM, Stephen Norman wrote:
>>> This may have been raised before and if so I apologise for not
>>> being able to find it.
>> No apology needed. We can discuss this topic on this list.
>>> I was wondering if someone on the list can please explain the 
>>> relationship that GPLv3 has in preventing Apple from
>>> distributing updated builds with their operating systems. I've
>>> read over the GPLv3 (I'm not lawyer or anything) and I would
>>> guess it has something to do with the patent agreements?
>> Why do you believe Apple cannot make use of Samba? That is a very 
>> different question from why they might refuse to use it.  The word 
>> "prevention" implies a "cannot" element as opposed to a business 
>> decision not to use it. Objection for business reasons is like
>> choosing not to purchase something as opposed to not being able to
>> purchase it for one reason or another.
>> Licensing terms form a contractual boundary to accepted use of a
>> created work in order to preserve the intent (wishes) of those who
>> labored to create it.
>> Samba is the result of many hundreds of man-years of work that was 
>> freely contributed for the benefit of all, subject to the specific
>> terms of use that are set out in the GPL. Even if every business on
>> planet Earth should choose not to use it in their products what
>> would be the loss to it creators?
> "Prevention" may have been a poor choice of words here. I guess what
> I'm asking is, if Apple was to ship Samba 3.2 or above with their OS,
> what other parts of the OS (if any) would need to be released under
> GPLv3? For instance, if Finder used some part of Samba in it would it
> too need to be made available as GPLv3?

The Samba team does not force anyone to use samba.  If someone chooses
to use it they must comply with its licensing terms.  All derivatives of
Samba fall under the same license that samba is under - that is what the
GPL seeks to achieve. The GPL seeks to prevent the misuse and
misappropriation of software source code.  Its that simple.  You may not
like that, and indeed Apple may not like that, but that's the way it is.

Please keep in mind that to use or not to use is a choice!

>>> I'll admit that I'm not too happy with the GPLv3 and think that, 
>>> ironically, it is in many ways as restrictive (and in some ways
>>> even more so) than closed source software. That's only my opinion
>>> though and I understand where it may be useful.
>> Please help us to understand what changes to the licensing terms
>> will cause more people to contribute their labors to its
>> improvement and assure its wider use.  What must the creators of
>> Samba give up in order to be successful?  What does success look
>> like?  How will Apple benefit from this change? How will these
>> benefits help the creators of Samba to better achieve their goals
>> and objectives?
>> If you can convince the authors of Samba that the benefits of being
>> more successful will outweigh what the world will lose you will get
>> a certain hearing. In other words, what must the Samba developers
>> give up and what will be their gain by doing this?
> I definitely see your point here so I'll try and explain.
> Apple is one of the largest users of open source software in the
> world, with over 50 million users each using open source software. By
> largest users, I mean the software is on people's machine (server
> side projects like Apache would have much greater numbers). That is a
> large number and second only to Microsoft Windows. They have been an
> advocate for open source software, shipping a number of technologies,
> including Samba in Mac OS X for almost a decade. They helped
> kickstart software technologies including Ruby on Rails by being the
> first to ship the software with the OS, something which continues to
> be the case today.

Let's make sure that credit is given where it is due.  For all the good
things any corporation or individual does let's say thank you - AND -
remember to comply with the license terms under which the contribution
was made.  If we do not like the license terms, ask for reconsideration
by all means, but do not demand it.  The author has rights of
determination over his/her works.

> I'm not sure how many users use Samba worldwide, but I'd think that
> the potential loss of such a number would have been considered during
> the license transition. After all, Apple aren't going to use code in
> their OS that might require them to open source some of their key
> technologies, such as the Finder or Workgroup Manager.

Please check your facts.  Anyone who produces a derivative work from a
licensed software application must comply with the original authors' or
licensors' terms and conditions. Remember, noone forces anyone to create
a derivative work!  Only derivative works are affected.

> Instead, Apple will be forced to either fork the old code base of
> Samba (something no one wants) or develop their own implementation of
> CIFS/SMB that isn't covered under the GPL.

Rubbish! Complete gibberish!  Is their derivative a derivative? If yes,
then comply. If not, they are on their own with complete freedom to
choose their own licensing terms.  Keep it simple - it really is simple!

> GCC's change to GPLv3 forced Apple to find an entirely new compiler
> infrastructure, Clang/LLVM, which arguably is actually an improvement
> over GCC in many ways. The problem for the GCC people is that their
> are now going to be 50 million of their users potentially moving to a
> new compiler and that isn't counting other projects such as FreeBSD
> and other BSD derivatives. The flow on affect could be quiet large,
> and while GCC isn't going away any time soon, the potential for it to
> be superseded by LLVM is certainly there.

Specifically who "forced" Apple to change? Please name the person who
tried to coerce them to not use GCC under GPLv3.  It was a choice Apple
made for reasons only they understand fully.

> I'd hate to see the open source community end up being divided into a
> GPLv3 zone and one that has everyone else. It would then prove many
> anti open-source advocates (i am not one of them) a reason to show
> how open source doesn't always work.

The world has always been divided into opinion camps.  Please keep in
mind that when all is said and done, there is much more said than done!

What does the statement "open source dosen't always work" really mean?
What presuppositions are implied by that proposition?  Have you
seriously considered this?

> In relation to Samba (I'll play devils advocat here), the question on
> my mind woud be, how does using software that already exists in the
> community and is well liked and tested useful to my project if using
> that code actually results in me having restrictions placed on what I
> can do with my code, just because I linked to some pre-existing
> code?

The point is that you decided to link to someone else's work. It was
your choice! Noone forced you to do that.

> I realise a lot of the changes made in GPLv3 relate to patents, but
> I'd say that it would make better business sense to most companies to
> license a technology (such as SMB) from Microsoft and then be allowed
> to include it in my product, which they can then sell and support,
> rather than being forced to release their code for free.

That's a business choice. Let's see how long that will fly!

> Finally, companies such as Apple are going to have to deal with
> problems such as Windows 7 compatibilty in their products, something
> which the old version of Samba 3.0 seems to have trouble with, and if
> they find they are unwilling to update to a later version because of
> the requirements of the new license, then they may have to switch to
> a different technology or license it from Microsoft. That might make
> Microsoft happy but it would be a big blow for the Samba project,
> especially if it meant the loss of over 50 million potential users.

Specifics please!  What is the COST to the Samba project is commercial
vendor ceases to use Samba?  How will it affect use of Samba by private
individuals?  You have not convinced anyone here that there is a
quantifiable loss involved.

You have presented a convincing argument that companies that elect not
to use open source software and instead enter into a licensing
arrangement will cause their customers (consumers) to pay more for their
products.  Remember though, this is a choice the corporation or business
makes.  It is simply a business decision. They are free to make that
decision.  Businesses are not compelled to explain to their customers
why they choose to create their products in a certain manner.  If the
customer does not like what is offered to them they have the freedom of
choice not to purchase and not to use it.

> I hope that helps clarify the kind of direction in which I was
> heading.

No, I have heard your fear of damage to the long-term viability of the
open source world but so far you have presented FUD (fear, uncertainty
and doubt) - we need facts please.

>>> Regardless of my opinion, I would like to know about GPLv3 vs.
>>> Apple Mac OS X and if there are any plans (i.e. Samba 4) that
>>> would allow the software to again be shipped with the operating
>>> system.
>> Samba4 is part of the Samba3 code tree. All of Samba will continue
>> to ship under the terms of the GPLv3 until such time as the authors
>> see good reason for change.  We respect the right of anyone (person
>> or company) to use or not to use Samba.
>> I would like to see more people benefit from our efforts and our
>> labors. I believe that the GPLv3 is the best way that our users can
>> continue to receive those benefits. The Samba team has chosen to
>> license under the terms of the GPLv3.
> I think Samba is an amazing project and I don't want to detract from
> that at all. I personally think that compelling companies to release
> their code under the GPLv3 for using a small part of GPLv3 code is
> against the principals of open source software in general. After all,
> the original purpose (and I think the general public opinion) is that
> open source means I can take code, include it in my project and sell
> that project to customers as long as I give any changes I make to the
> source code of the project back to the community.

The GPL in all its  forms is a license.  If you do not like the license
do not use the software. It is very simple.  Think about the freedom
here please: you are free to use GPL code and you if you do, just like
any other license requirement you are bound by its terms of use. It is
your choice to use it or not to use it.  If you use it contrary to its
license terms please do not complain about your choice - you made it!

> I guess the biggest problem is that no one seems to be clear on some
> of the points of the GPLv3. 

Rubbish!  Many people do not like its restrictions but complain loudly.
Do we hear complaints about other commercial licensing terms?  If not,
why not?

Remember, commercial licenses are all about business.  The purpose of a
commercial license is to garner revenue from the customer.  Anyone who
is not a customer has no rights of use.  Simple!

The GPL gives everyone free rights of use, subject to its terms. Which
would you prefer? It's your choice.  The GPLv3 was issued to assure that
software that is protected under its terms of use will continue to be
protected, and that derivative works can not disenfranchise the original
authors of their work.

> For example, if GPLv3 code is used in the
> Finder, does that mean that all of Mac OS X must be released under
> the GPL or just the code in the Finder? And how does that effect me
> as a a developer. If Apple produces a framework, such as CoreAudio
> and I link against it when I'm developing my application, and that
> framework uses GPL code, does that then require me to release my code
> under the GPLv3, meaning I cannot sell it to customers? I'm guessing
> that's what Steve Balmer was referring to when he spoke about GPLv3
> being viral in nature.

Is your work a derivative of a previous work? What are the license terms
of the software you are deriving benefits from? Best you abide by those
terms, or else choose to create your software some other way. It is
still a very simple matter of choice!

> Now all this might be for naught if I'm wrong and I may be, but I
> think that the uncertaintly that clouds around the GPLv3, mostly
> because of the wording and because it hasn't been challenged in court
> (yet), is going to raise some concern in the community.

The only uncertainty that exists is the cloud of FUD that is spread by
people who want freedom from licensing terms of use, and yet wish to
impose their own terms of use on others. Can you not see that?

I am sure you have read the GPLv3.  I am convinced you have done much
homework.  Please take up your concerns with the GPLv3 with the Free
Software Foundation.  If you would like Samba to be licensed under some
other license, please present a compelling factually-based case that
clearly demonstrates the benefits to the Samba developers and to the
Samba user community to convince us to change.  We will listen to sound
reason that is well documented and clearly presented.

- John T.

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