Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 19th Jan 2008 21:17 UTC, submitted by Francis Kuntz
Mac OS X One of the three authors of Sun's DTrace, Adam Leventhal, has discovered something very interesting using DTrace on Mac OS X. "As has been thoroughly recorded, Apple has included DTrace in Mac OS X. I've been using it as often as I have the opportunity, and it's a joy to be able to use the fruits of our labor on another operating system. But I hit a rather surprising case recently which led me to discover a serious problem with Apple's implementation." So, what is this problem? "Wow. So Apple is explicitly preventing DTrace from examining or recording data for processes which don't permit tracing. This is antithetical to the notion of systemic tracing, antithetical to the goals of DTrace, and antithetical to the spirit of open source. I'm sure this was inserted under pressure from ISVs, but that makes the pill no easier to swallow. To say that Apple has crippled DTrace on Mac OS X would be a bit alarmist, but they've certainly undermined its efficacy and, in doing do, unintentionally damaged some of its most basic functionality. To users of Mac OS X and of DTrace: Apple has done a service by porting DTrace, but let's convince them to go one step further and port it properly."
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s-peter
Member since:
2006-01-29

"For open source software, the license is the spirit. If the authors of DTrace did not want their software used in this way, they could (and should) have used a license that does not allow this. It is stupid to release a software under a license that says "you can do this" and when someone actually does it say that "you are not supposed to do this".


Nonsense. I'm an avid supporter of unconditional free speech - does this mean I cannot complain about the many people abusing this right to spread systematic hate against certain parts of the population?
"

I don't think the free speech analogy is really meaningful in this case. Even though "free speech" and "free software" sound similar, they are very different concepts. (In fact, because of this reason, I am not very fond of the term "free software". It is confusing because people associate different meanings with the word "free".)

Free speech considered a basic universal human right and a constitutional right in most jurisdictions. Thus most people in the world are free to say whatever they want. The analogous issue for software would be whether most people are free to write and publish any software they want. (This brings up a whole lot of issues, mostly patents, but I don't think it is directly relevant to this discussion.)

On the other hand, free software only refers to a limited section of software. In general, software is protected by copyright, and you are not allowed to redistribute software that you have bought or received.

In free/open source software, the authors voluntarily allow (thus encourage) other people to modify and redistribute their software product under specific terms. These terms are chosen by the original authors of the software at their will (i.e., the authors are free to choose whatever terms of use they consider suitable).

Adam here is free to complain about this, whether Apple is technically allowed to do this or not.


Of course, Adam (one of the original authors of DTrace, employed by Sun) is (technically) free to complain (free speech). However, by doing so, he is contradicting his own (or his employer's) actions.

By releasing DTrace under the CDDL, they explicitly encouraged other parties (including Apple) to make use of their code in whatever way the license terms allow. Sun was/is free to distribute DTrace under different terms if they think the way Apple uses their code is undesirable.

Therefore, I think it would make more sense if they changed their actions rather than complaining about the outcome of their actions.

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