Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Nov 2017 11:50 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Andrew S. Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, has published an open letter to Intel regarding Intel's use of MINIX in the IME:

The only thing that would have been nice is that after the project had been finished and the chip deployed, that someone from Intel would have told me, just as a courtesy, that MINIX 3 was now probably the most widely used operating system in the world on x86 computers. That certainly wasn't required in any way, but I think it would have been polite to give me a heads up, that's all.

If nothing else, this bit of news reaffirms my view that the Berkeley license provides the maximum amount of freedom to potential users. If they want to publicize what they have done, fine. By all means, do so. If there are good reasons not to release the modified code, that's fine with me, too.

I can still barely believe this whole story.

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Ethical ?
by cade on Wed 8th Nov 2017 01:39 UTC in reply to "RE[7]: freedom"
cade
Member since:
2009-02-28

The ethical thing is to at least respect the source code licence; be it BSD, MIT, GPL, etc. That is, respect the software-code author's wishes.

"subverts end user rights" ... what "rights" ?

In fact, the user has a choice. The user can either use the respective technology or not use the technology.

"open source" and "control" do not belong in the same sentence, conerning a political conext. You either use open-source or do not use open-source but open-source should never be forced onto someone since this would impinge upon someone's "freedom" of choice. A person should be free to choose a proprietary system over an open source system, it is their choice. The nature of GPL (not LGPL) represents a "force" (i.e. obligation) applied to a software developer in an extreme fashion not present if a BSD-like licence was operative. I have no problems with the existence of GPL/any licence since developers exercise their own psychology while selecting an appropriate licence for their open-source code. It is the devloper's "right" to select a licence for their work in which they deem appropriate.

Proprietary technology does not limit your freedoms per-se.
You only limit your freedoms if you still keep using proprietary technology in which you had made the previous assessment that aspects of the proprietary technology were limiting your effectiveness.

If you feel you need access to open technology then you are free to seek an open solution or you can attempt to develop your own technology with yourself/friends or you can compromise.

Part of the problem is that the theme of open technology is a non-issue for most of society and so commercial entities do not address this issue more adequately.

I do not have problems with binary drivers (helping most of the Windows-only "sheeples" and being a "bonus" for open-source OSes) but it would also be nice to have "open" hardware documentation so that open-source (hobbyist/non-hobbyist) operating systems can truly be non-BLOB based for reasons of security/integrity/completeness/etc.

Sure, commercial entities have to protect their investments/IP but examples such as the increasing betterment of the open-source {radeon GPU driver, Mesa} graphics-stack to the point of nearly rivalling the Windows driver is an indication that good strides in the direction of open technology can happen. A more open-source friendly Nvidia would be a nice complement to AMD's open-source stance.

"freedoms for developer control" are evident and getting better.
For my game-engine development, Apple's non-interest in maintaining first-class support for OpenGL (> 2.1) and Vulkan have caused me to plan a migration of ny cross-platform {tooling, C++ code-base} from OSX to FreeBSD at some future date. Implicit was the notion that this would be a NVidia-GPU only environment. I can now envisage a near-term future where I can also exercise the radeon GPU option for open-source OS like FreeBSD/Linux.

See, I chose to use the Mac (2009 iMac), it was not my "right" to use the Mac. The Mac "just works". However, since my technological interests are OpenGL/Vulkan-based and that Apple's stance is against this (Metal 2) then my "rights" were not "subverted" but it was that my options were diminished and a solution to this is my future migration to FreeBSD as my primary software development platform.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Ethical ?
by Lennie on Wed 8th Nov 2017 07:02 in reply to "Ethical ?"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

You know, I think Intel did not adhere to the MINIX 3 license ( this page doesn't show anything: http://www.minix3.org/license.html ) but it says BSD license and most (if not all versions of that) have something like this:

"Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution."

I don't think Intel did, did they ?

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Ethical ?
by Alfman on Wed 8th Nov 2017 12:36 in reply to "Ethical ?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cade,

The ethical thing is to at least respect the source code licence; be it BSD, MIT, GPL, etc. That is, respect the software-code author's wishes.

"subverts end user rights" ... what "rights" ?

In fact, the user has a choice. The user can either use the respective technology or not use the technology.


Yes, in principal the developers/engineers get to choose the licenses and by extension the users get to choose their products.

Proprietary technology does not limit your freedoms per-se.
You only limit your freedoms if you still keep using proprietary technology in which you had made the previous assessment that aspects of the proprietary technology were limiting your effectiveness.

If you feel you need access to open technology then you are free to seek an open solution or you can attempt to develop your own technology with yourself/friends or you can compromise.


One of the biggest problems I have with this ideology is that hardware users often don't get any choice about firmware through any of the manufacturers (other than not buying anything and leaving their needs unfulfilled).

Intel and AMD are both prime examples of this, they have a very strong and unavoidable desktop duopoly for many, and they're both guilty of force consumers to run proprietary locked down firmware. Ideally we'd have the choice of open alternatives, but in the real world we don't. Same goes for hard disks and many other peripherals, nearly all of which is totally proprietary.


Part of the problem is that the theme of open technology is a non-issue for most of society and so commercial entities do not address this issue more adequately.


Indeed, this is the problem with the "vote with your feet" stance, it only works so long as people like me have a choice to buy open firmware products in the first place.

Remote control functionality is often a requirement for managing servers, such as HP LO, Dell DRAC, Intel AMT, and third party offerings like Lantronix Spider. Knowing fully well the risks of proprietary firmware, and preaching about openness as I do, I of all people don't have the excuse of ignorance when it comes to faulting me for buying proprietary gear...yet, this advice is 100% useless when that's all there is on the market. My network runs DRACs, AMT, and Lantronix Spiders, all of which are proprietary and all of which I've have problems with in one way or another because they're proprietary:

1. The DRACs have network bugs that cause them to crash.

2. It's been recently revealed that Intel AMT had a decade old vulnerability. They updated the proprietary firmware, but there are still things I wish I could fix, like the stupid 8 character limit on VNC passwords (no more, no less). This is completely idiotic intel...

3. I found a bug with the Lantronix Spider that affected my ability to wake up machines remotely, I diagnosed the issue and provided Lantronix with everything including the packet traces needed to fix it. I did expect them to support the product, it wasn't cheap after all. But low and behold after a few back and forths the representative candidly told me that they're not putting any more engineering into the product (one that they're still selling now).


It's not logical to place blame on the consumers given the lack of choice, even hindsight doesn't help us. Vendors are doing what's best for themselves, which makes sense for them but for better or worse it leaves the market in a steady state where proprietary firmware is the norm. So what's the solution? Unfortunately this seems very unlikely to change without some kind of interference.

Reply Parent Score: 4