The shared source licence being drawn up as part of the RISC OS Open project is in the hands of lawyers, it was revealed this week. In a report to be published by Archive magazine, Castle are said to have spent a ‘lot of money’ on legal bills to make the licence watertight. The company fears loopholes may be found in their complex shared source agreement which could allow royalty free use of the source code for commercial purposes or let people avoid disclosing updates to the RISC OS blueprints.
RISC OS Open Licence in Hands of Lawyers
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2007-01-15 10:49 amflypig
I think your point is a good one. They’ve not proposed an open source licence and this could be a problem.
However, RISC OS is still a commercially driven OS, and it’s good to see that Castle (the OS ‘owners’) think there is still something to be commercially exploited. I was initially worried that the whole shared source initiative was just a way to wash their hands of ever having to develop the OS themselves.
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that the existing RISC OS userbase is pretty much hard-core and already benefits from a strong community (by necessity, unfortunately, as it’s such a small platform). This will hopefully mean that people do get involved in development.
However, I certainly can see that the style of the licence may well affect whether new users are brought to the OS. Personally, I’m hoping it’s not doomed to fail, and will be a positive thing.
f–k the lawyers – we are better off without them
If there was one standout features about this OS, what would it be?
What defines it?
2007-01-15 8:59 amRISCOSMike
Can never be corrupted by viruses. It is absolutely impossible.
Edited 2007-01-15 09:01
2007-01-15 9:17 ambiteydog
Any chance of a simple explanation of this? Sounds good!
2007-01-15 9:19 amflotsam
The OS is stored in ROM, so it can’t be altered. However, you can soft-load parts of it and viruses can still affect files stored on hard drives and other storage media.
2007-01-15 10:39 pmXaero_Vincent
Thats known as “security through obscurity”. It is a completely false sense of security.
I bet the number of companies still using RISC OS for anything serious, let alone hackers, could be counted with both hands.
I’ve personally never seen a single RISC system in my lifetime, and I’m around computers every day. I have only seen a few screenshots of the OS on the web.
2007-01-16 9:53 amRISCOSMike
You live in the US I guess?
>I’ve personally never seen a single RISC system in >my lifetime, and I’m around computers every day.
Oh really? You have never used a modern mobile phone?
2007-01-15 10:43 amflypig
It’s tricky to pick out just one thing. It’s a fairly unique OS (in that it’s not like many others, since it’s not posix etc.). People often say that the UI is its outstanding feature, as even this is different from many others (e.g. no menu bars as all menus are context menus; no save dialogue boxes; brilliantly efficient filer; windows don’t jump to the front of the window stack; ‘send to back’ icon – little things that can make a big difference).
Some other things I personally like about it are the modular structure of the underlying OS, its efficiency, and the fact that you can access the OS and hardware directly without having to go through tons of abstraction layers if you want to (also has its downsides). Oh, and virtual filing systems that for example allow zip archives to appear to applications just like any other directory.
OSnews has had a number of good articles that covered this kind of thing in the past, which may be worth a look:
Incidentally the OS also has its drawback too and is missing some key bullet point features compared to Linux, Windows or OS X.
2007-01-15 9:45 pmJohn Blink
Seems to me that these people just want to piggy back upon free (no cost) software development. I bet these people understand the terms of ‘Free Open Source Software’ and seem to fear some part of it and as a result, they write up their own licence that ‘has all the good parts of open source’ and ‘reduces or eliminates all the bad parts’. I guess they believe that they should be only ones getting monetary compensation for their Intellectual Property.
sounds like its not going to have a real open source license at all. Its very much a Castle can make money off it (what little they think they can) but nobody else can, and total ownership.
basically they want employees they dont have to pay, but still own everything everyone else creates.
no thanks castle.
2007-01-15 5:21 pmrhyder
No, they are also allowing other people to benefit from the source. It seems that there will be a dual freeware/commercial license in place. People will only have to pay Castle if they use RISCOS materials in commercial projects.
At the same time, people using the source will have to pass any improvements back to Castle.
What they are trying to do is to form a model that allows RISCOS to gain greater application and at the same time will allow the owner of RISCOS to make some money and stay in business; they are opening up access to the source but keeping their business interest in a viable one.
Castle have done and will continue to be a main force in the development of RISCOS. If they GPLed or BSDed the source, I don’t see how they could continue to make money from RISCOS. We want them to stay in business so that they can continue make improvements to RISCOS, and at the same time, take on a new role as the collators of all improvements made by other parties.
To the people who criticize what Castle are doing I ask, “How *should* they be proceeding?”
How is this different than Windows CE, Java, Solaris (at some point), etc? This kind of “shared source” licenses have proven over time to be of little use for most developers, and not “open” enough to have a strong community behind. I don’t think it’s a matter of being low cost, as mentioned in the article.