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<nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux
Martin Hardie on Sun, 30 May 2004 13:56:54 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux


I was sent this article last week, it appeared in the NT Times and it may
be of interest to you all. On my copy I have written - capture, control,
command, constituted, external causes.... as notes when I go back to it to
reread it and see what I can make of it...

At first glance and I will have to reread it I am thinking that one of the
great things of Linux i.e. the appearance of collective/communal
authorship/an example of communal immaterial labour is with this and other
moves proceeding towards a slow death. But then I may be wrong. I would
like to be told why ....

May 25, 2004
R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux
By STEVE LOHR

Linux, the free operating system once seen as a symbol of a computing
counterculture, is becoming a mainstream technology and is being forced to
behave more like one.

A step down that path of maturity came yesterday when Linus Torvalds,
creator of Linux, announced that software developers making contributions
to the operating system would have to sign their work and vouch for its
origin.

The pledge, called a Developer's Certificate of Origin, is a response to
concerns among corporate users of Linux that procedures for adding new
code to the evolving operating system have been too informal and lacking
in documentation. Tracing the origin of code, analysts say, is vital to
avoiding legal challenges that Linux contains pilfered software.

The SCO Group, a Utah company, sued I.B.M. in March 2003, claiming that
I.B.M. illegally contributed Unix code to Linux and seeking $1 billion in
damages. SCO owns the license rights to the Unix operating system and
contends that Linux, a variant of Unix, violates its rights. I.B.M. is a
leading corporate supporter of Linux, which is improved and debugged by a
worldwide network of programmers, led by Mr. Torvalds, who wrote the
original kernel of the operating system in 1991 as a student in Finland.

I.B.M. admits that its programmers have contributed code to Linux and its
defense is that they had every right to do so. I.B.M. asserts that SCO's
interpretation of its Unix rights is far too broad. The trial is scheduled
to begin next year.

As part of its legal campaign, SCO also sued two corporate users of Linux
earlier this year, the automaker DaimlerChrysler and the car-parts
supplier Autozone. The suits came after SCO sent warning letters to
several hundred corporate users of Linux, contending that Linux is
essentially an unauthorized version of Unix. SCO, in its letters, warned
the companies that they could be sued unless they bought licenses from
SCO.

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Torvalds conceded no flaws or weaknesses in
the Linux development process. He described the Developer's Certificate of
Origin as mainly adding a trail of documentation to the Linux community
principles of peer review and personal responsibility. "We want to make it
simpler to link submitted code to its contributors," he said. "It's like
signing your own work."

"This process improvement makes Linux even stronger," he declared.

In a message posted on a Linux mailing list on Saturday, Mr. Torvalds
cited SCO and what he termed its "outlandish claims" that copyrighted code
had been illegally put into Linux. But refuting the SCO accusations, he
wrote, had involved a tedious combing through several years of Linux
mailing lists. "Not much fun," he noted.

The new approach, he said, will make it easier to trace the origin of
code.

Mr. Torvalds, who now lives in Silicon Valley, is employed by the Open
Source Development Labs, a consortium that promotes Linux. The chief
executive of the consortium, Stuart Cohen, described the change as a
response to customer demand - as businesses and governments rely more and
more on Linux.

"They are asking for and looking for more documentation - who put this
stuff in," Mr. Cohen explained. "It was important that a process be put in
place and Linus realized that."

The handling of intellectual property in open source software projects
like Linux, to which many developers from around the world contribute
code, is a sensitive issue, given the potential for litigation, said
George Weiss, an analyst for Gartner Inc.

"It's not SCO that concerns corporate executives so much, but post-SCO and
the uncertainty of facing intellectual property claims if they use open
source software," Mr. Weiss said. "And this Linux move is a step in the
right direction."
http://opensource.mit.edu/pipermail/discuss/2004-May/000395.html

on my copy I have written - capture, control, command, constituted,
external causes.... as notes when I go back to it to reread it and see
what I can make of it...



Martin





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