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Oracle's GNU/linux distro is out. Free Software is blindsided.

From: Karen Hill
Subject: Oracle's GNU/linux distro is out. Free Software is blindsided.
Date: 3 Nov 2006 15:50:52 -0800
User-agent: G2/1.0

I was browsing oracle's website when I discovered a link to oracle's
new GNU/linux distro.

It looks like Redhat is being squeezed from all sides.  OpenSolaris on
one end, with Novell and MS on the other, and Oracle undercutting their
support pricing by basically rebranding Redhat's products and selling
it as their own.  It looks like an organized effort by proprietary
vendors to basically cut the throat of Redhat.  As we know, Redhat is a
major contributer to the linux kernel.

Maybe now is the time for GNU/Hurd?  The problem with the linux kernel
is that it is not going to be as free as software licensed under the
GPL 3.   Linus has stated that the kernel will remain at GPL 2, which
is less free than the GPL 3 because of DRM and patents.

Yet, the GPL 3 is very myopic license.  It shows a lack of vision by
the FSF, maybe they are tiring or need new leadership.  They are
fighting the previous wars and do not understand the next battle at
all.   We will quickly need a GPL 4 to maintain a user's software
freedom.  How so?  Well, distribution is changing!   No longer do many
companies distribute software in the traditional sense.  You long into
a website and use a company's web services.  AJAX, and the rest make it
look as if you have a full application on your desktop, yet you cannot
get the source.

What do I mean by this?  Look at Google.  They announce that they use
all sorts of Free Software in their organization.  Other than the
summer of code, which are basically student projects, we don't get the
modifications they make to free software.  Yet, I use Google as do many
here.   I think that should be considered distribution in  GPL 4.
Since I am able to connect and execute commands (searching is executing
a command to find something), I am using Google's software.  How could
I be using Google's software unless it has been distributed to me?

The Free Software Foundation is still operating in the world of the
old.  Let me use an analogy.  They (FSF) are a video rental place still
renting out VHS tapes, while the rest of the world is moving to viewing
streaming content online.  The question is, both users have seen the
movie, yet the GPL now only covers renting the movie at the video store
and not streaming it from a website.

This is why Microsoft partnered with Novell.  Microsoft has always
wanted a recurring revenue stream by collecting payments for software
as a service.  Vista in deed may be the last operating system in the
traditional sense that they produce.  In the future, you will just get
a basic bootloader and run a minimalist system that will be pulled in
off a remote server from your network card. All you will get is that
minimalist system which could be licensed under any license, GPL, BSD,
an EULA etc.  Doesn't matter.

 The all of the good functionality will be locked in by Microsoft on
their servers which you will get via the .NET stack.  The software will
reside on Redmond's servers with just the displaying occurring on your
computer.  No distribution in the FSF GPL sense!  Just like it is not
distribution when you search Google, it will not be distribution as the
software is on a foreign Server.

The GPL 4 should stipulate that when one does something like a Google
search it is distribution.   One should have the right to  examine the
source code of that system when that system was built upon the work of
GPL licensed software.   The source code of how information is
collected, biased and given to you is more a fundamental right. More so
than viewing the source code of a printer driver. The Google Filesystem
and its inner workings should be available to all to inspect modify and
perhaps fork if deemed necessary.

Hopefully RMS will recognize this.

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