OT: FOSS, the end of the hacker in the basement myth

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Marcel Pagnol, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. In April 2008, the Linux Foundation, which employs Linus Torvalds and other
    key Linux kernel developers, and includes over 100 leading corporations
    among its membership, published a report which concluded that "since 2005,
    over 3700 individual developers from over 200 different companies have
    contributed to the [Linux] kernel. The Linux kernel has become a common
    resource developed on a massive scale by companies which are fierce
    competitors in other areas."

    Only 12.5 per cent of contributions to the kernel are donated by individuals
    not known to have any corporate affiliation or sponsorship, which runs
    contrary to the myth of the lone hacker working at his kitchen table.

    (However, this statistic may be deceptive. Some companies assign developers
    to work on specific aspects of the kernel, but many developers work from
    home, and are sponsored by corporations to do what they would be doing
    anyway, and most, if not all, of the original kernel hackers are now paid
    for their work.)

    Self serving

    That there is such heavy corporate sponsorship of Linux should not be
    surprising. Organisations with histories as diverse as Intel, Novell, HP,
    NASA, Sun Microsystems and IBM have not only contributed their ideas and
    software under the GPL and its variants, but have also actively
    participated in free software projects to their mutual benefit.

    The success of open source has encouraged commercial enterprises to
    understand that there are advantages in collaboration - that the value lies
    in the final product, not the enabling software, and it pays for
    organisations to collaborate with each other to share skills and lower the
    barriers on research and development.

    John Sarsgard of IBM stated the case quite clearly back in 2003: "Is it a
    charitable thing for IBM to have 250 engineers working on Linux? Long term,
    we are getting a cheaper operating system than we can by building our own.
    It's self serving. We can't build a Linux class operating system all by
    ourselves with only 250 people." In fact, it has been estimated that it
    would cost upwards of $10 billion to develop Linux from scratch.

    Open source software development may not have a coherent methodology that
    defines every aspect of software development but the common tools of open
    source development, git or CVS or Subversion (the most commonly used
    software version control systems) and the use of mailing lists that record
    revisions and bugs, have successfully opened new avenues for project
    management, collaboration, and voluntary contribution by third party

    The computer hardware industry sees direct benefits in supporting free
    software. Resources can be dedicated to other activities, and development
    costs can be shared across the industry. The driver is open standards,
    which give both manufacturers and users a better deal. This cooperation is
    now reaching far beyond the bottom layer of the software stack. Companies
    have contributed large chunks of code and personnel to the development of
    projects such as OpenOffice.org, Gnome and Firefox - and this phenomenon is
    set to continue into other fields.

    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 26, 2009
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  2. So, there you have it, people! This development model is why Linux runs on
    pretty much anything you can throw at it from IBM's Roadrunner to the OLPC
    and Android.

    This is the reason why Asus could come up with the new Eee concept without
    incurring huge development costs.

    This, and because their CEO is not getting $646,000,000 in stock options a
    year, is why they don't have to spend hundreds of millions in advertising
    campaigns. They send 100 computers by mail to reviewers, and the internet
    does the rest: people buy an Eee... a Wind U100, a Dell Mini, an HP Mini
    1000, whatever, they do their review.

    So, there's huge competition... but not on a closed source OS that costs a
    fortune to develop. (Please, don't talk to me about Darwin. Darwin is a bad

    Then, Steiner comes up and says Apple is about value :) She hasn't been
    completely brainwashed, of course...
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 27, 2009
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  3. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    And as you probably know, Android (along with Chrome, OmniWeb, iCab,
    Nokia, Palm etc) uses WebKit, the Open Source application framework
    developed by?


    Hint, it rhymes with "grapple"
    Ian Gregory, Feb 27, 2009
  4. Are you getting old, Ian? Isn't it with you I had a discussion about WebKit?
    Don't you remember we said that WebKit was originally derived from the
    KHTML software library and the only reason it was open was because of the
    GPL licence?

    There's just no way around it: a man who holds on to his billions like a one
    year old to his first shit cannot have a different attitude towards code:
    he grabs all he can get for free -- namely the code from FreeBSD and the
    Mach kernel -- and gives only when he has the GPL on his throat.

    This is the sick system you are encouraging when you buy a Mac.
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 27, 2009
  5. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    I have news for you - we all are.
    That is incorrect.

    Apple started by forking KHTML and KJS in 2002 and used them to develop
    WebCore and JavaScriptCore - those have always been Open Source (as you
    say, due to the GPL). But KHTML was just a layout engine - WebKit is
    more than that, and until 2005 it contained proprietary Apple code.
    Nobody forced Apple to Open Source WebKit, but in 2005 they decided to
    do it anyway, enabling Google to use it in Android.

    Apple is certainly not immune from criticism, but you just seem to be
    poisoned by an irrational hatred which makes you totally unable to give
    credit where credit is due. What widely used Open Source software have
    you written? I thought so.

    Ian Gregory, Feb 27, 2009
  6. So, Apple open-sourced some of the code of WebKit that it didn't have to,
    KHTML being released under the LGPL. Did they have a choice? For sure,
    Firefox would come up with a Mobile version that would put the heat on.

    Now that WebKit is open source it develops at a tremendously fast pace, cf.
    Safari 4, but how fast would it have been developing with only Apple's

    But let's say they could have managed to produce a good rendering engine by
    themselves by putting huge amounts of money into the project, what's your
    estimate on Apple's ratio "code received from open source"/"code provided
    to open source"? I would say that it's well in excess of a 1000:1.
    Apple is in no way an open source player and as I explained in the "Apple
    about to introduce a netbook?" thread, their only goal is not to fulfill
    the customer's need, but to fulfill *their* need for high margins. (If you
    want to discuss this, please post in said thread.)

    When you buy a Mac, you pay for the margins that justify giving Jobs
    $646,000,000 a year in stock options, you pay to get brainwashed by
    advertising campaigns that cost hundreds of millions $ a year, and that's
    pretty much only North America and Europe, Asia being unable to afford the
    products they build at the nonsensical prices they sell for.

    Only this brainwashing makes you believe that there is more value in your
    Mac than in any other Intel PC with Linux that sells for half the price.
    And you like it, and you want more.

    There's a name for this. In my days, we used to call this alienation.
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 27, 2009
  7. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    You are clearly deluded. If you want another example how about this:

    "CUPS is the standards-based, open source printing system developed by
    Apple Inc. for Mac OS X and other UNIX-like operating system."


    Apple adopted CUPS in 2002 and contributed to it until 2007 when they
    purchased the source code and hired the Michael Sweet to continue to
    develop and support it. Every Linux distribution that includes CUPS is
    utilising an Apple sponsored GPL project.

    On the minus side, Apple has colluded with Microsoft to the detriment of
    open standards. For example, they supported Microsoft's efforts to get
    its so called "Office Open XML" adopted as a standard when a proper open
    standard (ODF) already existed.

    As I said, Apple are not immune from criticism. They do however make the
    best desktop OS in existence (IMHO). Open source OSs are fine on servers
    (I work with debian and Red Hat) but their graphical interfaces are
    nowhere near the quality of Aqua. Of course you will never understand
    that if you never use a Mac but if you use Linux you are probably using
    Apple code.

    Ian Gregory, Feb 28, 2009
  8. Yes, but it was GPLed before Apple bought it. It also seems they managed to
    limit the scope of the GPL for themselves:


    In addition, as the copyright holder of CUPS, Easy Software
    Products grants the following special exceptions:

    1. Apple Operating System Development License Exception;

    a. Software that is developed by any person or entity
    for an Apple Operating System ("Apple OS-Developed
    Software"), including but not limited to Apple and
    third party printer drivers, filters, and backends
    for an Apple Operating System, that is linked to the
    CUPS imaging library or based on any sample filters
    or backends provided with CUPS shall not be
    considered to be a derivative work or collective work
    based on the CUPS program and is exempt from the
    mandatory source code release clauses of the GNU GPL.


    In other words, Apple can produce software derived from CUPS without
    providing the code. Quite a feat!

    Still Received: 1000 Contributed:1
    Sorry. Apple is just a bad rip-off scheme.
    Aqua is the graphical user interface and primary visual theme of Apple
    Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system. It is based around the theme of water, as
    its name suggests,[1] with droplet-like elements and liberal use of
    translucency and reflection effects. Steve Jobs noted Aqua's glossy
    aesthetic: "One of the design goals was when you saw it you wanted to lick

    The Aqua theme and user interface was first introduced at the January 2000
    Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.[3] Aqua's first appearance in
    a commercial product was in the July 2000 release of iMovie 2.[4]


    IOW, it's a theme to make computers more resources hungry. KDE has a theme
    in this flavor with translucency. I never used it: it only makes the menus
    less easy to read.
    Who doesn't know a brainwashed Maccie who insists on showing his new toy
    every time you visit them?
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  9. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    Since CUPS had already been licenced under the GPL Apple could not take
    away any of the rights granted under the GPL. However, GPL licensing
    does not preclude the copyright holder from granting *additional* rights
    to whoever they want. As an open source "advocate" I assumed you at
    least had a basic understanding of the GPL. Advocate is clearly the
    wrong word, you are a fanboi just like the Apple fanbois you despise.
    It is people like you that give open source a bad name.

    Either that or you are a talented troll. Perhaps I should subscribe to a
    Linux group to find out. I wouldn't be surprised to see you there
    ranting about how shit Linux is and likening Mr Torvalds to the

    Ian Gregory, Feb 28, 2009
  10. Changes to ode released under the GPL must be made public if the software is
    released to the public.
    You're getting boring Greggy. Read my message "Forbes: Why Steve Jobs Can't
    Save GM". It's Forbes, not me, who's saying that Apple is ripping you off.
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  11. Marcel Pagnol

    Wes Groleau Guest

    It's fairly obvious that Apple is an Open Source player, no matter how
    much the troll wishes people to believe otherwise. However,
    this and a few other things make it obvious their motives are not
    So it was NOT developed by Apple. Surely they have done a lot for it,
    but this is a PR exaggeration at best.
    I don't use CUPS (because I don't print) on my Kubuntu server,
    but I do think its GUI is pretty good. And for all the complaints
    about X11, I _very_ much appreciate that it is a multi-user GUI,
    unlike Aqua.

    There have been times that I wanted to run an Aqua app on my
    main machine from another machine while one of my family was
    logged in on that machine. (Thanks to NFS, this is seldom.)

    Wes Groleau

    Worksheet for “Viva La Causaâ€
    Wes Groleau

    If you would …
    Wes Groleau, Feb 28, 2009
  12. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    If I write some code and release it to the public under the GPL then the
    *public* can only distribute it under the terms of the GPL. However, as
    the copyright holder I do not need a licence to distribute my own code
    so how can I possibly be bound by the terms of the GPL?

    And if I grant a separate licence to my sister to distribute modified
    binaries without releasing the modified source code then she (and only
    she) can choose to distribute under the terms of that licence rather
    than the GPL. It is called dual licencing and is very common (Firefox is
    in fact tri-licenced).

    Do you really not understand any of this stuff?

    Ian Gregory, Feb 28, 2009
  13. Marcel Pagnol

    Wes Groleau Guest

    If they actually own (by purchase or otherwise) the copyright,
    they CAN change the rights they grant to others who receive it
    from them.

    Depending on the political jurisdiction, they probably do NOT
    have the right to take rights away from people who had already
    obtained the source under the GPL. This would in most places
    include the right of those people to continue giving it away.

    It's pretty gray (legally--not so gray ethically) what they
    can do to the rights of folks who obtain it from folks who
    retain previous rights .... :)
    Wes Groleau, Feb 28, 2009
  14. I would have liked Ian to come up with this. Maybe he did but saw how his
    argument was silly.

    This situation doesn't happen often, if ever, on large projects. If, say,
    Linux Torvalds decided to make the Linux kernel proprietary from now on, of
    course, there would be a split and the thousands of developers would work
    for the new project. It's more than unlikely Torvalds will ever do this.

    But here, it was easy for Apple to buy the copyright and say "Now, the code
    you write for us is proprietary".

    And that's the best example Ian Gregory could find to prove how Apple is a
    great open source proponent :)
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  15. Do you really believe companies invest in open source because they're
    altruistic? Here's an excerpt from my first post:

    John Sarsgard of IBM stated the case quite clearly back in 2003: "Is it a
    charitable thing for IBM to have 250 engineers working on Linux? Long term,
    we are getting a cheaper operating system than we can by building our own.
    It's self serving. We can't build a Linux class operating system all by
    ourselves with only 250 people." In fact, it has been estimated that it
    would cost upwards of $10 billion to develop Linux from scratch.


    Companies invest in open source because it pays. That's it, that's all. Of
    course, IBM keeps doesn't give all the code to run Roadrunner to the Linux
    kernel team -- they don't release this software and they don't have to --
    but they do give enough to keep developers interested and contributing.

    The NASA also contribute to open source. Beowulf was the first steps that
    led to Google.

    If there was no commercial logic behind open source, it just wouldn't work.
    The problem with Apple is that they're stuck on an old development model.
    As I say, they're like a first year old holding on his shit. Billions have
    been made this way, but for the OS and the software people use every day,
    this model is over. Only specialized software will remain proprietary.
    Are you going to offer Aqua as an argument too? What is it that you can do
    with Aqua that you can't do with KDE?
    I use HPLIP. It works great.
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  16. Ooops, I missed this. In which way is Apple a true open source player?
    Because of Darwin? I hope you're kidding! Darwin is a bad joke. How many
    developers will spend time helping Apple to rip off their customers even
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  17. I just went to beowulf.org to see how old exactly this project was:


    Though there was earlier work, I believe 1994 is considered the beginning,
    with work at the Goddard Space Flight Center:


    A lot of universities run Beowulf clusters to teach parallel computing,
    which is useful for research (for genome research, for instance):


    Here are the instructions to build your own:


    This is only one Linux project. Do you see the influence it has had on
    research and education?

    How does Apple's contribution compare to this one project? It's nothing.

    You also boast about the Apple user experience with Aqua. Have you ever seen
    the Enlightenment user interface?


    It's even available with a version of Compiz-Fusion called Ecomorph, but
    it's not stable yet:


    To tell you the truth, all this stuff doesn't appeal to me. I can see the
    use pf double-clicking on a title bar and make it shade, because it allows
    me to work in the GIMP without being bothered by an interface. Otherwise,
    all those bells and whistles I find just disturbing, though I must admit
    that the Ecomorph version running on a netbook is rather mind-boggling.
    Marcel Pagnol, Feb 28, 2009
  18. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    So you accept that Apple is an open source player, just not a "true"
    one. Well at least that is some progress! So which companies are "true"
    open source players according to your definition? Red Hat? Novell? IBM?
    Only in small part. Apple is a player because they have a) Used and
    distributed open source software and contributed a lot of high quality
    code to those projects (eg gcc) b) Taken existing GPL projects under
    their wing, funding their continued support and development (eg CUPS)
    and c) released some of their own projects under the GPL (eg WebKit).

    Apple has admittedly made a number of decisions which were to the
    detriment of open source - I fully accept that. But then so have most
    corporate players (eg Novell's secret patent deal with Microsoft which
    squandered much of the goodwill they had gained in respect of the SCO

    If that disqualifies Apple from being a "true" open source player
    according to your own definition of the term then fair enough, but you
    are deluded if you really think they are not a significant one.

    Ian Gregory, Mar 1, 2009
  19. No, but I can't say they didn't contribute a line. Remember what I said
    about what the ratio between they received and gave being 1000:1?
    Darwin is mainly FreeBSD and the Mach kernel, all open source.
    We already said their contribution was buying an open source company to have
    the copyright and have it write proprietary code for them. Great feat!

    c) released some of their own projects under the GPL (eg WebKit).

    We already said most of it was KHTML and their resources would have been
    insufficient to fight open sources. Hadn't it been open sourced, Safari 4
    wouldn't look like it does today.
    Oh! We're comparing Apple and Novell now :) Don't you know what the open
    source movement thinks of Novell. Founders Hubert Mantel and Richard Seibt
    have left completely pissed off by the direction the company was taking


    Novell's business is dwindling, has laid off 500 employees recently and its
    share value has been steadily dwindling in the last 2 years:


    Novell understood way too late that NetWare was done, grabbed Linux as a
    lifeline but never changed its culture to open source.
    Just look two messages below, I'm talking about Beowulf. There you have true
    open source.
    Marcel Pagnol, Mar 1, 2009
  20. Marcel Pagnol

    Ian Gregory Guest

    Weren't we discussing Apple's status as a commercial open source player?
    And all you can do is come up with something developed by NASA using US
    taxpayers' money? Yes Beowulf is cool but it has a tiny user base
    compared to Apple's open source projects.

    We have established that you don't like Novell, though they were widely
    praised by the open source community for their part in the defence of
    Linux against the legal challenge by SCO - or are you too young to
    remember that?.

    Are there any IT companies that you consider to be "true" open source
    players or are you simply advocating the overthrow of capitalism? It
    would be interesting to know which of the following major IT companies
    you consider to be truer open source players than Apple?

    Adobe, AMD, Cisco, Dell, IMB, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Sony, Sun.

    Try not to let your personal hatred of Steve Jobs cloud your judgement.

    Ian Gregory, Mar 1, 2009
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